Alisha Ether (LeeshCapeesh) on her journey to becoming a full-time creator on Twitch
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It’s no wonder Alisha Ether, also known as LeeshCapeesh across social media, is rapidly gaining a loyal fandom.
While her gaming skills are on point and it’s a riot to watch her play, her fun personality is what makes me continue to avidly consume her content. She’s conversational, warm, and absolutely hilarious.
So, when I heard LeeshCapeesh was going to be at the Creator Economy Expo in AZ, I immediately reached out to her for an interview.
I wanted to ask her about her journey becoming a full-time content creator, what she thinks about brand partnerships, and learn what advice she has for other creators. Here’s what I learned.
Banknotes: How did you move from playing video games as a hobby to streaming on Twitch full-time? What was your journey?
Ether: My ex-husband was the one who put gaming content creation on my radar. I've always been an avid gamer, since around the age of 5 and I couldn't believe that people were fostering community and gaining opportunities to make a decent living off of playing video games. So I started on Youtube posting videos almost every day, but eventually, I burnt out and wanted a more interactive experience.
I found out about Twitch through a gaming community I'm a part of called Black Girl Gamers, and researched the platform for about 6 months before I even thought about going live. My research consisted of watching other streamers and following a bunch of them on other social media platforms just so I could assess the culture, ins and outs, dos and don'ts of Twitch.
After I went live I reached affiliate status about one month in, thanks to the relationships I built with other streamers during my research phase. I streamed off and on for about 2-3 years before taking it seriously in 2020 due to my being laid off from my job because of the pandemic. At the end of 2020, I posted my first TikTok, which blew up and essentially assisted me in becoming a full-time content creator in 2021.
Banknotes: When did you realize becoming a full-time content creator was a lucrative career move, and what incentivized you to make the jump?
Ether: I figured becoming full-time was lucrative when I was making around the same amount of money I made when I was working at my old job.
Previously, I worked in the restaurant industry as a server and bartender for a little over ten years. The last job I worked at was a busy casual fine dining restaurant in the airport, so I was making a consistent, livable wage.
After I gained some traction on TikTok in 2021, I noticed my income on Twitch was averaging around the same.
Banknotes: What role does community play in becoming a successful Twitch creator?
Ether: Community plays a very important role, especially in the beginning, in becoming a successful creator on Twitch. As you grow a bigger following, of course, it gets a little harder to keep up with everything and everyone. But, it's good to lay down a solid foundation of camaraderie and establish boundaries from the start.
I am a very chatty streamer, so it was a little easier for me to engage with my viewers. I also chalk a bit of that up to the fact that being in the restaurant industry for so long helped with me being able to spark up conversations and keep them going.
Sometimes all it takes is a simple question to get the ball rolling, and the next thing you know you're building meaningful relationships with your supporters.
Banknotes: Do you use the different social platforms for different purposes?
Ether: All of my content is repurposed from Twitch except for Twitter. On TikTok, I post funny clips from the stream—mostly me saying something ridiculous. Then, I repost those TikToks to Instagram Reels. On Youtube, I post play-throughs of the games that I've completed on Twitch but edit them into shorter segments.
On Instagram, I try to post pictures every so often, and I make sure to highlight the brands that I'm working with since companies still heavily rely on Instagram. Twitter is a place where I sometimes post about content creation and gaming industry topics, but I try to keep it light over there.
Banknotes: Do you have any advice on repurposing content for various social media platforms? How do you repurpose your Twitch content for TikTok and Twitch?
Ether: The best advice that I can give, specifically for repurposing content for TikTok, is you have 3-5 seconds to catch people's attention. You have to be very intentional when you post on TikTok because people go there for quick fixes of entertainment.
I try to look at it from the side of a viewer on TikTok. When I get on there I don't really stick around for the longer videos, if someone is taking too long to get to the point I scroll past, etc. I take all of these things into consideration when I edit content for TikTok.
Banknotes: What are some of the best ways Twitch streamers can monetize?
Ether: One of the best ways Twitch streamers can monetize after they've established the foundation of their community is by diversifying their content. Discoverability is near nonexistent on Twitch, especially if you're a part of marginalized communities, so it's best to put your content out on as many platforms as possible.
Once you hit Twitch affiliate, you can run ads and people can subscribe to your channel and you get a percentage of money from that. But, none of that matters if you don't have people watching your content to begin with. The growth that I've experienced came after I put my content on other platforms.
Also, look into fun extensions made specifically for Twitch that come with monetization opportunities. For instance, for a time when I used to play a game called Dead by Daylight, I used this extension called Dixper, where your viewers can buy crates. Inside the crates are actions that they can do to directly affect your gameplay.
So, I could be running away from somebody trying to catch me and somebody uses a crate to stop my character in their tracks. It's a fun way to get your community involved and get some money as well because you get a percentage of the crates people buy.
Banknotes: Tell me more about your participation in the Black History Month and Women’s History Month events with Twitch.
Ether: The first time I did an event for Twitch was the Women's History Month event in 2019. It was my first time on the front page of Twitch and I got that from word of mouth. Some of the content creators I looked up to put in a good word for me and I was chosen. In 2021, I did both the Black History Month and Women's History Month events I got those because I was already on people's radar that worked at Twitch I'm guessing.
Both times those experiences were pretty cool. The only thing is you can't have the casual streams one is used to having with their regulars. Because you're on the front page of Twitch you're more susceptible to being harassed by trolls. But, my moderators are the best, so we didn't get that much foolishness while I was a part of the program.
Banknotes: How did you enter into brand & creator partnerships with Anastasia Beverly Hills (ABH) & The CW? How do you decide which brands to partner with?
Ether: I got the ABH and CW partnerships by being a part of groups like Black Girl Games and the Noir Network.
Both groups were made to help Black femmes navigate the gaming industry which is mostly a CisHet white male-dominated space. I am truly grateful to be a part of both organizations because I don't think I could do what I do without the help of other Black femmes in this space.
As far as choosing which brands I want to partner with, I just make sure they align with me and my values. I also have to be genuinely interested in whatever a brand has to offer.
With ABH, I love makeup so it was amazing to work with them. With the CW, it was to promote the new show Naomi that premiered in January. I love comic books, so that was a no-brainer for me to take that opportunity. Plus, the main character was a Black girl coming into her own and finding out she had superpowers and I'll forever be a fan of Black femmes in comics.
Banknotes: How do brands typically reach out to you? What are some do’s and don’ts you have for brands who want to partner with creators who have niche audiences?
Ether: Brands typically reach out to me via email. Sometimes I peek in to see what's going on, but receiving and responding to emails give me so much anxiety, so I am so thankful for my manager.
Do's and dont's for brands reaching out personally to me:
- Do make your emails as authentic as possible. You want to work with a specific creator really look and engage with their content. As a creator, I know which brands checked me out and which ones sent a cold impersonal email.
- Don't come to creators without some form of compensation. Not everything has to be monetary but giving creators you want to work with something will work out better for your relationship and get the creator excited about working with you and/or your product. Exposure doesn't pay the bills!
Banknotes: What advice would you have for another new creator who wants to get started on Twitch or TikTok? Do you have any specific advice for other Black female creators who want to follow in your footsteps?
Ether: Make the content and your audience will find you. Stay true to who you are and your values. Establish boundaries, that's the key to a solid foundation when building your community. Form genuine connections that will take you farther in this space than anything else. Research, research, research—but don't get too lost in the research that you end up not making the content. Learn when to dip your toe in the pool and when to jump straight in.
Banknotes: What advice do you have for new creators for dealing with online trolls?
Ether: I could say don't let it get to you, because that's what I do, but I can't tell people how to feel. The only thing I can suggest is that you stay as safe as possible and make sure your personal information isn't easily accessible.
Doxxing is very real and happens a lot on Twitch, which can potentially end up with someone getting swatted and that's a dangerous situation to be put in.
Banknotes: What are your plans for your future with Twitch and streaming?
Ether: I hope that streaming opens other doors for me in the entertainment industry. As much as I enjoy it, I don't want my journey to end here. I want to do all the things, including maybe hosting, interviewing, working with more brands, and producing—who knows? The sky's the limit. Corny quote but it’s true.