Twitch is a platform on which you can broadcast content to viewers and interact directly with them. It offers interesting opportunitites for a number of niches and not just the gaming branch that Twitch got popular for. In this guide I will explain to you what Twitch is, what you can use it for and how to make money with it.
What Is Twitch?
First and foremost, Twitch is a platform where you can watch channels with live broadcast content. You can directly communicate through chat with the broadcaster to ask questions or place remarks as well as communicate with the other people in chat. Twitch started solely with gaming content, but later on added other categories as well. Now you will be able to find channels with art content, talk shows, vlogging, science, cooking and much more.
As a content creator, you can create your own broadcasting channel and start broadcasting live content to an audience. As a so called Twitch Affiliate or Twitch Partner you can also earn revenue with that.
History Of Twitch
Twitch started originally as Justin.TV – a portal and platform where at first the creator Justin Kan created live broadcasting productions. It was started with three other friends of his and he saw it as a big brother styled reality show into the lives of him and his friends. The reality TV aspect received mixed response. Later on he opened the platform up for others to start broadcasting (a much requested feature). Gamers could broadcast towards the platform too, but at the time of creation (2007) this was very hard to set up. It wasn’t until Justin Kan hired someone that could do that properly, that the platform got more widely used for gaming.
In 2011 the gaming section was split off to twitch.TV and in 2014 Twitch.TV and Justin.TV were acquired by Amazon. Nowadays only Twitch.TV exists as the main platform where all sorts of content are being published.
Monetization Basics On Twitch
To make money with Twitch you can make use of some standard and well-known techniques as well as through the systems that Twitch has in place to generate revenue.
Monetization through Twitch can be done in the following ways:
- Affiliate Marketing
- Twitch Platform Monetization
Before we go deeper into each of these ways, let’s look at what is required to be on Twitch.
Starting A Twitch Channel
To get started with Twitch, you first of all need the right equipment to do so.
At the very basic you could use your mobile phone for this as Twitch comes with an mobile application that lets you stream as well.
A bit more professional approach would be to use a PC or Mac with a webcam and software to broadcast to Twitch. For the gamers there are also options to use a console for streaming, but to get the webcam and all the things around that installed, you will again need a PC for it.
It quickly gets rather technical and this is not my idea to dive into right now and goes also beyond the scope of this this article.
After choosing your platform to start with, you will first of all have to start a channel on Twitch. The username with which you register on Twitch, will become the name of your channel, so make sure you choose an appropriate username that fits the idea of your channel.
After the registration process and setting up your profile, you should visit your channel:
You find it on the right-hand side, by clicking on your name. A list of options within Twitch will pop-up, one of them being Channel.
Within your channel, you will be able to edit the panels beneath it. Each panel can contain an image for a header if you prefer so or the Title text if you don’t use images. Below that you will find an option to add a link and below that is a text box where you can place the content you want for that panel.
To start off it’s a good idea to create a panel titled About Me and to write some information about your channel there. I will come back to these panels in a bit.
The basic idea of running a Twitch Channel means:
- Streaming quality entertaining content
- Stream at set days and times consistently
- Interacting with chat
You could be playing a specific game that attracts a lot of watchers, but you could even start a channel to teach people stuff or to have awesome discussions and talk shows. To create a successful channel you will need returning visitors that want to stay with you for the reason of your content or entertainment or because of you. That is not all that easy. It requires a lot of work and effort.
You could potentially stream about anything you can imagine. Twitch sure is most known for gaming related content, but this should not be the limit. The past few years, Twitch has added categories for different branches within the entertainment branch. As such you can stream talk shows, interviews and other just talking content, cooking, science, programming, teaching courses of various subject and even live events. The possibilities are endless. You will need an idea of what your niche is and you can do it on Twitch.
To be successful in a very large directory of streamers and viewers, you need to stream often and regularly to build a following. This is no different from any other platform or media. Running your consistent streams will generate yourself a following.
It means that you stream on set times and days for a set amount of hours. Consistency means so much more than just that, but you get the picture.
Being able to interact with the broadcaster on chat is what makes Twitch or streaming in general so popular. Your standard TV at home gives you one-way traffic with little to no interaction. In streaming, you can actually communicate with the broadcaster (you) and get your questions answered. This is huge for many people and hence it is so popular.
Viewers can choose to follow you (heart icon) and have notifications enabled. This way they can see when you are online again and come back to your channel.
When you have reached a certain amount of achievements within the Twitch system, the options will open up for you to become a Twitch Affiliate. Now the time for money making is arriving for real.
To become a Twitch Affiliate, you need to reach:
- Minimal 50 followers
- At least 8.3 hours of broadcast in last 30 days (500 minutes)
- At least 7 unique broadcast days in last 30 days
- Average of 3 concurrent viewers (or more) in last 30 days
After reaching these requirements, you can apply for becoming a Twitch Affiliate. The application requires you to sign under a contract and do some paperwork concerning the tax laws. As soon as your application has been approved you will have access to a number of new things for your channel.
Your viewers have now the ability to:
- Send cheers (also called bits)
- Use channel specific emotes
Your viewers can support your stream and subscribe to your channel. This is divided into 3 tiers.
- Tier 1 4,99 USD
- Tier 2 9,99 USD
- Tier 3 24,99 USD
NB: Normally this is automatically charged monthly, unless the viewer cancels it’s subscription beforehand. Amazon Prime membership offers 1 Free Twitch Prime subscription which needs to be renewed manually. A Twitch Prime Free Subscription still awards you the commissions.
Twitch Affiliates get paid a commission based on 50% of the subscription.
Your viewers can cheer to your channel with bits. Bits is an internal Twitch currency. Each bit is about 1 dollar cent worth in commission, so a 100 bits equals 1 USD in commission. Bits are interesting, because they trigger a special event and display different types of emotes. The special event can be used on display alerts and the emotes are colorful for the stream.
As a Twitch Affiliate you can have 3 emotes, 1 for each tier. These emotes can be used on every channel in Twitch.
You also get the option to create 4 different subscriber badges that will be displayed on your channel in front of the name of the subscribed viewer. The 4 subscriber badges has to do with length in time they have been subscribed to your channel, meaning 1 month, 3 months, 6 months and 1 year.
You can earn even more with Twitch when you become a Twitch Partner. To become a Twitch partner, the requirements go up even more.
For Twitch Partner you need:
- 25 hours in last 30 days
- Stream on 12 different days in last 30 days
- Reach an average of 75 concurrent viewers in the last 30 days (this excludes raids, hosts, reruns and premieres)
As a Twitch partner you will also be able to get revenue from display ads during your streams and game sales. The advantages for viewers go also up. Based on the size of subscribers you have, you can create up to 50 custom emotes for your channel, you can create custom cheer emotes, set stream delay, set trans-code options, store VODS longer and have more subscriber badges. You will also be able to get paid faster and without getting charged for administration costs.
Other Monetization Options
Whether you are a Twitch Affiliate, Twitch Partner or you are still building up your channel and haven’t reached any of these privileged levels yet, there are other options to monetize your stream.
It is easy to set up any form of donation channel. The famous PayPal (but other systems can do so equally well) allow you to let people donate money to your PayPal address. The so called overlay systems such as Streamlabs, Muxy and Streamelements (as well as others) do allow for integrated PayPal donations.
Below your channel there is a space for different panels. In the same way you can create information about your stream, it will be easy to create images or text with links to create interesting referral or affiliate offers.
Sponsorships can be made for any stream. Naturally the bigger channels with a bigger following will more easily find a sponsor, but if you are good at getting a sponsorship deal than it is definitely possible to get paid for what you are doing by displaying a logo or mentioning a brand name.
Most other monetization platforms have close integration with Twitch. As such you will find that a lot of Twitch channels make use of Patreon as an additional income stream.
As I am a streamer myself on Twitch, I would gladly like to teach you how to make money on Twitch and I can definitely answer any questions you might have around this topic. You can find me on Twitch under the name “smilebringer”.
Can You Make A Living From Twitch
To answer whether you can make a living from Twitch alone, I think I have to disappoint you. Even the current top streamer doesn’t live solely on Twitch, even though he probably could for a good while.
The top streamers make a good amount of money, but to be in the top you need to be either a top-level player of some game or serve a unique niche that creates a great following. The problem with these platforms is that it is perhaps popular in a certain amount of time and might die out over time.
A game might be more popular now and less popular in the next month or year. New content might come out for a game that sparks some new interest, which dies out shortly after. These tidal changes influence the following and activity within these games’ streams and directly influence their income. Certain games die out over time to never return. A new player that wins all the games can also take over from the current top-level players.
The current top-level player on Twitch is Ninja. He’s been streaming since 2011, but didn’t make really anything big until 2017 where he started to play Fortnite and became the top-level player. He reached the top on Twitch April 2018. Although he could perfectly live well on the current income he is making of Twitch alone, he is diversifying his income through multiple platforms and products and treats himself as brand as a business.
Not everybody is as lucky as “Ninja” and also Ninja is thinking of the future where he might not be the top-level anymore. He is making sure there are other ways to earn money with his business and created a number of brands. As such he has deals with sponsors and creates brands such a clothing line and other merchandise.
Streaming on Twitch is easy, but becoming the top-level and earning top-level is difficult. Keeping that level is even more difficult. You cannot depend your entire life’s earnings on Twitch, but you can definitely use it as a temporary or additional income stream.
I have shown you here how to make money with Twitch as a streamer using different methods to monetize your content. Even as a beginning streamer there are ways to create some income, but most will be made if you create something unique and work hard to gain a following. Twitch is definitely a great platform to look into if you want to start streaming content.
On this website I teach people how to find what their niche is, create content for it and monetize this to create a business.