Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Making Money on Twitch

A hand holding a phone bearing the Twitch logo on a background of $100 bills, headline of the article is "how to make money on Twitch"
Ground Picture/Shutterstock, Ink Drop/Shutterstock, Remix by Caterina Cox

The fact that we live in a world where people can make money live streaming themselves playing games, attending events, jamming out in the garage, or any number of other things they would likely be spending time on anyway is pretty incredible. Many social media platforms allow these live streams now, but Twitch is specifically built for it. And with around 35 million viewers tuning in every day, there’s no time like the present to seize the opportunity in front of you and learn how to make money on Twitch.

How much do Twitch streamers make?

In 2021, a data leak revealed what the top earners at Twitch had allegedly made over roughly two years. Some of these figures were in the millions, with these channels ranked as the top five:

  • Critical Role: $9.63 million
  • xQc: $8.45 million
  • Summit1g: $5.85 million
  • Tfue: $5.3 million
  • NICKMERCS: $5.1 million

Not too shabby!

There have been changes to Twitch’s monetization programs since then, and of course, the vast majority of streamers aren’t reaping this much cash, but it can be motivational to know the opportunity is there.

Interested in learning more about the top earners on Twitch? Check out the numbers.

Unlike other platforms, Twitch is geared towards live streamers

So what are the benefits of monetizing Twitch? Unlike platforms like YouTube and TikTok, Twitch is specifically geared towards live streaming content. Creators can make good money going live on other sites, but there are several reasons why setting your sights on Twitch might make more sense. 

Everywhere else, you’re competing with creators of pre-recorded content for both viewers and attention from the company itself. If someone comes to Twitch, chances are, they’re looking for live content.

And if you’re interested in streaming gameplay, it’s almost a no-brainer to go with Twitch. Their game-centric categories make it super easy for viewers to browse and find what they’re looking for, making it easier for you to connect with the right audience.

You can livestream all sorts of different content on Twitch

When people think of Twitch, they think of gaming. Live streaming gameplay and game-related content tend to do best overall on the platform, even though “Just Chatting” often holds the top spot among categories. And that’s worth keeping in mind when contemplating Twitch for revenue generation.

But you absolutely can stream other content in addition to or instead of gameplay on Twitch—other official categories include Music, Art, Food & Drink, Sports, and ASMR. As long as your content follows Twitch’s community guidelines, you can pretty much stream whatever you would like.

Anyone eligible to join Twitch can make money on the platform

You’ll also need equipment and software that allows you to livestream to get started.

There are also separate programs set up for streamers who want to monetize directly by becoming a Twitch Affiliate or a Twitch Partner. These options open up more avenues for income but require you to already have found some success with your streams.

Twitch Affiliate eligibility requirements:

  • have a minimum of 50 followers
  • stream for at least 8 hours in the past 30 days
  • stream on at least 7 of the past 30 days
  • have an average of 3 viewers in the past 30 days

Twitch Partner eligibility requirements:

  • stream for at least 25 hours in the past 30 days
  • stream on at least 12 different days out of the past 30
  • reach an average of 75 viewers, excluding viewers from Raids, Front-Page Promotions, or Embeds in the past 30 days
  • have at least eight streams in the prior two months that averaged 75 viewers

It’s worth noting that Affiliates are invited automatically once their channel meets the requirements, but Partners have to go through an application process that involves more subjectivity from reviewers.

If you don’t qualify for either of these programs yet, don’t worry—we’ll be covering ways to make money on Twitch with and without them.

Here’s everything you need to know about signing up for Twitch’s Affiliate and/or Partner programs.

What’s the difference between Twitch Affiliates and Partners?

While both Affiliates and Partners have the opportunity to make money through Twitch, there are some differences between the two tiers. As Partner is more difficult to achieve, they are offered more benefits as well, including custom Cheermotes, increased VOD storage (60 days vs 14 days), the option to delay streams up to 15 minutes, priority customer support, a verified channel badge, and access to additional promotional opportunities that may come up.

Twitch has also recently introduced the Twitch Partner Plus program, an invite-only tier that offers a higher revenue split for subscriptions.

Twitch payouts go out monthly—as long as you have at least $50 in your account

If you’re making money through the official Twitch programs, you’ll be paid once every month as long as you have at least $50 in your account (or $100 if you request to be paid via wire transfer). If you don’t meet the minimum threshold in any given month, it will carry over to the following pay period until you do.

How to make money on Twitch: 8 methods

Let’s get down to why you’re here and talk about how you can monetize your livestream.

First, we’ll take a look at the official monetization options offered by Twitch for its Affiliates and Partners.

Monetizing Twitch for Affiliates/Partners:

1. Sign up subscribers

Subscriptions are an easy way to generate regular income among dedicated followers. Twitch currently offers three tiers for subscribers, costing $4.99/month (tier 1), $9.99/month (tier 2), and $24.99/month (tier 3).

You have some control over the specific benefits to your audience members, but these can include things like subscriber/loyalty badges, custom emotes, ad-free viewing, and subscriber-only chats. 

The revenue split with Twitch is 50/50 for both Affiliates and Partners, although some top Partners are granted a 70/30 split instead.

2. Cheer with Bits

If a viewer wants to hype you up or get your attention they can purchase Bits, a virtual good within Twitch that can then be used to cheer creators on during a stream.

Twitch considers this a form of directly donating money to streamers, and they are transparent about how much money creators get per Bit—$0.01. So, it isn’t exactly a ton of money, but it can certainly add up if and when viewers opt to Cheer with lots of Bits at once.

Keeping tabs on who’s cheering you on during a stream, making sure to thank them, or even finding creative ways to encourage fans to keep deploying Bits can be a fun and interactive way to monetize your stream in the moment.

3. Generate ad revenue

The Ads Incentive Program allows Affiliates and Partners to select how many ads they want to show on their stream per hour, along with an estimation of how much revenue that might generate.

Streamers who opt to include at least three minutes of ads per hour get a 55% cut of the profits, while those who stream fewer ads than that are given a 30% revenue share.

Monetizing Twitch for everyone:

If you’re just starting on Twitch, it will probably take some time to grow your channel and find an audience, which you need to generate income. But if you already have a small but dedicated group of fans, or if you just want to start thinking ahead, there are plenty of ways to set yourself up for success even if you haven’t joined Twitch’s official programs.

4. Accept direct donations

Encouraging fans to donate to you during a stream is probably the most straightforward way of making money on Twitch without joining the official programs. You can set up a panel on your Channel page with your donation information, and you can also drop links to your page during your stream.

Accepting donations directly through PayPal is one of the more common methods, but you certainly aren’t limited to that. Ko-fi is another popular payment platform, as is setting up something via StreamElements. You can also accept cryptocurrency or work with other apps or websites that allow people to send money directly to one another.

5. Set up a Patreon

Patreon is another subscription-based option for generating income via Twitch. Although you can’t use it to offer the same perks as the official Twitch subscriptions, it does provide a lot more flexibility as to what you can offer. This makes it a great option for anyone looking for additional ways to engage their most loyal audience members, creators who work across multiple platforms, and those who aren’t in the Affiliate or Partner programs.

As with Twitch subscriptions, Patreon allows you to create different tiers—but here, you control the pricing and the perks. You can also use Patreon to update followers about upcoming streams or special events, content you’re posting on other platforms, or anything else that may be mutually beneficial.

6. Sell your own merch

After you’ve picked up some followers and crafted your brand, it may be time to design some merch. This could be anything from t-shirts and stickers with your channel name and logo on them to more outside-of-the-box ideas that directly relate to the work you do and how your audience interacts with it. Don’t forget to advertise your merch in your livestream!

7. Negotiate brand deals and sponsorships

Brand deals and sponsorships are frequently where some of the major money comes in for Twitch streamers. Both how much you can expect to make and what you’ll be expected to do will depend heavily on how many viewers your live streams get, but just because you aren’t among the top streamers doesn’t mean you don’t have value to brands.

Micro-influencers have been gaining traction across social media platforms, and companies are often looking to work with creators at different levels. Sure, you probably aren’t going to be signing a million-dollar deal with only a few hundred viewers on your stream, but you can still get that media kit set up and see who bites.

It’s also worth noting that Twitch allows certain Partners and Affiliates access to their invite-only Bounty Board, where creators can connect with companies offering sponsorship deals.

Check out the best platforms we’ve found for micro-influencers to connect with brands.

8. Set up affiliate links

Tons of affiliate marketing programs set influencers and creators up with companies that will provide them with a custom link to share with their audience to specific products or services. Then, anytime someone becomes a customer via that link, you’ll get a predetermined cut of the money. It’s not the most lucrative form of revenue generation, but it is simple, widely available, and can be an opportunity to share products you believe in with your viewers and potentially make some cash in the process.

Four ways to increase your Twitch revenue

Knowing what options are available to you when it comes to monetizing your presence on Twitch is only part of the battle. If you want to increase your revenue, you also have to make sure you have an active, engaged, and growing audience there to buy your merch or watch the ads on your channel.

Here are a few ways to do that:

1. Study what other streamers are doing

Watch other Twitch streamers who create the same type of content as you, as well as those who are doing something different, at your level and higher. Try to figure out what it is they’re doing that keeps viewers engaged for lengthy streams, brings them back to watch future streams, and how they go about encouraging viewers to Cheer, subscribe, click on external links, or do other things that translate into money. You don’t have to copy them, but you might find inspiration for incorporating new ideas into your streams.

2. Collaborate with other streamers

Collaborations have long played a major role when it comes to influencers and content creators helping one another climb the ranks and grow their audiences. Reach out to streamers who are at or a little above your level and whose audiences you think would be interested in your content, and float the idea of a collab that would benefit you both. Maybe that’s shared gameplay, maybe it’s chatting, or maybe it’s something else entirely—as always, don’t be afraid to get creative.

3. Leverage other social media

People who follow or find you on other social media platforms aren’t necessarily keeping tabs on your Twitch. But you can convert them by promoting your upcoming streams, chatting about whatever topic or game you cover on Twitch, or even posting snippets or compilations of your live streams to these other platforms.

4. Switch things up!

Broadly, this advice can be applied to any type of streamer—if something isn’t working and your channel’s growth feels stagnant, it may be time to try something new. That doesn’t mean doing a full pivot from streaming your watercolor painting process to streaming air hockey matches, but you can come up with new gimmicks, formats, or ways to approach your specific niche content.

For gamers, it can be a lot more straightforward—try a different game. Just because something is popular or new doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for you. Dig into the archives, consider different consoles, and don’t be afraid to tackle a game you don’t think you’ll be any good at. Sometimes failure is more entertaining than success, although you also just might surprise yourself.

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