5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Streaming

Published by Emergence on

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Three years ago, I loved watching streamers play various games, and I thought “y’know what, I could do that too!”.

However, after 18 months of no idea what I was doing, struggling to stream on my internet connection, a MacBook Pro for gaming, inconsistent timetables, a dining table for a desk, an in-built microphone and a slow, long quest to save money, I did it. I suddenly had a computer and setup capable of playing and streaming the games I wanted to play.

But, now I was ready… where did I go from there? And what did I learn when I started?

Comparison is the thief of joy

I assumed that because everybody else was so extroverted, so happy, so confident and constantly streaming… that I needed to be too. When real-life got in the way of my imagined eternal joy and a full-time job blocked my consistent streaming plans, I was sad ?.

It took me a little while to understand that everybody brings something different to the table and that everyone needs to pursue a content creation journey different from one another.

There is also the challenge of finding the content style that is both authentically you, and also stands out from the crowd. You don’t have to go wild with ideas, props, games and characters. You can stand out by being you and embracing what makes you who you are. If you’re a little bit quieter, a little bit louder, a little bit in love with K-Pop or a little bit in love with ancient history (hello me ?), then just do you.

Viewers will love you for who you are, not your streamer ‘brand name’. They won’t love you for the games you play, but the way you play them.

P.S; this doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t characterise your stream. DrDisrepect and others are showing that building a stream around a fully-realised character is just as powerful as building one around yourself, and if this is something you can do, and you want to do, it shouldn’t stop you.

Streaming = time

Working on your stream will feel like a full-time job. Especially when you look at everything you need to consider:

  • Design the stream
  • Create audio and visual alerts
  • Set up all the tools
  • Get a bot ready
  • Build a brand
  • Build your social media channels then grow them
  • Network
  • Spend time in other streams
  • Spend time in other Discord servers
  • Find amazing moderators (shoutout to the amazing moderators out there)
  • Always be online
  • Constantly engaging
  • Constantly playing games
  • Finding new opportunities

All of this before you even start streaming…

It’ll feel like the more time you are live, the more likely people will find you, watch you, follow you and eventually become loyal fans. And whilst this is true to an extent, I’ve learnt that being smart with my time is much better than throwing hours at this project. Finding a balance between the ‘grind’ and getting stuff done without procrastination jumping in the way is a challenge and one that’ll be different for everybody’s own different life situations.

Oh and… burnout is real on Twitch.

Are you trying to grow your stream yourself? Here are 7 tips to becoming a successful Twitch streamer.

Viewers follow the personality, not the game

There are viewers who will watch you because of the game you are playing, and typically this is how they will find you in the first place. But the real, loyal community (that’ll feel like an extended family in time) will follow you whatever you play.

As there will be dropoff’s when you switch games, consider switching to a similar game or genre style to the one the majority of your viewers enjoy watching. For example, it’s unlikely that a viewer will have the same passion for PUBG, COD and Fortnite as they will watching you play XCOM, Stardew Valley and Just Dance.

Streaming is mostly about who you are, your interests, your values and your connection with the people who watch you broadcast. These things will eventually help grow your stream organically and start you on the path to partner, it won’t be because you play one game four days a week, six hours a day.

Build a show around your live stream

Your live stream shouldn’t just be “press the live button, talk for four hours and press the end stream button”. You need to consider it as a show.

Many people have made the comparison between a TV show and a Twitch broadcast, and they’re not wrong. This is why many streamers will preach consistency because you wouldn’t watch a TV show that has widely different start times and was on TV during different days in the week.

Consider the need for a pre-show, post-show and various segments within your live stream. Build content ideas around the games, genres or categories you are focusing on.

  • Are you an amazing Overwatch player with an educational twist? Play the game for 3 hours then have a 1-hour post-stream show where you review clips sent in by your viewers and community.
  • Do you have a secret drawing skill? Start your stream off (or do a special Sunday afternoon stream) where you draw your favourite TV, Film and Game characters and just chat with your viewers for a few hours.

It’s not just about live-streaming too, consider creation (or re-purposing) content for other channels such as YouTube, Instagram, Discord and Twitter.

Be engaged with your community (and other communities) and constantly develop content that is designed for the platforms you focus on. It’s not a case of copy-and-paste one to another. Understand how and why people use certain platforms, and utilise the tools you have.

There are endless possibilities

Everywhere you look there is a gap in the Twitch world, whether it’s a lack of casters for a specific game, a certain style not being covered, a content format not being created, a game not being played or a time not being utilised for what the audience wants.

Spot opportunities with new games and new categories before they get big, take advantage of a large audience when popular streamers leave games that have got ‘boring’ to them, find a creative outlet which is not being covered by streamers or become the ‘known name’ in a certain genre… there are a million and one ways to stand out. It’s understanding where there is demand, and how you can fill it.

And it could be a great self-awareness learning curve to understand that perhaps streaming isn’t for you, that your strengths may lie in writing words, creating an audio podcast or starting an on-demand video show.

This barely scratches the surface of things I wish I really knew, but being a slight perfectionist and slowly becoming more self-aware with how my brain sees things, I realise that you can never start something having learnt everything you will need to know, trying to do so is a form of procrastination that stems from a fear of failure. I’ve also learnt that the majority of learning will come from just doing it, getting started, making mistakes, grinding, patience and making friends who will know better and show you the way.

Thank you to everybody who has given me feedback, lessons, learning, inspiration, help and love over the last few months. Your brilliance will continue to drive me forwards.

Bonus Round: Discoverability on Twitch is near-zero

Are you streaming something like League of Legends, Fortnite or Call of Duty and wonder why nobody is watching? It’s probably because there are thousands of others doing exactly the same thing, and the category is filtered from most popular to least popular.

This means that viewers don’t filter down, but instead watch the most popular streamers rather than scrolling for 5 minutes to the bottom. Twitch’s tagging system and recommendation system are good, but not used a lot…

If this is you, then you need to find ways to stand out. By doing something different from everyone else and then promoting it.

This is why many streamers and coaches recommend you create (or re-purpose your Twitch content) to other platforms such as YouTube, Twitter and TikTok). These discoverable platforms make it easier for people to find what they want to see and hopefully filter down into your stream when you are live.

Are you looking to learn more about who we are?

The Emergence is a website, brand, and person called Mark who creates guides to streaming while learning himself. You can learn more about us here, join our Discord community or watch us stream on Twitch.

Thank you ❤