While Twitch is the most popular streaming platform, it’s not without its faults. Considering how many big-name streamers use Twitch, Twitch doesn’t have many resources for smaller streamers to make it big on there. YouTube Live is a great alternative to Twitch and is more friendly to new streamers because of its connection to Google and video searchability.
YouTube Live offers many ways for new streamers to make money on the platform. It will take a little time to monetize your channel. However, once you do, you can start making money. For some of you, you might even make a living off YouTube Live.
Why stream on YouTube Live instead of Twitch?
Twitch has become the most popular streaming platform on the internet. Naturally, there’s a lot of competition on the platform and Twitch isn’t as equipped as YouTube to prop up its smaller streamers. Twitch usually recommends popular streamers who are online. YouTube’s search engine makes it easier to become discovered if you’re online or offline. VODs of livestreams are more accessible on YouTube as well.
The ways you can make money on YouTube Live
The most common way YouTube streamers make money is through ads. YouTube allows creators to run pre-roll, mid-roll, display and overlay ads. Running ads isn’t a perk every YouTuber streamer starts with. You need to be in YouTube’s Partner Program to make money off the ads running during your stream and videos. Here are the requirements you need to meet to get into the Partner Program:
- You need to have at least 1,000 subscribers on the channel you’re using
- At least 4,000 hours of videos watched in the past 12 months
Once you’re in the program, you can start making money off of ads running on your videos. Ads are a common stream of revenue. However, they aren’t consistent. YouTube is quite strict on ad-friendly content.
Also, YouTube constantly updates its policies and demonetization rules for reasons which might have been acceptable before. YouTube can demonetize your stream VODs if it thinks your content isn’t safe for brands or includes copyrighted material.
However, YouTube’s system is flawed and sometimes demonetized for unknown reasons. Additionally, you have to consider ad blockers. Many people use them, meaning you’d make less money off ads than expected. The best way to ensure you have a steady income is to have other forms of income other than ad revenue.
Super Chats is YouTube’s tipping system during livestreams. Viewers can tip money during your livestreams to pin their comments to the chat window. Super Chats make questions and comments more noticeable to the streamer. Streamers use this feature as a way for their viewers to ask them questions. Also, chatter can buy Super Stickers. Though YouTube does take a cut of the tip, it’s still a way for you to gain direct support from your community.
Similar to Twitch subscriptions, YouTube offers Memberships. Memberships allow you to lock parts of your streams to Members only. So, if viewers want to see the portion of the stream, they need to pay. Only creators with more than 1,000 subscribers can utilize YouTube’s Membership feature. Here are all the requirements your channel needs to meet to unlock the Membership feature:
- Your channel must have more than 1,000 subscribers
- You must already be in YouTube’s Partner Program
- Must be 18 years old
- Your channel doesn’t hold a significant number of ineligible videos (videos made for children or videos with music claims)
Memberships works on a tiered system. In total, there are five tiers. The higher the tier, the more special perks buyers receive. The five tiers cost $1.99, $4.99, $9.99, $14.99, and $24.99. Craters can name each tier, allowing them to add a channel-specific touch to the tiered system to excite their communities.
Building your stream’s revenue
YouTube’s monetization is inconsistent. While you can make a living off the money you make on YouTube, many YouTubers will tell you it can change at a moment’s notice. For instance, back in May 2017 during Adpocalypse, brands pulled their funding from YouTube, causing many content creators to lose most of their revenue made from ads. It taught a lot of them it’s best to diversify their sources of income.
Diversifying your stream’s income is an excellent strategy to ensure success without relying heavily on ad revenue.
Direct donations from your community are always a way to ensure your channel stays funded during hard times. Platforms like Patreon allow streamers to receive monthly payments from their communities for extra content. Essentially, the benefit of having a decent amount of monthly donations allows you to take more risks with your content and not worry as much about YouTube’s system demonetizing your VODs. While it’ll hurt, with enough monthly donations, it’ll hurt a little less.
Sponsorships usually start coming when you have a larger following on YouTube. After you establish a following on the platform and show you can engage your audience and mobilize them, brands will want to work with you. You don’t need millions of subscribers to get brand deals.
In many ways, engagement is more important to brands than subscriber numbers. A channel can have a million subscribers, but if this channel can’t get a fraction of its subscribers to buy a product, brands will look for another channel to work with. Sometimes brands will reach out to you. Other times, you have to reach out to brands to get the wheels moving. Rule of thumb: make deals with brands you would use and you feel your audience would find useful. You run the risk of looking like a sellout out if you take every brand opportunity you get.
Merch is an important income source for many YouTube streamers. Usually, YouTubers sell merch like shirts, hoodies or hats. They sell them in partnership with YouTube-approved merch manufacturers. However, some YouTubers prefer to make it themselves. Regardless of the path you choose, you want to make sure it’s something special for your community to want to own. For instance, PewDiePie sold tambourines with his channel’s iconic red and black waves because tambourines were a big meme in his community.
Also, once you start selling merch, be sure to use features like YouTube merch shelf. This feature allows you to advertise your merch during your streams.
If you’re not too keen on advertising directly in your video, a good alternative is to use affiliate links. If you want to use a combination of the two, you can make even more money for advertising. Affiliate links are links to products you recommend or use in the videos. When someone purchases the product using the link, you’ll get a cut of the sale. It’s a more subtle way to make money through product advertisements.
Start making money on YouTube
While YouTube has its cons, it is still one of the best platforms to make money on. Utilize its programs like its Partner Program and features like Super Chats to make money on your streams. Also, be sure to set up a source of income off of YouTube to ensure you have a steady income if things go wrong on your channel. The only way to start making money streaming on YouTube is to stream, and there’s no better time than now to start.