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6 Patreon Alternatives for Your Startup in 2019

Demand is rising for Patreon alternatives, especially with recent censorship controversy that sent users fleeing. Even without delving into a polarizing topic, it’s easy to see why people are looking at other crowdfunding sites. No startup wants to take a risk on a service they’re uncertain about. 

Startup businesses already face several decisions if you want to do it correctly. You'll need careful inventory management and a handle on credit card fees. And don't forget impeccable bookkeeping, financial management, and customer care. It’s an overwhelming responsibility, but if you examine each choice with a critical eye, you’ll be more likely to make the best moves for your success. 

On top of picking the best checking account for your startup, you want to choose the best ways to get paid! From refining how you accept credit card payments to signing up with the best crowdfunding site, every decision is critical for a startup. 

What is Patreon?

Patreon is a popular crowdfunding platform that allows creators to make money for the content they create. Unlike setting up invoice software or a virtual terminal for credit card processing, creating your Patreon account gives you a new platform on which to interact with users. 

Your fans might pay you a few dollars per month or per blog post, and they give you this money to support your continued growth. 

Pros and Cons of the Patreon Crowdfunding Platform

Before we get to Patreon alternatives, we’ve outlined the pros and cons of being a creator on Patreon below for your comparison: 

Pros: 

  • Works well for established niche creators with passionate fans. 

  • Allows you to set flexible funding goals. 

  • Provides an interface to track and interact with your audience.

Cons

  • Low discoverability of creative projects, even with keywording and hashtags. 

  • Limits rewards for new patrons (paying fans) for the first month. 

  • Slow payment processing means it can take days to process funds.


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The Best Patreon Alternatives

Kickstarter 

Kickstarter is a global crowdfunding site that started in 2009. Like Patreon, there are plenty of Kickstarter competitors on the market, but it still boasts over 16.3 million backers and $4 billion in pledges.

This platform is available to people from around the globe, and it is designed for one-time ventures instead of ongoing donations. 

Pros

  • Platform has been around for a decade and is trusted by users. 

  • Successful track record of funded campaigns and reliable backers.

  • Clean, easy-to-use platform. 

Cons

  • All campaigns are required to offer physical rewards to backers. 

  • All campaigns are subject to a lengthy vetting process, and not everyone is accepted. 

  • Campaigns are all-or-nothing—if you don't reach your financial goal, you don't receive the funds.

  • The corporation has been involved in its share of controversies

Like Patreon, Kickstarter takes a 5% fee from all funds. 

Podia 

Podia launched in 2014 as Coach and, in 2017, it rebranded to its current brand name. Though it doesn’t identify as a crowdfunding site, Podia allows thousands of creators to sell digital goods to customers. It markets itself as a creator-friendly alternative to Patreon. 

Once you set up your Podia account, you can sell digital courses, downloads, and memberships with no approval process.

Pros 

  • Streamlined user experience and user interface. 

  • Free trial for new members. 

  • Competitive plans for high-volume merchants.

Cons

  • Requires you to sell your products on an existing website.

  • Can be pricey for low-volume sellers.

  • Not a traditional crowdfunding provider. 

Podia chargers $79 per month if you want to offer memberships and $39 per month to sell digital content with no memberships. 

Memberful

Memberful started in 2013 as a way to help independent creators sell memberships and build business. It continues to do just that even though Patreon acquired it in 2018

Instead of serving as a crowdfunding platform, Memberful is a plugin for your website that allows people to subscribe for exclusive content. 

Pros

  • Starter plan is free, and you can reduce or eliminate fees by upgrading your account. 

  • Operates as a standalone service despite 2018 acquisition by Patreon. 

  • Allows you to offer different subscription plans for various lengths of time and levels of content. 

Cons

  • Owned by Patreon, making it undesirable for those looking to avoid the crowdfunding giant. 

  • Requires you to sell content and services on your website.

Memberful takes a 10% fee if you have the Starter plan. You can upgrade to Pro for $25 per month and reduce the fee to 4.9%, or Premium for a $100 monthly fee. The Premium option eliminates Memberful branding, but you must contact them for fee information.

Buy Me A Coffee

Buy Me A Coffee, or BMC, is a free donations platform for creators, and it started as a WordPress plugin. It is designed to help fans support businesses they care about. BMC allows creators to receive ongoing support, sell digital downloads, and share exclusive content.

Pros 

  • Buy Me A Coffee makes it easy to set up a free page to start receiving donations immediately. 

  • Convenient BMC donate button that can be placed on your website and shared on your social channels. 

  • Payments are transferred instantly via PayPal or Stripe. 

Cons

  • Smaller platform that requires an established base of fans. 

  • Pricing structure encourages smaller donations of $3, $4, and $5. 

Buy Me A Coffee takes a 5% platform fee, and payments are still subject to PayPal and Stripe processing fees. 

Indiegogo 

Indiegogo is a crowdfunding platform that ranks at the top of the list for Kickstarter and Patreon competitors. It was founded in 2008, and it operates on a reward-based system that allows people to raise funds for ideas, charities, startups, and products.

Pros 

  • Indiegogo has looser guidelines than its competitors, and it does not prescreen campaigns.

  • Offers a choice between all-or-nothing and keep-what-you-raise structures. 

  • Platform has been around for over a decade and is trusted by users.

Cons

  • Maximum campaign length is 60 days, which limits many users. 

  • Only offers crowdfunding for one-time projects. 

Indiegogo charges a 5% platform fee and a 3% payment processing fee, but campaigns are free to start. 

Liberapay 

Liberapay is a donations platform that started in France in 2015. It accepts recurring donations on an open-source structure. 

The difference between Liberapay and the other crowdfunding sites out there is that you don't link transactions to rewards or products. This eliminates most commercial-oriented projects. 

Pros

  • Liberapay is open-source and free to use. 

  • Free from Patreon’s content constraints. 

  • Useful for professionals with a supportive following.

Cons

  • Difficult for commercial businesses to gain traction.

Liberapay does not charge fees and is entirely free to use. You will still pay payment processing fees, however.

How to Choose a Crowdfunding Site

The nature of your startup will play a significant role in deciding on the best crowdfunding platform for your project. 

When you pick your Patreon alternative, give your choice just as much thought as when you're selecting a card reader or your POS. Startups are fragile and require careful decision making, lest your finances run out before you can get started. 

If you need a safe and secure way to accept payments from your customers, don’t forget the SumUp Card Reader. It pairs with any mobile device and can process over 500 transactions on a single charge. Additionally, you'll pay only 2.65% per transaction and face no monthly minimums. 

To keep reading about how to help your startup flourish, check out these articles: 

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Lindsey McGee