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Beginner's handbook

How to Make Money on Twitch: 8 Ways to Get Paid Live Streaming

How to Make Money on Twitch: 8 Ways to Get Paid Live Streaming
Sandra Ķempele

By Sandra Ķempele

12 min read

Live video is one of the most popular forms of online entertainment. It’s an opportunity for viewers to watch and interact with their favorite gamers, musicians, and content creators in real time.

Of all the streaming platforms on the web, Twitch stands out with an impressive 35M daily visitors. The best part? Anyone can join Twitch, build a community, and start monetizing their content.

But how do you make money on Twitch?

Once you have an established audience, you can become a Twitch affiliate and start earning through Twitch’s built-in monetization features like subscriptions, virtual currency (known as bits), and ads. But if you’re just starting out, it might take time to unlock these features.

In the meantime, there are other ways to make money on Twitch, such as donations, merch, and more. So, let’s go over the options together. 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 in this article.

What is Twitch?

Twitch started out as a live streaming platform for gaming but now provides almost any form of entertainment: music, cooking, sports, or even just chatting. It’s a platform where anyone with a Twitch account can start streaming their activities, interact with their Twitch audience in real-time through chat, and build a following by streaming regularly. At its core, Twitch fosters a supportive community where streamers and viewers connect over shared interests.

How to get started on Twitch

First, set up your Twitch account and your streaming software. You’ll need some equipment to start streaming: a computer or a gaming console, a webcam for video, a microphone, and a reliable internet connection. You’ll also need streaming software to share your content.

Once your setup is complete, stream regularly, engage with viewers during your live streams, encourage discussions, and be responsive to feedback. That way, you’ll grow your Twitch audience and keep them coming back for more.

How to make money on Twitch

Now that you know how to build a streaming channel around your passion, let’s look at how you can turn it into a profitable business.

1. Build stable income streams

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?

Patreon

To start, you can incentivize your Twitch community to support you with a monthly payment through Patreon, and offer exclusive content 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 outside Twitch, citing that the platform takes a large cut of the revenue.

Streamlabs Monthly Tipping Service

If Streamlabs is your streaming software, you can use their monthly tipping feature.

With it, viewers can set up recurring tips to creators. For streamers, an alert will pop up whenever a tip is made.

Streamlabs pageSource: Fextralife / Streamlabs

2. Collect donations

There are many third-party app integrations you can use to collect donations. 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.

Paypal donation button

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 for each domestic transaction and afixed fee of $0.30.

Cryptocurrency

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.

3. Sell merch

Once you’re getting an average of 40–50 loyal viewers per stream, 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 for you to make extra money. 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 and hoodies in pastel tones. The merch features her small lily logo and slogans like “Stay Comfy” and “From Friends.”

LilyPichu merchSource: lilypichu.com

Print-on-demand

It’s easy to start selling your own merch with print-on-demand. You don’t have to worry about investing in inventory upfront or having leftover stock that doesn’t sell—the product is only made once someone makes a purchase.

Print-on-demand allows you to design a variety of products from custom t-shirts and beanies to phone cases and mugs. With providers like Printful, you can design products for free, and the product fulfillment and shipping will be taken care of.

Printful logo
Customer with received custom jacket
Printful logo
Create and sell custom merch online
Get started

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.

Find out how to Start Affiliate Marketing in 5 Steps.

This partnership is different from Twitch’s partner and affiliate program—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 refer. 

Get Started with the Amazon Associates Program

The Amazon Associates program is another way to earn referral revenue by linking specific products from Amazon to 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 setup (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.

Amazon Associates product lists

Source: Twitch

5. Collaborate with brands

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 recommendations.

Promoting a brand

There are tons of different ways you can collaborate with brands apart from offering product discounts. You can earn by hosting unboxing streams, giveaways, or brand shout-outs. You can also use product placements and announce new product launches. Typically, brands will have a promotion format in mind, but that still leaves room for creativity on your streams and socials.

Twitch brand promotion tweet

Source: FrancisGotHeat / Twitter

Sponsorships

If you have a large following, getting a brand sponsorship can bring in big revenue. You can earn anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 per hour if you have an average of 10,000 viewers. Sponsorships can also get you good deals for live appearances. But before agreeing to a brand sponsorship, be sure it’s the right fit for your brand and resonates with your audience.

6. Become a Twitch affiliate

Once you have an established audience, you can join the Twitch Affiliate program and unlock monetization features for your streams. 

How to become a Twitch affiliate

To qualify for the Twitch Affiliate program, you need to:

  • reach 50 followers
  • stream for 8 hours
  • stream on 7 different days
  • reach an average of 3 viewers per stream

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—anyone can become a follower for free, but subscriptions are a paid feature.

Subscriptions and Twitch bits

Subscriptions allow viewers to pay a monthly fee to support your channel on a recurring basis. There are three Twitch subscription tiers available: $4.99, $9.99, and $24.99 per month. Twitch affiliates earn 50% of the share, while the other 50% go to Twitch. Subscribers get access to custom emotes, exclusive chat rooms, subscriber badges, and other benefits you can add.

Kitborga on TwitchSource: Kitboga / Twitch

Twitch affiliates can also earn money through Twitch bits which act as micro-donations. You receive $0.01 for every bit used to cheer in the chat. 

Twitch bits give viewers perks like voting in polls, using animated emoticons (Cheermotes), or getting recognition. You can display a list of the top weekly or monthly cheerers on your channel to recognize your top supporters.

Twitch bits

Source: Twitch

Run ads

Affiliates 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. You’ll need to run at least 3 minutes of ads per hour to unlock 55% net ad revenue share according to the Ads Incentive Program.

7. Become a Twitch Partner

Twitch streamers who’ve been affiliates for some time and have grown a bigger audience should consider getting the Twitch partner status. The Twitch Partnership program provides access to more tools like subscriber streams, custom cheermotes, stream delays, etc. Getting to partner status is a sign that you’ve grown your viewership to a point where you can make a living from live streaming on Twitch.

How to become a Twitch Partner

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:

  • streamed for 25 hours
  • streamed on 12 different days
  • 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.

Subscription revenue and ads

Twitch partners with a large following can expect subscriptions to make up most of their revenue. The more subscribers you have, the bigger the revenue. And with Twitch’s new Partner Plus program, partners get to keep up to 70% of the net subscription revenue.

Your viewer count also affects how much you can earn from ads—the more viewers see your ads, the higher your revenue.

Partner-only opportunities

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 your audience off-stream and can help secure endorsement deals and better brand sponsorships.

8. Post your Twitch content on YouTube

Many streamers take advantage of multistreaming, which allows streaming on multiple platforms at the same time. Posting your live content both on Twitch and your YouTube channel ensures you can reach a wider audience and offers  another way of monetizing your stream. Alternatively, you can share highlights and post-stream clips on YouTube for those who missed the live stream on Twitch.

Ad revenue perks

Many Twitch streamers also choose to 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.

Learn More: How to Make Money on YouTube with a Small Channel

How to build an audience on Twitch

If you’re just getting started, it can take some time to figure out how to make money on Twitch. So it’s important to not lose sight of what will help you get there—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 spending increasingly more time socializing online than offline. Twitch serves as a social entertainment space that offers distractions from the real world and helps interact 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.

Community building is a two-way conversation

Interaction is key. Popular streamers are good entertainers whose commentary and conversation with 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.

Be consistent

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, lunchtime, etc.) so you’re more likely to follow the schedule. Let people know about your schedule—post it on your stream and 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.

Growth factor

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 viewers? Carve out your niche and you’ll be in a good position to build a high-value stream that encourages viewers to keep returning to your channel.

Personal branding

Your brand should be unique, relate to your content, and 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 help you create personalized merch. For example, the streamer 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.

Disguised Toast merchSource: Disguised Toast

If you’re curious about selling your own merchandize, it’s easy to set up an online store and use an on-demand service like Printful to take care of production.

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Customer with received custom jacket
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Create and sell custom merch online
Get started

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By Sandra Ķempele on Apr 11, 2024

Sandra Ķempele

Guest author

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.

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.