With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic keeping the majority of us indoors, a lot of gamers have taken up live streaming as a new hobby, or even as a potential career path. While I don’t claim to be an authority on this specific field of content creation, I do have experience working in social media, and I’ve personally seen or even helped work on certain strategies that turned out to be ineffective in the long run.
This is mainly geared towards gamers who are trying to make money off of streaming. If you genuinely only do it for fun (like me, cause I’m mainly a writer), that’s completely fine, and you’ll probably still find a few useful tips here.
#1. Find Your Niche (and stick with it, at least at the start)
I know this sounds silly and obvious, but hear me out. Seeing as every popular streaming platform (which, at this point, are just Twitch, Facebook, and YouTube) is already heavily saturated, you’re going to need to find and stick with a niche that you enjoy, and try to build your community up from there.
Unless you already have a following through other means of content creation (e.g. YouTube videos), you’re going to have a hard time finding regular viewers if you keep changing games every other stream. Be patient, because it’s rare, if not impossible, to become an overnight success if you’re starting out from scratch, especially if your game of choice is something like League of Legends or Fortnite. With that in mind, we can move on to our next tip, which is…
#2. Don’t Hop On The Latest Trends Just For Views
Let’s say a hot new battle royale just got released. You’ve been playing Warzone for the past couple of months and have gained a very small following, but now you want to take it to the next level. Are you thinking of switching games in order to rack up some views from people who wanna see fresh gameplay of that brand new title?
I hate to break it to you, but that’s exactly what bigger, more popular content creators under your same niche are gonna be thinking. Does that make it a bad idea, then? Not necessarily, but if you’re going to do it, don’t go in expecting a sudden boost in viewership, cause you’re most likely setting yourself up for disappointment.
Also, don’t forget to let your followers know if it’s gonna be a temporary or permanent change. Remember, not everyone watching you will be interested in everything that you enjoy, and some may stop coming to your streams if they don’t like that new game you’ve switched to.
#3. Don’t. Rely. On. Giveaways.
While there’s nothing wrong with giving back to your viewers every now and then, relying on giveaways to increase your views and follower count (e.g. “like and share for a chance to win a $10 Steam gift card!”) is going to hurt you in the long run.
Have you ever seen pages/channels with thousands of followers but only manage to get an average viewership of five or less? Yeah, there’s a chance that those follows were from people who were only interested in free stuff.
I’ve seen countless streamers fall into this trap, and it will only make you look incredibly suspicious. Others are gonna wonder why you have thousands of followers yet have little to no engagement, and I can assure you, it’s gonna give a negative first impression to anyone who happens to find you.
Seriously, I once worked on a corporation-backed project (which I won’t name out of respect) that used this tactic to boost their initial engagement, and they did it live in a gaming-related event. While it did get them thousands of followers, the average amount of people engaging with their content (outside of employees) hovers around zero to two.
Basically, unless you’re extremely lucky and manage to reel in people who are somehow invested in your content outside of your giveaway/s, it just won’t work, and you’re better off spending your money elsewhere. Speaking of money…
#4. Invest In Equipment
One way to attract viewers is by upping the quality of your stream, and no, you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on expensive studio equipment to do it. If you can afford to get a setup with a high-end mirrorless camera and something like a Shure SM7B, then knock yourself out, but if you’re on a much tighter budget, there are a lot of cheap alternatives that can make your content look a little more “professional”.
I’m going to use myself as an example just so I don’t have to find and compare actual aspiring streamers with professionals. Since I don’t really focus on this type of content creation (which I hinted towards in a previous article), I figured that I should make my stream look good without spending too much money.
Here’s the gear I use for my face cam and the estimated cost of each item:
- A4Tech PK-920H Webcam ($20)
- Two generic ring lights ($6 each)
- Desk lamp ($5)
I quickly set my stuff up just to take that picture above, but if you want to see it in action, here’s an example I recorded last month. As you can see, you can still make your stream look decent with incredibly cheap equipment. It’s at least way better than relying solely on your monitor to illuminate your face.
Really, just learn how three-point lighting works and apply that to your setup. Your face cam will look so much better. Also, a bit of tweaking in your broadcasting software of choice can make a huge difference. In my case, I just did a bit of color correction through Streamlabs OBS because my cheap webcam has washed out colors.
As for audio, I personally prefer to use a decent USB microphone just so I don’t have a mess of wires and equipment to manage (I currently use an ATR2500). If you’re gonna go down that route, just make sure to minimize the amount of background noise and fix your audio levels so that your mic doesn’t peak. Otherwise, there are a lot of affordable XLR mics (e.g. the BM-800) out there that are bundled with entry-level audio interfaces and phantom power adapters.
#5. Don’t Spam/Beg In Social Media, Or In General. Just, Don’t.
Coming from a fellow creator, I know how hard it’s to put yourself out there, but hear me out. It may be tempting to start joining various groups loosely related to your niche in order to promote your content, but do so in moderation and in a way that makes sense.
I’ve lost count of how many gamers I’ve seen post their streams in pages for specific games, and while that makes sense, it gets increasingly ridiculous when you encounter people advertising in groups for PC enthusiasts, creative professionals, and tech support. From what I’ve personally seen, groups like these have started banning specifically video game streams due to the sudden surge of people posting their Twitch or Facebook live broadcasts.
Think of it this way, do you really think that a group where freelancers try to showcase their skills to potential employers/clients is the appropriate place to advertise your fledgling Mobile Legends stream? The answer is obviously no, no it isn’t.
Remember, you’re not a “broadcasting professional”, at least not when you’re just starting. You’re just a person playing video games and—hopefully—providing engaging/entertaining commentary. And no, merely monetizing your stream doesn’t make you a professional either, especially when the barrier for entry to most affiliate/partnership programs is something as trivial as “have 50 followers” or “stream 4 hours in the past week”.
In the same vein, don’t beg or lowball people for stream assets. I’m sure you’ve at least seen posts about people who want their VODs edited or logos made either for free or for an extremely low price, and I can assure you, these people are real. For everyone’s sake, just please don’t be like those people.
If you want assets made for you, either do your research and offer a fair amount, or just pay exactly what an artist tells you their work is worth. You may not agree with their pricing, but that’s the beauty of negotiating, you’re allowed to decline or find a compromise that you can both work with.
Thoughts? Violent reactions? Feel free to share your own tips for aspiring streamers or just leave a comment letting me know whether you agree or disagree with some of the points I’ve made here. I’m always open to discussion. 🙂