Over the past decade, streaming has grown more and more in popularity. The global pandemic has only served to help streaming even further, giving it a significant boost. In fact, from March of 2020 till March of the next year, Twitch streaming numbers grew by around 80%. It’s really pretty crazy if you think about it.

Nowadays, it’s nearly impossible to go anywhere on social media or even much of the internet without hearing anything about the world’s biggest streamers. You’ll occasionally hear about massive streaming celebrities such as xQc, Ludwig, Pokimane, and more.

With all of this, it’s hard to fault people for wanting to make streaming their careers. After all, it does look incredibly appealing — streaming is often glamorized. And of course, playing video games as a full-time job can be immeasurably fun.

But is streaming really all that it seems, or is all that glitters really not gold? Let’s find out.

Why Is Streaming Such an Attractive Career Option?

One of the biggest reasons why people want to start streaming and have it evolve into their career is usually fame and fortune. In a way, most famous streamers are still only really famous within a relatively small bubble — but fame is fame regardless. You still get some content creators who explode into the mainstream, but it’s worth mentioning that this is few and far in between. And of course, with that fame often comes fortune in the form of viewer support, sponsorships, and partnerships.

However, it’s important to note that not everyone is in it for that reason.

Many others want a career as a full-time streamer simply because it’s fun. And why wouldn’t it be? You get to play video games day in and day out and get paid for it. For many, that’s a dream job. And of course, there’s also the extremely satisfying feeling of successfully building a community of fun, like-minded people.

There are so many reasons why people like the idea of streaming. It offers plenty of flexibility, is usually a great way to interact with people, and more.

Can You Really Survive on a Full-Time Streamer Income?

For the sake of this article, we won’t be discussing the exceedingly rare cases where people who just started streaming suddenly explode in popularity, either due to luck, truly high skill in a game, an established outside audience/following, and so on. We’ll be discussing “making it” on your own, “starting from the bottom” like most average people.

You might be able to survive as a full-time streamer with enough hard work, patience, and persistence — although there may be some factors that can affect this.

One of the biggest things to take into consideration is how much you need each month to safely cover all your bills and necessities with enough left over to set aside for a rainy day or repay your debts (if any).

Do you need $1,000? $2,000? $3,000? Answer honestly and make sure you add a bit of wiggle room for emergencies. Whatever monthly number you come up with is what you need to make as a streamer to be able to stream full-time. The lower this number, the easier it is for you to actually manage to achieve. Know that although we say it’s easier, it’s really not all that easy, as we’ll discuss below.

In any case, few people actually start out as full-time streamers — many would rather stream as a side hustle or personal hobby. Starting off this way is often more sensible as you can continue to support yourself in the meantime and there is far less stress and pressure on you to immediately succeed. Of course, it also has its disadvantages, such as the possibility of spreading yourself too thin trying to work and grow as a streamer.

How Much Do Full-Time Streamers Really Make?

Well… the answer to this question can quite honestly vary wildly. You get the extremely fortunate who manage to make it to the top of the streaming world — these few can make hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars each year. Can you reasonably expect to make it to this scale? Unless you have some really crazy luck, amazing skill, or industry connections, most likely not… but it’s always nice to dream, isn’t it?

Related: Check out some of the biggest streamers’ net worths

Then of course you get those who are slightly smaller in scale but still hugely popular and who are making a significantly good living streaming. Under them, you have full-time streamers scraping by… and under them, you might have hobbyists and side hustlers.

When you’re starting out as a streamer with the intent to make it your career, you’ll probably want to at least aim for making a good living without actually being in the top 1%.

How Do Streamers Earn Money?

Streamers on Twitch generally make their money in a number of ways, some of them involving a ton of effort.

There are the usual ways you’ll see from streamers on Twitch:

  • Monthly subscriptions, from which takes a (usually large) cut
  • Direct donations, which are often preferred due to all of it (minus payment method fees) going to the streamer — it’s also worth noting that there is the risk of a donator doing a chargeback, which can be a massive headache for a streamer
  • Twitch bits donations, which also all go to the streamer with no risk for chargebacks, but can get quite expensive for the viewers
  • Twitch ad revenue share, which isn’t really much unless you’re a larger streamer, then it gets massive
  • Youtube channels, where streamers can monetize their uploaded videos

Then you get more income stream options from the more enterprising content creators:

  • Patreon
  • Fansly/OnlyFans (which isn’t always explicit content)
  • Affiliate marketing/codes
  • Brand sponsorships and partnerships
  • Merch
  • Game sales
  • Art commissions
  • Dixper
  • Streamloots
  • CaptainTV games

We’re sure there are probably many more ways for streamers to make their income. If you are a full-time streamer capable of dedicating most of your time to creating more income streams, reaching the point where you can actually survive on a full-time streamer income becomes possible sooner.

How Hard Is It to Become a Full-Time Streamer?

Making it as a streamer is not easy — there will likely be a lot of time and effort invested on your part. Additionally, there will be a lot of discouraging moments where you’re streaming to the void or talking to yourself because your chat is inactive or you’re not really pulling in many viewers on that particular day.

Actually getting started isn’t all too difficult, you just need to have all the things necessary to start streaming (such as console or computer, optional webcam, microphone, your games) and you can pretty much establish your Twitch account/channel. However, it’s building your community and keeping your audience that gets really challenging.

Starting out with really high expectations only to find your experience doesn't end up aligning with them perfectly can cause significant stress and frustration — maybe even burnout.

Please know that in this section we don't mean to discourage; we only mean to bring a dose of reality to help you manage your expectations. 

As a streamer, you’ll need to juggle content creation and your health (both physical and mental) to actually make your way to success without suffering burnout.

Many part and full-time streamers often complain about burnout simply because it takes an incredible amount of effort to keep creating content. You have to come up with gimmicks and ideas to get people to come and then work doubly hard to get those people to stay. It can get really stressful to have to be in “creative mode” all the time — add to that the constant interaction you’ll need to do with your viewers. Some streamers love this constant interaction, but for some of us who are more on the introverted side, full-time streaming can cause a depleted social battery.

But hey, if you end up loving being a streamer, you probably won’t be as stressed! However, if you’re approaching it more from the perspective of wanting to succeed and make it your full-time job, you may find it increasingly stressful to meet your own self-imposed KPIs (key performance indicators).

Wrapping Up

So… is becoming a full-time streamer worth it? Is a streaming career a good one?

Well, only you can answer this question. But if you’re willing to put in all the work, and if you have the patience to actually make it to a point where you can quit your day job, it might just be worth it. Especially if you simply fall in love with streaming and spending time with your community.

Unfortunately, the road to success can be long and winding, so you’ll truly need to hang in there until you make it where you want to. Good luck!

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