How to Start a Side Hustle by Playing Video Games
As you probably know from my other articles, I firmly believe that everybody should have a side hustle to earn supplemental income. But most side hustles are just low paying jobs in disguise. Driving for Uber or filling out surveys is just another form of trading your time for money. That’s why I mainly focus on side hustles like building websites and creating businesses that can run passively (for periods of time). Separating the exchange of time for money is the best thing you can do when building a side hustle.
But gaming as a side hustle is a little different. There’s nothing passive about this side hustle since you’ll only make money while you’re actively putting time in, but it’s different because it can be something you actually enjoy. Playing video games (like Rocket League!) is one of my favorite hobbies. In fact, over the last 3 years I’ve spent just under 1,600 playing Rocket League and another 20 or so playing Red Dead Redemption 2 since it came out 🙂 I’m a huge gamer and it’s one of my favorite hobbies. But you can actually monetize it by streaming. In this article we’ll take a look at how you can make money through streaming and what you can do to get started.
Farming and Leveling Up
For those of you that love the grind in the gaming, one of the simplest ways to make some additional money is to farm weapons, in-game currency, or level up characters and then sell them to people unwilling to grind on their own. If you already play WOW, Counter Strike:GO, or EVE, there are money-making opportunities to be had. Almost every popular game has some type of in game economy. You can sell your gold/items in the game for real life cash. Usually this won’t make you much money because Chinese companies run huge farms of bots/low paid employees to grind these games. This means your hourly rate is going to be really low and it will probably be boring. You’ll be optimizing to make the highest amount of gold/xp per hour which means doing the same thing over and over and over again. Personally this would kill my enjoyment of the game. Which brings me to the next idea, making a bot.
If you know a good amount about coding and creating bot accounts, you can use them to harvest in-game resources while you are not even playing. As I discussed in my post about passive income, anything that you can do to help you make some side cash without actually needing to work is a major benefit to you. Creating a bot is pretty difficult and requires a decent amount of coding skill. But if you have these skills, it can be highly lucrative to run your own bot or even release it for sale. Creating a software program that you sell without requiring your time is a great passive income side hustle.
Now, this route likely will take the most skill and time to be a money-making opportunity. For most people this simply won’t be attainable but if you put in a ton of time and effort, you can do it.
For some context of the time commitment I’ll draw on my Rocket League experience. I’ve played 1,600 hours and I’m ranked in the top 2% of all players.
To get to the very top rank (the top 0.1% of players), will take another 500 or so hours.
The average Rocket League pro has somewhere around 5,000-10,000 hours.
And the problem is you’ll never catch up. Since these guys are already pros, they get paid a full time income to play the game. This means they’re playing about 8 hours a day, every day. Unless I quit my day job and played 16 hours a day, I’d never catch up to them! But hours played isn’t the only thing that determines your skill level. Unfortunately unless you’re extremely gifted, it’s going to be tough to catch up.
Like with any professional avenue, you have to invest countless hours practicing and distinguishing yourself above the millions of other gamers; however, if you are a serious talent and consider yourself to be amongst the best in the world at the game you play, professional gaming may be for you. Many of these gamers will also naturally supplement their pro gaming income with Twitch Streaming, since they already have a built-in audience who knows them from watching them compete in e-sports.
Stream on Twitch
If you are a talented gamer or believe that you have a good personality—bonus points if you can check both boxes—Twitch is the avenue with the most money-making upside. If you manage to grow a Twitch channel to thousands of viewers, you may be able to quit your day job and pursue streaming fulltime. To start though, I suggest you buy yourself a solid gaming rig, mic, mouse, keyboard and other necessities. If this is what you want to invest your time in, it is better to pay for high-quality equipment that will last and put you in the best position to succeed.
While this is the most attractive path, it takes a lot of work, dedication, skill, and luck. To build a loyal audience, you generally have to be a top-tier talent and must invest a sizable amount of time to regularly stream and grow your channel. For example, Overwatch streamer Harbleu distinguished himself as one of the best Roadhog players in the world and streams twice a day for anywhere from 6-8 hours a day. Even though he is not on the E-sport Overwatch League circuit, he streams full-time with an average viewership count in the thousands.
The most famous Fortnite streamer, Ninja, makes over $500,000 per month through streaming and other endorsements. But again, that’s the #1 most highly paid player. The odds of you hitting that level are about the same as getting into the NBA or NFL. But just because $500k per month might be out of reach doesn’t mean you can’t make good money. There are a lot of streamers who make 5 figures per month while maintaining a regular day job.
If you are a talented gamer, there are avenues to turn your hobby into a side hustle. Other options not mentioned here include building a gaming YouTube channel, a podcast, creating game guides and walkthroughs, or coaching younger gamers. Just like with any money-making opportunity, building this side hustle requires commitment and hard work.