So You’re A Streamer Now? Here’s How to make the Most of it
Recent statistics from Twitch show that the number of people streaming on their platform has doubled in the last two years.
That stat shouldn’t really come as a surprise. International lockdowns brought many folks back to gaming, and popular releases like Valorant have an average of over 100,000 concurrent viewers.
However, if you spent any time streaming in the past two years, you’ll know that it’s extremely difficult to capture a piece of the streamer pie for yourself and make a profit — but it’s not impossible.
So, whether you’re free-roaming on Elden Ring, role-playing on GTA, or quick scoping on COD, here are a few tips to help finance your stream.
Understand Bits, Ads, and Subscriptions
Most streamers take to platforms like Twitch or YouTube without really understanding how their revenue generation models work. This leads to under-optimized streams with viewers that drift in and out, rather than sub and stay. If you’re looking to fund your stream, you must pay attention to the platform’s best practices.
Fortunately, Twitch provides some really clear guidelines to help you increase the amount of revenue you generate on their platform. Twitch allows you to make money in three ways: subscriptions, ads, and bits. Subscriptions and adverts are what you’d imagine them to be, but bits are a little more complicated.
Bits are like virtual “cheers” or emotes that your viewers use while watching your stream. They grant you a revenue of $0.01 per cheer/emote, so you’re looking to score a large number per stream. However, pressuring your audience into cheering isn’t going to work. Instead, focus on providing quality content, and treat bits as a “tip-jar” for your stream rather than a stable source of income.
You also have the option to run advertisements on your Twitch channel. However, before you start spamming ad breaks after every round of gameplay, you need to consider the holistic picture and ensure that your audience doesn’t feel exploited. You can do this by warning your audience of an ad a few minutes before you air it, and by limiting the number of ads you show. If you stream for 4 hours, then 3-4 adverts should be a natural fit.
Partner with Sponsors
Landing a sponsorship is the holy grail of streaming income. To attract sponsors, you’ll need to have a consistent, professional offering with decent audience engagement and a modest following. You also need to actively seek out sponsors, as they’re unlikely to contact you directly at first.
Finding sponsors is easier through sponsorship programs like StreamAid or PowerSpike which will align potential sponsors with gamers. Try to be a little picky about your first sponsorship offers, and don’t compromise your values and beliefs to push a product or service that you don’t believe in — this will help you develop a trustworthy brand online, and improve your long-term sponsorship success.
Think Like a Small Business Owner
You should think of your new stream as a small business. Like most small businesses, you’ll face your greatest challenges during the first year of your operations, as this is when you have minimal revenue but high overheads. Counteracting this mixture of low income and high costs can be tricky, but thinking like a small business owner can help strategize your financing.
First and foremost, you need to keep any costs associated with your stream to a minimum. Big-time streamers like Tfue or Ninja have the best possible setups for streaming and gaming, but you don’t need to make a massive outlay for a new gaming PC or next-gen console. Instead, keep your costs low, and make the most of your current setup — even if that’s just your couch and a PS4.
Of course, at some point in the future, you’ll need to upgrade your setup in order to play new games and remain competitive in online competitions. This is where things get tricky, as you may not be generating enough revenue to pay for 100% of your upgrade.
You can take a leaf out of the small-business owner playbook, and consider financing these upgrades by selling your valuable assets like your car — particularly if you’re now working remotely as a full-time streamer. Selling or trading your car to generate some quick cash flow is fairly easy, and the best option is to list your car online via services like Craigslist or Autotrader that don’t take a chunk of the sale like car dealers.
Working in the Gaming Industry
Finding employment in the gaming industry is a great way to boost your profile and make connections with people who may become future sponsors of your stream. It’s also a good way to keep your finances healthy while you try to transition into full-time streaming.
Catching a break in the gaming industry is easier than ever before. You can find work during eSports events or work for studios like Square Enix (the studio behind Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy), which have transitioned much of their operations to a remote working model. You can also look into Twitch’s current openings, though you will likely need experience in marketing to land a role with the platform.
Starting a stream is easy — finding a way to turn your passion into profit is much harder. Start by providing a stream that audiences love. In time, this will generate meaningful income through viewer interactions which help generate income and land you sponsors who align with your values and brand identity.