Over the three years I have been streaming I have watched quite a few hours of streams as well. I have surfed the top and bottom of the viewers counts, watched partnered and non-partnered streamers alike. I have watched people succeed on their own hard work, and seen others get there by being bumped by the right people at the right times. Please note, I am no ‘expert’ or ‘authority’ on streaming. What I will talk about below is my own personal opinions on the matter.
There is a lot of back and forth on whether or not you should be yourself, or be fake/gimmicky to succeed in the streaming world. Now, I am not saying having a few gimmicks here and there is a bad thing, or it doesn’t work, but I feel it is the wrong choice for success as a streamer. Now, before we get started on the reasons why I feel this way, I would like to clarify that by success as a streamer, I do not necessarily mean just ‘getting partnered’. Honestly, I have seen streamers get partnered and as soon as that happens they return right back down to minimal numbers. Partnership is not the end goal in my opinion. I personally believe succeeding as a streamer is growing a healthy, consistent community/viewership. There are plenty of ways out there that your viewers can support you these days that go above and beyond getting a sub button on a streaming website. Growing as a streamer, you’re looking at new viewers, and the viewers you are retaining that have already visited. You want those viewers to keep coming back. You want them to feel involved, wanted, appreciated, etc. This is one of the reasons why I do not feel gimmicks are the way to go. While gimmicks do bring in new viewers, it is for the wrong reasons. Most gimmicks revolve around either buying their viewership (prices, giveaways, rewards, etc) or you being someone you are not (being overlay funny, acting stupid, etc). The issue with gimmicks is that over time you have to ‘up your game’ so to speak. The same gimmicks lose effect and you have to increasingly do more to bring more people in. I have seen many casters burn out from this vicious cycle. I have seen so many things being done on streams that honestly made me just shake my head and find another stream to watch.
The argument against being yourself is that people think you wont succeed because you are boring. There are two sides to this statement. 1) Some people do succeed at being low-key because some viewers are looking for low-key, relaxed streams. They do not like the constant high-energy streams. 2) If the caster is not succeeding at this, they haven’t learned some necessary skills yet. Them failing is sad, but a part of life. This market isn’t like kids sports nowadays where everyone gets a trophy no matter what they do. This is real life. Some make it and some do not. Sink or swim type of situation. And while some think the sink or swim statement is a good reason to use gimmicks, using gimmicks is like building your ship with rotten wood. It works for awhile, but eventually you will sink. Your ‘ship’ [streaming career] is better off being built slowly with solid, healthy ‘wood’ [community].
I constantly stress the ‘be yourself’ attitude because as you grow (if you are one of the lucky ones to grow that big), it will not be a stressful, mentally exhausting, dreaded activity. Streaming is meant to be fun, worrying about the ‘next big thing’ you’re going to do on your stream to bring more people in eats you up eventually. It should not be a stressful thing to sit down at your desk and turn your stream on. It should come natural to you. Hence the importance of being yourself.
Now, along with being yourself, there are some things you should keep in mind. To build a community, you need to make your viewers feel like they are PART of said community. Yes, the game is fun, but if you focus fully on the game and ignore your viewers, why should they stick around and devote time out of their days to watch you (please understand that these tips are for non-esports streamers that are required to focus on their games). Even on stream #1, always be talking as if you have viewers. I can tell you I have left many streams because when I came into the channel, the caster was not talking at all. TALK! Catch the viewers attention. Make them want to hear what you are saying. Welcome them to the channel. Ask them how they are doing. The goal is to make them feel like they are welcome and wanted, that they are devoting their free time to someone who appreciates it.
You want to involve your community as much as possible. This does not mean you are required to play open games with them 24/7, but devoting 1 stream per week to games your viewers can join in definitely helps. ‘Team Player Tuesdays / Social Saturdays” type of thing. Devote 1 day a week to involving your community.
Get to know them / let them get to know you. You do not need to get super personal with this, but you can still try to get to know your viewers. Share with them, even if it seems mundane to you, things about your day/week. The viewers know that we are humans, too, and have lives outside of streaming. If they are regulars, they already know what has happened during your stream times and will love hearing about things that happen in your life outside of stream. This goes both ways. A lot of people these days just need an ear sometimes. Asking someone how their day has been and actually listening and responding to their emotions is a great way to build a community. This shows you CARE about them. This is a good thing. 🙂
Do not be afraid to take a break from the game to get more involved in a conversation happening in your chat. Giving your viewers more attention than the game shows you can take the conversations seriously and you care about what is being discussed. This can be tough to balance at times, as sometimes if you get too caught up in talking and not gaming you may displease some of your other viewers. It can take some time to find a good balance here, so do not beat yourself up for making a few mistakes along the way. Learn from them and keep pushing forward.
Be humble. I cannot tell you how much it makes people smile/feel appreciated when they decide to give you a follow/sub/donation. All of those things show they want to support you. THANK THEM. Every. Single. One. Do not lose sight of who got you to where you are. Just because you are used to receiving $50 donations does not mean you should ignore $1 donations. That $1 could be the viewers LAST one, and they decided to give it to YOU. So thank them, the game can wait.
Some may say some of these tips are contradictory to me saying ‘be yourself’. “What if I am not humble in real life? You’re telling me to be fake there.” Yes, that has not slipped my sight. I realize some of these tips may have you doing things that you do not normally do, therefor ‘faking’ it. These tips are here to help you build better streaming practices alongside of your normal behaviors. I am not telling you to go buy a wig, sound board, prize wheel, etc. These tips are not gimmicks, they do work, and they are healthy, sound bits of information to help you grow your community. Take it or leave it.
Again, I am not an expert on streaming. But I hope the above information has brought some insight into the ‘be yourself’ vs ‘be fake/gimmicky’ argument. I hope that these tips will help you grow, as they have helped me grow. I hope they have revealed some insight into the viewers side of things.
-MindlessPuppetz of TSSN