Understand your online audience: a survey report for creators


In the world of online content creation, success depends on building a loyal following of supporters who value your work and are willing to invest in it. For digital creators, this means understanding the needs and preferences of their online audience in order to create content that resonates and keeps supporters coming back for more.

To gain insights into the minds of both paying and potential supporters, we conducted a survey with 600+ respondents from two groups from Sweden and Norway: 

  • True Fans: followers who have paid to support their favourite video creators,
  • Curious buyers: those who haven't paid to support, but might consider doing so. 

In this blog post, we'll be sharing some of the key findings from our survey and exploring what they mean for creators looking to build a sustainable business. Whether you're a seasoned creator with a large following or just starting out and looking to grow your base of supporters, hopefully, the information we gathered can help you understand your current & potential supporters more.

1. What motivates and hinders True Fans to pay?

True Fans are the ones who have already invested in your content and are likely to continue doing so in the future. Our survey revealed some key insights about them:

1.1 Unlocking more content and the feeling of supporting matter more to them

Motivation to pay, True Fans, VOYD Survey


Content is king, but to be able to support you is one of the most common reasons why true fans pay. In their own words, it’s so important because:

The support can motivate creators to continue producing great content

  • ‘Because without it they would need to stop producing the content.’
  • ‘It helps creators to produce more content. Better quality content.’
  • ‘It' s a way for me to show preferred online content creators that I value and appreciate their work. This also increases their motivation to continue to create content with quality in which I show great interest.'

It’s necessary to show their love and appreciation to the creator and the content

  • ‘Because I want to show them that I like their content and want to give them support.’
  • ‘Combination of me thinking hard work deserves to be rewarded, and also if I can choose to donate or give a small amount of money as both a token of appreciation and a carrot for the content creator making content I enjoy to keep doing it, that's what I'm gonna do.’
  • ‘My favourite author brings me hope of a better life, so I want to send them support too.’
  • ‘They helped me the most, I can do something for them as well.’

1.2 Fans do have concerns and worries about paying to support

Concerns and worries, True Fans, VOYD Survey

While the differences between the concerns expressed by our survey participants were not statistically significant, we do have higher confidence in saying that fewer people are worried about unpleasant dialogues within the community, difficulty finding expected content, not wanting another subscription, or encountering issues with refunds, compared to the worry of not receiving the expected value.

This insight indicates it’s important that you:

  • Be clear about what fans can expect when they support your content, whether it's through a membership plan or other means.
  • Explain a bit about how the platform works, e.g. subscription/funding services you are using.
  • Be open about how their support will benefit you and your creative projects. By fostering a sense of trust and transparency, you can strengthen the relationship with your fanbase and encourage them to continue supporting your work.

1.3 How supportive can your True Fans be for your online business?

True Fans attitude, VOYD Survey

Fans understand that making content takes lots of time and effort, so some of them do want to support you no matter how frequently you post. Even if the algorithms seem to love frequency, your iconic pieces stay in fans, real human beings’ hearts.

However, fans would give even more love to you, if you do release on a regular basis. Besides, many of them don’t feel it’s a problem if you want to switch or explore another platform, they are okay to switch with you, but are also happy that there are more options so they can pick a favourite way to support you. 

These mean:

  • You don't need to rely on just one income stream. Many creators use a combination of platforms such as Patreon, YouTube membership, VOYD, and more to build up their income portfolio. Don't be afraid to try new things and be vocal about it - your fans will appreciate your transparency and openness. Check how our webinar for inspiration on how to diversify your income streams!
  • Quality always wins over quantity, but posting or releasing content on a regular basis would sound even more convincing and potentially acquire more paying fans, especially if you want to run a subscription-based program.

2. What motivates and hinders Curious Buyers to pay?

2.1 We are here for the content

Motivation to pay, Curious buyers, VOYD Survey

Content is the most powerful driver for them. It’s significantly more important than if they can meet other people who share the same interests, get access to something before anyone else, and few of them really care about whether they can directly connect with the creator or stay relevant or not. They wouldn’t pay unless they can discover new and valuable content because:

They are on the internet every day, and they are after unique, authentic, new, and inspiring content that could be challenging to find.

  • ‘I am always looking for new, fresh content on the topics I am interested in. I have no need to communicate with my favourite content creators, nor spend any money on content made for Twitch or YouTube. I want to watch my favourite things and move on to the next thing pronto.’
  • ‘If the content made by a content creator is not new or valuable, what is the point of watching it?’
  • ‘I want to discover new things for my children.’

They want to learn new knowledge and new stuff from professionals.

  • ‘There are many online creators who create content for free. But most of them are copycats. So for me important is that creator shows something new and unique so that I can learn something new.'
  • ‘I think that I should find value in my content, rather than only entertainment.'
  • ….

2.2 What does valuable content mean to them?

Exclusive content that free users can’t see or one can’t find anywhere else.

  • ‘Quite naturally, if I have to pay then I hope to get something that people who don't pay don't get.’

  • 'Because sometimes I need specific information about an issue that I can't find somewhere else and because the other options are not interesting for me.'
  • ‘I pay monthly for an influencer on Instagram, she writes very good texts and when you pay, you can read 4 extra texts per month. I really like her texts and opinions.'
  • ‘Sometimes I can find information that I need about something that I can't find elsewhere.’

Content that seems highly helpful or interesting to themselves.

  • ‘If the content creator is offering information and inspiration of high interest to me, I am willing to pay to get access to it.'
  • ‘I’d love to buy expert knowledge to reach goals faster and take the short route.’

2.3 What might hinder them to pay?

Concerns and worries, Curious buyers, VOYD Survey

When comparing the concerns of our survey participants, we found that significantly fewer curious buyers are worried about the friendliness of the community or the smoothness of the refund process, compared to the concern of not knowing exactly what they will receive.

This means if you want to convert more people outside your fanbase, you will need to:

  • Highlight the best aspects of your content, product, or program. Show the effort you've put into creating something of value and explain why it can benefit them.
  • Promote them on different SOME platforms. You can also partner with platforms that offer programs to help creators to increase reach and build awareness, like VOYD's Maximize program.

2.4 What are their opinions on switching platforms and post frequency?

Curious buyer attitudes, VOYD Survey

As shown by the graph above, they are more likely to pay when the creator releases new content on a regular basis, less than half of them feel ok if the creator switches platforms when they need to.

3. Comparing True Fans and Curious Buyers

3.1 Content is the key value that would drive online audience to pay and support

Both True Fans and curious buyers value "more content" as the most desirable aspect of what they would pay for and receive. However, we noticed that True Fans care significantly more about supporting creators, connecting with like-minded individuals, and having meaningful interactions with creators.

On the other hand, curious buyers tend to focus more on the practical aspects of a deal, such as whether it's a fair offer or not.

As a creator, it's important to keep in mind the different preferences of these two groups. By understanding the different priorities of these two groups, you can tailor your messaging and marketing efforts to better reach and engage with them. For example:

  • For Curious Buyers, consider producing a trailer or sneak peek of your content on YouTube or TikTok to appeal to those who are drawn to tangible value.
  • For True Fans, emphasize the community aspect of your work, highlighting the opportunities to connect with other fans and engage with you as a creator. You can also showcase how their support directly helps fund your creative projects.

3.2 Online audiences have different concerns which would hinder them from paying

True Fans care significantly more about how much the creators can actually get from what they have contributed.

Curious buyers concern more about whether the service is trustworthy and whether the payment would be complicated.

3.3 True Fans are more prepared to pay and posting frequency does have an impact

Comparison of True Fans and Curious Buyers, VOYD Survey

4. Conclusion

Based on the survey results, we can see that there are some notable differences and similarities between True Fans and curious buyers. While both groups are looking for more and longer content, True Fans place a greater emphasis on the creators and communities, whereas curious buyers prioritise practical considerations such as fair deals, valuable content, platform trustworthiness and ease of payment.

As a creator, you can utilize these findings to tailor your messaging to specific target groups. For instance:

  • You could create a trailer or sneak peek for your content on YouTube or TikTok so that even curious buyers who come across your content through the platform's algorithm can see the value it offers.
  • You could also emphasize the sense of belonging that comes with joining a community of like-minded individuals or share a membership content calendar to entice your online fanbase to sign up for a membership program.
  • Highlighting that your supporters will be not only getting great content but also contributing to the funding of your most important creative projects can make them genuinely feel that they're supporting something that truly matters.

VOYD help you to build up and strengthen new income streams by monetising content, releasing membership program, marketing and many more. Start your VOYD channel now!