Playing video games for money sounds like a fantasy. But for many gamers who use live streaming platform Twitch, it’s a reality.
Twitch, a subsidiary of Amazon, is one of the most popular live streaming services on the internet. Its focus is on live stream video games, but it also hosts e-sports competitions, music broadcasts, and creative content.
And as it turns out, you can also use Twitch to make money. So how much do Twitch streamers make? Keep reading to find out, as well as how to maximize your earnings.
How Much Money Can I Make on Twitch?
A tiny percentage of Twitch streamers earn hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. There’s even a handful of streamers who make millions.
Most users make far less than this. Still, many “expert” Twitch streamers typically earn anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 per month.
While that’s a nice chunk of change for streaming content, it also requires putting in a significant amount of time. These expert streamers live stream for at least forty hours per week. So if you want to play video games on Twitch and earn a full-time income, you need to make it your full-time job.
That’s something to aspire to. But more realistically, you can expect to make about $1,500 per month if you have 100 viewers.
How to Become a Twitch Affiliate
Before you can make money from Twitch, you must become a Twitch Affiliate. To qualify as an Affiliate, you must have had the following during the previous thirty days:
- At least fifty followers
- An average of three or more concurrent (simultaneous) viewers
- At least seven unique broadcast days
- At least 500 minutes of broadcast
Once you’ve achieved Twitch’s criteria, you’ll have to wait for an Affiliate invitation via email or in your account’s notification area. It won’t happen overnight. On average, it takes about three months of consistent Twitch streaming to become an Affiliate.
How can I make money as a Twitch Affiliate?
Once you’re established as a Twitch Affiliate, you can start making money from the platform. You can earn money in three primary ways:
Viewers can pay to subscribe to your Twitch channel. Subscriptions start at $4.99 per month. Affiliates receive 50 percent of subscription fees (Twitch gets the other half).
When viewers subscribe, they receive perks like ad-free viewing and access to live chats during your streams. In addition, many Twitch streamers also entice subscribers with exclusive content. So if you’re serious about making income from the streaming platform, you’ll need to offer value to your subscribers.
Viewers can donate to you by giving you a piece of Twitch currency, called a “Bit.” Each Twitch Bit is worth one cent. Twitch viewers purchase Bits and use them to “cheer” on their favorite streamers. Unlike with subscriptions, Twitch Affiliates receive 100 percent of their Bit donations.
It sounds like a minuscule amount of money. But every little Bit literally adds up. For example, say you stream yourself playing a game and have 1,000 viewers. Over the course of an hour, each viewer “cheers” for you an average of ten times, giving you ten Bits. That means you’ll earn 10,000 Bits, or $100, for that hour.
3. Game sales
Twitch Affiliates make a lot of games look fun. So earning affiliate revenue from game sales is a no-brainer.
During each Twitch stream, you can choose to add a “Buy Now” button for the game you’re playing. You’ll receive 5 percent of every sale that originates from your stream.
How to Become a Twitch Partner?
The key to making a lot of money on Twitch is by becoming a Twitch Partner.
To become a Partner, you must have had the following during the previous thirty days:
- An average of at least seventy-five concurrent viewers
- At least twelve unique broadcast days
- At least twenty-five hours of broadcast
It’s not easy to become a Partner. There are currently about 9.5 million monthly Twitch streamers. But there are fewer than 50,000 Partners.
Once you’ve achieved the requirements, you’ll have to apply. If you’ve got what it takes, Twitch will send you a Partner invitation within seven business days.
How to make money as a Twitch Partner
Becoming a Twitch Partner opens up additional revenue-making opportunities, like promotions and sponsorships. Twitch Partners also get special access to customization features. And they receive a 75 percent cut of subscription revenue.
But most importantly, Twitch Partners earn money from ads.
Just like YouTube videos, Twitch streams usually start with an ad or two. Each Twitch Affiliate earns revenue every time an ad plays during their stream. Affiliates can also choose to insert ads into the middle of their streams. This comes in handy when you need a bathroom break!
By contract, Twitch Affiliates aren’t allowed to disclose the revenue they receive from advertisements. But we’re willing to guess it’s worth their while.
Other Ways to Make Money From Twitch
When you’re an influential Twitch streamer, you’re not limited to making money on the platform. There are plenty of other ways to make money from your Twitch stream.
You know how NASCAR vehicles are always decked out with brand logos? That’s because companies sponsor drivers and teams as a form of marketing.
Brands also sponsor top Twitch streamers. So you might get paid for using a particular piece of hardware, wearing a particular T-shirt, or drinking a particular energy drink.
You can go beyond earning money for wearing someone else’s label. Several prominent Twitch Partners have also created their own lines of apparel and other merchandise to sell.
Many Twitch streamers record their video streams and upload them to their YouTube channels. This allows them to receive additional income from YouTube ads.
Patreon is a website that lets fans support their favorite creators with recurring donations. You can also provide unique bonuses to Patreon supporters.
How Much Do Top Twitch Streamers Make?
One of the best ways to spark your creative juices is to pay close attention to what your favorite streamers are doing. Here are a few top-earning Twitch users to check out.
Richard Tyler Blevins, aka Ninja, is a professional gamer with tens of thousands of viewers every week. In fact, in 2018, Blevins set the record for having the largest concurrent Twitch audience from an individual stream when he played Fortnite with Drake and other celebrities. At one point, it’s estimated that Blevins was earning over $500,000 per month!
Timothy John Bater, aka TimTheTatman, is another Twitch Partner to check out. Tim is a World of Warcraft legend who has many sponsorships to his name. His estimated monthly earnings are $130,000.
Shroud is the profile name of Michael Grzesiek, who has more than 9 million followers and is famous for participating in battle arena games. Aside from his streaming earnings, he has also formed partnerships with Logitech and Postmates. His gaming activities reportedly net him a cool $80,000 per month.
Tips for Making Money on Twitch
Here are some tips for maximizing your Twitch earnings potential.
Treat it like a business
Take your Twitch account seriously. Treat it as a side hustle.
When you first start out, you won’t be able to make any money at all. You’ll have to reach Affiliate status and then work your way up to potentially becoming a high-earning Partner.
Create a business plan and outline what gaming skills you want to demonstrate, what value you can give your subscribers, and how to market your Twitch channel.
Figure out your niche
Think about what it is you do best that nobody else can emulate. For example, maybe you’re unbeatable at a game like Fortnite. Or perhaps role-playing games are your forte. Whatever your niche, find one and stick with it. Try to earn a reputation for being the best at something and use that to your advantage.
Make sure you have the time
Twitch is not a source of passive income. If you want to make it as a top earner on Twitch, you’re going to have to log some serious hours in front of the camera. You can’t just “game” the system and walk away for long periods at a time. It takes hard work to earn money on Twitch.
Make sure this is a lifestyle you’re comfortable with before getting started. You can’t be self-conscious as a professional Twitch gamer. You’ll also need to have a flair for keeping your viewers entertained.
Stream at convenient times
Consider streaming at times that are convenient for people in different time zones. For example, streaming at noon EST will give you access to late-night viewers in Asia, early evening viewers in Europe, day viewers on the East Coast, and early risers on the West Coast. Maximize your streaming times to generate higher numbers of global viewers and increase your chances of making money.
Is Becoming a Full-Time Twitch Streamer a Good Idea?
Ultra-talented Twitch streamers eventually reach a point where they must decide whether quitting their jobs and streaming on Twitch full-time makes sense. This can be a tough decision, especially if it involves leaving a cushy job.
Here are some things to consider when you reach that point.
Whenever you leave a full-time job to pursue a side hustle, it requires making up the lost income. This requires looking at your budget and determining how much you’ll need to bring in to make ends meet.
Streaming full-time on Twitch can be difficult. The revenue can be inconsistent — even for top earners. These people rely on various revenue streams like ads, sponsorships, selling merch, and collecting Bits, to name just a few examples. It’s not like collecting a regular paycheck.
Games may no longer be fun
Streaming full-time on Twitch means a lifestyle change. For example, if you’re playing video games full-time, video games won’t be a hobby anymore. Instead, they’ll become your job.
Some people try this out and realize that they miss playing video games to unwind at the end of the day. Furthermore, streaming full-time on Twitch can result in long days at home in front of the screen, which not everyone finds enjoyable.
Twitch is highly competitive
Twitch is loaded with talented users. You’ll be competing with all of them for concurrent viewership.
The more simultaneous viewers you can log, the more money you’ll make and the more attractive you’ll be to advertisers. As such, you have to stream a lot, and the quality has to be top-notch to make it as a full-time Twitch streamer.
Make sure you have the knowledge and ability to produce high-quality content every day. Otherwise, you may not be able to compete with more experienced Twitch Affiliates and Partners.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much do small Twitch streamers make?
A small Twitch streamer is someone who hasn’t reached Partner status yet. So they have fewer than seventy-five average concurrent viewers.
Typically, small Twitch streamers make anywhere from $50 to $1,500 per month. It depends on how many people watch your videos, how often you stream, and how many subscribers you convert.
How many viewers do you need to make money from Twitch?
To make full-time money as a Twitch streamer, you’ll need about 1,000 subscribers. You’ll have to really hustle to build up your audience. So be prepared to put in full-time effort too!
Do you have to pay taxes on Twitch income?
Yes. If you make more than $600 in a year, you’ll need to report your earnings to the IRS.
When signing up to be a Twitch Affiliate, you’ll need to supply your taxpayer identification. This can be your Social Security number, employer identification number (EIN), or individual tax identification number (ITIN). Twitch will send you a 1099 form in January.
As we do for anyone self-employed or working a side hustle, we recommend that you work with a tax advisor to reduce your tax liabilities at the end of the year. Otherwise, you could get slammed with taxes if you bring in a substantial income by streaming content.
The Bottom Line
The Twitch streaming platform is an increasingly popular way to make money. A well-run Twitch channel can potentially be a source of significant revenue.
That said, Twitch streaming isn’t easy. Your best bet is to make a business plan and study what other people are doing. And perhaps most importantly, you have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and treat gaming as a job.