Patreon vs Ko-Fi
Updated: Jul 7
I think there comes a point in every creative's life where you begin to wonder if turning your hobby into a career was the correct choice. Something that once gave you joy and expressed your creative freedom might now cause stress, anxiety, and may even limit your artistic expression. You might begin to dread working on certain things knowing your passion just isn't there anymore. You feel that inspiration slowly dimming because your work is no longer for you, but for someone else.
That's where I was at the beginning of the year. It's not a fun place, as it causes you to doubt yourself and your work. I debated for quite awhile on what I was going to do in terms of cosplay, sewing, and creating; and after a rough couple of months, I felt that ending my Patreon was my best choice.
Patreon is a website where you can fund your favorite artists and creatives. You sign up for a specific tier and you get rewards for what you pledge monthly. It's actually a really great site; but I don't think people understand the amount of work that goes into running a high-turnaround Patreon.
Depending on your rewards and levels, Patreon is very much a full time job- or rather, it was for me. Every month I would put out multiple photoshoots (often times on location), tutorials, WIP, prints, and was expected be active on Discord and Snapchat, which were exclusives for my pledgers. Many of the shoots I did myself and most of them were also edited by me- which took quite a bit of time. Don't forget I also had new costumes to make and traveled to at least one convention nearly every month where I guest/worked. I'm not complaining by any means, it's simply a lot of work.
I was lucky to have been making a good amount through Patreon so I didn't have to rely as much on outside jobs. However, the content that many of my pledgers began to want wasn't the type of content I enjoyed making. I felt I was spending too much of my creative energy trying to please others, via Patreon, to get a few more dollars and not enough on myself and the crafting I loved to do. Which is where Ko-fi has come into play.
Ko-fi is a tipping website where you can donate a certain amount of funds to someone. Basic Ko-fi is $3, but if you upgrade your account to Gold membership, you can change the amount to whatever you want. Also with upgrading, you can set up reoccurring pledges, and offer exclusive content to those who have donated.
So what's the difference between Ko-fi and Patreon?
Like I mentioned, (to me) Patreon is more of a job where someone pays you X amount and you deliver rewards based on said tier. Ko-fi doesn't have any rewards. Once you upgrade to Gold, you can filter post to those who have donated in the last 30 days or have reoccurring payments; but there is no specific reward that must go out. Ko-fi is about donating to someone and not necessarily expecting anything back, while Patreon works off a payment and reward based system- thus why Patreon is baseline more like a job. You can offer rewards or exclusive content on Ko-fi, but the site isn't designed to have tiers or specific reward perks like Patreon does. For example, on Patreon, you can have a $5 and $10 tier and people will gain access to different content. However, whether you donate $5 or $500 on Ko-fi, your access level is the same.
Another difference between the two is how much money you get back. Patreon is free but they take a percentage of what you make monthly or by project. Ko-fi Gold is a membership where you pay an upfront cost and they don't take anything from you. So, depending on how much you make, your take home might be better on one platform versus the other.
Another financial difference is when you receive your funds. Patreon gives a monthly payout at the beginning of each month, no matter when someone pledges to you. Ko-fi is instant with Paypal. It's very convenient to know that around the 5th of every month I would receive a large lump sum from Patreon; however, it limited my ability to make purchases throughout the month for content/projects. Ko-fi pledges are random (unless you have reoccurring pledges) in amount and when you receive them. While not knowing when you'll get paid can be frustrating, getting donations throughout the month helps to moderate my spending- especially for specific projects.
For me, the content of what I post is different on Ko-fi versus Patreon. I used Patreon to fund costumes and pay bills. I made a specific amount each month but a lot of that went right back into Patreon with prints, shipping, and content outside the projects I wanted to do (ex: lingerie for boudoir shoots, Instax, studio/location fees). My content often reflected what others wanted to see, which didn't always line up with the content/projects I wanted to produce. Ko-fi, on the other hand, allows me to set a specific goal for a project I want to do and people can help me fund it. All those who pledge will receive WIP of that specific costume- nothing more and nothing less. Ko-fi is funding the content that I want to produce versus Patreon, which felt like people were paying for content they specifically wanted out of me.
The two sites can be worked very differently than how I used them; but I hope my personal experiences can help those who may be debating the two. Like I said, there are pros and cons to both and I know many people who utilize both sites- it doesn't have to be one or the other. Simply, this is what works best for me and I hope it can help you find what works for you!
If you want to go the Ko-fi Gold route, I have a promotional link for 10% off your lifetimes use of Ko-fi: https://ko-fi.com/gold?a=H2H2AQMT Hope it helps!