The question that a lot of people have is how do the creative talents behind the screens make their money? Some of the methods have a lot of cross-over from platform to platform, but some are unique to a specific platform based on the particular dynamics of that platform. So, let's dig in.
Twitch and donations
Twitch is a great hub for all kinds of streaming and interactive content. The brand has been steadily improving on its mission to provide a variety of different streaming content since it was first launched in 2011.
People want to watch other people play video games and do a variety of other things. The market was there for viewing people playing these games, and plenty of people were ready to pounce on it to provide the viewers with the type of content they had been craving. To get much of a following on Twitch it is generally necessary to either be a very talented video game player, have great commentary while you are playing the games, do something unique in the games that is challenging to do, or some combination of all of those factors. However, once you have gathered together a large following, you can expect that you could potentially turn this into a marketing gold mine for yourself.
A few of the ways that the best gamers have capitalized on their Twitch fame include:
- Accepting donations. Some appreciative fans will donate their own money if it means helping out a gamer they enjoy watching
- Offer a subscription service. The vast majority of Twitch streamers will never have the kind of following necessary to charge people to watch them play games, but some people will. Those who have a loyal following could potentially offer a subscription service to their channel to get more people signed on and viewing their work.
- Create a twitch store. Maybe you have a catchphrase that you can throw on some t-shirts, or perhaps there is something else unique about your approach to playing games that you can market. If so, opening a Twitch store and offering your products is one way to do it.
So, who are some of the most famous Twitch streamers and what kind of viewership levels are they seeing? Here is a consolidated list of the most popular from 2021:
- Felix "xQc" Lengyel He had 272 million hours of watch time across the 3,600 hours that he streamed in 2021 alone. As Spotskeeda says: "xQc’s average Twitch earnings per month have been pegged to be around the $300k mark. However, the past few months’ growths mean that his average can be expected to be closer to the $400k mark. Considering that the streamer earned $750k in September 2021, his earnings from Twitch in 2021 should be around $5 million".
- Alexandre "Gaules" Borba He pulled in 166.46 million hours of watch time in 2021 even though he streamed far less than most on this list. According to Espotspedia, Gaules' Est. Net Worth is $1,172,853.
- Raul Alvarez "AuronPlay" Genes Compiled 119.01 million hours of watch time in 2021 and gained an impressive 4.5 million new followers in the last year. His estimated net worth is around $9,900,000, The elder geek says.
YouTube and ad revenue
There is approximately 500 hours worth of content added to YouTube every minute on average. YouTube creators sometimes get a bad reputation as being overly promotional or being too self-interested, but there is no denying that they bring in some serious money. Some of the highest-paid YouTube stars bring in tens of millions of dollars per year. This is not typical, of course, but the types of channels that do amazingly interesting things that we just can't take our eyes off of are able to create a very comfortable life for their creators. They do by:
- Doing paid endorsements - It's not just athletes and movie stars who are paid for their endorsements these days. YouTube creators often have larger audiences than either of those two categories anyway, and brands have taken notice. YouTube personalities who are willing to do paid endorsements can bring in a lot of their yearly income off of this alone, and they often get free products from the companies they sponsor as well.
- Ad revenue - YouTube runs ads on videos for those who do not pay for their premium service. Those ads generate revenue for YouTube, of course, but they also share some of that revenue with their creators. If creators of certain videos are willing to run ads on their videos, they can get a sweet cut of that ad money.
- A share of income from the premium plan - YouTube offers a premium service for viewers that allows them to skip past ads and simply enjoy the videos that they want to see. It seems as if this would be a disaster for creators who rely at least in part on ad revenue, but YouTube cuts in creators for a share of the revenue generated by premium plans as well.
TikTok and long-lasting contracts
TikTok is largely targeted at people in the age range of 13-35, but there are people of all ages who are enjoying it. This is obvious when you take a glance at a look at some of the most popular TikTok creators and the number of followers they have amassed:
- @Charlidamelio - 119 million followers
- @Addisonre - 82 million followers
- @Bellapoarch - 75 million followers
- @ZachKing - 62 million followers
- @SpencerX - 54 million followers
These people have followings that are larger than the populations of most individual countries on Earth! They have leveraged the power of short videos and skits that they post to build an audience. Many of them now use that massive audience to get sponsorship deals. For example, @Charlidamelio has signed contracts with Hollister and Dunkin' Donuts to sponsor their products and get paid to do so. TikTok creators can earn anywhere from $200 to $20,000 for a single branded video. All you have to do is find your niche, actively communicate with your followers, and be consistent.
Some TikTok channels generate significant revenue when fans of those channels send gifts and donations to the channels to help them create even more amazing content. This platform is exploding in popularity at the moment, so the number of people who can make a living on it is likely to increase as well.
Instagram and a lot of ads
Instagram is a giant repository of videos and photos. There are far fewer words on Instagram than what you would see on a typical social media platform, and that is done entirely on purpose. The value of Instagram is in the imagery. Those who are great at taking photos and those who society wants to spend a lot of time looking at can turn their photos into dollars.
- Running ads on videos (stories) - Similar to the YouTube model, creators can choose to run ads on their Instagram videos (stories) to generate some extra cash. If people are going to watch the videos anyway, they might as well see an ad that generates a little revenue for the creator.
- Promote a business or sell items - Instagram is a great place to show off products and even to offer free trials. When promoting a business or trying to get a product off the ground, many creators turn to Instagram to let people know what it is all about. When people can see a product with their own eyes as they can on Instagram, they may be more prone to buying it.
Twitter and sponsored tweets
It seems crazy that people could actually make money on a social media website that is famous for how brief you have to be when you post on it, but there are ways to make money on Twitter. The genius of Twitter is that it is so brief and rapid-fire that you have to be witty and creative to get a lot of attention on there organically. However, some people are very clever about how they tweet, and some accounts garner millions of followers simply by being so clever. Those accounts can then turn around and pitch their followers on various products. Creators on Twitter can generate money in a few ways including:
- Sponsored tweets - Putting out a tweet that directly promotes a brand can be a great way to do things. It may sound a little different from previous tweets, but that is because it is an advertisement. That is not such a big deal though because most Twitter users understand that some of their favorite creators on the site are going to do this as a way of generating some of their income.
- Pitching their own products - It is easy to reach a large audience on Twitter, particularly when people start retweeting. When the retweets come in, they can start to create an avalanche of new retweets, and suddenly a message can be spread far and wide. That is all good news for those looking to pitch their products. Even if a tweet isn't getting the kind of attention that one had hoped it would, they can always pay Twitter a little money to promote it to a broader audience.
There are many ways that creators can make money in today's economy. They have to be careful about how they practice their craft, and they need to be deliberate, but it is all within their reach. If they are just disciplined in their approach, then they will get the kind of traction that they require to start making the kind of money that most of us only dream of. It takes a lot of time and a lot of talent, but the sky's the limit for those who can pull this off.