What is Patreon?
Patreon is a “Drip Content” site, with membership features. It’s nothing new, they’ve simply rolled a few popular features of content publishing into a social package with few distractions and a catchy title.
Build Your Own
You can easily re-create all of the features of your Patreon page using a few easy plugins and WordPress. You will need hosting, but you can get that really cheap. This solution is not free, but if you make most of your income from Patreon support this is a good move for you.
WordPress + WooCommerce
First things first, you need to build a website. This is really easy. Sign up for some WordPress hosting someplace, and use one of the built in free WordPress themes or find one on the WordPress Repository.
Once that’s done, login and go to the plugins section of your administration dashboard. Search for WooCommerce and install it. WooCommerce setup is a bit complicated as there are a lot of options, but you’ll be focusing on “virtual” products so you don’t need to worry about shipping. Get your payment gateway configured (under Checkout settings), and you’ll be good to go. I recommend using Stripe as your payment gateway, you can find the Stripe extension for free at WooCommerce.com.
The subscriptions plugin at WooCommerce.com is the best choice to use for this method, but it costs $200. However, you can get the exact same plugin for $35 from wpspring.com. You won’t get any official support for it, but it will work and it’s 100% legal.
Once you’ve installed the Subscriptions plugin, set up a few subscription products for your various membership levels.
The final piece of the puzzle is the Restrict User Access plugin. This plugin is free. It offers many different ways to restrict access based on membership levels. One easy way is to create a tag on posts you want restricted, such as “Level One” or “Level Two”, then you can create access levels with access to specific tags.
There you have it
This is not a step by step tutorial, but these tools are very easy to use. If you would like help with putting this all together please feel free to email me.
A few people have raised the concerns of costs or labor required to maintain a WordPress website. My intentions with this article are altruistic and not commercial, however because it can be difficult to find a good affordable solution for hosting I am going to plug my own service, https://pridetechdesign.com.
You can get a fully managed high quality VPS on Digital Ocean servers, pre-configured with WordPress, complimentary domain registration, full E-mail capability, enhanced security features, and 24/7 monitoring for trouble, for as low as $10/mo or $102/yr (15% discount for annual payments).
To keep your website and data secure there’s a number of very cheap maintenance plans available. Updates and Backups are $5/mo or $51/yr, while additional enhanced security and more vigorous backups are $15/mo or $153/yr.
This means that you can do everything I mentioned in the article above for $12.75 per month. Consider the 5% fees that Patreon charges and decide for yourself what is best.