I’ve been live streaming on Twitch for about 6 months now, and though I had my doubts about it before starting, it’s honestly one of the best choices I’ve made in my content creating career. I have met so many other streamers and creators that I now consider to be friends, and I’ve made a good presence for myself, as far as my brand goes (yes, I do realize how pretentious things get when the word “brand” comes into play.) I’ve learned a lot more about creating online content in these last 6 months of Twitch streaming than I have in the last 4 years when I was just vlogging on Youtube and writing. That’s not to say that there aren’t lessons to be learned from vlogging, blogging, or writing stories, but the lessons I’ve learned from being on Twitch have benefited me more than what I have learned from other creative mediums, and I feel like these lessons are helpful to creators of any type.
1. It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect to Start
I had wanted to stream on Twitch for years. Ever since I saw that it was becoming a big thing, I thought it would be the most fulfilling type of content to create. Instead of just starting, though, I let so many doubts get in my way. “Do I have the right equipment? Should I wait to get a capture card? Should I stick to a theme, or stream whatever I want? Are people even going to watch?” Once I got out from underneath these doubts, and finally sat in front of my PS4 camera, streaming Resident Evil 7 directly from the console, all of those doubts were gone. People came, they stayed to watch, they enjoyed what I was doing, and it all ended up being okay. I even had a friend who’s been watching streamers on Twitch for years tell me that I did very well for it being my first time. Despite the tiny little square of face-cam that the PS4 camera offered, as well as the clearly non-customizable/bland layout, people still had fun.
Right at this moment, my current equipment includes my MacBook Air, an Avermedia Live Gamer Portable 2 capture card, a Blue Snoball USB microphone, and the built-in webcam from my laptop, and it’s enough to have garnered a decent-sized, loyal audience. Shoot, even when I was completely oblivious to the fact that my streams were lagging for a whole five seconds (or more), people still stuck around and watched. I was mortified that my stream quality was so low at that point, but the people who wanted to watch me clearly didn’t care. I’m far from having the ideal tools for streaming, but I’m working with what I have. If I waited for it to be ideal, then I would have found another reason to keep pushing back the opportunity to start streaming.
2. Community Building is EVERYTHING
At the moment that I’m writing this post, I have 322 Twitch followers. It’s not a giant amount, but it’s more than I ever expected to have after only 6-ish months on the platform. The reason I feel I’ve gotten this far in a short amount of time is because of the communities I interact with, and how often I try to find new ones to join.
Twitch, from what I’ve seen, is less of a self-serving platform than it may seem. Sure, you’re live streaming for quite a few hours in front of a camera with a game/activity of your choice, hoping people come in and chat with you, but getting people to your channel just by streaming alone is way less effective than it is through community building. When you find other streamers to watch, and you start interacting with their communities inside and outside of streams (usually via the chat application called Discord), they get to know you in a way that would make them want to support you. Because Twitch thrives off of being chatty with the streamer, it only seems natural to take that mentality and run with it outside of streams, as well. It’s a great way to influence people to come hang out in your channel, and it definitely contributes to a heavy amount of people’s success on Twitch. And you know what’s great? The people on Twitch want to build these communities; they don’t do it just to grow their channel. It’s not to say that creators on other platforms only support others for their own gain, but the creators on Twitch so overtly support others simply for the sake of supporting, and it’s so rare that you see that kind of altruism on a platform full of people trying to grow their presence.
3. Trust your Creativity
Being a creator means having crippling self-doubt about most things that you do (and if you’re a creator who doesn’t have anxiety about the things you create, please tell me all of your secrets). Of course, when I started on Twitch, I was rife with it. Nowadays, I’m a little less rife, but those debilitating doubts still come in passing thoughts. I was so doubtful of certain creative decisions I was making, and even after I got the capture card so I could use the ever popular OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) to stream my console games, I was still so full of doubt about whether or not what I was doing was good enough.
No matter how much research I did on what the ideal settings, layout, and anything else you could think of when it comes to streaming, the answer seemed to be (mostly) the same: “it’s all up to you.” Much like any of my other creative endeavors, my Twitch streams were left to trial and error, and for the most part, it worked out pretty well. Even my Creative Writing streams, which are a thing that seem pretty uncommon on the platform, seem to be received well, despite the passing self-doubts trying to make a residence out of my brain when I’m in the middle of those streams. The thing is, no matter who I go to with doubts about my stream, the answer usually seems to go along the lines of suggesting I should do whatever I want with it.
Success on Twitch is so focused on the streamer, rather than the content that the streamer is providing, and it’s taken me these six months for this lesson to finally sink in. I find myself watching streamers play games I have no interest in, simply because the streamer is so entertaining to me. What matters most is that they’re doing the work to engage their viewers. As long as they’re still tapping into their own creativity, that’s what really brings the streams to life.
I never expected to learn so much about content creating in the last six months that I’ve been streaming on Twitch, but I’m honestly so grateful for where it has brought be, today. It can be easy to see Twitch as just another content creating platform, but it’s honestly the one platform where I’ve felt the most welcomed, and the most accepted for who I am, as well as the talents I try to display online. Streaming has become such a good creative outlet and sanctuary for me, and it’s something I can see myself doing for so many years to come.
If Twitch streaming is something you’re thinking about, and you have at least the minimum equipment to do it, then just go for it. Don’t wait for the conditions to be perfect. Find the communities that will support you and this endeavor. Trust that the creativity in you is what will shine through in your streams, and lead to your success in this medium of content creation. You deserve to be a part of such a rewarding platform.