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Is Streaming Worth it for the Money? (And Other Questions Answered)

An In-Depth Look into ROI on Videogame Streaming

is streaming worth the money

I'm certain a lot of people ask this question. Streaming video games is a weird thing--suddenly anyone can see you on camera, into your living room, while you're playing a video game. It's always important to figure out why you do what you do. If you're streaming for a business, best of luck to you. But there's a lot you need to consider if you're considering streaming for the money, because at this point in time it's become a heavily-saturated market--not just Twitch alone.

In short, is streaming worth the money? No.

The longer answer is a little more complicated, so if you'd like to learn some details, stick around.

I'll preface this: this is not meant to discourage anyone from developing their business. Instead, this reveals the necessary work, efforts, and sacrifices you need to make. 

Streaming for the Money

Let me preface this: I will never stop streaming. The thought has crossed my mind a lot, but I realized that I actually grew professionally and personally with streaming, and I have Twitch to thank for that.
However, my reasons for streaming changed. I dropped affiliate status on Twitch and started to broadcast on all channels to have a much greater understanding of how each platform works and to understand different levels of influencers on each platform. I personally don't stream to develop it for business anymore.

But with that in mind, it's important to understand what you want to do with livestreaming. If you want to run it as a business, there's a lot you have to consider. Streaming may be worth the money to you, if you can find the edge that a lot of streamers are missing.

The Level of Work Needed

Developing your own business is never easy. Streaming video games has brought a lot of entrepreneurs out of the woodwork, but that doesn't mean everyone is fantastic at what they do already. Streaming for the money means you need to dedicate extreme levels of time, networking, developing, and constant thinking towards your projects.

Networking

Social Media

Networking is a little easier these days because of social media. If you don't already have a set social media spread such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and yes, even Wordpress, Blogger, other platforms, establish them. 

Start following people and engaging with them. You'll soon generate your own following. If you're good (and I mean good) you can start getting a strong following very quick using social media tools and tracking engagement levels. 

What do I mean by engagement levels?

Every post, tweet, pin, whatever, has an engagement rating attached to it. It's the number of accounts that actually engaged with your content over how many people saw it.

If you have high engagement ratings, it's because your "audience" is so intrigued by the content you produce that it prompts them to click, like, share, etc.

However, you don't want engagement ratings to suffer. One of the biggest problems of social media is that people often share content, and this causes the potential impressions to go up.

But that means engagement ratings go down. A general rule with social media platforms is that the higher the engagement rating, the more "viral" your content goes. So if you ask people to "retweet" something, consider that it could be reducing your engagement ratings to go down.

This is one particular aspect of networking you need to establish if you want to make streaming for the money worth it. We live in the 21st century; make your online presence known.

Conventions

streaming for money

I've said this before and I'll say it again: you'll never have an experience similar to what you'll have at a convention. Industry professionals, hobbyists, recruiters, fanatics, companies--everyone you've ever wanted to meet will be at a convention. 

You'll learn, grow, share business cards (buy those, by the way), possibly win something, and have the time of your life--while also in pain. Conventions are draining, expensive, tiring, and long--but extremely fun and worth it. If you want to find out if streaming is worth the money, I suggest saving for the convention you need to go to in order to excel.

Equipment

Streaming is also not cheap. You'll need proper sound equipment, a streaming program, internet with a strong upload bitrate, monitors to support all the software you'll run--there's plenty more about streaming basics and equipment here. But the good part about it is that you can write those expenses off as tax deductions if you declare your streaming career as an actual business.

I don't know how that's done, unfortunately, although by early next year I'll have an idea. 

Taxes

is streaming worth it for the money

I am not a tax professional. Do not take my advice. However, I feel that I am educated enough to mention strong practices for tax purposes.

If you earn a subscription button from your streaming platform of choice, there's a point at which money earned from your stream is actually taxed

I've heard a lot of different totals discussed--600, 433, 400 dollars--but do your research on how much you can make before the IRS taxes you. 

If you expect to make more than this amount, then on every paycheck, take out 20% of the money you make and set it aside to be prepared for tax time. Otherwise, you will get a nasty surprise from the IRS. 

Return on Investment

One of the reasons why I think that streaming video games for the money isn't really worth it currently is because of the return on investment

I know plenty of streamers and content creators that spend 12 hours a day easily developing their content, building their community, and finding out how to increase viewership only to receive a few hundred dollars a month from their efforts.

Playing video games for money has its appeal, but that's far from what streaming really is. It's community building and ensuring your content is strong. That takes time. 

I recently picked up a second job (which is why I don't stream as much anymore) and the time and efforts that I invest get me much more than I would ever with streaming.

Streaming in a Nutshell

Before streaming hit saturation (it blew up in 2013), it was a lot more complicated but easier to build strong communities. As several platforms start to see their growth and the market levels out, streaming video games is not worth it for the money as much as it used to be. 

What it'll take to establish yourself more stable in streaming, it often takes viewer stealing, which crosses a lot of ethical lines. 

If you feel that you're dedicated enough to establish a community and earn money from streaming (if you feel it's worth it), then I encourage you. Just be aware of the challenges.

If you want to stream for the money, I suggest you consider:

  • the time it takes to build your streaming rig and develop a community
  • the money it takes, including up-front costs and taxes
  • total return-on-investment--it won't be fantastic
  • studying trends, finding key streamers to network with, and reading gaming news
  • and how volatile streaming can be--one minute you're making a few hundred a month, the next only 30 dollars a month

If you'd care to watch my stream, I'm typically live at 5 PM PST weekends on multiple platforms, including Twitch. See you there.



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