In the early days of platforms like Twitch and its predecessor, Xfire, streamers streamed because they enjoyed doing it. The opportunities to make mega-bucks through sponsorships and brand endorsements weren’t there at the beginning, and steamers didn’t have any means to make money from their content other than through donations.
Fast forward a few years, and the significant growth that the platform experienced has significantly increased the number of money-making opportunities available. These days, streamers on the platform can receive direct donations via Twitch Bits and its subscription model, in addition to Patreon, crowdfunding and of course, brand sponsorship.
Recently, Twitch’s executive vice president of Commerce, Ethan Evans, declared that “streamers are the new heroes,” adding to the aspirational aspect of life as a Twitch content creator. But is it possible for any avid gamer to build a profitable and successful career as a Twitch streamer?
Know What You’re Going to Stream
Theoretically, yes. In today’s world, anyone who puts the effort in and has something about them that will keep an online audience entertained and enthralled for hours does have the potential to make money by streaming games on Twitch. However, you aren’t going to make a million in months by playing what you want to play and expecting an audience to follow you. To be successful as a streamer, you need to find your niche and push it to the max.
Let’s look at online poker, for example. It’s no wonder that this discipline has been such a hit with Twitch streamers and audiences alike. It’s one of the most rapidly growing areas of gaming, and viewers watch popular streamers like Lex Veldhuis as much for their skillful mastery of the game as for the knowledge that they are hoping to glean from observing the way they play. If poker is your chosen discipline, then you will need to develop some decent skills before you can wow a global audience with your hands and plays.
One of the good things about online poker is that it can be quickly and easily accessed with an internet connection and a smartphone. Begin by learning the basics of the game, making sure you can identify and understand the numerous variations of poker and their rules is a good place to start!
Network and Community
We’ll get to brand sponsorships in a moment because your gaming community is the real key to your success. On platforms like Twitch, you are nothing without the support of your community! Remember that viewers don’t tune into your channel to serve you. If anything, as a budding Twitch streamer, you should be reversing that thought and asking yourself what you can do for your community.
Interact with your audience: run giveaways and special events and ask them what they want to see from your channel. Similarly, engage with other streamers in your niche, contact the gamers that you admire and want to emulate and develop working relationships with your peers. By treating your community with respect, you’re more likely to receive the long-term support that can help you flourish.
Get on Social Media
It almost goes without saying, but if you’re set on being a Twitch streamer, you need an active social media presence. Setting up a Discord server should be a top priority before you start streaming since this will also get you involved in the community, but you should also select some other platforms where you can keep an active presence. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, choose a few that work for you and devote some energy into keeping your profiles fresh and engaging. Oh, and before you even launch your Twitch account, remember to set up a business email and make it visible across all your social media profiles.
Now, we’re onto the real money-making opportunities. Brand sponsorships can make a significant difference when it comes to the profitability and overall success of a Twitch career, so much so that one deal could change your life forever. Sadly, however, there isn’t a magic formula to follow that will bring sponsors knocking at your door. Instead, you must find them and make yourself as appealing as possible.
Start with the look and layout of your Twitch channel, creating something that consists of more than a few photos and words hastily cobbled together. If graphic design isn’t your thing, don’t worry. Instead, you can focus on defining clearly who you are and what your brand is. Your info section should look and read (yes, proofreading is important!) as professional as possible, as the goal is to impress whoever is viewing it.
As a potential influencer, it is up to you to form relationships with the brands that you want working with you. Try engaging with the decision-makers of your favorite companies via platforms like Twitter or LinkedIn. You also want to get on these people’s radars, interact with them and make them notice you. If there are brands that you love, don’t be afraid to talk about them during your live content. Be honest, a real passion and enthusiasm for a product are what most brands are looking for from the influencers that they endorse, and it will lead to a mutually beneficial relationship.
Building a career as a Twitch streamer isn’t easy, and it won’t happen overnight. However, if you have the drive and dedication to put your gameplay out there online, follow your goal 100 percent — who knows where it could lead you!
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Nerd Stash. An avid gamer since I could walk and can be found in Ashland, KY, where he hopes to find inspiration and uniqueness in life by meeting awesome people, development friendships with companies, and become more nerdy.