How to structure your membership and price your benefits

By Francesca Margherita

Photo by Jeremy Cohen, featuring New Rory & Mal

Choose membership tiers and offerings that keep your fans coming back for more.

When you’re first starting your membership business, you’ll want to focus on getting up and running, as well as learning what works well for you and your fans. A popular best practice is to start out with just one set of benefits at a single price point. Once you’re in the groove with your membership and you’ve learned what your community responds to, you can always change things up and add additional membership levels (also called “tiers”). Tiers enable you to offer your fans different perks at different price points and optimize for value and revenue.

Let’s take a look at what creators can do with a single set of benefits — and how the possibilities expand with the addition of a second or third membership tier.

Picking your benefits and tiers

A single set of benefits

Offering one set of benefits at a single price point makes the decision to join your membership easy for your fans, and the workload easy for you! The value your members will receive becomes crystal clear, and your tracking and fulfillment can be seamless. We recommend you begin with an approachable price point, typically in the $5⁠–10 dollar range. You can always go up from there.

Rock band Born Ruffians has hit the sweet spot with their single-tier membership. They offer lots of great value to members that’s simple for them to fulfill at scale. For $6.50 a month, members get exclusive first access to their new releases, livestream hangouts and performances, behind-the-scenes videos and artwork, and even a discount on merch.

The band Born Ruffians uses a single $6.50 per month membership tier, dubbing it an "exclusive club for all Ruffians."

Two-tier model

Adding a second tier to your membership can be a great opportunity to offer additional value to members who want it, while still keeping things streamlined and manageable for you. For example, at your lower level (say $5 per month) you might offer fans early access and exclusive content; at a higher priced (say, between $10⁠–$25) you could add special personalized benefits, such as limited edition merch, special events, and ways to engage with you and your team or collaborators directly.

Video and podcast creator Jade Fox, for example, offers members a ton of content and community experiences each month, presented in a pair of proportionate membership levels. The second level includes everything in the first, plus additional exclusive content and merch.

Video and podcast creator Jade Fox offers two tiers: “the super” for $5 per month and “the super duper” for $10.

One other great way to segment value with two tiers is to separate out benefits by frequency. For example, if you’re a podcaster, you could offer one bonus episode per month at $5 and two per month at $10. This makes it easy for your fans to connect the dots — double the content, double the money — and you can still focus on what matters the most to your fans (in this case, bonus content).

True crime podcast trio The First Degree turns up the value on their highest-priced tier, creating a really enticing option for $10 a month. Rather than one bonus episode per month at $5, members get four bonus episodes per month for just $10. This is a huge added value for not-much-more cost and, combined with the other great extras they have at that level, it makes it hard to turn down.

Members of The First Degree podcast — or “Firsties” — can choose between two tiers: “VIP Firstie” for $5 a month or “All Access Firstie” for $10.

Three-tier model

With three tiers and up, there are two common, strategic approaches. One is to home in on the key type of benefits that your fans want and offer those benefits across all tiers, increasing the amount as the tiers go up. Think of it as a “good, better, best” design where fans get more of what they love as the price increases. This popular setup can be especially effective for established creators with larger fan bases.

With her three-tier membership, creator Elyse Myers follows this model. As the tier and price go up, so do the number of livestreams members get access to. Because these livestreams can be accessed by any number of members at a given level, it’s a scalable offering that remains personal and exclusive.

Creator Elyse Myers uses a model with three levels: “Coffee Crew” ($5 per month), “Awareness Team” ($9 per month), and “Try Hards” ($19).

Podcasters Rory & Mal also have a three-tier membership that follows this design: Members get access to additional bonus episodes at each level. Their third tier, which they’ve dubbed “Supervisor,” is twice the price of their middle tier and has all the benefits of their first two tiers, plus even more bonus and exclusive content. (Okay, they really have four tiers, but the last one is a joke. Check it out for yourself.)

Fans can choose to join podcasters Rory & Mal’s Patreon as “Interns” ($5 per month), Assistants” ($10 per month), or “Supervisors” ($20 per month).

Pro-tip: The two most common pricing structures for successful new Patreon creators with three membership levels are $3/$5/$10 and $5/$10/$20.

Another popular approach to a multi-tier membership is to tailor benefits at each tier to different audience motivations. Singer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Jordan Rakei, for example, has a four-tier membership where he focuses his first tier on benefits for fans of his music, with benefits like connecting with other fans on a members-only Discord server and access to exclusive pre-sale tickets to his shows. He tailors his three upper tiers — called “Creator,” “Super Creator,” and “Mentee” — to members who want to learn how he does what he does. As these tiers go up, the benefits get more exclusive with greater access to his creative practice and expert advice. “Creators,” for example, get access to recorded tutorials, while “Super Creators” get access to live streamed masterclasses, and “Mentees” receive Jordan’s detailed production and songwriting feedback on one track per month.

Musician Jordan Rakei offers four tiers: “Fan” ($6 per month), “Creator” ($14.50 per month), “Super Creator” ($35.50 per month), and “Mentee” ($83 per month).

Another way to think about multi-tier designs: At the lower tier, you’ll want to include things that are relatively easy for you to deliver at scale, like modest amounts of bonus content, updates, exclusive posts, and Discord access (think of this tier as “the more the merrier!” level), while at your highest tier, you’ll want to offer benefits that are especially high-value for your members (things like monthly hangouts, Q&As with you, additional bonus content, exclusive access to rare content, or custom merch). These benefits will likely also be more resource (time and money) intensive for you, so price them accordingly. This means that the membership price for your highest tier will be quite a bit more than your other tiers.

Pricing and other practicalities

How to price your benefits

Money talk: Sometimes this is the hardest part! But figuring out how to price your benefits at different membership levels doesn’t have to be too complicated. As a helpful baseline, make sure you understand how much it’s going to cost you to provide a potential benefit, and how much money you need to be bringing in to cover your expenses. From there, value your time as you would value that of your favorite artist. Would you want them spending four hours on something they only got paid $1 for? Probably (definitely) not. Know your value and don’t sell your efforts short.

Though you might be tempted to start your lowest tier at $1 per month, don’t! Seriously, your work is worth more than that. Plus, Patreon has seen that membership pages that offer tiers starting at $3 or $5 actually convert more fans to members than those starting at $1, and the average member pledge on Patreon is $7 per month. So, let those numbers guide you as you’re setting up your prices.

Pro tip: Consider launching with a simple $5 benefits offering, and building from there — it’s popular, it’s approachable, and, at scale, it helps you get paid what you’re worth.

Make your benefits levels easy to understand to increase conversion

By making sure your benefits are presented in a way that's clear and well-organized, you’ll make it simple for your audience to find what works for them and opt in to become members.

Try these tips for structuring the information about each level on your Patreon page:

  • Show the value quickly and clearly. Don’t bury the lead or stuff too much “fun” content up front. Make sure it’s clear what your fans are getting if they join at that level.
  • Use bullet points to provide a quick list of benefits for easy skimming, and avoid large text blocks.
  • Clearly demonstrate how your levels progress and how at each level members get more value. For example, you might say “You’ll get everything in level one plus...” to make it direct, unambiguous, and exciting.

Design benefits that you can sustainably deliver

While benefits are amazing for members, you also have to ensure that you can fulfill whatever commitment you’ve made. Being real with yourself about how much time you’d like to spend on your membership every week before you decide on your membership benefits and levels can help you determine what you can realistically offer.

A good way to save yourself time and streamline your efforts is to choose (at least some) benefits that fit in with or stem from the content you’re already creating. Rather than creating a bunch of new things — and a bunch of new work — select things that you enjoy doing that align with your existing content schedule or that you can create efficiently and well.

Once you have a sense of how much time you’ve got to spend on all things benefits, be sure to block the time out weekly or bi-weekly to get all the things done. Set a reminder on your calendar and let that be your “membership management time.” Use it for projects like fulfillment, marketing, posting content, you name it. And if you need to break your available time into blocks and designate them for specific tasks, you do you.

It’s okay to iterate as you go

When all is said and done, your membership business should reflect who you are as a creator and artist. You’re not static, and your membership doesn’t have to be either. If you try benefits out now that don’t work for you or your fans down the line, it’s okay to make a change. While you don’t want to constantly be overhauling things and creating an unpredictable member experience, after a while, a little change can be a good thing. You can always shake things up by adding new benefits, sunsetting old ones, or shifting your pricing around.

Changes can help you grow over time as a creator and creative business person — and they can provide exciting new experiences for your members as they follow your creative journey. Many creators are surprised by just how supportive members are of changes.

Now that you’ve got a sense of the benefits you might offer and how to structure them, it’s time to prepare for your launch.

Related articles