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Followers, views, likes: cha-ching. Syracuse University students Warren Zhu and Jamiah Wong are making a living on platforms such as video sharing app TikTok and interactive live streaming service Twitch.
Zhu makes roughly $200 to $250 a month doing what he said he would be doing in his free time anyway.
The accounting senior got to work on Twitch while at home in Brooklyn during the peak of the pandemic in June 2020. With a new PC, no employment opportunities and an abundance of newfound free time, Zhu started livestreaming on his account Zhuted. He did livestreams as he played video games and looked at houses on Zillow, all while narrating and providing his own commentary.
Having been on Twitch before gaining a following, Zhu was familiar with the money that could come from it.
“At times it feels like a side hobby, but then I look back and think about it, and I do this for four hours daily and have only a couple days off a week. So I guess you could treat it as a part time job,” Zhu said.
Though Zhu does plan on pursuing a career in accounting full-time post graduation, he believes his “side-gig” on Twitch can still fit into this type of lifestyle.
“It’s something I can come home to from a 9-5.” Zhu said.
Twitch provides financial compensation for streamers based on several factors. To be paid by the streaming service one must reach “Twitch Affiliate” status, which Zhu said isn’t that hard to get.
Once someone becomes a Twitch Affiliate, funds can come from ad revenue, a personal donation link or a Twitch currency called Twitch “Bits.” Users can spend the “Bits” on their favorite streamers’ sites. Twitch awards the streamers one cent for every “Bit” used on their channel.
Though this may sound like an idealistic and hassle-free way to make money as a college student, Zhu said that being a part of the Twitch universe does not come without its downsides.
“Twitch has a really big problem right now with hate speech and harassment on the platform,” Zhu said.
Trolls and bots flooding his comment section with hate is not uncommon for the streamer, he said. Despite this, he sees Twitch streaming as a part of his future as he continues to make friends on the platform and grow his following.
“There’s no reason I should stop,” Zhu said.
Similar to Zhu, Wong, a student …….