6 Practical Ways To Make Money With Games & How To Get Started (If I Had To Do It Again)

Everyone dreams of making money doing what they love.

And if you’re reading this, you want to channel your passion of video games to make some extra cash, or turn your hobby into a full-time lifestyle.

That was my goal back in 2006.

Fast forward to today and I’ve spend over 10 years in the gaming industry making a life-changing income doing what I love.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of good advice out there to show you how to get started.

I had to blindly walk my way through it.

And even after 10 years, there still doesn’t seem to be a ton of good actionable advice to get you started.

So instead of listing dozen’s of ideas that might “seem” good on the surface, but actually require some college degree, hidden talent, years of training, or insider connections, I’m going to stick to 6 ideas that you can get started with NOW.

… as in tonight.

And not only will I show you the methods, I’ll show you how I’d get started with them if I were to start over today.

(Since this guide is huge… you can use the navigation below to hop to the section that interests you)

  1. Freelance Content Creation
  2. eSports/Gaming Jobs
  3. Inhouse Content Creation
  4. In-Game Services/Items/RMT
  5. Coaching
  6. Professional Gaming

Method 1: Freelance Content Creation

We’re starting with this because it’s the easiest for you to get started with. You can get started shortly after reading this article, and start getting paid in just a few short days. And it’s not that difficult. If you can write a small article, or make a 3-minute video talking about the games you love… you already have what it takes to be successful with this method.

Gaming businesses are starving for good quality content.

That’s because millions of gamers interact with articles, videos, streams, and podcasts every week.

And every gaming business wants a share of that audience.

Why does this work?

As a gaming business owner, I can tell you it’s a bit more challenging to find content creators for this industry.

Anyone outside of the gaming world, or even one who doesn’t play the specific games you want to cover, will be sniffed out immediately. It’s as if we speak a foreign language.

That makes avid gamers a very valuable resource for gaming companies looking for content.

… and they are willing to pay you for every article, video, or podcast, that you create.

The business gets great specialized content that they can use to promote their products, services, or brand, and you get paid for your knowledge, expertise and time to create the content.

You can make anywhere from $15-$20 for a small article all the way up to hundreds of dollars for larger or more advanced pieces of content depending on the size, research involved, and media used.

Using job boards to find content creation jobs

One of the easiest ways to pick up freelance projects is to apply for them on job boards. Use the job boards below to find and apply to different content creation jobs.

Be careful though. Some of them are advertised as “volunteer” work. Don’t waste your time creating content for someone without pay. These companies usually don’t know the value of content – which means the likelihood of ever seeing a payment out of them is really low. If you really want to work on a project to build your portfolio or get your feet wet – then go for a volunteer spot. But don’t go after these volunteer spots ever expecting pay. There’s plenty of paid opportunity out there as it is.

GameJournalismJobs.com

This is one of my favorites. There seems to be a consistent feed of positions and I’ve personally hired quite a few good writers from this site.

Rekt Jobs

This is one of the most popular boards for eSports jobs. You’ll find a variety of different jobs available so it’ll be best to narrow down the results using “content” or “writer” as keywords. You can also find video/audio production opportunities here too.

JobsineSports.com

As of writing this there’s over 40 content related jobs available, along with hundreds of other opportunities in the eSports world. Ranging from written content to casting and video production. Personally, I’ve never hired anyone from this site, but I still post here when I have an opening. So it’s something you should follow to apply for more projects.

Finding jobs by networking & outreach

There might not always be a constant stream of businesses recruiting talent. Some might not even know how to recruit content producers, others will think that it might be outside of their budget. Staying involved in the community and doing some outreach is a great way to make sure you find enough opportunities to keep you busy.

Join communities like reddit’s /r/eSports or /r/eSportsjobs. If you’ve never used reddit, it’s like a giant forum divided into smaller communities (or subreddits). Join the conversation, network with other gamers, business owners, and content creators.

Sometimes you can find opportunities directly on here. But if not you can start to see the lay of the land. What type of content is being created, what blogs and sites are out there. And then you can start networking with these people and offering your service(s) to them, whether they are actively hiring or not.

I would personally make an excel sheet or notepad file of all the blogs, esports teams, youtube channels, and other content producers and start contacting them one by one.

You’ll get turned down. A lot. But it’s all part of the numbers game. If you’re persistent you’ll get enough opportunities to keep you busy and fill your pockets.

Method #2: Getting a Dream Job In Gaming – eSports Careers

Since we’re still in the “wild west” stages of the eSports industry, there’s a ton of openings for you to land a job or career in the gaming industry.

Companies are experiencing rapid growth, with growing near $1 Billion in funding this year, which means they need to fill roles and grow quickly.

This method is more suitable to someone who wants the security of a job and doesn’t want to risk doing freelancing on their own.

Anytime you look, there’s usually dozens of jobs open spanning from video production, content creation, social media, customer service, broadcasting, all the way to web development, design, and assistant roles.

As the industry grows, these jobs are going to become more and more competitive. But right now, having experience in the gaming/eSports industry alone is a HUGE plus. This advantge will dry up soon.

Where to find these jobs

The easiest place to find these jobs is on video game job boards. We listed some of them above. But there are more that are filled with jobs that aren’t related to content creation.

I wouldn’t choose just one. I’d follow ALL of them. You never know where your opportunity will be found.

Make yourself valuable

Sometimes it’s easier to stand out in the crowd by making yourself valuable.

By networking with other gaming entrepreneurs, streamers, or talent, you can offer to help take the load off of their daily tasks, pick up some of their slack, or jump in with some of the areas that they lack talent that you can fill.

This is the ONE time that I’d recommended working for free. 

This gives you a chance to get your foot in the door, and let them realize how big of a help you can be to them or their company.

A lot of times, us entrepreneurs don’t realize how much a little help can really benefit our projects.

The key here is to make yourself indispensable and provide ACTUAL results. You want to demonstrate value in either time saved, or some type of measurable growth. By doing this you make yourself indispensable and then there’s no argument for if you should get paid or not. The discussion then becomes: “How much?”

There’s one opportunity that I’m expecting to see grow heavily over the next coming months. It’s “entry-level” work that you can make very good money from (in the range of $50+/hour). I’m going to be sharing this idea with my newsletter subscribers FIRST, it’s free to sign up. So if you want to get in early on a fresh idea, sign up now.

Method 3: Inhouse Content Creation

One downside of being a Freelancer in Method 1 is that you only get paid for your content once. If you control the content instead of selling it as a freelancer, you open up the ability to get more revenue over time instead of a one-off deal.

We like to call this passive income. Do the work once and get paid for it again and again over time.

The difference here is that it takes a little bit longer to start seeing any money come in. And it takes a little bit more effort than just simply creating content. But once it starts to pay off, it has a much higher upside than you would see as a freelance content creator.

Creating Content For Yourself

You’ll be creating one of the following:

  • A Blog
  • Twitch Stream
  • YouTube Channel
  • Podcast

… or a combination of the four.

Essentially you want to choose based off two criteria:

  1. What would best showcase the type of content you want to create. The easiest way to distribute the content. (ex. If you want to show someone how to do something, a video might be better than a podcast or article.)
  2. What would best suit the type of content YOU can create.

But let me address the elephant in the room before we move on.

You don’t need to be the best player in the world in order to create content on a game to be successful and make money.

Don’t let your current skill level limit you.

I’ll reveal a few ways to create content that other players will LOVE that allows you to be yourself and create the content you want, with out “faking it”. (More on that later…)

How does this actually make money?

I know what you’re thinking…

“Alright… so we make a bunch of content or we stream every day… but I don’t run a business or sell anything. So how do I actually make money?”

There’s 3 primary ways that you can make money by creating and distributing content:

  • Sponsors/Ads – Companies will pay to have a featured ad stamped on your content. They want to introduce their products and services to your audience, and they will happily pay to get in front of them.
  • Partnerships – Sites like Twitch.tv and YouTube offer partnerships that will pay you per ad view or per paying subscriber you receive. This is similar to sponsorship’s, except a major portion of the headache involved with managing sponsors is handled by the company you partner with. In exchange, they take their share of the revenue.
  • Affiliate Marketing – One of the easiest ways to get started. You can refer products interesting products to people in your audience. And if they buy, you receive a commission. Usually somewhere between 5%-75% of the sale price. (This is great because you can usually stack this on top of other revenue streams like partnerships or ads. AND it can provide an income stream even if your audience is tiny… more on that later.)

You can mix and match these to find a revenue model that works for you and the content you produce.

Your main goal starting out will be to produce high quality content in order to build your audience. The larger your audience, the more easy it will become to sell ads, get partnerships, or sell other products for a commission.

How I would get started creating GOOD content

First you need to find an audience for your content.

If you take anything away from this article… make it this:

Start with a SMALL audience.

Don’t attempt to make a general “gaming” blog. Don’t try to make an “eSports News” site.

It’s too much when you’re just starting out.

It takes a lot of time to create great resources for a topic. (keyword: great) If you spread yourself to thin you’ll end up looking like a jack of all trades instead of being able to create high quality content that your audience loves.

Narrowing your focus to a single game will give you the ability to create some of the best resources for that group of players. Making it easier to stand out in a crowded marketplace.

And don’t worry about a games audience being too small. Even with a mobile game like Clash of Clans, articles get millions of views because it’s high quality content that players not only want, but they will also share with other players.

And that’s the key. You want your content to become the number one source for that game. Allclash got to where it’s at by creating the content that Clash of Clan players were searching for. You want to dominate the marketplace.

Once you do that for ONE game, there’s nothing stopping you from expanding into other games. This time with more experience, and a process in place that you can repeat.

Take this blog as an example. I created this blog because I love talking marketing and business. I didn’t create a “marketing blog”.

I narrowed my focus and added another interest of mine, which is video games. This blog is set to create the best resources for gamers who want to make money. Because my focus is so narrow, I have the ability to answer nuanced questions for this market specifically, that I couldn’t if I made a general “marketing blog”.

Choosing your niche – How do I pick a game?

I’m going to have an article about this topic soon, because it’s a popular question that I feel needs an entire article to answer.

To keep it simple, you’ll want:

  1. A game you have a lot of experience with. This makes researching topics and answering questions easy. Since you should have a general knowledge base above the average player.
  2. A game you want to learn. This will make it fun to research ideas, test out new strategies, or play the game to learn more. You don’t have to be a professional.

But the most important thing is that you LOVE the game you want to cover. Because you’re going to be writing dozens of articles and videos, or streaming this game multiple times a week. In order to do that, without the risk of burning out, you’ll have to love what you do.

Finding topics and creating your first piece of content

Now that you have your game selected, it’s time to start creating content.

As a player of the game, you’ll be able to start creating ideas of articles that players may want.

Ninja Tip: I have an excel sheet in google docs where I store ALL of my content ideas. Anytime I get a new idea I throw it on the list. If I’m having trouble coming up with an idea when it’s time to write an article I take a look at my list and grab an idea that I wrote down previously.

A great way to find topic ideas is to get involved with the communities around your game.

I start by finding any forums, subreddits, and Facebook groups related to my topic.

For this blog, I frequently monitor /r/eSports, and a few Facebook groups.

I pay attention to quite a few things:

  • What questions are frequently being asked?
  • What are people in this community consistently having trouble with?
  • What content already exists? Can you make it better? Easier to understand? Easier to visualize?
  • What questions AREN’T being asked?
  • Are the general ideas that people accept that might be completely wrong?

These questions will help you formulate topic ideas.

What if I’m not an expert or professional?

You can still create exceptional content without faking like you’re the most skilled player in the game. You don’t even have to fake like you have the answers.

In fact, some of the best content to learn from is when people are transparent and share their success and failures.

It’s easy to learn from what NOT to do just like it is when you tell people exactly what TO do.

So if you create content in an “I’m learning along with you” style, do some research, and provide feedback from your own in-game experiences, it can be just as valuable as a top tier gamer sharing their expertise.

Even starting out as a beginner has it’s advantages. Things that you can’t figure out from the start are things that seasoned players may overlook. That’s an untapped audience waiting for your specialized content.

As you grow in the game and become more advanced, you’ll have a library of content that will serve new players all the way to more advanced topics for high level players.

Just DON’T bullshit your audience.

If you don’t know what you’re talking about… take the time to research it, or don’t say it at all.

Where do I put this content?

If you’re streaming or creating videos, it’s pretty self explanatory that you’ll create a Twitch.tv or YouTube channel.

If you’re podcasting, you’ll want to have your content available on iTunes and every other podcasting platform.

If you’re creating written content, you’ll need a blog of your own. You can create your own blog, or use one of the many free platforms out there like medium (my recommendation), blogspot, or wordpress.

The important thing is to just get started. You can spend days planning and trying to decide where to put your content. You can tweak it, move platforms, and change the look of your content AFTER you start creating. It’s extremely important to just start creating. So my personal recommendation is to choose one of the free platforms and just start creating content now.

In the near future, I’ll be creating guides on how to build your first website on the cheap – without coding or design skills. So make sure you subscribe for free to get updates. . If you really want to create your own website though, I recommend using WordPress and here is a quick guide on how to do it.

Building your audience and how to monetize it

It will take a bit of time to build your audience. Just putting out good quality content won’t be enough to build an audience. You have to market your content too.

If you think that building a streaming audience can be done by streaming every day and hoping that people find your stream randomly is a strategy that works… you’re in for a long, lonely ride.

You have to create exceptional content AND spread the word initially.

Once you get a few raving fans, they will help share your content and build your audience. But until you reach that critical mass you’ll have to do the groundwork of marketing your content.

After you’ve got those first hundred or thousand fans, you can start thinking about monetizing. But until then, I wouldn’t worry about monetization because you need an audience to sell sponsored ad spots, get partnered with a platform, or sell affiliate products.

That’s why this method takes a little bit of time until you see revenue coming in. You have to do the work of creating content and build your audience before going to the next level.

But the upside is huge.

Some affiliates are making thousands of dollars every month. And all they do is create content around the products and services that they love.

As you can see this is a snapshot of 5 affiliates who made well over $2,000 this month. And this is just one affiliate program… there’s hundreds of opportunities out there once you build your audience.

Method #4: Selling In-game Services, Items, or RMT.

If you’re not into creating content, you might like to make money by selling services, or in-game items (also known as RMT: Real Money Trade).

This is actually how I got started in the gaming industry. Back when World of Warcraft was new, I used to sell services where I would level other peoples characters or complete specific tasks for a and charge them for the service.

I started out doing this by hand, because I LOVED playing World of Warcraft. I would charge anywhere from $25 to a few hundred dollars to level someone’s character depending on what level they wanted me to hit for them and how long it would take me.

This eventually turned into me getting savvy with bots and leveling peoples characters on multiple computers using automation.

Eventually Blizzard caught on and made it difficult for botters to successfully level characters at low risk (at the scale and speed we were trying to accomplish), so I turned to farming, buying, and selling gold.

When they made it apparent that this was against their terms of service, I stopped my operation and moved onto building an actual business in the gaming industry.

You can still have success with this today. Almost every game that has in-game currencies or highly sought after items, has some type of real money exchange.

Some of these are strictly against the games terms of services, while others allow it, or ignore it. Personally, I would advise against doing anything outside of a games terms of service. At the very least you’re opening yourself up to some unnecessary risk.

However… it’s still a potential and profitable way of making money from the gaming industry. So I feel like it should be included in this article.

You will need some in-game knowledge in order to provide these services or successfully acquire the items worth selling or in-game currencies worth selling.

You can offer these items and services on marketplaces like the ones below that have thousands of customers who are willing to pay.

The main downside here is that you’ll be trading your hours for dollars. Sometimes the rate can be lower than what you could get for a minimum wage job in the “real world”. The main reason is  because businesses in other countries with extremely cheap labor costs they train employees to farm these items or complete these services, making it difficult to compete with at times.

This isn’t ALWAYS the case though. A savvy gamer can pull in serious cash by paying attention to RMT markets, game changes, and farming methods to pull down some serious scratch.

Here’s an example of a couple gamers who made money from Diablo III’s auction house while it was live. They were able to pull in over $10,000 during the peak of Diablo III. On the other hand Marcus Eikenberry made millions with RMT during the peak of World of Warcraft and Ultima Online. So with the right approach you can make a very sizeable income.

Alternatively this could be a fun way to make money, support your hobby, and get your feet wet in the gaming industry.

Personally, I learned quite a few valuable lessons from my time in RMT. I learned how to sell a service, and how to handle customer service (and how NOT to, at times). Both of these skills were critical to my success later down the road.

Method #5: Coaching

Playing competitive games at a high level takes a specific set of knowledge that you can leverage by coaching others players to get better.

  • Are you a highly ranked player?
  • Have you won a few tournaments?
  • Are you better than the “average” player?
  • Do you spend a lot of time research, discussing, and figuring out strategy?

If so, chances are good that you have the skills that other players desire. And they’re willing to pay you for your time to speed up their learning process.

You don’t need to be a professional in order to be an effective coach. Most of your potential students will be beginners to intermediate players looking to improve their game. Making it easy for someone who is better than the “average” player to dramatically shortcut their learning curve.

The more skill, expertise, and accomplishments you have with a particular game will make it easier for you to get students and charge a higher rate.

With coaching, once you get a student, you will work with them, usually watching them play a game live, or going over recorded games to point out mistakes or room for improvement. In some coaching sessions, you might just be going over the basic mechanics of the game that they feel they are missing out on. In other coaching sessions, you might play a game while explaining different aspects of the game which they feel are are areas that they need to improve on, and how you’ll get to demonstrate how you approach those situations.

Just like in real sports, when you’re playing you don’t always know or realize what you’re doing wrong. That’s why coaching is so beneficial for players who really want to increase their skill level.

In exchange for your time and expertise you get paid  hourly, at a rate that you get to set.

How to find students to coach

The great thing about this method is that there are already sites out there who market to find students. Most of them are always looking for new talented coaches like yourself. You can leverage their already existing audience to pick up clients of your own, while you take the time to build your own audience or build up a client base.

 

GamerSensei is an up and coming coaching platform that has been making waves since receiving $2.5 of funding in 2016.

Xsolla Academy – Xsolla give you the ability to create a professional looking profile to showcase your individual skills as a coach and to share with your potential clients.

eGG-One – Seems to have a very wide range of coaches some who have spent thousands of hours coaching on the platform. So that means they have a client base of customers who are actively looking for your coaching expertise.

Find Students On Your Own (Make this one of the “sites” listed)

You can find students on your own using one of the methods mentioned in method #3 of this article. If you’re a streamer or content creator you’ll have an audience of fans, and some of them will want to support you. Coaching gives them a great opportunity to get one-on-one access to you, along with giving them an additional way to support your efforts.

Keep it simple. Don’t let “advertising” your coaching services steal from the content or experience that your audience gets. Instead, make a small graphic, or include your offer in your bio/description.

Try something like this:

Want to help support the stream (site, channel, etc)? I offer coaching services so you can level up your game and support content creators like me!

Mentioning coaching will also have people naturally ask you, and when you answer questions about your coaching services it will be a way to advertise your coaching program that feels natural.

You don’t need a huge audience to build a successful client base. The effort that you have to put in to start coaching is bare minimum (you do nothing until you actually get a student/client). It’s something that can grow alongside your audience.

Your coaching sessions should also serve as an opportunity to find ideas for content you can produce to bring in new students. If someone is having difficulty with something, chances are there are others out there. So after the coaching session you can create content based on that which will attract more students into your coaching program.

The Professional Side of Coaching

If you really have a knack for coaching who have the ability to dramatically improve players game, push the meta, and think analytically, you could have a career with top esports teams.

This could give a salary of somewhere between $30,000 and $50,000 a year as reported by Fortune magazine.

It’s not an opportunity for everyone. In order to get the attention of a top team, or one on it’s way up, you have to build a reputation as a coach that actually gets results. But this job would be incredibly rewarding for someone who loves being around the cutting edge of the game, the professional scene, and the esports industry.

Method #6: Professional Gaming

It would be impossible for me to write an article about the current state of gaming and not include the professional aspect.

This is reserved for players of the highest skill level, or ones that are aspiring to get there.

I don’t want to pretend that this is easy, or even obtainable by the average gamer. So I won’t talk about it like anyone can start pulling down six-figure gaming contracts, because the reality is that most of you reading this don’t have what it takes.

Instead, what I will cover are some important topics for players, or parents of kids, who aspire to be professional gamers.

But the real question is…

Do you need to be a Professional?

A lot of times the desire to be a professional gamer comes from wanting to get paid from what you love. If you’ve made it all the way to this part of the article, that means you’ve experienced five other highly viable methods to make money doing what you love.

It’s not necessary to be a professional to make money from the gaming industry.

You don’t need to be the most skilled player to get attention, create content, or lock down a great job in the industry. As more talent enters the industry, these opportunities are slowly disappearing. But right now it’s booming.

Take the time to really get clear on your goals. WHY do you want to be a professional gamer? Chances are good that you can reach the same goals with an alternative method that is much more likely to be achieved compared to becoming a professional.

With that being said, if you feel like a professional gaming path is still something you want to pursue, you’ll need to start by making sure your skills are up to snuff.

Finding Time To Improve

From talking to many skilled gamers, I know there is a sweet spot of people who are right on the border, or they DO have the necessary skills, but they just don’t know how to break into the industry. Or you may be stuck in a situation where you have to risk the security of a traditional career path to pursue your gaming dreams.

This can be a frustrating experience since you need to spend a lot of time practicing in order to become a top player and maintain that status.

Always consider your financial security before jumping into any endeavor. If you’re not prepared, the weight of financial stress can create a situation where you’re not able to give it your best shot.

There’s a few ways to prepare for this or give you financial freedom to give you more practice time:

  1. Save up money for 6-12 months of living expenses. This gives you a cushion to go for it, without risking your financial future.
  2. Use one of the other methods in this guide to make money WHILE you practice and improve your skills. You can create content on the game you’re focusing on (Hint: creating a daily/weekly blog of your journey to becoming a professional gamer might be an interesting topic that people are interested in!), do freelance work, become a coach, etc.
  3. Try to find a way to get the best of both worlds. Set time apart to practice and try to join a team that fits the schedule of a part time job or your full time job. Get some results. Win a few tournaments. Get a sponsor or two. That puts cash in your pocket to build a safety net before completely leaving your job.

Every situation is different. Some of you may be young enough to have time to practice, but you just need to how to train.

You’ll need a lot of discipline because reaching the top is NOT easy. It’s no mistake that some of the top players are where they are for a reason. It comes from a lot of dedication, practice, and some natural talent.

The Amateur Scene

Success doesn’t ONLY come at the top. You don’t need to be in one of the top teams that compete in major tournaments.

There are amateur tournaments and competitions that you can make money from sprouting up more often. Local tournaments, LANs, Conventions, and smaller online tournaments also give you an additional opportunity to cash in on your gaming skills depending on your location.

You won’t be able to pull in the type of money that top players do. But you’ll be able to get some wins under your belt, competitive experience, and it will also help you get noticed by other players and organizations.

One huge dilemma that players face is actually breaking into the professional scene. Getting noticed isn’t as easy as just being a top ranked player.  You’ll still find yourself next to hundreds of other players competing for a small amount of roster spots. So having success in smaller tournaments will help you start making waves.

Getting Noticed

Being a highly skilled player isn’t enough. You still need to get the attention of the right people.

There’s three primary ways you can accomplish this. If you’re taking this seriously, you should be doing all three:

  1. Become a streamer to showcase your skills. Be honest with yourself. If you’re not comfortable in front of your camera, you won’t be comfortable in front of the camera playing with thousands or millions of people watching you. Build an audience. Worst case scenario, you can use that audience to make money using one of the other methods mentioned above.
  2. Compete in the amateur scene. Rank up, join tournaments, compete in local/national circuits. Join a team. Do anything you can to get competitive exposure.
  3. Network. Meet people in the industry. Partner up and stream with other streamers. Play with other players. Get your name out there and get into peoples inbox. Start conversations and build relationships. The likelihood of someone just noticing you increases significantly if you put yourself directly in front of them. Don’t wait for them come to you. Go out and make something happen.

You’ll also need a little bit of lightning to strike.

Finding Your Path In The Gaming Industry

Making money with gaming is an extremely obtainable goal right now even without a degree or being the best player around.

One of the methods listed here is a great starting point to breaking into the industry. Once you get your feet wet you will start to see your path begin to form. But it’ll never happen unless you start.

Write your first article, create your first video, stream a game, or starting building contacts.

But most importantly, before you fire up another game – DO SOMETHING. Or it will never happen, and someone else will come along and take your opportunity.

 

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