Buy Me a Coffee vs Ghost

An independent alternative to Buy Me a Coffee for creators building a real business, not working for tips.

Hello! Looking to create a business around your work with paid subscriptions? Or thinking about moving from Buy Me a Coffee to Ghost?

You might be wondering what the differences are between using Ghost and Buy Me a Coffee to power a modern membership business with subscription payments, so we put together this overview.

Buy Me a Coffee
Pricing and transaction feesFrom $9/mo
Ghost takes 0% fees
You keep all your revenue
5% of your revenue
For every $50k revenue
BMAC takes $2,500 per year
Email newsletters✅ Yes, included✅ Yes, included
Use your own domain✅ Yes❌ No, just a /username URL
Custom website design✅ Yes, hundreds of themes❌ No, only change colors
Your own brand✅ Yes, completely whitelabel❌ No, everything is BMAC branded
Open source✅ Yes, you own the technology❌ No, centralised platform without control
Free members✅ Yes❌ No, paid plans only
Integrations✅ Yes, works with thousands of apps & services❌ No, only 2 basic social integrations
Sell downloads❌ No, only subscriptions✅ Yes, sell one-off products like ebooks
Open Subscription Platforms ✅ Yes✅ Yes

Turn your audience into a business, and keep all of your revenue with Ghost

Buy Me a Coffee is a membership tool that can be used to collect basic payments with social media page and an embeddable widget. Using Buy Me a Coffee, they keep from 5% of all the revenue you make, and you don’t have any control over what your profile looks like or what features it has.

Ghost is a full-featured publishing platform with native memberships and subscriptions built-in 0% transaction fees. No matter how large your audience – all the revenue you make is yours to keep. Ghost has more features, so it takes a bit more work to set up - but you own and control the technology, so it’s much more reliable in the long-run.

Focus on what you do best

Ghost is a powerful product which is used by some of the biggest publishers in the world, from companies like NASA, Apple and Kickstarter - to beloved publications like The Browser, The Stanford Review, and Harvard International Review. Founded in 2013, the technology has grown to be relied on by people who are serious about publishing, and have been around long enough to know how important it is to own your technology.

VC funded startups come and go, but open source technology consistently stands the test of time.


Creating content in Ghost is familiar and clutter free, and it supports dynamic 'Cards' to allow you to drop in images, embeds, galleries, bookmark cards and much more.

Think of it like having Slack integrations right inside your editor. Publishers switch to Ghost because it provides a better writing experience.

Sign up UI

The native members features within Ghost allow you to transform anonymous views into registered members. Ghost has member management, native payments, subscriptions and email newsletters built-in.

Everything you need to get started is ready to use, without any additional downloads or fees!

Alex Older

"I launched my membership site in under 3 hours without having to find a plugin or deal with a platform that would have been overkill for what I needed. I was amazed that within hours of launching the site I was already getting members signing up!"

Alex Older, Shutter Club

Build your own brand with Ghost

Ghost is all about giving you the tools to publish great content, but never locking you into one particular way of doing it. The platform comes with a clean, minimal default theme included, but you can also completely change and customise the front-end of your site to suit your specific needs.

Since Buy Me a Coffee is a closed platform with only basic design settings, you’re confined to changing a few colours. This is fine if you want to build a small social profile — but not so useful if you want to run a publication or have real control over your brand.

With Ghost: You choose your domain, you choose your design, you choose your branding, and you choose your links. Each Ghost site is unique, and reflects the personality of its creator. Some examples:

The Browser theme
The Browser logo
Tobias Van Schneider theme
Tobias Van Schneider logo
Ali Abdaal theme
Ali Abdaal logo
Unfocusedpreneur theme
Unfocusedpreneur logo

Building a business around publishing

With Ghost, you can turn your audience into a business with memberships and subscriptions, and generate predictable revenue from your work. The Members features in Ghost are easy to setup and everything you need to run a membership business or email newsletter is included, without needing to purchase any add-ons.

What’s more – Ghost has been profitable and sustainable since its first year of operation, and because the technology is open source you have full control over it. Even if Ghost went out of business as a company: you would still be able to keep your business running and your site online in perpetuity.

/ month
For people who want the maximum available
  • check-circle-1 Access all content
  • check-circle-1 Weekly newsletter
  • check-circle-1 Members-only comments
Subscribe Now
20% Annual Discount
/ year
For people who want the maximum available
  • check-circle-1 Access all content
  • check-circle-1 Weekly newsletter
  • check-circle-1 Members-only comments
  • check-circle-1 Support indie publishing
  • check-circle-1 Advertising-free!
Subscribe Now

How much could you earn?

Whether you prefer a large audience at a low price point or a small dedicated following at a premium fee, you control the economics.

See how much you could earn with a subscription commerce publication:

$ / month
your annual recurring revenue

How does this work?

Unlike other membership systems which typically take 10-30% of your revenue, Ghost takes no fee at all and instead connects directly to your own Stripe account, so you receive the money - not us. You own the software and you own the billing account, so there's no middleman between you and your customers. Stripe takes a ~2.9% processing fee, and all other revenue is yours to keep.

Building a subscription business is challenging in lots of ways. Our focus is on making the billing side as easy as possible - so you can keep your focus on your customers.

Uri Bram

"Have been building paid membership newsletters with Ghost for two months now and ridiculously happy with the experience. It's the combination of amazing design with endless customisability if you want to have your own style. The writing interface is just SO nice — it feels like stepping inside a high-end minimalist house, you just want to live up to the beauty of it."

Uri Bram, The Browser
Switched from Substack to Ghost

Doing more than the basics

At its core, Ghost can be extended, modified and customised for your needs in an unlimited number of ways, with an extensive directory of integrations as well as beautiful themes, and a full-featured API. Everything is possible.

Ghost integrations

One last thing you should know

Ghost is an independent non-profit organisation. We build publishing tools for modern journalism & publishing because we believe freedom of speech is important. Our software is released under a free open source license, our business model is completely transparent, and our legal structure means that 100% of the money we make is reinvested into making Ghost better.

We’re building a socially responsible, sustainable business which empowers people to share important stories and ideas. We’re in this for the long haul.

Jeff Atwood

"I've been a blog minimalist from the start, and finding a truly open source platform which reflects that minimalism and focus is incredibly refreshing."

Jeff Atwood, Coding Horror
Switched from TypePad to Ghost

You’re now armed with knowledge! Hopefully this guide was useful to give you a general overview of Buy Me A Coffee compared to Ghost.

Still researching? Head back to the alternatives page.