Last Updated on by Michael Brockbank
There are a lot of ways to monetize a blog. Using support platforms like Buy Me a Coffee and Ko-fi helps generate revenue while building a dedicated audience. Today, we’ll look at these two to see which one is better for your website.
In the end, though, it really comes down to which one you like most. Both of these systems offer some great advantages, but you need to decide which one works best with your needs.
To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure which one I like more. They both have some great qualities.
Comparing Buy Me a Coffee and Ko-fi
For this comparison, I’m picking 10 of the most important elements for what I’m building for WriterSanctuary. You might have a different opinion, but these are the things that stand out most to me.
Overall Page Design
The page potential supporters see plays a huge role in getting contributions. It’s all about first impressions and whether your page looks professional.
BMC Home Page
In Buy Me a Coffee, visitors immediately get your “story,” donation section, goals, pinned blog post, and a shortlist of supporters. The layout is pretty simple, clean, and has options to read posts from the different categories of your blog.
Visitors can also check their level of membership including what it all entails if you have benefits available. For example, my “Gold” users have early access to content as well as access to my Discord channel.
Ko-fi Home Page
The home page for Ko-Fi has an attractive layout with your goals visible on the left, an “About” section, the intro text, social links to your accounts, and the blog feed.
One element that stands out is the Gallery. If you upload images, you can show them immediately from the home page complete with a link to view the rest of your graphics or photography.
Who Wins the Home Page?
Although both platforms have a nice appearance, I think I like the layout and features offered by Ko-fi more. It just has more of a “blog” feel to the platform, which I really like.
Being able to get visitors immediately into the content is a big plus for me.
Paying the Fees
Here is probably one of the biggest differences between Buy Me a Coffee and Ko-fi; the fees. After all, you want as much as you can get from your supporters, right?
Buy Me a Coffee Fees
Buy Me a Coffee does not have a monthly fee tied to using its platform per se. However, there is a 5% fee tied to your donations. So, if someone gives you a $3 coffee, you’re charged $0.15.
This is on top of fees from Stripe. However, you can choose not to pay for these yourself. In which case, the transaction fees are covered by your supporter.
Ko-fi does not have transaction fees. It does, however, have a monthly Gold membership for $6. This unlocks all of the goodies that you can share and give to your supporters.
You can use Ko-fi completely free, but you’ll miss out on a lot of bells and whistles available, such as recurring monthly payments, exclusive posts, adding Google Analytics, or gallery extras.
Who Wins for Supporter Fees?
This is actually a difficult aspect to consider. You could use Ko-fi for free until you get to a point where the $6 fee would pay for itself. Then again, all of the things you’ll unlock under “Gold” in Ko-fi are available already in BMC.
I think I would have to give this one to Ko-fi, but with an asterisk. It’s cheaper to use BMC until you get more than 40 supporters per month. Then, Ko-fi is ultimately more cost-effective.
Especially if you start generating more than $200 per month. In this case, BMC would charge you $10 in fees. Ko-fi would remain at the same $6 monthly cost.
Payment Acceptance Methods
Recently, Buy Me a Coffee dropped PayPal as a payment method. This was heartbreaking as nearly everything I do runs through PayPal. They also dropped the ability to accept wire checks, which cut out a lot of countries that could use BMC.
However, Ko-fi does accept both PayPal and Stripe. So, that alone puts Ko-fi ahead in my eyes, but that’s because of personal preference.
The biggest difference between the two in terms of payment methods is that you can choose to cover the credit card fee in BMC. I’m unable to find that same feature in Ko-fi.
Both have auto-thank-you messages and the ability to set your donation price.
Buy Me a Coffee and Ko-fi Dashboard Ease of Use
One of the most important elements of any system is its ease of use. Especially if you’re like me and don’t have a lot of time to play hide and seek with settings.
Using the BMC Dashboard
The backend dashboard of Buy Me a Coffee is a bit on the wonky side. It does take a bit of getting used to, especially if you’re looking for specific settings.
The BMC dashboard also only displays your most recent blog posts and any content from other accounts you might follow. This is a bit lacking in detail when compared to Ko-fi.
Using the Ko-fi Dashboard
The Ko-fi dashboard is exactly what you’d think it would be; a breakdown of your account’s performance. It shows your number of followers, how much you’ve earned, a page view graph, page sharing, and suggestions to grow.
Essentially, it’s laid out with your most important tools and functions in one location.
Who Wins for Dashboard Layout?
I guess it’s obvious that I would much rather have the dashboard from Ko-fi than BMC. I like the idea of having pertinent information immediately available as opposed to just a list of blog posts.
Selling Extras to Supporters
The extras are things you want to offer to make a bit more money from supporters. For instance, artists could sell commission work directly from Buy Me a Coffee or Ko-fi.
Setting Up BMC Extras
Setting up these extras in Buy Me a Coffee is pretty basic and simple. Plus, they give you templates for specific elements. However, these templates really don’t have variation from the “Start from scratch” option.
In other words, they’re virtually identical…so why the differentiated templates?
At any rate, the sheet to fill out the extras is pretty easy to manage and has everything you need to sell a variety of things from your account.
Setting Up Ko-fi Extras
The extras in Ko-fi are a bit different from BMC. Ko-fi has a shop you can launch to sell digital and physical goods in addition to a section where you can offer commissions.
This gives your account more of an eCommerce feel while still being able to deliver client-based work.
Who Wins for Selling Extras?
This is probably another toss-up for me. I like the ease-of-use with BMC’s layout, but I like the shop and commission ideas for Ko-fi.
That isn’t to say that Ko-fi has a poor layout. On the contrary, it’s still pretty easy to set up items and commissions to sell. I personally just like how BMC has its page set up for individual items.
Either system offers a lot more you can provide supporters, so it all comes down to which layout you like more.
Blogging for Your Supporters
Blogging is a great way to keep your audience engaged and coming back for more information. Especially if you’re sharing things that are of great benefit or are entertaining.
Both Buy Me a Coffee and Ko-fi offer blogging and other forms of content.
Blogging with BMC
By clicking on the Posts link on the home page, visitors can see all of your content. This includes any categories you have set up for your posts.
One thing I really like about BMC is how you’re able to easily restrict posts to certain supporter levels. For instance, I offer a “Sunday Updates” to Gold and Silver membership levels while also pushing out Monday Motivational-type articles to anyone who follows me.
The interface for blogging is similar to any other out there on the market, and it is very easy to set up content.
Blogging with Ko-fi
Like BMC, Ko-fi gives you the ability to publish posts to varying levels of memberships. You can publish content for everyone, all supporters, or specific membership levels if you offer exclusive content.
Creating content is pretty straightforward for Ko-fi, and it has a lot of features that you’d expect from a basic blogging platform.
Who Wins for Sharing Content?
Both platforms allow for easy embedding of things like YouTube, Twitch, or Vimeo. They both work exceptionally well as content creation systems.
It’s very difficult to determine a favorite simply because they both offer quite a bit. The only thing I can think of that differentiates the two is how Buy Me a Coffee separates content by categories and Ko-fi by tags.
Personally, I prefer categories.
Setting Varying Levels for Memberships
A lot of supporter systems have membership levels you can set up for those who want to pay a certain amount each month. For instance, a “Diamond” subscription would cost more than a “Copper” membership, but it would offer far more rewards.
Setting Up Membership Levels in BMC
One of the biggest driving factors of why I use BMC as much as I do is because it’s easy to set up membership levels.
In my case, the membership levels are:
- Bronze $1/month
- Silver $3/month
- Gold $5/month
And each one has access to specific content I create for those users. For instance, Gold members will have access to free and discounted merch…as soon as I create some.
For example, I gave away personalized autographed copies of my first book when it was released in 2021.
Setting Up Membership Levels in Ko-fi
Ko-fi also has the ability to create membership levels but goes just a tad further than Buy Me a Coffee. For example, you can choose to limit how many can join a specific membership tier.
This means that if you have a situation where you can only manage an additional 20 people, you can set the rule to limit 20 memberships.
You can also set to request the supporter’s address, which is great if you’re giving away merch. For instance, this would have been handy when mailing out copies of my first book.
Locked Content for Members-Only
Speaking of membership levels, both Buy Me a Coffee and Ko-fi have the capacity to lock content for members only. This means that if someone wants access to something you share, he or she needs to pay.
The trick, though, is to come up with members-only content that keeps people paying every month.
It took a long time for me to come up with something that I felt was worth $5 per month on BMC. Then again, I have issues with putting a price on my own creations.
I would give everything away for free, if not for the fact that I would like to buy a few things. Plus, helping to pay the mortgage would be of great help.
The bottom line is that both systems make creating locked content for members only pretty simple.
Integrations and Widgets
Integrations and widgets can help you get the most out of a donation platform. For instance, showing the donation button on your blog gets people to click to support you.
Integrating with BMC
Buy Me a Coffee has integrations for Discord, WordPress, Zapier, and using its own platform for adding buttons. You can use this code generator to help you add a more specific donation button.
With the button generator, you use the WYSIWYG editor to create something, copy the code, and paste it into your website.
Integrating with Ko-Fi
The integrations for Ko-fi have come a long way since I originally wrote this post. Nowadays, you have access to buttons, widgets, stream alerts, Twitch chat alerts, and more.
Ko-fi also provides a similar copy-and-paste code generator for widgets and buttons for your website. You can use either script or iFrame, depending on the platform your website uses.
That’s because some platforms don’t allow scripts to be added easily. And yes, the iFrame codes work perfectly in an HTML sidebar widget for WordPress.
Who Wins for Integrations and Widgets?
While both offer nearly identical integrations, Ko-fi just has a few more available while offering the same easy-to-use interface. For instance, if you’re a gamer, then the Twitch chat notification may be something to consider from Ko-fi.
I especially like how Ko-fi keeps the buttons together, whereas Buy Me a Coffee has the website buttons in the Dashboard. You’ll have to scroll down to find them. This is a personal preference, but I like to keep things organized.
If you do as many live streams as I do, adding stream alerts can be a fun addition. Not only does it give the donor recognition during your live stream, but it also prompts others to make donations as well.
Both systems make it easy to add a stream alert to software like OBS.
Stream Alerts for BMC
The stream alert for Buy Me a Coffee is a large badge that appears during your live stream. You currently have the option of picking from five different colors and uploading your own audio.
Stream Alerts for Ko-Fi
Instead of a large banner image, Ko-fi sends stream alerts in the form of scrolling texts. You can adjust what the alert texts display, how long the message stays on screen, enabling or disabling a call-to-action, choose from 12 colors for the text background, and adjust the background opacity.
You can also use the default sound or upload your own.
Ko-fi also provides access to show a Twitch or YouTube chatbot during streams. This is something far beyond what you can get with BMC.
Who Wins for Stream Alerts?
I suppose this depends greatly on the type of live stream you’re creating. The BMC version is more in line with what you’d see during a gaming stream. The Ko-fi version is more simple and elegant, which is great for professionals.
Since I do live streams of all kinds, I really can’t pick one that I like most. If I’m playing on Twitch for ColoradoPlays, then the BMC stream alert fits better. But, if I’m live on Mondays for WriterSanctuary, I think the Ko-fi alert is more fitting.
In fact, I’ve been adding the Ko-fi stream alert to live streams lately to see it in action.
However, I’d have to give this one to Ko-fi. It is just more flexible overall with a greater number of customization settings. Not to mention the chatbot additions.
Bonus: Buy Me a Coffee and Ko-fi Referral Bonuses
Some systems offer referral bonuses. This is when someone clicks a link you provide and signs up. Once the account is verified, you’ll get a bonus amount of money from the donation platform.
Getting Bonuses from BMC
A large portion of the money I’ve made from Buy Me a Coffee has come from referral bonuses. By using the links I have on my website, I earn a bonus when someone signs up.
These bonuses can range anywhere from $1 to $5 depending on the person signing up and the account created.
Getting Bonuses from Ko-fi
Ko-fi used to have a “Magic Link” that you could add anywhere to earn a $3 bonus. The user would also get 10% off of their signup.
However, this link is no longer available. Or, perhaps it’s moved to an obscure location. Either way, I am unable to earn a bonus from signups through Ko-fi.
Who is the Winner for Bonuses?
Obviously, Buy Me a Coffee wins this round. Until Ko-fi brings back the referral link, I just don’t see any way to get this kind of a bonus.
Can’t You Use Buy Me a Coffee and Ko-fi?
There’s nothing wrong with adding Buy Me a Coffee and Ko-fi to your blog. However, it will come with a very distinct price.
You’ll need to create the same content for both platforms.
Now, this probably doesn’t sound like too much of an issue. That is until you start setting up membership levels and offering supporter-only content.
Then, it can get incredibly convoluted.
The thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want to confuse your supporters or yourself. Adding too many methods for accepting payments just makes things a lot more complicated for everyone down the road.
But, the choice is yours.
Would I Prefer Buy Me a Coffee or Ko-fi?
Choosing between BMC and Ko-fi isn’t all that easy of a task. Both offer some great benefits that make me wish I could just combine the two into a super donation platform.
Probably one of the biggest differences, at least for me, is the donation fees. Once you hit a certain number of monthly supporters, it’s far cheaper to use Ko-fi than Buy Me a Coffee.
For example, let’s say you have a goal of making $1000 per month from supporters. With BMC, it would cost you $50 per month in fees. In Ko-fi, it would just cost you the $6 per month Gold Membership.
The only reason why I have so much of my content going through BMC is that it’s the first system I started using. I’ve already developed a bit of a following, and have broken down membership levels.
Personally, I’m working on a way to use both on this website without causing issues or conflicts. Eventually, I’ll probably just stick to one donation method.
Since Ko-fi added the membership levels, I might try to figure out how to move members over. Especially since Ko-fi still supports PayPal, which is my preferred method of online finances.
Though, it would be nice to be able to earn referral bonuses from Ko-fi.
Which is the Better Option for You?
Whether you’re interested in Buy Me a Coffee or Ko-fi, it all boils down to what the best site is for you to use for donations. Both of these platforms work exceptionally well, and I’ve made money from the two.
Since it’s free to set up your own accounts, I suggest giving both a closer look. You may find elements of one that just simply win you over.
Start with a free account on Ko-fi and test out the platform. If you like it, consider upgrading to the Gold Membership.
Buy Me a Coffee is free to set up with full access to all of the bells and whistles. See if it’s something that works for your needs.
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