Becoming the next big thing is hard, it really is. The reality of it all is that you can’t do much without people, it’s never just about you. I remember I had a list of all the things it I’ve put together that it takes to make things successful, influenced by the people in my life who have become more successful in their endeavors. I wish I could remember where I put the list I’ll do my best to recollect them.
Contacts - At the end of the day it’s all about contacts, people you know and can communicate with. I explained to my best friend as we kicked around the idea of making an open-source music production app that the key to any successful project is contacts. Contacts are like playing cards in life’s poker game. You’ve got your 2’s and 3’s, people who can support you but don’t have a wide reach, you’ve got your 5’s and 6’s, the one’s who will head you in the right direction, give you some footing. Then you’ve got your 9’s and 10’s, the big shots who know their stuff but haven’t hit the limelight quite yet. These people always know a Jack, whether they’ll admit it or not, and… I don’t need to tell you the rest, you get the idea. Once you know a Jack, you don’t go back. But the difficult part is that it’s always a gamble no matter what. You’re always giving something up to get something, and you’re often risking it all to make the play that gets you the chips you need to keep playing and playing. At the end of the day though, cards are cards. Like poker, with a mediocre set of cards, a good bluff, and just the right hand, you can pull off unthinkable things. That said its still always best to have a better deck because you’ll win more times and have countless more hands to fall back on.
Mentors - Some will argue this is a product of knowing and making contacts and thus mentors are replaceable. Not true. An 8 for a contact may not nearly be as important to your journey towards personal success as a 2. At the end of the day, the thing that matters most is not how many ladders and bricks you have to build with but how solid your foundation is, because without a solid foundation you can easily crumble. The best mentors are the ones that know you not for your “online persona” but for you. Your greatest mentor could be a jack of all trades or someone who would’ve never thought themselves a mentor to begin with. It’s all about the foundation.
One very big, original idea, multiple tiny ones - Pretty self explanatory. You’ve have one big shot idea that no one would’ve thought to make happen and you fight to protect that very beautiful seed to something much bigger. All the multiple tiny ideas take time to come into fruition, they’re like fruits on a growing tree. You can’t toss them all on the table at once. Many would argue these ideas are what keep you relevant.
Fearlessness - You can’t be successful without taking risks, as before mentioned. But it’s more than taking risks, its busting through doors without hesitation, making those ideas happen without worrying if it’ll work out, and ultimately, a willingness to sacrifice things in real life for the sake of what you want to do.
Integrity - Staying true to everything you promise others and yourself, and every time your fans or friends give to you give back to them in full.
Headache - You’re probably gonna have to jump through many hoops and perhaps hate your life doing it. You’re going to have to balance real life with projects that could completely fail. And of course, things will decide not to work right or work out and make you question the worth of your progress to that point.
Schedules - Time is important to you for sanity and to your fans for clarity. Sanity and clarity is focus. Focus is essential to embody yourself in a medium.
Friends to support you - Res Ipsa Loquitur, general support to keep you going when things get tough. A lack of this can ruin anyone.
Money - Money doesn’t buy you happiness but it does buy professional equipment. In this day and age unless you’re GradeAUnderA high-quality production is a must.
Time - Not just for streaming but for everything behind the scenes. However much time you think you need, double that, and however much time you think you have, split that in half. Regularly that math will match reality and you’ll have to bear the pain of hitting those deadlines anyway for the sake of everything up to that point. If you already think you’re hitting too many walls in time you can’t expect to get far without giving some things up.
So what it all comes down to is that getting big, while made out to be something fun and exciting, behind the scenes can be a whole lot of headache and lead to several big decisions that can ultimately go very awry if things don’t work out (not saying that’ll necessarily take the fun or excitement away from you). As far as it seems, unless you’ve got a ton of heart and charisma, or perhaps a nice pair of boobs, you won’t get much more than a good time to have on the side. Luckily it doesn’t seem like it’s going to stay this way. YouTube gaming is making strides to allow every streamer to access revenue sharing and I’m seeing a lot of pushes on that side of streaming towards using tools like Discord to build communities and making features easily accessible for fans to support streamers. Seeing that YT Gaming is still in beta there’s still plenty more room for improvement which can mean a lot of things for its future. I’m not here to say YouTube gaming is going to dominate Twitch by any means, but it’ll certainly put Twitch in a tight position to take a new approach to community management, features, and ultimately money (I hope anyway).
Personally my belief is that the most advantageous way to gain fame is by being at the right place at the right time, generally at the beginning of something big. If I started streaming around this time I’d probably attempt a unique approach to YouTube Live (as a whole) in the midst of the YouTube gaming hype to ride off of the wave and get some significant attention off of me doing something different. But that’s just what I’d do. Currently things like Periscope and virtual reality are becoming popular also, so there are always options out there, it’s just about how you utilize them. But does that mean you should drop everything and hop in full scuba gear? No. But it also doesn’t mean you shouldn’t genuinely assess your options and get the most out of what you care about. In the right frame of mind a dedicated follower will donate $5 a month to a streamer they care about anyway, if not $10 or $20. If you have enough support from a positive community they’ll all contribute to a fund for a streaming group using Patreon or GoFundMe, such as, idk… Strats for instance cough cough. That money adds up and eventually money will talk. It’ll go towards something that you never thought of before and it will garner you more attention.
That all being said… things take time no matter what. All of that time and money requires humility. So keep an open mind always and remember why you started doing what you did in the first place. Do it with that same passion always and you’ll find personal satisfaction in your efforts regardless of whatever road you take.
TL;DR You can strive for a hobby or a job but with a little creativity you can always make a profit. Also, those words in bold. They’re important, I think.