Exclusive content: Why you should give back

Create special content to keep supporters engaged

Giving back is an important part of the relationship between content creators and fans. The three main platforms I will discuss to illustrate this are Twitch, YouTube and Patreon.

Twitch arrived on the scene in 2011 as the first live streaming platform to enable one-off payments and subscriptions. Initially only reserved for Twitch Partners, in 2013 Twitch released channel monetization to smaller Twitch Affiliates.

YouTube followed in 2013 with YouTube Red and, more recently, channel memberships. In May of the same year Patreon opened their doors, enabling creators of all professions to be supported by fans with monthly subscriptions.

But why do viewers pay money if the platform is free? The answer is simple. By supporting creators with cash, viewers are rewarded with more interaction or get access to exclusive content.

How to reward your viewers is an extremely important topic for streamers. The better you reward your core community the more they will support you!

Two types of supporters

The two main ways a viewer can support you is either with a one-off payment, usually a donation, or with monthly recurring payments. Though there is quite a lot of cross over, each platform allows for different ways to reward supporters.

1. Twitch

1. Give back to one-off supporters

You can make money streaming on Twitch with a paid donations tool like Streamelements, a cost-free donations tool like Rechaaarge, or with Twitch bits. Twitch has a number of extensions you can use to give them access to exclusive content:

  • Leaderboards
    • Whether it’s Twitch bits or another donations tool, leaderboards increase status by showing your top supporters to your community
  • Loyalty points
    • Create your own channel currency (or points) which viewers can earn and redeem against in-channel games, getting added your twitter or instagram, or whatever you can think of!
  • Song requests
    • Donors or viewers with loyalty points can add songs to your playlist
  • Giveaways
    • Your viewers can donate to enter a raffle for a prize of your choice. You can add a time limit or a monetary limit, once reached you pick the winner!

2. Give back to your subscribers

When a viewer subscribes to your Twitch channel you want to make sure to thank them and give them a reason to keep subbing you. The standard ways to keep viewers engaged are:

give back to your twitch supporters with exclusive content
  • Ad-free viewing
    • No one likes ads; so an easy way to encourage your viewers to subscribe to you channel is by offering them ad free viewing
  • Access to special emotes
    • As a partner or affiliate you will be able to create your own channel emotes. Depending on subscription tier depends how many emotes a subscriber can access
  • Subscriber only Discord chat
    • This is a great way to interact with and build your community. Give your subscribers access to a private Discord chat with you when you are live
  • Play games with your most loyal subscribers
    • Subscribers will love this! Giving your best supporters the opportunity to play with you is as personal as it gets!

On top of that, if you want to stand out you should also be thinking about original ways to reward your viewers (hint: there are no real restrictions):

  • Personalized messages
    • Although time consuming, if you can manage to do this well, you will create a strong fan base who will stick with you!
  • Physical gifts
    • Use Twitch’s audience analytics to work out the value of your audience and when to send them a gift. Be careful not to spend more on a gift plus postage than the value of your subscriber!
  • Discounts
    • If you have a Twitch store with merchandise then you can offer your subscribers discounts. Easy.
  • Exclusive video content
    • This is one of the best ways to provide value to your subscribers. Curate behind-the-scenes videos, set up sub-only live streams, do a Q&A stream, whatever you like!
  • Sub-only giveaways
    • Just like a normal giveaway but for subs only

2. YouTube

You can grow your YouTube community and make money using a paid donations tool, another example is Streamlabs, or Rechaaarge for cost-free donations. YouTube also has SuperChat which allows viewers to highlight their messages in chat. YouTube recurring support comes in the form of channel memberships or from crowdfunding projects.

Currently YouTube supports creating exclusive content for channel members or crowdfunding supporters.

1. Give out crowdfunding perks

This is a very straight forward way to make money for a particular goal. Whatever the end result is, the idea is to promote your idea or project to your YouTube community.

reward your crowdfunding supporters with exclusive content

To get people to support you, offer something in exchange for either a one-off payment or a monthly recurring payment. This could be a physical product, completing a task, or increased interaction with you.

2. Perks for channel members

Whether you invite your viewers to become channel members with a video telling them what they will get or not. Once you get them, you’re going to want to keep them.

reward your youtube followers and channel members by giving them access to special content
  • Access to customized badges and emojis
    • Similar to Twitch’s sub-only emotes, a YouTube channel membership accesses special badges and emojis
  • Recognition
    • Content creators can mention their channel members by name in their videos. Considering that YouTube videos are always available to watch this is valuable for status in the community
  • Exclusive videos
    • Like with Twitch, a good way to give value to your channel members is by giving them access to exclusive behind-the-scenes content
  • Live interaction
    • As YouTube is still mainly a VoD platform, one way to thank your community is by holding a Live Stream just for them

3. Patreon

If you’re a content creator on either Twitch or YouTube you may choose to also use Patreon. Unlike the two big platforms who take a big chunk of your revenue, Patreon will only take 5%.

  • Exclusive video content
    • Much like Twitch or YouTube, reward your Patreon supporters with special content to give them a look into who you are and how you do what you do
  • Personal interaction
    • Patreon gives you the option of really getting to know your fans. Apart from Patreon-only Discord chats and live streams, you can also set up one-on-one monthly calls or even meet in person!
  • Recognition
    • Again like Twitch and YouTube, mentioning a fan in your content is a way to keep them supporting you
  • Digital gifts
    • Another interesting one from Patreon. If you are able to create value for your fans in a downloadable format, this is a great way to easily deliver value to them
  • Physical gifts or discounts
    • Discounts are a good way to thank your fans and push them towards your merch. Thanking your fans with physical gifts is more time consuming and again you need to ensure you aren’t spending more than what your fans are worth
give your patrons a reason to keep supporting you by offering them special access to content

Last word

Monetizing your content through audience support has enabled many people to make a living from their passion which before would not have been possible. With more and more creators choosing to take this route it is becoming increasingly important to stand out from the crowd.

On way you can do this is by being creative with how you reward your supporters. However you choose to do this is up to you; but you absolutely have to if you want to succeed.