When I was 17 years old, I was one of the highest ranked World of Warcraft players in North America.
As a teenager, nobody believed gaming would ever become the industry that it is today. In 2007, eSports was still very much in its infancy, and even though certain games had large audiences paying attention, the industry as a whole hadn’t yet gone mainstream.
Today, eSports is a $500 million dollar industry. Its audience sizes rival that of professional athletics. And most of all, it is clear that gaming itself is becoming a viable career path.
This is something I really struggled with as a teenager—because I knew it would one day be possible, I just didn’t know how yet. The industry was still very young. Even though I had a very popular gaming blog as a teenager, with over 10,000 daily readers, blogging itself wasn’t yet considered a worthwhile endeavor. Remember, this was back before Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and now Twitch streams have all made online careers so much more actionable.
Ten years later, and now I have the opportunity to go back and share what it is I have learned with other aspiring gamers, teaching them how they can finally create a living for themselves in the gaming industry. I have created a course with a new startup in the gaming scene, LVLUP Dojo, teaching gamers how they can build a personal brand for themselves online, and turn their influence in the community into a full-time gig.
If that’s your goal, is to become a thought leader in the gaming industry, then it’s important to know what 3 things you really need to do in order to become successful. After all, a lot of people have YouTube channels, Twitch streams, and even more simply, a lot of people love to play video games—both for fun, and competitively. So the question really becomes: How do you stand out from everyone else? Why should people watch your YouTube videos instead of someone else’s?
Step 1: Understand Your Value As An Influencer
What sort of content do you want to create in the gaming space? Or better yet, what sort of content do you enjoy creating the most and do you feel you are the best at?
Every influencer is different. Some do really well with video, some don’t. Some influencers are funny, some are more serious. Some enjoy live streaming for 8 hours per day, others do not.
It’s important to understand which sort of content creator you want to be, and where you value truly is. Are you the best player in your respective market? Do you want to be an educator, teaching people how to play? Do you want to be an entertainer, making people laugh?
First, get a sense of what your value is going to be, so that you can focus your content accordingly.
Step 2: Understand Your Audience, Where They Are, What They Enjoy
As you begin to create content and share it online, you will start to get a sense of who your audience is and what they enjoy based on how they interact with what it is you share.
It’s crucial that you pay attention to what sort of content does well, and what content performs poorly. This will help you better understand as you go along how you can shift your content to cater specifically to your audience.
It’s also key to pay attention to what your competition is doing as well. What are they posting? What is some of their most popular content? How can you share similar things to possibly get people watch you instead?
Content creation is a game of attention.
Step 3: Consistency & Credibility
Building a personal brand online that becomes something of true value, and can one day be your primary gig, is all about being consistent over long periods of time.
You won’t become an industry thought leader overnight. It doesn’t happen that way. But if you deliberately create great content, day after day after day, you will see your audience grow. And as your audience grows, your influence and credibility in the community grows. And as your influence and credibility grows, that’s when you can start monetizing and finding ways to turn this passion of yours into a viable career path.
Another way to gain credibility is to collaborate with other thought leaders that are already established—or well on their way to establishing themselves. Through collaboration, you can help each other grow by introducing your audiences to each other.
Building a personal brand is hard work. It takes a lot of dedication, and consistency truly is the key.
Just remember: What builds real thought leadership is delivering value to your audience. Whatever your primary skill set is, make sure you deliver that in the best way possible. And if you are able to do that consistently over a long period of time, you will grow into an industry thought leader with a very strong personal brand.