With so many gaming channels out there, how do you differentiate yourself, create an audience and achieve success?
There are a lot of ways to find success on YouTube, and there are just as many ways to fall short. Here are a few quick tips for avoiding easy mistakes new gaming channels often make:
1. Not finding a niche and choosing the wrong game
Every popular gaming channel starts off small and grows an audience. The easiest, best way to do this is to find a niche and occupy it. Rather than discuss every new game that comes out and get drowned out in a sea of established voices, find an underrepresented game, game series or genre you’re passionate about and focus on that. Running a successful gaming channel comes down to finding an audience, and if you can adopt an established fandom, you’re already halfway there.
A series known for its cryptic lore and tough-as-nails gameplay, Dark Souls was officially a hit when VaatiVidya uploaded his first video in 2012. Over the course of seven years, his in-depth exploration of the series’ enigmatic characters and history made VaatiVidya into YouTube’s number one authority of all things Souls-related with 1.3 million subscribers and one gaming’s most successful Patreon pages.
2. Not live streaming
Just as important as creating scripted, edited content, live streaming should be a tent pole of your channel. Live streaming is a great way to interact with your community and uploading condensed videos of your streams can be an easy way for a new channel to build its content library. Consider adding some production value to your streams in the form of overlays and prerecorded bits as a way to stand out.
One half of the “Super Beard Bros”, The Completionist’s content is fairly self-explanatory — he 100% games and chronicles the experience on his channel. When not releasing his exhausting, time-consuming content, Jirard Khalil streams to an audience of over 100,000 followers, filling the space between each video by interacting with fans and streaming with his friends, including YouTubers Alex Faciane (the other half of the “Super Beard Bros”), Jesse Cox, Dodger and others.
3. Not fostering a community
Just as important as the content you create is the audience you grow. Viewers might stumble upon your video through YouTube’s search engine or in their recommendations, but once they are there, how do you make sure they watch your next video? Building a community is an important step towards success. Having a social media presence to notify your fans when new content is scheduled, regular live streaming, an active forum for fans to meet and discuss videos and answering viewer questions are all powerful ways to build an active, loyal fanbase.
Easy Allies, a collaborative group of former GameTrailers employees, can attribute much of their success to building a strong, loyal community. The 16th most funded page on Patreon at $52,000 a month, Easy Allies has an active forum, live streams regularly and incorporates its audience into podcasts and videos.
4. No unique insight
Maybe you want to create video essays, long-form content that takes a deep dive into specific games, issues or the news of the day. While you should be paying attention to other channels and what they do right in terms of production and content, it’s important to make sure that what you say comes from you. Emulate the style and production of popular video essayists; don’t regurgitate their commentary.
Producing news, reviews and commentary, Super Bunnyhop first found success releasing long critiques into beloved games and franchises like The Legend of Zelda and Metal Gear. Today, he has over 400,000 subscribers and has been regularly featured on gaming titans like the Co-Optional Podcast, formerly hosted by the late TotalBiscuit.
5. No personality
Be yourself. As cheesy as that advice sounds, make sure your personality shines through your content. Incorporate short bits and skits into your intros and outros. Include comedic annotations. Don’t over-edit or excise every little fumble and outtake. YouTube isn’t national television and audiences will always appreciate a creator who isn’t afraid to take chances and make mistakes. Let your viewers relate to you.
With 3 million subscribers, the AngryJoeShow is one of YouTube’s most successful gaming channels. Joe Vargas’ always includes short skits in his long-form reviews of popular video games where Joe, along with his friends, dress up as characters and act out scenes poking fun at themselves and the game.
6. No self-promotion
It’s hard to get noticed without a little help. Post your videos to popular gaming fansites such as Reddit and NeoGAF. When getting your name out there, don’t spam — a sure way to turn off potential viewers and subscribers is to visit other channels to leave comments linking back to your own content. Instead, take a more holistic approach and network with other creators through conventions and meet-ups for collaborative live streams and guest appearances. And always remind viewers to “like and subscribe” in every video.
The Co-Optional Podcast has helped launch the career of many small YouTubers. Started by TotalBiscuit along with co-hosts Jesse Cox and Dodger, the podcast regularly features game developers, small and big YouTubers, streamers, professional gamers and a variety of other guests.
By avoiding these common mistakes, you’re already on your way to cultivating a successful channel with a loyal audience. Don’t let these beginner’s missteps hold your channel back.