Ask a pre-teen what they job ambitions are and they’ll often look up at you from the ass-groove they’ve worn into the sofa and reply, ‘I’m probably going to be a ‘YouTuber’.
The streaming gamer is the modern-day pop star or footballer – it’s a common aspiration among the youth of today and the superstar celebrities of tomorrow. But how realistic is it to be a YouTuber for your profession.
In Fortnite, for example, one of the most popular players in the game is Tyler Blevins, a.k.a. ‘Ninja’. The blue-haired gaming hero has 23.9 million subscribers and for every video he releases on the video-sharing website, he’ll typically get upwards of 250,000 views after just 24 hours.
Those are some incredible numbers to be able to call upon but building such a Fortnite fanbase takes time. How can you even try to scale the heights of such an ambition? Let’s revive your hopes, load up your load-out and send in a supply drop to your map co-ordinates.
- Start Small and Persevere
It’s an obvious fact, but you’re going to have to be realistic for a long time if you want to be a YouTuber as a profession – it’s not going to be profitable overnight. Getting people to view your YouTube channel can seem like an insurmountable obstacle at first, as you grind from five friends and family to fifty subscribers.
It will take small steps to get bigger, but if you look at what others did in their early days, you’ll see that there is no substitute for quantity. It’s more important that putting out a polished product. You need to feel your way in terms of putting out YouTube content and be open to change – that’s key.
Let’s say that your dream is to be an incredibly funny creator of 20-minute viral YouTube videos centred around you playing squad games in Fortnite. That’s great, but almost all of what you hope for might well alter along the way. Perhaps your shorter videos of only 10 minutes playing Solos until you’re shot in a comical way will be popular. Maybe you’re not as funny outside your own living room as you thought, but you have another unique talent that shines through when your fanbase give you feedback.
There’s no sounding board more brutally honest than an internet-based chatbox to hone what makes you an internet sensation.
- Find a USP
All of that brings us to the first key point on the graph. You need to find what sets you apart from your competition. The internet is a limitless place in size and scope for an online audience, and even within Fortnite, there are so many different ways to play.
Your USP (unique selling point) needs to be authentic, and again we return to that original thought on what you might provide. You won’t always know what’s going to be popular with viewers, so find what makes you special and don’t be afraid to take risks.
Maybe you’ll be enjoyed for the far-off sniper shots you seem to be able to pull off that others can’t. If you can pick off an enemy while they’re swimming, or travelling across the map at high speed, there’s a fanbase for it, especially if you’re enjoying it in a way which is entertaining.
Whatever your USP is, once you’ve worked out what makes you popular, build on that talent to grow your audience by giving them more of the same.
- Know Your Audience
It’s easy to say, but you really need to get to know your fanbase. There are obvious ways of doing this, such as engaging fans on social media or in the YouTube chatbox. There are others too, however.
Do research into the game as a whole. Look at what fans enjoy, from watching a streamer with the expertise of Ninja or a Lazarbeam, someone who has made a fortune entertaining more by how he reacts to the game than how he plays it.
Once you have a fanbase, no matter how small, it’s time to offer them different things. Entertaining them is the first target and should always be returned to. If you’re not entertaining, then they’re leaving your video and clicking on another – YouTube is as simple and as clinical as that. Find out what parts of your content they like the most and push those areas of entertainment. Grow from there and you’ll know that you’re giving your core fanbase what they are after.
- Grow Your Social Media Profile
This one is really easy to start, and all you need to be is old enough to access platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Building your fanbase is going to rely on you doing a number of things well, including replying to fans, sharing others content as well as your own (start with a 5:1 ratio of retweets/shares to your own original material) and posting regularly.
One thing worth remembering is that each platform differs, so while a 6-second viral video of nothing in particular might light up Insta, the more stoic crowd of Facebook won’t get it. Twitter falls in between both of those other platforms in terms of what you can share that will translate well across audiences of different ages, while Instagram is for younger fans and Facebook for more mature or regular viewers.
Advertising on Twitch and getting yourself higher up the game streaming services most liked stream is all down to how you entertain your audience.
- Monetise Your Personal Gaming Brand
Making money from YouTube is the hardest thing of all, but the reality is that you want to be trying to make money from your product by the time you have one.
One of the best ways to do that is reach out to other Fortnite streamers and find out what worked for them. For some, it will be advertising revenue, for others they’ll have some cool merch that really took off early.
Word of mouth is the best way to start selling any product that is exclusive to you, from a snapback to a keychain, and selling during streams is the most popular way of making money. Viewers can donate to you if you’ve set up the facility, although until you have an audience that is large enough, this numbers game might not be worth playing. It’s better to have no sales than failed sales.
- Make Money from Merchandise
Merchandise is a massive way that successful Fortnite streamers make money. Hoodies are extremely popular with stay-at-home fans, naturally, but snapbacks, backpacks, tees, anything can make money. Keep it simple to start with and make it affordable until you have catchphrases that you can use to market your brand.
If fans love the way you celebrate a win or even commiserate a loss with yourself, then brand it, sell it and grow your fanbase. If one of your viewers is wearing a piece of apparel with a catchphrase on, they’re far more likely to keep watching, as they’re emotionally and financially invested.
- Collaborate with Industry Leaders
There’s no doubt that when it comes to becoming the very best Fortnite streamers, working with others is key. Who you collaborate with is, of course, up to you and your collaborator but keep an open mind – you never know when someone you work with – or turn down, for instance – may later have the keys to the only castle you wish to enter. Imagine if you had a meeting with a major industry player and they were represented by someone you blew off for a shared stream months ago. You wouldn’t be as likely to bag that life-changing deal.
Be open, friendly to deal with and passionate about what you do and there’s no bounds to how far you can go. Just save us a snapback from your latest top-selling collection, and next time we invite you to join our squad, don’t default dance.