Are you wondering how to make money from streaming?
The Covid-19 pandemic has seen an explosion in live streaming and video sharing online. With so many people now trapped indoors, it’s no wonder that people have turned to alternative forms of entertainment and education.
Video and live streaming had already taken off in a big way over the past few years.
The internet revolution has made it easier than ever to share content in a variety of media forms. Video has emerged as one of the top ways to share content online, especially since the widespread adoption of fast and super-fast broadband and 4G networks.
In fact, video streaming is so popular these days that it accounted for more than 80% of all internet traffic in 2020.
So, there’s no doubt that video streaming is hugely popular. But the question many people ask is: can you make money from live streaming?
The simple answer is yes.
There is absolutely no doubt you can make money from live streaming online. But the amount you can earn is variable. It is proportionate to the amount of work you put in and the quality of your content.
In this post, we’ll explore the ins and outs of live video streaming and how to monetize it.
What is Livestreaming?
When you hear the term “live streaming” what springs to mind?
Most people think about video gamers sharing gaming footage and tips. And it’s true that live streaming was popularised by the gaming community originally, through platforms such as Twitch.
But over the past few years, the industry has grown. The Covid-19 pandemic has meant there are more and more people both making and consuming live streams now than ever. People who work in areas such as education or instruction, (e.g. fitness instructors or academic tutors) or those who have careers in live performances such as musicians or performers, are turning to online streaming for a new income stream.
In basic terms, live video streaming describes broadcasting video footage to an online audience at the same time as you record it.
Live streaming can take different forms, for instance, a gamer will share their screen showing themselves playing a video game while providing a voiceover through a microphone or headset. Often they will also have a small box displaying live video footage of themselves as they play so you can see their reactions.
A fitness instructor, on the other hand, may set up a video camera on a tripod or stand, and stream footage of themselves carrying out different exercises as you copy them. They may also ask that you video yourself, so they can provide feedback to you, as they may in a live face-to-face fitness class.
Musicians or other performers may sell tickets to a live performance that is broadcast over the internet.
Why should you consider doing Livestreams?
As we’ve already mentioned, live streaming is growing in popularity and shows no signs of slowing down.
For this reason, live streaming is a great opportunity to promote your brand, generate extra income, or both.
A good example of the power of live streaming is fitness trainer Joe Wicks, who has built a massive following and catapulted his fitness brand – The Body Coach – to new heights by live streaming physical education lessons for both kids and parents throughout the Covid-19 lockdown in the UK. His live workout videos proved to be such a hit that he continued to stream them after the lockdown was lifted.
Here are the top 4 benefits of live streaming:
- Audience Growth – You can generate unlimited growth as the internet allows you to broadcast globally. This can help you to raise brand awareness, establish yourself as an authority or expert on a certain topic, and sell more products or services.
- Reduced Costs – Live streaming provides cheap marketing and advertising opportunities. You can drop sales messages into your live streams at no extra cost.
- Audience Interaction – Many live streaming and community platforms allow you to get direct feedback from audiences, either through reactions, live chat, or live audience video feeds. This helps you to build rapport with your audience and offer a better service.
- Extra Income – You can monetize your live streaming in various ways. More on this later!
Why is it important to monetize your Livestreams?
In today’s internet age, if you’re self-employed or run your own business, it’s more important than ever to leverage income from as many different sources as possible.
This is especially true for people that work in the performance industries and coaches, instructors, educators, etc.
Live streaming gives you an ideal way to diversify your income stream, and you can do it all while working from home. You can reach a global audience with very few expenses, all you need is a laptop, a broadband connection, and a decent camera and microphone set up.
Although the money may not start rolling in straight away, if you choose the right channels, promote your streams in an effective way, and build a community around your brand, there’s no reason why live-streaming can’t become your main source of income. If you put the groundwork into building your community and monetizing your live streams, it can provide you with a good standard of living.
6 Top ways to make money from streaming
Whether you use a dedicated video-sharing channel such as YouTube or Twitch for your livestreams, social media such as Facebook or Twitter’s Periscope, or a customizable community platform such as Disciple, there are a number of ways to make money from live streaming these days.
1. Asking for tips or donations
The easiest way to monetize your live stream audience is to directly request tips or donations. Your audience, especially the most loyal fans, will realise that you have to make a living, and if they appreciate your video content enough, they’ll be more than happy to throw a few pounds or dollars your way.
Most platforms have some kind of integrated tipping service these days, for instance, YouTube has Super Chat for live streams, which allows viewers to buy Super Stickers which they can display in the chat window and you get a cut from each purchase. Facebook has a Stars system that enables viewers to buy and send stars to you, which have a monetary value. Twitter uses a similar Bits system, where each Bit is worth one cent.
Although it is difficult to make a full-time income from tips and donations alone, it can be a good start. If you’re new to live streaming and only just building up an audience, it’s a great place to begin and will help prove to yourself that you can make some money doing it. Consider it a “proof of concept” that people like your streams enough to pay you some money for making them.
2. Regular payments
The next step up from random donations and tips is to start receiving regular payments from viewers. Rather than waiting for people to tip you, you can offer access to exclusive streams for a regular payment. This differs from a subscription as people are not tied in contractually for any length of time and can stop the payments whenever they want.
Some live streaming platforms such as YouTube and Twitch have a regular payment option built into their service.
You can also consider creating an exclusive online community with a platform such as Disciple which has payment processing features built-in to profit from your live streams.
3. Advertising revenue
Making money from ads is a double-edged sword.
It can be very profitable if you have a large and loyal following, who is not going to be put off by ads featured in your content. On the other hand, if you have a small or medium-sized audience, you may not earn enough from ads to make up for the potential annoyance it may cause some viewers. Also, a lot of people use ad-blockers in their browsers these days, which means that you may not get paid as much as you expect when the total ad view figures are tallied.
If you decide that ads are the way forward for you, the big social media and video platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch are your best bet. Famously, the YouTube partner program was one of the earliest schemes (it was launched in December 2007) which allowed independent video creators to earn money for their work thanks to advertising.
4. Pay-per-view content
Charging people to view exclusive content is probably the most profitable way to monetize your live streams. You can plan and develop good, appealing live content and sell tickets directly to your audience.
You can then use a video platform such as Zoom or streaming service to broadcast your live video stream. Alternatively, you can use a community group and stream gated content through the platform.
Another way to make money using a pay-per-view model is to offer exclusive coaching or tuition to individuals or groups. The audience interaction element of live streaming makes it ideal for this.
5. Sponsorship, brand deals, and affiliate sales
Once you have built a decent-sized audience or community, (100+ regular viewers), you can start approaching connected brands or individuals for sponsorship deals or affiliate partnerships.
For example, if you are a guitarist who performs and teaches through live streams, you could approach guitar manufacturers or guitar publications for sponsorship in return for promoting their brand. Also, you can approach other musicians and guitarists to partner up and sell each other’s products and services through your live streams.
Brand partnerships and affiliate programs have the potential to become very significant income streams for live video streaming content creators, simply because they tend to scale up in profitability with the scope of your viewership. Once you have a large audience of live viewers, you’ll find that you can negotiate some very well paid brand deals for your live broadcasts.
6. Sell your own merchandise
There’s money in merch! To make this viable, you need a larger than average audience, but it doesn’t have to be massive. If you’ve got 1000 or more regular viewers of your live streams, you can start thinking about getting some merch manufactured – anything from branded T-shirts to stationery, and anything in between.
Again, merch won’t provide you with a full income, but it can be a good way to top up your earnings without too much effort required. There are online services such as Printful and LazyMerch that more or less automate the whole process for you with print-on-demand services and drop shipping included.
Using a community platform for Livestreaming
We’ve already mentioned a few times that building a community group and streaming live to your audience through the community platform can be a great way to monetize streaming.
Why is this the case?
To put it simply, with your own customised community group, you have much more control.
With a community-building platform such as Disciple, you can benefit from the following:
- Unique branding and style – Your community look and feel is customisable, making it more appealing than traditional social media groups.
- More features – You can add and remove features as needed, as well as integrating with other apps.
- Full data access and control – You get all of your community’s data, which means you can gain valuable insights into how well your content is received, for instance. This is something you can’t do so easily with other platforms such as YouTube or Facebook, if at all.
- Easy monetization options – The community platform has built-in services for monetizing content such as live stream and event ticketing.
The recent global pandemic has left a lot of people struggling, especially performers and instructors, coaches, etc. who rely on live audiences and interaction.
Live streaming has given many people in these kinds of businesses a new way to create revenue. The best thing about live streaming online is that it’s relatively easy to do and you can quickly grow an audience if you offer value.
It is also becoming much easier to monetize your live streams, using a number of methods and services that are now available. One of the best ways to ensure that you maximise your potential is to create an exclusive online community and provide live streams directly within the community platform.