In the last decade, a new interesting online job became a reality when people started streaming their gaming experiences to a live audience. Nowadays this evolved into a giant industry that gave a rise to many influencers. People no longer become a streamer just to stream games, but also their walks around town, their travels, their process of creating art or they just create a sort of watching party, where they go through YouTube videos with their audience. What does streaming truly need and how does one start? Let’s find out.
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- What is unique about streaming?
- How does streaming work as a side hustle?
- What do you need to become a streamer?
- What to expect?
- How to make your stream grow?
- Build a community
- Streaming is not for everyone
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What is unique about streaming?
A person that streams their videos to a live audience, in other words, streamer, entertains their audience by showing them things they normally wouldn’t have seen. They build communities, create the content of a certain kind and they consistently deliver on a promise of a good fun time, when you tune in. If this sounds to you like a YouTube video or television, you’re not far off. What streaming allows though, is the interaction with the streamer.
Most streamers have their own live chat, where they communicate with their audience and read their messages out loud. This gives the viewer a feeling they are part of something greater. The interaction makes it one of the most unique feelings one can get online. It is no surprise then, that a lot of viewers quickly become fans of the said person, even calling them their friend.
How does streaming work as a side hustle?
As always, when a person has an audience, there is earning potential. Since people become fans of a streamer, they want to see them succeed and continue to bring more content. Even though these streams are free, people like to support their creator in a form of donations or paid subscriptions.
These not only support the streamer, but they also give the viewer something in return. Donations, for example, can be set up to be sent with a message that shows up on the screen, making it easier for a streamer to notice in the sea of hundreds of messages. Some streamers even allow people to influence what they are doing, like a decision in the game or do a certain exercise, sing a song etc. for a certain amount of money.
Paid subscriptions, on the other hand, can give the viewer access to a certain “VIP” part of a community, give them emoticons they can use or remove ads from the stream.
And thus donations and subscriptions became an inseparable part of streaming. They allow people to make this hobby of theirs, a full-time job.
What do you need to become a streamer?
If you are not sure what platform to start on, don’t worry, there’s a solution. You can register to all of them and then set up a Restream.io account. This site takes your stream and restreams it to all platforms you add into it. With a little bit of tweaking, you can also connect all the platform’s chats. I recommend starting with Restream as it will be easier to find out where your audience is located.
I would also recommend using a streaming software called StreamLabs. It makes setting up the stream, donations and graphics much easier. Other people also recommend a program Stream Elements but I have no experience with it.
I recommend finding a tutorial on the internet how to set up each platform. Youtube is a great source for this. An article about this later might appear here later, but today, we are talking in general terms.
The next thing you need is a good microphone. We are not talking like hundreds of dollars worth of microphone tech. Just get some standalone microphone that you can put on an arm. I used Blue Snowball Microphone with this arm. I also bought a simple pop filter, but neither the pop filter nor the arm is not necessary. It’s just more for comfort. Microphones also work the best the closer they are to your mouth.
If you decide to stream with a webcam (not necessary either, but it helps a lot with your audience), you can buy pretty much any webcam. I had the camera I used for photography, so my setup was a bit more expensive, but I tried a 3$ PS3 eye camera I got off ebay-like site and got amazing results as well (you can buy drivers somewhere for like 2$ to make it work on a pc). There are even ways to connect your phone and use it as a webcam.
What you need though, are lights. Any webcam, well, camera in general, becomes an absolute beast if the scene is lighted correctly. When I used to stream, I even bought some cheap RGB lights to put on my wall to create a colourful atmosphere. Otherwise, I used this little adjustable photography light, but anything will do. Even a lamp with a good, white lightbulb. If you are planning to stream outside, then you don’t really have to care about this stuff.
One of my favourite YouTubers, when it comes to learning twitch, had a good video about looking professional. A part of it was about lights. I’ll put it right here. Feel free to watch more videos on his channel if you are interested in the streaming topic. His advice is priceless.
What to expect?
Streaming is one of the slowest platforms to get discovered on, if you don’t have already an audience built elsewhere. You will need to be consistent and do a lot of networking. At the beginning, you will stream to 0 people. This can last a few days or even months. It depends on how much you will work for it.
This period can be crushing for a lot of starting streamers and many give up at this point. I would recommend doing the thing you enjoy on the stream, so it’s easier to deal with. A thing you would be doing anyway without the audience and take the audience as a bonus.
Sadly, since streaming has a lot of dead air, there is a chance that people will find you at a moment when you are not doing something fun. A lot of people also start to stream every day, this means giant competition and harder for the world to see you. There are ways though, to work around this.
How to make your stream grow?
Create content elsewhere
The fastest way to grow your stream is to, ironically enough, not stream. Or at least not stream all the time. The fastest way to make it grow is to create content outside streaming, like YouTube videos, TikTok videos or growing following on Instagram or Twitter.
What you basically want to do is to develop an audience elsewhere and then advertise your streams, bring them to you. Platforms like TikTok and YouTube have amazing algorithms that help your content to get discovered. Plus, since the content you upload on these platfroms stays there even when you are offline, people can discover you even when you are not doing anything.
Network / Collaborate
If you don’t like the idea of creating content or don’t feel comfortable with editing and all that stuff, you can also grow your stream by collaborating with bigger streamers. Get the eyes of their audience on you.
For this you will need to network first or just generally make friends. Then you two can stream together and you can show why people could also like you.
Sometimes you don’t even have to become friends with the streamer, you can just become a well-known member of their community and then mention you start streaming (if the streamer this community belongs to allows it). This method is not as fast, but can help.
There are groups that help streamers gain viewers by collaborating. I’m not talking a follow4follow groups. Follows don’t do anything in streaming. It’s the active viewers you are looking for. Many streaming platforms rank your stream higher according to how many viewers you have at the moment.
This means if you join a discord group for streamers and gain so-called lurkers – people that turn your stream on, but don’t interact – your stream can get higher in the rankings, making it possible for regular viewers to discover you.
My experience with these groups was… mixed, but it definitely works if you become part of them. Again, network. Other streamers can then send their audience to you when they finish stream to help you being discovered.
It wouldn’t be one of my post if I wouldn’t talk about the importance of marketing. As with everything that needs an audience, you need to let people know you exist. For that, you need to advertise your stream everywhere you can. Tastefully of course. No one likes spammers.
You can even pay for google ads to lead them to your stream, although from what I’ve heard, this is not too effective. It’s up to you if you want to spend money on this, but before you do, look up how to do it properly.
Otherwise, it’s good to have an elevator pitch ready about your stream. Why should people watch you? What makes you unique? What is your niche? Yes, even here a niche is important. Think of these things before you start a stream. Sadly, it is not enough to be just yourself (unless you are a very eccentric character) to be seen today. You need to offer something to the viewer that they would not get elsewhere and then advertise that thing.
Become an authority on a subject
You want to become well known at a certain subject as that person. For example, when we look at twitch, when someone says Fortnite, the first thing that comes to most people’s mind is the streamer Ninja, who became a giant in this topic. He became so big, he now has a character model in the game itself modelled after him.
If you say business, esports scene or stats on Twitch, people will think of Devin Nash. A man who teaches his audience about business-related stuff, statistic and everything around twitch.
There are dozens of these examples and if you watch twitch often, you probably can think of these yourself. Now, you need to think about how to become one. What is it you like and know a lot about? Can you make content about it? How will you make it entertaining?
Some of these questions are easier to answer than the rest, but if you will get an answer to them, you’ll have a much higher chance to grow.
Build a community
As you grow, it is good to build a community of people and make sure they are the kind of people you want. A lot of streamers don’t police their communities and they grow out to be very toxic to everyone around. This can include even the streamer themselves. If you want to have better mental health in the long run, please, set up rules and enforce them from day one.
If you teach the people in your community you don’t want any toxicity towards others, they will enforce that themselves, shunning those that will be. Yes, I know, censorship and all that, but it is really easy for people to be rude and hateful when hiding behind the veil of anonymity.
Streaming is not for everyone
Now the last topic I wanted to cover. Streaming is not for everyone. When you become a streamer, it can be depressing seeing that low amount of views. It is something a lot of people struggle with. When you get popular, you are in the public eye, which can bring unwanted attention. If you have insecurities about something (most of us do), they will be found and challenged.
There are ways to prevent this, like the community building mentioned above, but some people might still slip through the cracks to hurt you. Sadly, there is not much else to do other than dealing with it. This is easier for some people than others. If you don’t like the idea of this pressure, it is okay to choose a different career / side hustle.
Streaming can be a lot of fun. I know I had a lot of fun during it. It lets you meet a lot of new people and friends you otherwise might not meet. But, it can also feel very lonely at first. Once you get over that part, it is generally a very positive experience. Hopefully, you now know what to expect and will return to this article next time, when you’ll want to read back onto some tips on how to grow. Otherwise, I once again recommend checking the video above and checking the man’s (Harris Heller, also known as Alpha Gaming) channel.
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