Ko-Fi vs. Patreon: Which Subscription Services for Your Fans and Followers

Whether you are a content writer, YouTuber, musician or create webcomics, you need a dependable source of income where your fans and readers pay you a fixed amount every month. We recently clear the differences between Patreon vs Paypal and some of you asks us about Ko-fi. So, today, let’s clear some air between Ko-Fi vs. Patreon.

Patreon was started by Jack Conte, a musician who wanted a platform to make money from YouTube videos. While YouTube has a partner program which is used by millions of professional YouTubers, Patreon offers an additional revenue stream, even if you are in a niche market.

Ko-Fi (yes, the coffee metaphor) has a similar story where Nigel Pickles wanted to thank a creator who helped him with a project. Wanting to buy him a coffee for the trouble, he created Ko-Fi so creators could be rewarded for their efforts.

The essence of both services is to receive money from your fans, but both offer different features for creators and supporters alike. Let’s take a look at an in-depth comparison of Ko-Fi vs. Patreon. Shall we?

1. Platforms

Patreon supports a number of popular platforms right out of the box. If you are a blogger using WordPress then there is a plugin for you. Patreon has an app directory where you can view a list of all the third-party platforms that they support including but not limited to Discord bots, MailChimp, and Google Sheets.

Ko-Fi has no API to offer which means you cannot add Ko-Fi everywhere. It is not developer friendly. Instead, they offer javascript powered buttons that you can add on your websites and pages. There is direct support for WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube but that’s it. You need to create a free Ko-fi page which you can share using the direct link, or by embedding the button code on your website. Lack of API is something that will scare the web and app developers away in my opinion.

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Patreon also takes the lead when it comes to mobile apps. There is a dedicated app for both Android and iOS platform so you can view and manage your subscriptions and projects on the go. Ko-Fi, at the time of writing this article, has no mobile apps to offer which is limiting.

What if I want to monetize my app with Ko-Fi or Patreon? Both the platform falls short in this area which makes little sense seeing the popularity of apps these days.

Winner: Patreon

2. Fees

This can be a deal-breaker for many creators, especially those who are just starting out and cannot afford high fees. Both Ko-Fi and Patreon use PayPal as their default payment processors so there’s that.

PayPal is not cheap and charges fees based on where you live. In the US, you will pay 2.9%+$0.30 per transaction charges. Sadly, currency conversion charges are a topic of debate because you always get 2-3% lower than market rates when using PayPal (personal experience). Then there is a fixed fee of $1 charged if you receive payments in foreign currency. If you are using Virtual Terminal or PayPal Payments Pro to handle subscriptions then you will be paying an additional $10/month. In addition to PayPal, Patreon also supports Stripe which is no cheaper but definitely more developer friendly.

Read: How Much Paypal Charges Per Transaction in India

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Now, in addition to what your payment processor is charging you, you have to pay Patreon 5% of whatever amount has been pledged to you. We are talking about the total monthly amount here. To withdraw this money from your Patreon to PayPal account, you will be charged $0.25 for direct deposits which is available only in the US. International users will have to use PayPal which will cost $0.25 or 1% for the total amount with an upper limit of $20 per deposit. See how these costs can quickly add up?

Ko-Fi is free. What? Yes. Ko-Fi is free which means you don’t have to pay them anything for creating your page and collecting money from fans and followers. Note that Ko-Fi also uses PayPal to process payments and so those charges are separate. In the free account, you can only accept one-time payments, popularly known as tips. If you want to receive subscription payments, there is Ko-Fi Gold which will cost you a fixed $6 per month.

Needless to say, Ko-Fi is a lot cheaper than Patreon because a) there is a free account and b) $6 is a lot cheaper than 5% especially if you have a large user base. Note that you pay $6 irrespective of what you are making but in the long run, you will end up saving a lot of hard cash.

Finally, Patreon pays once a month and Ko-Fi pays instantly whenever you want.

Winner: Ko-Fi

3. Features

While fee structure and platform integration matter, they are not the only thing that matters at the time of deciding a platform to launch your business. Changing platforms after your business has taken off can be troublesome and in most cases, impossible. Imagine having to ask all your fans and followers to change subscriptions and adopt a new model? You can end up losing a lot of supporters in the process leading to a potential drop in your revenues. So let’s see how Patreon justifies its higher fee structure if it does so at all.

Patreon comes with a tier structure where you can pledge a certain amount towards your favorite creator and you will get rewards for the same. Ko-Fi doesn’t offer a rewards structure. Upgrading to the Gold account does let you fix whatever you want to charge unlike in the free account which is set to $3. Patreon has a base price of $1 and there is no upper limit.

If you create different levels of content then Patreon is more suitable for you. There is an incentive for the supporters to step up to the next tier and pay more in the subscription. In Ko-Fi, there is no incentive so you can create a constant level of content. This will depend on your creative field and what you have to offer.

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Patreon does have a small percentage of fake supporters. Let me explain. Patrons, or supporters, pledge money for one month and get access to pretty much all the content on the page. They then go ahead and cancel the pledged money. While the percentage of these freeloaders are small, it still exists as noted by several creators. On Ko-Fi, the money is directly paid to the creator removing the opportunity to freeload. This problem is commonly referred to as Dine and Dash in the patron community.

Patreon doesn’t accept tips like Ko-Fi. Patreon also seems to have the larger userbase which is an advantage because it gives you a marketplace to showcase your content. If you have a niche, chances are that Patreon already has supporters in it, ready to pledge. Patreon needs a commitment that you will produce a certain amount of content every month based on your tier and rewards. Ko-Fi has lower commitment levels allowing creators to follow a schedule that is more flexible.

Both Patreon and Ko-Fi will let you communicate with your followers, build a community, and keep them engaged.

If anything happens to Patreon or should they make changes that are not in your best interests, you run the risk of losing everything. Something similar has happened in the past with YouTube creators. Something similar also happened at Patreon when several creators lost subscribers at an alarming rate because they decided to change their fee structure. Though Ko-Fi has a clear record in this regard, things may change anytime so keep that in mind. Just saying.

Result: Tie

Ko-Fi vs. Patreon

Here is the deal. Both Patreon and Ko-Fi are on a collision course vying for the attention of the creators. There are some features that are similar in nature and some that are not. Patreon has a larger userbase, supports more platforms, is more suitable for subscription payments with tiers and rewards. That said, it is not only expensive at 5% cut, but will also show ads.

Ko-Fi is flexible and supports both one-time and subscription payments but without tiers or rewards. You can create subscription-only content in the Gold plan. Ko-Fi is free to use if you want to receive one-time payments in the form of tips and the Gold plan is only $6/month. No ads on Ko-Fi platform.

In the end, both of them offer a way to monetize your fan base and act as a supplemental source of income rather than primary. This is not to say that there are examples of creators who are making a living solely on the strength of their supporters on a single platform but they are few. Most of the creators have a YouTube channel, a website, a blog or some other platform where they had followers and wanted an additional way to make some money. Think of them as a way add more baskets to keep your eggs.

So, which one are you using or planning to use and why? Did we miss something?

Read: 7 Best Accounting Software for Small Business (Free and Paid)

About Gaurav Bidasaria

Gaurav is a tech enthusiast who loves talking about new technologies and gadgets. He dropped out of CA because he found the work boring and monotonous! When he is not following crypto and blockchain tech, you can find him binge-watching Netflix or making travel plans.