Have you ever considered how awesome it would be if you could make playing video games your career? Well, you can. People are making serious money on Twitch these days. We're talking anywhere from a few extra bucks to thousands of dollars a month just to play video games.
Though it sounds fun (and it can be), making good money on Twitch is not always easy. Everyone starts out streaming to no one, which can be pretty demoralizing! On top of that, taking breaks or not streaming consistently can cause your views to drop pretty rapidly.
Creating fun, engaging, and profitable content consistently is an issue for any creator though, no matter which platform you use. I feel the same pressures as a writer and blogger. If you've been watching Let's Plays on YouTube, then you know it's a problem YouTubers as well.
What I want to lay out in this article is how to grow an actual business on Twitch. In my opinion, making a few bucks streaming isn't worth it. If I go for something, I go hard, and if you want to make money with Twitch then you might as well do it right.
How To Make Money With Twitch
What is Twitch?
Founded in 2005, Justin.Tv, named for its founder Justin Kan, was originally intended to be an around the clock life broadcasting service. After receiving mixed reviews, Justin enabled the viewers the opportunity to set up their own broadcasting channels. This would, in turn, give birth to what we now know as Twitch.Tv.
In 2014 Twitch Interactive was sold to Amazon.com for $970 million and was ranked 4th in peaked online traffic behind only Apple, Google, and Netflix.
Twitch is a streaming platform where gamers are allowed to stream live video of their gameplay in front of an online audience.
Gaming publishers and media outlets also have their own Twitch channels and communities where they often provide potential consumers with a small peek behind the curtain of their next featured product.
1. How to Get Set Up
If you’re looking to make money streaming, there are a few things you’ll need to do in order to be properly setup on Twitch. You’ll need to make sure that you have the proper equipment and of course, an account. Seeing that you can create an account for free, we’ll start there.
By creating an account on Twitch, you’ll be allowed to interact with other broadcasters and their communities via chat, follow your favorite live streamers and broadcast your own gameplay to the Twitch community.
To sign up for a Twitch account, you’ll need to go to the website at http://twitch.tv. Once there, select the “Sign Up” button on the top-right portion of the page.
This opens the Login / Sign Up screen. You’ll want to fill out the form on the right-hand side, which requires you to provide a username, password, email and your date of birth.
If you’d rather not have to fill out the form, then you may also sign up for a Twitch account by using your Facebook account. Simply click the “Connect with Facebook” button and you’ll be on your way.
Twitch is first and foremost a live streaming platform for gamers. Therefore, it should be a no-brainer that you’ll want to have either a PC or gaming console. If you opt for the latter, then you’ll need to purchase a capture card in order to live stream.
If you choose to stream via a personal computer, you'll need to ensure you meet the requirements for the output you're attempting. A higher end rig is not necessary for streaming but the more performance you can get out of it, especially in relation to frames per second (fps), the better the viewing quality.
The recommended minimum specifications that Twitch offers are as follows:
- CPU: Intel Core i5-4670 or AMD Equivalent
- MEMORY: 8GB DDR3 SDRAM
- OS: Windows 7 Home Premium
You'll also need to acquire broadcasting software in order to stream on Twitch. A few suggestions would be:
Aside from the obvious, it may also benefit you to purchase both a webcam and a microphone. It allows for building that necessary rapport with your audience when they’re both able to see and hear you. Providing audio commentary for your gameplay is also a boon to viewers and highly recommended.
If you want to make serious money with twitch, it is going to take a bit of an investment. You won't have to spend thousands of dollars to get set up, but there are going to be some minimal costs, unless you already have this equipment.
2. You’re Set Up, Now What?
Twitch channel streams are 24-hour streams. This doesn’t mean that you’ll need to be playing video games all day, but your channel is there for viewers to watch. You’re given the opportunity to upload pre-recorded videos to your channel, but the true purpose of Twitch is to provide users with access to live streams of gameplay.
For broadcasters, Twitch can be something on the side, a complement to a career in e-Sports (competitive gaming), a fun hobby or a legit full-time job.
How you go about broadcasting depends entirely on how you choose to play and on the specific equipment you’re using. Whichever way you decide, the gaming community at Twitch is there to offer plenty of online support via chats and forums that can be a great resource for anyone just starting out.
When you start out, keep in mind that most people being by streaming to an empty room. It's pretty demotivating, and puts you in a catch-22 situation.
How can you be animated and funny while no one's watching? Should you only engage when you have viewers? What if you only have two viewers, is it worth the effort?
6 Steps To Making Money With Twitch
The first step after setting up is to get people to want to watch you (and stick around). This is usually the most difficult part of Twitch streaming. You can't just play any old game, streaming when in the mood, and attempt to pull in viewers organically. If your goal is to monetize (and it should be since you're reading this article) then this approach will take far too long to establish any kind presence.
1. Choose The Right Game
When choosing your game, you need to be strategic if you want to attract viewers. Gaming reviews are extremely powerful online, both for the companies selling the game, and for the reviewing putting out the content. Opting for an older or unpopular game will likely net you very minimal results. However, playing a more popular game can have you drowning in a sea of competition for viewers.
As of writing this article, the top 5 games being streamed on Twitch are:
- League of Legends (LoL)
- Player Unknown Battlegrounds (PUBG)
Your best bet is to browse Twitch and look out for the games with a number of streamers ranging between 10 to 20. This offers you a good chance that the game itself is ranked highly on Twitch while also giving you room to shine and attract those coveted viewers.
2. Connect with Popular Streamers
Going at it alone is admirable but in any business, it's not necessarily what you can do, but who you know. Forming bonds within the Twitch streamer community can garner exposure, and get helpful tips and strategies for your stream that you may not have thought of otherwise, and more followers of your own.
Engaging in conversation in other streamer's chat rooms can lead to great results. If you seem knowledgeable, interesting, or an all-around decent person, other viewers may decide to follow you on your own channel. Becoming friends with the streamer can also lead to massive exposure. They may choose to host your channel leading to even more potential viewers and followers.
The current top 5 most followed streams are:
- Ninja (FortNite player and streamer)
- Summit1g (Currently playing FortNite)
- Riotgames (League of Legends organization)
- Shroud (PUBG player and streamer who plays for the eSports organization Cloud9
- Syndicate (Recently FortNite and IRL as well)
3. Leverage Social Media
Often overlooked, social networks can significantly aid you in building your brand. Many successful streamers use apps such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to keep fans informed and up to date on their comings and goings of daily life. This allows you to connect with them on a more personal level.
4. Grow Your Community
In order to grow, increasing your regular viewers is very important. However, not all viewers are created equal. Those who frequent your channel could be:
- Trolls that harass you and the other followers in the chat
- Quiet lurkers who never interact with you or your chat
- Fair-weather viewers that only show up for giveaways and free stuff
In order to acquire the right kind of viewers, followers, and potential subscribers, you'll want to go about it in the proper way. Things you should never do to attract viewers:
- Use Viewbots (programs that generate a false viewer count)
- Pay outside websites to grow your channel
You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar is an apt adage for this situation. If you want to grow your community, you'll need to branch out. A few things that will help with growth are:
- Interacting with other streamers and sharing the love by hosting them on your channel
- Join a streaming community of like-minded individuals
- Holding giveaways to loyal followers. Try to keep these to a minimum to not attract the freeloaders mentioned above
- Uploading your videos to other platforms like Vimeo or YouTube
- Posting your thoughts and opinions on gaming websites (under a recognizable handle)
5. Engage Your Audience
Twitch actually houses a few different kinds of streamers on its platform. The bulk is of course filled by gamers, but what about the other folks who can't dedicate hours to just streaming video games? Where do they fit in?
Over the years Twitch has added more outlets for those wanting to stream for income that doesn't necessarily fit the gamer mold. There are those like JimLee who dedicate their Twitch streaming time to hand drawing illustrations live. Others such as Jae_Bunny have turned their Twitch stream into more of a cooking show. These particular streamers can often be found in the Creativesection.
Additionally, sometimes a streamer doesn't have the luxury of sitting at home in front of their preferred gaming platform and stream for the masses. This is where the IRL section comes into play. Twitch streamers can choose to stream themselves doing everyday things in their daily lives.
Each of these options is still perfectly viable and are able to earn money through tips, donations, and the programs offered to gaming streams.
6. Drive Traffic With A Website
Building out a website is a very under-utilized tactic within the Twitch, gaming, and streaming communities. Very often, streamers will pigeonhole themselves as just a “video person”, and completely ignore all other aspects of growing their brand.
This is fine if you already have a YouTube audience and are just moving to Twitch. It's how H3H3 were able to move so successfully from YouTube to Podcasting after the “adpocalypse”.
But what if you're starting from scratch?
Websites attract a whole different audience. They are the people searching for written content online, and you can leverage your website to send traffic to your Twitch channel.
It's actually pretty easy to build a WordPress website these days, and you can have the bulk of the work done in less than 5 minutes. After that, you need to create content, like articles, which get found in Google. The topic of your website should be something related to your gaming channel, so the audience matches.
Here's a perfect scenario.
Let's say you write a review of No Man's Sky, and say it's garbage. You then recommend a much better game, Star Citizen or Elite Dangerous. You can then send those visitors to your channel to watch you play these games.
The connection could be indirect too. You could post a review of your favorite gaming chair, or just provide commentary about what you think about Ninja's latest stream. Your gamer blog could be about any niche focus you want, and then could send people to your Twitch channel.
As a bonus, you can also monetize your website content with display ads (Google Adsense), and affiliate programs. This diversifies your revenue, and provides you with income to fund better equipment for your Twitch channel.
Making money with Twitch through streaming is just the tip of the iceberg. Twitch also has an affiliate partnership you can join on top of the other methods of earning mentioned above. It can actually be a little overwhelming how many options there are to earn income via Twitch.
Hopefully, that's exciting! Write down some of your ideas and map out a plan of what seems the most interesting and realistic way for you to start.
If it's overwhelming, don't worry. That's normal! Start with one simple thing that got you interested in Twitch in the first place. What was it? A specific game you wanted to stream? A particular streamer you want to emulate? Do that first, then branch out.