We will cover different ways to make money on Twitch, how to do it, helpful tips, as well as pros and cons of each.
Many people are considering the lockdown and the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to start new things, find a new passion, and develop their side projects to eventually live from them. And a lot of people choose to start streaming on Twitch and grow their channel.
New streamers can eventually be a bit confused about how to grow an audience, how to build a community, and mostly: how to make money on Twitch.
There are actually lots of ways to do so on Twitch. All it takes is consistency and to give it some time. Whether you are a casual streamer, a medium streamer, or a big streamer, you’ll find some useful tools and tips in this article. And even if you already used some of them at some point, try diversifying your approach if it didn’t work out how you imagined.
If you’re a casual streamer, which means you’re streaming once in a while, or still having a pretty small community, these tips are for you!
Probably the most used one. No matter how many followers you have, you can receive donations from the audience.
Donations are a one-off sum that the viewers send to the streamer, often through PayPal, to support the stream or the streamer, to help with the donation goal, or for charity events for example. You can set up donations directly via your streaming software (like OBS Studio, Streamlabs, StreamElements OBS, etc.).
Let’s use StreamLabs as an example, since every software works pretty much the same. Go to the Streamlabs dashboard, and click on “Settings” in the menu on the left. Everything will be there, just follow their instructions.
Asking for donations is completely fine, because you need to work on your stream’s quality, and that often involves buying new pieces of hardware, a better cam, or microphone… And if you’re a full time streamer, donations are even more important, since they contribute to paying your bills every month!
But you need to keep in mind that asking for donations needs to be done in a tasteful way: you don’t want to sound like a nagger, or seem too pushy. You can write a few kind words under your donation panel for example, explaining that donations are much appreciated, that you need them to improve your stream, but they’re totally optional and people can have a great time anyway.
Try to add your own personal touch, and it won’t bother people at all. You can even build donation goals alongside your community, asking them what they’d like to see as goals. It can help you monetize a bit more easily, while it entertains your viewers and rewards them at the same time!
On the other hand, donations can bug viewers if you still have a small community for example, or if you never brought up the “money talk”. If that’s the case, try and have half an hour during one of your streams to discuss it with your chat. Explain to them why you’re doing this, why you’re asking for donations (without forcing your viewers to donate obviously!), and how you’re going to use the money.
If you introduce your plans smoothly, there are no reasons for your audience to shy away from your stream, and they might enjoy it even more!
Easy to set up and receive via apps like StreamLabs and PayPal and easy to do from the viewers’ perspective.
Potential Chargebacks (when the person who made the tip claims they didn’t intend to or didn’t receive what they expected). The streamer usually pays the transaction cost. Payment processors charge for their services and PayPal charges 2.9% + 30 cents on every transaction. You as the person receiving the money are responsible for that charge.
2- Gamified platforms
With streaming becoming the new in-thing, more and more startups are jumping into this market, offering streamers disruptive tools to grow and differentiate their stream.
Gimbl, for example, is a great platform that you can use either as a small or a big streamer. Gimbl creates free tools like Challenges and Predictions which help streamers monetize their content, engage and retain their audience better. For example, Challenges is a feature that lets your audience challenge you for a conditional donation unlocked upon challenge success (get a Pentakill to receive $20 for example). The other feature, Predictions (to be launched soon within Feb 2021), lets viewers predict your game outcomes and receive Golds to redeem loots.
The platform charges 18% commission on successful challenges only.
There are also many more platforms out there that you can use. Streamloots, for example, is a marketplace to buy real-time interactions with live streamers. Viewers have various options from choosing the character the streamer is going to play with or making the streamer drop the guns in the game. As the streamer, you will define the type of interactions you want to have with your viewers! Payment-wise, Streamloots will keep a 20% commission fee.
These gamified platforms deepen your audience engagement and help differentiate your content from the pack. It’s also a great way to generate incomes without sacrificing the quality of your stream. No chargebacks is another advantage, as all actions are game-based and are recorded within the system.
If you have a small community, you might not experience the tools to their full potential.
If you’re a medium streamer, having a solid community of hundreds of unique viewers every session, and a lot of chatters, you can consider applying these tips to your stream to increase your monetization.
3- Affiliate/Partner Program
There are three streamer tiers on Twitch: regular streamer, Twitch Affiliate, and Twitch Partner. Here are the conditions to meet to unlock each rank.
Each one of these comes with its perks and advantages, but more importantly Affiliate and Partner both come with monetization options.
Here are three major tools that you’ll be able to use easily, with only minor configuration.
Once you become a Twitch Affiliate, you’ll unlock ads for your channel, which will be displayed whenever someone goes to your stream.
Don’t expect too much of ads in terms of revenue, especially if you have a small to medium viewership, but it may average $0.25-$1.50 per 1,000 views or about $250 every 100 subscribers. It can be interesting to implement because it generates passive income throughout time, and even more if you manage to bring a lot of unique viewers into your stream. But it won’t be your main source of revenue.
Also, consider that if you have a small average viewership, random viewers can shy away from your stream if they stumble upon an ad when they click on your stream. It won’t bug your recurrent viewership, especially if they already know you, but new members might give up before even seeing you!
Think about what it can bring to you: both good and bad, and choose to enable ads or not at the moment. You can always turn them on later!
Ads can be a great source of passive income, without engaging your community to donate or subscribe to you.
They can be annoying for whoever wants to stop by a random stream, and prevents them from seeing the stream for a couple minutes.
Bits are Twitch official digital currency that you can unlock once you’re a Twitch Affiliate. 1 Bit = 1 cent for the streamer.
They are actually really easy to send as a viewer since everything is implemented directly on Twitch heads up display.
The customization increases as you become a Twitch Partner. For example, you can create a bunch of alerts like a door knock, a jumpscare, etc. for every time you’re receiving a certain amount of bits. You can find the guidelines and a quick tutorial on how to custom your cheermotes on this Twitch official topic.
Easy to set up, easy to use, helps increase your stream’s interactivity. Twitch will do anything to promote their currency, including running special deals upon purchasing bits. Also, no chargebacks!
Twitch takes a higher cut than other payment processors, which is a 29% fee to cheer your favorite streamer. Also, you need to have accumulated at least $100 before being able to cash-out, which is a bit much for small streamers.
You have to be an Affiliate to unlock the sub button. It’s a great way to start and generate a salary supplement if you already have a decent community.
A subscription allows a viewer to pay a certain amount of money per month to support your channel. The minimum would be $4.99, and viewers can choose to renew it automatically every month. On subscribing, viewers can gain exclusive perks like custom global emotes usable across all of Twitch, subscriber badges, ad-free viewing, sub-only chat, and more. Viewers can get one sub for free every month for being a Prime Gaming member, and you, as a streamer, will get 50% of each sub.
Streamers can get up to 60% when they reach Partner, and they can negotiate their share once they reach a certain amount of followers/viewers.
Just as for the donations, you can set up a Sub Goal. But that’s not all, you can also feature exclusive emotes and badges for people who sub to your channel. By doing so, you encourage them to flex their newly-earned style after subscribing. It can also bring life to your chat if your emotes are parts of a running gag for example.
An easy way for the viewers to support the stream. They’re unlocking exclusive assets in exchange. It can be pretty interactive, and it’s a great way to identify your most loyal viewers.
Twitch is taking 50% off of each sub you’ll get as an Affiliate, which is a LOT if you still have a rather small community.
4- Branded Merch
Another cool idea about monetization, is to find an online shop where you can customize your own merch line. From mugs, caps, to hoodies, multiple websites actually let you import an image, or one of your emotes, etc. to their designs to make them your own!
Your audience might love it if you have a well-rounded graphic identity. If your emotes became part of the daily chats, if you became a meme within your audience, and in many more cases, people would love to have something related to your stream on a piece of clothing, or on a mug for example.
Streamlabs implemented that on their software. If you’re using it for your stream and donations, people can click on the “merch” tab whenever donating to you to see what you created.
Creating the shop is completely free, but premium users get more customization options. But anything you sell above the minimum price suggested by Streamlabs goes to your pocket.
They cost you nothing to design in most cases, you earn a small percentage every time someone orders something on your dedicated page. It can also be a great way to engage your community and commit even further to your running gags.
You need a great visual chart to build something decent, and you also need a large community for it to be worth it. Not many people will go for it by themselves.
5- Affiliate Sales (Affiliate links)
Amazon, for example, proposes an Affiliate program, where you can help them sell their products through your affiliate link. It’s pretty easy to set up, and even if you don’t win much per sale, you can easily win a fair amount of money if a lot of people buy the same stuff.
It can work well with new game releases, new hardware, or during the Spring Sales period for example. It’s up to you to figure out what and when is the best option for you.
On Twitch, for example, you can add the game you’re playing on top of your stream so your viewers can buy it. You’ll get 5% off of it.
Super easy to set up, almost no requirements, can become a nice backup revenue if you’re finding the right merchandise, and you’ve done it once, it’s pretty much set for life in most sellers.
You can struggle to have any sales if your community is too small or if what you’re selling isn’t appropriate for your audience. If you don’t manage to do a certain amount of sales, the seller might delete your account, depending on their set objectives.
If you’re a big streamer, averaging thousands of viewers, you should be able to sign some significant deals.
Collaborations are a common thing in the industry. Many companies and even other streamers will reach out to streamers and influencers for a collab’ opportunity: a video, a host request for a specific event, casting a tournament, etc. There are many ways your entertainment skills can be put at good use, so don’t shy away from these opportunities since they’ll multiply your skills range.
A great way to start with collaborations is to contact the event agencies who work in your branch. If you’re a Call Of Duty player for example, try to find organizations or agencies that create tournaments. Ask them if they need a caster, and build up your wallet like that.
You’ll get wide social media exposure through all the collaborators channels. You can earn both money and merch, but mostly you’ll build up your contact book within the industry, which is the most valuable asset.
Same as sponsorships, collabs can be hard to find if you’re still a small streamer, or if you haven’t done anything specific within the industry. But once you start to involve yourself in tournaments and other events for example, people will eventually hear about you.
Everyone knows these! Sponsorships are an incredible way to receive merch, exclusive tests, monetary bonuses, items for giveaways, etc. From small to big brands, they’re all looking for showcases for their products. So as long as you have a rather big community, you might find a decent sponsor.
Brands will ask you to promote something for them on your channel and draw a certain amount of clicks/downloads/orders on their product to unlock bonuses on the original deal. For example, if you sign a sponsorship deal with a game studio, you have to elaborate a strategy to engage your audience into downloading/playing the game you’re promoting.
The objectives can be a bit high depending on the deal you sign, but it’ll be worth it. A regular partnership can average thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars.
Just be careful when pushing it on your channels: try to label it as an op, because your audience might not want to see it, and mostly: people hate disguised promotion content.
With Sponsorships, the companies often contact the influencers by themselves if they see you’re performing well on Twitch. Your agent, if you’re working with one, can also find some opportunities for you, but it is often the other way around. Watch out though, since you’ll burn a potential future opportunity if you get rejected after contacting them when not being qualified yet.
Patience is key when it comes to Sponsorships.
Very lucrative, because you’re getting free hardware/merch that you can keep for your personal use (but displayed during your stream sessions, obviously), but also giveaway material that will help you build an even bigger community.
They can be super hard to find. Objectives can be rather high, the time limit too short, and it requires a great communication strategy.
8- Content Creation
Finally, let’s talk about how to make money as a content creator as a whole. Twitch income can be very volatile in certain months of the year like September when kids are back to school, or in December when people prioritize gifting and travelling over spending on their streamers. Therefore, it’s always better to diversify your revenue streams, and other platforms like Youtube, Instagram or TikTok are great options.
We would advise you to figure out what your unique selling points are and really focus on that. It could be anything actually: it could be your phenomenal gaming skills, your unique sense of humor, or your analytical skills when it comes to review stuff. Spend time creating content around it, and spread it on the platform of your choice, depending on the nature of the content you’re producing.
Though Twitch is the largest streaming platform, it’s not necessarily the best performing platform for some people. Many people are actually doing better on Youtube where they could get significant deals with companies to review products. For example, IceWyte said that he made most of money through paid sponsorship and ad revenue on Youtube, while Twitch represents a very small part in his income. The guy is a small streamer (with 2.2 followers on Twitch), but he is able to “get loads of things coming from different places” and can therefore maximize his revenue.
So these are all the ways you can make money being a streamers. Hope it gives you great tips, and if you want more streaming advice, follow us on Twitter where we have fresh content coming out every week.