Making money while streaming on Twitch can come in many different forms, but the path to pro content creation will inevitably go along the lines of the progression goals set by Twitch themselves for broadcasters. As your channel grows, the more opportunities you get. Back in the old days, small streamers received little to no support from the platform and only a select few partners had perks and subscription options.
Nowadays, Twitch Affiliate offers a lower barrier to entry to those looking to enter the streaming game for the first set of benefits available to content creators on the platform.
These are the current requirements for joining the Affiliate program on Twitch:
- At least 8 hours broadcast in the last 30 days
- At least 7 unique broadcast days in the last 30 days
- An average of 3 concurrent viewers or more over the last 30 days
- At least 50 Followers
You can also track your progress via Twitch’s built-in achievements and the Path to Affiliate goal. Though it is technically possible to lose your Affiliate status, it takes some serious “dedication”: in general, Twitch look at accounts that have not streamed for over a year or those who broke the terms of service.
Affiliates will have access to subscriptions, emote slots, bits and a share of the advertising revenue earned on the platform. We will discuss these perks in the upcoming lessons of this chapter!
Affiliates also get some access to transcoding options, meaning the viewer can change their video quality instead of having to chug through a laggy 1080p experience no matter what. They get priority over non-affiliate content creators, but it still depends on service availability whether they get this option at any time. For partners, this is permanently available, and it’s a great quality-of-life feature for viewers around the world. You can also see why it’s restricted, though: the server load associated with this is ridiculous to even think about.
If you don’t have transcoding options yet, you will need to think about your OBS settings (like bitrate and output) to make sure that viewers with a bad internet connection can also enjoy your show.
Even at this early juncture of your streaming career, you can greatly benefit from a professional streaming setup. Regardless of whether you’re an affiliate or a big-time professional, having a unique overlay and visual setup can make a huge difference!
Keep on growing to become a Partner! The goals here may seem low compared to the biggest names in the scene, but any Twitch Partner is already a part of a select few, the elite of the content creation business. Only a small fraction of Twitch streamers qualifies for this in total!
You can track the requirements via Twitch’s built-in achievements and the Path to Partner goal. Currently, this is what they’re looking for from a potential partner:
- Stream for 25 hours
- Stream on 12 different days
- Average of 75 viewers (concurrent viewership excluding hosts, raids and embeds)
Keep in mind that this does not guarantee anything! This only unlocks an application form, which will then be manually reviewed. If you don’t get in the first time, don’t despair! You can (and should) keep on trying, safe in the knowledge that you’ve already got all the basics sorted out.
Partners get access to basically every perk Twitch has to offer:
- more channel customization options (custom chat badges and more emotes, custom Cheermotes, among others)
- extended VOD storage (Prime users and Partners have 60 days while affiliates only get 14),
- reruns and Premieres,
- priority support from staff,
- Squad Streaming and the ability to create your own team,
- a verified badge (shown in your profile and as a badge in the chat)
- guaranteed video transcoding,
- an option to add a delay to your broadcast,
- and should you get big enough, special promotional opportunities like participating in Twitch Rivals events.
Just like in traditional media, the main way to make money from free content is by running advertisements. Since this is also the core part of the Twitch platform’s business model, it makes sense that it would be intertwined with their own activities. After you reach Affiliate status, you get the option to run advertisement breaks on your stream for a specific duration where a portion of your audience will get some sort of ad on their screen.
Keep in mind that not all viewers will get an ad (especially subs or if they’re using an adblocker)! If possible, keep entertaining your fans even while the ad break is happening, though preferably in a way that those getting an advertisement don’t miss out on anything super meaningful.
From affiliates to partners, anyone with any sort of Twitch clout can run ads on their stream to earn some money. The revenue depends on your partnership status, your audience’s location and many other opaque factors. Of course, bigger streamers get a larger cut from the ad.
There are two types of ads: pre-rolls, which play immediately after a viewer joins the stream, and mid-rolls, which play during the stream at a time when you activate them. Pre-rolls are very unpopular because most new viewers will just leave instead of sitting through the ad, which is why most streamers prefer mid-rolls instead. Try to air them whenever there’s a lull or a slower moment in your broadcast!
You can’t fully turn off ads but you can decide whether to run extra mid-rolls throughout your streams. Many content creators moved away from spamming advertisements due to viewer backlash and a relatively low amount of revenue, opting to build a loyal community instead who will support them through other ways.
Ads Incentive Program: fixed advertisement earnings
Twitch has also rolled out a new Ads Incentive Program with the goal of providing a reliable ad revenue and specific targets for streamers. The program offers personalized offers to a select group of creators. Once the program begins to involve more content creators, we will update this lesson with more information about it!
Bits are Twitch’s built-in solution for monetary donations to the streamer. Unlike donations using third-party plugins, these are directly integrated into the streaming platform. Once a streamer reaches affiliate status, viewers can donate bits to them.
This comes with certain upsides and downsides. The biggest downside is that Twitch takes a significant cut from the Bits purchased, so anyone looking to support you will find it more cost-efficient to donate through a donation page.
Generally, Twitch rewards streamers for Cheers in a channel, typically at the rate of 1 cent per Bit. You can buy 100 bits for €1.52, but different Bit bundles often come with discounts. You can check out the details and the prices here.
But now the advantages: unlike regular donations, using bits will get you Cheermotes. Viewers can highlight their bit-donation in the chat with different Cheermotes (animated chat emotes), the type of which depends on the number of Bits cheered.
Twitch Partners can upload their own Cheermotes, but they are only available on their channel. There are also general Cheermotes that can be used everywhere, like the ones below.
They also contribute to Hype Trains in a way that off-platform donations do not. The viewers who send Bits are specifically highlighted on the channel in the form of a badge. Cheer chat badges get fancier based on how many Bits a viewer cheered in total and they don’t expire. This makes them different from Sub Gift badges, which also level up based on how many subscriptions you’ve gifted, but they expire once the sub gift runs out.
If the channel has leaderboards enabled, the top three cheerers will get a special badge (gold, silver or bronze)! The leaderboards can be weekly, monthly, or all-time depending on the settings. In the first two cases, they reset at the start of the week or the month.
Subscriptions are the bread and butter of the Twitch ecosystem. Unlike on YouTube, subscription is the name of the paid option on Twitch (its free equivalent is a “follow”).
A Level 1 sub costs $4.99 and offers users several benefits. These include, for example, special emotes or badges. A Level 2 subs cost $9.99 and unlock additional benefits, such as new emotes. The Level 3 subs are for the ultimate fans and cost $24.99. They offer even more emotes. For a detailed overview and up-to-date breakdown of Twitch's prices and revenues, we recommend the official help article.
Viewers can buy subscriptions for themselves or gift someone else in the channel, either randomly distributed among the other viewers or to specific fans. Just like with Bits, the viewers who gift the most subs get a special badge on your channel. Like Cheer chat badges, they also level up based on how many subscriptions you’ve gifted, but they expire once the sub gift runs out.
If the channel has Leaderboards enabled, the top three sub gifters will get a special badge (gold, silver or bronze)! The leaderboards can be weekly, monthly, or all-time depending on the settings. In the first two cases, they reset at the start of the week or the month.
Subscription streaks (X months in a row) can also get you special Subscriber Loyalty Badges, which are defined by the streamer. Subs, subscription streaks and sub gifts will also be displayed in the chat.
Those who use Amazon Prime also get a free Twitch subscription as part of their bundle, which they can use on any channel they wish to. This lets them subscribe for free to one streamer every month, while the streamer still gets paid just like they would in the case of any regular subscription! Streamers often actively ask for them since they come at no cost to the viewers!
This is referred to as a “Prime sub” in Twitch lingo. They can be displayed by the viewer with a special blue chat badge with a white crown in it.
Twitch takes a significant cut from subscription revenues (~50%), though the percentage here can also change depending on how large your channel gets.
By the way, you can also add your own incentives, like playing special games with subscribers, to encourage more people to sub to your channel!
These monetization tools are not platform-specific, but they nevertheless play a big part in the Twitch game.
Viewers can decide for themselves how much to donate and how often to do so. You can set up fancy alerts and goals (whether to support your own stream or something charitable). However, they are not a predictable source of income.
Also, depending on the provider, there may be fees deducted from the donation. There are a few exceptions to this. For example, OWN3D Pro does not earn anything from your donations through the OWN3D Pro donation page. For instance, PayPal charges a flat fee per transaction and a small percentage cut as well, which can make a massive impact on what you get from small donations: that's the case with any donation site provider that lets you donate with PayPal and does not relate to OWN3D Pro.
You can also make money selling merchandise goods if you have a large and loyal enough audience. Mugs, T-shirts and the like are easy to produce online with third-party websites dedicated to this sort of thing. Special sales and unique designs are a great way to get fans to support you.
Depending on where you live and how much income you make per month from streaming, it may theoretically be necessary to register as a business and pay taxes on the income! This isn’t only true in the case of donations: the revenue you get from subs, Bits, advertisements and the like are earnings of a sort, and you should do your research about any local tax law that might be relevant to you!
Don’t forget that the minimum payout amount on Twitch is $100. This means that small streamers will have to wait a long while to receive their first earnings as you have to build up a small community to reach this amount.
Just like with any other sort of income, your Twitch revenue will be taxed - sometimes only if it goes above a certain threshold. Most smaller streamers can simply take care of this by becoming a sole proprietor or an official freelancer. If you want to earn money with Twitch, the best way to find out what you have to think about is to contact the trade office or magistrate in your area.
We will add a separate chapter about tax law in the course in the future!