Live video is a rapidly-growing area of social media, as viewers flock to watch and interact with their favorite gamers, musicians, and content creators in real time. The best part—anyone can join a live streaming platform like Twitch and start monetizing their content once the audience is tuning in.
But how can you make money on Twitch? There are many built-in ways to make money on the platform through subscriptions, bits, and ads. Even before becoming a Twitch affiliate and unlocking extra revenue features, you can earn an income through other means (like donations or merch) and start building an audience around your streams.
Whether you’re an experienced Twitch streamer, a casual gamer, or simply interested in how to make money from home, you’ll find everything you need to know to make money on Twitch below.
Even more than on other platforms, Twitch users are active, engaged participants who are eager to show support for creators. In fact, 84% believe backing streamers is an important part of the Twitch experience. But how do you turn audience engagement into monetary support?
To start with, you can incentivize your viewers to support you with a monthly payment through Patreon, and offer exclusive content or Discord benefits in return. Many smaller streamers choose Patreon to build a reliable recurring income and to bypass the 50% cut that Twitch takes from subscription revenue (more on that later). For example, user Spicysushi uses Patreon to make money off-platform, citing that Twitch takes a large cut of any revenue made on the platform.
In addition to Patreon, Streamlabs offers services that are built for seamless integration with a streaming platform like Twitch. Streamlabs monthly tipping is geared towards streamers, offers intuitive integration, and includes additional functionalities like personalized messages. Streamers can recognize supporters while live streaming, with fully customizable alerts popping up any time a tip or a recurring donation is made.
There are many third-party app integrations you can use to collect donations on a one-time basis. For example, Donorbox is a popular web application for many streamers on Twitch. One of its advantages is the added security—you have to verify your information before starting to accept donations, ensuring peace of mind for anyone choosing to support you.
Having a Paypal donation button is a common and easy way to encourage donations directly to your channel. But keep in mind that PayPal will take a portion of the donation—2.9% of the total on each domestic transaction. An additional fixed fee of $0.49 will also be taken out.
If you want to accept donations without Paypal, cryptocurrency is a good alternative. Most streamers use Bitcoin, Dogecoin, or Ethereum, and link directly to a digital wallet on their channel. That way you can bypass using a third-party app and paying their fees.
Once you’re getting an average of 40–50 loyal viewers on your stream at the same time, it’s time to consider selling custom merch. This is a chance for your devoted fans to show they’re a part of your community both online and offline and help you make a profit from the sale. Plus, merch repping your brand gives you great exposure.
Learn More: 50 Surprisingly Creative Merch Ideas + Examples
To get started, think of the items you like to buy and look to other Twitch streamers for inspiration. For example, Lilypichu, one of the top female streamers on Twitch, has her own clothing line that consists of t-shirts, hoodies, and face masks in pastel tones. The merch features her small lily logo and relatable slogans like “Stay Comfy” and “From Friends.”
Print-on-demand allows you to design a range of different products and sell them to fans. You can offer everything from t-shirts and beanies to phone cases and mugs. With providers like Printful, the product creation and fulfillment is taken care of so you can just focus on streaming and promoting your merch. And you don’t have to worry about investing money in stock upfront or having leftover inventory that doesn’t sell—the product is only made once someone makes a purchase.
Many streamers, especially gamers, make money on Twitch by teaming up with brands and adding affiliate links for viewers to make a purchase with a discount. Typically, this means promoting headsets, cameras, gaming chairs, or other equipment during your stream.
This partnership is different from Twitch’s partner and affiliate program, but the good news is that you don’t need to be a Twitch partner to start promoting products with affiliate links. Check out affiliate marketing platforms like Rakuten and Shareasale to connect with your favorite brands and build relevant brand partnerships. You can also become a Printful affiliate partner and get 10% from every order made by customers you referred.
The Amazon Associates Program is another way to earn referral revenue by linking specific products from Amazon on your page. As a streamer, you receive a commission for any purchases your viewers make on Amazon when they use your links.
Try creating an Amazon Wish List to share the gear you use for your stream set up (lighting, camera, mic) or gather a list of all your favorite video games. To make it easier for your audience to purchase the products you promote, you can even add custom clickable buttons.
Here’s the thing, you don’t have to be a top-tier content creator to start brand collaborations. Recently, brands have been eyeing micro-influencers to get their products in front of the right people. This is especially true when it comes to capturing the attention of younger consumers who are dedicated to the platform. When you’re loyal to a streamer, you usually trust their views and recommendations.
There are tons of different ways you can collaborate with brands apart from offering product discounts. You can start earning by hosting unboxing streams, giveaways, brand shout-outs, product placement, or announcing new product launches. Typically, brands will have a promotion format in mind, but that still leaves plenty of room for creativity on your stream and socials.
If you have a larger following, getting a brand sponsorship can bring in big revenue. It’s possible to earn anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 per hour if you average 10,000 viewers. Sponsorships can also get you a good deal for live appearances. But before embarking on a brand sponsorship, be sure it’s the right fit for your own brand and will resonate with your audience.
If you want to unlock additional monetization features for your stream, you should join the Twitch Affiliate program and monetize your content through added benefits.
Twitch has a built-in subscription revenue model through its Affiliate program. Once your Twitch channel becomes eligible, you’ll receive an invitation via email and a notification on your Twitch dashboard to start monetizing your channel. This automatically adds a subscribe option to your channel. Subscriptions are different from follows, as anyone can become a follower for free, but subscriptions are a paid feature. To become a Twitch affiliate, you should have at least 50 followers and 500 minutes of stream time over a 30-day period.
Subscriptions allow viewers to pay a monthly fee to support your channel, either on a recurring or one-time basis. There are three Twitch subscriptions available: $4.99, $9.99, and $24.99 per month. Twitch Affiliates earn 50% of the share with the other 50% going to Twitch. In turn, subscribers get access to custom emotes, exclusive chat rooms, and other benefits you can decide to add.
Twitch affiliates can also earn money through Twitch bits which act as micro-donations. You receive $0.01 for every bit used to cheer and show support in the chat. It can be fun to integrate Twitch bits for viewer interaction—it allows for additional voting in polls, using animated emoticons, or getting recognition. You can display a list of the top weekly or monthly cheerers on your channel page to recognise your top supporters and give encouragement.
Affiliates with any size audience can also earn money by running ads. As your viewership increases, advertising revenue from Twitch ads will go up as well. Ad breaks can be between 30 seconds and three minutes long, and the income depends on how many viewers see the ad—the bigger the audience, the more you earn.
Streamers control how often they run the ads (before the video, in the middle, every hour, etc). However, unless you are among the most popular Twitch streamers and qualify for the Twitch Partnership program, ad revenue will likely make up only a small chunk of your monthly income. This is because the new Ads Incentive Program currently offers a flat payout ranging from $100 to $500 a month only to select streamers who already have a medium to large fanbase.
Twitch streamers who’ve been affiliates for some time and have grown a bigger audience, should consider getting the coveted status of Twitch partner. The Twitch Partnership Program provides access to more tools like subscriber streams, custom cheermotes, stream delays, etc. But ultimately, getting to partner status is a sign that you’ve grown your viewership to a point where you can make a living while live streaming on Twitch.
To qualify for the Twitch Partnership Program you need to demonstrate a large, engaged following and complete the Path to Partner achievements. You can apply once you have:
1) streamed for 25 hours;
2) streamed on 12 different days;
3) have an average of 75 viewers at the same time.
These achievements apply for a 30-day period. Nevertheless, becoming eligible does not guarantee Partner status and is invitation only.
Twitch partners with a large following can expect subscriptions to make up most of their revenue. Top female Twitch streamer Pokimane keeps 70% of the earnings she makes from subscribers on Twitch as she is considered a top-tier partner by the platform. This means she takes home $3.50 from every tier 1 subscriber.
As partners, top Twitch streamers can earn at least $10,000 a month from running ads on their stream. Disguised Toast shared as much in an honest video discussing his revenue and explaining how to make money on Twitch as a top gamer.
Twitch Partners sign exclusivity agreements with the platform. In turn, they enjoy access to partner-only promotional opportunities like Partners Spotlights and Panels, Meet & Greets with fans, Streamer Zones, and lots more. These are fun ways to interact with their audience off-stream and can help secure endorsement deals and better brand sponsorships.
Many streamers take advantage of multistreaming, which allows streaming on multiple platforms at the same time. Posting your live content both on Twitch and YouTube ensures you can reach a wider audience and is another way of monetizing your stream. Alternatively, YouTube can be a platform where you share highlights and post stream clips for those who missed the live stream on Twitch.
Many Twitch streamers choose to also post on YouTube to earn money through video ads. Running ads on your YouTube videos can significantly boost your earnings, as YouTube offers a default 70/30 ad revenue split in favor of creators. In contrast, Twitch starts out at a 50/50 split, and increases to 70/30 only for the top-tier streamers.
YouTube is less saturated with live-streamers than Twitch, where the top 1,000 broadcasters account for more than half of all hours watched, leaving a relatively small audience for which millions of other streamers compete.
If you’re just getting started, be prepared that it can take some time to figure out how to make money on Twitch. So it’s important to not to lose sight of what will help you do that—growing your audience.
The first thing you should understand is that teenagers and young adults (16–34 year olds) make up the core audience of Twitch users. Young people are increasingly spending more time socializing online rather than offline, using Twitch as a social entertainment space which offers distractions from the real world and a way of interacting with others. Knowing who is tuning in and why can help you anticipate what your viewers are looking for.
Once you know your audience, it’s important to start building a community. The first step is connecting with like-minded people who’ll enjoy your live streams and be fun to hang around when you’re streaming. That way, you’re creating a welcoming vibe for viewers, and they’ll want to join again.
Interaction is key. Popular streamers are good entertainers whose commentary and conversation with the viewers keep it fun. To keep the interaction flowing, monitor the chat, do shoutouts during the stream, respond to requests, ask questions, and listen to feedback.
Your viewers sometimes will be content creators themselves so engage with other channels, especially smaller streamers in a similar niche. Be active on Twitch chat and on other social media channels to maintain a presence.
Have a set schedule of upload times for your Twitch streams that viewers can rely on and build their day around. Find times that work for you (late evening, lunch time, etc.) so you’re more likely to follow the schedule. Let people know—post the schedule on your stream and other social media accounts. Twitch’s Schedule tool is a handy way to remind viewers when they can see you live, set a reminder, and be notified once you’re online.
You have to be ready to constantly improve, be it a better quality video setup or increased streaming time. Think of the added value you bring to your viewers that makes them come back and tune in. Is it the content, the high-quality audio or video, your skill in a game, or the way you interact with the viewers? Carve out your niche and you’ll be in a good position to build a high-value stream which will hopefully encourage viewers to keep returning to your channel.
Your brand should be unique, relate to your content, or convey something you’re passionate about. Is your channel about a specific game? Are you all about the color yellow? Do you have a character in mind that you want to build your channel around? Picking just one thing will help you create an original brand and make you stand out.
Having a thing you’re known for can also be great for personalized merch. For example, the user Disguised Toast sells a limited edition plushie that looks like toast. Even selling just a single product that’s both fun and relates to your personal brand can become an instant success with your fans.
Sandra is a freelance writer and educator with a background in art and communication. She holds an MA in Art Museum and Gallery Studies, and in her free time enjoys reading, museum visits, and outdoor adventures.