Streamers open up about rough side of being social media influencers

By Nguyen Hanh   June 9, 2022 | 07:39 pm PT
Though always smiling in front of the camera, Ha Ha sometimes has to stop her live stream to cry because she cannot bear an offensive comment she received.

The 23-year-old Hanoian, a full-time game streamer spends seven or eight hours every day streaming on her personal YouTube channel, which has nearly 300,000 subscribers, and other platforms.

She typically begins her day at 10:30 a.m., has lunch at around 2 p.m. and goes to bed at 4 a.m.

"My life has been turned upside down.

"When everyone has gone to bed, I am still up working. When others are with relatives and friends, I play games and talk in front of the screen. My parents initially thought I had psychological issues because I locked myself in my room all day and talked alone."

Ha Ha has been working as a professional streamer for four years. Photo courtesy of Ha

Ha Ha has been working as a professional streamer for four years. Photo courtesy of Ha

Rather than doing desk jobs like many of her friends, she picked up and stayed with live streaming since graduating from college.

Starting from scratch, her streamer journey was difficult because almost no one noticed her content when she first started out.

"With a profession that is based on popularity, and no one watching the live stream for two months, it was a lot of pressure for me."

The tipping point came when she started live streaming for an entertainment platform for four hours a day. She says her job pays well, but there are some drawbacks.

She was under a lot of pressure when the number of viewers dropped by half and she had to compete with a slew of new streamers who used various tricks to attract audiences.

On top of that she constantly receives negative comments from "Internet warriors."

She says she had to stop streaming one night because she could not stand the insulting comments.

"It is difficult to please an anonymous community online that is always ready to abuse when I play poorly in a game. They even discriminate against me because I am a girl trying to play games like boys. Sometimes it takes me three to four days to recover."

For many young people, streaming is no longer an outlandish profession. It offers them good money and fame. But behind the apparent glamour, many must deal with mental pressure and cyberbullying, which sometimes even affect their health.

According to Nielsen, the number of Gen Z in Vietnam will reach nearly 15 million by 2025, a highly promising demographic that streaming platforms will be targeting as they are "pioneering content creators" across platforms and not just users.

Unlike Ha, Phuong Anh, 29, also of Hanoi, only does live streaming as a part-time job.

Phuong Anh picks up streaming as a part-time job. Photo courtesy of Anh

Phuong Anh live-streams as a part-time job. Photo courtesy of Anh

She usually spends three hours a day streaming after work.

She reveals that, while still a relatively unknown streamer, she earned as much as US$900 a month, not including viewers' donations.

"My income as a streamer is significantly higher than that of my day job of promoting technology products. If I play good games, communicate well, and work hard, the amount can skyrocket."

However, due to quota pressure, she is required to sit in front of the screen until midnight if she arrives home late from work.

"The challenge is to retain old viewers while attracting new ones. To avoid boredom, you must work hard, explore and innovate content.

"Besides, streamers must know how to protect themselves and maintain a positive attitude despite getting negative comments in cyberspace."

Even world-famous streamers are frequently subjected to insults and harassment.

When Nightblue3, a well-known American Twitch streamer, lost a game, he was abused. Some mocked him for not accepting their dangerous challenges and dares.

According to Huy Pham, director of Metub, a company that specializes in developing YouTube channels for streamers, the job is not as easy as it seems.

There are clearly challenges streamers face that few see. To keep viewers interested, they must constantly innovate and create new content. Their work involves more than just sitting in front of a computer and talking; they must plan meticulously and spend time reviewing previous content to improve themselves.

"Having a live stream that lasts four or five hours means streamers do not have time to drink water or use the restroom, Huy points out.

"Furthermore, they do not have time to spend with friends and family because they must focus intensely on their work to achieve their targets and retain viewers."

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