What the heck is biz dev?
You’re a natural on camera and your stream is starting to grow, so how do you broaden your audience and market yourself? How and what do you do to expand?
If you would like to build a career as an influencer, you need to approach broadcasting as seriously as you would any other job. And to do that, you need to develop a toolbox of business development (biz dev) skills.
Broadcasting as a job
There’s a popular saying, “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” This is a myth.
Every job has parts that drag, no matter how great or how much you love it. Maybe it’s taxes, accounting, endless emails, office politics, mental fog, or fatigue. Regardless of how much you love streaming, when you set out to make it your job, you will have to wrestle with administrative tasks, brand management, a professional portfolio, and many other responsibilities you may not have expected.
If you’re trying to build a career in streaming, you need to approach your channel like it’s a career. Many people think streaming is “just fun and games.” However, when you work for yourself, what you put into it is what you get out of it. If you wake up one morning and decide you do not feel like streaming and not go live, it will have an effect. Just like a corporate job, if you fail to show for work for a couple weeks on a whim, you will not have a job when you come back. On the flipside, decent jobs offer sick days, mental health days, and time away to rest and rejuvenate. It will take time and planning to balance hard work with the rest all human beings need. Burnout among career streamers is real. Be kind to yourself.
Working with other creators
Collaborating is critical. You may struggle to grow if you don’t make any other connections in the streaming community. However, you don’t want to co-stream all the time, or even half of the time, because you may struggle to interact with your chat while you focus on the conversation with the other broadcasters.
And collaborating doesn’t just mean co-streaming! Meeting a fellow streamer to hang out IRL and to upload fresh posts on your hangout on Instagram can be just as powerful for growth than a co-stream, because you will gain social media exposure to each other’s entire follower base.
Who should you collaborate with? Look for creators who are a similar size as you and reach out to them. You can reach out by hanging out in their chat until you strike up a rapport (don’t just pop into their chat and say you want to stream with them! Build a friendship first) or following them on Twitter and interacting with their community. Most importantly, collaborate with people you genuinely want to be friends with. Look for people who can connect with you, who you’re comfortable around, and who you can banter with. People can tell when you’re being authentic versus fake. Keep it real!
Attending video game conventions, esports tournaments, and other events can be a powerful way to invest in yourself and your business. Of course, conventions are fun opportunities to hang out with friends, but you should keep your goal in mind of marketing yourself. Get yourself out there and don’t be afraid to talk to people. Companies at events are there to market their own brand, meet people, and find potential partners. You also have opportunities to meet your fans, sign autographs, take selfies, and generate content for your own social media profiles.
Your first convention
So, you’ve never been to a convention before and you’re meeting people in person for the first time. You’ve most likely interacted with these community members frequently online, so seeing them face to face can be overwhelming.
Consider making plans to meet up with fellow streamers once you get to the city or convention center as soon as possible, to dip your toe into the water with people you know and trust.
Once the event is in full swing, get yourself out there! Don’t be afraid to talk to people and hang out at the booths of companies you admire. If you are anxious or shy, remember: almost everybody struggles with this. If you don’t encourage yourself to get out there, then you may waste the investment you spent to travel there and market yourself.
You may want to take business cards with you, but it’s 100% necessary. You may find it’s easier to connect with people by asking for their Twitter handle. As far as business cards go, it’s better to be
It’s important to pace yourself, stay hydrated, and don’t feel guilty if you need to step away and decompress. At PAX, the nonprofit organization Take This, which focuses on mental health in gaming, often offers the AFK Room which is a dedicated quiet room where you can go to take a break from the hubbub.
Your second convention
This is where you can start refining your convention plan. Set a schedule and have specific goals in mind (“have conversations with three different peripheral companies,” “pitch myself to two brands,” “meet at least five new potential collaborators,” “host a meetup outside the convention center for fans of my stream team,” etc.). Know who you want to talk to and reach out to them in the weeks leading up to the event.
If connecting with brands is your goal, you may want to check out our article on Working with Sponsors. Companies are starting to realize that the RIGHT person is better than the BIGGEST person. Use this to your advantage by showcasing your love for the product and your loyal audience. When a company works with you, they want you to take their product and expose it to your community. Find out what companies would be a good match for you, and who you can represent the most authentically.
Take pride in your channel, your content, and your brand. If you are a smaller content creator, don’t focus on your numbers and try not to be self-deprecating. Be passionate and you will find companies that you will work well with.
By your second convention, you will probably want to bring business cards. Take care with designing and ordering them. Spending money on 40-100 thicker cardstock, higher quality cards is better than ordering 500 lower-quality ones. You may want to work with a graphic designer. Your business card should feature:
- Your channel name and logo or other unique, identifying graphics associated with your brand
- Your stream channel URL
- Relevant social media handles
- Your business email
- Optional: your name
- You may want to include your full name if you have it publicly posted on your channel or social media, but if you are concerned about privacy feel free to leave it out
- Some streamers opt to share just their first name
- Once you have disclosed information to your viewers, it is difficult to backpedal to a place of greater privacy, so make sure you carefully decide what is best for you
- Do not include your phone number or any other ultra-personal information
Use your business cards wisely. Don’t hand them to everyone you cross paths with – make sure you have a meaningful conversation first. This increases the chance that they will remember you and keep your card, versus discarding it.
- It is critical to have a dedicated business email. It is also crucial to have that email displayed on your social profiles so that people can’t impersonate you and ask for game codes.
- A professional signature in your email is important. Link your social media and your channels.
- If grammar and spelling are not your strong suit, ask a friend to review important emails for you (but be careful to follow any NDAs you may have signed).
Lastly, don’t forget to follow up. As soon as you get somebody’s business card, put a reminder in your phone for when you will email them and then follow through. Check your business email daily, even if you don’t receive many emails at first. If someone sends you an incredible opportunity, you won’t want to miss it!
When you average around 100 concurrent viewers, you may consider developing a website with your portfolio, showcasing your accomplishments and any top clips or highlights from your stream. Show samples of your channel, stream, or YouTube videos. Have an About Me section. This will function as your digital business card. These are powerful tools for your toolbox. When you meet brands or other streamers, you can easily show them your strengths and who you are as a broadcaster with these tools.
If you’re not ready for a website, consider using your pinned tweet on Twitter as a temporary placeholder. Here, you can link all your social media profiles and include either a favorite clip from your stream, or photo of you in action. For a deep dive on Twitter and other platforms, check out our article on growing and managing your social media.
Don’t rush to hire a team. Until you are averaging hundreds of concurrent viewers, you shouldn’t need to hire a manager/agent, assistant, or community manager. You should be able to manage your brand yourself. If you struggle to find the time to manage yourself, reviewing your time management may be a good step.
Regarding management, it’s far better to be on your own than to be managed by someone who may not have your best interests at heart. Streaming is a young industry, and it’s worth it to wait until you definitely need the extra support, and until you’ve found a person or agency you really gel with and can trust.
At the end of the day, networking and biz dev is about authenticity, following through, and showing that you care about your brand, your reputation, and having respect for the people and companies around you. When you care authentically, it shows.