I started to stream video games because I’ve always wondered if I could actually make money doing something I love. Which, let’s be honest, the idea that people should find what they love and then worry about how to make money doing it is complete bullshit for most of us. But, I decided to go into it with an open mind, and figured that I’m playing anyway, why not start sharing my epic battles? My wife from the other room: “…because they’re not epic, and you’re not really that funny.” I mean, she’s not wrong, but let’s give it a shot anyway.
I’ve been gaming for a long time. I got my start on the Intellivision, but it became an addiction thanks to the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). I’ll never forget the first time I saw the commercial for it on our 19″ color tube TV. I remember thinking: “wow, it’s great to be alive during the pinnacle of technology…it will never be better than it is right now in the 80s.” In my mind we were only a few years away from time machines, and the Nintendo was a glimpse into what greatness the 90s would bring.
Little did I know how much gaming would grow, impact pop culture, and become one of the largest markets in the entertainment industry. I just knew that I liked shooting ducks with a laser gun from the future. I didn’t think I would ever get to play against my neighbor that happened to move three states away from the comfort of my own man cave. Glorious times indeed.
Over the years, I tried to keep up with the latest trends, and make sure I have the latest systems, but life just gets in the way sometimes. Today, I make gaming a priority again. I take a stand for those in the middle of the shift. I decide how I’m going to make money, and what I’m going to do with my spare time. Today, I turn my passion into profit.
What happened when I began to stream video games?
I find that the best part of anything for me, is the building. I enjoy solving problems, getting my hands dirty, and setting things up to be successful. So for me, figuring out the technical side of how to stream video games was exciting. It was fun to set up the accounts, get all the equipment together, and then get it all working together. The hard part, is when the rubber meets the road. I built the engine, but now I have to fill it with gas so it runs. In this case, gas is the content I’m streaming, and trust me when I tell you that it’s harder than it looks.
For some help getting your stream going, you can see how we set up everything to stream video games over at our How to Set Up a Stream on Xbox or PS4 post we shared not too long ago.
To get over the fear of failure, or whatever it is that makes it hard for me to actually follow through with “great ideas”, I decided I just had to jump in. It didn’t matter if it failed or how many mistakes were made. It only matters that I’m trying, having fun, and learning from the experience. That’s the same speech I give my kids when they don’t want to go to one of their practices. But, the reality is, I have to force myself to just go.
Once I started to stream video games, some pretty amazing things started to happen. SPOILER ALERT: I didn’t make any money, yet. At this point, that’s not even the goal. I just need to make sure I’m setting small goals, and hitting them for now.
Initial goals I established when I started streaming:
I knew I wasn’t going to jump in and become an instant gamer celebrity. That could take hours! I had to be realistic. So, I thought about what my REAL goals were, and just started to target them on a smaller scale.
GOAL 1: Stream at least 50% of the games I play.
This goal sounds easy, but it was more about establishing a routine. Get online, turn on the stream, and get out of my comfort zone. I’m not a very social gamer. I prefer to only play with people I know well, and will NEVER join random online games with my mic on. Even when playing with a group (party) of people I know, I tend not to talk that much as I’m more focused on playing the game. This goal is all about making streaming feel more natural over time.
GOAL 2: Create “highlights” from 75% of the games I stream.
This is where building content comes into play. If you have ever tried to generate high volumes of content for anything you are trying to build or grow, then you know how difficult this can be. Even when the content is a passion, like gaming, it’s hard to create content that anyone outside of your inner circle give a shit about. Even they may not really like it, but mommy always has to say you’re doing a good job. Right? This goal is all about forcing myself to create bit-sized pieces of content to promote the channel.
GOAL 3: Begin to understand the niche I’m trying to target when I stream video games.
Here we’re trying to understand what type of content comes natural, and who we may connect with if we actually try to give this a shot to make money at some point. This is all about taking stock of what happens organically when playing games with your buddies, and trying to turn that into something that other people may want to watch at some point. Once I understand this, I can decide if putting in enough effort to make this successful will really be worth it. This goal is all about learning from doing.
What did I learn when starting streaming games?
The short answer is that I had more fun that I expected. Knowing that your stream is live, and random people may be watching, listening, and judging everything you’re doing is scary, but exciting. It makes you play better, and it tends to keep the conversation between the group going. Everyone is trying to top the other guy while we bust on each other, and look for enemies to snipe from a distance. We started The Dad Shift channel on Twitch broadcast us playing Call of Duty Warzone. That game seemed like a logical fit for us to start streaming video games. It enables small squads to broadcast their games, and the game is interesting enough to watch.
The banter is the part of the content we’re still working through at this point. We’ve done pretty well to hit our first two goals above, but we are still trying to understand who we are creating content for, and what makes us unique. The short answer may simply be that it’s only for us, but right now, that feels like a win. Now, if we could only get a squad victor in WARZONE, we’d be all set.
We will keep you updated on our progress as we continue to stream video games on our Twitch channel, and will track the evolution of our channel here. Assuming we ever attempt to monetize our channel, we will share those numbers as well.
If you have any suggestions or thought, please share them in the comments. We’re always looking for new ideas from our readers. In the meantime, you can have a good laugh at one of our best “highlights” so far.