Live streaming has exploded over the past few years, along with the rapid development of social networking platforms. Now more people are jumping into the digital realm as a profession, but many seem to tumble along the way. If you are planning to start or struggling to expand your live streaming career, read our tips to become a successful streamer.
We often envy the success of big time streamers, who appear to be doing what they enjoy most in front of an audience- while making a profit. They get to set their own schedules, have seemingly limitless holidays, work from home every day, and, if influential enough, even get to connect with mainstream celebrities!
As attractive as making a living through live streaming has been in recent years, becoming a successful streamer is not easy. People tend to underestimate what it takes to be an influential streamer, demonstrating how beginners often give up shortly after they start.
There are countless factors to consider when starting or expanding your live streaming career. From self-awareness to a sense of flexibility, being a successful streamer involves numerous qualities and never-ending improvements.
Know the Content
With streaming being so prevalent today, there are now millions of different streaming content options available to watch online, including video games, cooking, mukbang (consuming food), sports commentary, stock market reviews, and even just chatting.
With that being said, a streamer must have a clear focus on their content specialisation, know it well, and be good at it. Any streamer would soon lose subscribers if they played PlayerUnknown’s Battleground one day, did mukbang the next, and talked about the latest football game a week later. People tend to watch a streamer with a specific content niche that interests them individually.
Do not target a wide range of audience from the beginning- start small, grow big. Of course, there are some streamers who do more than one thing on their streams like Pokimane, Azzyland, or AustinShow, but bear in mind that these people have already secured stable fandoms.
Being entertaining is perhaps the most fundamental quality of a successful streamer, yet a factor some newcomers may underestimate. People watch live streamers because they are entertaining.
Differentiate yourself from your competitors. Always be creative and look for opportunities to interest your viewers. There are many streamers that play the same game, but appeal to their followers in different ways- in terms of playing style, language use, positional roles, etc.
Always look and act professional- playing video games for fun versus to make a living are two different things. While you should like and be good at what you would do on live streams, you should also approach it as a job. Being a successful streamer involves consistent practice, audience retention, self-evaluation, competitor analysis, and always striving to improve.
Another simple way to reflect professionalism is by having an authentic, high-quality streaming setup. No streamer wants a negative review for having a faulty microphone or broken green screen. Having good streaming equipment is like wearing a neat suit to a meeting with an important client.
Perseverance and Consistency
Be patient and work consistently- small streamers often give up after running a few streams due to audience numbers. But most of the internet’s big personalities, except some who have pursued their career in professional esports, have all gone through their own times of insecurity.
A streamer should start by creating a weekly streaming schedule, as it will allow viewers to know when they go live. Setting professional working hours will also help you stay motivated, regardless of audience or mood.
It will also be ideal to avoid time clashes with big streamers, especially those who have similar content as you do. Consider your main target audience, for instance, a Minecraft streamer will avoid going live during the day time on weekdays, as their viewers are likely to be students who would be at school and otherwise occupied then.
In order to be successful, a streamer must also be honest with their audience. This may seem intuitive, but there have been numerous streamers who lied to their viewers for donations, making themselves sound desperate for money. It is not a good idea to deceive people who care about you enough to make donations voluntarily.
As streamer Shado_Temple once said, “Things will go wrong in a stream, whether it be technical issues, broken games, unruly chats, bad timing on anything, etc. A good streamer can roll with the punches, make quality entertainment despite it all.” A successful streamer should also be flexible when gaining momentum, especially with audience numbers. If you broke your record for viewers today, this is the perfect time to readjust your schedule and push your limits in order to expand your fan base.
There are largely two ways to make a profit from live streaming. Mainly, a streamer can make revenue directly on the streaming platform through donations or subscriptions. For instance, live streamers on Youtube get paid when their viewers send them a “super chat”, which needs to be purchased beforehand. But Youtube streamers do not get to keep all profits earned from super chats, as the platform keeps about 30% of the money. The same mechanism is applicable on Twitch, an online video game live streaming platform, but with a different ratio.
Most streamers prefer subscriptions over super chats or “Bits,” a virtual currency viewers can buy on Twitch to show support for streamers, because income from subscription options is recurring and often has a better split ratio for them. On Twitch, money collected through subscriptions is split 50/50 between the streamer and the platform, and the number is negotiable with the company when the streamer maintains a high number of subscribers.
A streamer can also generate revenue externally through sponsorships and advertising. Most big streamers, on both Youtube and Twitch, make most of their profits through partnerships with brands and promoting products during their live streams. While subscription revenue is important, real money is made when a streamer agrees to feature and promote products from big companies on their live streams. Although it varies due to a number of factors, professionals who stream around 40 hours a week make US$3,000 to US$5,000 each month.