Twitch.tv is one of the most popular ways to make money as a gamer. There are several huge streamers making more than just a living on Twitch – Shroud, Ninja, and Summit to name a few, it’s definitely possible to make good money.
One of the main advantages of Twitch is its low barrier to entry, as long as you have the right hardware and software anyone can stream on Twitch and attempt to start earning money as a gamer.
What You’re Going to Need to Stream to Twitch
A decent internet connection
Twitch recommends an upload speed of at least 3 Mbps as the bare minimum, that speed should be able to produce a stable 720p 30fps stream. More bandwidth will enable you to stream up to 1080p at 60 fps.
You obviously need a gaming system and games that people want to watch, PS4, Xbox, Switch, and PC are your best bets. There’s a bit of a balance between streaming super popular games like Fortnite or Apex Legends or streaming something a little more niche so you don’t have to compete with a lot of other streamers.
Streaming hardware and software set up
There are several kinds of setups you can run when streaming, let’s quickly run through some of the most common ones.
Streaming from Xbox or PS4
The great thing about streaming to Twitch is you can get started with a little as a PS4 or Xbox, they have built-in capture cards and software to stream directly to Twitch. All you need to do is create an account on Twitch and plug-in credentials onto the streaming app on your Xbox on PS4.
With this setup, you’ll be able to broadcast your gameplay and capture your mic to interact with your stream.
Streaming from the Switch
The switch, unfortunately, does not have built-in streaming software so you’ll need to a capture device and a streaming PC. We like the Elgato HD60 for streaming Nintendo Switch gameplay.
The Elgato HD60 is a standalone device that will capture the video and audio from your switch and feed it into your PC for streaming.
Connect your switch to the Elgato HD60, your Elgato HD60 then connects to your PC and a display.
The streaming PC then handles broadcasting to Twitch with streaming software, I’d recommend Open Broadcaster Software (OBS), it’s the industry leader and completely free.
The combination of the Elgato and OBS allow you to add overlays, graphics, and alerts to your Nintendo Switch stream, you could also use Elgato with an Xbox or PS4 to enhance those streams as well.
Streaming from the PC
If you’re a PC gamer with a strong CPU and GPU then you’re in luck, all you need is OBS to broadcast your gameplay to Twitch.
Twitch recommends your PC having at least an Intel Core i5-4670 CPU (or the AMD equivalent) and 8GB of RAM to be able to broadcast smoothly. The stronger your computer is, the higher quality you can make your stream.
A note on streaming software
Streaming software like OBS lets you really enhance your broadcast with a bunch of nice features, it’s worth it to take the time to set up a good broadcast scene.
OBS handles all your video and audio sources and lets you build scenes with overlays, text and other features to enhance your broadcast. It’s completely free and open source with a lot of big-time streamers relying on OBS to perform.
With OBS you can put together your gaming video, gaming audio, a webcam and a microphone in one scene so you have a cohesive and interactive stream.
There are alternatives to OBS if for whatever reason you don’t find OBS suitable, take a look at Xsplit, Elgato Game Capture or Wirecast.
A webcam and a microphone go a long way in helping you build a following and improving the interactivity of your stream. These are things you likely already have so you can connect them into OBS and add them to your broadcasting scenes.
Gaining an Audience on Twitch
Leverage existing social media channels and promote
If you already have some kind of presence or following on Instagram, Twitter, Reddit or Facebook you can use that to tell your followers that you’re live streaming on Twitch to get started.
Be really really good at a game
If you’re obscenely good at a game you’ll start getting viewers on your stream pretty quickly. Of course, if you’re not already really really good at a game you’ll need to practice a ton to get there.
Entertain and engage
A lot of streamers have strong personalities and gimmicks on their stream to keep viewers entertained rather than focus on their gameplay. It’s better to have both but streamers like Dr. Disrespect have blown up in popularity due to how entertaining their personalities and streams are.
You have to stream consistently and often to build a relationship with your audience, set a schedule that you can commit to and stream regularly. Early on, you might be streaming to a few people or even no one but if you continue to promote and improve your stream you can hope to start capturing an audience that follows you as you grow.
Making Money on Twitch
There are 4 primary ways to make money on Twitch once you’ve started gaining a following.
Viewers on your Twitch channel can choose to subscribe to your channel with a $4.99, $9.99 or $24.99 subscription or a Twitch Prime sub if they have an Amazon Prime subscription. When you get subscriptions you split the money with Twitch 50/50.
You can incentivize viewers to subscribe by offering perks such as custom emotes, ad-free viewing and other exclusives, as well as acknowledging and shouting out their name if they subscribe during the stream. For you to get sub alerts you’re going to need services such as StreamLabs or StreamElements to enhance your OBS with overlays.
StreamLabs and StreamElements can also help you set up a donation button on your stream that will allow viewers to send you a message visible on your stream for you to interact with. Donations usually process through Paypal and are one-time where you keep the entire amount.
Twitch also has a currency called bits that are essentially microdonations that happen on Twitch instead of Paypal. Twitch does take a cut of this money but it is built into the Twitch platform so less set up required, but you have to be a Twitch partner first.
Advertising & Sponsorships
Once you get large enough you can get Twitch partnered to start using their advertising platform as well as selling direct sponsorships yourself.
Affiliate & Merchandise
You can have your channel page link to products you use or love and make a commission off of any sales you make, Amazon is the most common, easy to set up and has a ton of products you can link to. Some recommendations would be to link to the gaming mouse or gaming keyboard you use.
You can also design and develop your own merchandise and sell if you have big fans that want to rep or support you as a streamer.
Making Money Livestreaming and Gaming on Twitch
Even with a good streaming setup, it takes a long time and consistency to build a sizeable audience and even then it’s not guaranteed. Be sure you’re okay with not making much money at all for a prolonged period of time and you have income coming from elsewhere.