In this article, we’ll be discussing a recent phenomenon: YouTube Fan Funding and Patreon being used to support the latest generation of content creators. Whether your channel is big or small in the grand scheme of things, fan funding is a model you should be aware of, and in this article we’ll be telling you what it is, how it’s been used, how you can use it, and more.
What is YouTube Fan Funding?
YouTube has an…interesting relationship with premium models. On May 9th, 2013, they introduced paid subscriptions to YouTube, an idea later followed up on with paid videos. While paid videos are still in effect today, this model has never been particularly popular for YouTube, so recently they introduced YouTube RED to allow users to pay for ad-free viewing while still giving content creators the money they would usually receive from ad revenue.
YouTube Fan Funding was introduced in September 2014.
In short, fan funding (and Patreon) allows users to make one-time donations to their favorite channels and content creators.
Fan Funding isn’t something that YouTube just came up with out of the blue, though: it was actually a response to creators using platforms like PayPal donations and Patreon in order to fund the creation of their free content.
Of course, that begs the question…
What is Patreon?
Patreon is a site introduced in May 2013. It functions as a form of crowdfunding, but works differently compared to its contemporaries like Kickstarter. What patreon does is allow fans- patrons- to donate a certain amount of money at set intervals. These intervals can be over time periods- say, a creator is paid X a month- or it can be in response to the release of new videos, artwork, music, etc. The goal of Patreon is to allow the modern content creator more freedom and mobility with the assistance of their fans.
Essentially, people who are funded by Patreon are being funded by their most dedicated fans. Some people are able to do high-budget content creation as a full-time job, funded completely by Patreon funding. Let’s talk about them.
How have creators used fan funding?
TeamFourStar with Dragon Ball Z Abridged and other parody series. This is an interesting example, since this kind of content can’t normally be monetized. A lot of the creators who turn to Patreon are making or creating content that they can’t charge for- but fans are welcome to pay them for the work, allowing people to stay afloat while creating the content they want to make.
Jim Sterling is a prominent (albeit controversial) video game critic. Jim Sterling grew popular thanks to his Jimquisition series, which was hosted on various major gaming sites. Eventually, he decided that he wanted to go independent, and to the surprise of many, his fans were able to pay him more than his previous platforms and allowed him to run his show with no advertisements.
A Fox In Space and other long-term animation projects. A Fox In Space is a retro-styled fan-made animated series based on Nintendo’s Star Fox series. A Fox In Space is notable for getting more views and favorable reception than Nintendo’s own officially produced anime series. Due to some ways that YouTube works, the platform isn’t ideal for animators. While we’ll discuss the ‘why’ of that soon, just know that Patreon offers a way out for many people making content like this.
How can I use it?
YouTube Fan Funding is integrated into the platform, and available to anyone who meets the following requirements described below.
Your account needs to be in good standing and you’re eligible for (or are) a YouTube partner and you’ve verified your account with your phone number. You need to have a Google AdSense account linked to your YouTube account. If you are in a network, your network needs to allow YouTube Fan Funding. Lastly, you must live in the US, Australia, Mexico or Japan. (As of May 2016, these are the only countries that support YouTube Fan Funding. This may have changed when you read this!)
It should be noted that Patreon exists outside of YouTube, due to it not being a part of the platform. However, YouTubers all over use Patreon to help fund their creations, and you can, too! There are no special requirements for signing up for Patreon– all you have to do is head to this page to sign up, and then start setting up your page. Patreon’s made their own guide to setting up your page that you can read here, but we’re going to go over some important tips and things you should think about just below.
Content that works well for Fan Funding
While every channel on YouTube can benefit from YouTube Fan Funding, figuring out whether or not you’re right for Patreon really depends on the kind of content you’re making. Most creators who turn to Patreon are doing so with high-effort content that takes a long time to create. Here’s some examples of high-effort content.
All forms of animation- 2D, 3D, etc. Good animation requires a lot of time and manpower regardless of skill, so if you’re an animator who isn’t doing this as a full time job, creating a Patreon could help lessen the financial burden on you and allow you to spend more time doing what you love.
Guides, reviews and series content. Making a series of tutorials, animations, reviews or discussions? Patreon might be just what you’re looking for.
Other forms of art and entertainment.
Content to avoid with Fan Funding
Lets Plays. You’ll be releasing a lot of videos fairly quickly, and if you have a good following you’re already making plenty of YouTube revenue. You can still make a Patreon account, but you should definitely set your payout to monthly. Setting it to per-piece will make fans fairly unlikely to want to pay you extra.
Other forms of content that can be created quickly and in high volume. Not only does quality suffer in these circumstances, but fans aren’t going to be happy about shelling extra in this circumstance.
How is Patreon different?
Patreon differs from YouTube Fan Funding by doing automatic payments on intervals over time, as opposed to a one-time donation. There are two intervals at which Patrons are charged: for every piece of content released on Patreon, or a flat monthly fee. Patrons can also set monthly limits just in case they don’t want to go over a certain amount on months you’re particularly active. Patrons are charged on the 1st of each month for their pledges, and you should receive the payment for those within the days following.
When choosing the way you want to charge your Patrons, consider the kind of content you make, how long it takes you to make it and how much effort it takes. High-effort content with a long turnaround time might be best for a per-piece fee, while content that can be put out more regularly is better suited for the monthly model. If you ever decide to change your model, be sure to alert your Patrons in advance, too.
Additionally, you want to offer incentives for donations. Don’t start paywalling the content you already make- instead, consider giving extra in some way to people who reach certain thresholds in payments. Access to early drafts or tutorials, for instance, are popular options among Patrons. They might also appreciate things like Patron-exclusive Hangouts calls where they get to interact directly with you- just take a look at other Patreon creators and think about what rewards would suit you!
Finally, consider what Patreon does to the rest of your channel. The better your Patreon does, the more time you can put into your channel- many people have gone fully independent and are paid solely by Patreon. The aforementioned Jim Sterling, for instance, has advertising and monetization disabled on his Jimquisition series since it’s paid for by Patreon and he doesn’t need ad revenue.
Think about what you can offer to your fans in return for their money.
Where is this going in the future?
Models like Patreon, Indiegogo and YouTube Fan Funding are all offering new, exciting ways ot pay content creators for the work that they do. It allows fans to fund the content they get for free, and it allows creators to profit or even make a living off of doing what they love. In the future, it’s very likely that these platforms will get bigger.
However, if you’re a small YouTuber, you may want to take some time to build your channel. One of the best ways to start building your channel is by collaborating with other YouTubers, which you can easily start doing with our app, Grin. For more informative guides like this, head over to our blog or take a look at our YouTube channel!
Are you a YouTuber? Check out Grin, we help YouTubers grow.