If you love video games and you have the time to create good quality content then it’s definitely worth starting a YouTube gaming channel. The start-up costs are low compared to potential earnings, but that also means there’s plenty of competition. So you gotta be good!
Why do you want to start a YouTube gaming channel?
I’m sorry, that question probably came across a little bit blunt. I’m not criticizing, I’m genuinely asking why you want to start a YouTube gaming channel.
It’s important to identify your goals before you put time and effort into a project like a YouTube gaming channel. Some goals are achievable, others will be a waste of your time.
Let’s imagine, for example, that your goal is to be the number one resource for the latest console video game reviews on YouTube.
That would be an incredible feat given the competition already out there from channels run by multi-million (or maybe even billion?) dollar media companies like IGN or GameSpot.
I’d say that it probably isn’t worth starting a YouTube gaming channel if that’s your goal.
However, what if we were a little more specific?
What if your video game reviews were targeted at a certain group of people?
- The best and worst games for people with Deuteranopia
- Will this game scare my dog?
- Casual strategy games for chilled-out players
- 2D platformers on Android
I’ve focused on review content here but the same applies if your goal is to become the most popular gaming speedrunner, the most popular retro gaming channel, or anything else to do with video games.
In other words, what is your unique selling point? Why would people want to watch your content over something else?
Take the Real Civil Engineer, for example. The owner of this channel leveraged his expert knowledge of civil engineering to explore all sorts of hilarious urban design questions and what-ifs on city-builder and simulation games.
He’s managed to acquire over 1 million subscribers this way, through content that focuses on a video game category/genre that is nowhere near as popular as, say, FPS or MOBA.
If you’ve got a solid niche, angle, or other USP, I’d say it’s well worth starting your own YouTube gaming channel.
Another thing to mention is that starting a YouTube gaming channel is absolutely not a good get-rich-quick idea.
Yeah, the creators running the top-viewed channels are raking in serious cash, but it’s worth remembering that they are the 0.1%. Probably even the 0.01%.
But they got there through hard work, perseverance, and consistent production of unique, high-quality content.
You’ll do far better if you create content for the love of it rather than for the money. Plus, if your content’s good, the money will come.
How hard is it to become a gaming YouTuber?
In addition to goals and competition which I discussed above, the following things influence how easy or hard your gaming YouTube channel journey will be:
- Subject knowledge
- Marketing knowledge
If you have the luxury of being able to work on your YouTube gaming channel all day, every day, then time isn’t really a limiting factor – just make the most of it!
If you work or study full-time, you’ll need to find time elsewhere to dedicate to your YouTube gaming channel.
In my experience (and this goes for any side-hustle or passion project, not just YouTube content creation) it’s best to set manageable goals.
Instead of aiming to post 100 videos and reach a million followers in one year, it’s far easier to set your sights on finding 30 minutes each day, putting your first video up, and getting your first 10 views.
After that, aim to work on your channel for six hours per week, and get to three videos posted with 1000 views. And so on.
It’s so much easier to motivate yourself when you’re constantly smashing small, achievable goals!
You don’t need to risk a big pile of cash to make a successful YouTube gaming channel (it won’t cost you anything to stream on Twitch either).
In fact, you could start a YouTube gaming channel with just a smartphone.
If your content is good enough, you don’t even have to own a console or any games!
That being said, you might see returns more quickly if you do have money to invest in the project. People consuming content on YouTube are used to high-quality audio and video, and first impressions matter.
In addition to basic audio and video optimization, investing in production software and things like screen overlay packs might make your life a lot easier.
If you live somewhere with no state income tax, you might be able to get up and running as a full-time streamer more quickly. That’s one of the reasons why streamers move to Texas.
Simply put, the more expertise you have around your chosen gaming subject, the easier the content production process is going to be.
The authority you have will impress your viewers and give them a reason to smash like and subscribe.
You’ll also be able to quickly pull together cohesive content plans and strategies if you have a good understanding of what viewers want to see and which topics or formats work well.
Think of your knowledge as a moat around your content castle. If you are the subject matter expert, that makes it much more difficult for others to produce better quality content than you.
The video games industry is so huge, that you’d be surprised how much of your seemingly unrelated existing knowledge can be applied to it:
Are you an accountant in your nine-to-five? Great, let’s create a channel investigating the financials of big publically traded game companies.
Are you a trained chef? Start a channel where you recreate recipes from popular RPGs (Breath of the Wild Glazed Mushrooms, anyone?). You get the idea.
This might sound really boring, but grasping this stuff could literally make or break your YouTube gaming channel.
Understanding how YouTube works and how viewers find content is crucial. For example:
- What type of content tends to show up for a particular search?
- How are video titles structured to best attract clickthroughs?
- Is publishing little and often better than irregular, long videos?
Another thing to think about is how to build interest in your content outside of YouTube.
Perhaps you already have a successful blog or social media account that you can leverage to amplify your YouTube content.
If not, and you want to build a brand, it could be worth grabbing the relevant handles on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and elsewhere in anticipation of expanding to these platforms later.
Social media platforms and forums like Reddit can also be gold mines for content ideas.
It’s also now possible to stream actively on YouTube and Twitch. Do both and engage with your viewers: Let them backseat your gaming or shape the direction of your content if it is more entertaining for them.
How much do gaming YouTubers make?
Most gaming YouTubers make very little, or nothing. Some gaming YouTubers make a comfortable monthly income from their channel.
A very very small number of highly successful YouTube gaming channels make life-changing amounts of money for their owners. For example, Felix Kjellberg (aka PewDiePie) has a reported net worth of $40 million.
That didn’t stop him from jumping ship for a while to a new streaming platform, DLive, but he’s back on YouTube now.
In other words, it depends.
The more effort you put into creating content, amplifying it, and doubling down on what works, the better your chances of earning some money become.
Just as with earning money on Twitch, your view counts and your subscriber numbers are both important.
How much do gaming YouTubers make per 1000 views?
According to this post by the Influencer Marketing Hub, YouTube channels receive, on average, around $3-$5 per 1000 views.
This number varies depending on the topic and format of your content as well as the intention you are trying to satisfy.
For example, a video targeting gamers who want recommendations for free Android games might be less valuable to an advertiser than a review of an expensive high-end gaming PC.
How to grow your YouTube gaming channel
The most important thing is to create good quality content. The second most important thing is fine-tuning your understanding of YouTube’s algorithm to work out how your viewers can best be satisfied.
I’ve mentioned plenty of the other fundamentals above – find your niche, hone in on your unique selling points, maximize your subject knowledge and amplify your content via other popular platforms.
Beyond this, there are services like multichannel networks (MCN) that can help give you a boost if your channel is showing some promise.
An MCN is a third-party provider that works with multiple YouTube channels to help develop an audience, organize collaborations, drive sales, and so on.
The trade-off with an MCN is that you should expect to give away a significant chunk of your YouTube income as payment for the service.
It’s easier to grow as a streamer on YouTube than on Twitch, but you’ll need to offer something that no one else does (or does as well as you) to really succeed on either platform.
Summary: Is it worth starting a YouTube gaming channel?
All you need to start a YouTube gaming channel is a smartphone. There’s even plenty of cheap but sophisticated video editing software that can help you make great content.
In other words, if you’ve got the time and some good content ideas, there’s no reason not to start a YouTube gaming channel (but don’t expect to become a millionaire overnight).