Having started completely brand new to the world of Twitch in February 2020, there are certainly some things I wish I could of told myself at the time to have better prepared myself. Certainly, everyone will have different experiences as you nurture your own community and so every experience will vary.
I was fortunate enough to have a few friends that were well established who could point me in the right direction as far as programs to use and general advice for simple hurdles to overcome. There are many who do not however.
Here I am, whilst still ‘new’ to a degree, I’m quickly approaching 600 followers and have opportunities and plans for the future that have kept me going with the goal to forever expand. My vision ultimately focuses on improving the quality of the stream for those who come by which in turn improves the engagement and that is what I get out of streaming as a platform, and is what I enjoy the most.
As with anything that your pour effort into that comes under public scrutiny, it is fair to say there are a lot of things to be wary of, including your mental health, self-awareness and determination. You could only ever have positive engagements, you will still question yourself and your ability. Its natural, don’t fret. As you push through it, you will smash all goals you set out for yourself.
With that said, I hope I can give a few pointers that will help guide your first steps on, what I’ve found to be, a life changing experience.
1. Build Your Community
You are streaming online on twitch, it is a social experience so being very social sounds like an obvious tip. Engage with chat is an absolute must! Constantly talk to your chat, even if it sounds like its to yourself, chat will be watching and chime in when they feel they can contribute. To build your community means not just chatting when you are live, but also think about all interactions you could have. Discord server for the community to chat, twitter, Instagram. Think about your reach.
Meet and chat with other streamers with similar interests and ethos as yourself. This is a great way to network with others. Never promote yourself in others streams, but the streamer will likely at some point ask and let that process happen naturally.
The absolute minimum is sure enough getting the stream itself live. However, as you grow you will want to really invest in streaming. Like any hobby you speculate to accumulate, and investment helps improve the stream which improves the viewer and your communities experience, so it should always be in the fore front of your mind.
There are plenty of less expensive cameras out there, but be sure to do your research, a bad video capture can be more of a hindrance than a help to a stream. At this point (7 months of streaming), I have a ring light, a decent webcam (recently upgraded) and I invested in getting good transitions and scenes for the stream itself.
Whilst its not a ‘must’ to get one in the first couple of weeks as you get settled into streaming but long term this is something you should look into in a serious way.
3. Ignore Stats!
So, its stated more bluntly than you may wish to believe. Yes, when you are first starting out, getting that average viewing up so you can get to affiliate is a fair one to wait and you will probably watch too much! Once you get going though, ignore the stats per stream. Don’t watch the curve of viewership going up or down. Enjoy what you do and let it flow and take whatever path it needs to take. It generates a much more natural behavior which your community will appreciate so much more.
The rule of thumb I take into consideration, is just put the whole time you’ve been streaming up in analytics, and so long as there is a rough upward curve then you are doing fine. I know a lot of people, including myself, turn off the viewer count. This is both to avoid feeling the pressure of high numbers or the down feeling of low numbers, keeping your moral up regardless who is or isn’t there.
Just go live, be yourself and have fun. The rest comes in time. Patience really is a virtue
4. Be Yourself
Never feel like you need to put on a persona or have gimmicks. Your community you build will be there for the friendship and real conversations you will be having with them. There are plenty out there who do put on some level of an ‘act’ and in times of difficulty (dealing with trolls etc). There is the element of putting on a brave face in those moments, but in general, just embrace who you are with your community and growth will come naturally.
5. Play what you enjoy
If you are starting up on videogame streaming then be mindful of the games you play. Yes, you could pick up whats popular and see growth, but if you aren’t enjoying it those people may not necessarily stick around. It will be very easily spotted by your viewership that you aren’t enjoying the game so I do recommend playing a game you enjoy and that will shine through to those watching.
Think of games you are also very knowledgeable about, you could teach people new things about a game you know like the back of your hand. Once you’ve a steady number and a community of regulars, consider then going through a game together as that generates new and fresh experiences for them and yourself.
6. Programs to improve the stream
I personally use Streamlabs OBS and Chatbot, both of which are free. You can easily add overlays and a UI that really helps improve the quality of the stream. There are also many who use Stream Elements. There is choice out there but the above mentioned are the most popular and easiest to use.
From adding alerts to sound commands, emotes that show up on screen when they’re posted in chat. These are all methods to improve the viewer engagement with your stream.
Social media helps improve people finding your stream. The more places people can find you, the quicker you may find growth. Instagram posts with relevant hashtags, engaging with similar streamers on twitter and uploading YouTube videos aren’t a must from day 1 of streaming, but should be in your plan of how to grow and improve. The more places people can find you and your content, the more they will want to see more.
What is key is you go in, not expecting much and enjoying whatever happens. Growing a community is fun and you’ll be able to share your funny moments with the viewers and laugh and joke with them along the way. Don’t focus or stress on the money aspect and let that rise and fall naturally without taking any of it to heart.
Your stream is yours to lead, and it will succeed the more you do in a driven and active way. Spread positivity and be inclusive towards all and you will guarantee yourself a very wholesome experience.
A little motivational quote… “Make your life a masterpiece; imagine no limitations on what you can be, have or do.”