The thought has more than likely crossed all gamer’s minds at some point in time. We spend so much time with our eyes glued to our monitors and our hands clasped firmly around our controllers, we may as well be broadcasting or recording what we do and maybe provide some entertainment to people, right? Heck, you might even be able to make a small or residual amount of money doing it.
Gaming on YouTube or Twitch is worth it if you have the time and commitment to give. From my personal experience, I recommend you do it for the love of gaming firstly, as monetization takes a long time to be worth it financially.
Having started a gaming YouTube Channel with my friend last year, I can impart some first-hand experience on the matter for that platform, and I am semi-involved with a friend who runs his own Twitch Channel, so I can offer some second-hand wisdom in that regard.
Gaming on YouTube
It got derailed by the pandemic for a while, but like most people, we adapted to working over online via Discord, but now it’s also been a case where my freelancing work has become more demanding on my time, and he’s started the second year of his Master’s course. We will pick it back up eventually but right now just isn’t the right time.
Timing is Everything
Anyway, tangents aside, I will bring that slightly off-road anecdote back around to explain my first point: when starting a Gaming YouTube and/or Twitch Channel (which also applies to non-Gaming content as well) you have to be committed and have a lot of time to pour into it.
There are some monetary investments you’ll need to make, but these aren’t insanely high, especially if you split the cost across two or three people.
If there’s one thing you’ll need to make it work though, it’s time. Time and commitment.
The first few weeks you’ll be in a honeymoon period where everything is really new and exciting, but eventually, that fades (along with the initial peak your channel or content might get) and you’ll plateau out.
After that, you’ll probably need to push yourself more to keep making the content you want to put out, which is actually harder than it sounds.
A Purpose Driven Channel
The next thing I would say to do is to decide what vein or niche of content you’re going to aim to make content for.
That’s kind of the problem my friend and I have run up against in that breaking away from our podcast (which is our primary content when really podcasts are normally additional side projects) is we’ve experimented in different genres without really deciding the type of content our Channel will provide.
It’s cool to be this diverse Channel that puts out lots of different things for different people and their respective tastes, but if you think about the Channels or TV shows that you yourself watch, you generally do so because you keep coming back for the same type of content.
Having a Channel that might take a couple of months before they post anything of interest to you is one you probably won’t end up following.
So I would say to pick a niche (preferably one you enjoy or are naturally interested in anyway) and double down on that, keeping focus around that subject as much as possible to retain a core audience that will continually come back to watch your next upload.
To build relevance, use tools like the YouTube Gaming Trending Tab (at the bottom of the page) or look at related videos based on your own subscriptions and see which ones have garnered a lot of views in a short space of time and use similar or adjacent ideas when making your content.
Alternatively, you can use Google Trends to search keywords and see what phrases people are searching for and make content for an audience that is actively hunting that content down.
Also, as a side note for anyone looking to start a Podcast, check out Anchor for help with starting as they handle distribution for a lot of popular Podcast platforms like Apple, Spotify, and Google.
Also, I would recommend uploading Podcasts to YouTube as even today, Podcasts have no discovery algorithm, so it’s virtually impossible to get found naturally. YouTube for all its flaws at least has a way for you to get noticed.
Money, Quality, and Research
As mentioned above, you will need to make some financial investment in the right gear depending on what you already do or do not have (which is detailed here).
People’s expectations of the YouTube standard have been unconsciously raised throughout the last decade or so, and a poor quality microphone, in particular, will turn people off from your content almost immediately.
The final thing to note is that to make a good quality video or piece of content takes a decent amount of time to research.
People are more than ready to call you out on the internet if you’re factually wrong about something (it would appear some people even live for it), so I tend to preface a “hot take” or review or opinion piece as such by having a quick “subjective” disclaimer.
My friend and I crack open a Google Doc and script out our sections of the podcast, each doing research in our areas with source citing where possible/necessary.
Some people may prefer to take a more off the cuff approach, but generally, if you’re doing a deep dive or review or something, it helps to have something that acts at the very least as a prompt or cue card.
Gaming on Twitch
Now Twitch is something I’ve only experienced through osmosis from a friend, but I can say that it’s demanding in a different way, and it is far from just playing video games while talking.
You can, in theory, just make a profile, and start streaming. Doing so, however, will basically forever confine you to the depths of the single-digit viewers. And while that’s completely fine for some people, it can get quite disheartening when you’re trying your hardest and not seeing any growth.
Consistency is Key
The most important part of Twitch in my view is consistency, both in terms of scheduling and the types of things you play.
YouTube is a bit freer in that even the most popular uploaders don’t always have set days that they post, but Twitch content creators usually run their Channels more like television shows, having a scheduled time slot on specific days of the week for roughly the same amount of time per stream.
Imagine having a TV show that one week has one episode on a Wednesday at 7 pm that lasts an hour then the following week has three twenty-minute episodes on Sunday, Tuesday, and Friday. It just wouldn’t happen. People would miss the shows and they’d become irritated and frustrated, and stop watching altogether.
I think that’s what catches people out the most, the concept seems easy but the precision of the execution is very finely detailed and time-consuming.
Then there’s what you’d be streaming. Very few content creators can just stream any old game and get consistently high views unless it’s a new, high profile AAA release. I myself watch a lot of Super Smash Brothers and Warzone streamers, and that is literally all they play.
They have a solid audience that comes to their Channel specifically to watch them play Smash and tear it up in Verdansk. The handful of times they’ve played other games to either experiment or just for their own entertainment, their viewership numbers plummet.
Building a Community
Also, a key component now in both aiding in natural growth and also showing you’re serious is building a community, usually with the help of a Discord server. This also doubles as an organisation tool as well as a cool way for you to interact with fans and for fans to interact with each other.
I’ve helped my friend on some aspects like making him some emotes and thumbnails, but he has a whole team of people that help him keep things running, like mods and admins which work tirelessly behind the scenes.
I think it’s important to note what often seem like one-person operations are very rarely that. Most creators invest in an external editor or mods to help them focus on just making the content (something my friend and I have struggled to juggle with everything else).
You could find extra help with your content, be it graphics or editing on Fiverr.
My Personal Verdict
So the real question is: should you start a YouTube or Twitch Channel?
And honestly, I would have to say no unless you’re truly committed to doing it and have the time to invest in it.
It’s a very dense category to enter into at this point, so if you’re doing it for the sheer love and enjoyment, fantastic. Just don’t expect to be making any money from it any time soon.
I personally think that’s a huge problem with content creation overall, not just on YouTube but with other sites like Instagram.
Businesses and people that are the exceptions are presented as the rule, so people think just because they can start out just like they did, they have the same odds as breaking into the 1% at the top, and that just isn’t a reality for practically everyone.
Apologies for ending on a bit of a downer, but I would rather give truthful realism than sell the notion that you’ll be making six figures from ad revenue in a few months.
But if you can invest the time, do it for the love of it, produce lots of content, keep consistent and entertaining, then perhaps you could be the exception to the rule.