Ahh streaming, one of the beautiful innovations of the 21st century.
It used to be that the only way to watch someone beat a game was to be the second person in the room. Now, friends, family, and randoms from all over the world are able to tune in and watch you get obliterated in a match of Overwatch 2. What a time to be alive!
For some streamers, this is where the hobby exists - a fun way to let folks hang out while you stream. Like any hobby, it can be monetized, but before you even begin to go down that route, you need to ask yourself - are you going to be a hobbyist streamer, or are you wanting to earn some side income?
If you're more interested in the hobby of streaming, check out these takeaways that I’ve gleaned since becoming a Twitch affiliate. May they help guide your streaming decisions as well.
Don’t start streaming thinking you’re going to make money
The reality for 95% of streamers is that they will hardly make any money. Ad revenue from major platforms like YouTube and Twitch is laughable, and subscription earnings are meager unless you build a massive audience. Building a large audience is not easy, and requires a major time investment.
Instead, view streaming like your standard gaming time. You are already going to play 'X' game, so why not stream it for fun?
Important: Don’t worry about how many viewers you have. Just stream.
Be consistent with your streams
You’ve likely heard it before, but the most important element of streaming is consistency. Regardless if you’re streaming for one hour or multiple days each week, you need to stay consistent so your followers can build a familiarity with your schedule.
This doesn’t mean you can’t stream on off days, but if you know that you’re always free on Mondays after 8:00 pm, then schedule your weekly two-hour stream for that time! In doing so, you’ll have some sense of structure in place that will help with consistency.
Some new streamers can make the mistake of thinking they need to be a performer to be successful. While being engaging and entertaining can definitely help, it’s more important to be yourself.
You know when someone is being fake and viewers can tell when a streamer is inflating their emotions. Don't do it.
Play what you want to play
A lot of people smarter than me suggest that new streamers should stick to one game so viewers who engage with you will continue to consume your future content. While this definitely works in garnering recurring viewers, it can be a huge drag.
Speaking from personal experience, feeling forced to play the same game week-over-week leads to burnout and streaming resentment. We’re trying to have fun here!
Play what you’re most interested in at the moment. In doing so, you’ll be having fun and in turn, the audience will see that you are too.
Chat engagement goes a long way
Another benefit of being a small hobby streamer is that you will often have only a few viewers chatting in at one time. What this means is that you should have no problem engaging with folks as they chime in.
By responding to viewers who are typing into your chat, you are engaging in a way most other large streamers cannot.
If you have a few folks viewing, but not chatting in, definitely DO NOT call them out. Instead, have a question of the day available for them to start with like, “What’s your favorite game of all time?” This way, they can choose to respond if they feel like it.
There are plenty of other helpful takeaways that I could list, but I feel like these five are the most important to get you started. At the end of the day, it’s good to remember that you’re playing video games.
To recap, here are the five takeaways to remember as a hobbyist streamer:
- Don’t go into streaming for money
- Be consistent with your streams
- Be yourself
- Play what you want to play
- Engage with your audience
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