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If you're exploring business ideas and ways to make money online, you may wonder how Twitch works. Twitch is a global community where users watch and create livestream gaming, entertainment, music, and sports content.
Twitch streamers earn money in various ways, including donations, merchandise sales, brand deals, subscriptions, and Twitch bits—a virtual currency that viewers use to cheer on streamers. Of course, like other entrepreneurial endeavors, it takes time and effort to make money on Twitch. Here's how to get started.
Why use Twitch to make money?
Twitch isn't the only online platform people use to earn cash. For example, you can:
- Make money on YouTube via advertising revenue, channel memberships, product sales, subscription fees, and fan support.
- Make money on Amazon selling merchandise, publishing books, and providing product reviews and recommendations.
- Make money on TikTok through brand sponsorships, influencer partnerships, merchandise sales, Creator Fund payouts, and the TikTok Rewards referral program.
So, what sets Twitch apart?
Considered the next generation of entertainment, Twitch reaches an average of 31 million daily visitors and receives content from 7 million individual streamers every month. The key difference between Twitch and rival YouTube is the type of content users associate with the platforms. Twitch is considered the hub for livestreaming—that is, gaming and other video content that's broadcast over the internet in real time. YouTube is known for prerecorded and edited content, such as tutorials, music videos, and influencer "top pick" lists.
Six ways to make money on Twitch
While you can make money on Twitch, success doesn't happen overnight. "As with any competitive career, there are many steps to take before you make it to the top of the pyramid, and the average person wanting to become a successful streamer will likely start from the very bottom," says Red Bull gamer Hoa "Anakin" Luu, recognized as one of the best Tekken 7 players of all time.
Anakin emphasizes that starting with an audience of zero viewers and slowly building it up takes time, commitment, and consistency. "You have to commit to a stream schedule, be engaging, and have good content ideas in order to connect with your viewers."
Here are the primary ways to make money on Twitch as you build your audience and progress from “streamer” to “affiliate” to “partner.”
Donations can be a great way to start earning money before you qualify as a Twitch affiliate or partner. Add a PayPal donation button to your channel description or use a third-party app, such as Streamlabs, to set up a virtual tip jar.
2. Merchandise sales
Once you have a small, loyal fan base, consider setting up an online store to promote and sell custom merch on your Twitch channel. Popular products include hats, T-shirts, hoodies, sweatpants, socks, tote bags, backpacks, mugs, and stickers.
3. Brand deals and sponsorships
If you have a large enough audience, companies might pay you (or give you free products) to get their products in front of your viewers. Some of the top sponsorship and affiliate opportunities come from computer, controller, hardware, software, gaming chair, and energy drink companies.
Subscriptions (aka "subs") let your fans support you on a consistent basis while being rewarded with exclusive perks—such as access to custom emotes, subscriber badges, and ad-free viewing. Monthly subscriptions run from about $5 to $25, and most streamers pocket half.
5. Twitch bits
Affiliates and partners can earn revenue from Twitch bits—virtual currency viewers use to cheer on streamers. Viewers buy bits and send them to their favorite streamers to support them, and the streamer pockets 1¢ per gifted bit.
6. Ad revenue
Advertisements appear on any Twitch stream, but only affiliates and partners can monetize them. Ad breaks can run from 30 seconds to three minutes, and the more viewers who see the ad, the more cash you earn.
Essential setup to get started with Twitch
It's easy to create on Twitch, whether you stream from your PC, Mac, Xbox, PlayStation, or mobile phone. You'll need a Twitch account, some equipment, and streaming software to get started.
Sign up for a Twitch account by visiting Twitch.tv or downloading the Twitch Mobile app for your device. Anyone age 13 or older can be a Twitch streamer. However, if you're between 13 and the age of majority where you live (18 in most U.S. states), you must use Twitch under the supervision of a parent or legal guardian who agrees to Twitch's terms of service.
You can stream from a gaming console or phone, but the streaming quality is better if you use a laptop or a desktop PC.
Camera and microphone
The webcam on your computer may suffice when you're just starting out, but you might want to invest in a professional camera as your fan base grows. You also need a good microphone to chat with your viewers and keep them engaged.
Creators need broadcasting software to share their content on Twitch. Popular software options include:
- Twitch Studio
- OBS Project
- Streamlabs Desktop
- Elgato Game Capture
- Live Gamer Extreme
Each software option has its own benefits, so do your homework and make a decision based on your needs.
How to build your Twitch audience
"It's easy to look at some of the biggest names in streaming and think about how nice it must be to play video games for a living," says Anakin. "However, there is a lot of hard work and grind that goes into building and maintaining a successful audience on platforms like Twitch or YouTube."
Anakin explains that a lot of today's big streamers have spent years growing their audience bit by bit and have found new ways to develop their personalities and content, adding, "They deserve all the credit in the world for sticking to a career path that, especially in the early days of streaming, probably wasn't paying off financially."
The surest way to grow your viewership is to build a welcoming community. "The more connected your viewers feel to you as a streamer and/or personality, the more likely they are to feel welcome to come back to your channel and watch your stream on a regular basis," says Anakin.
The following tips can help you build your community—and your audience:
- Be dependable – Stream on a schedule, so viewers know where and when to find you.
- Interact with your viewers – Create a sense of connection to encourage them to come back for more. "Over time, you can develop an audience that enjoys watching your content for you as opposed to what you're playing," says Anakin.
- Seek feedback – Ask your viewers and subscribers what content they like (and don't like) and adapt accordingly.
- Cross-post – Anakin explains that in today's fast-paced digital age, it's easy to get left behind if you don't adapt to the current streaming landscape. He says staying active across various social media platforms and diversifying your content is a great way to activate key audiences and connect with them via more touch points.
- Stream the right games – The competition is fierce among, for example, Valorant and League of Legends players. Start with less competitive games and build your audience before streaming more popular titles.
How do you qualify to become a Twitch partner?
The top tier for Twitch earners is to become a Twitch partner. You can apply to become a partner once you hit the following minimum benchmarks within 30 days:
- Stream for at least 25 hours.
- Stream on 12 different days.
- Have an average of 75+ concurrent viewers.
- Have at least 50 followers.
It's important to note that meeting the requirements doesn't guarantee partner status. Still, if you're promoted, you can access more Twitch tools to help you grow and engage with your audience—and boost your earnings potential.
Twitch affiliate vs. Twitch partner
The Twitch Affiliate Program lets you monetize your channel while you build your audience and work toward the coveted Twitch partner status. To join it, you must simultaneously meet the following four requirements over a 30-day period:
- Stream for at least eight hours.
- Stream on seven different days.
- Have an average of three or more concurrent viewers.
- Have at least 50 followers.
Unlike the steps for becoming a Twitch partner, you don't have to apply for affiliate status: It happens automatically once you meet the above requirements. As an affiliate, you can access some of the same Twitch tools as partners, including a subscription button for fans to support you and the option to upload your own “emotes”—Twitch-specific emoticons that engage and reward your channel's viewers.
How does Twitch pay you?
You can receive payouts from Twitch via direct deposit/ACH, PayPal or CashApp, check, wire transfer, or eCheck (a convenient method for non-U.S. affiliates and partners). You'll receive a payout once a month—on or around the 15th—if your account balance after your last payment exceeds the $100 threshold for wire transfers or $50 for all other methods. Balances that don't meet the minimum thresholds automatically roll over to the next month.
You don't have to be one of the greatest players of all time like Anakin to monetize your content—but setting goals helps. "As long as you set realistic expectations, have measured benchmarks for your personal success, and avoid getting sucked into the numbers game of comparing your stats to larger channels," says Anakin, "you will be on your way to becoming a successful streamer."
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
How much money can Twitch streamers make?
There's no set amount that Twitch streamers earn—and revenues vary widely. Top earners can rake in up to $500,000 per month, but most streamers don't achieve anything close to that level of financial success. Instead, smaller streamers typically earn anywhere from $50 to $1,500 per month with 100 viewers—or up to $30,000 per month with 10,000 viewers. Here's how Streamer Facts breaks down earnings estimates based on viewership:
|Average number of viewers||Monthly earnings estimate|
Five to 10
$50 to $200
$200 to $400
$500 to $750
$1,000 to $1,500
$100,000 to $200,000+
How many followers do you need on Twitch to make money?
You don't need a huge audience to start making money on Twitch. Anyone can be a streamer and earn money through donations and merchandise sales. Once you have more than 50 followers and meet other requirements, you can become an affiliate and earn cash from subscriptions, Twitch bits, and brand deals. As a partner, you can boost your earnings even more with ad revenue.
How hard is it to make money on Twitch?
It's relatively easy to earn a small chunk of change on Twitch each month, but turning your hobby into a full-time income is tricky.
"There have been many times where a smaller streamer has given up on their goal of becoming a full-time streamer due to not meeting their personal growth expectations, or they had to change course due to the state of the economy," says Anakin.
With any aspiration, Anakin explains, it's important to stick to it and grind it out. If you can't do it full time, consider keeping it a hobby—and transition to full time if you get that lucky break and can make the jump. "Every day, streamers continue to make hefty sacrifices of time, money, and effort in order to build themselves as content creators," says Anakin. "Every little bit counts, but it's important to take care of yourself first and foremost."
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