What if you could get paid for doing the things you love as long as you mention a specific name or phrase while you’re doing it? That’s the premise of gaming sponsorships.
We’ll be honest. While there are companies looking to sponsor streamers, competition is fierce. Everyone wants to make money for gaming, right?
In return for a bit of cash, you will need to transform your game strategy just a bit. You’ll keep gaming, and you’ll keep producing awesome content. But your sponsor will have demands, and you must meet those demands to get your paycheck.
To grab the right gaming sponsorship opportunities, you’ll need to work hard and keep at it. And you’ll need to be at the top of your game before you have even one conversation with a brand.
What Are Gaming Sponsorships?
Before we bury you with a list of to-dos, let’s take a step back and examine what gaming sponsorships are and how they work.
Know that esport sponsorships aren’t the same as affiliate programs. Consider Twitch. Their affiliate program matches your channel with a brand, and when it’s done, you’re suddenly showing branded content to your visitors.
Gaming sponsorships are different.
You might share commercials and professionally produced content with your visitors. But you’re in direct talks with the company that sponsors you. That company could ask you to do almost anything, including:
- Visit with stakeholders at a convention
- Wear branded shirts or hats while you’re streaming
- Drink or eat their product (and only theirs) while you’re online
- Encourage your fans to buy from the company
As a sponsored gamer, you’re part of the brand. You’re creating content about the products the company sells. But you’re also part of the product. The company could use you to persuade people like you to do something.
Your sponsorship relationship is important, and you will treat it like a job. It may not be as fun as gaming independently, but earning and agreeing to a sponsorship is a job. Which means that someone is effectively funding your passion for gaming. All in all, it could be a great trade.
Assess Your Brand
Before you can reach out to a company and ask for money, you’ll need to ensure your digital house is in order. That means you need to figure out what other people are doing right and what you might be doing wrong.
Start by studying the people in the major leagues. Check out Dr. Disrespect, for example. Take a spin through his Twitch channel, and you’ll notice that he has a very specific brand. If you stumbled across his Twitter or YouTube channel, you’d see the same branding. That’s no accident. And it’s part of the reason that Dr. Disrespect has plenty of sponsorship agreements.
Sponsored gamers treat their channels with the care and respect that make brands proud (and a little jealous). Visitors know exactly where they are when they visit the pages of these sponsored gamers. That means they have:
- Recognizable colors. Their Twitch pages are covered with buttons that lead to their other social channels, their preferred products, and more. Each one is the same set of colors. That palette is echoed on the gamer’s other channels.
- Logos. Professional gamers don’t use amateur cartoons in valuable places. Instead, they use a logo that represents them and their brand. If you think you can’t afford one, you’re wrong. Experts say a budget logo comes with a price tag of $50 to $100. Work with the right expert, and that person could even pick your brand colors for you.
- Calls to action. The pros don’t just hope their viewers will do something. They demand it with buttons, highlighted sentences, and plenty of active words like “click,” “buy,” and “go.” Brands love to see assertive gamers who know how to transform views into a clicks.
Do enough homework, and you’ll see that sponsored gamers treat their hobby like a business. You might notice they seem like brands more than they do people. This is completely intentional, and it’s a tactic to mimic.
The professionals are also often supported by teams of producers, marketing experts, and other folks. And while you may not have those kinds of resources at hand, you can strive to close the gap as much as possible by emulating the strategies they take.
Watch Your Videos Closely
As soon as the ink dries on a contract between you and a brand, you have the ability to change the company’s reputation. Think about that for a moment. The decisions you make each time you take a video live could help or harm a brand’s ability to make money.
Will brands ensure that you won’t embarrass them? You bet.
That means that you have to maintain not only your own image, but the image of your brand. That doesn’t mean you have to dress in a suit and tie, and you don’t have to refer to your viewers as “ma’am” and “sir.” (Really, don’t do that. It’s creepy.)
But you will need to avoid most controversy. Consider one of PewDiePie’s more infamous incidents in 2017 that cost him his very lucrative partnership with Disney shortly after. The company knew up front that PewDiePie had a reputation for controversy, but he went too far and lost his gig.
Don’t lose opportunities before they begin.
Go through your main gaming site (be that Twitch, YouTube, or our very own Clutch) and watch all of your videos. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for:
- Racial slurs. It’s not appropriate, even if you’re kidding. That includes things you say as well as images you show.
- Sexist comments. In modern era, brands are more sensitive to these kinds of comments. Experts say, for example, that brands that support #MeToo are showing women that they plan to treat customers with respect. If your feed is full of statements about how typer of people are inferior, brands might run far from you.
- Unprofessional conduct. Do you walk away from the feed and leave it pointing at nothing? Do you veer off schedule, so people never know when you’re online? Do you treat your visitors like trash as you talk with them? Companies want to sponsor professionals. Don’t look amateur.
- Poor quality. Do you have videos online that make you cringe? Chances are, your brand reps will do the same thing. Understanding streaming takes time, and your early videos probably showcased your learning curve. But if they’re still live, the brand may not know you have changed. Take down the bad stuff.
It’s best to delete anything that violates these rules. Do it before the brand comes to check out your work.
Then, employ another layer of review. Ask someone you trust (like a significant other or parent) to watch your videos and tell you about anything that seems awkward or uncomfortable. Theymight see things you missed.
Prove That Your Fans Will Work
The key to sponsorships for small streamers is action. It’s not enough to just show your visitors things. You must demonstrate that your viewers respond to you.
Why does this matter? Think about it. A brand enters a business arrangement with you to ensure that its products reach more people. It’s great if those people just hear about something. It’s even better if those people are compelled to act on what they just heard.
Some gamers have this level of influence. In fact, studies suggest about 23 percent of them do. Become part of the elite, and it’s easier to get a company to partner up with you.
How can you make it happen? Start by training your audience. It’s not as creepy or as difficult as it might sound. It involves suggestion and reward.
The next time you’re online and interacting with your audience, ask them to:
- Reward you. Ask for a small donation to keep your work going. Keep your initial request very small.
- Interact with you. When you see those comments, respond to them, and keep the conversation going.
- Share your channel. Ask them to share a piece of content you’ve just finished, or encourage them to boost your follower count.
- Buy a product you recommend. Think of something you use often, like your console or headset. Recommend it to your followers, and ask them to share their thoughts about it if they pick one up, too. Don’t be too salesly here, just look to start a conversation with them.
Try to keep track of how often people respond to what you suggest. Write down the dates, times, and instances. This data will be critical as you reach out to brands and point out that you have the ability to influence your audience.
Search for Brand Sponsorship Partners Online
You’ve done your homework, cleaned up your channels, and pulled together data. It’s time to find companies ready to hear more about you and what you can do. A quick scan of your home can help you figure out where to start.
As a sponsored gamer, you’re expected to both use and talk about the products your sponsoring company sells. Chances are, you already know a lot about a few companies. You could talk about them easily.
Your good sponsorship targets might make:
- Gaming equipment. If you always use products from the same company, and the logos of those companies are visible as you play, this is a natural connection.
- Food and drinks. Do you have go-to snacks or drinks as you play? Do your viewers know that these are your favorite things? They might be good sponsorship goals. You already love them, so you’re just promoting what you know is good.
- Game developers. Do you excel at one specific game? Do you find the games from one company always top your list of choices? This could be an exceptional partnership for you.
You can also look for companies searching for gamers just like you. But don’t be discouraged if your searches don’t turn up much.
For example, Aver Media comes to the top of Google searches for gamer sponsorships, and the company has a splashy page made to entice people to sign up for sponsorship. But try to apply, and you’ll get hit with a notification that the company isn’t accepting applications right now.
Don’t be afraid to spend significant time on your research. You’ll want to identify plenty of companies that want to work with you.
Doing this early research increases your chances for success and saves you time down the road.
Do Your Brand Homework
Now that you’ve identified a few companies you’d love to work with, it’s time to start digging. You’ll need to customize your pitch to each company, and that means you need to know what makes them tick.
- Following them on social media. Look for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media accounts. Follow along and learn more about what the company is doing now and what’s coming down the pipeline in the next few months.
- Searching for contacts. Use LinkedIn to search for the company. The site should tell you automatically if you have any connections in common. If you do, you could have a back door to a great deal.
- Leaning on Google. Run searches for “company name + press release.” Find out more about what the company is really proud of.
You’re in stealth mode here. Don’t get eager and blow your chances by asking for a sponsorship on social. You’re just trying to learn more so you can swoop in with the ideal ask when it’s time to do so.
Reach Out and Ask for Sponsorships
With homework complete, it’s time to introduce yourself to the companies you want to work for. Be as professional as possible so brand reps know you can be trusted.
You don’t need to create a formal press kit. The items experts recommend just don’t necessarily apply to gamers, but you should prepare a formal email with the following introductory info:
- Your name and contact information.
- A description of the channels you use along with stats about your follower count and engagement rate.
- An explanation of how you can help this company with a new product, an existing offering, or some other key item you’ve spotted during your research.
Include links to your account(s), and don’t get discouraged if you don’t hear back right away.
The average person in an office gets 121 email messages every day, experts say. Hit the company on the wrong day, and your note is an annoyance that heads to the trash can. But reach out to the right company on the right day, and you could get an invitation to talk.
Make the Most of Industry Meetings
You’ve sent your emails, and you’ve heard nothing back. Should you give up? No way. But you will need to do more legwork.
Industry meetings and trade shows put you face to face with people making hiring decisions. Head to a show and make the magic happen.
Trade shows have hundreds or even thousands of attendees. You listen to speeches, meet other gamers, and mill around in conference rooms. Much of the important stuff happens in the exhibit hall.
Here, you’ll meet vendors selling products and services to gamers, and they’re looking for people just like you.
Every company in the exhibit hall is going to want you to listen to their pitch, but you can try to stand out from the crowd with a perfect pitch of your own. It contains:
- A quick introduction. Give your name, the channel you’re known for (like Twitch or YouTube), and your location.
- A hook. Describe what makes you different than other gamers. What types of games do you play? What do you do during a broadcast? How do you stand out from the crowd?
- A connection. Describe how your brand fits perfectly with the company you’re talking to. Maybe you already use the equipment, or maybe you think your viewers would love to know more about a particular product. Highlight why you want to work with this company and why your work for them will make them more money.
You have a lot to share, but you might have only a few minutes to say everything. Practice and pare down what you’ll say ahead of time until you have the perfect length and push included. The goal is to get so comfortable, you can say it in your sleep.
When it comes time for the talk, relax. Don’t just rattle off your prepared speech. Trust that the preparation is there, and now make it a conversation. Listen to what they have to say, and realize you don’t have to include every detail you’ve prepared.
Get Gaming Sponsorships with Social Media
You’ve sent letters, and you’ve met plenty of reps at trade shows. If you still don’t have what you want, there’s another channel to try.
Dedicate one social media channel (probably Twitter) to industry news. Every day, seek out some little tidbit about gaming and share it with followers. You could talk about:
- New releases
- Interesting sponsorships
- Esports or competitive news
- New gear or hardware
Anything reporters cover is fair for you to share. Add a few sentences of comments before you retweet or repost. And if you can, tag the companies you’re talking about.
This may sound like a lot of work. It is! But what you’re doing here is proving that you can run your own personal brand like a business. You also showcase how much you know about the industry as a whole.
You’re becoming a thought leader, and that’s what companies are looking for.
You can also ask your fans to do some work for you. The next time you’re recording, mention that you’d like a sponsorship deal with a specific company. Ask your fans to:
- Write to the company for you
- Tag the company in their social posts
- Share links to your content with the company
Stir up enough mentions, and the company might come to you to talk about the next big deal.
Understand Your Gaming Sponsorship Obligations
It’s not easy to get a gaming sponsorship, but if you get the job, you’ll need to give as much as you get.
Pro gamers spend up to 15 hours per week just keeping their sponsors happy, reporters say. They play on the sponsor’s Twitch channel, they film videos, they have meals with sponsors, and more. And that’s on top of their regular streaming schedules, content creation, etc.!
Your sponsorship contract will tell you exactly what you’re required to do. Read that document carefully, and don’t skip even one step.
Also, consider what your own goals are in the sponsorship deal. If you get the contract and realize you won’t have time for the kind of gaming you enjoy, for example, it may be best to turn the offer down. Your sponsorship is a job, and like any job, if you can’t do the things you love, it might be best to keep your amateur status.
When you get a sponsorship, you’re making a big commitment. You want to make sure you honor that and protect your reputation in the process.
To get started, join our community at Clutch and start building your own personal brand by uploading your gaming clips and interacting with our awesome community!