Stephen 'Snoopeh' Ellis and David 'StoneMountain64' Steinberg are building a platform dedicated to lowering the bar to entry for streamers to find success at any experience level.
Before streaming, making a living just "playing" video games wasn't a viable way to get through life. There was working in quality assurance, but breaking (and documenting) video games doesn't have the same glamorous appeal as sitting down, playing games, and talking to folks for hours at a time. Taking streaming from a hobby to a paid vocation isn't easy, which is why former pro-gamer Stephen "Snoopeh" Ellis and his business partner, David "StoneMountain64" Steinberg, have put together Pipeline.gg -- a platform to empower streamers to build a sustainable streaming business.
GameDaily spoke with Ellis a couple of times to get to the core of what Pipeline is and why it matters to new and veteran streamers, alike.
"Our focus is on lowering the barrier to entry, as a new streamer it can be really intimidating to make sense of all the platforms, hardware and software," Ellis told GameDaily over email. "Through educational content, we help guide you through making sense of streaming and how to build a career in it. We also partner with established streamers and industry experts to actively mentor streamers earlier on in their journey. Another big factor is cost, while you don't need to buy the $5,000+ setup a top streamer has right away, the costs do rack up so we've partnered with top brands in the industry to offer exclusive discounts to members of up to 40%."
Ellis provided me with access to Pipeline, in order to provide me with a better understanding of what the platform was offering to streamers. What I found was a robust library of resources, access to a growing Discord community, and community Q&As with successful streamers from every platform. It's the platform agnostic approach that Pipeline takes that ensures streamers don't find themselves pigeon-holed into a single approach. Ellis is a "big fan" of platforms building education resources for their communities, including Mixer Academy, YouTube's Creator Academy, and Twitch's Creator Camp.
"We complement [those programs] by focusing on providing a platform agnostic approach," Ellis mentioned. "For some members, Facebook might be a better platform for their niche. Perhaps YouTube VoD's, Instagram or Twitter could be a great place to build your brand as your livestream grows. We also connect members from different platforms so you can learn and collaborate outside of your own circle."
A lot of what makes Pipeline stand out above the platform-centric education tools is in its approach to business and marketing. Instead of focusing merely on the technical aspects of streaming (although those resources exist within Pipeline), there's a distinct emphasis on Business 101 skill-building. Ellis' education, once he left playing League of Legends professionally, was in business, so it's not surprising that Pipeline is aligned with his skillset.
Each of the pillars, which need to be completed in order, have beautifully designed PDF workbooks and videos from the co-founders and professional streamers. And while the production value is important, it's the quality of the content that really struck me. Pipeline isn't selling streamers a dream. The tone in each of the PDF workbooks is, while encouraging, very down-to-earth.
"It really does take time to build something," one PDF reads. "You don't have to try to conquer everything all at the same time."
Pipeline starts streamers off small, asking them to identify their "why" behind building a career as a streamer. This exercise isn't new -- it's basic branding -- but for streamers that haven't been exposed to branding, business development, or marketing, starting with "why" is an important first step. It requires them to be crystal clear about their reasoning and what kind of person they want to be seen as by their respective communities.
"Becoming a streamer can be lonely, as well as really frustrating, trying to get those viewers in," Ellis said in the introduction video on Pipeline. "We know it. We're in this journey together, with you."
The level of inclusion isn't lip-service, either. Ellis, Steinberg, and their team developed one specific foundational pillar of content that is mandatory: etiquette. And while the etiquette content is focused around ensuring that new streamers build healthy personas for their communities and audiences across a multitude of platforms, it doesn't end there. The etiquette pillar also touches on how streamers need to treat one another.
As John Donne wrote: "No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main."
By ensuring that new streamers (or streamers that are looking to become professionals) treat their communities and their fellow streamers with integrity and respect, Pipeline is taking a stand against toxicity. Building in that level of care is, among everything else that Pipeline is building, an unusual selling point for the platform, but it's effective. The more streamers that use Pipeline's platform to build their knowledge and understanding of business, marketing, streaming, and, yes, etiquette, the better the streaming economy will be.
"The ecosystem right now is quite top-heavy," Ellis said, when asked about the state of the industry. "While there will always be winners and losers, my hunch is that as platforms build better personalized discovery tools, there will be even more opportunity for new, aspiring streamers.
"While we know not everyone will become the next Ninja, we are motivated by helping support streamers turn their passion into a career. We'll be looking closely at how our members that are taking advantage of all that Pipeline has to offer are growing. While we're still early, we're seeing promising results of some of members being able to start transitioning to part time with the goal of going full-time in the future."
At the moment, Pipeline is open for new members. Ellis is purposefully keeping the community small -- it's around 1200 members as of last week -- in order to methodically build out content and resources. And while 1200 people may seem daunting, it's certainly more approachable than the thousands of people who are involved with the platform-centric education initiatives.
"We're just getting started," Ellis noted. "We want every streamer in the world that is looking to turn streaming into a part or full-time career to know that Pipeline is the best place to learn and get support throughout that journey."
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