While completely nonexistent a decade ago, the industry of gaming videos is now booming. Games like League of Legends, Overwatch, Counter Strike and StarCraft 2 have stormed the market, allowing tens of thousands of people to become recognized gamers and to make millions in the process.
How can I make money playing video games? You can make well over $1,000/month gaming on YouTube or Twitch. In order to be monetized on YouTube for example, you need to reach a subscriber base of 1,000 users, and have accumulated 4k hours of watch time within 365 days. Live streaming is an excellent way to reach those goals quickly.
I built my YouTube channel to 5,000 subscribers in 8 months and am now making over $1,000 per month gaming. I never imagined I could make passive income gaming, but I quit my day job after 6 months of starting on YouTube when I saw the potential of what I was building. Between the revenue from YouTube ads, donations, memberships, ad revenue on my site, and the conversion rate to Canadian Dollars (the currency I use every day), I have completely replaced the income I was making by working for someone else. And gaming is way more fun! 🙂
A Huge Passive Income Opportunity
According to Newzoo, the gaming industry is growing exponentially, over 100% a year. In 2018, it has reached a whopping value of $135 billion. That’s an astounding amount of money. Some gamers have managed to literally become millionaires well before 30.
Sites like Twitch and YouTube provide gamers excellent money-making opportunities. As a streamer, you don’t have to rely on tournaments to earn cash. You can earn money through paid subscriptions, bits, donations, ads, sponsorships and merchandise. People can pay to subscribe to a Twitch account or become members on YouTube.
The thing is to build your channel so that people subscribe and game with you. Below, I’ll show you step by step how I make passive income by playing games online and how to leverage the power of YouTube and Twitch to become a profitable gamer.
The Steps I Followed to Make Passive Income Gaming
Like I said, after only 8 months of creating my channel, I am making well over $1,000 per month gaming. If you are looking for more inspiration, check out this list of 6 of Twitch’s richest streamers and others making millions per year.
Choosing The Right Game
You may have a few of your favourite games in mind. Here are some tips to help you make a good choice when wanting to get started.
Choose a Popular Game (Google Trends)
I didn’t know about this when I started out, but it has helped me evaluate how popular other games are compared to what I play on my channel. Head over to Google Trends and enter the names of the games on your list. If you see an upward trend then people are looking for it on Google and it is popular. If you see a downward trend, it is less and less popular. Use this as an indicator to help you choose more popular games.
See What Other YouTube Channels Are Doing
Next, head over to YouTube. Do a search on the game you would like to play. If you see other channels with a lot of subscribers don’t freak out! It’s a great sign. That means that there are people who are interested in watching others play the game. You can especially get excited if you see high view counts (over 5k views) on recent videos for channels with less than 1000 subscribers. That means that there is a lot of potential for you to create a channel and get views quickly, even as a small channel.
Make Sure to Have Some Experience
While it is not necessary to have extensive prior experience playing the game, it is recommended to at least be passionate about the game you choose. Imagine making 900 videos about the game you are playing. Do you think you will still love it as much in one year? If the answer is yes than go for it.
Personality is [Almost] Everything
Your mindset is the most valuable asset you have, and it should be focused on taking actionable steps towards success every day. If you do not create regular content, you will not achieve your passive income goals. Instead of stalking other YouTubers’ channels and imaging that the success they have is impossible, focus solely on your own channel and making awesome videos every day.
Another important factor related to mindset is your personality. A number of gamers have hundreds and thousands of views, not specifically because of their skills in the game, but more because of their fun personalities. What you should strive for in each of your videos is a good balance between information and entertainment.
Just remember that there is no reward without serious investment. You need to invest a lot in yourself, your time, and hard work. You will be the one providing value to your followers, and they will want to see you in action because you are interesting and fun.
Having a Regular Posting Schedule
This is probably how I reached monetization so quickly. I achieved 1k subscribers and 4k hours of watch time in less than 6 months thanks to having a regular posting schedule. I released at least 3 videos per day and now have over 900 videos on my channel. I didn’t realise it when I started, but that’s actually a huge amount of content for one channel!
Most YouTubers recommend releasing at least 1 video per week. But gaming is different from what most YouTubers are doing. When you game the way I do, hardly any editing is required. I don’t have to cut my videos, add b-roll, music, or sound effects. It’s just my voice and the game. That saves me hundreds of hours of time editing videos every month! That’s something YouTubers in other niches don’t have the chance to do. For example, a vlog would demand way more editing than a simple gaming video.
You should also have a regular posting schedule. The more quality content you release, the faster you will get monetized. You don’t have to release 3 videos a day if you don’t have the time to do it, but you should definitely be posting way more than one video per week if you want to get monetized quickly.
Choosing Your Gaming Platform
YouTube and Twitch are the biggest platforms for streaming games. While there are others you can try, such as Azubu, Dailymotion Games or Hitbox, I recommend you start using one of these two. You can start on just one of them and then migrate to the other, or start on both and see which you prefer.
On Twitch you make around $2.5 per subscriber, you earn from ads once you have enough subscribers and you can also earn from affiliate partnerships. Producers like Logitech or Razer will want to work with you if you promote their products in your streams or equip your workstation with one of their top gadgets. On Twitch, your goal is to become a Partner. Next, you should aim to build a following and ultimately build long-term partnerships with brands.
YouTube makes things simpler, and that’s why it’s my favourite. Once you your channel reaches YouTube’s requirements for monetization and you connect your YouTube channel to Adsense, you can start making money. Once your channel can be monetized, new features will be unlocked, such as the ability to ask your audience questions (polls) and offer them memberships. Memberships are an excellent opportunity to build a paid community that can provide you extra income.
Live Streaming: Leverage Engagement & Watch Time
Another way I got my channel monetized so quickly is by live streaming. Live streaming consists in playing the game in real-time while other YouTubers watch and interact with you. I remember how excited I was when I had 6 people live streaming with me when I first started out. Now, 8 months later, I regularly animate live streams with 50 to 100 people watching at the same time.
This helped me monetize my channel quickly because when people live stream with you, they are providing you longer watch time than if they watch a short video and leave. Live streaming a lot when you are getting started is a great way to get to 4k hours of watch time faster than without using this feature. You can use YouTube’s embedded features to live stream directly from your computer, but since my game is on mobile, I used DU Recorder to stream from my phone for free.
Monetizing Your Channel
Let’s talk about a couple ways you can make passive income from gaming.
Ads (Google Ads)
Google Ads is the platform that manages ads that are displayed on your videos. How much you make will depend on a couple different factors, but the main things that come into play are views and watch time. You can also connect Google Ads to your blog to make money from the traffic that is sent there.
Blogging about the game you play can be an excellent way to compliment your passive income. The goal is to create guides, tutorials, tips and trick pages that will bring traffic to your site. Of course, embed your videos because that will increase the time on page and provide you more views. This traffic can be monetized in a variety of ways including Google Ads, and affiliate marketing.
Learn More in our Blogging Guide
Affiliate marketing is a process through which you receive a commission by successfully marketing another person’s products or services. Generally, you get paid a commission for the conversions, meaning the sales or leads you generate for those products or services. As a gamer, you can recommend products or services related to your game (ex. The computer you use).
Learn More in our Affiliate Marketing Guide
Once your channel is monetized, you can offer memberships to offer special perks to paying members. This can be an excellent way to supplement your income and build your own community. YouTube makes this super easy! Once I received the option to do so, I setup memberships on my channel and a Join button was added to all of my videos. It allows people to become members very easily. YouTube takes care of recurring payments and creators receive 70% of profits.
Once your channel is monetized, other YouTubers can offer you donations while you live stream. It’s always a wonderful surprise to get donations from fans! Their comments are highlighted in the chats and you receive a tip.
Some companies sponsor YouTubers to talk about their products and services. I currently don’t have any sponsors but if there is an internet company out there looking to sponsor a gamer, I am down for it! 🙂 It’s not always easy to find reliable internet to livestream on when I’m on the go.
Merchandise (Print on Demand)
I recently co-created a full course on the awesome opportunity Print on Demand offers! Print on demand allows you to sell your designs on merch (such as t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, mugs etc) online. Once a customer makes a purchase, the order is sent to a fulfilment company that prints and ships the order directly to the customer. It’s a great way to monetize a channel! Learn more about print on demand in this guide.
Learn More in our Print on Demand Guide
Tip Combine these monetization methods to increase your monthly passive revenue!
Marketing Your Channel
To be successful on Twitch and YouTube, on top of the tips above, you should do the following.
Customize Your Channel
In order for your fans to recognise your channel, you should create a brand. I used Canva, which is a free and easy to use design tool, to create my logo, channel banner, thumbnails, and social media images. I have a consistent design that is recognisable for anyone searching for my videos.
Create an Intro Video
An intro video is an easy way to tell non-subscribers what your channel is all about when they arrive on your page for the first time. If you don’t have one yet, you can start by displaying your most popular video.
Subscribe to Relevant Channels
There may be other people in your niche with larger audiences. That’s not a problem, there is room for everyone on YouTube. Ultimately, become a good and supportive friend with other streamers and keep up to date with all the changes in your game. You can reach out to them and organise live-streaming tournaments to grow off of each other’s channels.
Link Your Social Media Channels Together
I like Facebook, but I especially love Instagram. It’s a great place to announce live-streams and share new uploads. I have also gotten new subscribers to YouTube thanks to this social media channel that is very easy to create and maintain. It’s also a good place to share more personal tidbits. Don’t forget to link your social media accounts together, especially on YouTube.
Ask for Feedback
This is especially important when you are starting out, and one way to do it is to join Facebook groups with people who play the game and share your content. Don’t be spammy and make sure to respect the rules of the groups. One way to do this is to ask for feedback. Post something like “Hey! I just made this video full of my favourite tips for the game, what do you guys think?” Asking for opinions will send traffic to your video, and provide you ideas to improve your videos.
Learn More About Building a Successful Channel
If you would like to learn more about creating a successful YouTube channel, we highly recommend Income School’s Project 24 Course. Their main focus is blogging but they also provide an excellent YouTube course. They explain how to build a successful YouTube channel, and find questions and topics to answer in videos and blog posts.
How Passive is Gaming?
You definitely need to work in order to make money from gaming. However, you can reach a point where you spend only a couple of hours a day logged in and you still make over $10k a month. In the beginning you might spend over 10 hours a day playing, streaming, researching and making new connections. Do not be discouraged. It will take a couple years to make it more passive. But if you stick to it, ultimately, you will be able to reach your goal and make money while doing what you love.
The most amazing aspect about this business opportunity is that the initial cost is super low. If you already have a phone, computer or laptop, and a headset with a mic then you are fully equipped! From that point on, you are two steps closer to reaching your dream.
If you don’t have anything at all (no phone, computer or headset, which I highly doubt), expect to invest less than $1,000 on all the equipment needed. You do not need a super powerful phone or computer. If you do wind up spending $1k on your equipment, you can recoup your initial investment in under 6 months with disciplined work. That is about when you can start making over $1,000 a month if you have built your channel following the tips above.
While it may seem difficult at first, streaming is a breeze. Yes, you might be nervous in the beginning, but after a few streams or uploaded videos, you will start to like your new “job”. You’ll fall in love with playing games for money after you’ll see words of appreciation from engaged fans. I personally believe making money online with gaming is one of the least difficult and most fun ways to make passive income online in 2019.
In terms of time, expect to invest a lot of time. In League of Legends for example, a single game takes around 20 to 40 minutes. If you stream 10 games a day, that’s over 5 hours right there. If you spend another 5 hours building your business and talking to your fans, that’s 10 hours or more without counting breaks.
In the beginning you’ll probably want to spend over 12 hours a day in order to scale your business as fast as possible. Of course, you can also start slow, by investing 3-4 hours each day, but the results will come much slower.
Considering the initial investment, playing games for money is extremely low risk. If you don’t manage to build a following and get rich in the process, you’ve lost nothing. In fact, you’ve gained some precious experience and you’ve also got a great computer and high-end camera and microphone you can use for something else.
You can make money with gaming in all seasons. You can start ASAP and continue all-year round.
Return on Investment
And now the cherry on the gaming cake. Making a passive income from gaming comes with excellent ROI. You can 10x ROI for your initial time investment. If you invested $1,000 in your equipment, and you can make well $10k in a year, then you have 10x’ed your investment. Now that’s a fun passive income source worth trying!
Toasted Gamer Boutique
About the Author of this Article
Toasted Gamer Boutique (aka “Toasty”) is an online gamer who replaced her active income with passive income on YouTube in less than 6 months. She fiercely executed the creation of her YouTube channel by making well over 500 videos in less than half a year and gained thousands of subscribers in a very short period of time. Toasty quit her day job to go full time only 7 months into building her channel. She wrote for our blog on how to make passive income as a gamer on YouTube. She also makes passive income from ad placement on her website and sells Printful merch.
How can you live stream to YouTube from your phone? You can use YouTube’s embedded features to live stream directly from your computer. You can live stream from your cell phone using DU Recorder which is a free app that allows you to stream content from your phone for free.
How do online gamers make money? Online gamers make money in a variety of ways including ads, affiliate marketing, memberships, paid subscriptions, partnerships, sponsorships, donations, and merchandise (print on demand). Platforms such as Twitch and YouTube offer online gamers the ability to make money.