Let’s say you’re just getting started with Twitch – you’ve got your streaming setup put together, you’ve got art assets and branding done, and you’re ready to put in a couple of hours a week on the air – you should be good to go right?
While this may be true if you’re just looking to start streaming as a hobby, if you plan to dedicate some serious time to Twitch in hopes of one day trading in your day job for a full-time streaming career, you’ll want to start bringing in some extra income as soon as possible.
Twitch has great built-in offerings for streamers which can help generate some of this income, via Bits (Twitch’s digital currency – each donated Bit is worth 1 cent), Subscriptions, and the option to run ads during your streams. However, these options are only available to Twitch Affiliates and Partners, which means that until you hit the milestones required to join those programs, your options for earning revenue while streaming may feel somewhat limited.
Here’s a great illustration of what monetization options are available for each tier of streamer:
This doesn’t mean you can’t start earning right away though! There’s still plenty of opportunities to generate income from streaming before you level up and become an Affiliate or Partner. This article is meant to help shed some light on the options that are available to you the minute you create your Twitch account. With some planning, you can build a sustainable business model for long-term success in your streaming career.
The most direct way to bring in some extra cash! Create great content and build a strong community, and your viewers may support you in turn. Don’t be afraid to be honest with your audience either – let them know how much donations help and how much you appreciate their patronage! Before you’re able to receive Cheers through the Twitch Affiliate program, setting up a Patreon or Streamlabs account is the next best way to start receiving support from your audience.
Pros: Easy to set up with services like Streamlabs or Patreon, and doesn’t come with any extra responsibilities. (Also PayPal, Venmo.)
Cons: Potential Chargebacks – when the person who made the tip claims they didn’t intend to or didn’t receive what they expected, the streamer usually pays the transaction cost. Twitch Partners receive chargeback protection, so if you go this route early on then you take the risk of handling these costs. Additionally, payment processors like Venmo charge for their services and PayPal charges 2.9% + 30 cents on every transaction, so as the streamer receiving these funds, you’re responsible for that surcharge.
If you’ve got gear you use on a daily basis or during your streams, you’ve got an easy way to make recommendations to your viewers about which products to buy. Leverage affiliate programs like Amazon Associates to share links to these products and earn commissions from every sale made with your links. It’s worth noting that Amazon also now provides Amazon Blacksmith, a Twitch extension for promoting affiliate links to your gear directly in the stream, but this is currently limited to Twitch Affiliates and Partners.
Think about what gear you’re using on a regular basis and make a panel dedicated to affiliate links for these products – each link is an opportunity to earn commission, so making a list of your PC parts or streaming equipment is a great opportunity to earn some passive income.
Pros: While there’s a little homework involved to get set up Amazon Associates, it’s more or less a one-time setup. With 13 different international programs around the world as well, you don’t need to just limit yourself to earning commission from one storefront – even better, if you use a service like Geniuslink with your Amazon affiliate links, you can send your audience to the right product in their local storefront while affiliating for each respective country, all from one link! (Keeping your panels looking a lot cleaner than the above example) While each transaction can be small, (typically a few percent commission for each sale) if you get a lot of people buying through your affiliate links it can become a huge revenue source.
Cons: If people aren’t interested in your streaming setup or if you have a smaller audience, then you might not see any sales, which is critical when remaining in good standing with Amazon. You need at least 3 qualifying sales within 180 days once you’ve been accepted in order to maintain your account standing, so consider signing up for Amazon Associates once you know you have a decent viewership that can meet this minimum goal.
The kids love this one! Merchandising is a fantastic way to grow your brand and help bring in some extra revenue, while giving you the opportunity to show off your creativity. If your designs sell well and make your viewers proud to rep your channel, merch can also build great brand recognition.
Pros: Services like Streamlabs and Teespring make it easy to design and sell merch from your own personalized storefront, while also allowing you to name your price. This allows for easy experimentation with pricing or discounts if you want to test different ways to increase sales.
Cons: You can’t really sell merch if you don’t have attractive or creative designs that your audience will want to wear – and if you’re not an artist, hiring a designer can get expensive. Streamlabs takes a 50/50 cut of all merchandising profits, while Teespring gives you 100% of the profit in exchange for you handling the base product cost.
Consider partnering with brands and retailers to promote specific products or game titles. Brands are always looking to advertise, and if your audience is a good fit for their target demographic you may be able to develop a partnership as an influencer.
Pros: This kind of deal can be very lucrative, especially if you land a partnership with a prominent brand. Sponsorships typically payout through commissions, or with a flat contract in exchange for meeting specific requirements like shoutouts. You might even receive free products from the sponsor which you can use yourself, or in a giveaway, which are great ways to further engage your community.
Cons: They’re hard to land, especially if you have a small audience. Some sponsors might also want prime real estate on your channel in the form of overlays or shout-outs during your stream. If your sponsorship contract calls for a minimum performance commitment, you may need to stream outside of your normal schedule to meet a quota.
At the end of the day, there’s a variety of ways to generate revenue from your Twitch channel – but as important as making ends meet is, your focus should always be on creating and growing your community. Your earnings are tied directly to how many people view your streams, buy your merch, and click your links, so developing a strong community and creating engaging content should always come before monetizing it. If you need inspiration it’s great to pay attention to what other streamers are doing, and it pays to do your research before making the commitment of streaming full-time.
Try building a plan that includes where you’d like to be five years from now, and consider how many viewers you’ll have to reach to cross specific revenue milestones. Ease into streaming when you’re sure of yourself and know what you have to offer. Consider what you’ll need to do to stand out from the crowd, and create unique and engaging content that draws in viewers. When you start believing in yourself and having a good time on stream, it’ll be visible to your audience, and there’s no better starting point than that.