Before the early 2000s, making a full-time living from online content creation might have seemed impossible, especially for the average Joe or Jane who didn't have a ton of resources to invest. 

Fast-forward two decades, and thanks to the boom in innovative sharing and social media platforms, almost anyone can monetize their digital catalog. Some even earn six-figure incomes from their fans and followers.

One such platform is Buy Me a Coffee. In this guide, we'll explore everything you need to know about the content-sharing Goliath, including who can use it, how it works, and clever ways to generate revenue from doing what you love.  

What is Buy Me a Coffee? 

what is buy me a coffee?

Buy Me a Coffee describes itself as "a platform that allows creators, such as artists, writers, podcasters, and YouTubers, to receive support and funding from their fans and followers". It does this through various tools, including: 

  • One-off payments 
  • Memberships 
  • Shop functionality 
  • Booking systems 
  • Commissions 

Perhaps most enticingly, Buy Me a Coffee promises a sustainable business model and scalability. As your community grows, you can offer a more feature-rich experience that boosts your earnings potential.  

For instance, you might create a premium membership option for your most loyal customers or reward them with fun email marketing campaigns (you can do this for free on the platform). 

Who Uses Buy Me a Coffee? 

building an audience on Buy Me a Coffee

Anyone can use Buy Me a Coffee, from authors and digital learning providers to web developers and gamers. However, you'll receive the most benefit if you already have an active audience. 

Some people simply ask for one-off tips, e.g. street performers who want a cashless payment option, while others upload and sell content. Most people do a bit of both, using the platform as an add-on to existing revenue streams and promoting it through their primary channels, such as YouTube, TikTok and Discord

One success story is Kevin Wilson, a vlogger and storyteller from San Diego. In addition to monetizing content on social media, he's set up several membership tiers on Buy Me a Coffee. Perks include a behind-the-scenes look into his creative process, access to members-only livestreams, and discounts on merchandise.  

How Does Buy Me a Coffee Work? 

Creating an account on Buy Me a Coffee

Creating an account on Buy Me a Coffee couldn't be easier, thanks to the platform's streamlined user interface and emphasis on accessibility. Simply visit the homepage, click "Start my page" and follow the instructions. Signing up is free and, according to the team, takes less than a minute. 

However, it becomes more complicated if you actually want to make money. You can’t just set up an account and hope for the best. Ideally, you should choose a username that reflects your brand, connect your social media accounts (which hopefully already have a following) and personalize your page with a unique cover image, introductory video, and color scheme. Plus, you'll need to answer a few questions to help tailor the experience. 

Here's the process in a nutshell: 

  1. Visit the main website and click "Start my page". 
  2. Create a username – this will display as "". You can sign up via your social media accounts or with an email and password. 
  3. Upload a profile picture and fill out your bio – people rarely support faceless, nameless creators. 
  4. Explain why you want to join Buy Me a Coffee so the team can optimize the platform to meet your needs. 
  5. Enter your bank details so followers can send payments. The platform supports all major credit and debit cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Cash App. 
  6. Once you've covered the basics, boost your income with membership tiers, exclusive content, and commissions. 

Of course, you need to be mindful of hidden costs. While creating a Buy Me a Coffee account is free, there's a 5% transaction fee on every payment, meaning you'll only take home 95% of the total amount. 

The platform also uses Stripe, which has its own processing charges. Some creators choose to pay these on behalf of their supporters – it's calculated as 0.3 times the number of transactions plus 2.9% of the support amount. 

Can You Make Money on Buy Me a Coffee? 

By now, it should be apparent that you can absolutely make money on Buy Me a Coffee, so perhaps the question should be – exactly how much?  

According to the website, there are plenty of creators generating a six-figure income, but there's very little to corroborate this online. 

For our research, we looked at the trending creators at the time of writing. Cara (a group of volunteers building a new social media platform for artists and art enthusiasts) topped the charts with 8,007 supporters. Let's say those 8,007 donated $5 each (the minimum donation amount) – that's $40,035 per month, before the 5% transaction fee is applied. On the flip side, if they all bought the most expensive $50 membership, that'd be $400,350 per month. That’s quite a range! 

In our experience, it seems far more likely that the average creator would receive anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars per month. Ultimately, we can only speculate about total figures, but one thing's for certain – the more effort you put in, the more you get out. 

Four Ways to be Successful on Buy Me a Coffee 

If you're wondering how to make money from your digital products, this next section is for you. We explain exactly what you must do to have the best chances of success, from creating memberships to setting up Shop. 

1. Create membership tiers for your biggest fans 

Without a doubt, the best way to earn reliable money on Buy Me a Coffee is through memberships – reliable being the keyword. Here, supporters pay a premium to access exclusive content, such as private Discord servers, Zoom meet-ups, and YouTube live streams. 

You could even pick a song to feature in Jim Newstead’s YouTube music reactions… 

Jim Newstead on Buy Me a Coffee

Rather than hoping for hundreds of one-off payments, monthly or yearly subscriptions are more sustainable. They allow you to plan and re-invest in your business without worrying about the next paycheck. 

Best of all, you can create different membership tiers for all budgets. Back to the example we used earlier, Kevin Wilson offers three packages: 

  • Ginger Club ($5 per month) 
  • Cinnamon Club ($15 per month) 
  • Cardamom Club ($20 per month) 

With the most expensive option, you gain all the benefits of the Ginger Club and Cinnamon Club, plus a monthly Zoom session with the most loyal and enthusiastic supporters. 

A top tip for any membership model – make it worthwhile. Nobody will sign up if you simply regurgitate content from your social media platforms. Keep it fresh and offer products or services people can't find elsewhere. 

2. Set-up “Shop” – Buy Me a Coffee’s answer to an online store 

Another way you can maximize revenue is by setting up Shop – a clever alternative to Shopify. Buy Me a Coffee designed its ecommerce platform with creators in mind, anticipating they wouldn't be promoting traditional goods and services. As such, they introduced the capacity to sell fully digital items such as eBooks, virtual calls, and art commissions. 

Japan by River Cruise

There's a huge incentive to create Extras, especially if you're an expert or market leader. If people would happily pay for your professional guidance or opinions, why not oblige? 

3. Take Advantage of the Free Email Marketing Tools 

One of the best things about Buy Me a Coffee is the personable experience. The platform is "designed for creators, not for businesses". Also, customers aren't actually "customers" or "transactions" but "supporters".  

The language is deliberately warm and familiar, facilitating a more meaningful relationship between content creator and follower. 

Language aside, the platform boasts an inbuilt email marketing feature to drive community engagement, which is handy because you don't have to spread yourself thin over dozens of applications. 

Admittedly, and unsurprisingly, you can't do nearly as much as you can with traditional email marketing platforms like Mailchimp. Nevertheless, you can still segment audiences based on membership tier and recent purchases, push specific services, and offer discounts. Essentially, it does the job if you're looking for a faff-free way to connect with your audience. 

4. Promote Your Buy Me a Coffee Page Across Platforms 

Finally, promote your Buy Me a Coffee page across multiple platforms to maximize your reach. This is especially powerful if you already have an engaged audience who want to support your work but don't know how.  

There are a few ways you can do this, including: 

  • Adding your webpage URL to social media bios. 
  • Sharing your page's QR code.
  • Promoting your page on live streams, stories, and feeds.
  • Installing the Buy Me a Coffee WordPress plugin on websites. 
  • Writing blog posts about your Buy Me a Coffee page. 

We recommend updating your followers whenever you post new content, creating a membership option, or running a special offer. The more vocal you can be, the better! 

Buy Me a Coffee Alternatives

If Buy Me a Coffee doesn't have the functionality to support your business, there are several other excellent service providers out there. Keep reading as we round up the top three. 

1. 🏆 Whop 


Whop is an all-in-one platform that helps entrepreneurs sell digital products. What makes it different from Buy Me a Coffee? Firstly, the platform supports an incredible range of content, from educational seminars and games to eBooks and SaaS apps. 

Secondly, it's scalable. If Whop doesn't support a piece of content, you can use the platform's powerful API to create a brand-new product type or contact the 24/7 support team for assistance. This level of customization means you can grow your business exactly how you want. 

Lastly, Whop charges a modest 3% transaction fee on each product or service sold, making it a more cost-effective choice for business owners.  

2. Patreon 


Even budding content creators with sparse portfolios have probably heard of Patreon – a popular option that allows users to sell digital products via a subscription service. The platform offers dozens of features to incentivize follower support, including third-party app integrations, real-time community group chats, and page personalization. 

Patreon differs slightly from the other providers on this list because its primary goal isn't selling individual products. Instead, creators encourage fans to become life-long "patrons" of their work. However, this comes with a substantial downside – you can't make one-off payments, only recurring memberships. 

3. Ko-fi 


Ko-fi is Buy Me a Coffee's predecessor. Believe it or not, they actually used the phrase "buy me a coffee" as a payment term first – which makes Buy Me a Coffee's whole premise a little cheeky, if you ask us. 

Overall, they're similar. Fans can support their favorite content creators via one-off donations, ongoing monthly subscriptions, or purchases from their digital shops. 

The main difference between the two boils down to money. Ko-fi charges creators a higher 5% transaction fee unless they buy a membership. "Ko-fi Gold" starts at $6 per month, with benefits including 0% platform fees, enhanced personalization tools, and more powerful analytics. 

Connect With Your Biggest Supporters Through Whop 

While Buy Me A Coffee is ideal for those looking for a simple, user-friendly platform and single monetization schemes, if you're looking to grow your income, Whop has all the features you need.

With its advanced tools, customization and many different options when it comes to monetizing, you can join the millions of people making a living from their online content. With Whop, you can sell almost anything, from software licenses and mobile apps to communities, online courses, and coaching calls. Plus, it couldn't be any easier to profit from your creativity, and our live chat agents are always on hand to answer your questions.

To get started, simply choose a username and niche (which you can change anytime), then begin customizing your products, apps, and store page. We'll offer plenty of expert guidance to help you reach the right audience.

Above all else, there are no monthly charges for using Whop – only a small 3% commission on sales.

It's time to join the Whop revolution and harness the power of the Internet economy. Join the next generation of internet entrepreneurs building their businesses on Whop’s all-in-one platform.