“How do I get famous on Twitch?”
It’s a question every streamer thinks about when they begin, but according to Ryan Dow, Senior Manager of Brands at Wasserman, it’s the wrong question.
“If you go in immediately expecting to make a living out of it, it’s very unlikely that you will make it,” he said.
The reality is, the goal for many is to provide entertainment to thousands upon thousands of people across the globe. It’s not something that happens overnight— it can take years to cultivate the type of viewership needed to make gaming a career— but with a steady rise in demand for content, including new games, stories, and modes of access, more and more people are jumpstarting careers in the world of gaming.
The question moves away from, “How do I become famous” and moves to, “How do I get noticed?” How does a streamer go from having no followers to the status of Ninja and timthetatman?
While there is no one surefire answer, Dow, who’s been in the esports game for over five years, helped launch Bud Light’s campaign into esports, and owns his own PUBG team called The Rumblers, said the number one thing streamers can do to get noticed is build your community and establish who you are.
“A community doesn’t just mean an audience,” he said. “Make sure your community knows what your values are.”
This not only lends itself to a strong and dedicated community, but it also makes streamers more appealing to brands. Why? Because brands are looking for a passionate community of fans, people they know will be loyal to their sponsor and by extension, their brand.
“When [Wasserman thinks] about brands and influencers, [sponsors] think about brand fit; does this brand fit with this talent and vise versa? We can’t evaluate that if we don’t have any inkling of who you are as a person.”
So how do you establish who you are as a person? How do you get that community that brands will look to in order to find out if you’re a good fit? Well, Dow said there are three factors that go into community building and online presence.
- Entertainment Value- how entertaining are you to watch?
- Skill Level- when people watch you, do they say, “Wow, I could never do that!”
- Ability to handle yourself on camera- your whole life is on display.
Now, these factors aren’t the end-all be-all, and each streamer is different. Timthetatman made news when he finally won at Fall Guys because his skill level was quite low. However, he was incredibly entertaining and his journey was caught on camera for the world to see.
Even if you score high on all of these metrics, it may still take a long time to establish a following worthy of brand support. Dow wanted to remind people that almost every big-named streamer started from the same place, and if you’re playing games because you love doing so, fans will see that.
“Don’t get discouraged if you have a small community, because if they realize you’re doing it because you love it, you’ll naturally grow from it,” he said.
This still begs the question: what kinds of people become professional streamers? Even if you do everything right, how can you set yourself apart from the thousands of other people with webcams? Dow provided a breakdown of some important qualities that most top streamers possess.
Don’t take yourself too seriously.
This does not mean to not take your brand or your job seriously, as companies won’t want to partner with streamers who they feel won’t accurately represent them or don’t care about the brand. What this quality reflects is a streamer’s ability to enjoy themselves. If something weird happens in stream, make a joke about it. If your community is being funny in chat, laugh at them. If you’re Smallant1, go fetch your microwave or toaster when asked to. The medium is entertainment, so allow yourself to let loose once in a while.
Many streamers have made names for themselves playing one specific game, and while there will always be an audience for it, there’s something to be said for growing your community across multiple genres. The ability to leverage popularity across multiple titles not only casts a wider net, but makes you more versatile to brands. Dow says great examples of this are Ninja and timthetatman.
Be true to yourself
A large metric of success in this business is the ability to handle yourself on camera, as your whole life is on display for the world to see, sometimes for a short stream and other times for 24 hours a day. This allows your community to get to know you and grow attached to you like people do to their favorite athletes or celebrities. You’re looking for a community that can tell you when you’re being fake or when you’ve sold out because they’re invested enough to notice. This means you can’t forget who you are. If you play a character, such as Dr. Disrespect, don’t completely change who the character is randomly. If you’ve made your living on wearing your emotions on your sleeve, don’t shut in without reason.
All of this culminates in saying, if you establish your community, you’ll establish your brand, and when you establish your brand, people will know who you are. If you do that, Dow said, and continue to create content, brands will notice you.
“Everyone out there that’s creating content is doing service to the community as a whole,” he said. “It’s only a matter of time before brands come knocking, [looking] to work with you and your community, and [to help it] grow.”