In such a media driven age, the dream of broadcasting your own content has become extremely enticing, but many people forget that a critical element of that dream is that you need an audience.
Building a following takes a tremendous amount of effort and strategy, regardless of what platform you are on.
One of the more recent forms of content creation nowadays is that of streaming. Twitch.tv makes the process of streaming excessively easy, but it doesn’t do much to help somebody grow their following.
If you go to Twitch and look hard enough you will see thousands of streamers with less than even ten viewers.
To many streamers it can seem like the odds are stacked against them when starting up, but there are ways to change this. In fact, there are several ways for even the most clueless Twitch streamer to gain a significantly larger fan base.
Some of the following ideas are quick to implement, whereas others will take some time and patience.
1. Set a Schedule
This can’t be stressed enough. Without a clear schedule of when you’ll stream you will struggle to grow a following.
If people don’t know when to find you they will eventually give up looking. You need to be predictable in your times.
It may seem far-fetched but there are many, many people out there who like to carve time out simply to watch a streamer.
These are loyal fans and they are your most precious asset because not only do they watch, but they often donate, subscribe, give Bits, and (most importantly) tell their friends about your content.
If you don’t keep to a schedule those loyal fans may never get the chance to form.
Setting up a schedule is a fast and efficient method of getting more exposure.
An effective schedule would look something like this: streaming from 7pm to 11pm, on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.
Using a chat bot so your viewers can use commands like, !schedule, to see your schedule can come in handy.
It is important to stream on the weekend, even if it is just once a week, as it is when people have the most free time.
Streams which last 3+ hours are desirable as they allow for numerous people to come in and watch you from all over the world.
2. Always Be Networking
Contact other streamers. Start by reaching out to the streamers which you find most entertaining, but don’t stop there.
You should be contacting a lot of people.
Get in touch with those who play the same games as you, those that don’t, those that are more popular than you, and those with zero viewers. Form relationships with them, they don’t even need to be business relationships; you could simply chat with them.
Reaching out to other streamers can form a solid base for a friendship which will help your channel flourish in the process. Offer to do a shout-out to their channel once in a while if they do one for you in return. That way you can share the same fans.
You may even be able to hop into a game of theirs and get your name out that way. Streamers also watch other people play too so it’s an easy and foolproof way to get some additional exposure.
You can use SocialBlade to keep track of those who follow you and see how you’re doing against other streamers.
3. Work on Your Personality
This is a touchy subject for all. Nobody likes to hear criticism about their personality, even less so about their physical appearance, but for a topic like this a critical look is necessary.
The internet is a big and vast enough place for anybody of any personality to make it, but arguably, it prefers a particular type.
In 2017, the type of streamer you often come across is one which is opinionated and high energy. They are opinionated in the sense that they speak about their feelings regarding certain games, players, and even smaller aspects such as characters or maps.
They let their audience know how they feel so that their audience can feel it too. It creates a deeply intimate relationship.
Take Reynad, a popular Hearthstone streamer, for example. Late last year he spoke passionately about the direction Blizzard was taking their card game. He often talked about this on stream, but he also released a video summing up his views.
This gave his fans a chance to learn more about him as a person. Streamers are high energy in the sense that they are always doing something.
When they play a game, it is always the most important thing happening at that single moment. When they put their mind to climbing to a particular rank or trying to perform a particular skill it always energizes and animates them.
They make things happen, even when nothing is truly going on.
One example of this comes from Etika. He is a YouTube streamer but there are still things to be learned from him. In some of his older streams, he would take a shot whenever somebody donated a certain amount.
His focus was on being an entertainer first and a gaming streamer second. His actions meshed perfectly with his persona.
Now, that is not to say everybody reading this should grab a bottle whenever they go live, the point is that he makes his streams about so much more than games.
He ensures that something outlandish is happening all the time.
4. Engage with the Audience
Closely tied to working on personality, is that of engaging with the audience.
This is not television, this is not even YouTube. People want to know that they can reach out to their broadcaster. Allowing the audience to participate in your activities is a major plus as it often leads to entertaining scenarios.
For instance, if you asked viewers to send in drawings of a particular in-game character to your Twitter account and then proceeded to show them and react to them it would certainly lead to an entertaining scenario.
On that note, you really should have a Twitter account. It is an amazing way of interacting with your audience while still keeping the conversations short and speedy. It makes you so much more approachable.
A top quality webcam also helps with engaging with the audience. More times than not, people want to see your reactions to things happening.
Did something funny happen? They want to see you laugh.
Did something tragic happen? As morbid as it sounds, they want to see you get frustrated.
You should also use your microphone to give thanks to those who subscribe and donate. It makes it all the more likely for them to give again in the future.
In 2017 you can use tools like use Streamlabs to help keep track of that. Hosting quizzes, polls, and giveaways is a powerful way of keeping people’s attention too as it shows that you are willing to participate with them in more unconventional ways.
It breaks the barrier between broadcaster and audience.
5. Play Unpopular Games
It certainly sounds like a counterproductive idea but think of it like this: when you log onto Twitch and play PUBG or Overwatch you instantly have to battle for the top spot with Streaming Giants like A_Seagull, and Shroud, plus many others.
And while it’s totally possible to become just as popular as or even more popular than people like that, for somebody who perhaps doesn’t have the largest following just yet it would definitely be a struggle.
Less popular games like Witcher 3 or even Rocket League allow you to gain much more exposure as newcomers don’t need to scroll far down to find you. Not just this but you will likely pick up a different set of fans through follows and subscriptions.
6. Add Graphics to Your Twitch Description
Underneath each stream is a section about the content creator and the channel itself. It typically includes an About Me section, schedule details, and maybe info about donating and subscribing.
One of Twitch’s best features is that it allows you to include images in this section. These are fast to set up and implement.
Streamers often use graphics as banners to highlight certain events or turn them into clickable buttons which lead to other places such as a Patreon or Twitter account.
One person who expertly pulls this off is Trihex. He uses graphics to highlight his social media accounts, and banners to sometimes announce his events such as live stream marathons.
Including graphics under your stream will not grow your following on its own, but it does give people a certain confidence in you as a content creator because it shows that you went the extra mile to impress your audience.
And if there’s room for it on your stream, consider using on-stream graphics like an overlay, webcam frame, and alerts that show up when you get a donation or new subscriber (or follower if you’re not partnered yet).
If you’re streaming from a console, you’ll need to make sure you’re using a good capture card to be able to use overlays.
Luckily you don’t need to be good at Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator to get high quality designs. You can use sites like Streamplay Graphics to not only find panel designs, but every other graphic type you could want for your channel like overlays, alerts, offline banners, and more.
Ready to Grow Your Twitch Channel?
Hopefully after applying some of these tips to your own Twitch channel you will start to see the type of growth you were looking for.
Perhaps the most important tip to remember is to be active. Stream regularly and reach out to your fans.
For small channels it will most likely take a number of months to reach a follower count of 1000+ but armed with this info the “grind” will be a lot easier and much more enjoyable.