Learning to Try – Advice Before You Start a Gaming YouTube Channel

by Saleha Jogiyat

Gaming is a huge part of YouTube’s content library. Twitch is definitely more suited to the average gamer and it’s much easier to get it on ground floor and get started, but YouTube still plays an important role in the life of a content creator, especially when it comes to gaming content.

Having started a YouTube Channel myself centered around gaming content, I thought I’d impart my thoughts via the format of written word and give a glimpse into what it’s like starting out on YouTube with gaming content. Hopefully it will help some people make a decision about whether doing that is right for them, and will serve some informative purpose.

Getting Kitted Out

Before you even think about starting, you’ll need a shopping list of equipment to get you outfitted with the right stuff to make sure you’re starting out on the right foot. This also means there’ll be a decent amount of monetary investment involved, depending on what you already have.

YouTube has slowly been subconsciously raising the standards viewers expect to see from people over the years, and it’s gotten to the point where a drop in quality (in the audio and microphone department mostly) will make people turn off from your content no matter how good it is.

First off, you’ll want a half decent PC to be able to handle everything you’re going to do. It doesn’t need to be a monster gaming PC, but it will need to be able to handle video and/or audio editing software like Sony Vegas, Adobe Premiere Pro or similar programs.

Also if you’re planning to record and store concurrent videos, storage may become an issue as keeping several large MP4 files hanging around on your computer will eat up resources very quickly, so some form of external hard drive may be useful.

A prefab build is fine, but I always recommend to everyone to build their own PC, if only for experience itself (it also helps you appreciate both the process of building such a device and makes you maintain and have a handle on your equipment). PC Part Picker is a great place to start if you’re unsure what you might need.

As aforementioned, a good mic is a must for all content creators. People can deal with not viewing videos in 4K, but having poor audio will make even the most avid fan click off your video in an instant.

Depending if you’re going to be capturing footage from a console or PC, you’ll either need a capture card like an Elgato or an HD PVR2, or simply a screen capturing software like OBS Studio or Shadowplay.

Most Channels won’t have a need for a proper camera as the majority of Channels won’t be doing face Cam footage, but if you’re planning to livestream on Twitch in addition to using YouTube (something I recommend), investing in a half decent camera will only benefit you.

So to sum up, you’ll need:

  • A Good PC
  • Video/Audio Editing Software
  • A Good Microphone
  • Capture Card/Screen Capture Software

Who Do You Want to Be

Another big decision is deciding what niche you want to pursue. Are you going to cover the latest breaking news in the gaming world? Do you want to make long form, analytical deep dives into areas of gaming like environments, boss fights, or difficulty? Will your channel be the go-to place for a comprehensive trophy/achievement guide of a particular game?

This is a stumbling block I fell over when first starting out. My initial thinking was that by being as diverse as possible with a little bit of everything and casting my content net as far reaching as I could, that will draw in the biggest audience by including something for everyone.

That idea may have stable logic embedded within it, but I’ve found that it’s actually the inverse which is more true, counterintuitive though it may seem.

By focusing on a specific category or subject, your build may be slower, but your core audience and return viewers will be stronger. YouTube’s algorithm has some oddball mechanics to it sometimes, and there’s definitely ways to game the system but overall it’s kind of like capitalism; it’s far from perfect, but it’s the fairest way to do things. By that said, you have to pick your core games to start it off, its best that the games already have some viewership in them, for some of them, you can attract viewers more easily if you have your account stacked, meaning if you’re planning on playing Runescape, you need OSRS Gold in order to get the best gear and attract more viewers to see how good you are, same with the newest World of Warcraft expansion The Burning Crusade, where you need to farm TBC Gold in order to get the flashiest gear possible. If you’re planning on going on with the game where you need to grind to get the best stats possible, lets say Apex Legends, there’s a shortcut where you can buy Apex Legends account and avoid all the hard work. It also comes the same way with Fortnite, everybody wants to see a Fortnite account with a lot of rare skins, that’s all the magic behind it.

More Haste, More Speed

A bit of inside knowledge that I learned from the YouTuber Roberto Blake: with the sheer ocean of users it has to accommodate, YouTube doesn’t really take your Channel seriously until you hit the 100 total videos mark. It’s a benchmark to show that you’re (probably) serious about being committed to the platform in some way. Until you hit that magic triple digit number, the algorithm isn’t really going to have your videos pop up in anyone’s “Recommended” feed.

With that in mind, it’s not really worth killing yourself trying to make documentary style videos as part of your first round of uploads. Focus on shorter, more digestible content that’s around 5-10 minutes and don’t get so bogged down in trying to make the perfect video every time.

When you’re first starting out, it’s more about quantity than quality. By no means should you just churn out lackluster videos, just don’t go “all-in” on the first hand.

Piles and Piles of Podcasts

On a related note that I can share from my own personal experience is that starting a Podcast (and a Podcast alone): not a great idea.

Gaming is a pretty saturated market as it is, and adding in the format of Podcasts only thickens that already viscose vein of content. If you’re doing it for the sheer enjoyment, go right ahead, but as a content strategy, this is not the way to go.

This is largely due to the fact that while Podcasts are extremely popular and require even less of your physical attention, there is literally no algorithm for Podcast recommendations. So unless someone is physically looking for your exact Podcast title or just happens to be browsing your genre, everyone will stack up at the bottom. It also explains why 1% of the available Podcasts make 98% of the ad revenue in the world of future radio.

Podcasts are fine to have in tandem with or as an additional piece of content, but the mistake my friend and I made is that we championed our Podcast as our main pillar of output, which is something you just should not do.

The Greatest Resource

My final pointer is that if you’re genuinely serious about doing YouTube, you need time to invest in it. A schedule and staying consistent is also important, but having the time to take a video idea all the way from conception to upload is easier said than done.

At first the energy comes flowing fast as it’s a new venture that has that air of excitement about it. After the honeymoon period is over, the novelty of sitting in front of waveforms and buckets of footage for several hours soon wears off.

Being a one person outfit obviously has the benefits that you’re in control of everything, but that double-edged sword cuts both ways. It’s up to you and you alone to push your progression forward.

Anyway, I hope all that helped in some way to give a fractional insight into what starting a YouTube Channel is like.

Gaming stock photo by DisobeyArt/Shutterstock

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