Ask the average person to name a video website, and they’ll almost certainly say YouTube. Yes, it’s well known and incredibly popular, but is it the best choice for your gaming channel? And how exactly do you break into the world of gaming on YouTube?
While YouTube isn’t the only gaming video content platform out there, it’s definitely the most established. Unlike many other platforms, on YouTube, you can post pre-recorded videos as well as live streams, which increases your audience. And once you’ve built up your follower base, you can start making money from your channel.
But first thing’s first: How do you start a gaming YouTube channel?
We’re sharing our top tips and tricks to help get your channel off the ground. Read below to learn how you can join the ranks of successful gamers on YouTube, grow your following, and keep your audience coming back for more!
The good news is that you don’t necessarily need an expensive kit to start your gaming channel—you can start off on a budget and still look professional. Start with the basics: A computer with a decent CPU and GPU, a microphone, a webcam, streaming software, and editing software. Take a look at wikiHow’s recommendations for essential equipment to get an idea.
If money is tight, don’t sweat it. Remember, there are lots of software out there that are low-cost or even free. There’s open-source audio software like Audacity and OBS Studio for video recording and live streaming. Not to mention, our powerful real-time voice changer and soundboard—which integrates seamlessly with both of these—are also free, allowing you to add custom sound effects and voices to your games to give a professional touch.
Let’s be honest, you’re going to be a small fish in a big pond. There are around 40 million gaming channels on YouTube, and a few big names still dominate. But in the gaming world, things can change quickly.
Of course, you don’t want to copy someone else’s content or style too closely—the point is to build a channel that is uniquely yours. But as a gamer yourself, you’re sure to have favorite creators and channels.
Let’s take a look at five top YouTube gaming influencers. They all have unique styles which express their personalities:
VanossGaming has been on YouTube since 2011. His videos usually involve him playing a game with a group of friends. His crew is often made up of other YouTube gamers, so his success also boosts their popularity. Many of his videos feature funny moments from popular games.
Markiplier uses his quirky personality and distinctive appearance to entertain his audience. His videos feature a variety of games, and he’s also branched out into product reviews, giving him a chance to put his oddball sense of humor to good use.
Jacksepticeye is one of the best known and prolific YouTube personalities. In addition to his many gaming videos, he’s expanded into music and even has his own coffee company!
DanTDM made his name specializing in Minecraft videos, aimed at an audience ranging from ages 5 to 10. His channel has evolved as his audience has grown up, and now covers a variety of other games.
The Game Theorists channel takes a deep dive into the logic of video games, analyzing topics such as “would you freeze to death in Minecraft?” and the psychology of video games. This approach successfully combines education with entertainment.
Think about what makes your favorite channels so special to you. What keeps you coming back? Is it their focus on a specific game? Their insider knowledge? Or their ability to entertain you? Chances are, there’s something about their channel that makes it unique.
Now that you’ve scoped out the competition, what do you have to offer that will make you stand out? If your favorite game is among the most popular ones, like Minecraft or League of Legends, you’ll need to find an angle that makes your offering different. Many Minecraft channels, for example, focus on Minecraft mods.
Find the balance between competing in an overcrowded market and honing in too narrowly on a specialist topic. Research the existing channels, check social media platforms, and investigate relevant online forums like Reddit to find out if anyone’s talking about your idea and if there’s a potential audience.
Don’t forget to focus on what you enjoy—not only will this motivate you to keep creating content, but it will also engage your audience. You’ll be communicating your passion to others who share it. YouTube is all about community, and engagement is crucial.
As with all media content, it’s essential that you know your audience. If you’re focusing on a game like Roblox, which is popular with younger people, you might want to make your channel more family-friendly, with age-appropriate themes and language.
Think about how your audience will find you. What search terms will they use for the content that interests them? YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine, so make sure you’re using the right keywords in your tags and title. There are a number of keyword research tools available to help you, some of which are free or low-cost.
Make sure your title and keywords relate to the game and reflect the words or phrases your audience uses to talk about it. Make your title as distinctive as possible, as a common title will make it more difficult for YouTube’s algorithm to rank.
Now that you’ve identified your audience and what captures their interest, it’s time to get stuck into the real creative work. Even if your channel is primarily informative or educational, it still needs to be entertaining. Storytelling is what engages people’s emotions and keeps them involved. In fact, many games are story-driven, such as the Final Fantasy series. You want to keep your viewers watching until the end, so begin your story with a promise to entice them. Use humor or mystery—you know what will happen, but your audience doesn’t see it coming.
Think of the type of videos you want to produce. Again, this depends on your personal interests, skills, and presentation style. Some of the most popular are:
Do you want to concentrate on one type of video or diversify? There are pros and cons to both: if you focus too narrowly on one type, you may run out of ideas quickly, but if you diversify too much, you run the risk of confusing your audience.
Now let’s look at how you can make your channel even more personalized.
You’ll want to create an eye-catching thumbnail that encourages people to click on it. Use an image of your own face or a cartoon character if you don’t want to use your own. Make sure it’s a strong image that represents what your channel is about. You can then add channel branding to your videos by using this picture, so everyone will see it while watching your videos.
Add a channel description on your “About” page and create a channel trailer to welcome visitors. You can also add links here to your other social media pages, websites, and blogs to promote your channel more widely. Once you’ve created enough videos, categorize them into playlists—this will make your channel look more organized and professional.
Google also has several useful tips on how to customize your channel if you want to learn more about this.
Make sure you upload content regularly, ideally at least once a week. Schedule this into your daily life—block out time in your calendar when you’ll be working on your channel. It will take discipline and dedication, but it will pay off in the end. Soon it will become part of your routine.
Build your community. Gaming is a social activity, so start by sharing your videos with friends and family while you build up a wider audience. Word of mouth, even in the digital era, still goes a long way. You never know where a personal recommendation may lead you. Ask for feedback so you know what you’re doing well and how you could improve.
Encourage interaction. Remind your audience to subscribe to your channel, to smash the “like” button, comment on your videos, and share them with friends. This engagement will indirectly influence your ranking. Remember that in order to monetize your channel via the YouTube Partner Program, you need 1000 subscribers and 4000 hours of watch time. Make sure you add a “subscribe” button to every video and also include it in the video description.
You can also look at affiliate marketing and sponsorship deals as alternative ways to make money via YouTube. You won’t be able to give up the day job right away, but you can turn your channel into a side hustle while you work on growing your following. Google has some helpful tips for managing and promoting your channel and for monetizing it once you’ve made it into the YouTube Partner Program.
You’re now ready to start your gaming YouTube channel. Remember, all the top YouTubers started small. A love of gaming, great content, and intense commitment are the key factors for success. Make the most of the free or low-cost software available, like Voicemod–cough, cough–and the wealth of advice from the gaming community. Find your niche, work towards your goals, and most importantly, have fun!