The rise of live streaming has been spectacular to say the least.
In less than ten years of mainstream exposure, the industry has grown to over $10 billion in total value, and is expected to grow by 33% this year alone. Its primary platform, Twitch, boasted 1.67 million active streamers towards the end of 2018, and is enjoying a 23% increase in its streaming base quarter-on-quarter.
The incredible popularity of the free-to-play battle royale game, Fortnite, has only served to skyrocket the industry further and make international superstars out of the game’s top streamers. Their success has no doubt provided inspiration to many young gamers who hope to make a living from their bedroom.
It’s not as simple as picking up a controller and turning a webcam on, though. The Twitch market in particular is completely saturated and hyper-competitive, so what exactly does it take to make it as a professional streamer?
(Literally) Play to your strengths
In a world of millions of streamers vying for views, establishing a USP is more important than ever. Operating as a streamer should be treated like running a business; you must find a way to separate yourself from the crowd.
This starts with playing, quite literally, to your strengths. It’s no coincidence that Tfue and Ninja happen to be two of the best Fortnite players in the world. The roots of their viewership began in their ability to play the game, so if there is a game you’re particularly good at, this is probably your best bet to get started.
Of course, not all famous streamers are world-class gamers, and your strengths may lie in other areas. Whether that’s your ability to present, your sense of humour or even that you’re so bad it’s worth watching, you must be entertaining enough to attract and retain an audience.
Engage with your audience
Whatever your USP. you must build on it to engage with your audience. Live streaming is a completely organic growth process, and you must do what you can to generate a palpable online presence and build a loyal fan base.
This starts with being active regularly and working to a relatively consistent schedule, so your viewers know when you’ll be around. Most importantly, though, live streaming is about interacting and engaging with your audience. A discord server, where your community can chat with you and each other, is absolutely essential.
A discord gives you a chance to connect your viewers, as well as run exclusive events and giveaways to encourage further interest. Without a feeling of connection between you and your audience, you don’t stand a chance. And remember, always treat your community with the respect they deserve.
Get the right equipment
Naturally, the casual bedroom streamer will be running from a fairly unsophisticated setup. There’s no harm in starting off small, but if things are picking up and you’re looking to go pro, the equipment you use must be up to professional standards to meet the expectations of a large audience and match the quality of your competitors.
You need one, possibly two, powerful PCs (some would recommend one for gaming, one for broadcasting), top-end streaming software and a high-quality microphone and camera. Unsurprisingly, that will cost you a hell of a lot of money, so you need to be sure it’s both something you really want to make it a viable expenditure.
It’ll mean budgeting your life carefully, but sooner or later you will have to make the investments necessary to take your channel to the next level.
Understand the time & commitment it takes to make it
Finally, you must be realistic about both the commitment levels required to make it as a professional streamer, and your chances of actually doing so. Today, becoming a top streamer is effectively the same as becoming a celebrity in any other interest field; you must work incredibly hard, be extremely good at what you do and hope for a strike of luck!
There are currently thousands of budding streamers starting up every day with the same dream as you. If you look to the people at the top of the game, you’ll know how non-stop their online presence is. Particularly on the way up, you’ll need to eat, sleep and breathe your channel, and it’s only a very small percentage of streamers that will generate a big enough audience to make a full-time living from it.
Obviously, playing a game you love will make the full-on commitment required much easier, but there will still be times when your work will feel like, well, work.
Think you’re up to the challenge? If so, there’s no harm in trying. If you’re successful, you’ll become a professional in one of the world’s most exciting and fastest growing industries, connecting with millions of people worldwide.