The shortest retirement in esports.

Yeah, so I’m back to esports.

If you read my previous post, you probably remember my dejected outlook and how I felt forced to get a job because of finances. Well, long story short, I had a realization of where I’m at and where I want to be:

  • This is the most successful year I’ve had in esports so far (by a good margin)
  • A bunch of opportunities are just now lining up for me (casting ASL, writing for several large orgs, having the time to build an audience through broadcasting)
  • The money I would make from freelancing + working part-time somewhere would be greater than what I would make full-time in construction
  • I have an insane range of skills in video production and online publishing
  • My work cannot be separated from my self-identity
  • I will not quit until I am successful

That being said, I’m back to full-time esports while I search far and wide for a decent part-time job that will help me pay bills. I knew from the moment I accepted the job in construction that it would be a mistake, and I was right. One single day in the field was all it took for me to realize that I was missing out on a huge opportunity here. The struggle for money will always be real, but I’ll figure out a way to make it all work, even if I have to start selling off some of my belongings.

Plans and Goals

As I said, there are a bunch of opportunities opening up to me in just the next few weeks. On top of that, I have a lot of personal goals that I want to fulfill in the meantime.

  • Get partnered on BOTH YouTube and Twitch
    • Believe it or not, I’m actually about halfway there on both
    • If I keep working as hard as I have been on broadcasting, I should be able to meet this goal in 2 months
    • This would give me a more stable income than relying on Patreon, donations, or the availability of freelance work
  • Work overtime on paid articles
    • I have several opportunities available right now which I can work fervently on
  • Find a better outlet for my editing skills (and of course, keep learning)
  • Write up a business plan for a future esports publication
    • This has been a dream of mine for a long time, and I’m finally starting to acquire enough skill and know enough people to make this a reality
    • This is not official or anything, but it’s something I definitely would like to bring to fruition in some way over the next 5 years

As you can see, there’s a lot to work on here. This is a lot of big picture stuff with many many intermediate steps that take time, thought, and preparation.

Twitch and YouTube

My Twitch and YouTube channels went up almost 2 years ago and remained mostly empty for a long time. Only recently have I begun to stream regularly and upload tons of videos to YouTube while keeping track of the traffic and trying to significantly improve the quality of everything.

This all started back in April when I got the opportunity to cast the Afreeca Starleague (ASL) on the ENG2 stream. I wasn’t really sure that broadcasting was the right thing for me at the time because I have horrible self-image and I lack many of the speaking skills necessary to be a good broadcaster. But it paid, and as with most things in esports, anything that pays is a great gig. To improve my skills and practice speaking, I began to cast random games and upload them to YouTube. At first, I was very shy (and very bad), but as I’ve begun to understand Brood War better and speak more clearly, I’ve found some confidence I didn’t really have before. And when I moved to my new apartment, I decided to go all-in on streaming.

YouTube views: 5,734
Goal: 10,000+
YouTube followers: 68
Goal: 150
Avg concurrent Twitch views: 25
Goal: 50
Twitch followers: 549
Goal: 800

Both my Twitch and YouTube have blown up from casting Brood War games. I had no idea that there was so much untapped potential in this game. And now, with the advent of StarCraft: Remastered, I sit at a vital crossroads between legacy BW players who have been here during the “dark ages” of StarCraft and the newer generation of players and spectators who have found interest in a game they just considered “old”. Simply put, now is the best time you could ever be involved in StarCraft: Brood War content creation and casting.

I have many many plans for improving my Twitch stream and YouTube channel, but it will be incremental and take time. One thing I can guarantee in the near future is better overlays for the stream and at least 5 custom chat emotes (because I am an affiliate). For YouTube, videos will be uploaded regularly (at least one per day, on average) with improved thumbnail artwork and an updated Endscreen (I plan to completely phase out Patreon in the next few months).

I’m constantly looking at other YouTubers and streamers, gauging what they’re doing correctly, and trying to copy them. If I can make my work even a fraction as successful as some of the top streamers, I’ll be in good shape.

Writing and Editing

I will retain my role as managing editor of LiquidHeroes, but this is probably not an effort I can sustain in the long run. As much as I love the work I do, it does not fulfill the monetary requirements I need, and I’ll probably be moving on from it at some point. In the meantime, I’m looking for a replacement…someone who can do the job and make sure the group doesn’t go under the moment I leave. But if history serves as an example, no publication can survive for long after I leave.

In any case, I’ll still be writing no matter what. I am still working for Team Liquid Pro as a liaison between the HotS team and the writers, and I’ve gotten a few offers to write for other large organizations (can’t reveal yet). None of the offers are life-changing, but they are a step in the right direction and will hopefully lead to bigger and better opportunities in the future.

My resolve to be at BlizzCon this year as a reporter is still as strong as ever, even though money is tight. It will happen.

Future Esports Publication

I’ve talked with several notable members in the HotS community about the state of esports news, and almost unanimously we all agreed on a handful of inconsistencies, inefficiencies, and weak points in current publications. In short, we can do better. Of course, putting together a project that would rival ESPN or Dot Esports is a huge task, and it’s certainly not going to happen overnight. But with the right people and decent funding, there is a possibility of actually creating something on that scale in a few years.

The real question is: will it make sense in the future landscape of esports? These are questions I have to continually ask myself as I slowly form this vague impression of a dream. What will esports look like in 5 years? Will specific esports publications become obsolete? Are minor esports ever worth covering? Where is the line between “esports” and “gaming”? Is there a line at all? This is why I propose writing up a business plan over the next couple of months and really critically thinking about the future.

Again, this is not an announcement or a call to arms. I’m just simply stating that I’ve toyed around with the idea for a long time, and I wanted to go ahead take the first step into creating something concrete. There may or may not be future updates on this idea.

Update on life, motivation, and the future.

You’ll be seeing a lot less of me over the next couple of months.

For the last two years, I’ve been trying to break into esports as a writer and editor. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs, experienced deep depression, and faced tons of rejection. As much as I’ve loved writing and talking about esports and gaming, I was never able to do more than barely break even—and with $3000 of credit card debt and countless other debts (student loans, taxes, etc.), that just isn’t good enough.

I just moved out to a new place with one of my best friends, and the goal of this move was to start a new life. Originally, that meant starting up full-time streaming, getting healthier, and beginning to get back on my feet. Unfortunately, as soon as I started streaming, I began to realize that I didn’t have the funds to sustain it until I could grow my stream properly. In short: I wasn’t going to be able to pay rent next month without a “real job”. Although I have continued to search for new jobs, I have been rejected over and over as a writer/editor, and was beginning to feel like the pursuit of that career might be futile.

So I took an offer from my roommate: a free job at a local construction company he works at. I’ll be doing manual labor at a decent rate, 8 hour workdays in 90F+ heat. However, they offer benefits, and for the first time in ages, I’ll actually be able to comfortably pay rent/bills and start building up savings.

It kills me to do this.

Maybe this isn’t the end. Maybe I’ll still have enough time and energy to work on esports stuff when I get home. I don’t know. But I’m sure that I’m going to have to give up a lot of things including my role as managing editor at LiquidHeroes, my streaming, and the multitudes of commitments I have as a freelance writer. That hurts a lot because I feel like I’m right on the verge of success…but I’ve felt this way for two years straight and never gotten anywhere.

Anyways, thanks for your support. I’ll catch you later.

Why i quit using patreon.

In this day and age, marketing yourself as a content creator has become both easier and harder. On one hand, you don’t need to go out to county fairs, street corners, or make deals with coffee shops to sell your work—you can easily just tweet things out, find online marketplaces, and optimize your SEO. There’s a lot of tricks to marketing yourself without actually leaving your house. It’s a lot less about hiring people to advertise for you, and a lot more of a DIY mentality.

At the same time, marketing has become more complex in some ways. There are multitudes of skills you have to learn in order to effectively become your own creator, boss, and marketing manager. On a basic level, you have to know to properly utilize SEO, find marketing channels, and make connections with others in your field. As the realm of social media and sharing sites has grown, so have the options for getting in touch with others and building a fan base. The newest ones even have groups or private servers that allow you to build a community of individuals around your product or the subject you’re interested in.

Sound familiar?

That’s exactly what Patreon does. It’s a package designed to combine some of the marketing you need with a stripped down website, money management, and community tools. The drawback? They take $0.05 off the dollar for everything plus processing fees. For the most part, I got back about 80% of what was donated.

Honestly, that’s not a bad deal for a site that takes care of pretty much everything you need for marketing content creation, but here’s the thing that drove me up the wall: it’s yet another page I have to build with words, graphics, and a video in order to take full advantage of it. I’ve already invested into making a website and populating it with graphics and a good layout. I’ve populated my YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, Facebook, etc., and I’ve even meticulously set up a Discord server to build a community and my fan base. That said, I already have a decent platform for marketing myself.

The second major point of contention is that posting things on Patreon feels like yet another thing to do. Whenever I write an article or publish a video, I’ll post it on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and Discord with varying titles and wording (because we don’t want to look like a machine, that’s important). Posting something to Patreon is just more work. Patreon can be useful for collecting a “portfolio” of sorts, but since I already have a website that I post all my work to, another portfolio seems unnecessary.

Finally—and this is the one that finally turned me off to the idea of Patreon—why am I giving up 20% of my income to Patreon? Although I do make feeble amounts of money, that’s still a pretty high percentage to lose to this service. Why don’t I just have a link directly to my PayPal? Why are people going to donate through Patreon over Paypal? The biggest difference to me is that Patreon focuses on a recurring income over time, but it’s particularly awful for one-time donations, and that’s a large majority of what I get. I know few people who are willing to give up $3/mo versus just handing over $10 directly, and I feel like the gaming/esports industry is built on one-time donations as well. Sure, it’s a little less consistent, but it seems like the work of going through the process of making a Patreon account, signing up for one month, and remembering to cancel the subscription later is more of a deterrent than anything.

(I can’t charge per item because I publish something like 1-3 items every day. I would drain the hell out of people’s wallets, even at $1 per item).

So you see, I’ve already got all of the necessary parts of successful content marketing at my disposal without Patreon: a portfolio to show off my work, a community of followers, and revenue channels. I respect what it does for many other content creators, and maybe in the future if I need more consistent income, I might look back in that direction…but for now, I think I’m better off without it.