This is the third and final post in a series about starting to create content online. Previously, GamerZakh spoke about what you need to know before starting a gaming channel. Last week, he shared about basic gears and equipment new creators can get on a budget.
With what seems like a myriad of people jumping online to be gaming creators and making fortunes for themselves, you might be tempted to do the same. Although there are many struggles and complications with making it as a creator itself, today I want to talk about the actual making money part which, if you haven’t experienced it yourself, could be difficult to figure out but important to learn as an aspiring gaming creator.
Making money is complicated
Subscriber number doesn’t actually matter
From an outside perspective, subscriber count is what seems to be the most important thing. At 100,000 subscribers or followers, you can often be verified with a check mark and companies actually put you in a different category when it comes to sponsorship.
Everyone talks about how Pewdiepie crossed 100 million subscribers. Does anyone talk about how he has 24 billion views?
Views is where the money comes from, so the more views you get, the more advertisements can be played to people and the more money you make. Subscriber count is really just a status symbol. You could have 300,000 subscribers but be making no money. Meanwhile, you could have 25,000 subscribers and be earning a salary. You have to keep this in mind if you’re trying to make a living as a creator.
How advertisements (ads) make money
When you upload a video, you can monetise it with ads. You can put ads at the start, end, and in the middle of the video (if the video is longer than 10 minutes). So people watch your video, see ads, and you make money. Simple, right?
There are many things to consider when it comes to ads:
1. When someone watches your video, they might not see an advertisement
Even if you set your video to have ads, it doesn’t mean the people watching will see one. How ads work is that a business buys an ad on a platform and they specify the type of people who they want to see it. Age, location, interests, and so on. So that means certain demographics will see more ads than others because, for example, a fast food business would prefer to advertise to 18-25 year olds compared to 55 year olds, since younger people are more likely to eat fast food. So, a 55 year old would be less likely to see that fast food ad at all.
2. People using Adblock
Not only do some people not get ads because businesses didn’t pay to advertise to them, some people use software to block ads entirely. When someone does that, it means they never see ads and you never get paid for those ads.
These 2 points make the difference between what’s called ‘monetisable views’ compared to ‘unmonetisable views’.
3. Location of the viewer matters
If a viewer is from Malaysia and they see an ad, it would most likely be an ad bought by a Malaysian business. Meaning the ad was paid for in Malaysian Ringgit. If your viewer is from the United States, the ad they see would be an American ad most likely paid for in US Dollars. That makes ads from higher earning countries worth more in total, which means they’re worth more to you.
Basically, if you make videos that attract a US audience, you will make more money from ads compared to making videos that attract a Malaysian audience.
Alternative sources of income
Now that you know advertisements are complicated, one way to help secure extra money is by sponsorship deals. You advertise a product or service directly on your videos. Now, you might be thinking that you have to be super big and popular to do those deals, but you can just charge less. When trying to secure sponsors, contact 100s of companies and businesses that you would be willing to work with. Give them your numbers and charge them based on how much money you’re making from ads right now. If you’re being paid $1 per 1,000 views, then set your price to be slightly over that, like $2-$5 per 1,000 views. If you advertise a brand across 10 videos and you get 5,000 views, well then that’s an extra $10-$50 in your pocket at a price that’s fair to the brand. It can be tough finding a sponsor when you’re small, so keep contacting people and ask a lot of questions on what they want as a business. Think about how you can provide value to them first.
Crowdfunding is one of the biggest changes for creators over the last decade. The rise of Kickstarter, people giving real money to streamers on Twitch, and of course Patreon, where people donate money directly to a creator. If you are making something that people watch, then there will be a tiny percentage willing to donate their pocket change to keep you going. It could just be a dollar here and there, but it adds up and can make a real difference.
Sign up for a Patreon account and give people a good reason to give you money.
Even terrible designs can sell if they’re interesting or funny. It might be hard to get sales, but as you grow, it can be a nice extra bit of money to keep your channel afloat in tough times. There are many merch stores online where you can simply upload a PNG image and immediately turn it into a T-shirt, mousepad, sticker, and more. You should look at all the options, but personally, I use Design By Humans because I like the quality of their T-shirt printing.
It’s like a business with good and bad seasons
At the end of the day, your gaming channel is a business that you run. You create products (videos) for customers (your viewers) and the better your product, the better it will ‘sell’. You can build things like brand loyalty, reward active ‘customers’, and make changes to improve your business for you and the viewers. There are also good and bad seasons. Advertisements pay the best in November and December, while it’s the worst in January because businesses spend much of their ad budget at the end of the year. Viewer habits will change with the seasons, depending on where your audience is from. School holidays could matter and public holidays could have different ads depending on your audience (like a US audience will see Thanksgiving ads). If you’re trying to be a video game content creator, then you should start thinking of your channel as your business.
Do you have any other questions about making money as a gaming creator? Ask in the comments or GamerZakh directly!
GamerZakh is a Malaysian gaming YouTuber, Twitch streamer and content creator. He approaches gaming from a nostalgic perspective and always tries to incorporate educational elements into his delivery of entertainment. You can find his YouTube channel here.
This is a guest post and the views expressed here are the author’s own.