How to Start a Live Streaming Business

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Live streaming business owners make money by broadcasting live video gaming footage on popular platforms while making use of ad revenue. Popular websites like Twitch.TV and Smashcast (formerly Azubu) create great platforms for gamers to share their content. By acquiring a large following, (500+ average for Twitch.TV) the player becomes qualified to become a partner for the live streaming site. The streaming site will pay based on the internet traffic for the individual’s channel. Live streaming channels also solicit donations from their fans.

Learn how to start your own Live Streaming Business and whether it is the right fit for you.

Start a live streaming business by following these 9 steps:

You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple step guide to starting your live streaming business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.

STEP 1: Plan your Business

A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:

  • What are the startup and ongoing costs?
  • Who is your target market?
  • How long it will take you to break even?
  • What will you name your business?

Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.

What are the costs involved in opening a live streaming business?

A high-speed Internet connection costs about US$50 to $100 per month. You will also need a gaming computer for about $1,000, with a high-resolution monitor(s) that costs around $350 each and game players with controls (XBox, Wii, Sony Playstation) for each type of game you want to play, which are around $300 to $400 each.

There is a 30-day free trial for Twitch.TV and after that, there is a monthly subscription fee of $5.99 to $10.99 per month depending on the features desired.

What are the ongoing expenses for a live streaming business?

The ongoing expenses are a high-speed Internet connection, updating gaming equipment and a computer with a high-resolution monitor(s), and buying the games (although sponsored streamers can get games for free). This is about fifty to several hundred dollars per month.

Popular streamers also typically hire one or more assistants to help manage the workflow of communicating with fans, talking with sponsors, updating website information, setting up paid appearances, and organizing attendance at conventions and gaming tournaments. Assistants make about $250 per week for part-time help.

Who is the target market?

The customers are video game enthusiasts who want to learn how to become better players by watching how professionals play certain games.

How does a live streaming business make money?

The revenues come from advertisements, profit-sharing from channel subscription fees, sponsorship, in-person appearances at events, and earnings from winning game tournaments.

How much can you charge customers?

Streamers who have enough followers to qualify as partners are allowed to have a subscription button on their individualized web page within the streaming system. Subscribers to their streaming channel pay a monthly fee of $4.99 for that certain channel and get to have special features as well. Around 50% of the $4.99 goes to Twitch.TV, while the other 50% is paid to the streamer.

Viewers can also give donations to the streamers they like. Streamers who are top-rated, with lots of followers, can get fees from sponsorship just like professional sports players.

How much profit can a live streaming business make?

Professional streamers, who have enough subscribers (500+) to become partners, make US$3,000 to US$5,000 per month for full-time streaming. This means playing at least 40 hours each week. Additionally, they earn a portion of the advertising revenues which equates to about $250 per 100 subscribers for each month. The highest paid and most popular streamers make over $300,000 per year.

How can you make your business more profitable?

In addition to having a streaming presence, it is important to create a following by posting videos on a YouTube channel. There are two video gamers in the top ten YouTube channels and they earn millions of dollars per year. Here are the latest figures reported by Forbes of the top ten highest paid YouTubers that are also gamers (at least part-time):

Mark Fischbach who goes by the name Markiplier on YouTube brought home a cool US$5.5 million during 2016 for his video commentaries on video games, along with his other eclectic content.

The Swedish PewDiePie who shows video snippets of himself playing video games and his comedic sketches was the top earner on YouTube during 2016 with an astounding US$15 million in revenues. He had over 13 billion views on YouTube during 2016 and lots of profits from his best-selling book, entitled “This Book Loves You.” He also promotes mobile games. His latest game is “Tuber Simulator.” It is the number one mobile game app in the Apple app store. It was so popular it crashed the servers due to the excessive demand.

Streamers who also become YouTube celebrities can make a lot of money from advertisements, sponsorship, endorsements, public appearances, and winnings in professional gaming tournaments.

What will you name your business?

Choosing the right name is very important. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.

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STEP 2: Form a legal entity

Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC prevents you from being personally liable if your live streaming business is sued. There are many business structures to choose from including: Corporations, LLC's, and DBA's.

You should also consider using a registered agent service to help protect your privacy and stay compliant.

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For most small businesses forming an LLC is a great option, but if you still want to weigh all your options check our our article, What Structure Should I Choose for My Business?

STEP 3: Register for taxes

You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.

In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!

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You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.

STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card

Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.

When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.

Open a business bank account

  • This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
  • It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.

Get a business credit card

  • This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
  • It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.

STEP 5: Set up business accounting

Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.

STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses

Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.

State & Local Business Licensing Requirements

Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a Live Streaming business

Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.

Intellectual Property Agreement

This live streaming company will operate through a partnership with a larger streaming platform which initially requires a prerequisite membership account to be able to post live streams.

  • By agreeing to the Terms and conditions of the Streaming Site (I.E Twitch), you are agreeing to allowing users to view your intellectual property (Live Stream) even after the time that you post it.
  • Once the Partnership is established, this agreement holds a higher priority due to money being exchanged for a advertising space on the page where the video meets a minimum average number of viewers.

STEP 7: Get Business Insurance

Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.

STEP 8: Define your brand

Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.

How to promote & market a live streaming business

Social media is an effective way to promote your gaming skills. Joining Internet associations of video gamers and participating in game forums are great ways to establish a network of friends that like the same games. Another good strategy is to play games online with as many people as possible, in order to to get good at them and build up a following of those who respect your gameplay.

Recommended: Get started with local advertising for your business with a $300 credit from Yelp.

How to keep customers coming back

Making success as a streamer is about being popular on the Internet. Be respectful of your audience and play the games when you announce in advance that you will on the times that you say you will.

STEP 9: Establish your Web Presence

A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.

Start A Live Streaming Business In Your State

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Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.

Is this Business Right For You?

One prerequisite for a successful live streaming business is to have top-level gaming skills in order to gain a following of viewers who will take time out of their day to watch and learn gaming styles from the streamer.

What happens during a typical day at a live streaming business?

Each day a professional streamer needs to answer the comments and emails from fans and make updates on Twitter. Then, the streamer needs to update news and perhaps make a posting of previous game play on social media. After this, the streamer plays video games live for the audience to watch according to a pre-announced schedule. The streamer may play continuously for many hours (up to 18 hours in a row).

The average gaming session is at least four hours long. It is best to play continuously to keep viewers interested and take as little time out for intermissions as possible. The most popular streamers usually eat and go to the bathroom without stopping the gameplay. The typical times of day for gameplay start in the afternoon and continue until late at night or even until the next morning.

What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful live streaming business?

The ability to play the video games extremely well is critical, along with the ability to make interesting comments that keep viewers intrigued. Moreover, having excellent skills at becoming an influencer on social media will help bring more viewers to your streaming channel. It helps to be very friendly with popular streamers. Some of the nicer ones will help smaller streamers gain an audience by making recommendations to their subscribers to check out the newbies’ streams.

What is the growth potential for a live streaming business?

Using Twitch.TV as our example, there are about 14,000 professional streamers on the system. Each month, Twitch.TV has about 100 million unique visitors. Dividing those visitors by the number of streamers, shows there are about 7,000 visitors per streamer. This number continues to grow each year.

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Take the Next Step

Find a business mentor

One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.

Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.

What are some insider tips for jump starting a live streaming business?

Successful live streamers are highly strategic and effective gamers. This allows them to excel above the competition. Others may be less adept gamers but capitalize instead on their unique personality traits, including a humorous voice, or offering clever commentary on their games.

How and when to build a team

The time to add an assistant is when the maintenance of the fan communication is interfering with the time needed to play the games online. Most streamers get one of their friends to help them as they become more popular.

If a streamer becomes a top earner there is plenty of money to share with an assistant. Working as a professional streamer, playing your favorite videos games with your best friend helping you is a dream job for many people. You have to be very good and stay motivated to be your best because the competition from other excellent game players is severe.

Next Steps

Get more ideas with our Business Ideas Tool.

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