A great way for content creators and social media influencers to build a passive income is to set up a premium membership program.
Whether you run an informational YouTube channel and want to earn some money on the side by creating premium content or you run a nonprofit and want to give your fans a way to support you, sites like Patreon and SubscribeStar let you do that.
Patreon is much more famous than SubscribeStar. However, there are some reasons you may be looking for an alternative – perhaps you find Patreon too expensive, or Patreon banned your account due to creating certain kinds of content.
If you are using SubscribeStar, you may be dissatisfied with how long it takes for you to get paid and considering Patreon as an alternative.
In this article, I will compare Patreon and SubscribeStar so you can decide whether to switch from Patreon to SubscribeStar – or if you are just starting, which one to choose.
What Is Patreon And What Is SubscribeStar?
Both Patreon and SubscribeStar are subscription-based membership sites. Unlike YouTube or blogging, where you create and publish content for free, only people who sign up for a membership can access your content on Patreon or SubscribeStar (though some content can be made available to the public for free).
This allows content creators to earn money from their fans. YouTubers can create premium content, podcasters can offer premium podcasts or other perks (such as podcast transcriptions) to subscribers, and nonprofits can give supporters a way to support them.
Patreon vs SubscribeStar – What Kind Of Content Can You Create?
What kind of content is allowed on Patreon or SubscribeStar?
One of the reasons so many YouTubers have a Patreon account is to post videos that would violate YouTube’s guidelines and be demonetized.
There are many reasons YouTube may demonetize content — a video may touch upon sensitive topics like violence or contain offensive language, such as curse words, and therefore be demonetized.
As such, many YouTubers put their “vanilla” content on YouTube while posting some of their more controversial content on Patreon, behind a paywall.
However, that does not mean that Patreon is a free for all. There certainly are restrictions on what you can post.
For example, while Patreon does allow nudity (provided the content is marked as 18+ and is posted in a patron-only area), it does not allow outright pornography, fringe sexual content creations (such as incest), and glorification of violence.
Doxxing, as well as harmful and illegal activity, is also prohibited. Some people are not allowed to use Patreon, such as politicians and people or organizations with a known dangerous or criminal past (such as people who have made threats against others).
These restrictions help keep Patreon a safe place. While Patreon does not have black and white guidelines that will automatically disqualify content like YouTube does, giving creators more freedom, there is a line that can not be crossed.
SubscribeStar also has guidelines. For example, you can’t break the law, you can’t share personal information, you can’t infringe on someone’s copyrights or impersonate someone, you can’t spam, you can not spew bigotry and hatred, you can not cover social events like marches or protests, etc.
However, it does seem that SubscribeStar (and SubscribeStar Adult) is a bit more liberal than Patreon in what it allows. Certain content creators, including political commentators, have switched from Patreon to SubscribeStar for that reason.
According to this article in the Financial Times, PayPal has banned SubscribeStar for this exact reason.
SubcribeStar vs Patreon – Processing Fees And Pricing
How large is the cut that SubscribeStar and Patreon take from the money you make? For example, if you charge $10/month for your membership, how much of that $10 goes to you?
When using Patreon, you will have to pay both a portion of your monthly income and a processing fee for every payment made to you.
Patreon has two payment processing schemes set up:
- The standard rate applies to all payments that are more than $3. This is 2.9 percent + a flat rate of $0.30. So, if you charge $10/month, Patreon will take $3.20, leaving you with $6.80.
- The micropayment rate applies to all payments that are $3 or less. It is 5 percent + a flat rate of $0.10. So, if you charge just $2/month for a low-tier membership plan, Patreon will take $0.20, leaving you $1.80.
In addition to the payment processing fees, there are the service fees, which depend on your plan. Pricing is as follows:
- Lite: If you are on the Lite plan, Patreon will only take 5 percent of your monthly income. You will get access to all of the basic features of Patreon — enough to set up a page, create content, and communicate with your fans.
- Pro: The Pro plan will cost you 8 percent of your monthly income. You can set up different membership tiers, which you can not do on the Lite plan. You can also offer Special Offers, get unlimited app integrations, and more.
- Premium: The Premium plan costs 12 percent of your monthly income. You will get a dedicated partner manager, access the Merch for Memberships program, and can set up Team Accounts. However, not everyone can join the Premium plan, as it is meant for content creators who have at least 100,000 subscribers on YouTube or another platform. You can apply if you want to be a Premium member.
When calculating how much you can earn, make sure to include both the service fees and the monthly processing fees. For example, if you are on the Pro plan, that will be 10.9 percent of your income + 0.30 for every payment.
Always check the Patreon pricing page for updated pricing information.
SubscribeStar is less confusing, as they only have one plan. Here is their fee structure:
- Five percent service fee: This applies to all content creators and is SubscribeStar’s cut.
- Payment processing fee for payments under $30: This is 2.9 percent + 0.30 per payment. This money goes to the payment processor.
- Payment processing fee for payments over $30: This is 3.5 percent + $0.30 per transaction.
The great part about SubscribeStar is that on their homepage, they have a calculator you can use to figure out how much you can earn per month, after taking fees into account.
Simply select how many subscribers you expect to have and how much you plan to charge per subscription.
SubscribeStar is cheaper than Patreon, as all creators get access to all features for one price.
However, if you are looking for Premium features like a dedicated partner manager and Merch for Memberships, consider Patreon instead (if you have over 100,000 subscribers on social media).
Patreon vs SubscribeStar – Building Relationships With Patrons
If you want your patrons and subscribers to stick around, it is important to provide them with quality premium content and work on creating relationships with them. Which site lets you do that better, SubscribeStar or Patreon?
Patreon offers several tools to help you build better relationships with your patrons. The top tool is the Patron Relationship Manager.
There, you can see a list of your current patrons and their information, including their current status. For example, you will see Active Patrons, Former Patrons, Refunded Patrons, and more.
You can filter your list of patrons by status, tier level, pledges, and more.
In your Patron Relationship Manager, you can send all new patrons a welcome message. You can also select individual patrons or a list of patrons and send them a message.
For example, you can select all of your Active patrons who are on your bottom tier and send them a message to encourage them to join your more expensive tier.
Your followers and patrons can also leave comments on your posts, and you can reply to them. All patrons who have an active membership can send you a message using the Patreon Messages system, allowing them to reach out to you with questions, ideas, and feedback.
SubscribeStar also makes it easy for your subscribers to message you. You can also message your subscribers whenever you want.
SubscribeStar vs Patreon – Integrations And Tools For Creators
In this section, I will explore other tools available to creators, as well as integrations.
For example, can you integrate with WordPress? Will you get detailed analytics?
The tools you will have access to on Patreon depends on whether you are on the Lite, Pro, or Premium plan.
For example, if you are on the Lite plan, you can message your patrons and attend Patreon led workshops, but you won’t have access to features like analytics and Merch for Memberships. On the Pro plan, you will be able to attend creator led workshops and access analytics, but not Merch for Memberships.
The Merch program allows you to reward patrons who have been loyal members for a certain number of months. You can also give out monthly merch, such as monthly stickers, or seasonal merch at certain times of the year.
You can also offer welcome merch to new members or offer limited time merch as an incentive to get people to sign up as patrons.
Patreon integrates with Discord, where you can set up a channel for your patrons to chat, share information, and hold discussions. Discord allows for both text and voice chat, and you can schedule times to go live on Discord.
You can also reward your patrons with special colors on Discord.
The Discord integration is only available to Pro and Premium members. However, it is free to use and allows you to set up a live chat room.
If you would rather set up a traditional forum than a live chat room, you can use Patreon’s Discourse integration. Discourse is free for up to 50,000 pageviews, if you are a Pro or Premium member and receive at least $50/week in patronage, and you can reward your patrons with special badges on Discourse.
Discourse is great for polls, Q&A sessions, and other types of discussions that take place on forums.
If you have a blog, podcast site, or forum and would like to offer exclusive content to your patrons on that site, you can use Patreon’s WordPress integration. You can lock certain content and make people unlock it with their Patreon accounts.
Patreon both offers its analytics with the ability to track your earnings and set goals and integration with Google Analytics.
There are various other apps you can integrate with Patreon as well:
- Acast: Share RSS fees with your patrons
- BackerKit: Manage your Merch or Patron store
- Bonjoro: Send personalized welcome and thank you videos
- Community: Text your patrons
- ConverKit: Set up email marketing campaigns
- Crowdcast: Stream live webinars and events
- Discord: Set up a live chat room
- Discourse: Set up a forum
- Format: Build a website
- GetVoki: Live stream
- Goodbits: Send out curated email newsletters
- Itch.io: Set up an Itch.io project
- Karat: Get a creator credit card
- Mailchimp: Send out emails
- Lens: Provide exclusive peeks and content
- Mighty Networks: Integrate with your courses
- 99Designs: Create designs for your merch
- Patronizer: Credit patrons in videos
- Sellfy: Offer discounts on your store
- Sonix: Convert audio to text
- StageIt: Hold virtual concerts
- Streamlabs: Acknowledge patrons during streams
- TubeBuddy: Acknowledge patrons during YouTube videos
- Vimeo: Share exclusive patron-only videos
- Webtoon: Create webcomics
- WordPress: Integrate with your site
- Zapier: Create Zapier integrations and workflows
- And more
SubscribeStar also provides several tools and integrations to help creators, though not nearly as many as Patreon.
Like Patreon, they provide their analytics section, where you can see breakdowns of your tiers and the amount collected per tier, pledges by country, income charts, subscriber activity, income sources, pledges per tier, and more. Like Patreon, they also provide a Google Analytics integration in addition to their analytics.
You can set monetary goals and encourage your subscribers to help you reach them. To protect your content, you can enable a Trust Period, limiting new subscribers from seeing some content to prevent content skimming and copyright infringement.
You can also enable the Captcha Test, which would require your subscribers to pass the Captcha test every 24 hours. This will prevent bots from scraping your content.
You can also enable two factor authentication so that others don’t log in to your account without your permission.
Like Patreon, SubscribeStar integrates with Discord, allowing you to set up a Discord server for your subscribers. In addition to chatting with your subscribers on SubscribeStar or Discord, you can set up quick polls to get feedback.
Although SubscribeStar does not offer all the other app integrations that Patreon does, they offer an API and a Webhooks API that you can use to connect your own applications with SubscribeStar.
To get more exposure, you can request to be featured on the SubscribeStar homepage, in the “Success Stories” or “Are You a Star?” sections. Also, all stars are grouped by category, so people who follow other stars who have similar interests will easily find you.
Patreon vs SubscribeStar – Getting Paid
How often do you get paid, and which payment methods are used? Can you get paid via PayPal, and will you get paid quickly after requesting a payout?
There are three ways you can get paid by Patreon: Direct deposit via Stripe, PayPal, and Payoneer. Stripe is used to send money to your checking account but can not be used to send money to a prepaid debit card or a savings account.
PayPal can also be used, and from PayPal, you can transfer the money to your bank. Alternatively, you can get a PayPal debit or credit card and use that to withdraw money at ATMs or make purchases online or at stores.
For Patreon creators who live outside the United States, you can use Payoneer. Payoneer also allows you to transfer money to your bank or use a Payoneer card to access your cash.
You have two options for withdrawing your money: You can set it up so that you get paid automatically, every 5th of the month, or you can withdraw your money manually.
Withdrawals can be made once every 24 hours and take between one and five business days after each request. The minimum balance needed to request a payout varies ($10 for PayPal and $25 for Payoneer), as do the fees charged per payout (for example, it is $0.25 for direct deposit and $1 for Payoneer).
You can get paid in currencies other than USD as well.
As mentioned, SubscribeStar is not supported by PayPal. The only way to withdraw money is straight to your bank account via wire or ACH.
You have to make a payout request, but you can only do that every 14 days. It can also take up to 14 days after you submit your request for the payment to be processed (the exception is if you are requesting a payout for referral commissions, which can take up to 20 business days).
Also, you can’t make a payout request in the first 14 days after your account was approved. You also need to have at least $150 in earnings and at least five active subscribers to make a payout request.
SubscribeStar vs Patreon – Creator Education, Resources, And Support
Are there any resources available to help you as creators?
Patreon has both Patreon led workshops and creator led workshops, though Lite members don’t get access to creator led workshops.
Patreon workshops are held every week, live, and last for up to 45 minutes. Each week, a new topic on growing your business will be covered; you can watch recordings of previous workshops on demand.
Creator led workshops are similar but are hosted by successful Patreon creators.
There is also Patreon U, an online “university” that will teach you all you need to know about using Patreon properly to make money online. You can go to Patreon University here and search through different topics.
Patreon provides excellent customer support to your patrons. There is a complete help center for both patrons and creators, a help request form, and a phone number to call.
If a patron’s payment method fails, Patreon will send reminders to update their payment information.
You can call or send a message to support if you need help, and you can also browse the FAQs section to see answers to common questions.
SubscribeStar, like Patreon, has recurring billing, but only if you have five active subscribers. Otherwise, your subscribers will have to manually make a payment each month to maintain their subscriptions.
Similarities And Differences
|Membership Tiers||✓ (only Pro and Premium)||✓|
|Mailchimp and ConvertKit Integration||✓||✗|
|Get Paid Via Paypal||✓||✗|
|Get Paid Every Month Automatically||✓||✗|
|Get Paid Via Bank Account||✓||✓|
|Get Paid Via Payoneer||✓||✗|
|How Often You Can Request a Payout?||Every 24 Hours||Every 14 Days|
|Offer Merch to Patrons||✓||✗|
So, Which Is Better? Patreon Or SubscribeStar?
Patreon is generally a better choice, as it is more well known, has more and better features, and pays out quicker and more often. If you are just starting, you can choose the Lite plan, which is not more expensive than SubscribeStar.
Then, as you get more patrons and make more money every month, you can upgrade to the Pro membership to set up different membership tiers and integrate with Discord and Discourse.
SubscribeStar is a bit cheaper, but it also does not allow you to get paid as often, which is a big disadvantage. With Patreon, you can get paid as often as you wish, and the minimum payout is only $10 as opposed to $150.
You would only be better off using SubscribeStar if you create controversial content that Patreon might be strict about. Otherwise, Patreon is the better choice.
Benjamin Levin is a digital marketing professional with 4+ years of experience with inbound and outbound marketing. He helps small businesses reach their content creation, social media marketing, email marketing, and paid advertising goals. His hobbies include reading and traveling.