Full Disclosure: A lot of what I’m going to say here is not original to me, but I’ve been consistently asked how to have a good Twitch Stream and I’m mainly making this for my own convenience so I don’t have to keep boring my viewers by repeating the same speech. Many of my points are things I read when researching how to be successful at Twitch, but they are from my point of view, experience, and opinion. The reason people have been asking me for advice about this is because I’ve had pretty rapid and consistent growth on my Twitch, which I largely attribute to the awesome, friendly, and welcoming community in Borderlands. And I probably benefited from the resurgence and popularity of the title with the launch of The Handsome Collection. I tried streaming numerous times before and never garnered any attention, and when I started wanting to stream I tried for a week with almost no engagement. So the following points are ground level things to do while going in with your eyes wide open about how difficult it is to capture and keep an audience on Twitch.
Before I get into my list of what you should implement I want to give a word of caution. First, the internet is a dangerous place, so regardless of your age, but especially if you’re under the age of 18, you should never, under any circumstances say your full name or any other personal information while streaming or in the chat of any stream. Twitch has terms of service you must abide by if you are under 13, so be sure you are in line with their rules, and please, be very careful. If someone is asking for your personal information that should be a red flag, so don’t give it out. Second, prepare for rejection, failure, and cruelty. If you are streaming, and the only way you will enjoy it is if you get a lot of viewers and followers, then don’t stream. I have had numerous people message me and talk about how disappointing and frustrating it has been not getting any viewers or followers after they tried to stream one time. You need to have realistic expectations and know that it takes a lot of time to get any sort of momentum on Twitch. You are jumping into a very crowded pool of thousands of other people hoping for the same thing as you. So go into this knowing that you will very likely spend many hours and days having almost no engagement. If you are okay with that, then proceed to consider my tips and advice.
1. Have a point of view, identity, and purpose
With the abundance of Twitch streams and YouTube channels available to anyone watching gaming content, it can be hard to standout. If you enjoy gaming and want to do “let’s play” videos, achievement hunting, tips and tricks, or walkthroughs, you are probably going find yourself competing against already established channels with large fan bases and good engagement levels. However, there’s a larger number of channels and streams that are pretty poor in quality and engagement. So the best way to stand out amidst the thousands of channels and streams that are just people playing and talking about nothing of substance is to have a point of view, an identity, and a purpose. Now, the thing to be careful of here is to not just manufacture something that is artificial, disingenuous, or disconnected from your personality. If you just try to leverage what’s popular it’s probably not going to work out as well as you hope, and if and when you start to get traction you will exhaust yourself talking about something you don’t really like or you’ll have to be someone that you’re not. Big YouTubers and Streamers like Bahroo, AngryJoe, or Boogie are successful because you can tell they have a channel and stream that is in line with their personality so they can just be themselves, and their fan base stays loyal accordingly.
For me, as a self professed rager, I started to see that my criticisms and frustrations were affirmed and echoed by popular and intelligent guys like AngryJoe and BDobbinsFTW. These guys affirmed my furstations and it was almost therapeutic to hear someone saying what I had already been griping about almost verbatim. So I came up with “Say No To Rage” as my point of view. My identity is basically who I am, a gamer who doesn’t want to rage and sees blogging, YouTube, and streaming as a way to transcend raging by creating a positive atmosphere and influence in the gaming world. And my purpose is simple and stated often in my videos and stream: “dedicated to helping you rage less and enjoy your games more”. I work toward my goal by offering a fun stream, a place to discuss games, call out bad practices by gaming companies, warn players about scams, hacks, or cheats, and giving gamers the scoop on bad, lack luster, or quality content. It’s also just incredibly fun and fulfilling to discuss the games we love with other people who share the same passion. Some of the best streams have been where a handful of us have sharply disagreed about game lore, theories about characters, and what games are great/bad, etc. Even though we were disagreeing, it was charitable and came from a place of passion and enjoyment. So create a pov, identity, and purpose that you can commit to in a natural and real way as yourself.
2. Be able to monitor the chat
One of the things I noticed when researching how to stream was that lots of the streamers barely interacted with their viewers. Regardless of the popularity of the stream or the host, it felt very unengaging and quickly had me leaving and looking for another stream. So having your own stream pulled up in a browser is the best way to monitor what I call “viewer spikes”. In my experience, Twitch updates your viewer count very suddenly, instead of being a running live count. So you will jump from 11 viewers up to 19 in a blink, and then a minute or so later you are back down to 11. This means you have a small window to address and welcome new viewers before they move on. So your point of view, identity, and purpose are going to come into play here. Early on, don’t be afraid to have a rehearsed “station identification” that you say very frequently. I feared I was wearing out my captured viewers, but then realized a quick greeting isn’t going to turn away people that actually enjoy me and my stream. If they are that easily turned away then let them go because you’ll wear yourself out worrying about what might be making people leave. You have to own your stream and do it your way and don’t let the fluctuations in the viewership bother you. With the constant flow of people quickly coming and going you are far better off greeting and acknowledging new viewers than worrying about what may or may not be bothersome to current viewers.
The other reason you want the chat pulled up is so you can quickly deal with trolls, click baiters, and haters. At the very least go get Nightbot and have him join your chat (just type !nightbot join in his chat) to keep the spammers and link posters from being able to get quick disruptive comments posted. Just be sure you make Nightbot a mod so he can block the messages that are offensive or spam. It’s also very easy to ban people who decide to troll, so just quickly click their name, click ban, and act like nothing happened. You rob trolls of any satisfaction or fulfillment when you just ban and keep moving. So have a way to view the chat and do your best to check it often so you don’t miss viewer spikes and keep out the haters.
3. Have a hook
A big and maybe even a hard question to ask is, why should anyone watch you? Unless you are a professional comedian or radio personality you are going to have to offer something that hooks people. I do giveaways and trivia, and initially I thought the giveaways were a double edged sword as people who don’t win might lose interest and leave. I’ve learned, from how often people have said it, they enjoy staying just for trivia and listening to me talk about games and discussing games with myself and those in the chat. So trivia has taken a little more prominence in the stream and people seem to really like it. Now I don’t just do trivia, I try to have a very constant stream of communication and talking. I’ve called it “radio voice stream of conciousness”. You may struggle to talk constantly, and that’s okay, but you have to try to fill the dead air or people may pass you by. If you are you doing tips, walkthroughs, or something interactive like asking people what they think about the latest gaming news or trailer you have to make sure you are the kind of person who can multitask without getting overwhelmed or frustrated. So you really have to ask yourself, are you cut out for consistent streaming? Because my next tip is going to be tough if you struggle to handle it.
4. Stream often, stream long, and have a schedule
The only way you are going to get traction and consistency is by being consistent and reliable as a streamer. So if you look at your schedule and can only stream once a week for two hours, or only once a day for an hour, you need to know that is probably going to slow your growth and may keep it from ever taking off. If you can stream often for long periods of time, create a schedule and make it known on the channel with the background image and keep mentioning it in the stream periodically and especially when you shut the stream down. I think a good minimum for streaming is 3 hours. Early on, short streams are completely fine, but once you start getting regulars and followers, those short streams are going to hurt you. You need to give you regulars a chance to come in, get your viewer numbers up, and help you trend and get traction. Typically after an hour and a half things start moving in a good direction for me, and usually after 3 hours it really starts to snowball in my favor. So 3 hours is really a minimum if you want to get enough traction and a following to get the partnership. Again, I’m not a pro, I’m just basing this off my experience.
I hope these tips help you, and if you have any questions just ask me in the comments below or come to my stream and ask me in person!
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