With platforms like YouTube or ArtStation, publishing online content has never been easier for artists, musicians, and writers. But what are you receiving for the hours of hard work you devote to your creations?

Building a patron-supported membership site is about more than just sharing content with your followers. Publishing content to an exclusive website positions you as a leader in your creative field. Plus, you get paid while you do it.

Learn how to leverage WordPress and Paid Memberships Pro to create your very own patron-supported membership site—and turn your creative passion into a sustainable career.

Banner for Why Creators Should Launch a Patron-Supported Membership Site on WordPress

Do I Really Need to Build My Own Website?

The short answer to this question: Yes.

Now, for the long answer.

You’re ready to take your creative pastime to the next level and begin offering fans exclusive content. With so many existing platforms available, why bother taking the time to create your own? Relying on a third-party website like Patreon or Kickstarter can be limiting for creators and small business owners. 

For example, if the platform you decide to use is running ads of their own, that means they’re making money off of your work. There are often creative and technical limitations when it comes to branding. Many creator platforms also come with rules for the type and volume of content you can share, for instance.

Creating your own patron-supported membership site gives you a permanent place to archive all of your hard work No one else can make money from your content just for hosting it.

Once you set up your website on WordPress, you’re on your way to turning your hobby into a side hustle. With PMPro’s Add On extensions, you can start to explore new features to drive support on your membership site.

How to Charge for Commissions 

While not every fan is looking for exclusive content per se, your website is a great place for followers to view your work and interact with you. Plus, the membership site structure allows you to offer something more to supporters. This could be a single payment tier or multiple tiers that include additional features and gifts based on contribution, for example.

For those who are interested in commissioning custom artwork or donating to your cause, you’ll need to consider how you can attach a monetary value to your work. Some questions to help guide this decision include: 

  • What does it cost you (in effort or materials) to do what you do?
  • How much money do you need from month-to-month for overhead costs like hosting your website?
  • What would it take you to turn your part-time passion into a full-time career? 

Using this framework, you’ll be able to create a standardized payment model to charge for your work. The exact combination of Add Ons you use will be unique to the content you create and how you plan to deliver it. 

For example, if want to deliver physical copies of commissions, you’ll need a checkout page that captures customer names and shipping addresses. When it comes to payments, you’ll want to be sure that you offer options that work for your members. Check out the Add PayPal Express to Checkout Add On to offer PayPal in addition to your primary gateway’s credit card option.

For premium content downloads, check out the Download Monitor Integration to restrict download access to members only. You can also use PMPro’s built-in methods for file protection.

Offering a variety of payment and delivery options helps you capture the most sales possible from members around the world. Ultimately, with your own patron-supported membership site you can control every aspect of the experience.

How to Generate Additional Support

Another way to generate user-funded support outside of commissions is to set a public goal or run a fundraising campaign. 

With the Goals Progress Bar Add On, you can display a customized progress bar anywhere on your site. You can put it in a post, widget, or on the footer of your page, for example. When it comes to donations, it’s helpful to keep track of user names and addresses. That way, you can easily send gifts to thank them for their support.

Your goals should be specific, such as raising a certain amount of money from each release, or fundraising for new materials. Supporters will be excited to see exactly how their contribution has directly advanced your creative efforts. If you want to collect additional donations, you can always use the Donations Add On to accept one-off payments.

If you want to accept gifts from supporters, you can give them the ability to set a custom amount. You can also offer users additional options at the checkout page to give them more choice when purchasing or donating.

Generating a mixture of revenue through things like commissioned work and donations will help you turn your artistic passion into a profitable business.

Maintaining Patrons and Growing Your Following

Once you’ve gotten your membership site off the ground and you’re accepting payments, keeping up with content creation is the top priority. However, using an email marketing integration will help you keep supporters updated on your latest work.

This leads to deeper relationships and ultimately, more sales opportunities. You can also give users a place to interact with you and other followers by creating a members-only forum. Our bbPress Integration or BuddyPress Integration makes this process simple. 

At the end of the day, your content does the heavy lifting. But using this combination of Add Ons can boost engagement, as well as customer lifetime value (CLV) among your supporters.

All of this leads to more sales, which helps you keep doing what you love to do: create. 

What Fees Do I Need to Consider?

One common misconception is that creating your own patron-supported membership site costs more than a third-party service like Patreon. Let’s talk about why this isn’t the case.

When you move to your own site, you eliminate platform fees on new subscriptions (aside from set gateway transaction fees). Third-party fees can quickly add up for active users. For example, these platforms typically charge an additional percentage on top of a base-level transaction charge.

With your own membership site, you avoid these entirely, only paying for hosting and gateway transaction fees.

In addition to the cost savings, you get the sense of security that comes with retaining control of your website. This serves as a permanent archive of your work as well.

Plus, you control your branding and the community experience for your supporters. 

Getting Started with PMPro

The benefits of creating your own patron-supported membership website are clear:

  • Full control of your branding
  • Less fees
  • More opportunities to connect with supporters

Paid Memberships Pro is the most complete membership plugin for WordPress. PMPro gives businesses and creators an easy way to restrict content and manage subscriptions while retaining total control.

Once you’ve created a patron-supported membership site, there’s no limit to your creativity. With a diverse collection of Add Ons and integrations, PMPro helps you give your supporters the best experience possible.

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