Ko-fi Review: Audience Monetization Platform for Creators
If you are a content creator, how do you monetize your efforts?
The content won’t pay your bills even if people find it exciting. I know it from my writers’ experience.
I have been writing consistently for two years on Medium and my website. My readers often leave comments and share how much they admire my work. But that’s it!
Your audience won’t give you any penny until you ask them to do so.
I’ve used various methods and platforms to monetize my content as a writer. I use Gumroad to sell my ebooks, Medium to earn money through the partner program, and Ko-fi to collect tips from fellow readers.
In this article, I share my Ko-fi review, how Ko-fi works, and my case study on how I earn tips through Ko-fi. If you are a content creator or a website owner wondering how to monetize your content, this Ko-fi website review will be helpful for you.
Here is what the article covers:
What is Ko-fi?
Ko-fi is an easy-to-use platform that helps content creators collect donations and earn money from their fans.
This platform was created by Simon Ellington and Nigel Pickles in Cambridge, UK, in 2017 to help content creators make their first $1 on the Internet because that’s the most challenging part of the journey.
Your mindset and approach to money-making change when you move from 0 to $1. You are no longer shy to ask for money for your content, service, or advice.
You realize that your words have power and value. If someone wants to learn more from you, they pay for it. This is when you start scaling your online earnings, and platforms like Ko-fi support you on your journey.
Is Ko-fi legit?
It’s okay to be skeptical when talking about money-making online.
What you earn is virtual money. You can’t physically touch or smell them. Therefore, you want to ensure everything you earn lands in your bank account sooner or later. That’s why it’s crucial to verify the legitimacy of websites before starting any gainful activity there.
I carefully reviewed the Ko-fi website to ensure I can get my Ko-fi donations risk-free and get paid to my bank account eventually.
I use Ko-fi to collect tips from my Medium readers, and it works like magic. Money is instantly transferred to my PayPal account. I have never had money-related issues with Ko-fi. It’s just my humble experience, but still.
I’ve also checked the financial side of Ko-fi as a business to analyze how the company is doing and whether it indeed sends money to content creators.
According to the Ko-fi performance review, almost 168,000 content creators made money on Ko-fi in 2021, and their earnings went up +88% since 2021 to $45.2 million. The average payment also went up by +18% to $19.5.
This is the official data from the Ko-fi.com website. They post performance reviews yearly on their website, sharing exclusive earnings insights.
The platform has been operating since 2017 and has grown to a $45.2 million turnover in 5 years. That’s fantastic! According to the Trustpilot review platform, 22+ Ko-fi users rated the platform as 4 out of 5 and left many helpful Ko fi reviews. I find this one particularly insightful:
How does Ko-fi.com work?
Ko-fi is an easy-to-use platform where it takes just a few minutes to set up a profile page.
You can either type your nickname in the given field or click on “Start a Page” for registration.
To create a Ko-fi page, you only need to provide your display nickname, email address, and password. Alternatively, you can register via Twitter, Gmail, or Facebook.
Upon registration, you’ll be redirected to your profile page, where you can craft a brief “about me” description, upload a profile image, upload images to the gallery, and publish blog posts, videos, or audio for your fans.
Here is how my Ko-fi page looks. I’d describe it as simple, clean, and to the point.
Once you register and set up your profile page, you can use your exclusive Ko-fi link to collect donations.
Here is how my Ko-fi link looks:
It is a unique URL that will redirect people to my Ko-fi page (a screenshot above), where they can learn more about me and support me with tips.
It’s worth mentioning that setting up a profile on Ko-fi won’t help you make money as it is. Ko-fi’s audience does not know about you and does not have the incentive to donate money to you. Therefore, I recommend promoting your Ko-fi link and asking for support in your content. Remember, it’s no longer viewed as begging! It is a legitimate way of monetizing your content creation efforts online.
I’ll share how I get tips via Ko-fi on Medium later in this article.
Besides Ko-fi donations, there are many more helpful features like these:
- Ko-fi shop, where you can sell your digital and physical products. (5% commission on membership sales.)
- Ko-fi memberships, where you can set monthly subscriptions and earn regular income from your fans. (5% commission on membership sales.)
- Ko-fi stream with the monetization opportunity.
- You can message your supporters directly via Ko-fi.
- You can install the Ko-fi WordPress plugin and place your Ko-fi button anywhere on your website.
- You can add a Ko-fi button to GitHub.
- You can create a QR code that links directly to your Ko-fi page.
- You can connect Ko-fi to your Discord community account.
- You can connect Ko-fi to various apps, services, and tools via Zapier.
- You can connect your Ko-fi page to Google Analytics, if you use it.
- You can create discount codes for your fans.
- And more!
Ko-fi continuously works on improving user experience and offering new features to its users. So, I’ll update this article once something new and exciting is out.
Ko-fi opportunities for content creators
Ko-fi lets you make money through donations, sales and offers exclusive opportunities for content creators.
In this paragraph, I post the latest opportunities from Ko-fi for content creators. Learn more and grab yours.
Ko-fi June challenge
Ko-fi team gives away $475 to Ko-fi creators this month!
Add an image post on Ko-fi and share it on social using #KofiChallenge.
You could share your current WIP, behind the scenes, a step-by-step guide. Or use it as an opportunity to share a little more about you as a creator. It can be a multi-image post or a single-image post.
- 1st prize: $250
- 2nd prize: $150
- 3rd prize: $75
Deadline: 30th June 2023
You can learn more about the challenge here.
How to use Ko-fi: my case study
I’ve heard about various donation platforms for several years before I tried Patreon and drastically failed.
Back in 2020, I did not know anything about making money online. However, I was bold enough to set up service tiers and offer them via Patreon. Guess what happened next? I made 0 sales and deleted my profile.
It took me two years to build authority as an SEO writer and a content creator on Medium before I stumbled upon Ko-fi.
Today, I use Ko-fi to collect tips from my readers on Medium. “Give a tip” call to action is placed at the end of every Medium story. So, if my articles resonate with people and inspire them to become better selves, they give me tips.
Here is how the tipping functionality looks on Medium.
As an established Medium writer, my stories are viewed by over 30,000 readers per month. Some of them follow my Ko-fi link and send me tips with the following appreciation messages:
Scott is my fellow Medium reader who was kind enough to leave me a tip. Thank you, Scott!
If you are a content creator or just starting, the following paragraph will help clarify whether it’s worth setting up a Ko-fi account for you now.
Should you set up Ko-fi now?
Reading Ko-fi reviews is fine, but how do you know if the platform suits you?
As a content writer and frequent Ko-fi app user, I prepared a few questions that can hopefully help you define if Ko-fi is the right platform for you.
- Do I already have an established audience on any platform? (Medium, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, etc.)
- Do I already know ways to monetize my audience? (selling digital products, offering services, affiliates, ads, etc.)
- Do I already use tools to monetize my audience? (Gumroad, Beehiiv, etc.)
- Do I want to make more money from my existing content but don’t know how?
If you answer “yes” to all questions above, you are mentally and physically ready to add Ko-fi to your toolkit.
With Ko-fi, you can set bold financial goals and ask your audience to support you. So, you can achieve your goals and give more value to your audience.
You could offer your most active fans personal support through paid membership tiers. This way, you don’t need to create new content, but your audience can learn even more from you.
Additionally, you can create a nurturing email campaign for your Ko-fi supporters that will help you make additional income, such as an exclusive guide on how to grow a business the way you do.
Those who became your fans once will be more eager to purchase from you in the future.
If you try Ko-fi and it does not work for you for some reason, you can always delete your account. To delete a Ko-fi account, navigate to Menu -> Account & Billing -> Delete Account
In general, Ko-fi fees are zero, which means you don’t need to pay anything to use the platform.
Everything I discussed in this article does not require a paid plan.
As a content creator, I encourage you to try the free plan to understand whether the platform works for you. If you are serious about doing business with Ko-fi, you can always upgrade to Ko-fi Gold.
Ko-fi Gold is a paid plan that unlocks additional features for content creators.
I’d highlight the following among the best Ko-fi Gold features:
- 0% fees on sales through a Ko-fi shop, memberships, and commissions. Alternatively, you pay a 5% fee.
- No banners and ads on a personal page.
- Traffic analytics insights that help to learn how supporters find your Ko-fi page.
You can read more about the Ko-fi Gold plan here and see a quick preview of paid and free tiers below.
As for me, $6 is a tiny fee for the value the platform creates for users. I’d definitely consider upgrading if I ran my business through Ko-fi.
P.S. Gumroad charges me 7% for every ebook sale, which is a lot of money. So, I am considering alternatives. By the way, you can read more about Ko-fi alternatives in the following paragraph.
If you are looking for Ko-fi alternatives, this paragraph is for you.
I know how challenging it is to find a suitable platform among many options. Therefore, I tried to provide my honest opinion below.
Ko-fi vs. PayPal
I would not put these two platforms on the same level. I believe they serve a different purpose.
PayPal is a digital wallet for money collection. You can send and receive money to your PayPal account. PayPal also has a donate button for fundraising (it works in certain countries only.)
On the other hand, Ko-fi is an audience monetization platform with various features for content creators.
- Donation button.
- Ability to buy your products and services via these platforms (PayPal fees vary 3.40-5.40% + fixed fee. Ko-fi fees 5% with a free plan.)
- Ability to add payment and donation buttons to your website.
Features that differ
- Ability to create and send invoices.
- Ability to send project briefs with estimates.
- Ability to segment and message your supporters.
- Sell digital and physical products through Ko-fi shop.
- Create and monetize memberships, streams, etc.
- Ability to collect data on how your supporters find you.
Ko-fi vs. Patreon
Ko-fi and Patreon might seem like the same platforms. However, you will notice they are different if you take a closer look.
Patreon is a membership platform where you can monetize your content by creating free and paid tires. This is the main feature of Patreon.
Ko-fi, on the other hand, does not have a strict focus. Instead, it has various tools, such as an online shop feature and commissions.
- Both platforms offer paid and free membership tires.
- Performance tools to track payments and manage relationships with supporters.
Features that differ
- Patreon charges 5%, 8%, or 12% of your monthly income + payment processing fees depending on your preferred plan. The higher the fee, the more features are available for you.
- Has a mobile application for Android and iOs.
- Ko-fi charges 5% of every sale you make in a free plan. Ko-fi Gold costs $6 per month and eliminates transaction fees.
- Does not have a mobile application yet.
Have you tried Ko-fi? Share your experience in the comments.
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