Live streaming has exploded as a real-time form of entertainment over the past few years. During lockdown, in particular, more and more people (including a raft of celebrities) have turned to platforms such as Twitch and YouTube to livestream their content and entertain the masses. But what’s the truth about streaming? Why is it so popular and who can do it? More importantly, can you actually earn an income from it?
My name is Ar and I’ve been streaming for a number of years now. In this post, we’re going to look into the truth about making money from streaming. There are a lot of common misconceptions around being a streamer, so let’s take a look at some of those here.
If you’ve got any further questions then feel free to ask me over on my website, or you can drop into my Twitch channel anytime to check out the way I have things set up and how I run my streams. Make sure you do your research and know that streaming isn’t a get-rich-quick kind of thing, and you’ll be off to a flying start.
Everyone says streaming is an easy way to make some quick cash
This is probably one of the most commonly held and massively incorrect ideas about streaming. Yes, it is possible to make an income from doing live streams. But it certainly isn’t easy and it certainly isn’t quick!
It can take a while to even be eligible to earn from your streams. You need to work out what you’re going to stream, set up your equipment and software as well as integrating any third-party programmes that can help you build a viewership. Most importantly, you need to provide a consistent schedule of content and build your audience up to a set figure to unlock certain requirements for affiliate status or monetization.
You can, of course, enable tipping to your viewers at any point. This is often done via third-party apps or software such as a PayPal link or a Streamlabs tipping link. However, tipping is entirely the choice of those who watch your content – there’s no guarantee you’ll actually make any cash from tips! Don’t assume that just because you stream, people will start throwing money at you for the privilege of seeing you chat live.
Depending on your platform of choice, varying degrees of earning potential are open to you. Platforms like Twitch and YouTube, which are arguably the two most popular live-streaming sites, allow you to take a percentage of the revenue you generate from your streams. This is often dependent on your viewership and your engagement rates.
How do you earn from streaming then?
Once eligible, you can earn via advertising revenue and also through subscriptions. This is when your viewers choose to pay a set monthly amount to become a subscriber to your channel. In return, you need to make it worthwhile to them!
A common way to do this is via unlockable channel badges and emotes (animated or custom emojis) that only subs can use). There are other perks you can (and probably should) provide to your stream subscribers, like access to a private community such as Discord, or other perks like posted physical items or digital downloads. You don’t get to just sit back and accept their cash, you need to provide value. Make sure you consider what you can offer in return for your subscribers’ loyalty.
It’s important to consider the boundaries that you want to set in place before you get into this side of streaming though. Ensure you don’t begin to feel beholden to your subscribers’ cash. More often than not, your subs will be there because they want to support you and they enjoy your content. However, you will get the odd one or two who don’t seem to know where the line is, and feel entitled to access your time at any given moment because they pay you a set fee each month. This is not, and should never be the case.
Make sure you set sensible limits on what you’re prepared to offer your supporters. Just because you livestream to them does not mean they can message you at any hour of the day or night and demand an immediate response! Protect yourself from those who think their money is an all-access pass to the real you. It is not. Consider setting some ground rules for yourself and your budding community before you even set out on the livestreaming path.
What are the earnings like?
You can make a decent income from livestreaming if you make it big! However, when you’re just starting out, don’t expect to be raking in megabucks straight away. Depending on your platform of choice, subscription fees are usually set by the provider, of which you’ll get a set percentage.
Same goes for advertising revenue. Depending on how many ads are shown (you have some control over this on Twitch), you’ll receive a portion of the revenue generated from them, which is again, dependent on your viewership.
In essence, there are earnings to be made, but definitely not enough to give up your full-time job for unless you hit the big time. If you keep a consistent hand in with your streams though, your audience will grow, and your subscribers will too.
The key is consistency and community. On the days you can’t stream, keep up with your subs and followers in an app like Discord. Provide them with content they can enjoy when you’re offline, like digital downloads or quizzes. One of the most underrated aspects of streaming is the community it builds; look after your community and it will look after you in return.
I have more questions
There’s definitely a lot to think about if you’re considering becoming a streamer. I’ve been doing it for about a year or two now and I love it. It’s still kind of in the hobby stage for me, but I have been able to earn a little bit of extra income thanks to my subscribers.
Choosing what to stream can be the hardest part; for me, it’s working on my art and playing video games, but you could stream yourself just chatting, playing music, working on Photoshop, anything goes! Well, almost anything. Make sure you check what kind of content is allowed per platform and ensure you don’t stream anything that goes against their terms of service.