How Do Twitch Streamers Make Money?
Twitch Streamers commonly earn through crowdfunded subscriptions, Twitch bits, and donations. They also generate revenue through ads, sponsorship opportunities, selling their merchandise, affiliate marketing, YouTube videos, and by offering streaming-related services to other broadcasters.
In a survey of 122 Twitch streamers with smaller followings, StreamScheme found that 53% generated most of their income through subscriptions. The other 47% was split between bits and donations.
This article will detail how streamers make money and some examples of what they make.
What Twitch Streamers Need to Start Earning Money
For their channel to qualify for potential subscriptions, Twitch streamers must reach affiliate status by achieving the following milestones:
- Have at least 50 followers.
- They have streamed for a minimum of 500 minutes over at least seven days in the past month.
- They have maintained an average of at least three concurrent views over the last month.
Although there are several ways for Twitch streamers to monetize their channels, the first two are the most common:
How Streamers Earn from Subscriptions
Twitch allows its influencers to provide exclusive perks (extra videos, emojis, etc.) for viewers who subscribe to their channel. Subscriptions start at $4.99 (Twitch has two additional tiers at $9.99 and $24.99). Twitch broadcasters get 50% of each subscription fee (top producers occasionally earn more).
Lara6683 uses Xena gif sub alerts on her channel.
Streaming Incentives For Viewers
There are several ways you can incentivize your viewers to subscribe to your channel. The most common incentives include custom Twitch emotes and badges to membership holders and ad-free viewing
You can also create your unique perks for those who have financially supported your channel. While you should treat all of your viewers with respect and gratitude, people will understand if you give your subscribers preferential treatment. Here are a few ideas:
- Twitch allows you to stream only to subscribers. Have set times where you produce sub-only content. Make it something unique to the rest of your work. Don’t overdo this as it could alienate the rest of your community.
- Allow subscribers to interact with you in your stream. Let them join you in your game or let them request songs off of your playlist. Create an on-the-spot haiku for them or have designated channels in your Discord for them. There are many ways you can interact with your community. Be creative and come up with something special.
- Always thank those who subscribe. Show genuine gratitude. Not only will this encourage your viewers to continue to subscribe, but it also may inspire others to subscribe as well.
How Twitch Streamers Earn From Donations or Tips
Some creators use this function to “sell” in-stream services. For example, musician trinityflynn will live-learn a song on her channel for $10.
Earn Through Twitch Bits
Bits are an alternate way for followers to tip on Twitch. Viewers purchase them directly from the platform without having to leave the site and hand them out to whichever streamer they choose. Each bit counts for a single penny. As a bonus, users receive special Twitch badges as they hand out their bits.
As an incentive to subscribe or donate, streamers can set up their stream alerts that will display the viewer’s name and their action. Creative alerts can bring a lot of character to your stream and show your viewers that you will go the extra mile for them. For more information, read our post, How to Use Stream Alerts and Reward Your Supporters.
Ways Platforms Support Live Streamers
While the first three ways are the most common methods for earning money by steaming, broadcasters who rely on these alone will often be unable to pay their bills. Incorporating some of the following ideas will help you monetize your stream on a whole new level.
As you move into higher earning potential, you will require the financial help of your viewers less, which will allow you all to take a deep breath. While many will continue to support you and your content, you won’t have to seemingly “beg” for help anymore.
How Streamers Earn Though Ads
While creators can earn off of ad revenue, the overall consensus is that it isn’t really worth it. Ad revenue is generally paid per view (generally between $1-$10 per thousand views, depending on the time of the year), but with high adblocker usage, streamers can’t rely on their viewer count as an accurate measurement for payment. That being said, running the occasional ad can bring in a little extra income to hard-working streamers.
How Twitch Streamers Earn Through Ads
Twitch streamers must reach partner status before they can earn off of ads. At that point, they can control how often ads run on their channels. It is best to run ads sparingly as running ads too frequently can turn viewers off of your channel. Many streamers will run an ad at the beginning of their show, when they need to take a quick break, or at the very end of the broadcast, though others choose not to run them at all. Twitch streamers must generally complete the following to reach partner status:
- They must have a regularly scheduled show that runs at least three times per week.
- They must average at least 500 concurrent viewers every time they stream.
- Their content must conform to their ToS and DCMA guidelines.
While there are exceptions made on a case by case basis, the platform generally looks for these attributes before they hand out the partner title. There have also been cases where streamer exceeds these rules and have been denied the partnership.
How Streamers Earn From a Classic YouTube Channel
Uploading compilations, portions of streams, or new content to a classic YouTube channel will give you another way you can monetize your work. Videos on YouTube are easy to search for and have the chance to go viral. If it does, you will get a decent amount of views (from which you can collect ad revenue). Viral videos can also funnel people into your stream channel to watch your future content.
While you may be able to stream for hours, it is best to upload shorter YouTube videos that are between 5-15 minutes long. Try to upload at least one per week. If you post less frequently, YouTube won’t recommend your videos. Make them unique, entertaining, and educational for the best chance that potential followers view them.
How Streamers Earn From Merchandising
While your followers are also the financial backers to your merchandise empire, in return for their money, they will receive a tangible object in return. Twitch has built-in ways for you to display your merchandise.
Create Designs For Your Twitch Merchandise
You can reuse your logo or other original graphics related to your branding for your merchandise. Logos and graphics can be created on your own or outsourced to designers on Fiverr or Etsy. Make sure you have permission to use the designs for your merchandise.
Stream Platform Widgets and Extensions for Merchandising
You can incorporate widgets into your profile that allow people to browse and purchase your merchandise. The widget Design By Humans can easily be installed on Twitch. This app will post alerts in your chat when a viewer buys an item (which may encourage others to look through your wares).
Streamlabs also allows you to upload images to sell on products quickly. They handle all the creation and shipping and handling (it generally takes less than a week). Your viewers can browse items on your profile, and like DBH, an alert will appear in chat when someone purchases something.
How Streamers Earn Through Sponsorships
Twitch streamers can potentially earn from sponsorships through third-party companies. While streaming platforms do not set these up, there are programs out there that can help. Two sites that match sponsors and streamers are PowerSpike and HelloGamers. You can also meet with agents at conventions or network with them through their companies.
Logo Sponsors Who Support Live-Streamers
These sponsors typically want you to put their logo somewhere. They usually don’t pay well unless you have a considerable following.
Product Endorsement Sponsorships
Often, sponsors will ask influencers to talk (or create a fun skit) about their product. These clips generally last for about 30 seconds and, depending on the average channel views or the streamer’s content, could be worth several thousands of dollars.
Sponsors will also pay streamers to use specific gear on their channels. If people see their favorite gamer using a particular product, they are more apt to purchase it. These negotiations are generally kept quiet but can be quite lucrative.
Developer Sponsorships for Streamers on Twitch
If you are especially high ranked in a game or have a large following, you may be approached by game developers to play their popular games. Depending on the game and your following, you may be able to potentially make several thousand dollars per hour!
According to one of the top streamers, DisguisedToast, paid streams can generate between a penny and a dollar per hour. He has personally been paid between $1,000-$10,000 per hour. In February 2019, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins was allegedly paid $1 million to play Apex Legends.
Appearance Sponsorships for Broadcasters
Well known and influential streamers are sometimes paid to make appearances at gaming or streaming conventions. These are occasionally coupled with other promotions.
How Broadcasters Earn Through Affiliate Marketing
Broadcasters on all three platforms can potentially earn through affiliate marketing. These are generally set up by each creator, not through the platform.
The most popular affiliate program for streamers is through Amazon. All you have to do is set up the Amazon Blacksmith extension. All you need is an Amazon affiliate account, and you can set it up with your other extensions in your profile. Promote items that you use or are passionate about on your stream.
You can also set up affiliate programs with unique products or software through their businesses (if applicable). When you use a new device or product, look into the company and see if they have a program available and what you need to do to be paid. You don’t want to overuse affiliates as it could put off your viewers, but a select few could bring you some extra income.
What Special Services Can You Offer to Other Streamers?
As an independent streamer, you may need to learn many new skill sets (or develop existing ones) to grow your brand and channel. If you excel in one specific area, you may be able to market those skills to other streamers (or trade them for services you need). These may include:
Graphic/Animation Design Skills for Twitch Broadcasters
If you develop a knack for transforming basic brand concepts into great designs and logos, you may be able to market your services to streamers who struggle in this area. As you will have already learned the parameters of what works on a personal level, people may be more inclined to work with you rather than a non-streamer.
Content Coaching for Streamers
If you are a natural entertainer, offer to watch streams to give constructive feedback at the end of the stream (don’t do it through the chatbox). If your feedback is excellent and helps them produce better content, you can become well known for being a good coach. You can offer a similar service pre-stream for ideation by looking over their broadcast plans and inserting ideas to make it better.
Troubleshooting Support for Broadcasters on Twitch
If you understand the mechanics behind your hardware and software, you are a step up from many streamers. You may be able to assist streamers who have internet issues, problems with their sound or visual quality, or don’t understand how bots and widgets work on their streams.
Video Editing Services for Twitch Streamers
If you have a knack for editing compilations or new content to upload to YouTube, you may be able to help other streamers who struggle in that area. In such a saturated market, the more creative you can make their work to help them be found, the more valuable you will be as an editor.
When marketing your services to other streamers, it is essential to remember that they should be seen as allies and clients, not as your competition. Genuinely try to help them, don’t sabotage them. Your reputation in the streaming community is important. Many broadcasters try to help each other out and they tend to alienate those who are in it only for themselves.
Additionally, if you are able to make connections with other streamers early on as a creator, you may be able to grow together, trading various strengths to make channel growth easier.