How to make money as a YouTube gamer in South Africa

Video games are a popular pastime in South Africa, and many local gamers dream of making a career out of their hobby.

It is an incredibly difficult road to navigate, however, which is why there are not many prominent South African gaming content creators.

This is not to say that making it as a popular gaming content creator is impossible; there are a few South Africans who have made a success of this career.

MyBroadband asked some of South Africa’s most prominent gaming content creators about the process of building an audience and making great content.

Getting started

Popular gaming content creator Grant Hinds said that prospective content creators need to have a deep drive and willingness to work hard to grow an audience.

“A lot of people desire to have a channel, but what they actually desire is attention or fame,” said Hinds.

“You’ve got to be passionate about the execution; about what you’re creating; about what you talk about.”

Hinds added that prospective gaming content creators should dedicate a lot of time to developing content and an audience, but should not jump into it full-time until it is a sustainable business.

Sam Wright, editor at Tech Girl and a popular streamer, agreed that one of the most difficult elements of content creation is building a sizable audience. She highlighted that it has taken her years to garner her current following, and that it was still relatively small.

“I think it starts with sharing your content or stream with your friends, reminding them to engage, and hopefully by sharing through social media and with other like-minded creators your content will travel via word of mouth,” said Wright.

“Good content gets more eyeballs, in short. But even some of the best content doesn’t get attention if people don’t know it is out there.”

Hinds believes that it is critically important to be active on as many social platforms as possible.

“One of mine is Discord, and I’ve found that building a strong discord community has led to the biggest successes.”

He also highlighted that it is important to know who you’re speaking to so you can create content that appeals to them.

Making a living

Wright believes that it is incredibly difficult – bordering on impossible – to make a sustainable living through gaming streaming and content creation in South Africa.

“Most ‘full time’ creators focusing only on gaming are running side hustles like freelance writing, graphic design, etc., or living at home with their folks,” said Wright.

She added that she makes a living through hosting esports broadcasts overseas; her own gaming content creation is an extra.

Hinds agreed that only a few, if any, gaming content creators are able to forge a sustainable living through streaming in South Africa.

“Your income is up in the air; it’s unpredictable,” said Hinds.

“You’ll have to include some other efforts – for example, I do MC work, and that helps pay for the streaming.”

However, it is possible to make good money from streaming and other content creation through donations and sponsorships.

Sustain your content creation

Wright highlighted that monetisation is not easily understood when looking at basic figures such as YouTube subscribers or social media followers.

“A small niche creator who makes good content could be full-time and self-sufficient when a YouTuber with 100,000 subs isn’t,” said Wright.

“The business and monetisation models differ from creator to creator, what they charge for, and where their income streams come from.”

Hinds agreed, saying that it is crucial to have a good understanding of your business model to ensure you are capable of bringing in the sort of income you hope to achieve.

“For example, if you can sell your content at a lower subscription model, and it’s affordable for a brand and they’re getting a good ROI, then people will pay – even if it’s just R5,000 a month.”

He said he gets scared when he hears of people wanting to go all-in on content creation when they don’t have a good business model in place.

“You’ve got to have it down and have a case study – I’m really scared when people say ‘I’m going to do this’, but don’t have their head wrapped around the business side of having a YouTube channel – because it’s tough.”

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How to make money as a YouTube gamer in South Africa