When people think of lichess they think about a platform that is free to play and is something that you don’t really earn money from. This is a misconception, there are opportunities to earn money even in lichess.
I would not be surprised since the methods are not really that obvious and need some little digging, however I have done the research for you. I have identified the ways you can make money on lichess and I will share it here.
As a chess player, here is what I know regarding the ways to make money on lichess:
In order to earn money from lichess, one can join a public or custom tournament where they can earn monetary prizes if they can perform well. One can also create their own tournament and share it on social media while requiring participation fees, one can earn by being an organizer.
There’s not a lot of articles online talking about this so I reckon that this will be a good topic for an article, and I still think that it is. I will be sharing the fruit of my research and I hope that you will enjoy it.
Creating your own tournament to earn money in lichess
There is an option for anyone who has a lichess account to create their own tournament and only allow participation of those who paid a fee. You can promote the tournament in some social media groups like Facebook, Reddit, or even Whatsapp.
There is really no qualification for one to be able to create their own lichess tournament, you just need to have an account and somewhere to promote it. You will primarily earn money from participation fees.
You will have to make an agreement with those who are willing to participate in your lichess tournament and you have to collect the money, then you can also use that to supplement the prize fund.
This strategy relies on the fact that a percentage of the overall money that you have gathered will go to you as the organizer of the tournament (since you have made the effort to bring everyone together). You will also ensure that everything will be smooth.
In order to do something like this you need to have an idea of how to promote it, this is pretty unrealistic if you don’t have a medium already. Only posting it on forums like Quora and Reddit might not work.
But if you have a Facebook group where people trust you and you can convince them to have lichess tournaments, it is one of the ways you can earn money from lichess. This will be hard, but it is possible.
Joining influencer tournaments to earn money in lichess
There are certain influencers that allow the participation of willing chess players for free, this is the case with Agadmator who gives a personal prize fund to those who can win his tournaments.
This does not only apply to Agadmator since there are also several other influencers that are willing to have their own lichess tournament, usually as a form of thanksgiving.
If an influencer is successful enough in their career (especially if it is focused on chess) then they may host lichess tournaments in order to give back to the community.
The issue with earning money in lichess through this method is it is of course difficult, you need to actively follow several influencers in order to catch their announcements on the potential lichess tournaments.
Active participation can be minimized by having a platform on Twitter where everyone shares their plans for the future, it may be a way to get informed when a tournament like this happens.
The influencer will usually be the one to provide the prize fund so you don’t have to worry about that, you do need to have a good performance in order to earn money this way though.
Playing wager games to earn money in lichess
You can challenge your friends to a wager game in lichess and earn money from it. If this is someone you know you should set up a format before doing this and you can challenge them online.
This is really similar to how chess hustlers earn money, they will challenge somebody in wager chess games and they will earn the agreed amount if they win.
This can of course be done even without lichess but you can also do it on this platform as well. Playing online and using the lichess platform for the wager is also safer since the games will likely be fair.
This is not big cash as you can imagine, but you can earn a sizable amount if you can beat many opponents (if they are even willing to pay). In most cases though you can only when small money.
And take note that there’s also a possibility of losing, it is not always sunshine. But it is a way to earn money in lichess so I will include it here.
Joining local tournaments to earn money in lichess
There are certain occasions where a local tournament from your place will host their competition on lichess. You can get a hold of these local tournaments and you might earn a share from the prize money if you can win.
What I mean by local is the federation that resides in the country that you are currently living in, this is actually pretty common and some corporations are willing to fund this.
In my place for example there are a lot of businesses that engage with chess players, attracting them to participate in these tournaments and it can be hosted on lichess (or maybe on chess.com as well).
The main problem with this is it is not easy to get access to these tournaments since some local federations don’t even have their own websites, however, if you can attend these tournaments you can earn money on lichess.
Joining custom tournaments to earn money in lichess
There are custom tournaments that are not in the standard format (Antichess, Crazyhouse, or King of the hill for example) which you can join and earn money from if you manage to win.
Some people forget that this is also an option, the standard variant of chess is not the only available variant that can be the format in a lichess tournament. There are other options as well.
You can join one of these custom tournaments and make some money if you manage to keep a reasonable standing (you don’t even have to be number one). This is pretty difficult to do though.
You will be playing in a format that is most of the time, something that you don’t have a lot of practice on, most people will struggle with this. The way that you will earn the money is of course not secured since it is very performance-based.
But still, it is a good way to earn money with lichess so you may want to look out for one of these custom tournaments if you can’t find a good spot in a regular tournament.
Joining public tournaments to earn money in lichess
There are a lot of public online chess tournaments in lichess that you can join in the tournament tab, however it is likely that you are not going to earn any money from this.
The standard tournaments that are public on lichess are usually very competitive, I’m talking about a place where there are a lot of titled players likely to be participating.
The barrier to entry is low after all and there is the reach that lichess has extends to the whole world where there are a lot of strong chess players. If this is a local tournament for example there will be limited numbers of titled competitors.
A regular recurring lichess tournament will also (usually) have a low prize fund, the winning competitors are not going to earn as much money in the majority of cases compared to other custom tournaments.
There are many competitors and not a lot of room for any sponsor to give money, I personally think that most people wouldn’t earn much with this method (but is still, it is a way to earn money in lichess).
Joining continental tournaments to earn money in lichess
There are continental chess tournaments in lichess (not national/local) that host competitions with prize pools on a regular basis.
You can find one of these tournaments depending on which continent you are from and participate to earn money. If you are in the African continent you may find a tournament that is hosted for African players only.
They will also usually host this on very popular platforms such as lichess and you can even search for this on some occasions, but it is still hard to find. It is similar to local lichess tournaments where it has some earning potential.
These kinds of continental lichess tournaments usually have sponsors that are willing to support the prize fund, so it may be a good way to earn money with lichess using this.
Limited earning potential in lichess, chess.com comparison
Lichess is a free platform that earns its money from donations, it will have limited earning potential compared to a commercial platform such as chess.com. On chess.com you can become an affiliate, in lichess you cannot be like that.
I was thinking that you can earn money through lichess by promoting a chess product that you like through their forum, however, after reading their terms it seems that you are prohibited to do that.
You cannot post any promotional links in the forum since it will be considered spammy and eventually removed, you also cannot do any personal promotion on your blog for example.
In chess.com however you can even be an affiliate for them since they are commercialized, you can promote affiliate links in their forum and earn commissions for the products that you have shared.
You cannot earn through affiliate marketing with lichess but you can with chess.com.
There are many ways to earn money with lichess, though I personally believe that you need a lot of skill in order to make any sizable cash. You need to follow the tournaments and join them in order to make any money.
And you don’t just need to join the events since you actually have to win the tournaments among all other players in the majority of cases, it is really not a good career model. You are unlikely to earn a lot with these methods.
Does that mean that you can never earn money with lichess? of course not, it just means that you don’t want to treat this as your main source of income since it is more of a side gig.
However, I am sure that I have expanded your vast knowledge with this article, I will continue to do that in the future. That is all, sleep well and play chess.