Level up: how to make gaming a side hustle

by | Aug 20, 2021

Learn how to make gaming your side hustle.
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When you’re looking for a side hustle, the common advice is to find something that you are both good at and enjoy doing. If video games are your passion, you can learn how to make money gaming. With the video game industry projected to pass $100 billion in 2023, it’s a great time to figure out how to carve out your piece of the (PewDie)pie.

From esports to content creation to working on the video games themselves, learn how to make money gaming by creating your very own gaming side hustle.

How to make money with gaming content

The first avenue many gamers take to monetize their hobby is to create YouTube, Twitch, or other social media channels dedicated to gaming. Just look at PewDiePie, who was once the highest paid YouTuber on the platform. He has millions of followers on YouTube, and his popular for his “let’s play” walkthroughs of horror video games and Minecraft. PewDiePie is a controversial figure that nonetheless has made millions of dollars thanks to his gaming YouTube videos.

He’s not alone. Content creators like Pokimane, Jacksepticeye, and Markiplier all use video games to make funny videos or stream on YouTube or Twitch. YouTubers and Twitch streamers tend to make content based on a specific game(s) or type of video, like walkthroughs, reviews, or reaction videos.

Gaming content creators primarily make money through ad revenue or getting sponsorships from brands. Streamers also have the option to get tips or donations from their fans. Having a large, engaged audience is the key to getting ad placement on videos or gaining sponsorships. Depending on the popularity of the content creator, they may have opportunities to create and sell merch, custom emotes and skins, and other media, like books or albums.

What you need to get started

To create a YouTube channel or Twitch account, all you need is a video camera and an internet connection. You may also need editing software and a microphone to capture your audio. Lighting can also enhance your video content. That’s the easy part.

Next, you need build an audience, which is key for generating ad revenue. This side hustle might require a lot of actual hustling; building an audience can take some time, and the market is saturated and competitive. Here are some tips for building an audience:

  • Find your niche. To stand out, you’ll need to do something unique. Specialize in a certain game or certain type of video, like reviews or how-tos.
  • Make videos or live stream regularly.
  • Understand the YouTube algorithm and what types of content people like.
  • Interact with your growing audience. Respond to their comments on YouTube or chats in Twitch.

Learn how to make money gaming by playing esports.

How to make money in esports

Esports, or professional gaming, offers huge prizes for the winners of tournaments. We’re talking about millions of dollars in prizes at the top tournaments. But even small tournaments offer cash prizes for winners. If you’re particularly good at some of the top esports games, like Call of Duty, Valorant, and League of Legends, you might have an opportunity in esports.

Most esports players make money from prize pools at tournaments, but esports teams also receive brand sponsorships. Many esports players also lean into content creation and streaming to connect with their fans outside of tournaments (and to get a steady income stream).

What you need to get started

To compete in esports, you usually need to specialize in one game and then put in the hours to train. Depending on the games you want to play, you will need a great gaming PC or a console system.

Here are some tips for getting started in esports:

  • The largest tournaments are often by invite only, so to get to the top cash prizes, you will need to make a name for yourself in the amateur and novice tournaments first.
  • Join an esports team. Like the biggest tournaments, some teams require an invite. But as you build a name for yourself, you can create your own teams or find lower-level ones to be a part of.
  • To reach the highest levels with the biggest prizes, you may need to hire a coach to hone your skills.

Other esports side hustles

Becoming a full-time professional gamer requires a lot of skill and time, but esports offers a lot of other opportunities for a gaming side hustle, including remote work. Like any industry, esports has many different sectors with job opportunities, including team management, marketing, tournament coordination, and journalism. You can often find these opportunities on esports job boards, like Hitmarker and ReKTJobs.

You can also make money gaming through game testing.

How to make money by testing games

There are a couple of ways to make money gaming by becoming a game tester.

Quality assurance (QA) helps game developers find bugs or crashes that can inhibit gameplay. QA testing can happen all throughout the game development process.

Beta testing refers to the testing done right towards the end of production. Like QA testing, beta testing is used to find any issues in the game. But beta testing is mainly used to find any last-minute mistakes before launch; since the game is mostly done at this point, no significant changes can be made.

Playtesting walks through the games and approaches testing from a consumer mindset to see if the game is actually fun to play or can be played the developer intends. It’s all about the experience of the game.

What you need to get started

Testing jobs are often in-house, so it’s worth looking into part-time opportunities for this side hustle if you have the time. You can check out regular job boards like Indeed and LinkedIn to find these types of positions.

It’s worth pointing out that some game testing opportunities are actually scams, so trust your gut. If the opportunity requires you to pay a subscription upfront to get game testing gigs, skip it. Read the reviews and rating of companies that post-game testing opportunities on job boards to learn about other experiences. And if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

You can also check out sites like uTest for general testing opportunities (that sometimes include gaming) or set up a profile on Fiverr as a game tester to earn a little extra on the side.

Last Words

Gaming is no longer just a hobby – it’s a lifestyle. Fortunately, you can make a few extra bucks enjoying your favorite activities. Do you have a gaming side hustle? Let us know what you do and why you love it in the comments!


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Kirsten Queen
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