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Video content is more popular than ever. While platforms like YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and Facebook all present excellent opportunities for video content creators, Twitch takes a different approach by focusing exclusively on live streaming.
Twitch initially gained popularity as a platform for gamers. While much of the content is still gaming-related, some users are creating content and having success in completely different categories.
Like other popular platforms for content creators, Twitch offers plenty of possibilities and virtually unlimited income potential. In this article, we’ll look at the types of content that are popular on Twitch, the different ways you can make money on the platform, and some of the key tips for success.
Although Twitch has been primarily known as a platform for gamers since it launched in 2007, it has branched out and become much more than that. According to Business Insider, non-gaming content on Twitch more than doubled in 2020, while content in the Music and Performing Arts category more than quadrupled during the same time frame.
Whether the content is focused on games, chatting, art, music or anything else, most Twitch users are tuning in for entertainment purposes. That’s an important distinction between Twitch and YouTube, because many viewers arrive at YouTube searching for information, like answers to questions, how-to guides and product reviews.
In terms of monetization, the possibilities with Twitch are somewhat similar to YouTube, although the specifics differ. Both platforms offer a set of official methods to monetize and get paid for content, and both platforms also give users exposure that can be used to make money in a variety of other ways.
Twitch is also one of the few streaming platforms that is expressly open to minors: people between the ages of 13 and 18 can sign up and earn money as long as they have a parent who is willing to accept the site’s terms of service on their behalf. This makes Twitch streaming a good online job for teens in addition to being one of the best ways to get paid to play games.
What Works Best on Twitch
Like any other platform, Twitch has an audience that prefers certain types of content. Here are the topics that are currently the most popular.
- Games: Originally, Twitch was all about video games. That’s not the case today, but gaming channels are still extremely popular. Some examples of popular gaming creators are Ninja and Rubius.
- Just Chatting: This category is exactly what it sounds like: the streaming of conversations about anything and everything. You can think of this category as hosting content that resembles a live talk show or podcast. Example channels include xQcOW and AdinRoss.
- Art: Many different types of art and design are popular on Twitch. Example channels include drawfeeshow and Xylax.
Here’s a brief video of Ninja (mentioned above) talking about his channel with CNBC:
How Much Can You Make on Twitch
To become familiar with your options for making money with Twitch, you first have to understand the three different classifications for content creators.
Twitch Account Levels
Twitch’s three account tiers are:
- Regular creators.
Anyone can create a Twitch profile and start streaming, but the monetization options are limited until you become an Affiliate. Still, there are a few ways to make money as a regular creator, and we’ll look at them later in this article.
Every user who reaches specific milestones gets invited to become an Affiliate. The qualifications to earn Affiliate status are:
- You must have streamed for at least eight hours during the past 30 days.
- You must have streamed at least seven days during the past 30 days.
- You must get an average of three viewers per stream.
- You must reach 50 followers.
Once you’ve hit all of these milestones, you’ll get an invitation to become an Affiliate and have access to several monetization options that aren’t open to general users.
Note: We list the different Twitch monetization methods below and highlight the account level necessary to leverage them.
Twitch’s Partner program is reserved for the platform’s best users and channels. It’s an invitation-only program, although you can request to be considered. Twitch doesn’t publicly list criteria to earn an invite, but they do mention that they consider your content (they’re looking for the best quality), your viewership and level of engagement, and your streaming frequency (they’re looking for at least three times per week).
Twitch Earning Potential
The best way to estimate how much you can make from Twitch is to look at the most predictable and clear-cut income stream, which is subscriptions. Twitch Affiliates and Partners can offer monthly subscriptions at three different price points: $4.99, $9.99 and $24.99. The subscription revenue is split 50/50 between Twitch and the user.
The table below shows how much money you could make depending on the number of paying subscribers. We’re only looking at the $4.99 level for this table because that’s the price most subscribers on the platform are paying, and because it will produce more conservative estimates.
|Subscription Price||Number of Subscribers||Monthly Revenue|
(Before 50% Fee)
Of course, those numbers are hypothetical. But at Twitch Tracker, you can see that the top users have reached those numbers and beyond. It’s also important to remember that this is just one of the legit monetization options available for successful Twitch channels.
According to a 2021 study done by SavingSpot, the top eight Twitch channels bring in more than $1 million per year in total earnings from the platform. The highest-earning channel, xQcOW, earns an estimated $1.9 million per year.
However, these figures may be understated. In October of 2021, a data breach led to the release of Twitch payouts to 10,000 streamers from late 2019 through October 2021 (source). During that span of about two years, 81 streamers were paid more than $1 million each by Twitch, with the top earner getting paid more than $5 million.
Nine Ways to Make Money on Twitch
Now let’s look at some of the specific ways you can make money with a Twitch channel. The methods below are listed alphabetically.
Available only to Twitch Partners.
Since Twitch’s ad program is only available to Partners, you’ll already have an established audience if you get to this point. As a Partner, you can insert ad breaks into your stream. This is an important revenue source for two reasons:
- It’s the easiest way, although not necessarily the most lucrative way, to monetize an existing channel with an established audience.
- Users can support you without buying anything or spending money. Several of the other Twitch monetization methods require users to spend money, but that’s not the case with ads.
Twitch allows you to run in-content ads as well as pre-rolls. According to Twitch, they’ve found that users are more likely to stay through an ad break than they are to stay through a pre-roll ad. That means in-content ads can lead to more revenue for you and a better experience for your viewers.
Although users will see some ads, Twitch is not an extremely ad-heavy platform. They recommend no more than three minutes of ads per hour of streaming.
Other suggestions from Twitch include:
- Tell your viewers an ad break is coming.
- Don’t front-load or back-load ads.
- Start with no more than one minute of ads per hour.
- Include multiple, shorter breaks.
- Delegate or automate your ad breaks (rather than manually inserting them).
- Wait at least 15 minutes between ad breaks.
2. Affiliate Marketing
Available to all users.
Twitch’s platform lends itself very well to affiliate marketing. (Note that affiliate marketing is separate from, and unrelated to, Twitch’s Affiliate program).
Affiliate marketing involves promoting another company’s products in exchange for a commission. For example, if you have a gaming channel, you can mention and promote specific products like consoles, games, controllers, video game chairs, headsets and more. It’s possible to promote products and make money as an affiliate without any aggressive sales techniques.
One of the biggest affiliate programs in the world is Amazon’s, which allows you to promote just about anything. Amazon also owns Twitch, so it’s very easy to join Amazon Associates (that’s what they call their affiliate program) and promote relevant products through your Twitch channel.
McKenzie Peters, a former Twitch streamer who now runs the website Streamsentials, recommends affiliate marketing as one of the best ways to monetize the platform. “A lot of viewers want to know what mouse, keyboard, and even graphics card you use, so you can use that opportunity to direct them to your links,” he told us. “You can even set up custom chat commands that will automatically include the link in your channel’s chat for you (e.g. typing !Keyboard in chat would bring up a message saying what keyboard you use, alongside the Amazon link).”
Affiliate marketing is an attractive option because you can start right away as a new Twitch content creator. It’s possible to start making some money even with a small following. Of course, if you build up a large and engaged following, the income potential with affiliate marketing is excellent.
Available to Twitch Affiliates and Partners.
Bits are a virtual currency that allows users to financially support content creators. Users can purchase Bits via Amazon Payments or PayPal. The price varies depending on the number of bits you buy (the price per Bit gets cheaper as you buy more). Twitch pays Affiliates and Partners $0.01 for every bit used in their channel.
Although they are essentially a form of donation, Bits are also fun for users. Bits can be used for animated Bit gem emotes or Cheermotes in a chat, so fans on Twitch use Bits to express their support for a creator or a particular piece of content. Bigger and more animated emotes cost more Bits, so the more a user spends, the more they can stand out in the chat.
As the channel owner, you can set the minimum number of Bits needed to participate and the smallest emote that can be used in your channel. Optionally, you can also add a tip jar widget to your channel that fills up as viewers use Bits. The tip jar reminds and encourages viewers to use their bits and fill up the jar.
Obviously, the amount of money you’ll earn from Bits will vary based on a number of factors. But, in general, creating engagement with viewers is a great way to encourage the use of more Bits, which leads to more money for you.
4. Brand Partnerships
Available to all users.
Many brands are interested in partnering with or sponsoring influencers who can help to spread the word about their products or services. Influencer marketing is extremely popular on other platforms like Instagram and YouTube, and it’s no different on Twitch.
Through a brand partnership, you might mention or showcase a brand’s product during your live stream and promote it to your followers. Of course, there are any number of types of products and services that would be a possibility, but gaming related products are naturally very popular for partnerships on Twitch.
These partnerships or sponsorships would be arrangements between you and the brand, so this is a way to make money outside of the options presented directly by Twitch. Although you don’t need to be a Twitch Affiliate or Partner to make money from partnerships, brands typically approach streams with a large, engaged following, so this is not the best option for new channels that aren’t established yet.
In most cases, the brands will reach out to streamers that they want to partner with, but you can certainly take a more proactive approach and reach out to brands if you’d like. You can also use influencer networks like Powerspike that help gamers and brands find each other.
Available to all users.
While Bits are essentially a donation system for Twitch, only Affiliates and Partners are able to make money with them. If you’re a new user or you have a smaller audience, it’s possible to accept donations through a third-party service instead.
There are several different ways that Twitch streamers accept donations, including PayPal and Streamlabs. You can add information about donating in the “About Me” section of your Twitch profile, or drop the donation link in the chat.
Patreon is another donation option, but instead of a one-time donation, Patreon supports monthly subscriptions. To encourage these recurring donations, you could offer exclusive content or perks for patrons.
The Twitch users who have the most success with donations use creativity to provides incentive for viewers to donate. Think about any type of special perks or personalized content you could create that would entice viewers to make a donation.
6. Game and Game Item Sales
Available to Twitch Affiliates and Partners.
If you’re an Affiliate or Partner, you’ll be able to make money by promoting games. Whenever you stream yourself playing a game that’s available in the Twitch store, viewers will see a “buy now” button so they can purchase the game. You’ll receive 5% of the revenue from games sold through your channel.
You can also make money promoting in-game items and add-ons.
While 5% is a relatively small commission, this is still an easy way to make money without any extra effort. Think of it as a supplementary income stream that will add a small amount to what you’re making with the other methods covered here.
One of the best ways to maximize what you can make with game sales is by simply playing a lot of different games. If you stream yourself playing the same game all the time, you’ll earn commissions from the sales of only one game. But if you play a lot of different games — and focus on highlighting less well-known titles — viewers will come across more games that they don’t own yet.
Available to all users.
You don’t need to be a Twitch Affiliate or Partner to make money selling custom branded merchandise, but you’re unlikely to make very much money until you have a decent following. So although this opportunity is available to anyone, it’s not the most appropriate for new users or those with a smaller channel.
There are many different ways you can implement this, and an unlimited number of potential products you can sell. One option is to set up your own online store with Shopify, and then use a print-on-demand provider like Printful or Printify to fulfill orders as they’re placed.
With print-on-demand services, there’s no need to pay for large inventory orders since the products aren’t created until they’re sold.
You can promote the link to your shop from your Twitch profile and in your feed. As your channel grows, this could become an excellent source of income.
Available to Twitch Affiliates and Partners.
Subscriptions represent the largest stream of income for many pro Twitch creators. Once you reach the level of Twitch Affiliate, subscription capabilities will be enabled for your channel.
Viewers have the option to pay for a monthly subscription to your channel to get perks like subscriber-only streams, exclusive chat rooms, exclusive emoticons, and discounts on merchandise.
As the channel owner, you can set the details of your subscription, including the price and the perks that you offer. The price options for monthly subscriptions are $4.99, $9.99 and $24.99. However, that’s the price subscribers pay; Twitch splits the revenue with channel owners 50/50, so you’ll receive half of the subscription price.
The best part about monetizing your channel with subscriptions is the predictability that it adds to your income. Of course, some subscribers will cancel, but with a solid base of paying subscribers, you can get some idea of how much money you’ll make each month, introducing more stability and less fluctuation.
The more aggressive you are with perks, the better chance you’ll have to make money with subscriptions. Focus on offering subscribers as much value as possible.
Available to all users.
Many Twitch streamers also have YouTube channels, and of course, there are many ways to make money on YouTube. These two platforms can work together nicely for content creators. The content that you stream on Twitch can be recorded and uploaded to YouTube.
However, if you want to maximize your income potential with YouTube you’ll need to do more than simply upload the content you created for Twitch. It’s possible to manage both platforms simultaneously and use them to leverage each other.
Tips for Succeeding as a Twitch Streamer
A platform that allows you to make money by live streaming video games sounds too good to be true. While it’s obviously possible to make money on Twitch, there’s more to it than just sitting down in front of a webcam. Here are some tips that will give you the best chance for success.
#1. Be Memorable and Different
There are thousands of Twitch channels that are streaming very similar content. The best and most effective way to have success is to stand out and be different. You need to give viewers a reason to watch and follow you.
#2. Play More Than One Game
Some Twitch channels focus on a specific game and others showcase a broader range of topics. While there are pros and cons to each approach, streaming only one game will limit your potential audience. You’ll also be linked to the success and popularity of that one game. Branching out will give you more opportunities and a higher ceiling.
Networking can be one of the keys to success with a Twitch channel, like any other type of business. Linnea Labs, a PR executive at Pearl Lemon and a former Twitch Affiliate who is no longer using the platform, told us that most of your profits will come from external third parties and sponsors. So work to get connected with others in the industry, including other streamers and brands that want to reach your audience.
#4. Use Other Platforms as Well
Many of the most successful Twitch users are also on other platforms like YouTube and TikTok. Although there are significant differences between platforms, you’re able to leverage your success and ultimately increase your earnings.
- How to make money on YouTube
- How to make money on TikTok
- How to make money on Snapchat
How to Make Money on Twitch: Final Thoughts
Twitch is currently the most popular online live streaming platform, and it’s no longer just for gamers. Although video games are still extremely popular on Twitch, there are ways to make money streaming other types of content as well. By following the tips covered in this article, you should be able to use several of the monetization methods to earn some cash while also having a lot of fun.
Marc Andre is a personal finance blogger at Vital Dollar, where he writes about saving, managing and making money. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and two kids, and has been a full-time blogger and internet marketer since 2008.