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Ko-Fi vs Buy Me A Coffee: The Difference & How To Choose

By Matthew Vultaggio

January 25, 2022

If you are looking to make money from your art by offering a way for your audience to support you through donations or memberships, I’ve looked into the differences and similarities between Ko-Fi and Buy Me A Coffee to help you choose the right platform.

Buy Me A Coffee and Ko-Fi are similar as they allow creators to accept one-off donations, memberships, and create a shop. The difference is that Ko-Fi offers more features and takes a 0% or 5% cut, and Buy Me A Coffee offers less and takes a 5% cut but allows supporters to donate without creating an account.

At the end of the day, these platforms are the same in the way that they can be viewed as an “online tip jar” where supporters can give donations to creators for what they are already creating.

However, they are just a bit different in how much they charge creators as well as what they allow creators to offer their potential supporters.

To learn more about Ko-Fi and Buy Me A Coffee so that you can help figure out the right platform for you, simply keep on reading, my friend. 🙂

Which Is Better Ko-Fi Or Buy Me A Coffee?

Both Buy Me A Coffee and Ko-Fi are similar since they both allow creators to accept one-off donations, memberships and sell items with a shop.

With that said…

Ko-Fi is better than Buy Me A Coffee since it offers more features, has a 0% platform fee for any donations you get, and only takes 5% of any income you make from membership or shop sales. This 5% cut can even be removed if you subscribe to Ko-Fi Gold for just $6 per month.

With that said, Buy Me A Coffee does have a slight edge over Ko-Fi when it comes to its better name and ability for supporters to make donations without having to go through the process of signing up for and setting up an account at all.

In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into both of these 2 platforms in detail to help you make the right choice.

However, here is the TL;DR…

If you want to pay less and offer more then Ko-Fi is likely better for you and if you don’t want your supporters to have to create an account to donate to you then Buy Me A Coffee is likely the platform for you.

Why Choose Ko-Fi Over Buy Me A Coffee

Both Buy Me A Coffee and Ko-Fi are the same in the way that they can be viewed as an “online tip jar” where supporters can give donations to creators for what they are already creating without asking for too much in return for that donation.

What’s really great about Ko-Fi is the fact that Ko-Fi creator accounts are free to set up and they take 0% platform fees on any one-off donations that come your way.

In addition to this, you can go beyond the “online tip jar” approach by offering memberships, shop purchases, and commission sales with Ko-Fi and they only take a really small 5% cut on the income you earn from these offers.

Even more awesome is the fact that you can actually have the 5% cut removed if you subscribe to Ko-Fi Gold for $6 per month, which will also give you access to some extra features like analytics and customizations.

Ko-Fi is perfect for more casual content creators, anyone looking to dip their toes in offering memberships, or anyone that wants to pay 0 platform fees.

Let’s take a closer look at exactly what you get when using Ko-Fi before taking a closer look at Buy Me A Coffee.

What does Ko-Fi allow you to offer to your audience?

You can use Ko-Fi to offer your audience the ability to support you with one-off donations as well as recurring memberships.

The nice thing about Ko-Fi’s memberships is that you are able to offer different recurring membership tiers that have different price points and benefits just like you can with a more complex Patreon page.

In addition to one-off donations and memberships, you can also offer products with a Ko-Fi Shop and accept commissions or requests for unique work.

You can create members-only and public posts with Ko-Fi, however, the main appeal of Ko-Fi is being able to accept donations as if it were a tipping jar for the content you are already freely providing.

There is no pressure on you as a creator to provide anything specific in return like “bonus content” for a donation since there are no specific incentives for anyone to donate in the first place.

Just like with Buy Me A Coffee, you get a profile page that you can send people to where they can support you.

Does Ko-Fi have any discovery features for helping new supporters find you?

The main discovery feature that Ko-Fi has is a dedicated “Explore” page on their website that showcases featured creators as well as a way for people to search for different creators under different categories.

However, just as with Buy Me A Coffee, you will really need to do all of the work to bring people to your Ko-Fi page and convince them to support you – so having an audience first is very important.

How does Ko-Fi’s pricing work?

Ko-Fi has one of the most generous pricing plans out there and is a touch simpler and more generous than what Buy Me A Coffee offers.

Ko-Fi creator accounts are free to set up and they take 0% platform fees on any one-off donations that come your way while taking a 5% cut on memberships, shop purchases, and commission sales.

What is awesome is the fact that you can actually have the 5% cut removed if you subscribe to Ko-Fi Gold for $6 per month, which will also give you access to some more features such as:

  • Hi-res downloads
  • Setting a custom price for donations
  • Having a shorter Ko-fi username
  • Being able to integrate Google Analytics
  • Having the option to create public or supporters-only posts

Just like with any platform, payment processing fees (for PayPal or credit card) will be subtracted from any type of paying transaction you have on Ko-Fi.

How long does it take to get paid when using Ko-Fi?

Getting paid with Ko-Fi is very similar to how you get paid with Buy Me A Coffee in the way that you get paid instantly and do not have to build up a monthly balance or hit a minimum withdrawal threshold at all.

What kind of analytics does Ko-Fi provide?

Ko-Fi offers analytics through an integration with Google Analytics for any creator that is subscribed to Ko-Fi Gold. This integration will allow you to see where page visitors are coming from, how they found you, and what the page counts are on your posts.

Is Ko-Fi safe and legit to use?

Ko-Fi is safe to use for anyone that wants to sign up as a creator or wants to sign up to support creators. Although it doesn’t seem to be as popular as Buy Me A Coffee, Ko-Fi has been around longer (since 2012) and has definitely proven to be a safe and legit platform in that time.

The popularity factor likely is due to the really awesome “Buy Me A Coffee” name compared to the kind of mysterious “Ko-Fi” name – Buy Me A Coffee as a name is much easier to understand for anyone looking to donate.

With that said, it can be a smart idea to not mention the name of the platform when asking for donations and simply ask for donations or support more generically.

By having a page on your website forwarded to your donation platform (ie: yourname.com/support forwarding people to your Ko-Fi page) you can point potential supporters to that website page in case you ever want to change your donation tool in the future.

How good is Ko-Fi’s support?

Ko-Fi has fairly solid customer support with ways to get help through a knowledge base and ways to contact them through a public email or simple contact form without too many fields.

Why Choose Buy Me A Coffee Over Ko-Fi

Similar to Ko-Fi, Buy Me A Coffee can be seen as more of a simple online tip jar that can lead to recurring memberships and is great for any individual who wants to accept donations without a particular project being worked on.

Ultimately, there are really 2 standout features that Buy Me A Coffee has over Ko-Fi:

#1 – No Accounts Required: It is possible for potential supporters to donate to you with Buy Me A Coffee without having to sign up for and set up some kind of Buy Me A Coffee account.

#2 – A Better Name: Buy Me A Coffee as a name is much easier to understand for anyone looking to donate when compared to the mysterious “Ko-Fi” name.

In addition to this, you can also create a shop and offer recurring memberships with Buy Me A Coffee, however, you can’t offer different membership tiers with different perks available like you can with Ko-Fi.

Buy Me A Coffee is perfect for anyone that wants to have their supporters donate to them with the least amount of obstacles possible (because they don’t need to create an account) or anyone that wants to offer very simple memberships.

Let’s take a closer look at exactly what you get when using Ko-Fi before we can definitively decide which platform is best for you.

What does Buy Me A Coffee allow you to offer to your audience?

You can use Buy Me a Coffee to offer your audience the ability to support you with simple one-off donations as well as recurring memberships.

Although you can’t offer different membership tiers with different perks available like you can with Ko-Fi, you can create a shop where supporters can buy individual items like zoom calls, commission work, digital products, and more.

The website currency is “coffees” and you get to set the price for what 1 coffee is worth and then supporters can choose how many coffees they want to donate – you can even provide discount codes.

You can create members-only and public posts with Buy Me A Coffee, however, there is no pressure on you as a creator to provide anything specific in return here such as “bonus content” for a supporter’s donation.

Just like with Ko-Fi, you get a profile page that you can send people to where they can support you.

Does Buy Me A Coffee have any discovery features for helping new supporters find you?

Buy Me A Coffee does not have any discovery features for helping new supporters find you – they don’t even email the supporters you gain to promote their own stuff.

Just as the case with Ko-Fi, you will need to do all of the work bringing people to your Buy Me A Coffee page and convincing them to support you.

How does Buy Me A Coffee’s pricing work?

Buy Me A Coffee’s pricing will cost you more when compared to Ko-Fi: they have 1 plan available which takes 5% and payment processing fees off of any income you generate on Buy Me A Coffee.

It is free to create a Buy Me A Coffee account and you only give a cut to them when you are actually making money.

How long does it take to get paid when using Buy Me A Coffee?

Just like Ko-Fi, Buy Me A Coffee has a simplified way of receiving your payments – you instantly get paid instead of having to build up a monthly balance or hit a minimum withdrawal threshold (like you do with Patreon).

What kind of analytics does Buy Me A Coffee provide?

Buy Me A Coffee provides analytics for free to all users. The analytics that they provide include data on earnings, page views, supporter count, sources for visits and purchases, the country of supporters, and more. There is also a Google Analytics integration available.

Is Buy Me A Coffee safe?

Buy Me A Coffee is safe to use for anyone that wants to sign up as a creator or wants to sign up to support creators. Although it hasn’t been around as long as Ko-Fi, Buy Me A Coffee has been around since 2018 and has proven to be a safe and legit platform.

How good is Buy Me A Coffee’s support?

Buy Me A Coffee provides much better support when compared to something like Patreon and has an edge over Ko-Fi here. You can easily contact them with a 24/7 live chat, an openly public email address, or through a feature request form on their website.

So.. Is Ko-Fi and Buy Me A Coffee The Same?

Buy Me A Coffee and Ko-Fi are similar since they both allow creators to accept one-off donations, memberships and sell items with a shop. However, Ko-Fi offers more features while taking a 0% to 5% cut, and Buy Me A Coffee offers less while taking a 5% cut but allows supporters to donate without creating an account.

…so what’s the main takeaway then?

Ko-Fi has the edge over Buy Me A Coffee since it offers more features and has 0% platform fees.

However, Buy Me A Coffee has the edge over Ko-Fi since it has a better name and allows supporters to make donations without having to go through the process of signing up for and setting up an account at all.

If you want to pay less and offer more then Ko-Fi is likely better for you and if you don’t want your supporters to have to create an account to donate to you then Buy Me A Coffee is likely the platform for you.

Ko-Fi VS Buy Me A Coffee VS Patreon

The main difference between Ko-Fi or Buy Me A Coffe and Patreon is that Patreon focuses on recurring membership tiers while Ko-Fi and Buy Me A Coffee focus on offering a simple way for supporters to donate or make a purchase with less commitment.

Although all 3 of these platforms offer memberships and ways to communicate with your supporters, the things they allow you to offer to your audience and how they charge you are much different.

After comparing them, you may even find that you may want to use Patreon for more serious recurring memberships tiers and compliment that page by using Buy Me A Coffee or Ko-Fi for one-off donations and shop purchases.

To help you make the right choice, I’ve created a guide that compares Patreon against several of its competitors that you can check out here: Patreon Alternatives: How To Pick The Right Membership Platform.

In addition to this, you can check out these specific comparison articles I’ve made:

…and once you’ve found the right platform, the truth is that is actually where the real work begins…

What To Do After You’ve Picked A Platform

Deciding which platform you want to use to run a membership program, accept donations or simply monetize your art is really only the first step.

Once you know what the platform you are going to use is, you are going to need to learn how to:

  1. Get supporters and build an audience that wants to support you
  2. Create effective membership tiers
  3. Deliver on your promises to make sure supports keep coming back for more

If you don’t have an audience of supporters, no one will ever see your membership.

If you don’t have membership tiers that your supporters are interested in, no one will ever join your membership.

If you don’t deliver on your promises and consistently publish new content, then your supporters will stop coming back to your membership and will eventually stop paying for it altogether.

This is exactly why the next sections of this article are completely focused on showing you how to make sure you are on top of the above 3 tasks. 🙂

How To Get Supporters & An Audience That Supports Your Art

Whether you use Patreon or one of its many alternatives…

You will need to have an audience that actually wants to support you if you want to make money on either platform.

The best way to get Patreon supporters is to first build an audience and community around your art or creative endeavor off of your membership site and to freely provide that audience and community with overwhelming value.

Remember that most memberships don’t have any discovery features so they won’t bring in new fans. Instead, they simply allow your current fans the opportunity to choose to support you financially.

When you have an audience with an engaged community, only then will you be able to successfully grow your membership by offering them membership tiers that they actually want to join.

To learn how you can get Patreon supporters by growing an audience and community and exactly how you can make effective offers, check out my article called How To Get Patreon Supporters. 🙂

How To Create Effective Membership Tiers

At the end of the day, the main reason that anyone in the world is going to sign up for your Patreon is if they completely understand how being a patron benefits them and they feel like they are getting overwhelming value for the cost.

The best way to create highly effective tiers for your Patreon or membership is by leveraging a concept used in marketing called ‘Marketing Funnels’ or Funnel Mapping.

By leveraging a marketing funnel, you can simplify what you offer and organize it in a way that is very easy for both you and your potential patrons to follow.

For a closer look at each of these funnel steps in more detail below and what you can consider offering for each specific level, check out my full guide to tiers, perks, and rewards called Patreon Ideas For Artists & Musicians. 🙂

How To Build A Content Plan For Your Membership That Keeps Supporters Coming Back

If supporters don’t feel like they are getting any use out of your membership because you aren’t posting enough or aren’t posting things that they enjoy, it is no secret that they will eventually stop paying for it.

The best way to build a successful membership program is to consistently release new content by combining a recurring content strategy with a content calendar.

Recurring content allows you to build your audience, optimize your membership tiers, and make sure your supporters keep coming back for more.

To learn how you can start publishing regular content that builds your audience and keeps your supporters happy without completely stressing you out, check out my article called Patreon Content: Ultimate Guide To Ideas & What To Post. 🙂

Some of my favorite music marketing tools

Thank you for reading this article, my friend, and I hope you found it helpful as you build your own successful career in music. 🙂

Here is a list of my favorite and most recommended tools and resources that I’ve personally used to get my music streamed over 4,000,000 times on Spotify as an artist.

Any of the paid services or tools listed here are most likely affiliate links, so if you do decide to use any of them, I’ll earn a small commission.

But in all honesty, these are the exact tools that I personally use, love, and recommend to anyone – including my own friends and family.

Music Distribution

To get your music on Spotify on all the other streaming services, I use DistroKid because you get unlimited song uploads for a low annual price.

If you want to learn more about DistroKid and music distribution, check out the in-depth DistroKid review that I’ve put together.

Or, if you want to get started with DistroKid right now, you can save on your first year with the DistroKid discount.

Facebook Ads For Spotify Success

Although Facebook Ads can be a real pain to get working properly, there is no denying that they are incredible for growing Spotify streams and getting your music in front of real fans.

This is why I’ve put together a completely free course that you can check out called Facebook Ads For Musicians’ Spotify Streams. 🙂

Music Publishing Royalties Collection

For collecting all of the publishing, mechanical, and live performance royalties owed to me whenever my music gets streamed or played, my go-to is Songtrust.

Songtrust is a publishing administration company which means that in addition to collecting all of those royalties for me, they do it on a global level.

To learn if Songtrust is right for you, I’d recommend checking out this article on Songtrust vs BMI.

And if you want to get started with Songtrust right now, I’d recommend learning about the Songtrust discount code so that you can get the best price. 🙂

Website & Smart Links

I’m personally not a big fan of the link-in-bio and smart links for music pages like ToneDen and Hyppeddit.

Instead, I prefer having a full-blown WordPress website that allows me to have a full website in addition to unlimited music links.

For getting started with this, I really like Bluehost because it is the cheapest and a theme called Thrive Themes because it is the most flexible and easiest to use.

I’ve actually created a free Smart Links Course that you can take to learn how to get set up and start getting more streams with custom smart links (I’ve even included the templates I am using!).

Want more tools and resources for your music career?

If you’d like to see even more of my favorite marketing tools and resources for musicians and music artists, I’ve created an even larger list on this page: Best Marketing Tools & Resources For Musicians (& Music Artists).

P.S. There are even some free tools and resources included on that page as well! 🙂

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