Are you looking for ways to supplement your income on Twitch, or are you hoping to start making money on a stream you’ve been building for the last few years? This article examines what benefits top streamers on Patreon offer to earn the support of their fans every month.
That’s not to say that your success as a streamer depends solely on the benefits you offer. Most creators succeed because they’ve built an audience that cares about them and because they continually work to build rapport with that audience. But when it comes to earning money, tapping into that audience with a great benefits mix is critical.
To help you find that mix, we’ve included 16 of the most popular (and most lucrative) benefits offered by streamers on Patreon. It’s up to you to decide which benefits are right for your creator business. These benefits drive the bulk of top Patreon streamers’ pledges (not in order—every creator’s needs are unique).
TMRO is one of many streamers to offer access to a private Discord channel as a benefit to patrons.
One of the most popular benefits for streamers to offer their fans is a place where everyone can interact with each other. Typically, viewers who follow certain streamers care about two kinds of interaction:
- Interaction with you, the streamer
- Interaction with your other fans.
To facilitate those interactions, many streamers set up a private space for patrons. Discord, chat rooms, Facebook groups, and even Instagram have all been used to provide a space for fans.
Pricing this reward can vary a lot depending on the creator and exactly what’s offered. For example, League of Legends streamer LS offers $50/mo patrons a spot in his exclusive Discord channel. Both he and his video editor answer (almost any) questions his patrons have. TMRO, which offers weekly webcasts about science and space, offers $10/webcast supporters access to the Discord where they plan the show. FrivolousFox ASMR takes a more nonchalant approach, offering $5/month supporters access to an active, community-centric Discord channel.
Want to create a Discord server that is just for your patrons? Check out our Discord integration, and start offering your server as a Patreon benefit today.
Publishing peripheral material for your patrons is a favorite way to keep them engaged. In addition to offering patrons a private feed on Patreon, consider what materials your audience would enjoy.
An example of a League of Legends tier list created by LS in 2016.
Alternatively, you can offer materials more specific to your niche. LS offers text-based tier lists (information that helps his fans become better players) to $5/mo patrons. If you’re an art streamer, you can offer any number of bonus materials often provided by Patreon illustrators. It’s all about learning what your audience wants, then providing it via the right benefit tiers.
What’s better than watching a movie all by yourself? Livestreaming yourself watching the movie, obviously. A number of gaming streamers offer movie nights to their fans. For example, Kaitlyn Fox lets her $10/mo patrons on Discord pick a movie one week in advance, then she (and whomever wants to join) jumps on the stream and watches it in real time. Video Games AWESOME! does a monthly movie night for their $5/month patrons.
If you have merch, it’s a great incentive for fans to become your patrons. Streamer The1Janitor gives stickers every few months to $10+/mo supporters and T-shirts twice a year to $50+/mo patrons.
But if you don’t have merch, there are still benefits you can send to your fans’ mailboxes. For example, Yvonne Williams of Back to Earth Creations offers various monthly packages including wire wrapping materials, chainmaille materials, original art, or a combination thereof. These materials go well with the tutorial videos and art-in-progress live streams she produces.
Or, consider L'Amour et la Musique, a beauty and wellness blogger. She offers makeup samples to her patrons when they’re available as part of a personalized recommendations tier.
Just remember — the time and cost of fulfillment—shipping goods can take more out of your budget than you’d expect. That said, it can also drive much higher benefit tier pricing. It’s all a matter of finding what works for you and your audience.
It’s hard to go wrong with more content if you get enough support in pledges. Many streamers offer special, patron-only streams. It could be more of what you already do for free, or it could be a new show style that only your patrons can access.
For example, CYBERGARBAGE offers four patron-only shows to $10+/mo patrons, including a Q&A style show, updates on what they’re doing, a "roulette wheel of content," and a post-show happy hour on Fridays.
What this reward looks like depends a lot on the type of content you produce. If you stream video games, then having a patron on the show will often mean playing video games with them. Although, you don’t have to restrict it to the main kind of game you stream — Kaitlyn Fox sets up drinking games on Overwatch or Jackbox so that all of her $20/mo patrons can play with her.
Kaitlyn Fox playing Drawful 2 on Jackbox with her fans in 2016. She warns patrons planning to join that she usually wins.
If you do interviews, game-show content, movie reviews, or anything of that nature, you could consider featuring patrons during part (or all!) of the show. If featuring a fan on a live stream makes you nervous, you could always play a pre-recorded segment that features them.
One of the best things about a live stream is that it’s, well, live. A few weeks after the show, most recordings become obsolete. But if you're a creator whose content stays valuable over time, you'd be wise to collect those videos into a gated library of content that only patrons can access.
For example, Video Games AWESOME! offers a patrons-only movie night stream, but only patrons who have paid a collective total of at least $50 get access to the archive. Everyone else can only access the most recent movie night stream.
Big Jet TV also maintains an archive of old streams. They charge a flat $4.30/month for all benefits, including an archive of aviation footage from previous streams. This allows them to host all their streams on their own website instead of using a 3rd party platform like Twitch. (That said, we often recommend using both Twitch and Patreon — both are tools that, when used together, can produce a net boost in your income).
A little recognition can go a long way, and thanking the patrons that support you is a good way to do that. Sometimes, that means displaying their names on screen during a stream or reading their names out loud. Other times, that means making a joke about them during your stream.
In fact, Streamlabs built a Twitch extension that sends you real-time updates whenever someone becomes your patron. If it happens during a stream, you can give them a shout-out right after they sign up!
The Twitch extension shows live updates on pledges through Patreon and donations via Extra Life.
Alternatively, recognition can mean a handwritten thank-you card or personal video. LoadingReadyRun earns over $12,000/month on recognition benefits alone. Their $10/mo tier offers one-time delivery of a thank-you card. The Valleyfolk guarantee that $30/mo patrons’ names will appear somewhere on set, and $100/mo patrons get a private, personalized, one-minute long video. Video game streamer Kate Stark sends a handwritten postcard to all $25+/mo supporters, in addition to putting their names on her stream’s splash screens.
There are two main rewards that result in you spending quality one-on-one time with a patron: Either they think you’re super cool and just want to hang out, or they want to benefit from your insight as a subject matter expert. What type of streaming you do determines which they’ll be interested in experiencing.
For example, gaming streamers often provide feedback sessions or one-on-one coaching for fans who want to improve their gameplay. If you have skills that other people want, offering this kind of benefit makes good business sense. For example, Thomas Sanladerer offers 20-minute one-on-one hangouts to his $60/mo patrons. In exchange, they receive his knowledge and experience in the 3D-printing world.
If you provide entertainment, it may be that fans just want to hang. CYBERGARBAGE lets $100/mo patrons join a monthly hangout with the crew. It’s not educational (although it can be) because the motivations of their patrons are different from those looking to improve specific skills.
Also, do you know about the Patreon Discourse integration? With it, you can set up a forum that is just for your patrons. Offer entry to your private forum as a benefit to your patrons today.
Don’t want to bother with shipping merch to patrons every month, but still have both a Patreon account and a merch store? Plenty of creators use their position to offer discounts to their patrons.
The Cat Loaf Love Sticker offered in Kate’s Shopify store. Patrons can buy her stickers and pins at a discount.
For example, Kate Stark offers small discounts to her $25/mo and $50/mo patrons as a token of thanks for their continued support. TMRO offers free worldwide shipping in lieu of a percentage off merchandise.
Yes, you read that correctly! This one’s from Blizzard Watch, a game streaming and news site. Patrons at the $25/mo tier get their character bio written by one of Blizzard Watch’s writers. You don’t have to be in gaming to make good on this kind of benefit, though. Writing a silly Twitter bio could be just as appealing for fans. It’s worth asking: Could you do something small for fans on social media or in-game that they’d want to show their friends? If yes, you just found your next tier benefit.
One of the most popular benefits streamers offer is Q&A sessions. It’s not for everyone, but generally falls into two categories: questions about you, and questions about what you do. Once you’ve determined what interests your audience (and what you’re comfortable talking about), you can hold Q&A’s geared more to the personal or to the informational side.
Thomas Sanladerer offers Q&A on 3D-printing topics.
Cinnamon Toast Ken opens up Q&A’s to $10/mo patrons, while Thomas Sanladerer does very well with a $5/mo tier that offers a monthly, 30-min Q&A hangout. Rhykker, a video game streamer, offers access to recorded Q&A for $5/mo — along with behind-the-scenes content and a $15 merch discount for every seven months of support. $10/mo supporters get to attend the live Q&A sessions.
Behind the scenes benefits are a popular tier choice for nearly all niches. Whether you’re offering insight into your process or just giving fans a chance to get to know you better, behind-the-scenes is a small bonus for fans interested in supporting you. It’s often one of the lower-tier benefits because it’s relatively easy to implement.
Yvonne Williams (Back to Earth Creations) uses behind the scenes access as the reward for her entry-level $1/mo tier. But not everyone drops access right away — cosplay streamer Tabitha Lyons offers access to Lens at the $1/mo tier, but adds extra behind the scenes content in at the $10/mo tier and beyond.
One of the bikes fixed on Wrecked Bike Rebuild (series by Chaseontwowheels). Patrons get to vote on parts for repaired bikes.
It’s amazing just what people will vote on if you open a poll. Gamers often allow patrons to choose which game (out of a specified few) they stream next. Cosplayers might open the vote for which character they recreate next. Chaseontwowheels lets $15+/episode patrons vote on which bike parts to use during repairs.
If you want to take things to another level, you could even let your patrons pick who appears on your show (like Video Games AWESOME! does with their ‘sponsor a host’ $150 tier).
Early access is a popular benefit on Patreon, but is a little harder to do when you’re streaming. After all, you can’t preview a live show … at least, not with video content. But, you can tease topic, special guests, and other items you’re planning to cover.
One of the best ways to use early access is if you offer more than one type of content. For example, The Valleyfolk produce a variety of content—podcasts, streams, pre-recorded video content, and more — which makes it easier to offer early access. They offer sneak peaks on show planning for $5/mo patrons and early access to live events to $10/mo patrons.
One of the more creative ways we’ve seen creators run a book club is by live streaming the book reading (and of course, the discussion afterward). FrivolousFox ASMR reads one or two book chapters a week on stream for her $10+/mo patrons. You could choose the book, let your fans choose the book, or do a roulette—it’s all up to you.
Sixteen benefits is a starting point, but it’s not a comprehensive list. Pick and choose the benefits that make sense for your business style and audience. By adding your own creative touch to these benefits, you can make something unique just for your fans.
Just remember to keep pricing vs. time, effort, and cost in mind. If a certain benefit isn’t worth the effort for your current audience size, jot it down and save it for later. A good benefits mix is one that changes regularly to fit your needs; it’s OK to swap them out as you go.
Given what you know about your business and audience, which of these benefits and tiers would be most lucrative for you?
Know what you want to offer to your fans in exchange for monthly membership? Sign up for Patreon here.