The digital content industry has been steadily rising even before the pandemic and the global market size is expected to reach $38 billion by 2030. In this post, Tachat Igityan, founder of the platform for streamers destream, breaks down the financial aspects of blogging and content creation.
The boom of the creator economy
The creator economy sits at the intersection of the gig economy and the creative industries, and it has seen a record $1.3B in funding in 2021. It consists of businesses built by content creators, digital artists, social media influencers, bloggers, and videographers. It includes platforms, marketplaces, and tools democratising creative expression. More than 50 million people around the globe consider themselves creators, and over 2 million of them make six figures or more on YouTube, Twitch, and Instagram, and sponsored influencers are worth over $8 billion. The creative economy paradigm is driving a whole new class of software and tools, with around $8 billion in annual marketing spending.
The amount of money content creators can make depends on their following, industry, niche, location, and engagement rates. Big tech platforms, including Youtube and Twitch, are fighting to keep creators with them to drive engagement. However, social giants left content creators with few, if any, ways for direct monetisation. This way, bloggers and creators need to calculate the hidden fees to understand the real amount of money they can get out of donations, subscriptions, or any monetisation programs.
Content monetisation formats for gamers and streamers
The most popular Twitch streamers effectively become full-time gamers, they play online for at least 40 hours per week and can earn an average of $3000-$6500 per month, depending on the number of followers and sponsorships.
Donations are a popular way to support streamers with a one-off payment. Twitch doesn’t have a built-in system to accept donations, so content creators need to use third-party platforms. The biggest $1,000,000 donation on Twitch was made to Benjamin Lupo, an American streamer and Youtuber better known as DrLupo. To get the most out of the donations on any platform, bloggers and streamers should carefully read the policies and consider all the commissions they will pay to third parties. For instance, PayPal is now charging 2.89% of the donation, plus a $0.49 fixed fee. It means that from every $1 donation from a viewer the content creator would only get $0.48. destream allows bloggers and streamers to receive donations for content generated on popular social media without hidden fees, with destream bloggers can save up to 47% of their income if they carefully calculate all the commissions charged by payment platforms.
- Affiliate and Partner Programs
To qualify for the Affiliate Programs, creators need to meet several criterias, such as streaming for at least eight hours and seven days in the last 30 days, receiving an average of three viewers per stream, and growing the audience to 50 followers. Once these criterias are met, Twitch automatically invites them to become an Affiliate. These members can earn money from subscriptions, receive Bits and make revenue by selling games and in-game items.
The best streamers on Twitch – the top video game broadcasters, personalities, leagues, teams, and tournaments can be part of the partner programs. Twitch Partnership program is exclusive for those who are committed to streaming and are ready to level up from Affiliate, the platform offers creators to be part of it depending on their content, average concurrent viewership, stream frequency, and schedule. Twitch Partners can earn revenue by accepting subscriptions and emotes from their viewers, receive Bites and money generated from any ads played on their channel.
If we talk about Youtube, to be part of the Youtube Partner Program the content creator has to attract 1,000 subscribers to the channel and earn 4,000 hours of public watch time within a year. For instance, the Youtube Partner program includes Super Chats, Channel Memberships, and YouTube Applause as different ways of content monetisation.
Subscriptions provide content creators with a recurring income. On certain platforms bloggers can take out more money thanks to subscriptions, for instance, on Substack writers take home 90% of the subscription revenue. On Twitch streamers can add monthly subscriptions from $US4.99 to $24.99 to their channel and get 50% of the revenue. Subscriptions are permitted both for Affiliates and Partners. The most popular Twitch Partners managed to earn more than 50% from subscriptions as a way to encourage them to remain on the platform. The subscribe option is available only on the Twitch website, but not on the mobile or console apps, that’s why streamers need to occasionally remind viewers to go to the website to subscribe.
- Twitch Bits
Bits are mini-donations from viewers who pay for them with Amazon payments. They are available to Twitch Partners and Affiliates and can earn one cent per bit used in their channel’s chat, for example, if viewers use 100 bits, streamers earn $1. Content creators can use tip jar widgets on the stream layout to encourage viewers to use more Bits. Small donations are available on other platforms, Facebook has Stars, the donation stickers that users can allocate during a stream.
Twitch and other platforms pay a flat-rate CPM (cost per 1000 views) which varies depending on the time of year. On YouTube, an average channel can receive $18 CPM, which is equal to $3 – $5 per 1000 video views. Twitch pays on average around $2 per 1,000 views for an ad, and this monetisation option is available only to Twitch Partners.
- Affiliate links
Many content creators earn income by joining various affiliate programs and adding links to their products or services on the Twitch channel page description and within the chat. Twitch is a product of Amazon, which has the best-known affiliate program in the world.
- Selling in-game items and sponsorships
Finally, Twitch Partners can sell games and in-game items and receive a 5% share of the revenue. When streamers play a game with items they can sell, a sales box automatically appears on the page below the video screen. A viewer clicks on the box and can make a purchase. Besides, direct advertisers often target popular content creators, brands like Wendy’s and KFC partnered up with big streamers to make successful marketing campaigns on Twitch.
The future of content monetisation for creators
There are numerous ways to make revenue on online platforms, however, we can see a shift towards community-based tools instead of direct advertising. Many users find them annoying and have AdBlock installed to prevent ads. In the near future we will observe the evolution of the payment methods. For instance, the co-founder of Twitch Justin Kan announced the launch of Fractal – a new marketplace for gaming non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
Donations help to improve the quality of the content and bloggers can bring it to a new professional level. This way, with the development of content creation tools and new ways to receive money for creative work, we will see more competent players on the market.