If you’re looking to make money by offering a membership or a way for your audience to support you with donations, I’ve looked into the differences and similarities between Patreon and Ko-Fi to help you choose the right platform.
The main difference between Ko-Fi and Patreon is that Patreon focuses on serious recurring memberships and Ko-Fi is more for casual content creators or anyone looking to dip their toes with memberships and monetization.
Although you will find that Ko-Fi offers more while charging you less, it is important that you understand the costs and features of each platform so that you can pick the right one that aligns with your goals and workflow as a content creator.
In addition to this, you actually may want to combine Patreon’s more serious recurring membership tiers with Ko-Fi’s ability to offer simple one-off donations and products and commissions with Ko-Fi’s shop.
To learn more about how you can choose between Ko-Fi and Patreon, simply keep on reading, my friend. 🙂
P.S. If you want to see how Patreon compares to other alternatives, check out my article called Patreon Alternatives: How To Pick The Right Membership Platform.
The Main Differences Between Patreon vs Ko-Fi
When choosing between Patreon and Ko-Fi, it is important that you at least look at what they allow you to offer your audience, what features they offer you, and how their pricing works to help find the main differences and choose the right one.
Patreon and Ko-Fi offer very similar features, however, the main difference is that Ko-Fi is more for casual content creators or anyone looking to dip their toes in memberships and Patreon is more for creators that want to seriously push a recurring membership.
Ko-Fi is similar to Buy Me A Coffee since there is a bigger focus on offering a very simple way for your supporters to say thank you with less pressure for both creators and their supporters.
Patreon’s heavier focus on pushing recurring memberships means that you will likely generate a more regular income but will be committed to creating bonus content in addition to regular content on a very consistent basis for your membership tiers to be effective and for patrons to stick around.
In addition to this, both Patreon and Ko-Fi allow you to create a hosted page and have a Discord integration available.
However, you should know that both have little to no discovery features available meaning you will need to do all of the work bringing people to your page and convincing them to sign up.
Finally – when it comes to pricing, Ko-Fi has one of the most generous pricing plans out there and is definitely simpler and more generous than what Patreon offers:
Ko-Fi takes 0% platform fees on donations and a 5% cut on memberships, shop purchases (that can be turned to 0% if you subscribe to Ko-Fi Gold for $6 per month), while Patreon has 3 different plans that take between 5% and 12%.
...so how can you make the right choice between these 2 platforms?
In the following sections, I’ll show you what you can offer, how the pricing works, how you can get paid, and what features and support each of the 2 platforms offer you in more detail.
Why Choose Ko-Fi Over Patreon
When compared to Patreon, Ko-Fi is a much more relaxed platform that is focused on providing simple ways for your supporters to say thank you and show their support through a donation, membership, or purchase.
Similar to Buy Me A Coffee, Ko-Fi can be viewed as more of 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.
Ko-Fi is perfect for more casual content creators or anyone looking to dip their toes in offering memberships since creators are not obligated and pressured to create content regularly and supporters are not committed to donating regularly.
Although it is still possible to create a sustainable income with Ko-Fi, this platform may not be for you if you are looking to run a serious membership platform because there is less of a fire under your bum pushing you to grow that income.
Let’s take a closer look at exactly what you get when using Ko-Fi before taking a closer look at Patreon (and if you want to learn more about Ko-Fi’s closest competitor check out my article on Buy Me A Coffee vs Patreon).
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 Patreon.
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, it is much more stripped down in terms of what post types you can create (just text, photo, video or audio type) and who you can share to (just members or public) when compared to what you can do with Patreon.
Just like with Patreon, you are able to create a hosted page with Ko-Fi and there is a Discord integration available.
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 Patreon, 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 definitely simpler and more generous than what Patreon 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?
It is much easier to get paid with Ko-Fi when compared to Patreon as you instantly get paid instead of having to build up a monthly balance or hit a minimum withdrawal threshold (as you do with Patreon).
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 isn’t as popular or widely used as Patreon, Ko-Fi has been around longer (since 2012) and has definitely proven to be a safe and legit platform in that time.
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 Patreon Over Ko-Fi
When compared to Ko-Fi, there is a much bigger focus on recurring memberships with Patreon and it is really a platform for creators that have specific and ongoing projects like releasing videos or content on a regular basis.
Because there is more of a focus on committing to regular content, Patreon can be seen as a more serious option to create a sustainable career for creators.
If you want to seriously push a recurring membership to your audience, then Patreon is likely to be the better option for you when compared to Ko-Fi.
What does Patreon allow you to offer to your audience?
Although it is possible to accept one-time donations with Patreon, the real focus is on getting patrons to choose between one of the membership tiers you’ve created that have different prices and benefits (or perks) on a monthly or annual basis.
In addition to this, Patreon allows you to fulfill merch to your membership tiers and either get paid monthly or per creation.
Although both Patreon and Ko-Fi have the ability to create members-only or public posts, Patreon has many more post types to choose from including text, photo, audio, video, live stream, polls, and more.
Just like with Ko-Fi, you are able to create a hosted page with Patreon and there is a Discord integration available.
Does Patreon have any discovery features for helping new supporters find you?
Patreon does not have any discovery features that will help potential supporters find your Patreon page.
Patreon is a membership platform and is in no way a discovery platform, which means you will need to do all of the work bringing people to your Patreon page and convincing them to sign up.
If you want to learn how to get Patreon supporters, the best way is to build an audience off of Patreon first.
How does Patreon’s pricing work?
When compared to Ko-Fi, Patreon’s pricing is much more complex and takes a lot more away from you as a creator.
Patreon has 3 different plans available to creators that all have no monthly upfront fees or sign-up costs. Instead, Patreon will take 5% to 12% of the monthly income you earn on Patreon in addition to any standard payment processing fees.
To learn everything you need to know about Patreon’s pricing, plans, and fees, check out my article called Patreon Pricing, Plans & Fees Explained, my friend. 🙂
How long does it take to get paid when using Patreon?
It is much more of a hassle getting paid with Patreon when compared to Ko-Fi.
After choosing a Patreon plan, getting your first patrons to join, and having their payments processed, you will be able to receive your payout (minus the creator and payment processing fees) on a monthly basis.
Although, Patreon processes payments on the 1st of each month, they recommend that all creators wait until the 5th to allow Patreon some time to recover any declined payments first.
What kind of analytics does Patreon provide?
Similar to with Ko-Fi, Patreon only provides analytics to creators that are on their “Pro” plan.
The analytics that Patreon provides include data on your Patreon page, posts, income, number of patrons, income growth, and more. Patreon also offers a Google Analytics integration.
Is Patreon safe to use?
Patreon is safe to use for anyone that wants to sign up as a creator or wants to sign up to support creators. Patreon has been around since 2013 and has proven to be a safe and legit platform.
Although Ko-Fi has been around longer than Patreon, there is a lot more brand recognition with Patreon and it is more widely used.
How good is Patreon’s support?
Patreon has mediocre support that is just a bit more frustrating when compared to the level of support that Ko-Fi.
Patreon offers weekly demo sessions where you can ask questions and you can contact them through Twitter or a detailed contact form on their website (with several fields to fill out depending on what your request is).
The main thing here is that they both use contact forms, however, Patreon’s is much much more detailed and will take you longer to fill out.
How To Get Supporters & An Audience That Supports Your Art
Whether you use Ko-Fi or Patreon, 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. 🙂
What Patreon Plan Is Right For Your Project?
When reviewing Patreon’s plans, it can quickly become clear that you need to join the Pro or Premium plan to make the most out of the Patreon platform.
Although the creator fees are lowest for their “Lite” plan, when comparing Patreon Lite Vs Pro the huge difference that you will find is that you can’t actually create individual membership tiers with the Lite plan.
So, for a full breakdown of the 3 different Patreon plans available to you, what features you get, and which is the right plan for your unique project, check out my full article on Patreon Pricing, Plans & Fees Explained. 🙂