Unless you've recently entered the world of #gaming, then many of you will have heard of streaming, as well as having some knowledge of streaming sites such as Twitch, YouTube, Hitbox and the newer Beam. The popularity and amount of current online streams and streamers aiming to create entertaining, enthralling content is staggering and to someone relatively new to the medium, could be intimidating.
I don't claim to know exactly what it takes to become a successful streamer, nor do I claim to be one. At the time of writing I have a channel of approximately 1,300 followers, with up to 10–15 viewers watching the streams at any given time. Will these stats improve? Who knows, but it has been a long slog (nearly two years) to get to this point and i still enjoy it, which is the main thing.
I would love nothing more than to make a career out of streaming, but then so would many hundreds, potentially thousands of other people around the world all doing the same thing. Currently the streaming community is at its most competitive, especially with the introduction of streaming via consoles. With the push of a button, #Microsoft's Xbox One and #Sony's PlayStation 4 make streaming your gaming montages and highlights much more accessible.
If you're still reading this with more determination than ever to begin you're #streaming journey, then hopefully I will help you on your way and at the very least give you a good understanding of how to do it. First, it's beneficial to give you insight into what streaming is or how it even began. So get yourself comfortable and let me formally introduce you to the world of streaming!
But before we continue, check out the video below of what can go on while live-streaming a video game. Please note that in no way is this video meant to deter you from streaming.
In The Beginning
#Twitch, or what was formally known as Justin.tv, was formed in 2006 by Justin Kan and Emmett Shear, with the aim of blogging and streaming via different content categories including social, gaming, creative, podcasts and more. Of all the categories, gaming grew the quickest and became the most popular on the site.
Due to this surge in popularity, the company decided to make a spinoff site to showcase mostly gaming content, naming it Twitch.tv. The site's popularity continued on an upward trajectory for the next few years, with the introduction of eSports helping to attract an average of 35 million visitors to the site per day. In 2014 Twitch was bought by Amazon, and has remained one of the most popular streaming service to date, aside from YouTube Gaming.
Other streaming platforms, like #Hitbox and #Beam, are also widely used, but are well behind Twitch and YouTube in terms of viewer base and popularity. So if you feel your budding channel would benefit from being on other platforms, then try them out and see which one best suits your needs or direction. I use Twitch to stream as I feel it has more potential to grow my channel. But this doesn't mean Twitch will be successful for everyone. I have seen success for people on the other platforms, so do a bit of research to decide which one best suits your needs.
Also, there is the option to cross-platform or multi-platform stream at the same time, e.g. stream to Twitch and YouTube, but in order to do this you will need to use an external capture card as well as open broadcast software (OBS) or XSplit, as well as reliable internet to do so.
Equipment And Quality
So now you have decided on your platform of choice, let's talk about equipment and its importance. Having the best or most expensive PC, capture card or camera does not necessarily mean instant success with your streaming. I have seen streamers have great success and even get partnership deals by streaming directly from their consoles with just a basic microphone and camera.
I like the versatility that streaming on an external capture card gives to my channel compared to the streaming from consoles. It enables me to be creative and give my channel an edge, and add features such as music, alerts and overlays. But these features don't come cheap and I would only suggest upgrading only if you are serious about streaming and want to potentially make it a career.
Before I upgraded my channel I tended to stream directly off console, and my viewership and channel growth was really good. So don't be discouraged if you're starting from there; it's an accessible option and a great introduction to how streaming works. If you're just starting out, here is some useful advice that will help you to gain followers and grow your channel quicker.
Get A Camera So Viewers/Followers Can See You
Some of you might not like that idea or may feel it's an invasion of privacy. But understand that streaming is more about socializing than it is streaming games. After all, that's why Twitch was set up in the first place, as a means of #vlogging people's lives. So I suggest becoming comfortable with viewer interaction, and use a good quality camera.
Good cameras to use are the ones that come with both the #XboxOne and #PlayStation4. The Logitech C920 is very popular with streamers and is the one I currently use. From experience, I've found that having the camera breaks the barrier between yourself and the viewers and enables them to live all the epic gaming moments right there with you.
Get Yourself A Good Quality Microphone
Just as important as having decent camera is the audio. There is nothing worse than going into stream that's full of echo or just isn't clear sounding. After all, how are viewers meant to interact if we don't know what you're talking about? There are plenty of affordable gaming mics on the market. I use a studio microphone, although it's not essential if you're starting out. As long as you're clear and audible, then you're good to go.
Most Importantly, Just Be Yourself
if you ask most viewers or followers why they keep going back to their favorite streamers, they'll probably tell you it's because of that streamer's sense of humor or personality, or because they feel a personal connection to them. Twitch is more than for showcasing games to people; it's a place for people to unwind, escape, and socialize with like-minded people.
Yes, of course being good at games does help a few streamers, but it's not a vital component to success. There are plenty of streamers out there who have created and gained a huge following just by being themselves, so don't ever be afraid to not showcase your individuality or personality.
Online Abuse: Beware The Trolls
Head to any online forum and sooner or later you'll trip over pages full of opinionated comments — some justified, some downright nasty. With the brilliance that is the world wide web came a darker side filled with envy, anger, politics, racism and general hatred. As a streamer you will also unfortunately come across this negative side. There is no surefire way to eliminate abusive people from your stream, although you can ban them from speaking to you or speaking in your channel. However, this ban only applies to that particular account they have created and they can easily make another account.
I suggest setting up a moderator bot that will oversee chat while you stream and ban anyone who is abusive. This will makes life much easier for you so you can just get on with streaming. Also, if you can make close friends moderators, this will support you in terms of viewership as well as added moderator protection. There are plenty of free moderator bots/programs out there, such as Nightbot, WizeBot, and Moobot.
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But perhaps the most important tip I can give you from experience with dealing with these type of viewers is to not let their actions intimidate or bother you when streaming. Whenever I've had experiences with trolls, I've always tried to put myself in their shoes or to better understand why they're doing what they're doing. Most of their trollish actions come from a sense of insecurity, as well as a need for attention. Sometimes increased popularity and exposure will bring out the trolls, and this behavior can even be from people who are closest to you, which again I've experienced.
The main message, however, is to not let others intimidate you or stop you from enjoying yourself, and if they do try, deal with them with firm grace, decorum and assertiveness.
All the advice I give is from my own experiences and is in no way an indication of the only way to to be a successful game streamer. I wish you all the success and happiness on your journey. If you'd like any further advice or agree or disagree with any of the points made then let me know in the comments below.
[Main Image: dasMEHDI on Twitch]