Thanks to the internet, the power dynamic has completely shifted from the company to the individual. No longer do you have to go to a talent agency or get signed to make it big — people with enough drive and passion are succeeding on their own using platforms such as Twitch and YouTube.
In the last few years, playing video games has evolved into more than just a hobby. Top streamers are bringing in huge salaries playing games such as Fortnite, PUBG, League of Legends, and WoW. They have taken the time to become experts at their craft, and manage to perfectly blend funny and engaging entertainment with masterful gameplay. If you have a passion for gaming, now is the perfect time to turn that passion into a career.
When growing a following in the gaming world, there are a ton of avenues you can use to monetize your passions. Some have long-term potential, whereas some might get you in trouble. Below, we outline the top performing monetization channels when growing a following.
Whether you stream on Twitch or upload your videos to Youtube, increased traffic means you are able to run pre-roll advertisements for when people engage with your content. While these ads make a few cents per view, these add up to huge amounts as your following grows.
Typically, in order to qualify for video monetization you must reach a high, consistent viewer count. Making sure people are engaged with your content and coming back on a regular basis can help ensure you will qualify for this monetization path.
However, there are caveats to this route. Recently there has been turmoil surrounding platforms such as YouTube demonetizing certain videos or channels based on specific content. People were tailoring their entire lives around this consistent adsense revenue, without ever signing a formal contract with their provider. While this can be a good supplementary income, avoid planning out projects too far with adsense.
Subscribers and Patreon
Subscription methods such as Patreon were born out of this frustration with adsense. While running ads gave creators the ability to monetize their passions, it was too inconsistent to plan your life around. Twitch subscribers and Patreon pages allow your fans to pledge a specified amount of money per month, which is then reciprocated with premium, insider content.
This content can include exclusive videos, personal chats with you, or sneak-peeks at upcoming projects. This has also created a great system of recurring revenue and allows creators to make things at their own pace, as opposed to sprinting on the content treadmill chasing views.
Building a subscriber base requires you to build a community, so work outwards from there. Engaging with followers on multiple platforms, responding to questions, and having talks on-stream and on-video help your viewers connect with you, and in turn, they will care more about what you have to say. Twitch subscribers are a set price, but for Patreon you can set tiers for certain pay grades, creating an excellent reward system for super fans.
Having an eCommerce component to your plan does not make you a sellout! It helps drive your passion and create awesome products for your fans. Two of the most common strategies for this are merchandise and creating digital courses around your game.
Band t-shirts have always been relevant, but now you can support your favorite eSports team or streamer by rocking their jersey. If you have an inside joke on your stream, your viewers can show it off to the world or connect with other fans at conventions.
Understanding the supply chain process is essential for this part to work. How do you plan on getting the shirts to your customers? How will you get them printed?
We recommend most people start off with a done-for-you platform on Shopify. From there, you can eventually switch over to packing and shipping yourself when you have large-scale orders. Test the waters with merchandise, and when you find something that works: run with it!
If the thought of shipping products out makes your head spin, keep things simple and offer a digital product to your fans. Our team really thinks this is an under-explored niche with a ton of potential for the right gamer.
One strategy is basing it around the game you play. Making guides on how to improve and offering private coaching lets you share your skills with the masses, and in video format you can create an engaging education experience that cannot be replicated in a classroom setting.
Alternatively, you can make a course on how to get started on streaming. Give your insight and guidance based on the current landscape. You can outline strategies and ways to grow your following so others can follow in your footsteps.
Offering these courses on digital course platforms makes things as easy as uploading videos, setting the price, and running with it. It’s a plug-and-play solution that works wonders!
Sponsorships and Influencer Marketing
Pioneered by the Kardashians, people in every industry are now forming one-on-one brand deals and promoting everything you can imagine on their Instagram, Stream, and even in-person.
The digital marketing agency WiseMedia cites this as the most undervalued industry out at the moment. This is one of the most powerful ways of monetizing, especially when you have a good grasp on your demographics and reach.
Here is how they work: either you reach out to a brand and establish rapport, or they acknowledge your industry influence and approach you. From there, you form a working relationship to promote their product in either a one-off or consistent way.
When it comes to influencer marking, never take your fans for granted. Make sure you are forming relationships with the brands you endorse, and for products that are relevant to your audience. This creates a winning situation for all parties.
Your fans get to see great products, you keep a healthy following, and the brand can show themselves to a relevant audience. Keyboard and headset sponsorships are super common in the gaming space, but recently people have worked with Soylent, or alternative food and health products for gamers. All of which are great avenues when you do it right!
Forming affiliate partnerships can add up over time and result in huge returns — when done properly.
Affiliate marketing involves developing relationships with sites such as Amazon, where you put a link in your videos or stream. When someone navigates through your link and purchases a product, you receive a percentage of the earnings for handling the promotion for them.
This creates a great working relationship. Your fans already want to know what headset or keyboard you use, so simply navigating them to Amazon when they buy it helps put a little back into your pocket for getting the word out!
Vloggers such as Casey Neistat use this strategy to great effect; he plugs his camera and recording equipment links into every video he posts. When one goes viral, he is able to earn massive amounts through these customer purchases.
Monetization: Do it right or don’t do it at all
With so many strategies to pursue, the most important thing to remember is to do it right. Your fans love your stream because they connect with it, so make sure you appreciate them instead of looking at them as potential earnings.
Respecting your fanbase makes them much more likely to support your monetization strategies, and when done right can be a win-win relationship. You are able to support a full-time entertainment lifestyle, and your fans get to see more gameplay!
Hi! I’m Evan, founder of WiseMedia, a digital marketing boutique based out of Toronto. We help local brands tell their story online, and analyze trends, attention, and the way people monetize online.