Over the last years, live streaming has changed our online presence. It is becoming easier for one person with limited resources to start a channel and start building an audience.
In this article we outline concrete examples of how a one-person, live streaming team found monetary success live streaming.
We have split these creators into two separate categories: those that provide educational content and those who provide social content. Before we dive into concrete examples, we would like to highlight the importance of knowing your audience because the majority of your income will be dependent on the type of audience and what they’re interested in.
How educators make money live streaming
Educators often use live streams to promote their paid content (such as online classes). During their live streams, they interact with the audience, answer questions, and offer an insight into their much more informative paid lessons, enticing viewers to purchase.
Let’s take look at an example of a photographer, who sells lessons online and does live streams to promote them. Alex Koloskov specializes in photographing commodities like jewelry, cosmetics, and art. He creates a perfect balance in the information he shares during his free live streams and the information he saves for his students that pay for his online classes. Through his live streams, Alex is able to offer enough insight into his expertise where viewers become interested in purchasing the full lessons.
Live streamers are easily able to implement paywalls through companies like SabraMedia. This is effectively a service that makes viewers pay a small fee to access the live streamed content. If you would like to learn more about services that offer paywalls as a part of their service, check out our blog post on things to consider when choosing a live streaming platform.
With time, Alex’s streaming setups have gotten more and more complicated. He had three different cameras on set, plus his laptop, totaling four video sources to switch between. He had developed a complex setup involving an HDMI splitter, two switchers, a recorder, and finally an encoder with a separate confidence monitor. All of these devices (highlighted in green on the Before image) could be replaced by just one all-in-one switching, recording, and streaming device, like Pearl Mini. By switching to Pearl Mini, Alex was able to significantly simplify his setup.
Now, Alex is able to connect two HDMI video sources and one SDI source directly to Pearl Mini. He doesn’t have to worry about so many moving parts anymore, making his setup more efficient and reliable. Pearl Mini is able to do live switching, record individual channels or the composite stream, and it is able to encode and stream to multiple platforms. If Alex wanted to, he could potentially go live on YouTube and Facebook simultaneously, attracting an even bigger audience. Pearl Mini’s touchscreen display is able to second as a confidence monitor, so connecting an external one is not necessary. Technically, Alex could also do without an audio mixer, because Pearl Mini is able to take in XLR audio. An audio mixer, however, is able to provide some extra control over sound.
How social streamers make money live streaming
Building the brand
Social streamers are people who stream content to mainly social networks like Twitch or Youtube. The most popular content streamed on social today is video gaming. One of my favorite examples of a streamer that has seen an incredible amount of growth in a short amount of time is named DrDisrespect. He only streams video games, but his audience appeal is not just because of his skill: he has also created a unique and recognizable brand. In every live stream he wears the same wig, fake mustache, and pair of sporty sunglasses while sitting in his iconic red gaming chair. The strength behind his brand is his unique image. Even if you may have never heard of him, chances are you’ve seen this face somewhere on Youtube, Facebook, or Twitch before.
Watch live video from DrDisrespect on www.twitch.tv.
DrDisrespect makes most of his streaming money from the subscriber system in Twitch. Viewers can subscribe to their favorite streamers for a monthly fee. The packages available range from $5 to $25 and can include whatever the streamer chooses from ad-free viewing, special alerts and emojis, as well as an exclusive chat room. Naibuzz estimates that DrDisrespect makes at least $75,000 per month on subscription based income alone!
Ads have a tremendous amount of potential, especially on Twitch. Mediakix claims that DrDisrespect made $93,631 in ad revenue in 2018 alone. An ad will always run when a viewer first enters the stream and an ad can be run while a streamer is live on Twitch. DrDisrespect runs a short, skippable ad when he’s live approximately every 15 minutes. Streamers can choose exactly when they want to run an ad, so they often keep a close eye on their audience and run ads when they think it’s at peak viewership. Streamers can choose to continuously run ads one after the other. This would bring you a considerable amount of money, but it can definitely drive your audience away, so use that ad button wisely!
Direct gifts from your audience itself will be one of your many sources of income. Loyal viewers can purchase “Twitch Bits” which is Twitch’s own form of virtual currency. These bits can be exchanged for exclusive gifs, emojis, or virtual stickers (all unique to the streamer you wish to support), which you are able to show off in the in-stream chatroom. Twitch ends up paying the streamer 1 cent for each “Twitch bit” that is used in their chat room. It’s not easy to find how much DrDisrespect receives in donations each time he streams, but fans estimate that he gets up to $6,000 in donations per month.
The better option that many Twitch streamers use is asking their audience to donate to them directly through different third party platforms. The most common ones we’ve come across are PayPal, Patreon, and StreamLabs. Streamers then advertise these links on their streams and ask for donations there. This way, the streamer gets all the money you choose to donate, without having to give Twitch a cut.
With a solid brand foundation, the streamer is able to produce and sell merchandise. When starting to do this, streamers usually go with services like StreamLabs or Redbubble. These particular services make selling merchandise very easy. They take care of production and shipping for you as long as you provide them with a design.
DrDisrespect has partnerships with some of the top players in the gaming industry. He has partnered with “Turtlebeach Corp,” who make headsets made for gamers, “Razer,” who make computer gear for gamers, and “GFuel,” who make pre-workout energy formula for, you guessed it, gamers.
To properly practice affiliate marketing, the corporation must have the same customer base as the creators audience. There are a few services that pair creators with brands looking for affiliate marketing partners (such as Famebit or SocialBakers), but on the whole, these services are not effective. This is because of the nature of these services. Famebit prompts the creator to reach out to corporations and negotiate the terms of the agreement, whereas the most successful affiliate marketing partnerships are ones where the corporation reaches out to the creator themselves and negotiates an offer. This is because the corporation always knows their target audience better than the creator, hence the corporation should choose the creator and not the other way around.
Even if you are a one-man operation, you can still use live streaming as a means to grow. It is a great way for a determined creator to turn what was once a hobby into full-time employment. Whether it is informational, educational, or purely entertainment, live streaming is about providing value to your audience.
The most important thing you must practice to become a successful live streamer is continuously working on improving your content and production. Viewers enjoy dynamic streams with quality audio and video that are consistent. This makes the equipment you use extremely important. For example, if you are just starting out, you could use a simple encoder like the Webcaster X2 to go live on Twitch, Facebook, or YouTube. For more advanced operations with more video sources involved, an all-in-one live video production system such as Pearl Mini might be the way to go.
- Educational streamers offer an investment, don’t give away too much in your free live streams and set up that paywall!
- Social streamers need to build their brand before they start earning
- Income from ads can be lucrative, don’t overdo it or you’ll lose your audience
- Donations can come in directly from Twitch but third-party services will often yield better results
- Solidify your brand before selling merchandise
- Teaming up with a corporation for affiliate marketing is easier when you know their customer base and when it matches your audience
- Being a successful live streamer doesn’t come from running ads and getting donations, it comes from producing good quality content while using good quality equipment for consistent streams