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 its platform. 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 PayPal or 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 cheaper.
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
Both Buy Me a Coffee and Ko-fi accept PayPal and Stripe. As long as you’re capable of using either of these payment methods, you can use both donation platforms.
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.
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
From the home page in Ko-fi, users can click the Posts link to see all of your content. This can be broken into three sections: Everyone, One-Off Supporters and Monthly Supporters, or Monthly Supporters Only.
The difference here is that BMC allows for a varying range of membership types. This gives you the option to share posts with those specific levels.
Ko-fi doesn’t have that level of flexibility.
On the upside, it is just as easy to create blog posts or share gallery photos on the system.
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.
However, I think I would have to give this one to Buy Me a Coffee. And that’s only because I like being able to isolate certain membership levels for specific posts.
I also like managing posts through categories instead of just using tags.
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 plan on giving my upcoming eBook away for free to Gold members.
Setting Up Membership Levels in Ko-fi
Unfortunately, Ko-fi doesn’t currently have the means for differentiating membership levels. You have the option to offer a one-off donation or a monthly subscription for membership.
This might not be a big deal for those who don’t really care about having different levels of content. And coming from someone who creates this kind of content, it’s a bit of a pain to keep up with what level gets which blog posts.
Another downside of Ko-fi’s membership setup is that you can’t change the price for monthly subscriptions. It goes by what you have set up as your one-off unit price.
At least, I can’t easily find a place to change the membership costs.
Who Wins for Membership Levels?
Obviously, I would have to give this one to BMC. Even though it’s a pain to manage the different levels, I like to offer better incentives for those who want to pay more.
Plus, I like being able to manage how much those memberships will cost.
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 biggest difference between how BMC and Ko-fi manages members-only content are the levels I mentioned above. Other than that, it’s easy to set a blog post, video, or image to members-only within either system.
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.
Coincidentally, you can currently see this button in action in the sidebar of this blog.
Integrating with Ko-Fi
Ko-fI integrates with WordPress, Zapier, Discord, and has a GitHub donate button you can download and utilize. You can also use its code generator to create a button or a popup widget for your website.
The system uses a WYSIWYG editor to create the button or popup widget, which you can then paste the code directly into your blog.
And yes, these codes work perfectly in an HTML sidebar widget for WordPress.
Who Wins for Integrations and Widgets?
Both Buy Me a Coffee and Ko-fi provide nearly the same level of integrations and widgets for your blog. And recently, Ko-fi added Discord as well as assigning roles and access automatically.
This means both platforms are pretty even when it comes to integration and widgets. Though, I do think that Ko-fi is the easier system to manage many of these aspects.
But if you don’t plan on adding Discord, Ko-fi does have a few more options available for creating buttons and widgets. Otherwise, they are almost identical.
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.
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 do wish Buy Me a Coffee had a few more settings to adjust. For instance, I’d like to control how long the message appears during a live stream. And its lack of color choice is a bit of a downside.
Bonus: 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.
The weird thing is how these bonuses are given. I can make anywhere from $2 to $5 per signup. I haven’t quite figured out why it varies so much, though.
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 Both on Your Blog?
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 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 nor 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 because 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.
If Ko-fi had the ability to modify membership levels and prices like BMC, I would probably switch over. Personally, I just like the overall layout of Ko-fi better.
And, it would be nice to be able to earn referral bonuses.
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 the to 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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