A few weeks ago we posted a Twitter poll asking what you wanted us to talk about next. The winning topic was "Sponsorship" and how you can generate revenue alongside the day to day you get from your content channels. We thought about this a lot, and it's a complex topic that needs some context so we're breaking this down into 3 episodes where we'll look at:
1. Passive income for content creators
2. How you determine what your value is to a sponsor or external audience
3. How you go about pitching for sponsorship and choosing the right partners for you.
So here we go, episode 1 - passive income and alternative revenue streams!
A wise man once said (probably Mr. Miyagi) that every dollar you earn through passive income is worth $10. Why we hear you scream? Because it's money for NOTHING! And whilst that's not strictly true, if you can set yourself up for success, some upfront investment can mean you can get to a point where that's almost an accurate statement.
Today we'll be talking about some different ways you can generate revenue to support your content earnings and make sure you've got the bills paid before you've even made your first video of the week allowing you to concentrate on the important things. The quality of your content and engaging with your viewers.
We've got over a decade's worth of experience in the gaming sector and have been harassing people for money for some time, so trust us when we say you're in good hands! If you do have any questions about the article, make sure you hit us up on Twitter @getrektlabs where we'll be happy to discuss the finer points with you!
So passive income. It sounds too good to be true, but it's how a large number of creative businesses sustain themselves and build a solid baseline for when times are less lucrative. With the cyclical way content is released and the high risk world of relying upon game developers to create a game people want to watch, it's becoming more and more important to reduce your day to day risk.
But as a content creator what are your options? Let us explain.....
1. DIRECT SPONSORSHIP
Getting paid in exposure is somewhat of a meme in the gaming design world, but the reality is that's exactly what businesses want from you. All marketing campaigns with have a variety of KPIs (key performance indicators) but for new businesses or growing brands sales are not the only goal. Social impressions, global reach, reaching specific audiences and brand engagement are all measures of success when it comes to creative campaigns.
Use your organic reach that you've worked so hard to develop to demonstrate value for others. You've most likely got a very concentrated and specific cohort of viewers, use that to your advantage! In episode 2 we'll go into more detail about how much you are potentially worth as a creator. It's not an exact science but we'll use digital marketing benchmarks to guide you on the kind of figures you should be asking for!
Things you should be thinking about here are posting ads directly, running ads within your content, logo placement and product reviews.
Selling T-shirts, hats, mouse mats or anything you can paste your refined brand onto can give you a steady stream of direct income. Spend time getting your visual brand, identity and art style right, make sure it appeals to your audience, and for relatively little effort you can use your growth to drive real sales.
Invest in credible artists, think carefully about what your brand represents and make sure you're working on the right behaviours with your community to ensure that when your next limited release drops they're all over it! 100 Thieves are doing an incredible job in the industry at the moment by marrying a lifestyle and fashion brand with content creation and esports which all work together to support sustainable growth. Think about how you can learn from this before you consider just throwing your flashy new logo onto a hoodie!
3. AFFILIATE MARKETING
Otherwise known as "free marketing" for some businesses leveraging their brand affinity, can be a real red herring and actually reduce your value to sponsors. Unless you already have a significant following, the chances of you earning any kind of real revenues are extremely limited and what are being touted as "partnerships" are actually heavily weighted towards the brands. BE WARY!
Smaller or growing channels are unlikely to see any returns from these unless you're actively a salesperson for the product. Meanwhile the brand you're working with gets free digital reach from your channels with no contribution from their side other than a 10% discount code which is more than worth their while if you're selling their product willingly. In a world where the market is saturated with discount codes and offers, avoid these and push for direct sponsorship unless you know that you'll be the discount code of choice for one of these campaigns. For example if you have a 100K followers, you're likely to see significant returns as even at a small conversion rate the small contribution you get will be worthwhile (chances are you'll also be able to negotiate a better deal in terms of what commission you get).
Until you get to scale, use direct sponsorships to build your portfolio of partnerships and use your success to leverage better deals in the future!
4. DIRECT ADVERTISING WITHIN YOUR CONTENT
This is obviously a form of direct sponsorship, but given your line of work it's an important one to separate out! Use your reach and viewership to run credible ads within your videos and livestreams in tandem with the ads YouTube and Amazon will already run on your channels.
Not partnered yet? This opens up the door to ad revenue ahead of time and will give you some experience negotiating with endemic and non endemic brands who want access to your community. As a litmus test, the best way to make a decision around ads is "does it add value for my viewers?". If the answer is yes then go for it, you're on safe ground. Any doubts in your mind and it's usually not worth the damage you'll do to your brand, especially if you're in the early stages. No one likes a sellout (brands included). Brands will pay directly for ad placement. Actively reach out to marketing teams (we'll be teaching you how to build a pitch deck in episode 3).
5. EXCLUSIVE CONTENT AND DONATIONS
The gaming community is notoriously supportive if you do a good job of attracting the right viewers and they want you to succeed. Open up the door for them to more actively support you through platforms like Patreon and Ko-fi.
Membership style platforms can help you in a number of ways. Not all community members are created equal in the world of network marketing so make sure you create a system which gives the opportunity for your most engaged viewers to be rewarded. Exclusive content is a great way to do this, whether it's a high quality piece of content you save each month, or if you want to explore topics or lifestyle content outside of your normal day to day. Find new ways for your audience to learn more about you.
Make sure you spend time and resources on this content and don't just drop in throwaway pieces of work. Your audience wants value from these kinds of relationships so make sure you're providing it. Plan ahead and promote the offers across your channels using professionally created static and animated design work! Premium content needs premium promotion.
6. CREATE A WEBSITE AND DOUBLE YOUR MONEY
When we talk to content creators, we're often amazed at how many think the only ways of making money are through YouTube and Twitch directly. We want to challenge that thinking and make sure you're building value for yourself through your own content hubs. As with any form of employment, contract or otherwise, you're working your ass off to create value for someone elses business. Start creating long term value for yourself by hosting your content through your own branded website where you can display, organise and curate your content with 100% control.
Create your website, host your YouTube videos or downloaded stream clips and VODs as embedded links or direct content and give your community a home. Write a blog alongside your content, start a forum and give your community new ways of interacting with each other. Even drop in your Discord to ensure everything they need is in one place!
The traffic this generates won't detract from what YouTube or Twitch are already contributing, but what you'll create is a whole new revenue stream through your website traffic. Use this to leverage or increase sponsorship values, allow for direct ad placement curated by you and build value towards your brand directly. It's entirely possible if done correctly to double the value of every piece of content that you make through this new platform for your community.
7. SELL YOUR CONTENT
Brands are desperate for content. Creating videos and exclusive digital media is an expensive business and your videos carry significant value. Start looking for brands who are looking to break into your audience, speak to non-endemic brands looking for ways to appear relevant to a gaming audience and let them know what you're all about. Sell them exclusive videos, work in partnership to share your content and everybody wins, everybody grows. We'll go more into the value of your content in our next episode as we drill more deeply into knowing what you're worth.
This is just a small list of the ways you can generate revenue on top of your day to day sources. Think outside the box on how you can provide value to others with your content and build partnerships for the future with FAIR mutual goals. Don't devalue yourself for a 10% discount and weaken your future negotiations. If you can achieve half of the things we've discussed above, you're one step closer to making content creation a viable career choice.
Next week we'll talk about ways you can measure what you're worth. You're an influencer, start acting like one!
Director and Lead Brand Scientist