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How Wes Johnson Went From Smosh Games to Streaming Solo

Wes Johnson is known as Wes the Cosplay Boi, or WesIRL if you were to follow him on his Twitch platform. Now a prominent gaming and Cosplaying streamer with more than 34K followers, Wes is setting the tone for streaming and Cosplaying on one of the fastest-growing platforms the internet has ever seen. 

Building a Business on Passion and Entertainment

However, before Wes was a prominent streamer he was just another gamer making his way on the internet. In love with the gaming industry since he could first pick up a controller, Wes would eventually turn his passion into a career by joining the team at Smosh Games in 2012. After embarking upon his journey as a solo cosplayer and streamer, Wes would quickly develop a fan base committed to his detailed builds. Cosplay builds for the Winter Soldier and Link from Legend of Zelda, would help to send Wes to viral fame.

Wes’ biggest influence and inspiration in life has been his grandfather. Wes said of his grandfather, “He was my hero as a kid.” According to Wes, his grandfather read him stories in different voices while inspiring Wes to pursue creating on his own, a push that Johnson needed to get started with his career.

As a content creator in the streaming and cosplaying fields, Wes has had many opportunities to incorporate his passions into his work. One creative opportunity that Johnson has been developing is his Yeet 4 Initiative, a Dungeons & Dragons fan production. The streams are broadcast to hundreds of live viewers  as well as re-uploaded to YouTube via the IRL Bros channel. Johnson says of the project, “I’ve written close to 600 pages of backstory and lore so far.”

Another option to consider is the license music for video games to choose, which can magnify the experience.

Starting a Career in Streaming (and Cosplaying!)

According to a report published by Statista, there were more than 9.5 million active streamers on the Twitch platform from January 2018 until February 2021. With an ascending growth rate emboldened by the rapidly growing industry, streaming looks like it is going to be here for a long time to come. However, there is a marked difference between streaming on Twitch and becoming a professional Twitch streamer.

Anyone who has seen a Twitch stream by Wes understands how comfortable and entertaining the platform can be. That said, how does an individual take a seat in front of the camera to offer similar services when they are just starting? As a fiercely competitive industry, there are a few different ways individuals can prepare for streaming on Twitch.

Invest in the Right Equipment — Streaming is a technical concept and that means that there are going to be some technical decisions to be made. Wes points out that simple chatting streams require little more than a webcam and a computer. Gaming, traditionally, will require a heavier duty processor as well as a better graphics card. Johnson says, “A good mic is a necessity though!”

  • Pro Tip — Invest in the right  PC hardware for your type of streams, a great webcam, and a solid audio mic.

Find Your Angle — For Wes Johnson, finding an angle to launch his streaming career was relatively simple. Backed by a built-in audience accrued during his time as a member of prior streaming platforms, Johnson was able to lean into the passions that he already had developed. In addition to gaming, Wes would develop his cosplay skills to better build his audience.

  • Pro Tip — Streamers must find what makes them unique to stand out and most of all, be yourself.

Set a Schedule — Twitch streaming views tend to rise by roughly 7% during the weekend. Setting a schedule to take advantage of peak views will allow new streamers to maximize their chances at success. Unless a streamer has built-in name recognition, sticking to a schedule is the best way to develop a long-term and enduring audience. Wes maintains a public schedule on the home of his Twitch Streaming page to keep viewers aware of his next session.

  • Pro Tip — Make your Streaming schedule public to continually build your audience.

Experiment With Cosplay — After he parted ways with Smosh Games in 2012, Wes would turn to his passion for cosplay and gaming to launch the Wes_IRL Twitch channel. For Wes, getting into cosplay was simple, “Just do it — if someone wants to cosplay then go for it!”

  • Pro Tip — Cosplay isn’t all about big budgets and expensive builds. Work with what you have and pour your passion into the project!

While Wes enjoys continuous growth through his work as a Twitch streamer, his efforts as a philanthropist are also continuing to shine. Johnson has given extensively to charities focused on helping children citing the idea that, “Children are the future.”  In that same vein, Johnson has been outspoken in trying to get others to pursue their passions, outlining several steps they can follow to do what he did. 

Keep up with what Wes has been doing after Smosh on his Facebook.