There are several ways that you can earn through live-broadcasting regardless of your overall broadcasting goals. Learning how to monetize your account in advance will help you plan the future of your channel and make the right decisions along the way. So how do streamers make money?
Streamers commonly earn through crowdfunded subscriptions 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.
While it will probably take time before you are able to quit your day-job to stream full time, continue to add valuable content for your followers. Your broadcasts are the product that will ultimately make or break your opportunity to earn from your hobby. Take time to plan quality shows that will continually attract new viewers. Those who focus on their work, produce quality entertainment and manage their channel like a business are the ones who have the potential to a lot from streaming.
This article will detail how streamers make money and some examples of what they make.
Although there are several ways for streamers to monetize their channels, the first two are the most common:
How Streamers Earn from Subscriptions
Both Twitch and YouTube Live allow influencers to provide exclusive perks (extra videos, emojis, etc.) for viewers who subscribe to their channel. Subscriptions/memberships on both platforms 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), whereas Youtube streamers receive 70% of membership fees to their channels.
Mixer’s channel subscriptions run at $5.99. The split between Mixer and streamer varies per user. (There has been some confusion about subscriptions costin $7.99 because of Mixer’s Pro Subscription service. This is a platform subscription, not a channel subscription.)
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.
Thinking about streaming on Twitch? Read our Guide, How to Become a Twitch Affiliate in 7 Days!
YouTube creators must meet the following requirement to allow their viewers to purchase channel memberships:
- A minimum of 30,000 subscribers.
- At least 18 years old.
- No community guideline strikes.
Streaming Incentives For Viewers
There are several ways you can incentivize your viewers to subscribe to your channel. The most common incentives include custom emoji and badges to membership holders. Both platforms seamlessly incorporate these perks to your paid viewers once you have uploaded the images to your account.
To create these images, you should first check the requirements laid out by Twitch (Badge, Emotes) or YouTube Live. Make sure you follow the rules and guidelines laid out by either company. You can use any designing software to create your emotes or badges or have them outsourced to a designer either in your hometown or through an online service like Fiverr. Look at other streamers’ imagery or on Pinterest boards for ideas for your own. If you are able, have it relate to you, your style, or your overall brand.
In addition to these perks, you can 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 Streamers Earn From Donations or Tips
Viewers can donate to Twitch streamers through a donation (or tip) option on their channels. Alternatively, viewers can purchase bits directly from Twitch and donate them instead. Some creators use this function to “sell” in-stream services. For example, musician trinityflynn will live-learn a song on her channel for $10.
While YouTube and Facebook don’t have an in-built donation system, you can set up a Streamlabs account for your YouTube channel. They allow you to set up a way to donate quickly and they don’t take a cut of the tips you receive. Influencers can also use Patreon to set up ways to donate for their viewers.
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. Facebook Gaming users donate Stars in the same way as 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.
How Does YouTube Super Chat Work?
YouTube Super Chat allows viewers to pay a fee (between $1-$500) to have their chat displayed at the top of the chat feed for a time. Viewers have the chance to have their comments seen. This display is especially useful in channels where multiple viewers are typing at once. YouTube takes 30% of the fee.
How Do Mixer Embers Work?
Mixer uses “Embers” as their virtual currency much in the same way. Users can currently only use them to support partnered streamers. Mixer viewers also earn “Sparks” by watching and participating in channels. They can use or donate those Sparks to a channel, which goes to the broadcasters “Sparks milestones,” which can be redeemed for cash bonuses.
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. Here’s how it works:
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 YouTube Gaming Streamers Earn Through Ads
Unlike Twitch, YouTube Live allows its users to immediately begin earning from ads, so long as they meet the following requirements:
- They must be at least 18 years old (or have a guardian over the age willing to handle the revenue for them).
- They must have had at least 10,000 video views (if all viewers watched the ad, you could potentially make between 10-100 per 10,000 views).
They must produce advertiser-friendly content.
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 and YouTube Live have built-in ways for you to display your merchandise. Facebook Live users can advertise it in their streams or their descriptions.
The YouTube Live merchandise shelf is a unique display underneath the streamer’s video. For a broadcaster to qualify to use it, they must meet the following requirements:
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.
For information about other apps and programs streamers use, read our article, The Comprehensive Guide to Streaming Software Options.
How Streamers Earn Through Sponsorships
Streamers on all three platforms 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 or Mixer
If you are especially high ranked in a game or amass a large stream 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.
To learn more about reaching out to sponsors, read our post, How to Attract Stream Sponsors.
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. A popular Twitch extension that allows streamers to promote Amazon products easily is 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. For ways on how to make your stream better, read our tips, 10 Ways to Improve Your Stream’s Content.
Troubleshooting Support for Broadcasters on Mixer or 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 or YouTube 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.