Setting up a Patreon to allow people to directly support your content creation is a great way to supplement income and connect with the most loyal members of your audience, but deciding on the best way to go about structuring Patreon tiers and rewards for subscribers can be daunting if you’re new to the platform. Fortunately, the system is actually fairly straightforward and very customizable, but it helps to understand what your options are, and what you need to keep in mind when setting up these features.
Before we get started, there are a couple of things you’ll need to understand about Patreon up front to get a grasp on how tiers and rewards work on the site.
Types of subscriptions:
When you create a Patreon, you are given the option to charge subscribers on a regular schedule or per creation. Most creators opt to bill on a monthly schedule, and most of our suggestions in this guide will be tailored to that, but it will be helpful to keep your own plan in mind when coming up with rewards.
When we talk about memberships, we’re generally talking about people subscribing to creators on Patreon, but creators have to set up a membership with Patreon itself first. There have historically been three options for that: Patreon Lite, Patreon Pro, and Patreon Premium, with each tier taking a different percentage of the income a creator earns from the site in exchange for different benefits.
However, Patreon Lite—the only level that didn’t allow creators to set different tiers for subscribers—was discontinued in June 2023. You may come across references to it when researching Patreon, but unless you already had a creator page set up and grandfathered in under Lite, this isn’t something you will need to worry about.
If you want to learn more about Patreon memberships for creators or choosing the right subscription frequency for you and your subscribers, you can check out our full guide to setting up a Patreon as a creator.
What are Patreon tiers?
Now that we’ve gotten the basics out of the way, let’s talk about tiers.
Patreon subscriptions are highly customizable, which means that creators are able to offer different reward options at different price points, commonly referred to as tiers. When potential subscribers check out your Patreon page, they will be shown the tier options you’ve created, the related price points, and everything they get for subscribing at that level.
It will look something like this:
How many Patreon tiers should I have?
How many Patreon tiers you decide to have depends a lot on the specifics of what you’re creating and how you are using the platform. For instance, are you a relatively new creator hoping to make some extra cash from Patreon? Or are you a well-established internet presence who does content creation full time?
Most people are likely going to fall somewhere in between, but a good rule of thumb unless you’re launching a massive campaign and have some experience in this realm already is to start out with 1-3 simple tiers both to get a feel for the process and the site, build a subscriber base, and get people in the habit of supporting you. Plenty of creators launch with just a single $1 tier—you can always add more later.
Can subscribers join multiple tiers on Patreon?
Your subscribers will only be able to opt into one tier at a time, but you can structure your tiers so that everyone subscribing at $3 per month will receive rewards specific to that tier as well as whatever you are offering to the $1 per month subscribers, the $5 subscribers will get everything at the $3 and $1 tiers, and so on. If you decide to do things this way, just make sure to be clear about it when you’re describing the perks that come at each level.
How should Patreon tier pricing be structured?
It’s important to remember that Patreon doesn’t work quite the same as a crowdfunding site like Kickstarter or Indiegogo. People pledging to those creators for a specific project are a lot more willing to give $50, $100, or even $500 because it’s a one-time pledge.
With Patreon, consistency is key. You want subscribers who are going to stay subscribed, both because it provides you a steady income and because it keeps your audience engaged with what you’re creating. That means it’s important to be realistic about what people are likely to give each month, or for each creation you post to your page.
Starting your lowest tier at $1 is a hotly debated topic, but each single dollar subscriber represents someone who may later convert to a higher subscription tier. And for now, they’re someone who is subscribed to your content and committed to helping you succeed. But if $1 seems too low, a $3 minimum pledge is frequently used by successful creators as well.
If you launch your page with three simple tiers such as $1 (or $3), $5, and $10 pledge options, that avoids putting too much of a financial burden on your subscribers up front, avoids putting too much pressure on you to deliver right out of the gate, and gives you room to grow.
One of the great things about Patreon is how easy it is for creators to interact with their patrons—which means you toss around tier ideas with people who are already, actively subscribed to your content and determine whether there is interest in more advanced tiers as time goes on.
It’s also worth noting that someone can subscribe to a tier but pledge a higher amount. So setting your highest tier at $10 doesn’t actually limit how much someone can pledge to you, and if you start to see higher offerings roll in, that can be another way to decide it’s time to offer more options.
What rewards should I include on each Patreon tier?
If you haven’t already spent time browsing other creators’ Patreon pages, that’s the first thing you should do before deciding what to offer for rewards on your own page. Look at creators who are making similar content to you, but it’s also a good idea to branch out into completely different fields. You never know when inspiration might strike.
Here are some examples of rewards creators might offer on Patreon:
- a newsletter
- early access to content
- behind-the-scenes videos or blogs
- patron-only livestream parties
- access to a Discord channel
- merchandise discounts
- digital downloads
- video bloopers
- access to archived content
Does Patreon make custom merch?
If you’re a veteran Patreon user from the subscriber side of things, you may have heard of Merch for Membership. This feature is for Premium users, although it can be added on for Pro users as well.
Merch for Membership is a program where Patreon allows creators to customize merchandise for subscribers at a certain tier, either as a one-time reward or something to be sent out at predetermined intervals as long as they stay subscribed. Patreon handles the actual creation and shipping of the merch, and offers more information about the program on their website.
How should I choose what rewards to offer at which tier?
Ultimately only you know what might work best for your patrons and for you, as the creator. But there are several key things it might help to keep in mind as you brainstorm ideas for Patreon rewards:
Know your content.
It makes sense for the rewards you offer in exchange for a pledge to tie into your content in some way or another. Having a clear idea of what type of content you plan to create will make it much easier to come up with meaningful rewards for your audience. And if your content is more broadly defined, such as funny TikToks or vlogs about your life, the same holds true—figure out what links your content (even if it’s just you) and branch out from there.
This is especially true for creators who may be juggling different types of creations—a podcast, a comic, a how-to series on YouTube. Be clear with your subscribers (and yourself) about which project they’re supporting, and if it’s all of them, figure out how to appeal to that broad crossover with your reward system.
Know your audience.
Similarly, it also helps to understand who your audience (target or existing) is, why they love your content, and what they might want from you that they aren’t currently getting. Patreon co-creator Jack Conte offers first dibs on concert tickets for his shows and video and audio tutorials showing how he creates his videos, knowing that he has both casual fans and fellow musicians/creators pledging to him each month.
Consider the time commitment.
Possibly the most important thing you can remember is that it’s easier to add tiers and rewards than it is to take them away. As exciting as it may seem to offer all sorts of different rewards for people supporting your content, they aren’t the only ones making a routine commitment—so are you.
Limiting how much time and effort you put into rewards so that you can devote the necessary time to the actual content that made people subscribe to you in the first place is a noble goal. There are many ways to achieve this—limiting the number of tiers, sticking to simple rewards, or even employing outside help. But don’t bite off more than you can chew right off the bat.
Consider the emotional commitment.
A number of creators promise interaction with fans in exchange for pledges. Sometimes this means interacting with comments, launching a Discord, group or one-on-one Skype calls, or even feedback on their own projects. This might seem easier than creating new content specifically for rewards but can have its own drawbacks—and be very time-consuming.
Building community creates longevity.
On the flip side, creating some sort of community surrounding your content is one of the things Patreon excels at. Whether that takes the form of launching a Discord or simply using the built-in posting and comment options, getting your subscribers excited about talking amongst themselves about your content, overlapping interests, or whatever else makes sense can help keep them coming back.
Be realistic about value.
People probably aren’t going to want to pay $20 per month for early access to videos, but they might throw a couple dollars your way for the privilege. And if the amount you think people would spend on something and the value it has to you based on how much time and effort it will take you don’t match up, it’s probably time to go back to the drawing board.
How do I manage tiers on Patreon?
After you’ve decided on your tiers and rewards, you can set up all the information on your Patreon under “My page” and “Add tier.” Come up with a clever title for each tier if you’d like, then fill in the monetary information, a clear and concise description, an image to go along with it, and then all of the benefits that tier has to offer.
If you aren’t ready to publish it yet, after you’ve saved the entry, you can click “Edit tier,” “Show more tier options,” and “Unpublish tier.” If your entire Patreon hasn’t been launched yet, you shouldn’t have to worry about this.
How do I edit or delete tiers on Patreon?
Editing tiers after launch can get a little tricky. If a tier has no subscribers, then all you have to do is navigate to “Edit Tiers” from the menu bar and change whatever you’d like. However, if patrons are already subscribed, you aren’t able to change the price of a specific tier—you can only unpublish or delete it and create a new tier, so as to prevent subscribers accidentally getting charged something they didn’t agree to pay.
When you get rid of an existing tier, patrons will still be charged the amount they pledged unless they cancel, but they won’t get any benefits until you and they take further action. Patreon suggests sorting your subscribers to locate the ones listed as having “no tier,” then messaging them about the new tier you’ve created to replace the old one. From there, they will have the option to opt-in to the new tier, another existing tier, or cancel their subscription altogether.
Can I limit patrons for each tier?
Patreon allows you to cap subscribers at a number of your choosing on a given tier. While that often isn’t necessary for most rewards, such as allowing people early access to podcast episodes or hanging out on your Discord server, if you decide to offer a tier with more time-consuming rewards, this feature can come in handy. Learn more about how to set that up here.
It’s important to put a lot of thought and effort into choosing your Patreon tiers and corresponding rewards ahead of launching them so that you’re offering your subscribers something meaningful and exciting that you can actually deliver on and so that you aren’t changing up the benefits too frequently as you try to determine what works best.
But if you do need to make changes, that’s okay. Just remember—it’s better to start small and grow your Patreon over time than to have too much going on at launch, and at the end of the day, subscribers are coming to you for your content, not the rewards. Focus on that, and then work out the rest.