Thinking about bringing your paying subscribers over to Substack from Patreon? We'd love to have you!
If you’re trying to decide which platform to use, read on to learn more about how Substack works and how to figure out whether it’s right for you. If you do decide to switch over, we’ve also got advice on how to make the transition seamless for you and your subscribers.
Is Substack right for me?
Substack is a publishing platform that’s designed for writers. You can manage an email list, email posts to your subscribers, publish your posts on the web like a blog, create discussion threads, and publish podcasts and audio posts.
Whereas Patreon is a membership platform that supports a wider range of creators, Substack provides a clean, simple writing experience with the ability to easily add paid subscriptions anytime.
You don’t have to offer paid subscriptions to use Substack. It’s free for writers that have a free email list, regardless of your list size. If you do add paid subscriptions, we charge 10% of revenue, plus credit card fees (2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction) charged by our payments provider.
If you do add paid subscriptions, you don’t need to put everything behind a paywall, either. For each new post that you publish on Substack, you can choose whether to make it available to everyone, or just to paying subscribers. Some writers even make all their content free, but add paid subscriptions as a way for subscribers to show extra support.
Read more about going paid on Substack.
Substack might be the right choice for you if your primary output is writing, and you consider the posts you publish to be the major benefit to your subscriber base. Our platform is designed with writing in mind, including an editor that makes it easy to start publishing beautiful posts. On Substack, you can write posts that include images, rich embeds (like tweets, Instagram photos, YouTube embeds, and Spotify tracks), custom buttons, and formatting like block quotes and headings.
Learn more about what you can do with Substack’s post editor.
If you’re starting a newsletter or a publication, you can keep everything under one roof on Substack, which we’ve seen leads to better paid conversions and fewer headaches for managing multiple groups, platforms, and lists.
Both your public readership and your paying members are in one place, so you won’t have to work to convert supporters from one platform to another. You can write dedicated posts just for your paying subscribers from the same place that you write to a general audience.
Finally, Substack makes it easy for you to manage your email list, as well as paying subscribers. You can add or remove people from your email list, view your list and post analytics, and email subscribers directly. For paying subscribers, you can give out complimentary subscriptions, create an extra Supporter tier for readers who want to pay extra, offer discounts and free trials, and allow your readers to buy gift subscriptions or donate subscriptions to others.
I think Substack is more geared toward writers, which is the bulk of what I do. I think Patreon is still trying to figure out what it wants to be, but they've gone a lot more in the direction of other types of creative production.
How to make the switch
If you’d like to bring your subscriber audience over to Substack from Patreon, here’s how to make the switch as smooth as possible for you and your readers.
Export your pledge data from Patreon, which you’ll receive as a .csv file.
Create your publication on Substack and import your Patreon subscriber list, using the .csv file. Make sure this file only contains your active subscribers (i.e., remove any cancelled or deleted subscribers), because Substack will automatically import any email addresses in the file.
Set up paid subscriptions on Substack, which you can do from your Settings page.
Write a new post to your subscribers on Substack, where you explain that you’re going to wind down your Patreon page. A few tips:
Give them a specific date when you’ll switch. Choose a date that’s before your next billing cycle on Patreon. You can let them know that your first post on Substack will go out on X date, and your last post on Patreon will go out on Y date.
Explain that your existing supporters won’t need to do a thing – see next steps for more details.
While you have everyone’s attention, this is also a great time to zoom out and talk about your work at a high level: why you’re making the switch, what’s next for you, any new experiments or exclusive content you’re going to offer, an extra Supporter tier for readers who want to pay more, or whatever else feels authentic to you.
Give everyone a 1-month comped subscription on Substack. From your Dashboard, give a “complimentary subscription” to each of your paying subscribers on Substack that you previously imported from Patreon. Set the comp period to 1 month. After the comp expires, your subscribers will automatically be prompted to add their credit card information if they want to continue supporting you. [Note: you can comp up to 1000 subscribers at a time by pasting a list of their email addresses into the input box. If you have more than 1000 paying subscribers, write in to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll help you out.]
Disable your Patreon page before the comp expires. That way, you’ll still get your final monthly payout from your subscribers through Patreon, and then your next billing cycle will process through Substack.
If you’re looking for inspiration on how to message the transition to your readers, here are a few examples of Substack writers we’ve been lucky to welcome from Patreon:
“Announcement Reminder: We're Moving To Substack!” by Sophie Brookover and Margaret Willison, who write cultural commentary on Two Bossy Dames