As some of you may know, I’m involved with a number of projects. One of these that I’ve been involved with for a long time is a paired Youtube and Twitch channel. For privacy reasons I’ll not mention the name, but I thought some of my musings on it might be interesting. The Twitch channel is currently Partnered and the person controlling it is a full-time streamer, earning enough to live in a country with relatively low living costs.
As a note, I’ve been involved in streaming sometimes having done solo streams and more often joining in team events, but I’m typically more involved on the video content side and strategy. I don’t take credit for the success here and may personally be the most boring streamer online. We originally had several people streaming on the same channel, but found it didn’t work well so had the most suited person take over.
As always, this is just one example. It won’t be the same for everyone.
Update: As a note, I won’t be able to update this with more recent stats. About half a year after writing this article, I quit the Twitch/Youtube group to concentrate on NookGaming.com. It still remains as relevant as ever though.
From Start to Partner
When we started we had the advantage of already having a small but loyal fanbase on Youtube that grew alongside Twitch. It helped that the Youtube channel was focused on a niche of gaming and the Twitch was focused on variety streams within the same niche of gaming. As well as people who enjoyed watching us for personality or type of content, we had people who clicked onto us at first to check out games within that niche that not many people were covering. We occasionally covered things outside of that niche, but it never did as well.
Despite this small advantage, it was still a grind. I think that a lot of people don’t realize just how much of a grind that growing as a streamer can be.
I’ve noted down some numbers below. A few notes on them;
- We made a rather large production of our Partner Push. The followers and fans were encouraged to come out and support us in trying to achieve it. We also ran frequent giveaways around that time and did special streaming events to get more people in the streams.
- We applied for Partner as soon as possible. Usually Twitch will respond much faster, but it was heavily delayed.
- The person streaming tactically chose the games played based on viewer wants rather than his own. While it’s often not recommended, it was effective.
- Around the time of the Partner Push, there were 50 – 100 hours of streaming per month.
- Followers were sometimes gained partially due to giveaways via other channels/social media/on channel.
- August and September 2017 had large follower gains, likely due to pushing people across from Youtube.
|First time earned revenue
|Start of Consistent Revenue ($8+)
|Starts Heavily Streaming (45 hours+)
|$82 earned – first time over $25
|First Time Streaming Over 100 Hours per month
|Partner Push Starts
|Applied for Partner
|Twitch Partner Achieved
Collab, Collab, Collab
Many streamers want to collaborate with people bigger than them. Some even ignore people their own size and certainly don’t reply to the smaller ones. It’s sad, but this is pretty common according to what several streamer friends have said. We also got refused or ignored by slightly bigger channels within the same niche often, even when looking at events aimed towards helping indie developers or similar.
We took a different tactic by collaborating with anyone whose we felt the content and personalities fit, with a focus on smaller channels. It helped out the smaller channels and the streamer was good enough that many of their followers of the smaller channel would follow us too. It also formed the basis of a stream team that came later after being made Partner.
As an unexpected benefit, many of the smaller channels we collaborated with have loyally supported our channel in return even as they’ve grown. They felt that we helped them to take off.
As a note on this, we always did a raid at the end of a stream. Always. Usually of a similar sized or smaller channel that we liked regardless of size and we helped a lot of people get affiliate that way or gave them their first experience of a larger audience. When raiding we usually talked a little about the channel first to introduce them and then did the raid. We then stuck around in their chat for a while. Smaller streamers often raided us too and even when it was just a few people, we appreciated it. With that said, as we got larger and larger, some smaller channels were fairly obviously only raiding us or reaching to get that collab or a raid in return. This was a frequent issue.
Sometimes it is WHO you know…
As mentioned, I consider myself to be an uninteresting streamer and I rarely stream. Despite this, on one of my personal channels, I’m an affiliate and I did it within a week in the minimum amount of streams.
I don’t say this to claim that I’m any good. It’s more of a personal example that yes, having connections does help. Being connected to a successful streamer, I could mention I was going live to a community who knew me due to that and get at least a few viewers from the very first stream and the required amount of followers soon after. It’s rather unfair, but many streamers shout out into the void and have 0 – 1 viewers consistently. According to Zach Bussey who looked at the data, if you have more than 6 viewers, you are within the top 6.7% of streamers on Twitch. If you only count affiliates and upward, then the top 30%. I’ve known people trying to get affiliated for months, some of them who are genuinely entertaining.
Of course, success can come from anything, but I’ve heard similar from several successful streamers. They got their start because they knew someone, someone raided them, they got exposed to a larger audience. While I imagine their own effort was most important, a VTuber even recently told me that he made affiliate because of VTuberTweeter Boost.
Not something that often gets talked about publicly, but I thought I’d briefly touch on the finances. Money is required for streaming, whether it’s to pay the living costs of a full-time streamer or paying for all of the services needed.
Something a little unusual is that until COVID, we reinvested all money gained from Twitch back into the Twitch and Youtube projects. Buying equipment, paying artists and animators for commissions, and occasionally buying items to giveaway. Costs could be quite high as we commissioned art for subscribers who had been with us for a long time and similar, along with pricey items like high-end microphones.
After COVID hit, the main streamer lost his job. As a team we agreed he could start streaming full-time and take his living costs from anything earned.
Money primarily came in via two methods when it came to Twitch; subscriptions and donations. Donations were usually significantly higher. What I have noticed is that more than three-quarters of donation money seems to come in from the a small percentage of donators. Other donators tend to occasionally donate small amounts. As well as this, we occasionally did sponsored streams but this was rare due to staying within niche.
Something that worked nicely for everyone involved is that we often spoke to indie developers. We helped to test out the games before release, gave feedback privately and arranged other sorts of help for them.
In return, we sometimes had the chance to be the first people to stream a game that brought in viewers. Rarely any huge titles, but some hyped ones. We were occasionally privately told useful information that helped to inform our direction too or put into contact with people who may otherwise be difficult to get in touch with. In at least one instance, we got to stream a game from a very well-known publisher significantly before release and were the first in the world to do so.
Community and Socials
This is an area I’ve never been amazing at to be honest, but fortunately this Twitch and Youtube project I’m on is a team effort. We made sure to talk with a lot of people on Twitter about our niche and comment in discussions. We followed people who we were interested in the content of. This got people to follow us and jump into the stream.
We started a Discord community when we had enough people that we knew it wouldn’t feel too empty. Before inviting people in, we made sure to set it up with relevant channels, permissions and bots like MEE6. One lesson we learned here was to have a dedicated place for people to promote themselves. This could be for anyone or restricted to subscribers/etc. Otherwise people spam their links everywhere. I’ve also seen that some people love having a different role/color due to supporting us, whether it’s via a Twitch subscription or otherwise. It’s a good idea to set this up early.
We promoted the Discord on Twitter and during streams. Twitter promotion didn’t often work that well. Exclusive streams on Discord are occasionally done, as this encourages people to stay and is a great way to interact with the closer part of the community. The rate of people getting the alert that we’re live via Discord to actually tuning in was quite high, which I’m told isn’t often the case.
We did use giveaways to get people to follow us on Discord and Twitter on occasion, but found that while numbers went up, it was mostly ‘dead numbers’. No real interaction came from most of these people. A few did stand out – they heard of us via the giveaway and then got to know us and decided they liked us. Having higher numbers can look good to external people, but in terms of them actually turning up to streams and such? Not so good.
This isn’t exactly a strategy guide, but I hope that some of these thoughts might be useful to streamers going forward. In the end, what I mentioned here basically comes down to a few things. That it is a long grind. While it’s not everything, connections can really help you. Whether it’s other streamers or followers, treat your community well. And that sometimes helping others can come back to you too.
If you’re a streamer or other content creator, our article on How To Get Free Games as a Content Creator or Press might be of interest.
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