I recently made a little Twitter post (follow me @visiblespeech) that mentioned that I’m working full-time around Twitch without a subscriber button and neither do I take any tipping. What I want to do with this article is to layout some ideas and thoughts that I have. They’re not tested but it’s a look into both the present and the future and the better we can predict the future the better we can both prepare for that change and the better we can figure out where to position ourselves.
Partnership won’t be the only way
When it comes to revenue outside of partnership and tipping on Twitch it’s important to understand that the subscription button doesn’t exist for everyone. That’s not a bad thing, if everyone had access to it there would be less value in it and it would de-value the entire Twitch industry. The fact that only selected few that are able to stand out allows there to be an industry and it allows for companies like mine to exist.
What I know, and what I’ve discussed with a talent agency recently, is that the subscription button isn’t the only way, and shouldn’t be the only way. As Twitch grows in numbers, and as of right now it looks as if it won’t stop growing anytime soon, and as content keeps becoming more and more specialized. It will only show that the re-search done on millennials (born between 1990 and early 2000’s) are proven right.
I’m talking about the sub-group of Gen-narrators and Amplifiers. I’m a Gen-narrator on the verge of a Amplifier and any big streamer are all Amplifiers (you might be as well or at least a Gen-narrator). So what does all of this mean? It means that these two sub-groups are what brands want to connect with. They not only consume the brands but they speak for the brands, in their daily life, and the other millennials (and there’s a lot of us) listens.
What does that mean for you? That means that you can be as influential as a Gen-narrator or as powerful as a Amplifier when it comes to brand as a well planned marketing campaign. How can this benefit you now and in the future? When we have these smaller tight groups that’s where we can really see the benefits of finding having a small community of 300-400, The reason is so specialized brands target the specialized Twitch streamer with a specialized audience. When everything lines up you have the power to influence all of those and that’s a lot of power. Are you seeing why I talk so much about understanding your audience now? The power that even a “small streamer” have is and will grow bigger in the coming year. Well that’s if Twitch keeps growing the way it is at the moment.
We’re not talking about far into the future here. I’m saying that people already now can lay the ground work and should be working with brands. However a big BIG CAREFUL read contracts, understand their brand and your brand, don’t rush head in firs and do your re-search. It’s the reason why talent agencies and mangers will start popping up (and already have) and it’s the reason why my company is doing well. I’m there to prepare my clients for that step and I’m also working with talent agencies to connect streamers. Whoever this is only one way to earn revenue outside of partnership and tipping on Twitch.
These are the reasons why partnership isn’t the only way. I don’t think we’re way off the first streamer that are able to go full-time without a Twitch partnership. However there’s more ways to earn money than subscription, tipping and other brands and it’s all about you building your brand and understanding your story…
Your story is where hidden revenue exists
Let’s talk about even more specific things then using other brands to connect with your brand. First you need to understand two things and that’s you and your audience (read that article if you haven’t already). When looking at the ways to earn revenue outside of partnership and tipping on Twitch we’re still looking at different ways to provide value. As I’ve talked before marketing, content marketing, networking and so on are all based around giving value. There’s a common thing on Twitch that no one should make money and it should all be free and while yes that’s in many aspects true. I’m not telling you to lock your stream behind a paywall. What I am saying is that you can provide value to earn money as well and there’s benefits both for you and your audience.
Does that sound selfish? If you think about it really isn’t. If you’re going to be able to survive and keep streaming you are going have to be able to generate money. So it’s in your viewers best interest to in someway be able to pay you back. You might think that “Oh but I have donation/tipping activated”, and yes that’s a way for your audience to repay you for what you’ve been giving with your value (be it entertainment, education or any other type of value). While yes it’s good thing that there’s that way someone can repay you, but in honesty everyone that donates or, subscribes for that matter, are giving you money for something they can get for free. They’re committed to you and that’s awesome, and I would never want to take away that way of repaying. What I’m looking at is other ways to reach those that won’t/can’t spend money on that. There’s also those that don’t like the whole tipping and don’t want the hassle of chargebacks, when you actually deliver something the chargeback have an even less effect.
Merchandise is probably one of the best ways to earn income. It’s a win-wi,n you get to earn money and your audience gets to buy something that’s related to you. They get more invested in you and the experience and you can extend the experience of your stream. Most people hate the salesman but that’s not what this is about you’re not a salesman and you don’t need to be one. This is something you’ve created or helped create for you audience. Of course it’s not as simple “Hey this is something you can buy, now buy it”. The reason for this is that a T-shirt is s a nice-to-have and not a need-to-have. This is where two things come into play your story and your audience, they need to line up for you to successfully sell merchandise.
Make whatever you sell part of your story and an extension of what you do, be it entertainment or education. It has to resonate with the buyer through your story. As an example I talk about figuring out your target audience and figuring out yourself (well a lot lately at least) or the podcast is all about developing around Twitch. If I would start selling merchandise I would make it a part of those stories, a shirt that’s all about target audience or a shirt that’s all about developing around Twitch. I’m making it part of what I’m talking about, about what I’m doing and I’m bringing it into the story. I know I’m skipping the point of it looking good as well but that you can solve with bringing in a illustrator or graphic designer. The other reason is because it don’t have to be a t-shirt, it can be anything that is related to your story, this is where consulting people like me can come in to either work on your brand or with your brand to help you creatively extend it. If you want to look at people that do some of the best merchandise out there you should look at store.yogscast.com they’re focused story, phrases and branding. It’s not only about “hey this is funny” (still apart of it) but it’s about understanding their own brand, their audience and the conversation around each “show”.
let’s summarize when/if people buy something that is just the logo they’re already invested in the story. It’s when you want to reach beyond that you need to look at how to get people invested in the story and make it apart of the story. As an example don’t sell a coffee mug if you’re story is all about soup bowls… unless your designer can make it relevant to your story.
So when should you sell?
There’s no such thing as too small of an audience. As long as you plan out the entire process and know that you won’t loose money on the production. Even so today you don’t even need to order 100 shirts but there are storefronts that allow you to sell per item.
If you have an audience and you understand that audience and you know your own story. Get ready to sell something. It will give more value back to the buyer then a PayPal link. It’s what revenue outside of partnership and tipping on Twitch is all about. In very few places (Clean Water is a great exception) is something as driven by donations/tipping only. If you’re able to find more ways then one to actually generate money, how is that a bad thing? It’s not bad for you and it’s not bad for your audience that will only be able to get more content from you at that point.
One last thing on sponsorship…
I talked about it earlier but you don’t need a manger or a talent agency to start the conversation. It sometimes is alot easier but sponsorship is a great way to start a conversation with companies and start working with brands. For those that still aren’t on-board with the target audience and think that EVERYONE is the greatest and best thing to reach. You’re going to be extremely disappointed when it comes to sponsorship. They’re going to want to know what your target audience is and that’s so it can line up with either what they do or what they’re planning to do.
Also don’t stare yourself blind on gaming only because you do gaming. There’s ton of things that you also do outside of gaming. Sit down think about your brand and what it’s all about and what your target audience is. Think about the things that you use, think about what brands/companies would work with that and put together a PDF presentation and introduce your brand, what you can do for them and what they can do for you. Elgato’s guidelines are a great resource but some companies have their own and when they do it might be a better idea to reach out in a e-mail first before you send over a PDF presentation. Also read the contacts, have them looked over by a professional and don’t sign away your soul.
I’ll probably go more into sponsorship at a later date but still wanted to bring it into this a little.
Alright everyone that’s it for Monday! I’ve had a productive day so far. Going to respond to a few e-mails and need to follow up on a client later and then there’s tomorrow coming. I’ll probably work a bit more later anyway actually I need to send out a invoice, send a sketch to Eat My Diction and check some streams and then respond to e-mails… and that leads me to something… I’m looking for a designer or junior designer that want to step up. Send a e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with presentation and a link to your portfolio. To get more updates on that as I move forward with the hiring add me on Twitter @visiblespeech
On Thursday I’m probably going to write a case study on what I’ve done for Steven Lumpkin (the changes will hopefully go live tomorrow). Sadly I’m going to have to delay the podcast until Wednesday, hopefully you’ll stay tuned for the episode since it’s going to be pretty interesting and something I want to keep investigating.