If you're reading this, you're probably interested in becoming a Magic: the Gathering content creator. This is a great idea! Magic streamers, writers, and other creators not only produce content that enriches the Magic world—they also build truly special communities where the game's core values shine. But it can be intimidating to get started, so, with the generous help of some successful, well-known content creators, we've put together this guide to help you confidently hit the ground running.
Step 1: Determine Your Goals, Strategy, and Style
Before you start creating, give some thought to exactly what your content is going to be and what makes it special. And think specifically about what you want to accomplish, beyond "be a successful creator."
"I think the biggest mistake that a lot of new creators make is that they simply put content out and assume people will come. There has to be something really unique about the content. Maybe you're the best player at this game, or a particular format. Maybe you do deck-building with stupid constraints. You want to have a really sharp, clear identity." —Sean Plott (aka Day9)
"It's very important to have a very specific focus for your content. That focus can change over time, but if you try to do everything at once, your channel won't grow." —Rhino (aka Young Mage)
Tied to that is the importance of having a clear vision of the kind of community you want to build: the values, tone, and behavior you will be working to cultivate. You are the steward of that community, and you have the privilege and responsibility of defining it. Think about what makes your favorite Magic communities special. For example, some top streamers do a great job focusing on inclusivity.
"If you make it clear exactly what you want to do, the people who align with your ideas can find you. My stream is all about positivity, being inclusive, having a good time, learning, and not necessarily being the best. Creating a non-toxic environment for people to hang out in." —Gaby Spartz
"Streaming is a dialogue between me and chat. Streaming is an interactive process where everyone in the chat is participating together. … I try to keep the chat rated G. I started playing Magic when I was twelve, and I hope that if a youngster wanted to watch my stream, he or she would enjoy it." —Rich Shay
Step 2: Make a Plan to Reach Your Goals
Once you know what you want to accomplish, think about how to get there, step by step, and be realistic as you strive for excellence. Having a concrete plan in place will let you get the most out of your time and energy. Consider both your short-term milestones and your long-term ambitions, and set yourself on a path that takes all of that into account.
"Set goals for one week, one month, three months, one year, and three years. Strive to become one percent better each day. Never give up. People do not fail, they just give up before the Magic happens." —Rhino (aka Young Mage)
"It is not important to flood every social platform, but pick a couple of big ones. Regularly update the hell out of all of those ones." —Sean Plott (aka Day9)
Step 3: Create While You Learn
Plans and goals are important, but don't get so caught up in them that you forget the most important thing: creating the content! Don't hold yourself back by feeling like you have to know everything before you produce anything. You might find hidden strengths in your content, or enjoy something less than you thought you would, and the only way to learn these things is through practice.
"Through the process of uploading and editing videos, you'll develop those skills. Get any editing software that you like, start editing videos, and upload them. And when you're done, you're going to be like, 'Man, the start of this was awful!' And then the video that you do tomorrow, you're going to be like, 'Okay, I'm not going to make that mistake I did yesterday.' So you wind up getting a whole lot of practice as you move forward." —Sean Plott (aka Day9)
"Create content, don't just play Magic; while people do want to see you play the game you love, you'll get more interest if you try and make it more content-centered instead of just what you would be doing anyway." —David Murphy (aka DaveSea)
"It can be hard for newer streamers to find their groove. Some people start out thinking, 'Yeah, I want to have a super competitive stream. We're going to be grinders!' And then they realize it isn't fun for them. Figuring that out takes time." —Gaby Spartz
"I think it's important to take a step back and consider that cards or ideas that seem simple or second nature to you may not be for others. Understanding other perspectives can really open your eyes to new ways to interact with Magic players around you and help you find brand new ways to love and enjoy Magic." —Rachel Agnes (aka baetog)
Step 4: Establish Your Rules, Standards, and Schedule
Once you have a vision for your content and you're starting to create it, start laying the foundation for how things will work. The successful content producers we work with all stress the importance of consistency in content. Successful streamers try to establish a consistent schedule so followers know when to look for new content or livestreams. It’s also important to figure out what level and type of polish you can consistently produce.
"Consistency is key, especially for streaming. I think producing content at consistent times so people know when you'll be on and sticking to a certain type of Magic (Limited, Pauper, etc.) is the best way to grow your following as a small streamer." —Ethan Saks (aka Lord Tupperware)
"Be consistent in your schedule—if you stream, try to do it regularly so your followers know when they can watch you stream. If you produce video or articles, make sure people know when they are supposed to be posted. Let people know if you aren't going to meet your announced schedule for whatever reason." —Melvin the Muppet
It’s also helpful to set (and enforce) rules for your chat or comments section. Wizards sets rules (via its Code of Conduct) for behavior in the Magic community. As your following grows, you may consider mandating additional rules or expectations for the kind of behavior you want to see in your personal community.
"It is up to you to establish what is and is not okay in your channel. Certain types of streamers invite different kinds of environments. If there is something you are not okay with, it is on you to make that known to both the chat and people who mod for you." —Gaby Spartz
"It can be scary for a new content creator to ban folks from their chat. When you're fighting for every viewer, banning someone seems crazy, but if you don't, you don't have a channel. The trolls do. Decide what you want your content to be about, and then mercilessly moderate so that your message comes through." —Travis Sowers (aka Semulin)
These are all important parts of building your reputation and growing your following.
Step 5: Build Your Peer Network
Whatever kind of content you're creating, other people out there are doing something similar. Follow them! Learn from them! Get to know them! You're in a great position to help each other, and collaboration is to everyone's benefit.
"Being able to network with people that have an existing audience is super helpful. Do co-op streams, show up in people's streams, host someone. It's beneficial to everybody. Streamers are better off if there are more people watching Magic streams period." —Gaby Spartz
"Establish a network of peers, people who are at your level, who you can bounce ideas off, who you can work and grow together with. How do you use these relationships? Figure out a cool piece of content that is actually new as a result of the two of you doing something together. Create something new and fresh with that person." —Sean Plott (aka Day9)
“Platforms like YouTube® are great because you don’t have to unsubscribe to one person for another. If people are interested, they will subscribe. If you make content successfully on YouTube®, all boats will rise. One person’s success is everyone’s success.” —Brian Lewis (aka The Professor)
Go For It
Whatever you do, don't be afraid to try something that sounds cool to you! Even the most popular streamers out there got started the same way as you: by loving Magic and putting their work out into the world. Take that first step, even if it's intimidating, and every step after that will be easier and easier. So get out there, start creating, and have fun!