Twitch - Turning a Hobby into a Career

Twitch - Turning a Hobby into a Career

By Amir Yani - Journalist at Do a Barrel Roll

Playing video games for a living seemed like a dream for many of us gamers growing up in the 90s. These days, however, this dream has become a reality for several passionate entertainers through a broadcasting website called Twitch.tv. Twitch allows individuals to stream their own gameplay to viewers around the world and receive real time feedback from a live chat room.

Many people have turned their hobby of playing video games into a full time career by streaming on Twitch and creating a community of viewers that support the streamer financially through subscriptions ($4.99/month) and donations. These streamers bond with the viewers by interacting with the messages written in the chat and sharing personal details about themselves and their lives.  

Streamers also use other forms of social media such as Twitter and Discord servers to further connect with their viewers and continue to build a community. Applications such as Discord not only allow viewers to chat with streamers on a more personal level, but they also provide the opportunity to make new friendships with other gamers who already have the same interests.

Struggles Involved with Streaming

While streaming video games for a living sounds like a dream come true, it also requires a lot of hard work to get started. Most streamers begin their Twitch career broadcasting to 0 viewers. With thousands of gamers trying to make it as a streamer, having your stream discovered by a viewer seems next to impossible.

When you visit Twitch, the streamers with the highest view counts are the most visible as these streams are the ones shown at the top of the directory. This can be incredibly demoralizing to new streamers trying to make it on the platform and they must be able to put in the time and effort required to get noticed.

As a beginner on Twitch, it is important to consider that it takes time to build your channel and fan base. This can be difficult as there will be little to no income earned during this period. Therefore, it might be wise to begin streaming part time while still maintaining your full-time job.

Making it as a Streamer

As an avid Twitch viewer myself, I have heard popular streamers on several occasions give advice on how to get started on the platform. Some of the most effective tips include setting up a schedule and streaming at the same time every day. This allows viewers to know when the streamer will be online and in turn, they can plan their schedule accordingly.

Another important tip is to network. Nowadays, being a streamer is all about promoting your brand on social media and getting your name out there. Twitch has a built-in “clipping” tool that allows a viewer to record the last 30 seconds of a stream and share the clip with the press of a button. These clips can be very helpful to a new streamer’s exposure, especially when posted on high traffic sites such as Reddit and YouTube. Likewise, visiting Twitch Con, an annual gaming convention specifically tailored for Twitch streamers and their communities, is another great way to network with other streamers by giving out your business card and setting up collaboration streams.

While some streamers are just content with sharing their gameplay online with a few people, those who are adamant on turning this hobby into a career must also be able to generate a sustainable income. Donations and subscriptions are a large portion of a broadcaster’s income while allowing the viewer to show their support and appreciation for the streamer. Viewers will often donate as a way of thanking the streamer for helping them through a tough time in their lives by being a constant source of positive energy and entertainment. These contributions from viewers can add up to six figure salaries for the most popular streamers out there. According to an analysis from Forbes, Ninja, the most followed streamer on Twitch, is making at least $350,000 a month from subscriptions alone.

Streamers are more than just an entertainer to their viewers. Unlike other famous figures such as actors and athletes, there is a personal connection between the streamer and the viewer on Twitch. Streamers are constantly interacting with their fans through the chatroom and social media so viewers are more likely to show their support financially through donations and subscriptions.

As a popular streamer, you are an important public figure in the gaming industry. This dream job allows you to obtain a generous income while having the flexibility of working from home and setting your own schedule. It also means that you are more susceptible to public scrutiny and criticism as you are in the vulnerable position of broadcasting yourself to thousands of viewers on the internet. More importantly, however, being a streamer on Twitch gives you the opportunity to make a living doing what you love the most - playing video games and bringing people together.