Over the past two years I've learned a thing or two about what makes a successful stream vs what causes it to flop. I'd like to share some of the things I've learned with those wishing to start their own streams.
- Have a Microphone
Interact with your chat
- People will understand that you are playing a game and have to put some concentration on the game, but a broadcaster who never interacts with their chatters creates a wall of isolation. Without the live interaction with the broadcaster, a stream becomes nothing more than a youtube video. It can be a difficult skill to learn but practice makes perfect. Set up a second computer or a second monitor on your main computer so you can be reading chat often to answer questions, respond to funny comments, greet people, etc.
No Dead Air
- They say silence is golden, but not when you're streaming. Take a closer look at your television. Notice how (except for suspencful moments) there is never silence for more than a very brief period. There is always talking and/or music playing to fill in the dead air. It's far more entertaining to constantly hear the broadcaster speaking (except when the game is speaking or in a cutscene) than for there to be complete silence. Even if you aren't speaking to the chatters be sure you are speaking regularly (not always constantly). Try saying your thoughts out loud like: "I wonder where I am?" "Where can i find more ammo" "I need to find more health or I'm screwed." Viewers want to hear a voice so they don't feel alone.
Ignore the Viewer Count
- The viewer count serves nothing but a distraction from both the game and interacting with the chatroom. Cover it up, don't look at it. it's going to go up and down alot. When it goes down you will start to wonder "what am I doing wrong?" and get into a bad mood. People will leave most often to things outside of your control. Cover it up and only check it once in a while if you simply must know how many viewers you have. Try it out and you'll see that you are much less concerned with the meaningless number and more concerned about the game and your viewers.
- The more you broadcast and the longer you broadcast, the more exposure your stream gets. If you broadcast only once in a while, you will get some viewers but the viewers you get might not remember you the next time you cast. People are also creatures of habit. When they find a stream they like they tend to make it part of their routine to come back everyday/every weekend.
Build a Community
- Form connections outside of your stream with your viewers. Steam, facebook, twitter, forums, etc. are all great ways to interact with your fans when you aren't stream and a good way to become closer to them. These tools are also very good to letting as many people know as possible of when you will be streaming.
- Having a High Definition stream is not the key to success, but having a watchable stream is. Work hard changing settings to get your stream looking as good as you can get it. A stream does not have to be perfect as many can see i had a mediocre quality stream for years. It may have been mediocre, but it was watchable. I can give you tips and help on running a successulf stream at low bandwidth if you need help.
- One aspect of my stream that has always set me apart is the sheer amount of variety of the games I will play. From point and click adventures to First Person Shooters I play games from all over the spectrum and this in turn draws viewers from all over. There are viewers that are die hard fans for certain types of games and will be drawn to your stream when you play those types of games. While they are there they build a connection with you and will come back again to hang out with you. The game you play starts to become secondary to the viewer. Playing a large variety of games brings all sorts of people who would not normally be watching the same streams together.
- Ban them and don't acknowledge them. This is the most effective tactic against trolls. I know you may feel hesitant to ban because they are counting as a view or don't want to come across as too strict, but it's far better to be minus a viewer then having to deal with bad mouthing and slurs. Don't give them attention, it's what they want. They want you to get upset and talk about them. Give them the opposite of what they want, ban them and don't mention their names.
- This is perhaps the most important one and you will require lots of it for many reasons. First, your stream will take time to grow. All streamers start from 0 viewers and 0 followers. Two years ago this is exactly where I started. Follow some of my guidelines above, but the most important is TIME. You are going to go through long periods of time of single digit or low double digit viewers. It takes time to slowly build a base of regular viewers. I spent months on the bottom just like everyone else.
- Don't get disappointed or quit when it seems like the people on the front page are getting all the love. You will get your time in the spotlight but you are going to need to build a base of regular viewers in order to start to push yourself higher and higher on the page count. Interaction with your chatters is how you build regular viewers that will become like friends to you. These people will come back and bring friends with them. I personally spent almost 6 months never breaking 40 viewers, but I was really close to these 40 people.
- I see too many streamers get upset and frustrated that after a couple months (or even less) of streaming that they aren't on the front page or getting hundreds of viewers. Please don't give up! You must invest lots of time (many, many months) to get where the big guys are at. No one handed me success, I had to spend 2 solid years broadcasting everyday in order to get to where I am today. If I can do, then any of you can. I can't urge you strongly enough to NOT GIVE UP!
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