34-year-old's online business brings in $66,000/month: 'I never thought I could make money doing what I love'
I spent most of my childhood playing video games, and I won my first cash prize tournament at 17 years old.
But I never thought I could make money doing exactly what I love. So I did what I thought I was expected to do: Go to college and get a traditional 9-to-5 job.
After I graduated, I enlisted in the U.S. Army to take advantage of its student loan repayment program. But the dream of a career in video games lingered, and I drew up a business plan to become a full-time streamer.
I had paid off roughly $100,000 in loans when my military contract was up. I used the $20,000 in my savings account to move to Los Angeles; I wanted to live near other creators who I could potentially collaborate with.
Now, at 34, I'm a full-time video game coach and streamer. In 2022, my business income streams brought in a combined $66,000 a month.
How I make money from gaming
I make about $21,000 a month coaching students in League of Legends, a wildly popular video game where I've been ranked in the top 0.01% out of 100 million players.
I teach about 20 students a week and charge between $250 and $350 per 90-minute session. And I receive 20% in royalty fees each time a student buys a session from one of the six coaches I have listed on my website.
I also earn revenue from streaming my coaching sessions on Facebook, and posting educational videos to my YouTube channel and subscription-only Facebook group.
Getting to where I am today wasn't a smooth journey, but I learned a lot about what it takes to turn your passion into a business:
1. Don't just show off how good you are; teach people something valuable.
During my first few years, I streamed for 70 hours a week on Twitch, but I only made about $1,500 a month from donations and subscriptions.
I soon found that educational content earned me more subscribers. Simply being the best at something won't attract a following. If you want to monetize your skills, you have to share your knowledge.
In 2015, I created Twitch, Facebook and YouTube content that broke down my gaming strategies in League of Legends, like which tactics or weapons to use, and when. This helped me attract a more loyal audience.
Ultimately, my most loyal fans became my clients.
2. Even if you're just starting out, you don't have to set your prices low.
After a couple of years as a top-ranked League of Legends player, I wanted to be a resource for up-and-coming players.
So in 2019, I began offering $5 coaching sessions where I provided personalized post-game analyses.
I started with a very low price because I didn't realize my own value. I had a loyal audience who was willing to pay for my expertise, so I could have charged much more at the beginning.
The demand for the $5 sessions quickly got overwhelming, so I increased my price to $20, then $100. Now I charge $250 or more, and the coaches I've vetted on my website charge at least $100.
3. Post consistently.
A "dream job" is still a job. I wouldn't have been able to keep up with competitors and amass 500,000 social media followers had I not posted every day.
I taught myself how to record and edit my videos, which is the most important element of my business. I use Adobe Photoshop to create photos and graphics for my YouTube and Facebook videos, and Open Broadcaster Software to record and stream videos.
I also have a team of video editing contractors to help me.
4. Get personal with your community.
I see a lot of streamers who share their gaming screen but don't use cameras and microphones.
However, when viewers can see your face and your reactions to the game, it makes you more relatable. I always show myself in my streams and videos and have hosted several "Ask Me Anything" sessions on Reddit. All of this makes fans feel more connected to me.
I also share details of my personal life as a streamer. Earlier this year, I moved to Korea with my wife so we can pursue our respective career aspirations. She is stationed in the Navy here, and I am able to train with some of the world's fiercest League of Legends competitors.
Going after my passion has helped me build a successful business and lead a life that is full of action and adventure.
Mark Neace is a full-time video game coach and streamer. Follow him on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.
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