Attending Twitchcon 2017, I learned an astounding fact:
Approximately 60% of streamers stop after their first two streams. Their first TWO.
If you’ve got your own stream set-up and have been going at it for more than two streams, you’re already ahead of the game. Losing motivation is one of the primary reasons streamers don’t end up lasting longer than a couple of broadcasts. But if you’ve got the desire, where do you go from your first few streams to really growing as a streamer?
While we could write books about all the things you can do to sustain and foster your channel, here are 10 tips to help you grow your channel so you can keep going live for weeks and years to come:
1. Watch other streamers
The saying “you learn by doing” is true: nothing can take the place of real-world trial and error. Watching other streamers, though, can be invaluable. By watching streamers you admire, you can draw inspiration from the things they do.
There is an important line between taking someone else's ideas verbatim versus using it as inspiration to build your own content. Always give credit where credit is due!
2. It’s not about the hardware
Yes, quality is paramount, but you can work up to using the latest and greatest camera and mics. There is no need to spend hundreds of dollars on equipment you may not end up using if it turns out you don’t enjoy streaming as much as you thought you did (two streams, remember?). Level up your set-up as you level up your stream.
Thinking about your first upgrades? If you do a lot of talking, consider upgrading your mic first. The most common visual issue is poor lighting, so before buying a fancier camera, see if upgrading your lighting helps!
3. Find your niche
Choosing your stream communities can be tough, and one thing was made very clear at all the Twitchcon panels: variety streaming is basically streaming in hard mode. Why? Because most streamers start out as variety streamers, so that particular genre is highly saturated.
If you’re open to it, why not try specifying? By finding a specific game, genre, or type of stream to focus on, you can make sure you’re reaching members of that specific community who are more likely to return.
Avoid streaming the largest, most popular games at peak times if you’re a smaller streamer trying to focus on growth: your stream will likely be overshadowed by more established channels.
4. It's dangerous to go alone: Join a community
Tying in with the last tip, if you’re specializing in a certain game or genre, there’s likely a community already out there. Join it! Participate! Contribute and help other members. Not only will you make new friends--always a great thing to happen--you’ll have people who may pop into your stream because they know you.
Want to know a great group to join? We’re a little biased, but if you’re streaming using Utomik, we consider you a part of our growing community! Let us know when you’re streaming by tagging @Utomik on Facebook or Twitter. We'd love to share the news with other Utomikons who may be looking for something to watch!
5. Go social.
When you’re live streaming, you’re building a brand, and brands need to communicate with their audience. Social media platforms provide a way to let your viewers know when you go live, when you stop, and generally just keep updated on what’s going on. Use these tools to help connect with everyone outside of live streams too!
Use the platforms you know and the ones that you know (or have a strong feeling) your community uses. Promoting on Instagram, for example, doesn’t make sense if you never really use Instagram. If you’re a creative streamer, though, Instagram may make a lot more sense as your audience is a more visually-oriented one and likely already uses the platform!
6. Interact during streams.
Unless you’re doing something like speedrunning or are a very good player, people are typically there for YOU. Talk to your chat, whether they’re one person or a hundred. Chat not talking back? Tell stories and keep your end of the interaction up: you never know what may bring someone into talking! As you stream more, think of gradually incorporating other elements to bring your audience in. Polls, stream extensions, fun giveaways: again, your viewers are there because they like YOU!
Interaction can also be with other streamers. Host, raid, and support other streamers: they’re in the same boat you are. Who knows? Maybe someday they’ll repay the kindness!
7. Be yourself.
The internet is a huge place. There is, quite literally, something for everyone. So why present as anything, or anyone, other than yourself? Keeping up a facade is hard work, and people want to interact with YOU. Let them.
8. Keep adapting. And in staying true to yourself, know that you will change. Down the road, don’t be afraid to play with your format, your look, and your content. Will some people not enjoy it? Possibly, but again: the internet is a big place.
Twitch, Mixer, and other streaming platforms will also continue to adapt and change. Keep up with their additions. See how you can grow and adapt to maximizing the tools they provide you to continue to level up your channel.
9. Make your math and science teachers proud: Use data. You finally have an answer to all those times you asked your teachers, “When am I ever going to use this?” Data can help inform how you can, or should, adapt as a streamer. Luckily, services like Twitch have dashboards that tell you a lot about how your streams are going (with more updates coming before the year is out!). Use this information to your advantage. See what’s going well, and maximize it. See what may not be going well, and try to play with it.
As contradictory as this may seem, don’t get too obsessed with the numbers. It can kill the fun you have while streaming, as all you may end up doing is watching the view count. The quality of interactions is what brings people back!
10. Hey! Listen! Take care of yourself. You stream because you love it...but there will come a point in time where you may feel burnt out or tired of it. Don’t be afraid to take a break. Even one day can provide you with the mental motivation to keep going. And use your support networks (those communities and friends you made in tips 3 and 4!) to help with gaining your juju back! Remember: if you feel your best mentally, you’ll be able to better provide a fun experience for everyone in your stream.
As silly as this may seem: drink water. Eat a balanced diet. Take stretch breaks. Pay attention to your posture. Physical health is important too!
Ready to go out there and grow your channel? Those are just 10 tips to make sure you’re in it for as long as you want to be...what are some of the things you guys have learned on the way?
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