By Cody Perez
September 2, 2019
If you’ve spent any time on the internet in recent years, be it YouTube, social media, or browsing the web, it’s likely you’ve stumbled upon the words “streamer” or “streaming” once or twice. While streaming is a word used to describe the on-demand viewing of videos on services like Netflix and YouTube, that’s not the only use for the word.
In fact, there are streamers all around the world who are spending their days making money and having fun with an ever-growing community filled with passionate fans. With streaming on the rise each year and more streamers joining the fray from all walks of life, there is no better time to jump in and see what it’s all about.
But in order to do that, you’ll need to know the answer to a simple question: what is a streamer? From pro video game players like Shroud to the person who streams in the time they aren’t working a standard 40-hour week and everyone in between, that answer can vary greatly.
Thankfully, that’s where this guide comes in. I am going to give you the comprehensive guide to everything that you need to know about streamers and the streaming community that has overtaken the internet around the world.
Starting with the basics, the first thing we need to go over is what is a streamer?
Merriam-Webster defines streaming as “the act, the process, or an instance of streaming data or of accessing data that is being streamed.” To put it into layman’s terms, streaming is when you use your internet connection on your phone, computer, gaming console, etc. to gain instant access to a service without waiting for a download.
Examples of this include watching movies and TV series via Netflix, checking out food recipe videos on Facebook, listening to the latest Taylor Swift album on Spotify, and so on.
These are all actions that, with the right connection, can happen instantly without the need for a download or physical media.
Now, a “streamer” is someone who provides that streaming service to you directly. They are performing an action onscreen, recording it live, and broadcasting it on the internet for you to enjoy right as it’s happening without any waiting or downloads.
In addition, many streamers also archive or save footage from their “livestreams” so that people who missed the stream as it happened can watch it anytime later at their convenience. Streamers and their viewers use various platforms like Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, Mixer, and many more to do this.
As for what streamers are streaming on their respective platform, that varies for each person. Playing video games is the most popular form of streaming, but there are other ones, including cooking, chatting, and more.
With all of that said, why would someone become a streamer in the first place?
At this time, there are millions of streamers in existence around the world. For each of them, there is an individual reason for why they stream. One of the most common reasons, though, is that they have something they love to do (like play video games), and they want to share that love with others.
Not all of the streamers who play video games, for instance, are pro players who could win competitions. Though there are certainly many out there like that, some players just like to use the platform to create a positive community and make lifelong friends.
In addition, there are pro players who use the platform to practice for esports and competitions. There are some who love one particular game or topic so much that they want to find a way to make a living off of it, so they go into streaming.
Beyond that, there are even more streamers who do it to open the gateway to the career path that they are dreaming of being part of someday. Perhaps they want to make video games of their own or be a PR representative or be a commentator for various esports live events. They see streaming as a way to get noticed.
While there are so many reasons that a streamer begins streaming, not all of these result in a great streamer. After all, like with any career or skill, someone won’t be good at it unless they dedicate time, effort, care, and more to it. This does mean that there are a lot of amazing streamers out there but also some not so amazing ones.
If you are just getting started trying to discover a quality streamer to watch, there are a number of ways to do so. The first is by heading to any of the various platforms like Twitch, YouTube, and Mixer. Those three sites have countless streamers who are dedicated to playing video games.
What’s great about those sites is that they all advertise the most popular streamers who are live right this second. So, at any time, you can jump onto one of those sites, and you’ll be greeted by someone who knows what they’re doing and is doing it at that very moment.
Yes, that even includes random visits to the streaming services at all hours of the day and night because many streamers are from a different part of the world than you or have found success in streaming at odd times. This is the easiest way to find someone if you have no idea what you’re looking for.
But if you do happen to have a particular interest in a category such as card games, RPGs, shooters, or something else, it’s even easier to find a streamer for you. At this point, all you need to do is open up the search bar and type in a game you love like Hearthstone, Final Fantasy XIV, Fortnite, and so on.
This will bring up a ton of streamers who are known for playing that game or games like it. This will include those who are streaming live right then and even those who aren’t live but have past streams available for you to watch. What you’ll want to do is shop around and watch a few clips of these streamers.
You will want to get a feel for what type of streamer that you like. Are you someone who is into fast professional players who know what they’re doing like TSM Myth? Do you want to see a celebrity that you’re already a fan of like Panic! At the Disco’s Brendon Urie?
Or, are you looking for a more relaxed streamer who exudes positivity like CouRageJD? Finally, do you want to find someone who engages with their community all the time and will make you feel at home like League of Legends streamer Becca?
Though video games are the biggest part of streaming culture at this time, it is far from the only type of streaming that streamers do. If you’re not into gaming or are looking for a break from gaming, you still have plenty of options at your disposal.
For starters, there are many streamers who like to talk and chat with their community. For this, Twitch and other services have a “Just Chatting” category where you know the person is going to be relaxing and chatting with their viewers. If you want to get to know them more, this is the place to do it.
If that’s a little too chill for you, there are other popular hobbies like makeup. Many streamers are giving makeup advice, showing off how they do their makeup, giving recommendations on where to get products, and so on that can be beneficial to those interested.
If you’re wanting to learn more about something, maybe cooking streamers would be great for you. There are numerous streamers who will cook each night or once a week, showing off creative dishes of varying levels of difficulty for you to try out at home.
If you’re big into art and seeing your favorite games or creatures come to life, there are plenty of streamers who will broadcast themselves creating paintings, pictures, digital artwork, and more live. There are even some live-streaming musicians and singers.
Beyond that, there are podcasts where several people chat about various topics. There are even streams about comedy, reading, writing, and much more. If you have an interest in a particular topic, chances are that someone does it. But if they don’t, maybe you should try being the streamer to do it.
One of the most common questions I’ve heard in regards to streaming is: can I make a living off of streaming? The answer is yes, but it all depends on a number of factors as with any burgeoning industry. First and foremost, it requires the passion and dedication to get to the point of receiving a sustainable income.
The amount of money that a streamer makes every month varies widely. You have the crazy successful streamers like Tyler “Ninja” Blevins who are, reportedly, making in the millions each year while there are others who are just making enough to break even each month.
Then there are those who stream for fun and have to work a “normal” job to sustain themselves. That said, there are estimates based on what we know about how streaming services like Twitch work. For those who stream on Twitch full-time, there are four main ways to make money.
The first is one that we all know about: ads. Ads don’t give a ton of money to streamers, but with a steady number of viewers and consistent streams, this can make a massive difference in income each month. The second is donations from fans where a viewer gives money directly to the streamer for one reason or another.
The third is paid subscriptions, which the major platforms like Twitch, YouTube, and Mixer all have. These subscriptions give a portion (around half for most) to the streamer and the other portion to the service company.
The fourth and final method of earning money is through branded sponsorships.
One of the most popular sponsorships for gaming streamers is G Fuel. There are plenty of others, though, like Red Bull and even video game publishers who will sponsor you to play one of their games. In addition, there are events that you can get invited to for a paid appearance if you get popular enough.
For a professional streamer who is streaming at least 40 hours a week on a regular basis to a consistent community, it is possible for them to make around $3,000 a month at the very least. With more subscribers and more views, it is possible for the average successful streamer to make around $5,000 a month and exponentially more than that for the top streamers.
That said, one way that even smaller streamers can make money besides ads is by inviting their community to contribute to them each month through subscription services like Patreon. There are those who have tiers based on how much money the person pledges to them every month.
The more money a person pledges, the more perks they’ll get like a personalized letter, photos, invite-only streams, and so on. Through services like Patreon, there are some smaller streamers who have been able to sustain themselves on their tight but passionate and generous community.
Of course, if you’re wanting to see if you can stream for a living or just for fun, you’re going to need some equipment. First and foremost, you’ll need an account on the various places you want to stream like Twitch, YouTube, and so on.
Once you have an account, you’ll need some starting equipment. If you happen to have an Xbox One or PS4 video game console, great! All you’ll need is a solid headset and then an external camera if you want to show your face, and you’ll be able to stream with ease.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to talk in your stream or show your face, you can stream directly from those two consoles live without any extra equipment whatsoever. However, I do recommend at least communicating with your viewers using a mic so that they don’t get bored and want to leave.
If you have a gaming computer or laptop, this is even easier than a gaming console. There are services that allow you to stream right from your screen without the need for any external devices. There’s software like OBS and Shadowplay that allows you to do this.
From there, though, it gets a little tougher as you’ll need to shell out a bit of cash to get started. If you’re wanting to stream the latest Nintendo Switch game or just livestream PS4 and Xbox One games in 4K, you’re going to need a capture card.
The best brands for this are AVerMedia and Elgato. It’s best to begin with the basics if you don’t have the money for the best equipment just yet. Once you have found your community and niche, though, you should begin upgrading to better mics, cameras, tripods, lighting, and more to make your streams all the more authentic.
Of course, if you’re beginning to stream, it can be daunting wondering where you should do your streams from. Twitch is by far the biggest platform for streaming games, but there are benefits to other places like Mixer where the competition is less fierce and people like Ninja have switched over, possibly bringing over more viewers with them.
That said, here is the full list of streaming places that we recommend you check out for your possible streaming home(s):