How to Make Money from Streaming
You have definitely seen one of those videos – people who play video games online while thousands of people watch them and send chat messages. In 2021, streaming is no longer just about video games. You can now see streaming channels for those who are just chatting or doing other activities like cooking or making art.
If this is unfamiliar territory to you, you might be wondering – how do these people make money from streaming? Wonder no more, because we have the answers right here. What is seemingly something that people do for fun can be profitable enough to be someone’s full-time job.
An overview of the current streaming landscape
To provide a framework for the rest of this discussion, let’s take a broad look at the landscape of streaming and its platforms. The three biggest platforms should all be familiar to you – Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch. It can be argued that each of these platforms attracts a different type of audience. However, the presence of gaming as streaming content is huge for each platform.
If you’re planning to start a career in streaming, then we’ve got unfortunate news for you. Breaking into this industry is harder than ever considering how saturated it is. Starting a streaming channel is the easy part, despite the need for extra hardware and compelling content. Building an audience is a lot more difficult. There are streamers out there who have had their channels for years and are yet to gain a hundred subscribers.
Twitch is unique because it is a platform that is almost exclusively dedicated to live streaming. Right now, Twitch already has two million channels. Of the total viewing time in Twitch, 75% of them goes towards only the top 5000 channels. This emphasizes how incredibly hard it can get to in a major streaming platform. It’s going to take good content, an engaging personality, and possibly years of hard work.
How do streamers earn money?
Let’s get to the fun part – earning money while streaming. Most streamers seem to be simply doing what they love doing, which makes this whole streaming life even more appealing. How is it possible for these people to earn money by just playing video games or chatting onscreen?
1. From tips
The easiest way to earn money is from tips that viewers can give. These tips are often sold as “virtual goods” that viewers can buy using real money that also gives them ways to interact through chat in unique ways.
Different platforms handle tips in different ways. In Twitch, this is done by cheering the streamer using “Bits.” On Facebook, users have the option to buy “Stars” and send them to the streamer. In YouTube, livestream viewers often make use of Super Stickers that let them send special animations through chat. Naturally, the sites also earn from these virtual credits but a portion of them go directly to the streamer.
Streamers can also receive tips via third-party sites like Patreon or Kickstarter. This is an ideal option for streamers who work on multiple platforms. Third-party fundraising sites typically offer more convenient methods for sending tips to streamers, even when viewers want to stay anonymous.
2. From regular subscribers
Both YouTube and Twitch have features for people to sign up as regular subscribers for a price. This will require that the audience pay a regular subscription fee to support the streamer. In return, subscribers receive benefits such as special chat emotes and the ability to watch videos on demand. Some channels can also host events or giveaways exclusive to their subscribers.
Regular subscribers are very important to streamers because they provide regular and guaranteed earnings. Thus, it is common for video game streamers to invite subscribers to play with them or to give frequent shoutouts to those who have supported the channel for a long time.
3. Brand sponsorships
With the size of the audience of some streamers, they can definitely be treated as legit brand ambassadors. Video game publishers and tech brands often reach out to streamers to highlight their products or services in their content. This can be in the form of a banner that is displayed during the stream or through the use of their products.
Getting a brand sponsorship can be a huge step up for a streamer. It is perhaps a statement to the mainstream popularity of streamers that there are seemingly no boundaries to the types of brands that can sponsor a stream. The list includes energy drinks, food, web design services, grooming kits, pet care products, and video editing software.
The personality of the streamer factors heavily into what type of products the channel will attract. Equally as important is for the streamer to make sure that the products they feature are aligned to the interests or values of their audience, else they run the risk of alienating their viewers.
Running advertisements is quite a controversial matter in the world of streaming. Some streamers will outright refuse to run advertisements, while some viewers may refuse to watch channels when they see frequent advertisements popping up. However, it’s undeniable that advertisements can also offer a reliable and substantial revenue source for streamers.
Advertisements are controversial because they can disrupt the viewing experience, even if they run for just a few seconds. However, they can be tolerated when used sparingly. All the three major streaming platforms mentioned in this article allow the running of ads. Just keep in mind that some viewers may have ad-blockers.
Tips for beginner streamers
There is clearly a lot of money to be made in streaming if you can make it big. If you’re planning to get into streaming, here are a few tips that should get you on the right path to success:
Find a niche
Most of the popular streamers nowadays use video games as content. If you’re into gaming, then there’s probably still an audience out there that you can tap. However, there’s no need to go with the flow and start a gaming channel.
It will be better if you can find your own thing. There have been successful streams in the past that have focused on painting, cooking, or making music. Who knows? You might just stumble into a new and unique niche.
Do something you are passionate about
Stream doing an activity that you genuinely enjoy. This is a field where big personalities shine, and it can really make a difference when your passion shines through. Streaming something that you like doing also makes it more sustainable over the long run.
Commit to a schedule
When you’re beginning a streaming channel, you want to attract as many people as possible to watch your streams. This will likely start with your friends and naturally cascade to other people online. However, your potential audience needs to know when and where they can watch you.
One of the first things you need to establish is a schedule of streams. Streaming two or three times a week is generally accepted as standard practice. If you stream across multiple platforms, be clear about where you are streaming on specific days.
Engage with your audience
It is often said that viewers of streams come for the content but stay for the person doing the stream. A big part of being a successful streamer is engaging with your audience and making an active community out of them. This means responding to chat messages, thanking your subscribers and regular viewers, and taking the time to know them on a personal level.
Being a streamer means crafting an entire online persona to communicate with your audience regularly. This involves making dedicated social media accounts that are consistent with the branding of your streaming channel. Don’t forget to still keep a portion of your life private for your own sanity.
Some might assume that making it big in streaming is an easy way to earn some extra cash on the side. However, gaining success to the point where streaming becomes profitable is something that can take years of hard work. This emphasizes the importance of doing something you are genuinely passionate about.
Knowing exactly how money can come in during streaming should help you come up with a strategy. Are you going to focus on getting tips or would you rather get sponsorship money? This is the type of question you may want to think about before you go ahead and start your very first stream.