Numbers Matter | Why it’s Okay to Try to be Popular in Content Creation

Recently I’ve been seeing a lot of negative talk about what some term chasing fame or clout. Trying to get that Twitch Partner tick instead of letting it happen by itself. Putting in the effort to get more people to watch your videos. Trying to get more people to read your reviews.

I’m here to tell you that it’s okay to want it and work for it. At least sometimes. And that yes, it may be demoralizing, but the numbers do matter.

This is just my take on it of course. And I’ve seen the downsides too. I have a few stories of that which I’ll mention later in this post.

Opportunities for You and Yours

Have you read my article on how content creators can get free games? This is one of the most obvious opportunities where numbers matter.

I’ll use an example from Woovit because it gives a solid requirement – To get this game to make content, I need to be a Twitch Partner. It’s there in writing in this case. While it can be more flexible sometimes, there’s still a strong consideration about your numbers.

Now, free games are nice and all, but this isn’t just a free game. It’s an opportunity for you and your community. It might be sent to you a week before release. Creating a review? You’ll be able to have it ready for release to inform your viewers. Streaming it? Your community can be some of the first people to see it. Sometimes the publishers will even send over extra copies for you to share with some of your fans. And it may be something that you’d otherwise not be able to afford or have otherwise shown to viewers.

Contrarily, if you buy the same game on the release date or after, then maybe some of your own followers will have already watched someone else play it or read another review of it. This could cause issues with maintaining your followers, even in content where personality is the main draw. The second time watching a narrative-based game probably isn’t going to be as interesting for example.

Don’t Like Fame. Do Like Chances.

On a personal level, I don’t care for fame and actively avoid being known in some ways. I just want to do some cool stuff and share my experience with others. But I’ll try to get more views here. With websites, PR and publishers will ask “how many users visited last month and how many pages did they visit?” before deciding whether to help you out. There are other factors too, but that tends to be the main one.

I’ve got a full team of writers who I love to offer some interesting opportunities to. Being one of the first people in the world to play a game they’re really interested in or hearing some news long before release? Great. Nacon is coming out with a new fight stick? I’d love for my fighter-obsessed writer to get the chance to take a look at it and tell our readers.

In most instances, numbers are exponential. More website views mean our articles go higher in Google and then get even more views. Same with a video on Youtube. More current viewers on Twitch means you appear higher in the listings too. All these are ways for new people to discover you and join you. Not to mention that the bigger you are, the more reputable you appear. People are more likely to follow bigger accounts than small ones, regardless of content.

Improving your current numbers can improve your future numbers. Improving your future numbers will improve your opportunities. Improving your opportunities benefits not only you but your community too.

Disclaimer of course that not all factors apply in all situations. You might be extremely focused on one thing and not be interested in anything else. But even then, there may be benefits.

Humble Brag Time

Throughout my years of content creation, I’ve had the chance to do some pretty interesting stuff that I wouldn’t have otherwise. And while we certainly still get turned down in some cases, I thought I’d mention a few.

  • I’ve been able to play quite a lot of games in the beta stage. On occasion before they’ve even been announced to the public. This helped me put together some great early content for the audience.
  • Following that, I once got to livestream a game with the developers from a huge publisher. Our followers loved watching this.
  • In several instances, I’ve been invited to game expos and gotten to conduct interviews with people in the industry. Again bringing some unique content to fans.
  • I once was part of giving a talk on stage. Admittedly this was not my forte at all, but it was certainly an experience.
  • While I declined the offer (London is expensive!), I was invited to check out some secret hardware still in development.

None of the above would’ve happened without a certain size and activity level of community. And these were all things that were or could have been great for the viewers too. Really interesting stuff that I could show them or talk to them about.

That said, I did get recognized at one of those game expos, so that’s a downside! I was wearing the logo of the channel I’m a member of and they recognized my voice after that. Not being too well-known and never having shown my face on camera, it was a surprise. Maybe next time I’ll go in plain clothes.

Raise Up Others

I mentioned before in the post about A Twitch Journey to Partner how we collaborated mostly with smaller channels that we liked. The bigger you grow, the more power you have to raise others up with you.

In the past, this has included collaborating with smaller channels or raiding them to help them become more well-known. Beyond that, we’ve been sent extra copies of multiplayer games that they may not qualify for on their own. It’s great to be able to help other people out.

More Money. Better Content?

People treat money as a dirty word, but it’s a requirement in content creation. NookGaming is a passion project, but it costs money to run – fortunately, we usually just about cover costs through affiliate links (though we do have a Ko-Fi…) Equipment and software licenses can be needed for YouTube videos. And streaming? Art such as emotes and overlays are (rightfully) expensive. Want to be a VTuber? While there will be multiple reasons behind it, I’ve looked at trends; The more expensive your model, the quicker you tend to grow. Those are just a few examples.

As you grow in size, you tend to grow in income too. Whether it’s from the same core group of fans who love you, new people joining you, or paid promotion opportunities opening to you due to your numbers, it helps.

One of my podcaster friends recently had his microphone break. Unfortunately, he can’t afford to replace it and may have needed to go on hiatus long-term if he didn’t know someone who could fix it. This would have been terrible for his listeners. A partnered Twitch streamer I know had some expensive streaming equipment break and he just went out and bought another one from donated money. Having that big community helped all of his viewers.

Said Twitch streamer really pushed for numbers. In an unhealthy way, but it worked. He’s full-time now. His community loves that because they get much more time with him now. A higher quality of content too, with tons of custom animations and graphical fun. Some bigger streamers can even afford things like hiring editors to create content for the fans.

Whether it’s an initial investment or money that has come through growing your fanbase, it can improve your content and give a better experience for your community.

Missed Opportunities

I got to brag a little above about the things I’d done. Now I’ll bring it down. I’ll mention some things that I’ve not been able to do.

You may notice that the website runs a little slow at times. We’re on a reasonably good server, but I’d love to improve it in line with how many visitors we get. There’s also that I made the website myself through self-study and experimentation. It’s much better than it was originally through tweaks I’ve made, but we don’t make enough to hire a professional to redesign it to both look and run better or to use a paid theme with more features.

When we started barely anyone would talk to us or give us opportunities, in part because our numbers were too low. Nowadays when we shoot our shot, we usually hit. But we’re still too small for many things that we’d love to show our readers. Certain publishers still don’t give us at NookGaming the time of day, despite being in the niche that our fans love to read about and despite our rapid growth. They’ve just got enough options with a bigger audience and are limited on how many people they can offer chances to. It’s a pity, but it makes sense.

I mentioned before the London thing. A lot of opportunities for interesting content cost money. Whether it’s travel or other fees, we’ve sometimes missed out here. Same with buying better equipment in some instances for a clearer voiceover, a professional-looking video, or things along those lines.

While some of those are out of realistic reach, there are goals there that we can aspire to. Things that would be great for our audience. Ways that we can improve the type of content we deliver. And they all rely on growth.

Looking From the Other Side

Let’s briefly take another point of view. The ones offering those opportunities. I’ll give two different examples.

Firstly a fairly standard one. Let’s say Activision is looking for content creators to show off the newest Crash Bandicoot game. You loved the last games. You streamed them several times and viewer numbers were above average. These are both points in your favor. Unfortunately, they only have 500 copies to send out to content creators and your numbers put you as 750 on their list. The other factors might push you up to 700, but from Activision’s point of view, they’ll get a lot more eyes on their new game if they send them to the other people. This is marketing for them. It’s not personal, it’s just business and that’s fair.

Next up is other content creators and people in that area. We’ll talk about agencies, Twitch teams, collaborations, and groups. This may be more flexible if it’s just something casual, but people look at your numbers here too, as well as your quality and fit. High numbers aren’t just about what viewership you’ll be bringing in to the team or collab (as important as that may be to them), but it’s also your proof of quality. It shouldn’t be, but if you have already built a following, it does theoretically show that you have the ability to succeed.

Content Is King, Except When It’s Not

I’ve heard a lot of advice along the lines of ‘if your content is good, you’ll succeed!’ but I don’t fully agree with this.

I’m actually going to use an example here where they did succeed. I won’t mention a name due to the culture around it, but there’s a certain very well-known VTuber I want to mention.

It’s quietly known that she had her own channel before her VTuber life with some amazing content. Having worked at it for many years, she grew a following, though not a huge one. I looked at the data. It only really took off after several years and even then it was still moderately sized.

Even then her VTuber channel significantly outgrew her personal channel that she’d worked on for all these years within a week in terms of subscribers and views. Being part of that agency, having the marketing and other factors definitely helped.

I’m not saying that this is a bad thing. She’s a success story if anything. She has gone on to better and bigger things with her past as proof of what she can do. It’s just a note that it’s not all about the content. There are plenty of people who slave away and never get that chance. The people who will never be discovered or will keep growing at a slow pace. There are a lot more of those. I’ve known tons of people who never get beyond affiliate on Twitch, despite being much more entertaining or skilled than some partners. They’re generally not great at the marketing aspect.

It’s Good When It’s Not Fame for Fame’s Sake

I’ve said it several times, but ‘numbers’ can help you. And not only you, but they can improve things for your community. You can even pass on the good fortune and help your fellow content creators too.

I think that when there’s a purpose to it, it’s not bad to aim for high numbers. Even with things like that temporary rise in numbers that a #PartnerPush can bring, this can help to expand your community long-term. It can give you a ‘status’ that brings you and your community new opportunities. And I can tell you from personal experience that some people get a thrill out of seeing you pop into their chat and be friendly with their favorite small content creator when you have that tick next to your name. And yes, some follow just because you’re a partner but it’s a chance to get them to stay.

Sometimes It Is Fame for Fame’s Sake

Now we move onto the downsides. Names have been removed to protect the guilty, but on a team that I was in, we had a real clout chaser. He wanted to see his name up in lights and became more and more obsessed with it as time went on. It started to affect his behavior. He publicly sucked up to famous people and tried to cause drama to get attention. It was embarrassing.

On several occasions, he made it clear that it was the recognition he desired. For himself. He was happiest when getting attention from well-known people and was in bliss when big verified accounts followed him on social media. There was no interest in regular followers, aside from numbers.

This isn’t the only time I’ve seen it happen and it always seemed to be destructive.

Going About It The Wrong Way

Another example. We had someone quit a Twitch team that I help run. One of the few hard rules of our Twitch team is ‘no cheating your numbers’. In other words, no buying follows or using viewer bots.

This streamer went on a rant about how we were holding him back from greater things. He quit. ‘Coincidentally’ his numbers suddenly increased to unrealistic amounts over the next few days. Thousands of new followers a day. No more chat than normal though. While it’s unlikely, his account is now at risk of being banned. Update: Their account now appears to be gone.

This was one of the smallest streamers that we helped to raise up through frequent collaborations and promotion. One that the team as a whole actually came together to buy a new computer for. A young lad that always seemed nice. Helping people doesn’t always work out sadly.

Numbers are Solid. People sometimes Aren’t.

People do get anxiety over this sort of thing. Common advice is to turn off your viewer count and never look at your numbers. This is terrible advice for success, but might be great advice for your mental health. I’ve known quite a few people to constantly check their viewer numbers during streams and after. They become obsessed with them and constantly fret.

Do what’s best for you. Some people will play games they hate and act like they’re enjoying them, keep an eye on the numbers and do all sorts of things that are stressful but may help success. This isn’t for everyone.

Unhealthy Overwork

I’ve got a couple of stories for this. The first one is personal. Back in the day when I used to frequently do Youtube/Twitch, I worked 9 to 5 (or longer), came home, and then worked on content or community from about 6 – 10. Sometimes longer. My partner at the time referred to it as my ‘second job’ and she wasn’t exactly wrong.

It’s easy to overwork when trying to improve your content or to push growth along. And yes – it worked to an extent. In most cases, you do really need to put in time and effort rather than just going along if you want to succeed. But was it worth it? While I picked up a lot of skills and had an interesting time, it wasn’t healthy. To be honest, I still sometimes overwork now, but I’ve taken a huge step back since then. With that step back came a notable reduction in views and opportunities though as time went on.

Going back to the A Twitch Journey to Partner post, the streamer mentioned put in insane hours at times. They put 200+ hours of streaming in one month, not to mention a ton of background work for promotion and chatting with the community on Discord.

He was pretty obsessed with getting that Twitch Partner status. We were concerned he’d break down and had words with him about it.

Again, it worked. And it brought tons of new opportunities and he’s a full-time streamer now that can spend more time with his community without unhealthy behavior. Looking at the stats in the post and more recent ones, it probably wouldn’t have happened without that huge push. But it could’ve gone the other way, with him landed in the hospital.

These are both ‘success stories’ in a way, but they’re also stories of people who almost burned out. And a lot of people do before they see more than a tiny bit of success. One friend of mine quit content creation completely after just working far too much. He wrote some of the best content in his genre for a website. While the website remains, he never wants to touch writing again. I know dozens of small Youtubers and streamers who worked constantly on their channel and just never got anywhere. Whether it was their strategy, their content or other factors, the hard work didn’t pay off for them. The idea of grinding until you succeed is accurate in a way – most people will never succeed or stand out amount the millions of other content creators without a huge amount of hard work and creators are prone to overworking to achieve this. Most people still won’t succeed even with this though and many keep thinking that it’ll pay off if they keep working at it. It can become unhealthy.

Final Thoughts

I’ve occasionally come across some amazing videos before with less than 50 views – maybe the production quality is rough, but still much better than some videos on the same topic with 50,000 views. While some people do spring to popularity out of nowhere based on their quality, it’s rare. They put in the work to not only improve their content and take care of their existing community but to promote the content and expand their community too. And even then it’s a grind and having money or connections to push things along is a huge advantage. And yes, luck is a factor but one that doesn’t come to everyone. It seems more common for mediocre content with great marketing to do better than quality content and poor marketing.

Hard work can bring success and opportunities with the right technique. But it’s easy to get caught up in numbers and status. That said, I don’t think that the idea of trying to improve your status or numbers is inherently a bad thing, despite some thinking that.

Not everyone will want this and that’s okay. Some people will be happy continuing on as normal and not be concerned about growth. On the opposite side, some get too obsessed and it becomes poisonous. But those that treat an effort to grow as dirty? I don’t agree. If you want to be popular and to bring all these opportunities to your community – go for it. Just be careful about how you get there and why you’re doing it.

You Might Be Interested In…

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A Twitch Journey to Partner

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Commissioning a VTuber Model – My Experience

Art Scams and You | How to Avoid the GFX Bots and More

How To Get Free Games As A Content Creator/Press

Numbers Matter | Why It’s Okay to Try to be Popular in Content Creation

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VTuber Model Artist Recommendations

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