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Intention over Attention - Streaming About the Business of Streaming

(8 minute read) Zach Bussey on Twitter, Twitch, Ghost, Patreon, Discord, Wordpress, OBS, and more!

The Creator - Zach Bussey

A lot of people say I’m a journalist, but I tend to call myself a content creator whose content is news.

I asked my friend Jeffrey Greller, who works with the biggest gaming Creators on YouTube, what I should read to keep up on the gaming Creator space.

He had one answer: Zach Bussey.

After getting Zach’s newsletter for the better part of two years, I reached out to learn more about his business.

Let’s get into it!

Links

If anybody wants to ask me any questions directly, I'm live, they can come and ask…we talk the business of being a content creator.

So any time that anybody reading this would want to chat, I'm available. You should come to Twitch.

I also recommend following Zach on Twitter and subscribing to his free newsletter on his website.

Quick personal plug - follow me on LinkedIn! That’s all.

The Business

Breakdown

Observations

Zach is the rare Creator whose audience is largely Twitter-based.

Since he writes about news in the gaming Creator space, the real-time nature of Twitter works to his advantage…but he still doesn’t pay for Blue.

I don't see the value proposition in Twitter Blue, other than if you reply to people, then you end up appearing higher in search results….

I think that I'm …creating engaging content that is valuable for people, content that they're compelled to share themselves.

Since his posts are highly shareable, ranking higher in search results isn’t as valuable - his discovery is driven by virality.

Though Twitter is his #1 audience, it’s #2 for actually driving revenue.

Typically, people don't go from Twitter to saying, ‘Hey, I'm going to give you money.’ They typically say, ‘Oh, I'm going to find out your other content such as your newsletter, your Twitch account, your YouTube videos, etc.’

Twitch drives his earnings - despite the audience being 5x smaller.

If somebody's going to watch you live for 1, 2, 10 hours a week, there's a pretty compelling reason why they might follow you to other places.

On Twitch, Zach is sits in a rather under-the-radar niche.

People don't think of Twitch as a place to find education, they think of it as gaming, as entertainment…People don't realize that people are doing Business content on Twitch.

Within this Business niche, he’s livestreaming about the business of livestreaming…so meta!

Twitch provides direct revenue, and, along with Twitter, drives to his other main revenue source - membership.

His membership business is built on top of an otherwise free newsletter. Fans pay for insider access to leaks, news, community, and even promo spots.

While he is a Twitch Affiliate, and shares in ads run on his streams, the bulk of his revenue is directly from fans.

Livestream ad revenue share is minimal…the vast majority of money that comes from Twitch is fan-funding. It’s people wanting to interact with the stream or subscriptions that they pay for (that I get half of because Twitch takes half).

61,000 total followers puts Zach squarely in microinfluencer territory, but his earnings greatly outperform his following.

His niche is focused on a specific, underserved industry with a highly-compensated and/or corporate-card-toting audience - Creators, reps, and platform execs.

Three principles of the Creator Economy are at work here:

  • Niches get riches

  • Business audiences are more valuable than consumer audiences because they have more money to spend

  • Direct fan monetization (memberships, product sales, etc.) is more lucrative than indirect fan monetization (ads, sponsorships)

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The Stack

Email + Website - Ghost + Get Midnight (hosting)

He switched from Wordpress because WP required too many complex integrations to enable his desired functionality.

He chose Ghost over Substack and Revue because:

I was thinking, 'You know what, I still want a level of control to make it like a website so that if I do want to pivot into more written content, I don't have to be stuck in a newsletter ecosystem exclusively.'

And so that's when Ghost came into my radar….So far, it's been absolutely fantastic.

News Updates - Google Alerts

I particularly like trying to keep an eye on things that are happening in Asian markets. It's not very easy to look at Asian livestreamers and try to find something in English.

Google Alerts tends to do a pretty good job at capturing some of that stuff after the fact.

Community - Twitch + Discord

On Twitch as community:

Yeah, one of the things that I love about live is the direct community aspect of it. The direct feedback, the direct interaction.…As you're talking about something, new people can come in with expertise and add their point of view to it… so you get a lot of really interesting insight from a lot of different people very quickly. And that kind of community aspect feels great to me.

On Discord as community:

Everything kind of spawns from Twitch. When you're live, it's the best place to communicate. But when your channel is not live, there's no reason to be on it….So, Discord provides a really great way to continue the conversation.

Membership - Ghost + Zapier

Zach used to focus on Patreon, but switched away.

The reason why I switched away from Patreon to Ghost is that I wanted a layer of control that Patreon wasn't able to offer in terms of customization. I wanted to…have connections to Twitch and other platforms.

Perhaps a notifier that I could say ‘Hey, this person subscribe to TOS.gg’ on my send…’Oh, this person who’s replying to me on Twitter, they subscribe to my newsletter.’ I might make sure to reply to them.

I'm ultimately trying to make it so that I'm more available to people who are supporting me, either with a free account or a paid account….

With Ghost, it's just a little bit easier to make all that possible.

That notifier doesn’t yet exist, but he’s working with some fans to build it. For the moment, he uses Zapier to sync his newsletter subscribers with his Twitch list, so at least he knows which subscribers are also in his streams. Stay tuned….

I asked him about Discord’s membership, and his reason was simple - it’s not yet live in Canada (womp womp).

Brand Partnerships - Inbound, self-negotiated

Affiliates - Included in the few brand deals he does

Zach understands through experience that when a Creator makes the bulk of their revenue from selling (memberships, digital products, etc.) to an audience that deeply trusts them, it’s critical that they only do brand partnerships that align with their own brand and create real value for their communities.

One of the things that I learned in the past was that you kind of have a budget of how much people are willing to listen to your sponsored content before they tune it out….I'm very specific about what I accept.

Just recently, I wrapped up an eight-week project with 7- Eleven. They sponsored me to host a late night show on my Twitch channel…

So why do I take these kind of offers?

Because they present opportunities that I think will still offer value to the people who watch and support me.

I consider the people who are watching, listening, and reading what I'm doing to be part of my community. I want what I do to be valuable to them.

The other challenge for Zach is that marketers still don’t really understand the value of livestreaming, and so don’t price deals appropriately.

The mentality is comparing 150 viewers to a 10,000 view YouTube video or a 100,000 view TikTok. Which one is going to think sounds better? It’s going to be the higher number.

I don't believe there's a true value placed on what live streaming offers in terms of intention versus attention.

When people are watching you live, they're more likely to do something because they're listening to you in real time.

Consulting - Discord + Flexible with payment collection

Video - Sony EV E10

Audio - Blue Luna + Wave XLR

Editing - Premiere

Design - Photoshop

Livestreaming - OBS + Streamdeck

The software Creators use to livestream has always been complicated at best. This is doubly true on Twitch, where viewers really care about quality.

Open source platform OBS is the gold standard.

I originally started streaming with XSplit…Eventually, OBS ended up eclipsing XSplit, a paid product, which is quite shocking. The features, functions, plugin capability, and the things you can do with OBS just overshadow everything else in live streaming…everyone kind of defaults back to OBS eventually because of its flexibility and how easy it is to customize.

It does take a level of effort to figure it out…There are a billion tutorials online that make it super easy.

Content Distribution - PulseBanner

This tool blew my mind - it updates his Twitter handle in real-time to show when he’s live on Twitch!

When I go live on Twitch, my username updates to say that I'm live now, which then acts as a banner. And then, because I'm sharing good content that other people are sharing to their own audiences, it shows 'Live Now' for every single retweet.

So people end up coming to my Twitch stream from that. It's automated.

That’s so powerful - I wish there were more plugins and integrations like this to tie disparate platforms together across the social web!

Project Management - Google Keep + Discord

Finances - All traditional

My mom is my accountant so it's it's all in house in that regard.

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