Facebook Fan Subscriptions: A Patreon Alternative?

Posted on July 28, 2018 by in Resources | 14 comments

Facebook Fan Subscriptions: A Patreon Alternative?

Monetizing your content is never easy. To be successful, you need to build a significant audience and convince them your articles, videos, or tutorials are worth paying for. Even if you get there, collecting that money can also pose problems.

With Facebook fan subscriptions, the platform wants to provide an alternative to services such as Patreon. In this article, we’re going to go over what this new Facebook feature offers and talk about how it compares to Patreon.

Let’s check it out!

An Introduction to a Subscription Business Model (And Why It’s Popular)

When it comes to purchasing digital products, you can boil down business models down to two types. The first is the one-time purchase, while the other is recurring payments, more commonly called ‘subscriptions’.

If you’re the person who’s selling the product, subscriptions may make you more money than one-off purchases. There’s also the added benefit of subscriptions giving you a more stable income, month after month.

When it comes to software subscription models are especially attractive. Take Adobe, for example. They switched to a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business model a while ago, and while the backlash was intense at the time, it’s a strategy that has become more popular in the years since.

The idea is, subscription-based models usually make for better business over the long term. The past few years have also seen the rise of several platforms that enable regular people to provide content in exchange for a subscription fee. Let’s look at one of those right now.

A Brief Overview of Patreon

The Patreon homepage.

In the past, famous artists would often have wealthy benefactors or ‘patrons’ that financed their projects. This relationship enabled artists to thrive and focus on creating new amazing things without having to worry about eking out a living.

Patreon is a platform that aims to replicate this, except instead of relying on a single patron, it connects content creators with hundreds and thousands of patrons. Each patron pays a few dollars each month in exchange for access to exclusive content. Content creators can even set up subscription levels with special rewards. Each month, the people you subscribe to will get money from each person that pledges to them, which Patreon collects and distributes. It’s pretty simple, but it’s also been a gamechanger for a lot of people.

This can be especially useful for creators that would otherwise struggle to monetize their content. This includes but is not limited to video creators, writers, artists, and musicians. For example, even if you “only” have 500 fans, getting them all to pay at least $1 a month can give you a pretty substantial boost to your regular income, at a very small cost to each individual patron.

While Patreon is a popular option, there are several other platforms that use similar models, such as Drip, and Memberful. The most recent addition to this method is Facebook and their fan subscriptions. Since Patreon is the leading website when it comes to this business model, we decided to use it as a measuring stick to see how Facebook fan subscriptions compare.

Facebook Fan Subscriptions: A New Alternative

Facebook has recently made an effort to attract more content creators to their platform. The goal is for the platform not to be used to share links or status updates, but also for people to post unique content.

The problem is, Facebook probably isn’t the first place you think of when you want to see unique new content. Video creators usually stick to YouTube, webcomic artists have their own websites, photographers have Instagram or Flickr, just to name a few examples. However, regardless of their chosen platform or their popularity, many creators still struggle to monetize their work.

Patreon provided them with a way to monetize their fanbase, and now Facebook wants to take a bite of that action. From what we know so far about their fan subscriptions, the system will work similarly to Patreon:

  • Exclusive rewards. Creators will be able to reward subscribers, although we don’t know if it will offer a tier system.
  • Monthly payments. As a subscriber, you’ll be charged monthly. The fee is currently set at $4.99 per month.

We also know that subscribers will get access to exclusive badges that show they support specific creators. The type of badge you get will also vary depending on how often you share their content or comment on it. These features make sense since the main advantage Facebook has over Patreon is its massive built-in audience. With that in mind, let’s look at how both platforms compare.

How Facebook Fan Subscriptions Compare to Patreon

Facebook is by far the leading social media platform these days, with billions of users. As such, the fact they’re jumping on the subscription-based business model is good news for a lot of creators.

As we mentioned, Facebook fan subscriptions will work very similarly to Patreon. The main unique feature is in how Facebook can leverage the platform at large, such as offering users badges they can show off. It also means that new users won’t need to register for a new service just to support someone with a subscription. Facebook has the distinct advantage of having a massive built-in audience. This may make it easier to scale your subscription count within the platform.

At the moment the Facebook subscription scheme is still in beta and only accessible to selected users that have registered for the Facebook for Creators program. As such, it’s difficult to gauge how it will stack up against Patreon and whether it’s worth considering jumping ship to Facebook’s alternative. The smart move is to focus on your current monetization platform for the moment and wait to see when Facebook’s alternative rolls out.

Conclusion

Fan subscription services are a lifeline for a lot of content creators that can’t rely on traditional monetization methods. They enable fans to support the people they like and get rewarded in the process. In other words, they’re a win-win for everyone involved.

There are a lot of subscription platforms available online, such as Patreon. Now, Facebook wants to challenge their dominance. From what we know so far, they’re not planning on implementing any groundbreaking features, though. However, with such a massive platform at their disposal, it’ll be interesting to see how they leverage it to their advantage.

What do you think about Facebook fan subscriptions? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!

Article thumbnail image by venimo / shutterstock.com

14 Comments

  1. The big problem for my photographer friends on Patreon would be Facebook’s censorship. It’s random and unmanageable.

    • I was ready to mention this problem. Patreon already started to be a lot more strict on censorship, then I can’t imagine about Facebook.

    • Agreed. I have a community on Patreon and I’d never use a sub model on Facebook because it could suddenly lock me out if I violate their vague community guidelines. I’m sticking with Patreon.

    • Curious about this. I have my issues with FB but I post photos twice daily to my page with ~3,700 followers and never had a photo censored. I’m not disputing it just curious what I should expect. Thanks for the heads up. -Michael

    • John Hughes

      That’s a very good point. It’ll be interesting to see how Facebook decided to tackle this, but this could absolutely be a considerable issue. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Sander. 🙂

  2. With Patron, we can give as much or as little as we want.

    « The fee is currently set at $4.99 per month. »

    Does that mean the fee is fixed at $4.99 ?

    • John Hughes

      For the time being, yes. Although, this may change in the future. 🙂

  3. Facebook is also developing a new version of its Rights Manager copyright tool which recently expanded to encompass Instagram videos that’s tailored specifically to video creators.

  4. If you live stream does facebook fan subscriptions work for that?

  5. Facebook is the dying whale in a sea of chum… it will be replaced, unless it TRULY re-imagines itself.

  6. Well, well…Facebook has numerous groups to censor a publication and many times quite often one authorizes and then another one rejects the previously authorized publication, for me uhm I don’t trust on it unless they promise and accomplish a congruency plan, for us to feel respected by Facebook, ‘cause they have been a tiranic service doing whatever they want with users and clients.
    Maybe if they correct their ways, maybe some will trust a little.

  7. Nope. Too many questions, too many possible problems.
    – Fixed contribution amount
    – Unclear what their cut will be
    – Unclear how much they can increase their cut over time
    – Puts MY content on THEIR platform, thus taking people away from MY platform
    – Opens my patrons up to cross-promotion from FB (“if you support that, you may like this”)

    I set up a Patreon-like system directly on my web site, using a membership plugin I already had in place. It has worked well.

    • John Hughes

      Those are all fair points, Bruce. At the moment it’s hard to see how this will work in practice and what the benefits will be, but the secrecy is absolutely making it harder to see the advantages over Patreon.

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