Diversifying your revenue income as a content creator is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your long-term financial stability and security.
With so many potential income streams, it's important to set yourself up for success and consider your options when looking at the big picture of your career as a content creator. Sites like Patreon offer customisable pathways to establish that connection between creators and their audiences that support the creator with direct income.
There are nearly endless ways you can customise and create membership options to suit your own style and content, but below are three approaches that may be useful as a starting point to see what would fit you personally.
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1. Community/ Fan Model
Give your community an exclusive place to connect to each other and to you. No matter what your channel is centred around, this approach turns paid membership into just that - a membership to a community of like-minded people. Many communities like this connect over a shared fandom of the content creator themselves, but this model can also be used to provide a dedicated space to those who have shared curiosities and values i.e. in the cases of education or lifestyle-based communities. Engagement from the creator can range from exclusive additional content such as community livestreams, to daily updates, to a more passive and moderating role. Within this type of model, creators can also utilise the tiered system, to allow fans closer connections, higher recognition, and more exclusive access with higher-priced tiers.
Example: Issa Rae
"HOORAE is a celebration of us. In that spirit, your membership will give you access to highlights, industry insights, surprise giveaways, and exclusive live experiences."
- Issa Rae
2. Gated Content
Let your community unlock advanced or exclusive content.
This model best suits educational-style creators who have a lot to give. A gated content model allows creators to have extended or premium versions of existing content tucked neatly behind a paywall, or give a more in-depth insight into how they create within their niche. Got a successful quick tutorial or lesson up on YouTube? Chances are your audience would be willing to pay for a more advanced version if they like your teaching style.
This style of membership model is also popular with podcasters - listeners who enjoy a free podcast often will be sold on paying a fee for more episodes or exclusive moments.
Additionally, for creators who produce a high amount of evergreen content in their niche - having an exclusive content library or 'vault' is a valuable asset that keen audiences will pay to have access to.
Example: Sylvie Von Duuglas-Ittu
"For patrons in particular, beyond everything else, I've saved the best. I've created exclusive article and feature content."
- Sylvie von Duuglas-Ittu
Sylvie's Patreon features hours of Muay Thai footage that is no longer public, documenting the techniques of legends. It also houses long-form session material, hours of audio discussions of everything around the Muay Thai life, and exclusive articles, commentary, and analysis.
2. Pay what you can
A flexible financial option for fans.
The pay what you can (PWYC) option is an equal-footed approach, where all financial contributors receive the same perks and rewards. This model encourages individuals to contribute what they can, but traditionally allows an easier level of access for the community overall.
Communication is key in this kind of model - some creators will list only one tier, whereas others will provide a range of suggested amounts with clear messaging that the tiers all receive the same reward.
Example: Tracy Barnett
"All of the tiers give you the exact same thing: access to all of the small games I make, bonus episodes of whatever podcast(s) I'm producing, and access to TheOtherDev Discord server. This "pay-what-you-can" system allows more people to get access to the stuff I make."
- Tracy Barnett
Tracy's Patreon hosts a wide variety of content, including early and bonus access to podcasts, the TTRPG games they create, as well as exclusive Discord server perks.
The above models are just a few starting places, but the best model is one that takes into account your own audience's needs as well as your capabilities as a creator.
Understanding the needs of your audience and the value you can provide to them as a creator is key to determining what structure you should use for a membership model, be that on Patreon or any other similar pay-to-access sites. Often times a business model on these platforms will mix-and-match elements from the above, with creators tailoring the community experience to a creator's own.
A final useful tip for creators who are curious or planning to set up their own paid community: look into other creators in your niche, and pay particular attention to what rewards they are offering. It's important to also weigh up your capacity to provide these rewards, and balance that with the potential revenue income they might bring in.
As long as the model works for you as a creator, and is giving your community the value they're looking for - the only limit to what you can do is your own imagination - so what will you try?
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