Everyone and their dog has a streaming channel, a blog, or some big Instagram following. But what sets apart the wheat from the chaff? What makes a gamer unique enough to be followed by millions upon millions of people? How do they start, what gear do you need? Are there things that you need to consider before you enter the world of live streaming?
Streaming has been around for years, in fact, it goes all the way back to the mid-90s. Now you’ll likely know YouTube and Twitch are the biggest household names in vlogging and live streaming. Both of which are enabling average game loving people also to become household names. It has been morphing and growing into the empire that we now see. In fact, if you’ve been streaming or watching streams for that long, you’ll know that Justin.tv was the original twitch. Justin.tv took streaming out of the hands of news corporations and gifted into the homes and hands of the average person. If you had the internet – you could watch a stream, and start your own.
In 2008, upon seeing the platform having heavy use from gamers, the Gaming category was added. And, unsurprisingly became the most popular category. By 2011 that category was so big, it was split off to its own site. Twitch.tv.
Live streaming is a huge part of the culture in the modern world. There are now multiple platforms where content creators can upload and provide for their audiences. You might consider live streaming to be a large slice of the entertainment pie. What was once seen a group of ‘nerds’ sitting around a computer screen, watching other people play games, is now an industry like no other. It is now very possible to make a living off creating gaming content and live streaming. You can, if you are skilled or have the viewers, now secure sponsorships, get gifted the newest releases, and make money from adverts and merchandise.
But how do you get from sitting behind a screen playing Warcraft to making some cash?
Pick a platform. The two most popular are Twitch and YouTube, you can, of course, combine the two and provide a lot of content. But, when you’re starting out, focus your efforts on one. If you are only interested in live streaming, the Twitch is the outright winner. After all, it started simply for gamers to share. If you want time to edit videos, create cool intros, do things like downloading animated emojis to have in your videos then pre-recording and posts the video on YouTube will win for you. For a while it is better not to focus on numbers and how much you are earning. Great content, engaging and conversational videos will undoubtedly bring the bodies.
It is worth remembering that Twitch has a few more specific rules too. You have to tag your game up correctly and are beholden to their rules about what you can and can’t stream.
Before You Start
Before you start, it is essential to recognize that the quality of your stream is going to matter. Having a midrange quality microphone will help out to begin with. Eventually, you should consider graduating to something a bit more high-end. The better the microphone, the clearer the voice, and you should be focusing on the end user experience. You’re going to need a camera too, something that has some essential functions like correcting low-light situations, autofocus, and a reasonable fps. The Logitech c922 Pro Stream is a pocket-friendly starter camera and will do just what you need till you are ready to invest some more cash.
Make sure your computer is up to the task. You don’t need a kitted out machine, but you do need to know that.
OBS Studio is the most used software for streaming, and with good reason. It’s super easy for beginners and is free. It has a range of functions that you can use to personalize your setup, and how the streaming will work for you.
Have a few trial runs with your setup.
In order to provide the best experience for you and the viewers, you should have a few runs of the live stream before really promoting it to people. Something that should have some keen attention paid is how your audio is mixed. Viewers will need to hear you clearly, and the sound from the game too. So spend some time making sure that you have got that right. No one wants to get ear pain from watching live streamers. You can use OBS to fix any audio issues pretty quickly.
Test out your camera, record a whole gaming session and see if you move around too much, or are you getting more background than you.
The most important one, is sometimes beginners leave significant gaps between talking, which can lead people to leave or get bored quickly. So, work on having that one-way conversation. Imagine you already have viewers and you’re talking about your game, your next move, why you opted for that equipment.
Consistency is key
Chose set days and times that you will always be live so that people can know when to tune in. If you always open the stream with a specific turn of phrase, then stick with it.
Take some time to get some artwork to use across all channels, think of this as your branding. Use the same colors and images to stay consistent and become recognizable.
Live streaming is interesting because you can never really be sure how someone is going to respond in the chat, so keep track on the conversation, or on any donations, or questions – respond and keep that going. Make sure you have social media channels hooked up to your stream too. When you go live, have an automated tweet so that people know and you might get a few new viewers each time.
It is easy to get deflated when you are streaming what you think is excellent content, but you aren’t seeing a rise in viewers, or you’re not making much revenue then don’t worry. Every single one of the more significant gamers started somewhere.
Realistic Cash Talk
You’re going to need to get smart when it comes to making money with your stream. It would, of course, be the dream that you are paid by one sponsor to create content every day – that just ain’t going to work for a while. So here are a few ways that you should think about using to make money.
You will be talking to people about the products you are using, and the games you are playing. By signing up to an affiliate program, you can use an affiliate link to share with your viewers. Then, if they purchase something you get a small payment too. Amazon’s affiliate program is one of the most popular ones, and affiliate links for games and gaming peripherals have the potential to make a decent amount of money.
When it comes to subscriptions, you might need to hang fire on this till you have some loyal viewers. However, having separate subscription content can be very enticing. On Twitch subs can use cool emojis, ad-free viewing, special rewards and even exclusive competitions. The aim is to make the content unique (and worth paying for).
Believe it or not, viewers might just really love your content and want to give you the opportunity to create more by just providing financial support. It might not be much, but even a few dollars can make the difference when you first start out. To do this, you should set up a Patreon or a simple PayPal link.
Follow in the footsteps of Pewdiepie or DanTDM and create a range of goodies for people to buy. This one is interesting because if the design is appealing, in general, you can sell this to viewers and ‘joe blogs’ alike. While you’re going to make more from a fan n the long run, it wouldn’t hurt to push your merchandise at every opportunity.
Expect to start out relatively slowly, and then if you follow this basic guide of consistency, high-quality content and doing regular tests on your software and hardware you will be sure to grow your gaming channel in no time. And, if in doubt, as the audience – they are after all the key to everything.
Don’t Know Where to Start?
Something that holds a lot of people back is they don’t know where to start. What makes good viewing? Think about what you like to play the most, make sure your games are up to date. Or, go the other way entirely and live stream retro game run-throughs. Think about the of content that you can’t stop watching. It might help if you make a list of games, topics, and work that with your personal style. If you love the content you’re streaming, it will be obvious to your viewer too – show you passion, make some profit.