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Ko-Fi vs. Patreon: A Full Comparison with Pros and Cons

Ko-Fi vs. Patreon: A Full Comparison with Pros and Cons

Key Points

  • Ko-Fi and Patreon are digital platforms that allow creators to connect with their communities and make money from their creative work.
  • Ko-Fi was invented in 2012 and has grown so much that creators have made over $200 million on the platform.
  • Patreon was launched in 2013 and has over 250,000 creators who have made $3.5 billion so far.
  • Ko-Fi is a crowdfunding platform while Patreon is a membership platform, with different funding models and payment structures.
  • Ko-Fi offers more flexibility and lower platform fees, while Patreon offers more integrations and features for regular posting.

Over the last couple of years, the development of technologies and social media like Ko-Fi and Patreon have helped creators increase their income. Many platforms have emerged to help creators connect with their audience and monetize their content, and many new creators are conflicted about which to use.

If you’re a creator looking for the best way to monetize your content, keep reading. In this article, we’ll compare two of the most famous platforms: Ko-Fi vs. Patreon. We’ll dig into their most relevant features and check out their pros and cons so you can make the best choice.

Ko-Fi vs. Patreon: Side-by-Side Comparison

CharacteristicKo-FiPatreon
Foundation year20122013
Founding modelsCrowdfundingMembership
Monthly subscriptionsYesYes
One time donationsYesNo
CommissionsYesNo
CommerceYesYes, but only digital products
Platform fees0-5% platform fees + 3% transaction fees5-12% platform fees + payment processing, currency conversion, and payout fees
Cash-out systemInstant cash-outMonthly cash out
Payment optionsPaypal and Stripe (via Stripe, supporters can pay with a Credit Card, Apple Pay or Google Pay)PayPal, Venmo, Credit Card or Apple Pay 
Memberships for creatorsYesYes 
Integration with other sitesTwitter, Instagram, Twitch, YouTube, Discord, Medium, Facebook and GitHubVimeo, Zapier, WordPress, Discord, Google Analytics, Discourse, Instagram, Facebook, among other sites and social media
Mobile phone appNoYes

Ko-Fi vs. Patreon: What Exactly Are They?

Ko-Fi vs. Patreon
Many podcasters and other creators use Patreon or Ko-Fi to finance their work.

Ko-Fi and Patreon are digital platforms that allow creators to connect with their communities and make money from their creative work. These platforms are used by artists, writers, podcasters, developers, and gamers, among other kinds of creators.

Ko-Fi was invented in 2012 by Nigel Pickles. Initially, it was a button anyone could use to donate an amount similar to the cost of a cup of coffee through the web. It was a way of rewarding someone online as you did in real life: with a cup of coffee. The button gained a lot of popularity, so Nigel joined Simon Ellington and developed the Ko-Fi page. Nowadays, Ko-Fi works as a platform where creators can set up a profile, almost like a social media one, where they can post, sell items, or even make money while streaming on YouTube or Twitch. The platform has grown so much that creators have made over $200 million on Ko-Fi!

Patreon was launched in 2013 by musician Jack Conte, who wanted to find a way of monetizing his art. He had a lot of fans on YouTube, but he didn’t receive much money. Then, he came up with an idea: a website that would let his fans pay him directly. He brought it up to his college roommate Sam Yam, and in only six weeks, the platform was fully functioning. Patreon allows creators to set up a page where they can share their work directly with fans, basically through the same functions as Ko-Fi. It has become so popular that over 250,000 creators used the platform in 2022, and they’ve made $3.5 billion so far!

Ko-Fi vs. Patreon: What’s the Difference?

Funding Models

Even though these platforms have the same purpose, their funding models are quite different. Ko-Fi is a crowdfunding platform while Patreon is a membership one. In other words, Ko-Fi is orientated toward casual creators who need to finance their projects. Even though you can generate a monthly income through Ko-Fi, that’s not its central purpose. Meanwhile, Patreon is designed for creators who want to engage with their communities to earn money each month. 

How do you earn an income through Ko-Fi? The first way to do it is through donations: you can open a tip jar or set up crowdfunding goals and share them with your followers. You can also sell physical and digital products through the Ko-Fi shop or offer unique products through Ko-Fi commissions. 

Finally, you can offer memberships to allow fans to support you monthly. To create a membership, you set up different price levels (tiers) and add benefits to each one, like exclusive content or behind-the-scenes posts. Benefits are necessary to incentivize your followers to subscribe. 

Patreon helps you build your business in two ways: by offering a paid membership or selling digital products to your supporters, called patrons. Contrary to Ko-Fi, you can’t receive donations, offer commissions, or sell physical products. About the memberships, just like in the other platform, you can set up memberships with different tiers and benefits. The main difference is that you can offer three types of subscriptions: monthly charge, annual charge, or per creation

This last billing model allows patrons to pay an amount (of their choosing) for each post the creator makes. Patrons can set up a monthly maximum number of posts they’ll pay for (but they’ll have access to any posts you make). Another difference with Ko-Fi is that you can offer seven days of free trial. 

Creator’s Commitment

When it comes to creator commitment, there is a big difference between Ko-Fi and Patreon. Ko-Fi is a crowdfunding site designed for creators who want flexibility in their work. The platform doesn’t demand any commitment to publishing: you can post whenever you want and earn money with what you’ve already created, through donations, commissions, or, commerce.  

Patreon is a membership platform meant for creators who want to post regularly. You earn money through subscriptions, so if you don’t post or deliver benefits, your fans will unsubscribe, and you won’t generate an income. Therefore, Patreon definitely demands much more commitment to consistent publishing.

Payment Structure

So, how do you get paid on each platform? Good question. In Ko-Fi, there’s an instant cash-out system: you get paid directly from your supporters. You have to link the payment method you prefer and, whenever a follower supports you, the funds go straight into your account. Ko-Fi accepts two payment methods: PayPal and Stripe. PayPal also allows supporters to use Venmo, while Stripe lets them use a Credit Card, Apple Pay or, Google Pay

In Patreon, the instant cash-out system is not available; you get paid by Patreon monthly. First, the platform takes membership payments and applicable fees. After this, you can see your share in your creator balance. You can withdraw your funds manually or enable an automatic payout (in which you receive the funds on the 5th of each month). Furthermore, Patreon accepts four payment methods for both patrons and creators: Credit Card, PayPal, Apple Pay, and Venmo. 

Platform Fees 

The fee structure is the most crucial difference between Ko-Fi and Patreon, so you’ll want to pay close attention here. In Ko-Fi, you can accept donations for free, but if you want to use special features (memberships, commissions, or the Ko-Fi shop) there’s a 5% platform fee. You can get rid of platform fees by subscribing to a creator membership, which we’ll discuss in the next section.  

In Patreon, there are platform fees for everyone who offers paid memberships. There are three different plans for creators: Founders, Pro and Premium. Each plan has different platform fees: 5%, 8%, and 12% respectively. We’ll also expand on these plans in the following section. For those creators who only want to use the commerce feature, there’s a 5% platform fee on every transaction. 

As you no doubt noticed, Ko-Fi has much lower platform fees than Patreon. This is the main reason why some creators choose Ko-Fi over Patreon. 

Additionally, you should know that both platforms have transaction fees, around 3% of the total, and currency conversion fees. To minimize any currency conversion fee on these platforms, you should make your home currency the one in which you receive most payments.

Creator Memberships 

Next, we’ll expand on creator memberships. Ko-Fi offers only one option of subscription, called Ko-Fi Gold. With Gold, you pay $6-8 per month. You get 0% platform fees and other special features. For example, you can post exclusive content that unlocks with one-off donations or connect your Ko-Fi page to Google Analytics to get analytic insights. 

Meanwhile, Patreon offers two types of subscriptions: Pro and Premium. They take 8% and 12% of your income, respectively. With Pro, you get to offer monthly and annual memberships (with free trials), you get access to member analytics, and you have priority when you need customer support. With Premium, you get everything in Pro, you can offer merch for your patrons and you get the chance to work with an expert from Patreon. There used to be a Lite plan, but it is no longer available. 

Additionally, there’s a Founders plan for those creators who joined before May 2019. This plan has basically the same features as Pro and takes 5% of your monthly income. However, it’s sadly not available if you want to join today. 

Finally, you should know that if you want to sell products on Patreon, you don’t need a membership. You can publish your products for free, but the platform takes a 5% fee on every transaction.

Integration with Other Sites

Ko-Fi vs. Patreon
Social media integration is vital for marketing your work and gaining followers.

This is a very relevant feature to consider because it helps you expand your Ko-Fi or Patreon page and grow your income.

Ko-Fi can be used with Twitter, Instagram, Twitch, YouTube, Discord, Facebook, and GitHub. Furthermore, you can add stream alerts to your Twitch, YouTube, or Facebook streams to start receiving donations. Stream alerts aren’t available on Patreon. 

Patreon has more integrations than Ko-Fi. This platform can be used with Vimeo, Zapier, WordPress, Discord, Discourse, Instagram, and Facebook, among other sites and social media. 

This is a clear win for Patreon, as social media marketing is crucial for any creator and allows them to expand their reach and increase their total income.

Compatible Devices

Finally, you might be wondering which devices support these platforms. You can use Ko-Fi and Patreon on Desktops and mobile phones, but there are some details you should know.

Ko-Fi doesn’t have a mobile app, so if you want to use it on your phone, you have to open it through a browser. This is kind of a bummer, as it will make it slower and more inconvenient to use. You can add Ko-Fi to your home screen to make it more easily accessible. 

Unlike Ko-Fi, Patreon does have a mobile app. You can use all the functions that Patreon has on its desktop version, but you can’t change your account settings. Also, you can set up a dark mode that you can’t activate on the desktop version.

While this is a minor difference, it can turn the tide if you’re a creator who doesn’t really use a desktop computer a lot, such as a social media influencer.

Ko-Fi vs. Patreon: 8 Must-Know Facts

  • Ko-Fi and Patreon are digital platforms that allow creators to connect with their communities and generate monthly incomes.
  • Ko-Fi is a crowdfunding platform, while Patreon is a membership one.
  • Ko-Fi doesn’t require any commitment to publishing and Patreon does, so if you want to keep your supporters to earn money, you have to post regularly.
  • With Ko-Fi, creators get paid directly and instantly by supporters, whereas with Patreon, they get paid by the platform monthly.
  • Ko-Fi takes 0% platform fees on donations and 5% fees on other features, while Patreon always takes 5%-12% platform fees. 
  • Both platforms have additional transaction and currency conversion fees. 
  • On Ko-Fi, you can pay for a creator membership to avoid platform fees and get access to special features. On Patreon, there are two different memberships to choose from if you want to offer monthly subscriptions.  
  • Both platforms have integrations with other sites, but Patreon has more than Ko-Fi.

Ko-Fi vs. Patreon: Which One Is Better? Which One Should You Use?

As we described in this article, Ko-Fi and Patreon are quite similar platforms. However, we have to recognize that Ko-Fi offers many more tools for an aspiring creator looking to generate income than Patreon does. Besides offering memberships and selling digital products, you can receive donations, offer commissions, or sell physical products. 

Furthermore, Ko-Fi is a more flexible platform in which creators can post whenever they want with no pressure. Finally, Ko-Fi has much lower platform fees than Patreon. So yes, Ko-Fi might be the best choice, but it will, of course, always depend on your preferences.

In the end, you should base your decision on your personal preferences as a creator. If you only want to engage with your community, post regularly, and focus on memberships, Patreon will be the best option for you. Otherwise, if you want to finance specific projects or receive donations, it will be better to use Ko-Fi. You could also set up both to make use of the best of both worlds!

Ultimately, the choice is yours. With all this information, we’re sure you’ll find the platform that suits you and your community best.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to use Ko-Fi?

You can receive donations for free in Ko-Fi! If you want to use other features, like the Ko-Fi shop or memberships, you pay a 5% platform fee. You can also choose to pay for a creator membership that costs between $6 and $8 monthly and get rid of fees. 

Is Patreon free to use?

You can create a Patreon account for free. However, if you want to offer memberships or sell products there’s a 5%-12% platform fee, plus other fees depending on your membership. 

How do I get paid on each platform?

In Ko-Fi you get paid instantly and directly by your supporters, while in Patreon you get paid by the platform monthly.

Can I accept one-off donations through Patreon?

No, you can only offer memberships or sell products. Anyway, supporters can make a one-time payment if they sign up and then cancel their membership, but you’ll not be able to cash it out instantly.

Can I sell physical products through Patreon?

No. You can only sell digital products like videos, images, or podcast episodes. 

Can I offer annual memberships with Ko-Fi?

No, you can only offer monthly memberships.

Is Ko-Fi the same as Buy Me a Coffee?

No. Even though they have very similar names, they are different platforms. You can learn more about the difference between Ko-Fi and Buy Me a Coffee here.

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