How To Make Money On Twitch - The Ultimate Guide 2018
Clearly the popularity of gaming is skyrocketing and it’s no secret that Twitch wears the crown as the King of Gaming Content. With this growth comes the opportunity to make money on Twitch and earn a legitimate income from streaming video games. Most people are dazzled to learn that the top tier streamers bring in well above six figures each month but those numbers are far from common. However, with the right strategy, even beginner or intermediate streamers can begin to make money on Twitch and earn a real income for their efforts.
We here at Rogue Energy are extremely passionate about gaming and eSports (our entire product line was designed for competitive gamers). That’s why we have written this article to help Twitch streamers and thereby continue to push the gaming culture forward. In this guide, you will learn 11 ways to make money on Twitch, streaming video games full time. These methods include:
Affiliate Links And Discount Codes
Sponsorships - (Advanced Tactic)
Selling Branded Products - (Advanced Tactic)
Signing With A Gaming Organization - (Advanced Tactic)
Tournament Winnings - (Advanced Tactic)
We will dive into the nuances of all 11 methods below. The 4 advanced tactics listed above might require an intermediate level of streaming experience to execute but we will cover that in greater detail in each of their sections.
Subscriptions are the Holy Grail of monetization on Twitch and is the number one thing streamers strive for when trying to earn an income from their stream. The biggest benefit is that it allows Twitch streamers to gain a monthly recurring source of income in the form of a scheduled donation from their subscribers. The subscription amount can be $4.99, $9.99, or $24.99 depending on what the subscriber selects and the payout to the streamer is approximately 50% of that amount (though it varies).
The only restriction for Twitch subscriptions is that they are only available to Twitch Partners and Twitch Affiliates so you will have to earn at least Affiliate level before you can gain the Subscribe button on your channel. Once you earn Affiliate level or higher, viewers can subscribe to your channel on desktop or by searching for your channel on subs.twitch.tv.
There are also a couple ways to encourage your Followers or people visiting your stream to hit that Subscribe button. Here are a few tips:
- Setup custom emotes to announce new Subs on your stream when they signup.
- Verbally shoutout new subscribers and thank them for subscribing to your channel. This really shows how much you care and adds a level of personability to your stream.
- Setup loyalty badges so the subscriber-only badge displayed in chat next to your subscribers changes based on length of time subbed. This encourages longer sub lengths.
- Setup additional subscriber-only advantages including private chat rooms, additional emotes, and even ad-free viewing.
- Create a name for the members of your channel to make it feel more like a community or tribe. This brings a sense of comradery to your stream.
Bits are a fun way for people to show support for a channel. Users pre-purchase bits from the Twitch store and then they can “cheer” in the chat log of a channel to show extra support for a streamer. Streamers earn $.01 per bit so this can either be a fairly small cash flow source or a moderate source of revenue depending on the culture you create in your channel. Here’s some tips for earning more bits:
- Share a list of your top bit donations of all time. Stream Labs makes a nice leaderboard widget to display this in your channel description.
- Just like with subscriptions, verbally thank people who cheer with a lot of bits.
- Create custom bit badges for your channel to add your own personal flare and brand and make cheering more fun.
Donations might be the aspect of Twitch streaming that gets the most hype. There are a lot of great aspects to donations but we will touch on one negative first. In some ways donations are the quintessential “get rich quick” dream that all streamers fall in love with. The possibility of some kind stranger stumbling across our stream and loving our content so much they make a $5,000+ donation.
Ok, so it does happen. A quick YouTube search for “Twitch Donations” will return about 1.5 million results and some classic examples of some of the biggest Twitch donations and the streamers’ reactions. Unfortunately, a fair amount of massive donations are scams where the donor later files a chargeback and the streamer loses that money. That’s not to say every large donation is a scam, but you have to be conscious of this.
On a positive note, donations can be a truly fantastic thing for streams of all sizes and are a great way for viewers to show their support for a streamer. The VAST majority of the time, donations are true, heartfelt ways for streamers to be rewarded for putting out great content. One hundred percent of all donations go directly to the streamer. Here are some great ways to encourage your viewers to donate:
- Setup notifications to play on your stream when someone makes a donation.
- Verbally thanks users for donating. (This is a recurring theme).
- Include a donations Goal and show your progress towards that goal so your community is more likely to contribute.
Showing video ads on your stream is a very small means of earning revenue and isn’t exactly the “sexiest” way to monetize your channel. Generally, the rate earned for showing video ads is somewhere between $1 and $2 per 1,000 views, making it nearly irrelevant for small to medium size channels. We strongly encourage Twitch Partners to also allow their subscribers to experience ad-free viewing to offer a higher viewer experience and encourage more subscriptions. Not much more needs to be said about video ads but they had to be noted as they technically can earn you SOME income.
Since streaming on Twitch requires a lot of time, dedication, consistency, and luck to create a large channel, it’s best to put your hard earned content to work for you in more ways than one. You already worked so hard to create your videos, why let it live on only one platform?
It is highly encouraged to record your streams and place the videos on YouTube to grow your audience on the 2nd most visited website in the world. The goal is to reach YouTube’s minimum requirements to be considered for the YouTube Partner Program which includes 1,000+ subscribers and 4,000+ watched hours in the last 12 months. Gaining access to the Partner Program will allow you to turn Ad Sense on so you can monetize your video views.
Aside from trying to gain access to the Partner Program, growing a robust following on YouTube will add to your overall audience size and influence and help you in several other monetization efforts (Affiliate Links, Sponsorships, and Selling Branded Products).
Twitch Affiliates and Twitch Partners can earn 5% of the revenue generated from game and in-game purchases that originate from their channel. That means your audience could see you playing a certain games and, if they buy via the Buy Now button that automatically appears on your stream, you would get 5% of the revenue. This one is pretty straight forward so not too much has to be said about it. Obviously, you want to make games fun and, if you truly do like the game you are playing, you can offer gentle reminders to viewers that they too could play by purchasing with the link on your channel.
AFFILIATE LINKS AND DISCOUNT CODES
One of the main things you are “selling” as a Twitch streamer is your personality and your opinion. You are growing and cultivating an audience and with that, you are gaining influence. Your fans and followers will grow to trust you and you can help them by making genuine product suggestions.
An affiliate link is a custom URL link that viewers can click to visit the website of various products you suggest. When that person makes a purchase after clicking your link or using your discount code, you earn credit for making that sale and receive commissions in the form of a percent of the sale revenue. Affiliate programs are fantastic because everyone involved wins; the business you promote gets a sale, the viewer you encourage to buy gets a great product that you yourself trust at a discounted price, and you get commissions for making the recommendation. It’s a three-way win. You can sign up for the Rogue Energy Affiliate Program and get started today with no application and no hassle. Here are some very important tips when getting started with affiliate links and discounts:
- First and foremost, it is critical to only promote products you use and trust yourself. That means that you should be a customer/user of the items or company you are promoting otherwise your suggestions are not authentic.
- It is absolutely imperative to only promote one business per industry. For instance, you can only promote one gaming chair brand, one apparel brand, one peripherals brand, and one gaming energy drink brand. This is to reduce confusion from your viewers and offer your ONE ultimate recommendation per product type.
- Limit the total number of affiliate links you promote. We suggest partnering with 4-7 brands total. This is the case were less is more. Too many recommendations and they all become white noise to your viewers.
SPONSORSHIPS - (ADVANCED TACTIC)
Sponsorships are very similar to signing with a company to have a unique affiliate link or discount code in the sense that you are leveraging your audience size and influence. However, sponsorships are an advanced tactic because not everyone will qualify. Let’s dive into the details to better explain this highly misunderstood aspect of monetizing your Twitch Channel.
Sponsorships involve a business paying a streamer (with money and/or product) to promote their brand. When LeBron James promotes Nike, that is a sponsorship because LeBron is being paid by Nike to endorse their brand. Streamers with large audiences are able to earn earn thousands of dollars each month by signing sponsorship deals to promote certain brands. Influencers can also be paid for one-off endorsements where the partnership doesn’t persist and is instead transactional in nature. This usually involves a business paying for a streamer to post about them on social media or mention them in a single stream. These can be a good way to get your a foot in the door with brands and later secure more long term sponsorships.
Here’s the thing, a business will only want to sponsor a streamer if their audience and influence is large enough. A streamer with 1,000 followers and 45 subs on Twitch is not yet influential enough for a business to benefit from paying for their endorsement. Typically, you need tens of thousands of followers on all major social platforms and a strong, engaged audience before a business will consider setting up any level of formal sponsorship. Until then, your best bet is to focus on signing with brands to promote affiliate links and discount codes.
Our suggestion here is to continue to work hard to increase your audience so you can be worthy of a sponsorship. It takes time but it can really payoff in the end. Here are some additional tips for securing gaming sponsorships:
- Include your business email in your social media bios so prospective businesses can reach you with sponsorship offers.
- Attend industry related events including conventions and gaming tournaments. Here you can often speak face-to-face with businesses who are actively trying to advertise in the space. We personally love TwitchCon, C2E2, and E3 among others.
SELLING BRANDED PRODUCTS - (ADVANCED TACTIC)
If you are properly building your Twitch channel then you should already be treating yourself as a brand. It’s common for good streamers to have their own logos, catchphrases, hashtags, and mascots. These are things you develop over time and they help to make your image cohesive and professional.
As your audience grows, you can begin to consider monetizing these branded tools from your Twitch channel. You can create and sell products with your name, logo, catchphrase, etc on them and your most loyal fans can buy them to support you and display their belonging to your fandom. Some of the most popular items to sell are t-shirts, sweatshirts, posters, mouse pads, and mugs. This monetization method is an advanced tactic because it often requires some up front costs and it should only be implemented when you audience begins to grow (otherwise you have no one to sell to). Here’s some pro tips:
- You can buy the apparel and items in advance from wholesale distributors (like Wordans.com) and have your local print shop screen print or embroider the merchandise. The benefit is you will get greater profit margins when you make a sale. The negative is that you have to hold the inventory and ship the items yourself.
- You can create your own Shopify ecommerce website to make shopping easier for your customers and inventory management easier for you and your team.
- For some items, like apparel, you can outsource the design, printing, and shipping to a third party company. The benefit is your overhead is smaller and it’s less work on your end. The downside is that you will make a substantially smaller percent of the sale (typically 15%). Research these companies carefully as there are some good ones out there and plenty of sketchy ones as well.
SIGNING WITH A GAMING ORGANIZATION - (ADVANCED TACTIC)
Once you’ve really been streaming for some time and have established yourself in the community, gaming organizations will begin to take notice. You will have to make a determination if joining a gaming team is the right move for you or not.
Typically, large gaming organizations will be very selective with who they sign and will therefore pay a salary to the high quality streamers and eSports athletes that they decide to sign to their team. Gaming salaries range tremendously but securing a salary is one way to make streaming a full time career. By signing with a team, you agree to represent their brand while streaming. You will need to adhere to their content rules but you will also gain exposure through their influence as well. When done correctly, signing with a team should be mutually beneficial for both parties.
Several examples of some of the largest gaming organizations in the world and the caliber of team you could aspire to sign with include Optic Gaming, Luminosity, and Cloud 9.
TOURNAMENT WINNINGS - (ADVANCED TACTIC)
The final way to make money streaming on Twitch is via tournament winnings. You can compete in a team game (like CS:GO, Call of Duty, or DOTA2) or register independently in solo/duo style games (Fortnite, PUBG, FIFA, etc).
Although there are tournaments of all different sizes that open up to amateurs, we have labeled this an advanced tactic because 99 times out of 100 it is pro teams or professional gamers who will win tournaments of any real significance. Additionally, many large tournaments will be invite-only so being a member of a gaming organization or a well-established independent streamer will be critical to securing your invite.
If you are a small to medium-sized streamer looking to compete in some gaming tournaments, there are tons of ways to get your feet wet competing. You can join tournaments on ESL or with GameBattles by MLG and begin to earn cash and, more importantly, experience right away. Performing well in these smaller tournament settings also works well to get your recognized to join larger, more established gaming teams.
Now more than ever, gaming for a living is a realistic, feasible goal to strive for. Although it will be VERY challenging (and fair warning, it is exactly that; challenging), you can follow this guide to making money streaming on Twitch and can stream video games as a full time career. With the properly implementation of the strategy found in this guide, you can begin to see tangible growth in your Twitch channel right away.
To help you in your journey, we offer all of you to join our Affiliate Program where you can begin to receive commissions, discounts on Rogue Energy, and even earn free gear when you qualify.
Thank you for reading this guide, we wish you the absolute best and we hope you share our vision of propelling the gaming culture forward!