What are tips?
Tips are one-time payments, usually made spontaneously, delivered to a creator without tangible incentive or schedule. Tipping has long been a large part of the content creator ecosystem, with third party services enabling creators to accept these payments through easy-to-use portals. More recently, Twitch launched their own native tipping system using their own purchasable currencies, bits and cheers, which appear in chat as animated icons when the tips are made. The recently announced Twitch Affiliates program extended the availability of this system to non-partners, so now streamers of nearly any size can monetize in this manner. Plus, they’re all shiny and junk… which is fun!
How to Get Tips
Tips are spontaneous decisions made by viewers, almost always while consuming content. This means that a feeling of immediate feedback is vital. Every time someone tips, they should be acknowledged. Before bits and cheers launched, on screen alerts were already the most common way to reward a fan for their generosity. Customized graphics and sounds pop off as soon as the tip is made, often eliciting a hearty thank you or cheer from the streamer themselves. Now, even though bits and cheers appear in chat, these alerts are just as important to making tippers feel appreciated, and making sure they enjoy the experience so they might do so again. There are myriad third-party alert systems available, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, supporters and detractors. It’s best to ask other creators what they use to deliver these services when searching for your own solution.
Still, other options exist for acknowledging tippers. One of my favorite channels allows tippers to ask questions, which are then answered on stream. Another takes shots of hot sauce for every tip over a certain amount. Not only does the tipper get rewarded, their contribution recognized, but they also have a tangible effect on the content itself, changing what happens and when. The ability to effect what happens on screen is one of the most effective ways to motivate tips. Plus, unique rewards like this go a long way towards helping to establish your own unique brand narrative, an important element of any professional stream.
Whatever silly, wacky, or strange activity fits your voice works best. And, if you’re doing something along those lines, again, make sure your audience knows! Talk about your insanity on social media platforms, and plaster it all over your channel and in chat. These rewards are what drive your tip income, and a reward nobody knows about isn’t going to accomplish much of anything. So, shout it from the rooftops! The number of people excited to see you do something ridiculous may shock you.