7 Ways to Make Money Streaming Video Games on Twitch

All of the best ways to monetize your Twitch channel and make money

Twitch may have started as a basic service for streaming and viewing video game gameplay, but it's quickly become a legitimate source of income for many users, with several of the more popular Twitch users earning well above the average household income each month.

There are a variety of methods with which successful Twitch streamers monetize their channels and all of them are fairly easy to implement. Some of the best ways to make money streaming on Twitch include:

  • Twitch subscriptions
  • Bits (Twitch's premium emoticons)
  • Donations
  • Video ads
  • Sponsorships
  • Affiliate links
  • Selling merchandise

Some of the official Twitch options are limited to Twitch affiliates and partners (users who have reached a certain level of popularity and are given more account features) but there are still options for newer users who might not yet have a huge following.

Gain Twitch Subscriptions

Subscribe illustration with an envelope on a computer screen
 Lifewire

Subscriptions are by far the most popular form of making money on Twitch because they allow for the creation of a recurring source of income that can snowball over time as more viewers opt-in.

Twitch subscriptions are essentially scheduled monthly donations of $4.99, $9.99, or $24.99 with the chosen amount being split between Twitch and the streamer 50/50. Some of the incredibly popular Twitch Partners even earn more than 50 percent as a way to encourage them to remain on the platform.

The subscription option is available only for Twitch Partners and Affiliates, and this makes sense since streamers with under 50 followers (the minimum requirement to become a Twitch Affiliate) likely wouldn't get that many paid subscribers anyway.

As soon as a channel is upgraded to the Partner or Affiliate status, the subscription option is enabled and the Subscribe button automatically appears on the channel's page on the Twitch website.

Here are some tips regarding Twitch subscriptions:

  • Set up alerts for your stream to announce new subscribers and take the time to create customized emotes for subscribers to use. Both will encourage more people to opt-in to the monthly donation.
  • The subscribe option is only available on the Twitch website, so make sure to mention in your streams that subscribing is an option so those anyone watching via the Twitch console and mobile apps knows how to support you.

Those without access to Twitch subscriptions can use third-party services to collect recurring donations. Patreon is a popular alternative that lots of streamers use. You can set up a Patreon profile for free and link to it from your Twitch profile description, showcase it on your social media channels, and mention your Patreon username verbally during a stream.

Get Bits

Twitch Buy Bits page

Bits, available to Twitch Partners and Affiliates, are a way to visualize support for streamers on Twitch from within a stream's chat. They're essentially animated GIFs that users can post alongside a chat message, but they must be purchased with real money.

Twitch partners and affiliates earn one cent per bit used in their channel's chat (e.g., if someone uses 100 bits, they earn $1).

Streamers can place a limit on the minimum number of bits that can be used at once to prevent people from spamming their chat with numerous individual bits. Special alerts (sound effects and graphics) can be tied to the use of bits which can help encourage more viewers to buy and use them, and viewers are also rewarded with special chat badges that display next to their names based on how many bits they've donated.

Remember these things when dealing with bits on Twitch:

  • Verbally thank all your viewers who use bits during your streams. This will encourage them to use them more in the future.
  • Add a Streamlabs tip jar widget to your stream layout. This creates a visual representation of an empty glass that fills up with all of the bits that your viewers use. Not only does this provide a constant reminder of the bits feature but it also motivates viewers to try and fill it up with more bits. 

Receive Donations on Twitch

Donation illustration
 Lifewire

Receiving donations on Twitch is a popular way for streamers to earn extra money since they provide a method for viewers to support streams with a one-off payment. A Twitch donation can be anything from as low as a dollar to several thousand dollars, and even higher.

Twitch doesn't offer a native way for streamers to accept donations, so third-party applications and service are often implemented, such as PayPal. While donations can be rewarding, there are many stories of streamers having been tricked by scammers or internet trolls who had donated a large sum of money only to claim a dispute a month or so later and have all of it refunded.

Donations aren't protected by Twitch the same way bits and subscription payments are and there's no way to prevent such an occurrence from happening. Anyone can file a PayPal dispute within 180 days of payment, so Twitch streamers are encouraged not to spend any of their donations until this time period is up.

The easiest way to accept PayPal donations is to create a free PayPal.me link. This URL can be added to your Twitch channel profile description or shared within your Twitch chat or social media profiles. Viewers who click through can pay you directly from their PayPal account.

Play Video Ads During a Stream

Twitch video ad illustration
iStock / Getty Images 

Most people associate video ads with Twitch channel monetization, but the reality is that ads on Twitch — both pre-roll (shown before a stream starts) and mid-roll (played during a stream) — are the lowest earners of all of the options available.

On average, Twitch pays around $2 per 1,000 views for an ad, and since even some of the biggest Twitch streamers average around 600 viewers when streaming, showing an advertisement doesn't really feel worth it for many, especially when they can earn much more through other methods like subscriptions and bits.

Ads are only available to Twitch Partners, and while they can earn you a bit of extra cash, it's best not to rely solely on them as a primary source of monetization. Instead, utilize Twitch ads in conjunction with some, or all, of the other methods we talk about on this page.

Accept Sponsorships on Twitch

Sponsor sign on a green background
 Lifewire

Similar to how you can make money as an Instagram influencer by endorsing products and services on that platform, many Twitch streamers are also receiving payments for doing the same during their streams. Examples of streamer sponsorships include fashion labels, food and drinks, video games, computer hardware and accessories, and websites.

Getting a sponsorship deal is something any streamer on Twitch can do regardless of Partner or Affiliate status. Agreements are sometimes arranged by the streamer reaching out to the respective company, but more often than not it's the company's marketing team that makes a proposal to the streamer.

The amount of money earned through sponsorships on Twitch varies depending on the length of the sponsorship campaign, how intensely the promotion is applied (i.e., is the streamer required to simply wear a t-shirt or verbally encourage viewers to buy the t-shirt), and the popularity of the viewer themselves.

Connect with industry contacts via social media and video game or technology expos and conventions. Create business cards with your Twitch channel, real name, and contact information, and hand them out to company employees. The more professional you appear, the greater the chance of someone thinking of you next time they want to promote a product.

Use Affiliate Links

Illustration of a hand touching a coin with several other coins attached
 Lifewire

Another good monetization option for all Twitch streamers is the implementation of affiliate links (not to be confused with the Twitch Affiliate status). This basically involves joining a company's affiliate program and adding links to their products or services on your Twitch channel page description and within the chat. You can even do this on a consistent basis with a chatbot like Nightbot.

Amazon's affiliate program is a popular one to join due to the variety of products they offer and their trusted name, which encourages users to buy from them instead of their competitors. Amazon rewards affiliates with a percentage of the sales they send their way.

Many Twitch streamers and viewers already have an Amazon account due to it being required to pay for bits and Twitch Prime, so it's a popular choice for many.

Play Asia is another affiliate program that some Twitch streamers use. They have over 100,000 products and ship all around the world.

Here are some tips if you plan to use affiliate links on Twitch:

  • Talk to your viewers during your streams and in your chat to see what sort of products they're interested in and then begin linking to them in your chat or on social media. Don't spam your followers with too many links, though; the recommendations need to be organic.
  • List in your Twitch profile the hardware and software that you use, and link each product to its page on Amazon using your unique Amazon Associates code. Personal recommendations are one of the best ways to drive affiliate sales.

Sell Twitch Merchandise

Computer mouse attached to a basket of items
 Lifewire

Selling merchandise may not be as big of an earner for Twitch streamers as subscriptions and donations are, but for those with a large enough following, the creation and selling of their own uniquely designed products — like t-shirts and mugs — can be a nice additional source of income.

Twitch Partners are invited to sell their custom t-shirt designs in the main Twitch Amazon store, but any streamer can use a variety of similar free services like Spreadshirt, Teespring, and Zazzle to create and sell their own products.

When creating your product, use a design that's unique to your channels, like a larger version of an emote or an inside joke that has developed organically in your channel's chatroom.