What started out as a hobby is now a full time job. This is the dream and in the world of video game streaming, the dream has become a reality for many people. The central piece in everyone’s streaming success has been simply to make money. Making money is the difference between a hobby and a job.
So how do you make money streaming? One key component is getting paid by other people to advertise on your stream in the form of sponsorships. Sponsors could be companies, teams, players, or anyone with an interest in connecting with your audience of highly targeted viewers. That’s right, people will pay you to talk with the audience you built.
Let’s take a look at how to turn your stream to a money making machine by finding sponsors.
Benefits of a sponsored stream
The most obvious benefit of getting a sponsor is making money. I don’t think I need to tell you what you can do with more money.
There are other unseen benefits of finding a sponsor as well. Having a known company attach their brand to your stream can bring credibility and a sense of professionalism to your brand. Small streams don’t have sponsors, but every big streamer has some sort of sponsor.
Don’t worry about the trolls that make you feel bad about having a sponsor either. The people that want to see you succeed will be happy that you found a sponsor because they understand that streaming takes time and money and sponsors will help recoup that investment. You can also give back to your viewers through sponsored discounts and giveaways.
Remember: DOn't be a sell out
The most important part of finding a sponsor is finding someone who contributes something to your audience. Don’t throw up a banner ad or shout out a company if they aren’t providing anything relevant to your viewers.
Sponsors vs. Twitch affiliate/partner
A Twitch Affiliate/Partnership is a form of monetization that allows you to earn on the Twitch platform while you stream. Affiliates can make money in the form of selling Bits (virtual goods used on the stream), selling video games which they then share in the revenue, or with subscriptions.
A Twitch Partnership is reserved for the streamers with the most viewers and followers. The monetization process is similar to affiliates except with more options and premium features.
There are several differences between a sponsorship and Twitch Affiliate/Partnership programs. A sponsorship is usually an agreement between the streamer and a company where the arrangement can be unique. There could be an agreement like a banner ad being displayed on the stream for $500 a month or having an affiliate link somewhere in the stream description.
A sponsorship can be from any company. From an indie card game company looking to expand their reach, or a mega corporation on the quest to reach every viewer.
Examples of sponsored streams
To find an example of a sponsored streamer, take a look at any popular stream. Finding a gamer that rejects sponsorship when they can get it will be rare. This is because sponsorship deals can be insanely lucrative for streamers that are pulling big viewership numbers.
If you look at Dr. Disrespect, his Twitch channel is filled with sponsored content. Just scrolling down his Twitch page shows the following brands:
- Need For Seat
- Republic of Gamers
- Gatorade G FUEL
- Turtle Beach Headsets
I think it’s safe to say Dr. Disrespect has found some success in streaming. This level of major sponsorship is definitely on the high end, but not unheard of.
SPONSORED CONTENT IS STILL CONTENT
Work with your sponsors to come up with creative ways that are unique to your stream to promote sponsored content. This can be as simple as styled banners that match your stream artwork or elaborate as characterized videos shown above. You want your sponsored content to blend seamlessly with your gaming content!
Another example of someone who has done very well with business partnerships is the hilarious League of Legends streamer and ex-professional imaqtpie. His list of long time sponsors include:
- OMEN by HP
- Sennheiser Headphones
imaqtpie has also found a genius way to weave in sponsored games in his own unique, over-the-top way that his audience absolutely loves.
What sponsors look for in a stream
Like in any business transaction, the concept of value is the central focus. Why would you spend money on headphones? Because you believe the headphones are worth the money you spend.
With business sponsorships, it’s similar. Businesses want to invest money and see a return. If a business sponsors your stream, they want to see a positive return on their investment.
So if a business sponsors you by giving you $1000 a month to place a banner ad or a link on your stream, their goal is to see over $1000 back from your viewers or in some other way.
Ask yourself the following:
Will I be able to provide a positive return from the resources I have on my stream? How many viewers do I have on average? What is the level of engagement like with my viewers?
If you only have a few hundred viewers on your stream, you may feel like there’s no hope. This is where you would be wrong. There have been cases of streams with only a few hundred viewers that have sponsors. Do your viewers want to support you by clicking on affiliate links or purchasing products? Are you able to provide highly targeted and useful sponsored products or services to them? Then you can still make additional income even from a smaller audience.
Let’s apply some math to this situation. Let’s say you average 300 viewers per stream but you have a great connection with all of them. Another streamer, let’s say a professional gamer, has 5000 views per stream but does not talk with his viewers at all.
If you sell a product to 20% of your viewers that’s 60 sales. If the other streamer sells a product to 1% of his viewers that’s 50 sales. Even though you have less viewers than the other streamer, because of your connection to the viewers you just achieved more sales.
The point is: you should focus more on how engaged and loyal your audience is, not necessarily how big you can grow it. The larger a streamer gets, the more out of touch they can become with their audience.
When to start looking for sponsors
There are a few key questions you should ask yourself before looking for a sponsorship.
- How many viewers do you average per stream?
- How many subscribers do you have?
- Are your viewers highly engaged, talking a lot in chat and following on social media?
- Do your viewers like and trust you?
If you have raw numbers like 1000+ views per stream, finding a sponsor shouldn’t be too difficult. If you are lacking in the views number, your engagement needs to be high and you need to show that engagement to the companies you contact.
Engagement can be found off-stream as well. If you are getting tons of Twitter followers, replies and retweets or your YouTube channel of stream highlight clips is received lots of views and subscribers, then you can point to these as examples of high engagement too!
How to find a sponsor
The first step is to understand your stream and audience. Do you stream League of Legends? Then you should cater to that audience and their wants. Don’t advertise for console supplies when your audience is a bunch of PC gamers.
Find out your niche and work your way down from most relevant companies to least relevant companies. For example if you stream Magic the Gathering, the progression should be something like this:
- Direct Magic the Gathering related companies like Magic the Gathering blogs, ecommerce stores, card resellers etc.
- Card gaming companies not Magic the Gathering. Perhaps these companies might have interest in advertising to Magic the Gathering viewers.
- Card gaming accessory companies selling sleeves, dice, life counters etc.
- General purpose gaming companies that would be interested in a general gamer audience.
Have a list of companies that could be interested in sponsoring your stream. The more you have the better because a 1% response rate (which is what you should expect as a smaller streamer) takes 100 companies.
Consider your sponsors:
You need to find out their goals and how you can help them. Do they want to drive more sales? Do they want to expand their reach? Are they promoting a new game?
How to contact potential sponsors
Now that you have a list of companies to contact, let’s take a look at the process to better your chances at landing a sponsorship.
CLEAN YOUR STREAM
Prepare your channel for judgement. Clean it up, make it professional. Create some good looking graphics for your banner, about me section, or anything. You can make it yourself or hire someone.
When your potential sponsor looks at your channel, you want to blow their socks off, not make them want to put their shoes on and leave the room.
Make your channel look good, fill out content sections like about me, and make it easy to contact you. The person looking at your stream shouldn’t have to try very hard to find contact links.
It is also a good idea to clean up your social media and LinkedIn pages to appear more professional. You don't have to change your persona, but these pages should all promote your stream instead of being a personal blog.
Go to a company’s LinkedIn page and search through their employees. Here you’ll find someone you can contact and attempt to build a relationship with.
Why bother building a relationship? Because when you are friendly with a decision maker at a company, you are getting a foot in the door when it comes to pitching a sponsorship deal.
The best way to go about this is to deliver value for free and hopefully they respond in a positive way. How can you do this? Be creative. Tell them about the explosive growth of a game you've recently been streaming. Give feedback on something they released like a book or blog post. Explain how your viewers are dying to know where you got one of their products.
After a few exchanges maybe then you can ask something like, “Hey I’ve got this stream that has 300 followers and I think it could be a beneficial partnership if we teamed up. Mind if I send you a pitch?”
Boom. Now you’ve just pitched your stream to a decision maker that you’re friendly with. This process is much more likely than just cold emailing someone asking for something.
Now you know what a sponsorship is, how to target a company for sponsorship, and how to actually pitch your stream to that company.
You should be the central piece in the three factor relationship between yourself, the company, and your viewers. Your job is to ensure that value is delivered to everyone in that relationship. You should find monetization for your streaming, your viewers should find good deals and new brands that help them out, and the company should see a return on their investment.