As a streamer in gaming, you have the opportunity to make some serious money.
After all, the gaming industry is about as recession-proof as businesses get in these strange times.
The rise of streaming
Historically, escapism (seeking distraction from unpleasant realities via entertainment or fantasy) is how people deal with hard times. And with the rise
Even when faced with the Great Depression, people had to find a silver lining and it is likely what helped many make it out to the other side. Encyclopedia.com notes:
“Significantly, people living at the time of the Great Depression may have only been the first or second generation in their families to experience leisure time and the options it afforded. Despite the economic devastation of the 1930s, people were not to forego what they had so recently come to take for granted. In fact, popular culture—and the amusements and entertainment associated with it—may have been crucial to public well being during the period. Attending movies, listening to the radio, dancing to live music, and reading cheap magazines or books containing sensational or gruesome material, popularly known as pulp fiction, allowed people to escape from the uncertainties, anxieties, and loss of self esteem associated with the Depression years.”Encyclopedia
Growth of gaming and streaming
Alongside the growth of the gaming industry, streaming has had a meteoric rise in entertainment. As hard-pressed as you would be to find someone without Netflix, Hulu, et al, it is becoming almost as hard to find someone that doesn’t have several favorite podcasts on Spotify, a list of favorite YouTube channels, or a handful of favorite streamers on Twitch. Influencer MarketingHub put together some eye-opening numbers on the streaming industry as a whole. In particular, these 2019-2020 stats via Upcomer.com are worth keeping in mind:
“Twitch saw about a 100% growth in hours watches compared to last year, while YouTube saw a more moderate 65% growth. Facebook Gaming had an explosive 238% increase in hours watched. Overall, the livestreaming industry saw a 99% increase in hours watched since last year.”
This was born of the Covid lockdowns that saw cities all around the world inside more than ever but Grand View Research sees continued growth of 21.3% from 2022 to 2030 totaling $330.51 billion.
So now that we know there is money to be made in this corner of the internet, let’s talk about…
How to earn money as a streamer
There are a few things you need to consider.
What are you going to stream?
Are you going to stream the biggest, most popular title everyone else is playing or are you going to going to become a master of your favorite game? Do you want to play solo or do you have a group of friends you want to party up with? Are you going to be on PC, Playstation, or Xbox? The answers to these questions will help you develop an identity within a particular community. You may switch the game down the line but it’s a lot easier in the beginning for people to spread the word about you if you’re the Warframe guy or the Final Fantasy XIV lady.
What is your streaming schedule going to be?
Another big part of the formula most people don’t consider/ are not aware of is the necessity of a schedule. Why?
- It lets anyone that wants to watch you know when you’ll be on
- Having a consistent schedule can help you from burning yourself out
- It gives you time to do the other things we’ll get into later that you’ll need to handle to grow your channel and income
Also, depending on your platform of choice, you’ll need a minimum of time streaming. Maintaining a schedule will make sure you hit your markers without having to rack your brain about it later.
What platform will you be streaming on to make money?
There may not be a lot of options, but there are some major differences between platforms. This is where scheduling can make or break your income based on where you’re streaming.
Arguably the biggest streaming platform today, Twitch has quite a ridged criteria to have access to its 140 million monthly active users.
- Reach 50 followers
- Stream for 8 hours
- Stream on 7 different days
- Average of 3 viewers (concurrent viewership including hosts and raids)
This gives you access to the Affiliate tier which is the lower level of monetization. The streaming requirements must be met within a 30-day period (they are SUPER specific about that). If you want the big money, you’ll want to shoot for becoming a Twitch Partner.
- Stream for 25 hours
- Stream on 12 different days
- Average of 75 viewers (concurrent viewership excluding hosts, raids and embeds)
Again, scheduling makes a huge difference here, especially if you’re trying to stream in between a job, a family, and general adulting.
Known more for uploaded video content as opposed to streaming, YouTube features a variety of ways to monetize your streams with only one or two hurdles to really get over.
- Ad Revenue
- Be at least 18 years old, or have a legal guardian older than 18 years of age who can handle your payments via AdSense.
- Create content that meets our advertiser-friendly content guidelines
- Channel Memberships/Merch Shelf
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have more than 1,000 subscribers
- Super Chat & Super Stickers
- Be at least 18 years old
- Live in a country/region where Super Chat is available
- YouTube Premium Revenue
- Create content watched by a viewer who is a YouTube Premium subscriber
Basically, if you’re 18 and have more than 1,000 subscribers, you’re good to go. As an added bonus, you can create YouTube Shorts to increase not only your viewership but take advantage of the YouTube Shorts Fund to add a little extra earning potential.
Though the stand-alone Facebook Gaming app is shutting down on Oct. 28th, Facebook and parent company Meta remains dedicated to the streaming space. In a statement on the gaming app via CNBC, Facebook stated:
“Despite this news, our mission to connect players, fans and creators with the games they love hasn’t changed, and you’ll still be able to find your games, streamers and groups when you visit Gaming in the Facebook app.”
Like YouTube, there are few barriers to getting started.
- Create a Gaming Video Creator Page that has been active for at least 14 days, with an admin who is 18 or older
- Have at least 100 followers on their Page
- Stream gaming content, with game tagged, for at least 4 hours across 2 of the preceding 14 days (only tag a game if you will be playing it, or it may impact your eligibility)
As long as you’re 18 with 100 followers and you stream for 2 hours every 7 days, you’re set. Once you hit those prerequisites with consistency, you can apply for the Level Up Program and begin monetizing your streams. This will allow you to earn Stars which you can cash out for cold, hard. . .well, it will be ones and zeroes, but THEN you can withdraw it for cold, hard cash.
Boasting more than 350K users tuning in to their content, Caffeine offers the lowest entry point; be 18. In their own words:
“No ads. No subs. No partner program required. Make money when your viewers purchase digital items for your stream. It’s that simple.”
Now, if you want to increase your earning potential and have more tools at your disposal, you can shoot for becoming a Caster:
- Broadcast at least 10 hours
- Broadcast on at least 8 different days
- Hit an average of at least 5 viewers across all broadcasts
- At least 100 followers
- No bans or offenses on your account
- Must be at least 13 years of age (depends on legal age to receive payments based on where you live)
This is for those who see streaming as more of a side hustle. For those that want to swing for the fences and see streaming as a career move, Caffeine offers two paths to their Cyan Partnership:
- Track 1
- 40 hours a month / 120 hours in last 3 consecutive months. (Cyan Partners must hit 120 hours across 3 months. You can split these hours however you want.)
- 15 average ccv across top 5 broadcasts. (You must maintain a minimum average of 15 concurrent viewers across your top 5 broadcasts. Don’t worry. We’ll use your top 5 broadcasts when we calculate.)
- Track 2
- 20 hours a month / 60 hours in last 3 consecutive months. (You can split these hours across 3 months however you want.)
- 50 average ccv across top 5 broadcasts. (If you’re doing less hours, you must hit a higher average concurrent viewer number. We will count your top 5 broadcasts towards the 50 average ccv.)
This is, of course, more intense but gives you even more tools to market yourself.
Making money as a gaming streamer with partnerships & ads
So what do you do once you have hundreds of thousands of people checking out your streams and you’re an ultra platinum certified partner with your platform of choice? Time to cash in on your hard work. You can either go with ads during your streams on platforms like YouTube, Twitch, and Facebook Gaming or you can have sponsored videos and have the possibility to negotiate your own terms.
Yes, they may be annoying but they can earn you a good chunk of change. According to CreditDonkey:
“The typical “expert” streamer makes between $3,000 and $5,000 per month by playing 40 hours per week.
More average streamers will make roughly $250 in ad revenue per 100 subscribers or $3.50 per 1,000 views. To start earning money on Twitch, you need roughly 500 regular viewers.”
Having ads run before or during your streams can make a noticeable difference the more you grow. Most platforms make it extremely to set up ads for your channel through your account and typically give you the option to decide where to place them as well.
In more specific terms, this would include affiliate programs, sponsorships, and straight-up brand partnerships. Now, it may take some time before you’re as big as Tyler “Ninja” Blevins (sponsored by Adidas, Red Bull, Uber Eats, NZXT) or Michael Grzesiek (sponsored by Logitech, J!nx), but this is the typical endgame for a streamer. The notoriety that comes with these types of sponsorships can set you up to cross over into other industries and broader opportunities.
Believe it or not, for more common sponsorships like Manscaped or Express VPN, it can be as simple as applying via their website. For the bigger names, you may need management to connect you with the proper channels.
How to earn money as a streamer in gaming with third-party sites
Let’s say you don’t exactly. . .click with YouTube’s monetization practices. Not a problem. A good way to supplement your streaming income or skirt around being demonetized on a particular platform is using third-party sites.
The most popular is easily Patreon. With Patreon, you give your community the opportunity to directly support you in exchange for exclusive content. Since you’re allowed to set your own prices for content, it becomes easier to understand how your money is moving and adjust accordingly.
Kickstarter is another option if you have a particularly large project you’re looking to bring to your streaming channel or if you need new equipment to improve the quality of your work. Like Patreon, you offer exclusive content to your supporters to entice them to help out. Of course, it would be helpful to have an established audience already but there may be those who see your campaign, dig what you’re going for, and may want to support off general principle.
GoFundMe can be utilized like Kickstarter when you have a specific, large-scale purchase or project but it doesn’t require you to provide extra content along the way. Again, having an established audience makes it easier to hit your monetary goals here but it couldn’t hurt to give it a shot even in the early stages.
How to earn money as a streamer by selling merchandise
The people love you! They watch, they comment, they share, they’re throwing money at you left and right. The best thing to do now? Give them something else to buy of course. Whether it’s T-shirts, plushies, pins, etc gives your audience a way to show they’re part of your community in the real world.
Working with a third-party site like Shopify can help you set up another income stream from your successful streams.
“Terrestrial [TerrestrialPlays] started selling merch when she was at only around 10 viewers per stream, and it paid off. She said that now a “substantial” part of her monthly income comes from merchandise sales, with the rest coming from subscribers and affiliate deals.”
There’s no time like now to increase your brand with a few pieces of merch. If you don’t feel you’re big on the idea, do it for a limited time. Turns out that could be the motivation people may need to buy now instead of waiting until you’re a household name.
“Scarcity marketing is when you capitalize on customers’ fear of missing out. There’s a psychological principle behind it: people want what they can’t have. Brands using product scarcity tactics will limit the supply or time frame people can buy a product, in order to increase perceived value and sales.”
How to earn money as a beginner
Being a streamer is bigger than just streaming. If it’s just a side gig for you, understanding how to utilize ads and keeping a solid schedule will still be necessary. If you want to go big, understanding the business behind the gaming (or music, podcasting, etc) will help you be better prepared when bigger opportunities present themselves. Stay ready so you never have to get ready. Use this as your guide on how to earn money as a streamer then extend your knowledge into each income stream based on your platform. Keep grinding, keep an eye on your money, and keep having fun. Don’t let the idea of being a star burn you out.