How To Make Money on Twitch as a Streamer

David Utke •  Updated: January 13, 2023 •  Make Money Online

So you want to learn how to live stream and make money on Twitch? One of my good friends Jay Streazy got started a few years ago as a side thing that grew and grew and is now his primary way on earning an income so I’m quite familiar with how the platform works.

Twitch is quite different from YouTube and while I can’t personally imagine why anyone in their right mind would want to live stream as a way to make money, the income potential is there.

Make money on Twitch through live streaming

Twitch got it’s start as Justin.tv and was a live streaming website founded in 2007 by Justin Kan and Emmett Shear. It allowed users to stream video content, including live broadcasts of themselves or others. The live streaming of games on the site became so popular that it was was spun off to become Twitch.com. Justin.tv later shut down to focus on growing Twitch.

Twitch is now one of the largest website in the US and has over 140 million unique monthly viewers. It has expanded from video game streaming to any type of live streaming broadcast.

As such, there are now a wide range of ways to make money on Twitch. From subscriptions to sponsored content, to becoming a Twitch partner or doing affiliate marketing. Here are the main ways Twitch streamers make money:

Direct donations (Paypal, CashApp, Venmo)

Donations through 3rd party apps are available to anyone who signs up to Twitch and is surprisingly still one of the most lucrative ways people can earn an income because Twitch does not take a cut of any cash sent through PayPal, Venmo or CashApp.

Minus processing fees, you get the full amount sent to your account. So if someone decided to PayPal you $100, you receive $100 roughly. The best 3rd party integration with Twitch for direct donations is from StreamLabs.com. Sign up and create a StreamLabs tips page.

Subscribers

Subscribers are the highest for of viewer support. Unlike YouTube where anyone can subscribe, a Twitch subscriber is someone who is paying a monthly fee to support you.

They can choose to pay $5, $10 or $25 tiers. These tiers are default in Twitch and can’t be adjusted. “Subscribers” are only available to Twitch affiliates who sign an exclusivity contract (meaning you can’t stream elsewhere including YouTube).

The split is 50/50 with Twitch until you become a partner where you can then negotiate more favorable terms.

Bits (Twitch currency)

Bits are internal Twitch currency. People can pay $120 and get $100 Bits as an example. Then once they have Bits they can send them to any content creator they like. You as the Twitch streamer split Bit donations 50/50 with Twitch.

Why would anyone buy bits? Because while anyone can donate Bits to you, they are more used as an internal currency to purchase perks like channel points.

Channel Points

Channel Points are a custom reward program that empowers streamers to give their community members and viewers special prizes, including benefits usually only available for subscribers. Twitch Partners or Affiliate can offer channel points as a way to earn Bits.

It’s a helpful way to make your live streams more fun and engaging for viewers as well as creating a revenue stream for yourself.

Merchandise

You can also direct your viewers to your own hosted online store where you sell your own exclusive merchandise like T-shirts, mugs, and posters with your own unique designs. There are numerous platforms to create an online store on.

From Etsy, Printful or to doing drop shipping on Wix to selling merch via StreamLabs or StreamElements.com to even just creating a “my gear” page and selling physical products as an Amazon Associate.

Creating an online store an promoting it to your audience is a great potential revenue stream for the right Twitch streamer.

Partner program ad revenue

As a Twitch Partner, you can earn a portion of the generated income with ads that air on while streaming your content. You have full control to determine when and how long mid-roll ads run through your dashboard.

First you need to become an affiliate of Twitch which requires you to have 3 average viewers and 15 hours a month of live streaming. Once you’re an affiliate you’ll need to apply to become verified.

To become a Twitch partner requires a minimum of 75 viewers per your stream on average over the course of a few months. Then you’ll need manual approval from Twitch. Becoming a partner is difficult, but once you are a partner you can now start sharing in the ad revenue your stream brings in.

Sponsorships

When you start to build up a significant audience, companies will start to reach out to you for sponsorships and brand deals. These often times can be highly lucrative if your audience is large with you getting paid thousands of dollars just to mention a product or service to your audience.

The key takeaway to understand is that companies have an “influencer marketing” budget and the audience you built is worth something.

Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is where you recommend products and services to your audience. You get a unique affiliate link that tracks sales. You can put this link in the description of your Twitch Stream as a passive way to earn additional income.

Affiliate marketing is not the most effective on Twitch because it’s a space where people go to be entertained, but with the right product fit you could generate sales. I suggest you start with the Amazon Associates program.

Email list and paid products

Email marketing is how you turn a blog, YouTube channel (see blog vs YouTube) or even a Twitch stream into a full business. When you capture emails you can set up complicated, and highly effective sales funnels for your own products or products as an affiliate.

Your email list also allows you to stay in touch easily with your audience and keep them updated about new live streams, videos and what your future plans are. An email list with a competent funnel and the product offering is a time tested revenue stream.

Upload your streams to YouTube

Finally, the last way is to upload your pre-recorded streams to a YouTube channel. If you’re able to hit the monetization requirements for YouTube you can start earning additional ad revenue.

Twitch Streaming FAQ

What’s the difference between a follower and a subscriber on Twitch?

Followers are people who have opted into being notified on when your stream will go live. Followers on Twitch are similar to subscribers on YouTube. However, a subscriber on Twitch is someone who is paying a monthly fee of $5, 10 or $25 a month to support you. The split begins at 50/50 for creators but is negotiable for more favorable terms once you are a Twitch partner.

How do you become a Twitch affiliate?

An affiliate is the first step on your way to becoming a verified partner. You’ll need 3 average viewers a month, 15 hours of streaming a month and you must be willing to sign a contract of exclusivity and not stream on any other platform.

Should I become a Twitch affiliate?

Affiliates get access to Bits and can have paying subscribers. But you must be exclusive to Twitch. That means you can’t live stream on YouTube. If that’s a deal breaker, then becoming an affiliate may not be for you.

How do you become verified on Twitch?

To become a Twitch partner, you must have on average 75 viewers per live stream for a few months. Then it’s a manual approval process based on your content and if it is in alignment with the Twitch brand.

Can you stream on YouTube and Twitch?

Yes you can, but if you intend to live stream on YouTube you can’t become an affiliate on Twitch which prevents you from having access to being paid in Bits as well as having paid subscribers.

How to make money on Twitch – final words

Twitch is one of the most popular websites in the United States and the ability to grow a large audience is there. With numerous monetization strategies, brand deals, paid subscribers and more it is possible to earn a significant income from Twitch.

Just make sure to create content consistently and do something interesting to garner an audience. While live streaming is not for me, for the right person it could become the foundation for a unique online business.

David Utke

David Utke is a professional blogger, YouTuber and a highly rated user experience consultant. He and his team create helpful tutorials, software reviews, videos and more based on real-world experience. Join over 30,000 monthly readers and 20k+ YouTube subscribers!