Thu 11 Feb 2021

Any experience using monthly subscriber model for online income generation of creative or training material, such as Patreon?

DBP Dhara (Sail Boat Project) Public Seen by 67

First off, I hope everyone is doing alright, it's a bit shitty at the moment eh!

At Sail Boat Project we are facing the prospect of a second season with hardly any on the water activities. Certainly bringing mixed groups of strangers together to spend five days sharing a small space seems a no-go! To avoid spending all our time hoping things will change and using lots of energy rescheduling sailing trips and courses to no end, we are focusing on generating online content. We have had two successful webinars (60-80 attendees each), that people sign up to on Eventbrite, and join in on Zoom. We have a few more lined up, all free, please help yourself!


They are on navigation theory, maintenance tips, cooking onboard, some talks etc. Initially this is to offer something to our customers who are being super supportive. (As an aside, we have £20,000 of people's money from 2020 and 2021 bookings and when we offered full refunds to everyone last week only £2,000 has been requested as refunds. We have suspended taking further bookings for the reasons stated above)

We would however like (or more like we need) to monetise these in future. As well as the webinars, we are also working on

Vegan Sailors' Cookbook - Quick and healthy recipes for boats, vans and camping please send any recipes!

The Co-operative Skipper - How not to be a shouty captain

Which will be pay-to-download resources, but could also be broken into bits that can be sent to subscribers

And also some merch to throw in, pin bades, Tees, knots poster, etc

So that's a bit of an update on us as a co-op.

My question is, does anyone have experience of setting up and maintaining a subscriber model? I am looking at Patreon. They take an 8-12% cut of your monthly subscriber income, with a lot of support offered. I would so much prefer this to go to another worker co-op. Is there an existing co-op out there who does or could do what Patreon offer?

I read through your thread @Kate Whittle about online learning for worker co-ops which was interesting, but I think this is along different lines.

Thanks in advance!


Kate Whittle Thu 11 Feb 2021

Hi Dhara,

Thanks for this. Sounds like life is pretty
tough right now for the sailboat crew, but you are clearly doing
all you can!

No my article on online learning, pretty
basic now, we are all learning so fast! It wouldn't help you
with running a patreon-like fundraiser.

I've no experience of setting one up, but we
use it in my choir to support the MD, and it works fine, very
easy to set up.

I know that's not what you are asking, but
anyway, I wanted to touch base.




Dhara (Sail Boat Project) Thu 11 Feb 2021

Thanks Kate! It feels like everytime we make a big decision, about a week or two later the UK gov falls in line with our thinking. Hearing ministers say don't book even a UK holiday is bonkers to hear, but kind of where we'd already come to in our team


Kate Whittle Thu 11 Feb 2021

You and everyone else with a brain! 😂


Dhara (Sail Boat Project) Thu 11 Feb 2021

I've found this https://en.liberapay.com/ which is free to use and "just" has stripe or paypal fees


Graham Thu 11 Feb 2021

The Patreon approach is good, apart from the extractive business running the thing. I agree that a co-op alternative to Patreon is a no-brainer. I'm not aware of direct co-op alternatives but I'll take a look-see. Not the same thing, but a bit like liberapay, is Open Collective. At Platform 6 Development Co-operative we operate a fiscal host service there to help new start co-ops emerge and raise revenue without needing a legal entity or a bank account. The Open Collective people are very co-op-friendly even if they aren't a co-op themselves (yet). So that might be one to consider, and it might work out a good deal cheaper than Patreon for you.

If you are thinking about doing the online thing for the longer term - if it works why stop doing it - then it would probably be worthwhile bringing the tech in-house rather than using third party platforms, to provide better control and optimise costs. Happy to chat about options there if interested, and/or share what we know about Open Collective.


Dhara (Sail Boat Project) Thu 11 Feb 2021

Nice! Thanks for this Graham. I've had a look at Open Collective, looks good. It would be good to chat about how you use it.