Twitch is the most popular livestreaming platform on the internet, with 15 million unique active users. Whether you're looking to turn your gaming hobby into a revenue stream or just seeking greater exposure as a content creator, that's a huge potential audience.
Making money on Twitch seems straightforward at first: Become a Twitch Affiliate or Partner and watch your bank account grow. Those earnings can certainly account for a sizable chunk of a streamer's income, but you're leaving money on the table if you stop there. Here are the best ways to get started, learn the platform basics, and boost your income with Twitch.
Twitch is a livestreaming service that lets users broadcast, watch, or listen to everything from cooking, music, and interviews to video games. Launched in 2011, Twitch garnered media attention when tens of thousands of users collaboratively played through “Pokémon Red” in 2014, setting the Guinness World Record for most participants in a single-player video game. The platform was acquired a few months later by Amazon for nearly $1 billion. As of April 2022, Twitch averages 30 million daily active users, with an average of 2.5 million live users on the platform at any given moment.
While Twitch was created as a video game streaming site, it's since expanded its offerings. As of 2016, Twitch began encouraging users to livestream anything they wanted, within the limits of the law. The platform and its users are still largely focused on gaming, but you can also find daily vlogs, cooking, crafting, drawing, and basically anything else you want to share with the world.
How to get followers on Twitch
“When it comes to growing a Twitch channel, monetization should never be the primary goal,” says Chris Grayson, founder of the livestreaming consultants StreamScheme. He suggests that an aspiring streamer’s first priorities should be the quality of their content and authenticity of their community.
“First and foremost, streamers need to have a consistent schedule and produce high-quality content. This requires a fast internet connection, a stream-capable PC or game console, and a mic, camera, and graphics for their channel,” he says. “Monetization should only be considered once the equipment is sorted and the content is worthy of a viewer’s financial support. It takes time and effort to generate revenue from Twitch streams. Those who are patient and focus on creating worthwhile content will be more successful in the long run.”
StreamScheme polled 5,000 members of its community and found that 76% had yet to reach Twitch’s $100 minimum payout threshold. “It’s normal not to be making much money early in your streaming career,” Grayson says, “and monetization should be a long-term goal, not a primary driver.”
There are several ways to make money on Twitch, including:
- Subscriptions: While users can follow you for free, they also have the option of subscribing to your channel to support you financially, and you can offer incentives for doing so.
- Ads: You can run ads before, during, or after your stream, with revenue based on the number of views.
- Donations: Solicit donations through Twitch as well as other venues such as PayPal or Venmo.
- Affiliate marketing: Programs such as Amazon Associates enable you to share specific product links with viewers on Twitch and other platforms, and you can receive a commission when a purchase is made through those links.
- Brand deals and sponsorships: Coordinate with brands to promote their products to your audience.
- Merchandise: Sell merchandise related to your channel.
Ultimately, making money on Twitch is all about consistency, creativity, and connection. Streamers who successfully turn streaming into a part-time or full-time job broadcast regularly, provide a unique experience for viewers, and entertain beyond the activity they're streaming on Twitch. Perhaps most importantly, a huge audience isn’t necessary to make money on Twitch.
Twitch Affiliate vs. Partner
Like most streaming platforms, Twitch also allows you to monetize your content directly on the platform. The Twitch monetization process is divided into two tiers:
- Twitch Affiliate: To become an Affiliate, you must have at least 50 followers and meet minimum streaming metrics in the last 30 days (500 minutes broadcast over at least seven unique days, with an average of at least three concurrent viewers).
- Twitch Partner: Becoming a Partner requires a significant jump in your 30-day metrics: 25 hours streamed over at least 12 days with an average of 75 concurrent viewers. Once you’ve reached these numbers, you can submit a Partner application. These are manually reviewed, and not every streamer who meets the metrics requirement will be approved.
Twitch documents your progress toward Affiliate and Partner on your Achievements tab, so you can track how close you are to your goal.
Both Partners and Affiliates earn revenue from subscribers, ads, and donations of Twitch's virtual currency, “bits,” but being a Twitch Partner gives you more perks:
- Video on-demand of old streams for 60 days (vs. two weeks)
- Up to 50 available user emotes (vs. five)
- Animated user badges (vs. static badges)
- Stream delay of up to 15 minutes (vs. no delay)
- Unique opportunities like Partner Spotlights
Though the earning potential for both roles is the same, users are more likely to subscribe to a more active channel with more features.
Anybody can follow you on Twitch for free, but the platform offers users the chance to subscribe to any streamer they’d like to support financially. There are three subscription options: Tier 1 ($4.99 per month), Tier 2 ($9.99 per month), and Tier 3 ($24.99 per month).
Twitch has been known to offer big-name streamers 70% of their subscription earnings, but for your average streamer, Twitch takes a 50% cut of subscriptions.
Despite splitting half of the revenue with Twitch, subscriptions still represent the bulk of most streamers' income. Most of the incentive for users to upgrade to Tier 2 or Tier 3 comes from streamer-provided exclusives. Your imagination is the limit here—many streamers offer benefits like following a subscriber back on social media, access to private Discord channels, or product giveaways.
How to get more subscribers on Twitch
The perks of being a Twitch Partner may entice more subscribers to your channel, but the surest way to increase your viewership is to build a sense of community.
- Be dependable. Not everyone will tune in to every stream, but if you can stream on a schedule, viewers will know where and when to find you. Whether you keep to a regular schedule or a calendar you post monthly to social media, it's one less thing a potential viewer needs to remember.
- Interact with your viewers. Most successful streamers have a Discord channel and presence across social media, from Twitter to TikTok to Facebook. “Create a Discord community as soon as you start out on Twitch,” says Grayson. “A Discord server dedicated to your brand gives viewers a place to chat and interact with you outside of the stream. It also allows you to offer more value by hosting events and playing games with your viewers. You can also use Discord to run giveaways and contests, which can help keep them engaged. This creates a sense of connection and community between you and your viewers, which will keep them coming back for more.”
- Cross-post. Some people will subscribe to your Twitch channel, but others may only follow you on Twitter. Others may religiously check Twitch but ignore your Discord. Apps like Hootsuite and Buffer make it easier to post the same content on multiple platforms. You don't want a potential viewer to miss out on something important.
- Be receptive to feedback. As your audience grows and changes, you might find yourself producing content they don't want to watch. If you're trying something new, cross-post it to social media and ask for feedback. Poll your viewers and subscribers to learn what they like and what they don't.
- Optimize your profiles. As with cross-posting, you want all of your profiles to be up-to-date and relevant. Many sites only allow one link, so consider using a link hub like Linktree or Linkin.bio.
- Choose the right games to stream. “Game selection is absolutely crucial for newer streamers,” Grayson says. “Although it might be tempting to jump into ‘Fortnite’ or ‘League of Legends,’ the truth is, the more popular games hurt your discoverability on Twitch. In my experience working with hundreds of small to mid-sized content creators, it’s far better to stream games that are lower competition. You give yourself a chance to be seen at the top of category pages and build up an audience before moving on to more popular titles.”
Like YouTube, Twitch uses CPM (cost per mille) to calculate ad revenue. CPM is how much you are paid for every thousand views; the number can range from $2 to $10.
It's easy to run ads before, during, or after your stream. Simply visit your creator dashboard and select "run 60-second ad break" under Quick Actions. You can run ads from 30 seconds to three minutes; just hit the "+" button to choose a different ad length.
While you can let Twitch handle when your ads are shown, your viewers will typically get a better experience if you coordinate them, for a few reasons:
- Regularly running ad breaks during your stream can disable pre-roll ads, letting people join your stream and start watching immediately
- Announcing ads to your community makes viewers more likely to stick around, for more consistent viewership numbers and increased ad revenue
- You can set ad breaks to run during slow moments or between games, ensuring viewers don't miss out on the action
Becoming an Affiliate or Partner is just one avenue to making money on Twitch. Take a cue from social media influencers and leverage your popularity and viewership to make even more from the platform.
These seven strategies can help you make more money streaming on Twitch:
- Publish to YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram: Not all of your subscribers can tune in when you’re livestreaming. If you know your way around basic video editing software, you can trim your streams and publish them on YouTube. “The first step to take when you want to start streaming is to create a YouTube channel. You can post your highlights and promote your stream on this platform,” Grayson says. This opens up another venue for ad revenue. Trim even shorter highlights, and you can run them on TikTok and Instagram as well. “This will help funnel viewers to your Twitch channel,” notes Grayson. “It is essential to have as many avenues for promoting your channel as possible, because simply going live on Twitch is not enough to be found by viewers these days.”
- Take donations: Solicit donations directly through sites like Ko-fi, PayPal, or Venmo. People are familiar with these services and may be more likely to throw a few dollars into your virtual tip jar than to set up payment on Twitch, which takes about a 30% cut.
- Sell more subscriptions: Twitch is just one platform. Sites like Patreon, YouTube, and Facebook also offer subscription tiers, letting you provide more perks to your fans, such as access to exclusive additional content. Each of these platforms offers streamers a much more substantial cut of the subscription revenue: 70% on YouTube and 88-95% on Patreon, with Facebook taking no cut until at least 2023.
- Become an Amazon Associate: As an Amazon Associate, you can include specific product links in your chat and on social media. You’ll receive a commission if your viewers use your link to buy that product.
- Brand deals and sponsorships: Whatever it is that you stream, there's a brand that wants access to that audience. Streamers can coordinate with brands to bridge the gap between their products and potential consumers. As well as getting paid, sponsorships could provide you with free clothing or streaming gear, preview copies of games, and more.
- Merchandise: If your viewers are willing to subscribe, there's a good chance that some want to show off their support. Whether it's an in-joke printed on a T-shirt or your logo on a coffee mug, merch can be a dependable revenue source for a streamer.
As a Twitch streamer, you can make money through ads, bits, and subscribers—but how do you get paid? You have four options:
- Direct deposit (ACH)
- Wire transfer
If you've banked less than $100, Twitch automatically rolls your balance over to the next month until you hit that threshold. Since 2019, Twitch has been paying its users about 15 days after the end of a calendar month, referred to as “Net 15.”
While it's possible to spend quite a bit of money on a streaming setup, there's a good chance that your home computer (or even your smartphone) is up to the task. The cost of a high-quality streaming setup can vary depending on what your priorities are. If you’re primarily using your phone, free software, and budget tech, expect your Twitch setup to cost around $200–$250. Once you start leveling up to high-res equipment and premium brands, expect to spend more than $5,000. Remember, you don’t want to break the bank on your Twitch equipment right away—it takes a long time and a lot of work for streaming to become more than a side hustle.
Consider a few things when building or refreshing your streaming setup:
- Computer: Your computer needs to be up to the task of running streaming software, your camera, and any other programs you may need. Unless you're streaming some very old games, your everyday-use laptop can handle the stream. For more complex setups, an average gaming computer costs around $800–$1,200. Once you start looking to stream new games with a 60+ frame rate, that number climbs closer to $2,000.
- Software: In addition to whatever game you might be playing, Twitch, and chat software like Discord, you'll need something to coordinate it all. Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) and Streamlabs are free, open-source applications that are popular among streamers.
- Microphone: If you want to upgrade from your standard gaming headset or webcam mic, a serviceable USB microphone will cost you around $30–50. A Shure MV7 is about the best mic you'll need at $250.
- Camera: Your standard webcam is a good place to start. If you want your audience to have a cleaner, crisper view of your gaming space, a DSLR with clean HDMI or a high-end webcam is a solid upgrade that will cost you between $40 and $300.
- Lighting: If you’re starting out, position your streaming space away from any east- or west-facing windows and cleverly position a lamp or two to lessen shadows. Your next step is to get a ring light, as it provides consistent, customizable light from a variety of directions. A quality ring light will cost around $50–$100.
- Internet: As long as your hardware is capable of it, Twitch allows you to stream in 1080p at 60 fps. You'll need a high-speed internet connection that can upload at at least 7.4 Mbps. Even if high-definition streaming isn't your end goal, a consistent, high-speed internet connection ensures your viewers get a quality stream.
- Video capture card: If you're streaming from a gaming console like a Nintendo Switch, you'll need a device that can funnel that video to your computer, through your streaming software, and out to your viewers. These are called video capture cards. While there are cheap options, you tend to get what you pay for. Quality capture cards tend to be in the $150–$250 range.