Over the past month or so, I’ve been seeing a few services pop up that allow you to get “tips” for your work on YouTube…or pretty much anything else.  The difference between these and other crowdfunding services like Kickstarter or Indiegogo is that there isn’t one big project being funded, it’s basically a “tip jar” much like Vimeo’s on-site system works.  Only in this system, it’s off-site, and there are plenty to choose from, and it’s not relegated only to YouTube.  Two in particular have sprung up fairly recently: Subbable, which comes from John and Hank Green, and Patreon, recently started by Jack Conte.

We’ll take a look at four services that do stuff like this.

Paid Subscriptions…But Still Free

The basic gist of these sites is that you can still watch the content for free, but if you’re the type who wants to pay something to show appreciation, you can do that.



The advertisers don’t care if you like the content you’re watching, they just like that you’re watching.  John and Hank Green started Subbable as a way to appreciate viewers, not views.

As always, the donations can translate into gifts from the creators.  Donations go to a “perk bank,” so if you pay $10 a month for 5 months, you have $50 in the bank to exchange for whatever gift is in that price range.  5 percent goes to the site, 5 percent-ish goes to Amazon to process payments.

Subbable appears to be for any kind of project, but it seems YouTube-centric as of now.

I first ran into Subbable when CGP Grey did this video:

And here’s the official Subbable video:


There’s a slight difference between Patreon and Subbable: Subbable does a monthly rate, while Patreon charges for the content that the creator has deemed “supported.”  So that could be one a month, or four a month, or whatever.  People donating can decide not to if they’d like (especially if it gets cost prohibitive).  Other than that, Patreon is definitely open to all sorts of creators–video creators, photographers, musicians, online comics, etc.

When Patreon came out, John Green was worried.  He thought people would think the new Subbable service would be seen as a rip-off of Patreon.  But Jack Conte, the creator of Patreon, alleviated those worries.  These two see each other as friendly competitors.

Gittip gittip

Gittip was founded by Chad Whitacre as the Zeta Web Design Company in 2002.  It became Gittip in 2013.  There is a major difference between this and the two previous entries: Gittip is more for the long-term, so you’re pretty much in this weekly if you decide to support someone.

The fees are charged for anything that Gittip itself has to pay for.


Flattr was created by Peter Sunde and Linus Olsson in 2010.

Flattr seems to be more directed towards the content discoverer, as you set up a “budget” to be able to “flattr” things.  Creators join the service and put the special “Flattr” button on their website…but you can also use it on YouTube when a Flattr user likes, favorites, or “stars” your content.

So, people set up their budget, and they can’t go over that budget in a month.  They can change the amount if they so choose.  It uses a Euro-based currency, and it divides the “Flattrs” into pieces.  As it says in the FAQ: 25 Flattrs will divide your budget into 25 pieces.  With a 10 Euro budget, each piece is 40 cents.

The idea of getting people to willingly pay for your free content has been controversial, only in that many people don’t think it can work or is sustainable.  But I wonder how much money you actually have to make off of these services to make it worthwhile.  It’s free to join, and while the services themselves have their fees, a little extra money here and there couldn’t hurt.  What do you think?  Are these services good for video creators, or will they see very little from them?