Digital creators have a bewildering array of options available when it comes to monetizing their content. Patreon and Buy Me a Coffee are two longstanding options for turning readers, viewers, or listeners into a source of income. The two platforms target different audiences and have slightly different fee structures too.

But how do you know which to choose? Here, we'll discuss the pros and cons of each platform and also look at which is best for your content-related business.

Buy Me a Coffee vs Patreon

What is the key difference between the two? First, Patreon is aimed primarily at creators who would like to turn fans into monthly subscribers. The platform does support other kinds of digital content and even one-off purchases, but such things are not its primary purpose.

In contrast, Buy Me a Coffee is designed around the idea of selling products or allowing fans of your content to support you with a one-off donation. It's particularly popular with software creators or people who write guides and who want a fun and low-friction way of accepting funds.

Throughout this comparison article we will take an in-depth look at each of the creator platforms, including their features, support, pricing, and more.

What is Buy Me a Coffee?

buy me a coffee

Buy Me a Coffee markets itself as a crowdfunding platform. It provides creators with an easy-to-use system to request donations. The main selling point of the platform is the idea that saying

"Has this guide helped you? Buy me a coffee to say thanks!" is more likely to get people to open their wallets than selling a long-term, more costly subscription.

Who Can Use Buy Me a Coffee?

buy me a coffee creators

The platform is open to all kinds of content creators, but it's particularly popular with open-source software developers, bloggers, podcasters, people who write how-to guides, and artists. Content that is Not Safe For Work is permitted, as long as it's tagged as such and does not fall foul of other restrictions relating to illegal or harmful content.

The emphasis the platform puts on one-off donations and the fee structures it uses make Buy Me a Coffee particularly appealing to people for whom content creation is a side hustle, rather than a full-time job.

With that said, some successful content creators are using Buy Me a Coffee for their membership systems, such as Reef Beef, who have more than 230 supporters who are loyal fans of their niche aquarium podcast.

How Does Buy Me a Coffee Work?

buy me a coffee platform

Buy Me a Coffee allows users to sell products, accept one-off donations, or sell memberships. There's no monthly fee for using the service, and all creators can take advantage of all features.

Supporters can pay creators using all major credit cards, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. The platform takes a five percent transaction fee out of all donations/purchases, and the rest of the funds go to the creator.

Creators can embed the Buy Me a Coffee widget into their own sites, or they can use the Buy Me a Coffee store to promote products and memberships. The platform tries to be as low-friction as possible and does not lock creators into using their systems.

Selling on Buy Me a Coffee

It's easy to sell products on Buy Me a Coffee using the Shop feature. To make it easy to get started, the platform provides several pre-defined products for creators to edit. First, outline how you plan to use Patreon. For this platform walk-through, we have gone with 'shop' to sell our digital products.

how to use buy me a coffee

Once in the shop, you can choose 'digital product', Instagram access, Zoom calls, tickets, or physical goods. If none of the pre-created products are suitable, simply select 

Start From Scratch from the Listings section of the Shop page to create a new product.

Next, fill out the product details:

  • Product name
  • Price (Pay What You Want offers are supported)
  • Add a featured image (optional)
  • Add other images if desired
  • Describe the product
  • Enter a confirmation message, which will be shown after the product is purchased
product details

In addition to the above basic options, there are advanced settings for stock levels, delivery options, discounts for subscribers, product ratings, and the option to allow buyers to purchase more than one of any given time.

If the product is a digital item, you can also set a redirect URL to send your buyers to the download link once the purchase is complete.

Once you've finished setting up the product, simply click Create to make the listing live! Overall the process of creating a store and adding a product is straightforward and easy to complete.

Platform Customization

Customization options on the store page are limited. While creators can add descriptions and upload images, the shop has a distinctive appearance and there are few styling options available. This means that aside from the banner image and product/shop descriptions, creator pages look largely the same.

Creators who dislike the appearance of the shop may prefer to use the Buy Me a Coffee widget on their own site, although this is designed to promote one-off donations, not sell products.

Engagement Tools and Customer Management

Buy Me a Coffee is a versatile platform that gives creators a lot of freedom. In addition to the option to set up Google Analytics to track the performance of products and memberships, creators can take advantage of the Webhooks system to receive event notifications for a variety of actions including purchases and refunds, to use in third-party applications (or even applications they've created themselves).

Creators can also send emails to subscribers from within the Buy Me a Coffee platform. It's possible to create audiences (for example targeting a specific tier of members), send a message to all subscribers or pick individual subscribers to contact.

There's no platform lock-in with the messaging system. Creators who would prefer to use Mailchimp or some other popular mailing list software can simply export their mailing lists and then upload them to their preferred tool.

However, where Buy Me a Coffee falls short is in the earnings analytics. The dashboard is simple, showing earnings from supports, memberships, extras, wishlist, and commissions. It does not go into detail about customer retention, churn or any other statistics that are vital when scaling a successful business.

Buy Me a Coffee Customer Support

The customer service offered by Buy Me a Coffee is above average compared to rival platforms. In addition to a knowledge base, the platform also offers email support and a live chat feature for creator queries. They also provide a form where creators can make feature requests and will respond to suggestions made via that form.

contact buy me a coffee

Still, there is no way to contact Buy Me a Coffee via phone, and the site does not give any indication of how long it takes to reply to messages or emails.

How Much Does Buy Me a Coffee Cost?

There are no monthly fees associated with the platform. The pricing structure is quite simple. Creators are charged 5% on each purchase as a payment processing fee.

No features of the platform are gated behind any "membership tiers", even small creators who only occasionally receive donations can access all features of the site.

What is Patreon?


Patreon is a platform that enables creators to sell subscriptions to their content, or monetize their content in other ways. It's one of the most well-known monetization services, and it's particularly popular with bloggers.

The platform enables fans of a creator to become "patrons" by subscribing to the creator's content. Creators can set up different membership tiers for subscribers and offer rewards for each tier. For example, a fitness guru might offer top-tier subscribers the option to take part in a monthly Q&A session, or create a workout for them. A YouTuber who makes Let's Play videos could offer patrons membership to an exclusive Discord group.

Who Can Use Patreon?

who can use patreon

Patreon welcomes all kinds of content creators, although podcasters, YouTubers, and bloggers who publish new content frequently are the platform's primary audience. Creators who publish political content are welcome on the platform, with some caveats. Hate speech and adult content are against the terms of service, for example.

How does Patreon Work?

how does patreon work

With Patreon, creators can monetize their audience by letting fans subscribe to their content. Although content creators, like vloggers and influencers, receive income through the means of paid advertisement and affiliate marketing, all creators strive for a stable income stream. That is where platforms like Patreon come in - creating options for recurring revenue.

Patreon can be used to distribute content but this isn't the platform's main purpose - it is mostly used by creators to transform their fans into 'patrons'. These fans decide to become patrons not only to support the content creator, but also to feel a sense of exclusivity by gaining access to paywalled content.

Selling on Patreon

Selling individual products on Patreon is not the site's primary goal, but it can be done. When you join the site as a creator, you'll see a creator page with the option to add products. Simply click the Create button and then select from the list of content options, which includes:

  • Audio
  • Videos
  • Images
  • Text
  • Live streams

You'll then be given the option to upload the content and fill out the information for the product page. Enter a title, description, and tags for the content, as well as the price. Finally, specify whether you'd like to limit the product to subscribers, or make it available for public sale.

On the final screen, you'll have the option to schedule the post, which can be useful if you've been hyping a product launch.

The process is the same for each product - with the exception of livesteams, for which you can use Crowdcast, YouTube Live, or Vimeo. Overall, like Buy Me a Coffee this is a simple, easy process.

Platform Customization

Like Buy Me a Coffee, there are limited customization options on the platform. Creators can change the color scheme of their pages and add their own cover images and profile pictures, but cannot make more substantial changes to the layout of their store page.

Still, though limited, there are more customization options on Patreon than on Bring Me a Coffee. You can add a profile image and cover image, in addition to choosing a brand color for your page.

patreon colors

Further, you can also customize the cover images and descriptions of any paid tiers that you offer.

Engagement Tools and Customer Management

The ease of use of Patreon's built-in audience tools is one of the main strengths of the platform. Creators can view information about patrons, including their name, their current tier, how much they've pledged, their lifetime value, and when they became patrons, all in one place. Creators can also use built-in analytics tools to track audience growth, impressions, and earnings over time.

patreon audience

Creators can also configure exit surveys to solicit feedback from patrons who cancel their subscriptions. It's possible to send messages to patrons from within the platform, filter subscribers based on a variety of criteria, including viewing people who subscribed within the last month, and block users.

As with Buy Me a Coffee, Patreon allows creators to export information about subscribers, allowing them to import that data into a mailing list platform of their choice.

Patreon Customer Support

The customer support options offered by Patreon are relatively poor. There's a comprehensive knowledge base that should cover most issues. However, there's no live chat option.

patreon enquiries

Users who can't solve their problems by checking the knowledge base will have to rely on email support, which can take up to a week to answer queries. As with Buy Me a Coffee, there is no option speak to with Patreon customer support over the phone.

How Much Does Patreon Cost?

Patreon's fees are rather costly compared to Buy Me a Coffee. There's still no membership fee, so anyone can get started with the service for free. However, the platform charges 8% of any earned income for Pro users, and 12% for Premium users. There used to be a Lite tier with lower fees, but this is not available for new users.

Buy Me a Coffee vs Patreon: Which is Better for Content Creators?

Both platforms have a lot to offer, albeit to different audiences. While Patreon has higher fees and fewer options for customer service, it offers useful built-in analytics and has the benefit of strong brand recognition, making it a good option for people who want to sell subscriptions.

In contrast, Buy Me a Coffee is a fun, low-friction, and low-cost option for creators looking to accept one-off donations from fans.

Advantages of using Buy Me a Coffee

  • Easy-to-use system
  • Low fees
  • APIs and Webhook options for easy integration

Disadvantages of using Buy Me a Coffee

  • Limited customization options
  • Setting up payment requires a Stripe account

Advantages of using Patreon

  • Patreon handles payment processing for you
  • Built-in analytics tools
  • Strong brand recognition

Disadvantages of using Patreon

  • Slower cashouts
  • Higher fees
  • Limited customer support

An Alternative to Buy Me a Coffee and Patreon: Whop

Whop sell

If neither Buy Me a Coffee nor Patreon sounds like a good fit for the type of content you'd like to sell, why not consider Whop?

Whop is a digital marketplace that empowers creators to sell almost anything. From blogs and videos to trading signals and access to exclusive Discord or Telegram communities, it offers unprecedented freedom to sell digital products.

The platform has already sold more than 4.9 million memberships, accounting for over $258 million worth of products, and that figure is increasing every day.

The marketplace already has support for a huge variety of apps and products, beyond simple downloadable files. For content creators, you can monetize your audience with Whop by selling access to private Discord and Telegram communities through paid memberships! If the type of product you'd like to sell isn't already supported out-of-the-box, you have the option of either using the platform's API to create your own support or contacting the Whop team to discuss the possibility of adding that product type.

Beyond that flexibility, there are many other reasons to consider using Whop to monetize your audience:

  • Low Transaction Fees: 
    Creators pay just 3% on each product they sell via the platform.
  • Grow Your Audience With the Marketplace: 
    Promote your products by embedding them into your own website, and gain extra visibility by displaying your creations in the Whop Marketplace. Since the marketplace is searchable and is divided into categories, discoverability is very good compared to many rival platforms.
  • A Passionate Technical Team: 
    The Whop tech support team doesn't shy away from a challenge. If you need help getting started with the platform, simply contact their customer service team for support at any time -24/7, 365.

Whether you're a tech wizard, graphic artist or vlogger, Whop can help you reach a wider audience and monetize your content and audience.

👉Start generating consistent, recurring revenue today - sign up with Whop!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use both Patreon and Buy Me a Coffee together?

Yes, it is possible to use Patreon and Buy Me a Coffee at the same time, and many creators do so, offering subscriptions through one and accepting donations via the other. Keep in mind using multiple payment options could confuse users.

Can I offer my subscribers access to exclusive content via Whop?

Whop makes it easy for digital content creators to reward subscribers with exclusive content. Using the platform's integration tools, almost anything can be shared via the store to a selected audience.

Is there a limit on the value of Buy Me a Coffee donations?

The price of a coffee on Buy Me a Coffee is set to $5 by default but can be changed to any amount between $1 and $5. Users can donate more than this by opting to purchase more than one coffee.