How to make money on Twitch

High rollin’.

Photo courtesy of Twitch

Many people out there see Twitch as a potential career. It’s a lot of work to get to the point where you can support yourself by streaming games, and one of the first things you will need to understand is that it can take some time before you start earning enough money to do that.

Some people will stream for years before they can get to the point where their streaming income will allow them to quit their day job. Others will simply never see that kind of success. Even after you had made it, one wrong move can sink your channel, and you will need to be intimately aware of how Twitch works, their terms of service, and how to actually present yourself to the public.

In this article we will run through the various ways that you can make money through Twitch so that you can maximize any potential income.

Partner versus Affiliate

Becoming a Twitch affiliate should be pretty easy to do for anyone who has serious plans to become a streamer. To become an Affiliate, you will need to hit the following marks:

  • At least 500 total minutes broadcast in the last 30 days
  • At least 7 unique broadcast days in the last 30 days
  • An average of 3 concurrent viewers or more over the last 30 days
  • At least 50 Followers

Being an Affiliate will allow you to earn money from Subscribers, Ads, and Bits. We will go through all these in more detail below. Partners can earn money via the same means, but will have access to better support from Twitch, Twitch will eat the fees incurred in actually paying you, and they will have access to a special Partnership team.

Becoming a partner is something of a more murky process. The only way to do it is to apply, and see if they feel you are ready.

Subscriptions

Subscriptions are when a person decides to pay a monthly fee specifically to support your channel. They can come in three tiers, priced at $4.99, $9.99 or $24.99 per month. The income you receive from Subscriptions is split with Twitch, who take 50 percent. This is one of the most common ways that Streamers will earn their income.

Bits

Bits are kind of like donations. Viewers can purchase bundles of Bits, then use them to cheer Streamers that they like. The Streamer receives 1 cent for every Bit they receive. Bit can be used by viewers to have messages pop up during your stream, or to buy emotes for use in chat. The more options you have, and the more entertaining and friendly you are, the more likely you are to receive Bits.

Donations

Donations are similar to Bits, they just take place outside of the Twitch infrastructure. Donations can be handled by many different services, but Streamlabs seems to be one of the most popular. The biggest thing to watch out for with donations is to keep in mind that they can be charged back or canceled by the people who make them and are not a predictable source of income.

Ads

If you wish, you can show ads before, during, or after a stream. Many viewers don’t really like adverts, so it is best to play them during breaks in streaming. You can control the ad frequency in your channel settings. It is normally best to use them sparingly, if at all.

Affiliate Links

If you wish, you can get affilliate links for various online retailers. These can be places like Amazon that sell all kinds of goods that people might want to buy, or game stores that deal specifically in sell gaming codes.

Many streamers will keep a list of their preferred equipment, such as PC components, chairs, mice, keyboards, lights, headsets, etc with affiliate links in the channel description. Any time someone buys a product using your affiliate link, you can then get a percentage of the sale, or a set fee, depending on the website. It is worth exploring affiliate links, but also using them sensibly. Having affiliate links for products you never use just looks bad for viewers.

Selling Merchandise

Many Streamers will sell their own custom merchandise. This can be anything from t-shirts with your logo, to caps, socks, plush toys, or anything else you can think of. Many Streamers will link directly to their own third-party store in the channel description, and do limited time sales of certain styles and designs to drive up demand. It also means they do not have to sit on a massive stock of items that might never sell. Merchandise is risky, and should only really be explored by Streamers with a decent following.

Sponsorships

Sponsorship can be a great way for some Streamers to earn money. Sponsorship are agreements between a Stream and a company to promote their products. Once again, they only really have any credibility if the product is good, and if the Streamer uses it. But, some products don’t struggle with this. Gamer energy drinks are, for the most part, completely worthless, yet people will happily buy them. Anyone can make a sponsorship deal happen, you just need an audience to advertise the product to.

While the idea of jumping on board with every product will to throw some cash you way might be appealing, most Streamers will try to find sponsorships that line up with their own brand.

Selling in-game items, games, and Twitch merch

Partners will have the ability to sell Twitch merch, games, and in-game items from their page, earning 5 percent of each sale. Twitch is also automated to display sale options for the game that a Twitch Partner is playing, so you don’t need to worry about setting anything up.

When you first start streaming, it is best to focus on actually building an audience before monetizing too much, and entering into streaming with the expectation that you will be successful is a surefire way to fail. You can’t monetize an audience that doesn’t exist, so focus on carving out a niche and growing your channel first.