Do you want to get paid for your gaming skills? Do you want to make a living streaming your gameplay on Twitch.tv? If so, this blog post is for you. This article will outline how to use the Twitch platform to monetize your content and engage with viewers in order to create revenue streams that are sustainable both now and into the future.
The following are steps which can help any gamer turn their hobby into a career by using livestreaming as their primary means of income: learn about the platform itself, use one of the many revenue generating options below, and optimize one’s stream settings. These tips will help gamers start earning money off of their video game prowess without having to give up the fun of gaming.
That said, while Twitch is traditionally a platform for gamers, its content has expanded to become much more diverse. It’s like YouTube but with a heavy livestream bias.
Many people have hobbies that they love to do with friends or on their own.
These activities can include anything from painting, drawing, making music, cooking, gardening and more.
For those of you who feel like you want to find out if your hobby is profitable, there’s an good way to make some money off it: Twitch.
And as a professional broadcaster on the streaming site Twitch you can share your passion with the world. The possibilities are endless when it comes to what kind of content creators will be seen on Twitch.
Top tips to start a Twitch channel
Set a regular streaming schedule
People want to know when they can tune in to your stream.
I know it sounds weird that people would make appointments to watch a video online, but people do. Think about watching a show on TV that leaves you wanting more thanks to the cliffhangers. I know I NEEDED to be the first to watch the next episode.
Other social media are a good way to channel eyeballs into your Twitch stream.
Let’s put it this way: while Twitch is for live streaming. But you also need to keep your audience engaged when you’re not livestreaming.
Find a profitable topic
Pretty much, every topic out there has been taken, but that doesn’t mean you should go find a niche that’s completely unique.
You might score on a niche that pays really well if you take the risk, but there’s a reason why some things just don’t pay. There’s no demand.
The idea of “be good” might sound like a smart Alec way of saying this but it needs some further elaboration.
Your content is good if you can be better than most of your competitors.
There are people out there who know a lot about a game but are as dry as a brick. Their niche within that game’s Twitch stream ecosystem really involves sharing their expert knowledge with their audience.
It’s not far from being the most boring college professor out there who is GOOD.
Then again, there are people out there that just make ridiculous videos that are just funny. That’s also a pretty good reason for people to follow.
What gear do I need to start a Twitch channel?
You could just start a stream by using whatever microphone and webcam that’s integrated into your laptop but that would prove to be very unideal.
That’s especially so if we’re talking about the microphone which is probably something you’d want to pay attention to.
Integrated microphones are garbage. Don’t dock yourself a few points from the start just because you want to save money.
Headphones and microphone for Twitch
In my experience, you should buy the best microphone that you can get. I had great success with even a mid-range microphone from RODE and Audio-Technica, but I have also tried the higher end mics and they are even better.
When buying a microphone for Twitch, just make sure you have the right inputs for it. You can make it easy by just buying a USB microphone, or else, make sure you are getting one that’s right for your system which is usually just a 3.5mm audio jack.
Everything just sounds better when you have a microphone close up to your face too. As you get further and further away, you’ll find that the sound quality starts to suffer. Things sound hollow and empty.
Headphones are also mandatory because you don’t want audio from your speakers “leaking” into the stream. I have had great success with the Sennheiser HD 280 headphones and they come with a choice of ¼” audio jack or 3.5mm.
You could also just get a headset that has a microphone and headphones integrated into one package.
Lighting and camera
No matter what camera you use, you will benefit from having a brighter room.
Even turning on some lights will improve your picture by reducing noise and artifacts.
Just by putting a ring light to give you a nice soft light will improve the way you look. A soft light also reduces distractions like bright highlights (can’t help you there if you’re bald).
As for the camera, the general logic is this: the bigger the sensor, the better the image quality, given the same lens.
Most pro streamers use a DSLR/mirrorless camera that has a big APS-C sensor. That’s the best you can get but it does require some commitment because you need to do some sideloading of firmware and provision some software and hardware in order to get the raw image into your computer.
That said, a simple webcam is good too, especially if you buy the higher quality HD cameras.
So, managing lighting with what you have and then looking to your options for a camera are probably your best bet.
How to make money within Twitch
Twitch can actually be a legit way to make money but it does take time and you have to be good at entertaining.
At the heart of it, making money on Twitch centers around increasing your follower count.
Nothing else matters as importantly as having regular streamers that watch your content.
From there, you can use those numbers and direct them to the different streams of income that you could potentially use to make Twitch streaming your full time job.
Let’s start with the most obvious source of income: how to get paid on Twitch using the tools and programs within Twitch.
Get into the Twitch Affiliates Program
The Twitch Affiliate Program unlocks some new income opportunities but you will need to qualify by, according to Twitch’s website:
“We’re looking for streamers who aren’t yet Partners, but who have at least 50 followers and over the last 30 days have have at least 500 total minutes broadcast, 7 unique broadcast days, and an average of 3 or more concurrent viewers. This criteria may change as the program develops.”
Twitch explains that if you qualify, you can gain money through subscriptions, saying,
“Affiliates will have access to all subscription options: $4.99, $9.99, $24.99, and the Prime free subscription. Affiliates also get one global subscriber emote for all subscribers, with the options of adding two additional for $9.99 and $24.99 subscribers.”
You will earn 50% of that subscription. So, say, someone gets a $4.99 subscription on your channel, you will get about $2.50. If you do make it to the higher echelons of Twitch, you might unlock bargaining power to increase that percentage of the subscription fee.
Affiliates can also enable Bits which is an income source where people can donate directly to their Twitch streamer. Twitch explains that “Bits are a virtual good that viewers can buy to Cheer in chat. The streamer in whose channel the Bits are Cheered gets a share of the revenue.”
Finally, you can also recommend games and earn 5% of the revenue share of the game purchases. Viewers who buy a game that’s worth $4.99 or more will also win a Twitch Crate which can have Bits in it… which means more earning possibility for you.
And at the heart of it, you will be able to run ads as a Twitch Affiliate.
Twitch pays you a flat-rate cost per 1000 views and it can be anything from $0.25-$2 depending on what demand is like. If it’s a season to be shopping, then you’ll be bumped up, but if it’s dead-retail-season, like after everyone has spent their money post-Christmas, then you will be a bit low on the ad revenue.
Move up to being a Twitch Partner
On the surface, becoming a Twitch Partner is pretty much like being a Twitch Affiliate.
What’s the difference?
It’s all supercharged as a Twitch Partner.
The main difference is, from a new streamer’s perspective, is that becoming a Partner requires much more effort and you’ll need the numbers to show that you’ve put in the work and people like your work.
Here are the minimum criteria, from Twitch’s website:
- Complete the Path to Partner achievement or demonstrate large, engaged viewership/following on other services.
- Content that conforms to our Community Guidelines, Terms of Service and DMCA Guidelines
- Those who complete Path to Partner should be able to maintain the criteria set forth in the achievement on a consistent basis.
You get the same monetization sources as a Twitch Affiliate. To reiterate, they are channel subscriptions, payments in Bits (stream chat donation) and ads.
Partners get these supercharged. For example, as a Partner, you can unlock up to 50 channel emotes. You will also also get paid “Bits equal to 1 cent per Bit used to Cheer for them.” Finally, Partners can earn a share of revenue from ads, which you can determine the length and frequency of mid-roll ads in the Partner’s dashboard.
You also get more chat badges, emoticons, a verified user badge and lifetime channel subscription for your chatbot.
On the backend, you get extended video on demand storage (60 days for Partners vs 14 for Affiliates). You also get to re-broadcast past content and premiere new videos to your audience.
Twitch will also offer you access to special opportunities for Partners and priority support, among many other benefits.
You… just… have… to… qualify.
Generating income outside of Twitch
Certainly if you have the mass following, you’d also want to ensure that you don’t leave all your eggs in one basket.
It’s also a good business decision to not depend on one source for your following to be concentrated on since… if you get demonetized, deplatformed or something devious happens, you might be out of luck.
Upload streams on YouTube
Naturally, since Twitch is a video-based platform, it would be natural to flow into YouTube.
Think about it: PewDiePie has both a Twitch and YouTube channel. That kind of speaks to the efficacy of having your foot in both doors.
If you get popular enough, people will start uploading clips of your hot takes and highlights. So, why not do it yourself and make money of it?
Think of streaming as a means to generate the content. It’s live and people will be willing to sit through it because the content is new and you can’t fast forward.
However, once your stream is done, you’ll have a video file where people might not be very interested in watching the slow parts.
This is where you start cutting the best parts out and then uploading them to YouTube. If you want to upload the full stream too, go ahead.
For a Twitch-first streamer, YouTube offers a very good way to help you increase the efficiency of your content. Instead of just having eyeballs on one platform, you can now have two sources of search clicks and build a following on both platforms.
In a relationship between two people, “going exclusive” is seen as a milestone.
Between followers and a Twitch creator, Patreon is another way to “go exclusive” with the creator.
Generally, a follower is motivated to get a Patreon subscription if it opens up some exclusive content that no one else can get.
Of course, there are some Patreon patrons that are solely motivated by the support their funds would provide to the content creator, but I’d hazard to say that they are in the minority.
Do you think you can offer your followers something exclusive? That’s the key question to ask.
If you are a gamer who REALLY knows a game and can share tricks of the trade, then you’ll be in luck because the fact of the matter is that’s what people will pay you for.
Or you can also share exclusive Q&A sessions with your Patreon followers.
Or you can also just ensure they get thanked in your videos.
Or you can share “behind the scenes” videos.
Either way, Patreon is much more attractive when not only are your followers supporting you, but they are also getting something exclusive.
Amazon Affiliate Marketing
“All the gear that I use is listed below”
Have you heard of that phrase?
Then, you see a bunch of Amazon links with some random string of characters.
That’s affiliate marketing where Twitch streamers share their gear and point people to buying them.
Amazon Associates is a program that allows you to earn Amazon commission for recommending products on Twitch. You receive money from viewers when they buy items by using your referral links, as long as those sales qualify.
If you’ve qualified for the Twitch Partner or Affiliates programs, then you can get higher commission rates for particular products.
When you have enough viewers, you’ll start noticing that brands want to be associated with you.
And since getting sponsored is a deal between you and the company that wants to be featured, you can negotiate your own rates and deliverables.
Your payout for each sponsorship is based directly on the number of viewers and engagement you have.
Sponsorships are a very valuable tool for established Twitch streamers and almost always, you will get reached out to if you are THAT good.
The benefit of this is also that if you are THAT good, your sponsors will be in the field in which you’re working in. Likely, you’ll get a lot of requests for tech products and services whether it’s a VPN service or some tech product.
You could also slide into people’s DMs if you want to get the ball rolling, but just like a person who’s job hunting, your success rate depends largely on whether you have the eyeballs.
Are you a person who people want to be associated with?
Then having merchandise to sell is possibly a revenue generating source.
Merchandise requires some logistics and that’s a bit of a pain, but it could prove worth it.
You’ll have to set up your online store using Woocommerce, Shopify or something else, and along with that comes a bunch of expenses and tech support requirements.
Then, you’ll need to design some clothing and plaster your brand on it or something related to it.
You’d then have to consider whether you’d want to pay up front and take the risk of owning inventory… which can mean that you will eventually earn more, or if you’d prefer to use a print-on-demand service which takes a bigger cut.
You can also ask for direct donations. These are very effective in terms of returns because most of the money goes directly to you.
For example, let’s say someone donates $5 to you.
On Patreon, you’ll lose an average of 8% to their platform fees.
If you get your money through Twitch Bits, the “loss” is 50% for most people. You get half of what the person puts in!
If you receive money via PayPal, you’ll just have to pay about 2.9% in fees plus a fee based on the currency that you’re accepting your donation in.
You could also use Stripe to achieve the same result, along with other payment processing platforms like Donorbox.
The best time to start a Twitch Channel? Now!
If you’ve been thinking about starting a Twitch channel, now is the time. You don’t need to be an expert in broadcasting or video production- just find something that’s interesting and share it with others who can relate.
Remember these tips as you embark on your journey of monetizing your stream: build relationships with viewers, create content regularly, and use social media for promotion. The best way to start building your audience is by streaming consistently.
Building an audience of followers is the first step to monetizing your Twitch channel. You can do this by being interesting and engaging with your viewers, just like you would in any other social media platform.
Your job as a streamer isn’t over when you start making money on Twitch though; it continues once you have enough followers to make decent earnings from subscriptions or donations. Spend time cultivating your following so that they will want to follow along every day for years!