Ever feel like running a marathon in quicksand when it comes to sifting through the barrage of audience growth strategies Twitch streamers get hammered with? The world of live streaming advice, especially across platforms like Twitter, Reddit, and maybe not surprisingly, TikTok, seems flooded with bad advice.
It’s hard to tell if this is mostly leftover advice from yesteryears or just a trend of everyone hoping to boost their own streams by jumping onto the ‘streaming tips’ bandwagon. Either way, falling for these “hot takes” could do more harm than good when trying to build a loyal audience.
That’s why it’s high time to ditch the unhelpful and switch gears to strategies that actually make a difference.
Mistake 1: Streaming Too Much
Contrary to popular belief, livestreams, by their very format, aren’t the magic bullet for growth. They aren’t a discoverable form of media, and let’s face it, hardly anyone is going to tune into your stream VODs post the live session.
When starting out it can be tempting to stream for as long as possible, on as many days as possible. After all, the more time you’re live on Twitch, the more time you’re discoverable, right? Unfortunately not. Twitch doesn’t do much to promote smaller streamers, especially those sitting below 30 viewers. Also, most viewers don’t spend time scrolling through directories to find new streams to watch.
So, what’s a better use of your time? The answer lies in diversification – producing video content for more discoverable platforms, such as YouTube or TikTok. These platforms allow your content to be found anytime, anywhere, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re live or not. If you devote time to learning and crafting valuable content for these platforms, building an engaged audience becomes much easier and more rewarding.
Take a look at these 2 approaches:
- You could spend 8 hours streaming to a handful of viewers, only to have the VOD from that stream vanish into oblivion afterward.
- Alternatively, you could commit those 8 hours to create a valuable and engaging video for a platform like YouTube. Not only will you improve your content creation skills, but this video also remains discoverable forever and could continually bring in new viewers to your streams.
So, how should you divide your time, particularly when you’re trying to juggle a full-time job, or perhaps even a family? As a starting point, a split of 25% for streaming and 75% for content creation might work well.
Let’s say you can devote 20 hours a week to this career. The recommendation would be to spend only 5 hours streaming (maybe in two 2.5 hours streams) and the rest of the time, about 15 hours, should go into creating content for other platforms. As you start gaining traction, you can adjust this balance to better cater to your growing audience’s demands.
Here’s a pro tip: Consider merging your content creation with your streaming, much like popular streamer Ludwig does. His strategy involves structuring livestreams around the content he wants to put in a YouTube video each day and then he records it live – effectively making the most of both streaming and content creation.
Ultimately, the key takeaway is not to devote all your time solely to streaming. Instead, focus on learning and honing your skills to become a diverse content creator, rather than just a streamer. As you iterate on this process, your content improves, and more importantly, you open up more avenues for potential viewers to find and follow you.
You must stream for 4+ hours a day, 5+ days a week to grow an audience as a livestreamer.
You should spend the majority of your time creating content for discoverable platforms.
Mistake 2: The Discord Dilemma
Alright, let’s talk Discord. No, no one’s saying you can’t have your own server or that there’s some mystical follower count you gotta hit before it’s a good idea, but listen up. Too many streamers out there are sinking hours into crafting servers with a gazillion channels, mod bots, auto-posting their socials – and expecting people to stumble upon their stream just because they’ve got this fancy Discord server. But let’s be honest, there’s little to no chit-chat actually happening there.
Before you go full steam ahead and drop precious time into developing and managing a Discord server, ask yourself – is the community sizable enough to really benefit from another server to hang out in?
From a viewer’s perspective, what value does your Discord server actually offer them? And if they join and find a ghost town of channels with no activity, is that going to leave a good impression? Chances are, they’d hit the exit button before you can say “welcome”.
Instead, why not dive into medium-sized Discord communities that sync up with your interests? Maybe there’s one for the game you’re geeking out over, or a niche area where you’re the resident expert. The goal is to engage and be an active part of that community. The focus should be on learning the ropes of what makes a great Discord server and kindling friendships with other content creators with shared interests.
Hold up, before you get any ideas about spamming your links or self-promoting your content – let’s clear one thing. In most servers, that’s not gonna fly. No one’s clicking those links, and most communities won’t hesitate to issue a warning or straight-up ban anyone who tries. The actual game plan? Mingle with like-minded folks, learn from them, and contribute to the conversation with your own expertise and opinions.
Once you’ve rallied up an audience through your content that’s sizable enough to warrant a dedicated space for interaction – boom! You’re ready to launch your awesome community server, armed with everything you know about running a great one.
That’s when you can look into hosting private streams, stage channels, announcing new video releases, and all that jazz. But remember, the audience comes first – the cool server extras play back up.
And hey, speaking of Discord, did you know there’s a Gaming Careers Discord community where you can chat with thousands of streamers and creators just like you?
Create your very own Discord server where you can promote your livestreams, videos, and social media posts. Post that you’re going live now in every Discord you’re apart of.
Look for existing communities that have similar interests to yours. Participate actively and engage with these communities. Understand the elements that contribute to a successful Discord community.
Mistake 3: Posting Everything Everywhere
There’s a mind-boggling number of social media platforms these days – Twitch, Twitter (or X), Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, TikTok… and that’s before even getting into the different content types each platform has opened the doors for. Between all of these, creating content can become overwhelming.
Some folks might suggest you try to be everywhere at once, putting content out on multiple platforms. But that’s not just crazy hard to manage, it also stretches thin the quality and effort you can pour into each post.
So, here’s an alternate plan – focus on 1 or 2 platforms that serve different purposes but appeal to your audience. For example, if your stream focuses on cooking, Instagram could be the hot spot for showcasing those delicious finished dishes, whereas TikTok could serve up quick, bite-sized recipe highlights.
Or perhaps you’re all about that competitive gaming life with regular patches and updates. In that case, YouTube could be your spot-on platform for in-depth game guides, whereas Twitter could be the ground zero for sharing your thoughts and getting community feedback on updates and patches.
At least one of the platforms you choose should be a native video platform like YouTube, TikTok, or Facebook. After all, video content will match closest to what viewers can expect from your stream.
Try editing the content to fit the guidelines and vibe of the platform where you’re posting it. Create vertical highlights of your gaming clips for TikTok, or post a carousel of images from your cooking stream to Instagram. That way, you’re delivering valuable and engaging content uniquely intended for that platform.
Share all of your content across every platform to increase your chances of being discovered.
Concentrate on one or two platforms that are most likely to attract your target audience. Create engaging videos that offer value and are shareable.
Mistake 4: Ignoring Just Chatting
In the past, it was widely believed that to grow a streaming audience, sticking to a single game was essential. The idea was that audiences need to know what to expect each time a stream is started. Therefore, it was thought diversifying into multiple games might hamper this growth.
To some extent, this holds true today, particularly for smaller streamers. Streaming a random assortment of games daily with no clear link or theme in content is not recommended.
However, modern Twitch audiences are becoming increasingly flexible and less likely to expect a streamer to be dedicated to a single game. The majority of partnered streamers diversify what games they play on a day-to-day or month-to-month basis, depending on what’s popular or enjoyable for their audience.
Consider how several popular streamers participate in trend-setting games on Twitch, such as Among Us, Fall Guys, Rust, GTA RP, Only Up, etc.
The ability to do this hinges on the streamer’s personality. Often, audiences are more interested in the streamer than the game or category. If they find the content engaging, they are likely to continue watching for the streamer themselves.
Many streamers experience burnout from feeling obliged to continue playing the same game daily. Yet if a streamer is not genuinely enjoying the game, their audience can usually sense this through their content.
The goal should be nurturing an audience that cares about the streamer and the community they are building. These viewers should be interested in witnessing the streamer explore, learn, and entertain in various games.
But how does one begin building such an audience?
Here are three pieces of advice:
- Dedicate a portion of each stream to the Just Chatting section. This section should be devoted solely to conversing with the audience. When still acquiring initial viewers, this can be challenging. However, try to think of a conversation topic or a few talking points for each stream. If necessary, hold these conversations solo.
- Consider playing games that are closely related to the primary streaming content. For instance, if Dark Souls is the main streaming content, consider other games that could be played with No Death or No Hit runs. This approach minimizes the shocking contrast your audience might experience, and they should still find some elements of the previous game entertaining in the new one.
- Engage in games or content that encourage audience interaction. Games like marbles on stream, geoguessr, or activities like making a fast-food restaurant tier-list provide opportunities for viewer engagement. This approach helps build audiences’ interest in the streamer, not just the game being played.
Only stream a single game to grow, even on days when it doesn’t bring you joy.
Spend part of each stream “Just Chatting” directly with your audience. Choose games that are similar to your main content and those that promote audience interaction.
Mistake 5: Buying The Latest Gear
Buying every top-of-the-line light, camera, microphone, capture card, and stream deck doesn’t guarantee viewer engagement or retention. If the content isn’t what viewers want to support and consume, they won’t linger, regardless of the quality of the streaming equipment.
Review channels like mine, often praise the latest gear designed for streamers, potentially influencing purchases. But the crucial question here is: Will this product genuinely enhance the value of streamed content for the audience?
It’s critical not to confuse improving production quality with enhancing content quality.
Falling into the trap of believing the need for equipment used by successful streamers, like specific microphones or cameras, could be hindering streaming growth is easy. However, this uncertainty isn’t the case. Improvements from properly balancing and EQing audio with a budget microphone or adequately lighting a stream with an affordable webcam can meet viewer requirements for “good enough production quality.”
In reality, the main reason why most people don’t succeed in streaming is pretty straightforward—it’s due to not producing engaging content and giving up before gaining enough experience to create such content.
So, before investing in the latest streaming gear, ask: Will this product genuinely improve the value of my content for my audience? If not, consider investing in resources like online video editing courses that can enhance content-making skills and have a direct impact on the audience.
That said, if there’s personal joy in purchasing and testing the latest gear and sufficient disposable income to do so, feel free to indulge. Just don’t expect it to escalate viewership; that’s solely dependent on improving your content.
To grow your audience, you must always push the production quality and have the latest and most expensive streaming gear.
You can produce high-quality video and audio without expensive equipment. Focus your time and resources in things that will directly improve your content instead.
Understanding and picking the best strategies in the content creation world can be tough. With so many different ideas about stream schedules, game choices, audience interaction, and fancy gear, it can feel overwhelming. For creators, the challenge is sorting through this mix, figuring out what really makes a difference, all while keeping the audience entertained with great content.
As with all of our guides, below we have included a full video tutorial if that is your preferred method of learning.