Offering your fans a free trial of your Patreon could be a great way to convert curious potential customers into paying Patrons.
Patreon does not offer an official trial membership program, but they have hinted that this is something that they are working on. In a post in 2021, Patreon said they are developing changes to the Patreon payment system in order to support “gift and trial memberships,” because they know that many creators are asking for these options.
So while we wait for Patreon to roll out support for trials, we have to do it our own way. There are two ways you can offer fans a trial of what you offer on Patreon:
Option 1: Make a post on Patreon public
While the whole point of Patreon is to gate-keep content behind the paywall, Patreon does let you make any post public, so that those who aren’t pledged to your Patreon will be able to see it. Of course, your paying Patrons will be notified about this post and see it as well.
This can be a great way to give fans a trial of what you offer on Patreon. Let’s say that you make 50 bonus content posts per year on your Patreon. Each year, make one or two of these posts ‘Public’ so that your non-paying fans can see it too. Then, let your fans know you are offering this content free to everyone for a limited time.
What’s great about this idea is that your fans will be brought to your Patreon page to see the content, and then once they’re on your page, they’re more likely to pledge to your Patreon on the spot! In addition to seeing your content, they’ll be presented with the opportunity to pledge.
Check out a real example of a public post below. You’re able to see the content as a non-paying fan, and there’s a big ‘Become a Patron’ on the left side:
Option 2: Offer a refund to a Patron
This second method of offering a free Patreon trial is to offer someone a refund after they pledge. This method is a bit of a hassle, but it’s the only other solution we have until Patreon offers official support for trials.
With this method, a fan would pledge to your Patreon as they normally would. However, after they pledge you would visit your account’s Patreon Relationship Manager, look up this new fan, and then process a refund on their most recent payment.
To put this into a promotional scenario: You could tell fans that for the next two weeks, you will be automatically refunding every new Patron their first month’s pledge if they pledge within this timeframe. You would also have to tell them that the refund does not cancel their membership. In other words, they’ll be charged for future months unless they cancel their membership themselves.
While there’s a little extra work on your end, this could be a great way to let fans have full access to your Patreon free of charge. I would expect that several of these fans would stay pledged even after their “free trial” because either A) They like the content they’re seeing and/or B) They forget to cancel their subscription! So long as you tell them up front that their credit card will be charged for future months following their free month, there’s no shame in gaining new Patrons because they forgot to cancel their membership.
We don’t know when Patreon will roll out real support for free trials, so these two solutions are the best options at the moment.
If you want more help planning, building, launching, and maintaining a Patreon, check out my new online course that takes you through everything you need to know!