Table of Contents
Requirements to Make Money on Twitch
- Must be at least a Twitch Affiliate for most of these options
- Have a decent sized audience watching and supporting you
- All of these methods involve reporting earnings to your country for taxes. Internet money does not mean tax free money.
- You must disclose that you are sponsored, and state that any links that you provide are affiliate links that earn you a paid comission if you generate a sale. This is mandated by the FTC, and required by law.
How Hard Is It to Make Money on Twitch
For most streamers, it is incredibly difficult to make money on Twitch. At least, any meaningful amount of money using traditional streaming-only content. This is because, in order to make the most out of live streaming content, you need a lot of viewers, and getting to that point is extremely time-consuming and requires a lot of effort.
In fact, I’d even go so far as to say it requires effort on other platforms that aren’t Twitch, that you then use to funnel people to your Twitch channel.
For example, I have Streamer’s Haven here – I could use it to funnel people to my live streams, and YouTube channel. This is a powerful means of generating views to my channel because my website generates over 30,000 visitors per month, and there is no one else on this website that is competing with me.
Now, I wouldn’t get anywhere near 30,000 visitors each stream – most of my audience here are other streamers, so they don’t really have time to check out another streamer. However, I haven’t been live in months now, and I get random followers to my channel from this website from my visitors here. I am also not pushing my stream on my articles because I don’t have the time to devote to live streaming.
1: Ad Revenue
Ad revenue is one of the most popular methods of monetizing content on the internet and one of the easiest ways to make money on Twitch. You see ads plastered all over websites, including this one. I serve ads to you to generate a reliable and consistent source of income for the work I put into this website. YouTube also has ad-breaks inserted into video content like TV commercials.
They are everywhere, and some ad spots can cost millions of dollars (Think Superbowl Ads).
Ads have made their way into Twitch as well, and you finally have a means of generating some form of income from ads, assuming that you are at least a Twitch Affiliate.
Of course, since ad revenue is based on CPM, that is, Cost per Mille (which means Cost per Thousand Views), you need to be able to generate a lot of eyes on your content to make any sort of actual worthwhile revenue from an ad break. In fact, if you have 1000 viewers watching, each ad break will generate you only $3.50.
Now, if you are streaming to 10,000 viewers, then each ad break will make you $35, so it starts to become extremely lucrative the more viewers that are watching you at once. These rates are also adjusted when you become a Twitch Partner, though the amount you get is negotiated in your personal contract and barred behind an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement).
1a: Diversify into YouTube
The thing about live streaming content is that it lives only in the now – all of your past broadcasts are often lost to time due to the complete and utter lack of discovery/algorithmic content curation. This means all of your old content, if you do nothing with it, becomes worthless, at least as far as earnings are concerned.
The solution to this problem is simple – upload your old streaming content as a video on another platform that puts non-live content first. In other words, upload onto YouTube. YouTube is by far the largest source of video content on the internet, with it growing by 500 hours of video content every minute. With that sort of competition, you might think that there is no way you can compete, but that simply isn’t true.
YouTube works by using an Algorithm to learn what each one of its visitors’ likes. Once it creates a personalized portfolio, it will recommend videos that the visitor is likely to watch based on their search history on YouTube and what videos they watched, among other metrics. The percentage of each video that the visitor watches factors in as well and adjusts the weights of its recommendations. Eventually, you get a personalized, curated home page that I’m sure almost all of you are familiar with, designed to keep pulling you into new videos.
Each video is bundled with 1-4 ads, give or take, unless you block ads using an extension like Adblock Plus, so each video, the creator gets a share of that ad revenue that you watch, as well as YouTube itself. This is how a majority of YouTubers make a large chunk of their revenue.
About Diversifying into YouTube
Uploading your streams onto YouTube is one thing, but there is something you should know about that – You will need to create YouTube-specific content to really get anywhere. Not many people will sit through a 2-6 hour long video, where most of if not all of it is unedited. People value their time, and if your stream isn’t structured like a show, like how Critical Roll does it, they won’t see the value of your content outweighing the value of their time.
Also, there is a 24-hour exclusivity rule with posting content on other platforms that originated on Twitch.
If you break this rule, you may be removed from Twitch’s affiliate and partner program.
So, you have three routes you can take on YouTube as a streamer –
- Plan out segements – Have parts of your live stream dedicated to perform as if it were a YouTube Video you were performing live.
- Unique, YouTube Specific Videos – Create 5-30 minute videos using parts of your live stream that are interesting as b-roll to pad things out
- Utilize Twitch Clips – Create YouTube Shorts using your Twitch Clips as a sort of Stream Highlight reel
More about Segments
Segments offer the most potential for repurposing your streaming content as a YouTube Video. For example, say you have a part of your stream that you go over gaming news for a certain day. You could create a video series on YouTube from that segment of your stream called “Gamer news” and go over articles that were released that day.
Now, gamer news is just one example; you can make this segment about anything you want. You’ll want to choose something that you are passionate about, though, as a high-quality live performance is tough to pull off if you don’t enjoy the subject you’re talking about.
More about Unique YouTube Videos
In these YouTube videos, you are acting as though you are a YouTuber first – create a series about a subject that you are knowledgeable or passionate about, and begin to build a YouTube channel that can stand on its own.
In your videos, you can mention your live streams what you do in them. And drop a link in the description to your Twitch channel for each video. This can help lead to people discovering you and further both your Twitch and YouTube endeavors simultaneously. Eventually, you’ll be able to monetize both, or you may find that you like doing YouTube more than live streaming and focus on that instead.
More about Twitch Clips as YouTube Shorts
YouTube Shorts is a mobile-first short video program run by YouTube that is designed to directly compete with Tiktok and Instagram (though YouTube will never openly admit as such). To be fair, it is actually a sort of return to its roots, where short-form, viral content was king in the early days of YouTube (Think Annoying Orange).
Shorts have a separate algorithm associated with them, and there are a few tools out there designed to quickly create YouTube Shorts and Tiktok Content from your Twitch clips. For example, Cross Clip does this but adds a watermark to your videos. With that said, this tool is simply here for convenience – you can do the same exact thing in any standard video editing software, like Davinci Resolve.
The second big way to make money on Twitch is through its subscription option for your viewers. This allows certain dedicated individuals to pay a monthly subscription to your channel to gain extra features on the platform, specifically for your channel. One of the most popular incentives is that you might have an emote set that they like a lot, so they may subscribe to you simply to gain access to these emotes.
Pair in the ability for super fans to buy gift subscriptions that are awarded to random viewers through the stream, and you have a potentially very lucrative method of monetization. Of course, 50% is taken off the top. If you want to get a higher share, then considering the use of Patreon or Streamlabs Recurring tips could be an option for you – though one that has fewer incentives for people to actually do.
2a: Twitch Subscriptions
Twitch subscriptions are one of the most sought-after methods to make money on Twitch. The reason is that they are a fairly reliable method to make a decent amount of money. For a long time, if not always, subscriptions will vastly outpace the earning potential from ads. This is because you need a large audience to generate any meaningful amount of income from ads.
2b: Patreon Subscriptions
Patreon is one of the most popular methods used by people to monetize their content on a recurring subscription. In fact, before the Twitch affiliate program and Partner program were available, it was the go-to method of monetizing live-streamed content. With that said, I personally wouldn’t use Patreon unless you do something else, like run a YouTube Channel.
This is because Patreon can offer incentives to users for YouTube videos (Their names included in a thank you segment in your video is a common incentive). For Twitch, though, the internal Twitch Subscription model is a better value due to the new features that they gain access to.
2c: Streamlabs Subscriptions
Access the Monthly Tips Feature on Streamlabs –
The Monthly Tips feature is a recurring “tip” from Streamlabs that is essentially the same thing as a subscription to your channel. The difference here is that Twitch does not get a 50% cut from this revenue source, so you get a much higher share of subscription revenue per individual who subscribes to you in this way.
The downside to this subscription method is that your audience does not get access to all of the benefits that a Twitch subscription entails. For example, subscribers are exempt from mid-roll ads, gain access to more emotes from the tiered package they subscribe to, and have a subscription length tracker that announces to the stream how long they have been supporting you.
In fact, out of all of the options, this one is the least friendly for your audience to use – There are no incentives for them other than the desire to support your continued efforts in creating streaming content.
3: Bit Redemptions
The third option available to you to make money on Twitch is their bit redemptions program. Each bit is worth 1 penny when redeemed, and viewers tend to drop bits en masse when they find a streamer they like a lot.
Twitch charges $1.49 for 100 bits, so they make .49 cents for every dollar that streamers redeem.
Now, bits are the most unreliable source of revenue on this list. You can’t predict how much a viewer will drop on you if anything at all, and it tends to come in random bursts.
Just remember – bits aren’t classified as a tip. They are considered Digital Content. You still need to pay taxes on your bit earnings.
4: Affiliate Programs
Affiliate programs or product/brand ambassadors (some companies call it different things) are potentially one of the most lucrative sources of revenue that a streamer has. Depending on the program that you partake in, you could earn as much as 80% of the sale value as an incentive to market the product. In fact, affiliate programs are one of the best ways to make money on Twitch.
Of course, those very lucrative programs are difficult to find and qualify for. However, since almost every business that you can think of will have an affiliate program, chances are that you will find a business willing to work with you at any point in your streaming career.
To find out if the company you are interested in working with as an affiliate marketer, Google “company name affiliate program,” and you can usually find a page on their website dedicated to it.
With that said, there are many programs out there. I’m going to include a few that I am personally a part of –
- Amazon Affiliate Program
- Amazon Blacksmith extension directly integrates into Twitch
- Low commission rates – 1-10% depending on product category.
- Check out Own3D to get professional looking overlays, alerts, and more!
- Wal-mart, Canva, and thousands of others are on this marketplace
A warning about affiliate programs: some companies can take a very long time to payout. Additionally, you will want to read their terms of service and any documents they provide you many times before accepting their offer. Not every company is operating out of one specific country, so the rules change often from company to company.
The final way for people to make money on Twitch is by getting sponsored by a specific company. This particular option is one of the most difficult options to qualify for since companies prefer streamers who have a large audience. After all, the more exposure a product gets, the higher chance that some of the viewers will buy said product.
It is for this reason that you shouldn’t even bother with sponsorships until you have a regular audience of around 50 -100 viewers on Twitch or have a YouTube channel generate at least 1000 views per video on average. Most companies will simply reject the sponsorship because you’re too small.
With that said, there are places that you can sign up that aggregate sponsors to streamers, but they tend to take a cut of the deal as an intermediary between you and the company. This can be a better solution for those of you who aren’t comfortable talking to big-name companies like Logitech, Corsair, and others who are globally recognized brands.
Earning your way – Don’t rely on Twitch
You probably hear this all the time, but if your goal with Twitch is to grow and make money, don’t limit yourself to just live streaming. Twitch is too saturated with no real discovery tools to “make it” by just streaming. You will need to diversify into other, permanent forms of content to really have any chance to stand in the limelight.
YouTube is one option; creating a podcast is another. Blogging is yet another. None of it is easy, and all of it takes a lot of time and effort to make it work. But each of these methods I just listed has no earning ceiling, and they are permanent forms of content creation.
Each piece of content you create on these platforms is a 24/7 worker to advertise yourself. You simply create it, format it, and let the algorithms do the rest.