Pursuing a career in esports is tough, especially if you’re going solo. Even if you don’t need a team, a community that supports and interacts with you builds motivation, recognition, and valuable connections. Being awesome at your favorite game helps ensure victories, but having plenty of friends, fans, and colleagues to enjoy it with makes those victories sweeter.
After all, building a community isn’t as daunting as you might think. There are a few strategies that can help you build your own community.
This first tip is the most obvious: Put yourself out there. Let people interact with you. If you’re trying to build a community as an esports gamer, you are the centerpiece holding everything together. Your fans and viewers could’ve watched anyone’s streams and matches, but they chose you among countless others. Own that, and engage your audience.
While a lot of this is common sense, you can leverage this strategy by striking up conversations with fans on platforms like Twitch or Discord. This doesn’t need to be a 24/7 commitment. You also don’t have to talk to every single person, especially if you amass a sizable following.
But remember to be humble and kind to those cheering you on. A lot of your fans are looking for someone relatable, maybe even someone to look up to. Being approachable can make a lasting impression on people, and that positivity spreads like wildfire.
Using an esports networking sites like PvP.com is another smart option for gamers to share their own content and meet each other. To use the site effectively, co-founder and CEO Phil Stover recommends “gamers actively engage with other gamers’ content by commenting or direct messaging them, creating and sharing original content frequently, and making their interests such as game, platform, skill level, and schedule clear to other players. Just be present and make yourself known.”
Diversify Your Platforms and Content
A lot of esports gamers often fail because they burn themselves out by turning a hobby into a profession. Playing a game for its own enjoyment is one thing. Being a pro competitor — or even a casual esports gamer — is another beast entirely. Daily practices can wear a person out quickly. But finding other productive things to do while growing your brand helps mitigate that fatigue.
It might seem counterintuitive to spread yourself out on more than one platform. However, sharing different kinds of content via the same source material with different audiences can build a community quickly. For instance, if you stream mostly on Twitch and audience growth has plateaued, start a YouTube channel. There, you can share montages of interesting or funny clips from your past streams. If you play games with gorgeous graphics, open an Instagram account to share screenshots or post pictures of your gaming setup and lifestyle.
But don’t bite off more than you can chew. Trying to balance a presence on 50 different platforms — especially on your own — will drain you. Just find two or three platforms that make sense for what you’re doing and are interesting to your target audience. Make use of material you already have, and have fun.
Recognize Your Fans
Your fans are more than your cheering section. They’re people who want to see you succeed and are inspired by your skills and knowledge of a game they enjoy playing and watching. Beyond putting on a good show, find authentic ways to involve your community members and remind them that you’re grateful for their support.
Giveaways of merchandise, games, or other items (whether in-game or not) are great ways to encourage participation and give back to your audience. For example, streaming software like OBS has a variety of plugins that let users compete in mini games for giveaways. A few “Escape From Tarkov” streamers, like DataTV and Tachales, use these games to give away customized weapons and gear to community members or encourage them to play alongside them in raids.
If you have a Discord server, choose a “Member of the Week.” Feature him in an impromptu AMA, offering thanks for a cool thing he said or did. This is especially important if you’re trying to promote those acts as cultural traits of your community. This can be something like how this person always welcomes others and is super friendly or that he’s a great teammate to hold points in “Rainbow Six: Siege“ or “CS:GO.”
The AMA format lets other members of your community get to know the featured member and encourages them to develop friendships among themselves. This will foster an environment of openness and shared ownership, minimizing drama while helping others make friends. Moves like this make you not just as a gamer worth watching, but a leader worth following.
Recruit a Team of Moderators
As your community grows, see if any of your more proactive fans are interested in moderating for you. Choosing great moderators takes some of the weight off your shoulders, letting them watch over your community so you can focus on doing what you do best: racking up wins.
Moderators take care of troublemakers while you’re busy streaming and make sure everyone’s having a good time. They can be your hype team, as well as a sounding board for building your brand. They can keep a pulse on what the community is looking for — especially because they used to be members-at-large.
A solid moderating team makes a big difference, especially as your community grows beyond three digits. But be mindful of who you elevate to mod status. Moderators are an extension of your brand and living examples of the culture you’re trying to promote. These people should be held to a high standard and eager to help the community grow.
Communicate well with your moderators, and mutually support one another. If you build your community and build up your moderators, you’ll be surprised by how quickly your community will grow.