7 Basics To Make Money Playing Video Games
(a 15 minute read)
“Streaming is DEAD!!”, “You will NEVER make it!!” … and other quotes like these have probably already come across your way if you’ve ever thought about picking up streaming.
But it doesn’t have to be that way … because it’s actually never a bad time to start a business, unless it’s a bad one (and being a good-looking woman helps too, like on any other platform). That’s a quote by Gary Vee and it still stands.
I can’t know how familiar each one of you is with the streaming industry but here are a few numbers:
-Ninja (one of the most famous streamers) approximately made $17 MILLION in 2019 alone
-The global video streaming market size was valued at around $38.5 BILLION in 2018 and is expected to grow up to the size of around $150 BILLION by 2026
-”TommyInnit” is one of the latest success stories that’s still currently BLOWING up
Oh, and this Tommy guy? He’s 16 years old. Yes, you read that right. He was born in 2004 and when people were already talking about how streaming is dead, he probably didn’t even begin to stream yet. This just goes to show that things are only dead if you don’t know what you’re doing. So let me clue you in.
Streaming is difficult. There’s no way around that. You can’t go into it expecting to be the next Ninja … the industry is way too competitive for that. And you probably shouldn’t do that for a whole other reason. I’ll talk about the whole money part at the end in #7, so make sure to keep on reading. (that’s how you build suspense)
The fact that you’re reading this tells me that you’re already playing video games for fun and want to learn more. And there’s the key point: if you’re thinking about starting to stream, that whole “fun” part can quickly go away if you base all of your joy on the streams of your videos and on the $$$ on your bank account.
False expectations are always a recipe for disaster. Theodore Roosevelt once said “Comparison is the thief of joy” and he’s spot-on. So always keep that in mind. But if you’re already spending time gaming, why not just record it for the whole world to see just for the fuck of it? … And especially in the times of a pandemic and social isolation.
If people watch your streams, GOOD! And if they don’t, who cares? After all, you’re doing it because you enjoy doing so. And it doesn’t even have to be limited to gaming, but more on that in a minute.
In the following few paragraphs I will talk about everything you need to know to start the journey. As always, there’s still so much more that I can’t cover in here because, well, this is just a blog post. But it will be enough to get you started - and that’s all that matters at the beginning. Now let’s go.
#1 - Where To Begin.
Did you know that you don’t need to be a gamer to stream?
Real-life streams, broadcasting simple ideas in a different content format or even filming yourself while having dinner (yep, you read that correctly) can be passed if they’re entertaining enough for people to watch them.
What I want to say is that it doesn’t have to be exclusive to gaming...sure it’s by far the most popular option but it’s not the only option.
And the same thing goes for the other platforms, too.
The go-to hub is Twitch - which is why streaming is usually associated with gaming - but platforms like YouTube are great for that as well. And if you haven’t noticed yet, streaming is so incredibly valuable that a variation of it can be found on pretty much any platform nowadays (i.e., Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, etc.).
Whereas the former are better for longer content and for a particular task, these casual outlets are great for more laid-back kinds of streams. Simple things like regular small-talk stuff, basic activity stuff like cooking or for easy content ideas.
So, if you just want to record yourself while doing stuff, do that. There’s really nothing more you need to know. Just go and take action...you can figure out all the details along the way.
Being passionate about what you’re doing always helps. And if you’re generally a more extroverted person and can openly talk to people, that helps too. Other than that you really don’t need much at the beginning - well, maybe a good content idea to not give up after the first stream.
On the other hand, if you want to make it something more substantial, maybe even because you enjoy the process of building a brand, streaming is built on pretty much the same principles like any other social media outlet. So let’s get into them.
#2 - The Number ONE Rule.
But you know what, let me make it more specific to streaming. I already mentioned being somewhat more extroverted and for good reason.
Not only will it make it easier to talk to an audience (or a camera depending on how many are watching), but it will also improve your content because it’s not made up of large patches of awkward silence...streaming is about real-time interaction after all.
All platforms have some live chat functions on their streams so you can interact with your followers and the people that are watching (you’ve most probably seen it before). So, the number ONE rule is that you are actively engaged in your chat. Don’t just let people watch you do stuff but make them part of it all.
Other ways to integrate your audience more could be by setting up donations, letting them decide the music that’s playing, by shouting them out directly, letting them choose the content itself, by playing with them, doing giveaways and all kinds of other stuff.
Other than that’s is basically just about not forgetting that you’re live: don’t say stupid shit that can get you in trouble and don’t get caught up in stupid shit other people say. Be above that. Actually, that’s good advice for life in general so think about that often.
All in all, people may come for your content, but what makes them stay is YOU. So, interact with them, be open, and most importantly...
#3 - Be You.
Again, this is actually great advice for life and social media as a whole. Although, it can sometimes be hard to really know what it’s supposed to mean so let me rephrase it in a better way: don’t pretend someone you’re not.
Don’t “fake it ‘til you make it”. Don’t become a stereotype of yourself - be your own character and continue building it over time.
So, just stay relaxed...which can be tough in the beginning but you’ll quickly get used to it. Show people how you really are and don’t put on a facade. And for a third time, it obviously helps if you’re more outgoing anyway because it makes it easier to do cool stuff (like opening mail or gifts, or something else).
People become popular on Twitch by being really entertaining or because they’re really good at a game. And if you’re actually both, you’ll make it big if you’re consistent over large periods of time...it’s not a tomorrow-thing.
Streaming is great for building a really passionate audience because people usually don’t stick around for long if they don’t enjoy what they’re seeing. So if they’re actually staying with you, you know you’re doing something right.
This can be a great boost when starting out because it’ll always show you that you have a core of people that care about you no matter what. And a passionate audience also makes it easier to grow because 10 die-hard followers will always be more likely to spread your message than 1000 fake followers ever will.
#4 - About Content.
As said before, the basic content principles in streaming are pretty much like with any other brand; you just need to tailor it to the individual platforms and what exactly it is you’re doing. This is why I won’t go too deep into it for now.
Anyway, here’s the elephant in the room. Your content is...drum rolls please...you stream! What a surprise right? No but really, that’s already it.
I mentioned it earlier: your streams can be about a lot of things and on a lot of platforms so there’s no point in telling you exactly what to do. The best way to learn what streams are, what to focus on and what not to do, and even what to stream is by watching others.
Soo, my homework for you today is to go and watch a lot of streams for a while to see what they have in common, to get ideas and to get in the workflow of that whole new part of life. And you can even call it being productive.
If we look beyond streams and Twitch, there are a lot of things you could do.
You could cut up your videos into smaller bits and post highlight compilations on YouTube, “Top 10 Twitch fails” always work well too, you could even pump out entire streams as regular videos, they’re easy to use for podcasts if you like, and much more.
Are you noticing a theme? Don’t limit your streaming to just that.
Instead, do smart recycling of your work and make sure to spread that new content across multiple platforms for maximum effect. (it takes more time and effort to be put in but it’s definitely doable and incredibly effective)
This is what I mean with basic social media principles: cross-promoting your content, making use of pillar content and, most importantly, being consistent. These are the things a career thrives on. Unfortunately I can’t get too deep into brand building (even though I’d kinda like to)...so make sure to check out our other blogs or even our book if you want to learn more.
#5 - The “Social” In Social Media
There’s not a whole lot “social” in just sitting on your computer and talking to your camera...don’t get me wrong, your audience adds a whole lot of social interactions but that’s not everything “social” is limited to.
THE most effective way to grow on any platform and also making the whole process much more fun is this: collaborations.
When starting out you probably won’t be able to work with someone like Ninja on a project or even in a simple game but that’s okay. Maybe you have buddies to game with, maybe you can do a cooking show-off with other guests, maybe you ca-- yadda yadda yadda. You get where I’m going with this. There’s nothing a good brainstorming session won’t fix.
Then, after some time, take it to the next level by trying to team up with other streamers, becoming part of a tournament of some sort, or by trying to make everything more dynamic and more fun.
Collabs are what social media is worth doing it for - you get to meet new people, share experiences and one day you might just look back and realize that this was part of the time of your life...so you better don’t waste it.
But even collabs are more than just hanging out with other streamers...more on that in #7 though.
#6 - Growth.
Having fun and enjoying your time is good and all...but if you actually want to build a brand and even make some money, you need to grow.
I’ll say it for like the thousandth time now but the same principles as always apply so let me throw out the most important ones right now:
-Don’t be impatient.
-Do regular social media stuff. (again, lots of content already out there)
-And try to be a little more sophisticated.
Cool, but what does that mean in a less-vague way?
Growing by streaming is tough, don’t get me wrong, but it’s still possible. Regular social media techniques are based on really simple things and the magic of consistency.
That’s everything these platforms are based on; make them so easy to use that everyone can do it and make people come back as often as possible.
So what I’m trying to say is this: all these simple things can take a lot of time to bear fruits but they get the job done. But it won’t be easy...that’s because simple things that have to be done consistently over large periods of time aren’t necessarily easy.
If you do want to speed things up, there’s always the option of paid advertisement to boost your growth. Facebook, YouTube, Reddit and even Twitch all make it easy to run marketing campaigns and get more people to lay eyes on your stuff.
This is a heavy decision though: it cements that you’re doing this to actually build a brand and it requires a lot of time, work and most importantly...money.
This blog post is not about how to become a master advertiser or anything like that so I won’t go into it.
If you want to learn more, put short: buy our book (linked below), educate yourself for free on YouTube, and take action by going on a journey that could forever change your life…
#7 - The Reason Why You’re Here.
We’re finally there … The magic number 7 that I’ve been hyping up from the beginning … MONEY.
This aspect can be widely different from one platform to another, so it’s pretty much impossible to state real numbers. YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and so on are generally about regular brand building because they’re free to use and require a lot more thought and planning to make money.
Twitch on the other hand has two main advantages: it offers subscription services and donations. Let’s first talk about the former because donations are pretty self-explanatory.
People can subscribe to your channel for $5 per month and you can get paid approximately $3.50 for every new subscription. (and by the way, Twitch was bought by Amazon a couple of years ago so that makes everything much easier)
The way social media works means that you’re pretty much guaranteed to grow exponentially at some point. Linear growth is very rare. So, I’ll let you do the math - look up famous streamers, see how many subs they have and type it all into a calculator. It will blow your mind.
Letting people pay for getting the exact same thing everyone else is already getting for free is not the best of ideas (that’s why Patreon is so popular). But again, the best way to look for ideas of what to do is by diving deeper into the industry and finding out for yourself.
It’s all about making your already existing subscribers happy because keeping them is always easier to do than getting new ones.
These subscriptions (in combination with donations and ad revenue) are incredible because they generate recurring income that you can rely on every single month. Once you’re there, you did it...you turned your hobby into a well-paying job!
But that’s not it. In #5 I teased another form of income: collabs in the form of sponsorships. And it doesn’t matter if it’s in the form of product placement (with stuff like Monster, G FUEL, chairs, tech, clothing, and so on), regular shoutouts or special events you get paid for.
This is the beauty of building brands: REACH = OPPORTUNITY.
You can sit around and wait for sponsors to discover you or you can take matters into your own hands and reach out to them yourself...but more on that some other time.
Other ways to make money are things like merchandise, affiliate marketing, releasing a product line, and much much more. Your options are seemingly endless once you break through.
Which Side Do You Want To Be On?
It won’t be easy. In fact, it will probably be goddamn hard.
But New Age Media made it possible for everyone to become their own business and take matters into their own hands. Having followers is like a new currency - it sounds dumb when you say it, but it’s true.
And the fact that you’re still reading this tells me you already know what you want out of life. So, make the decision what side of history you want to end up on...and make a smart decision while you’re at it.
Do you want to be left behind, always second-guessing? Or do you want to be one of the pioneers that DO?