Friday, December 4, 2020

Know When Not to Do What the Audience Wants



As you continue streaming, you'll start to receive viewer requests for things to change about your shows. These can range from simple error fixes to suggestions that you add a new widget or minigame, and sometimes even demands that you alter the games you play entirely. But it's important to remember that as a content creator, the buck stops with you. There's nothing you have to implement on your own streams if you don't want to. In the entry Stream How You Want, I told you about how Bob Dylan uprooted his entire career to change his musical style, shunning a huge percentage of his existing fans to do so, and ended up creating some of the greatest rock albums of all time. We learned how, as a Twitch streamer, you should never be afraid to change your shows just because others might dislike your decision. In this entry, we're going to explore another angle- standing your ground amidst the various, often contradictory requests for changes from viewers. Here, we'll talk about the seldom-discussed concept of when not to do what the audience wants, and explore how two of the world's greatest business leaders used the same strategy to yield amazing results. 


➢ A TITAN OF INDUSTRY


In previous entries, you've heard me talk about Henry Ford, father of modern automobile production. This man was an absolute paragon of industry, and he was prophetic in many of his ideas about how factory production, as well as work in general, would function in the years to come. In fact, aside from some of his unfortunate and dated personal beliefs, Ford's 1922 autobiography 'My Life and Work' still reads like it could have been written today. 

We owe much of the popularity of automobiles to 
Ford and his groundbreaking ideas.

One of my favorite anecdotes in this book involves Ford's realization that the customer is not necessarily always right, and how we shouldn't be too quick to bend to every whim. He says, "The salesmen [...] were spurred by the great sales to think that even greater sales might be had if only we had more models. It is strange how, just as soon as an article becomes successful, somebody starts to think that it would be more successful if only it were different. There is a tendency to keep monkeying with styles and to spoil a good thing by changing it. The salesmen were insistent on increasing the line. They listened to the 5 percent, the special customers who could say what they wanted, and forgot all about the 95 percent, who just bought without making any fuss. No business can improve unless it pays the closest possible attention to complaints and suggestions. If there is any defect in service then that must be instantly and rigorously investigated, but when the suggestion is only as to style, one has to make sure whether it is not merely a personal whim that is being voiced."

There are always people who will be loud about what they want from you, and they don't necessarily represent the feelings of the whole. You'll see this often on your streams. If people in your chat are suggesting a change, it's likely coming from a few very outspoken people who are able to articulate what they want, similar to the 5 percent of customers Ford mentions. If someone is pointing out a flaw, like your microphone not working, then that's one thing. But if they're saying you should play this, or say that, or change a graphic to red instead of blue, that's not something you have to do. It's just a viewer's personal whim. As streamers, it's hard not to do what someone directly asks of us, because we typically want to make sure everyone is happy. But don't forget that only you know what's ultimately best for your streams, and the decision is yours at the end of the day which of these changes actually need to be made.


➢ LESSONS FROM THE VALLEY


You can't talk about business leaders succeeding by not listening to their customers without mentioning Steve Jobs. Apple's co-founder and headstrong leader was the king of making unpopular decisions to move the industry forward. Many of us nowadays focus on Apple's rigidity as arbitrary and negative, like forcing us to buy various new connector cables or accessories for our phones. But throughout its history, Jobs' staunch positions on Apple's products blazed the trails which made many aspects of modern computing into what they are today. In the early 80's for example, Apple computers were the first to require that users have a mouse. This decision was laughed at in the beginning, but the mouse is now a mainstay most of us can't imagine being without. They hadn't invented the hardware, but by forcing users to use this tool in order to interface with their machines, they changed their entire industry for the better. 

It's hard to imagine now, but early computers functioned
with keyboards alone. 

The original iMac in 1998 changed things again, not necessarily by adding a feature, but by removing another one. One of the largest mainstays of computing throughout the 1980's and 90's was the floppy disk. This was a piece of storage media so ubiquitous that to this day, decades later, we still use an image of the floppy disk as the standardized 'save' icon in most games and applications. Steve Jobs saw the future though, and asserted that CD storage, as well as the rapidly expanding internet, were going to overtake this more established format. So, despite the floppy disk thriving in the computer industry at the time, Apple stuck to their guns and completely removed it from their brand new iMac machine. It was a massively controversial decision, and many users had a hard time scrambling to adjust to the new CD format. But this change ultimately helped to usher in a paradigm shift, nudging the rest of the computer industry to follow suit a few years later. And with hindsight, I think we can all agree that the 312-inch floppy disk, with its max storage capacity of 1.44 megabytes, wouldn't have much of a place in modern computing.

Sometimes whether we're updating our channel's entire look, changing the games we play, or implementing new rules, it can be difficult to shed our old features. But not everything has to carry over- it's often necessary to reassess what you truly need to keep on your streams. Like with the 312-inch floppy disk, some people may have liked that old feature, but removing it could shed the weight which was previously dragging you down. And like with Apple's requirement that all users have a mouse, you may find that by broadening your horizons, some new concept quickly becomes a mainstay on your streams. 


➢ STANDING YOUR GROUND


Viewer interactions and agency in helping to craft a Twitch channel can be amazing, and I'm not saying you should simply ignore every suggestion that comes your way. In fact, I use many of my viewers' change suggestions, clips they've created, and their ideas for future games to play on my streams. But the pressure can be substantial when the audience begins asking for things that go against what you want for your shows. And while you don't have to outright refuse on the spot or make anyone feel bad, you don't need to implement the things they ask for either. To paraphrase one of Henry Ford's most famous quotes: "The customer can have a car painted any color he wants, so long as it's black." Sometimes, when shaping your content offering, you need to know when not to do what the audience wants. 

Friday, November 27, 2020

Expanding Your Twitch Brand



If you've been streaming for a while now, you might be looking for ways to expand your reach outside of Twitch. Or maybe you've already created branded social pages, but have had a hard time getting any response to your posts. While actually making your streams should always be priority one, I'm certainly an advocate of branching out when it's safe to do so. By posting on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, or any other platform in support of your streams, you can explore interesting new avenues of content creation which might not be possible on Twitch. But it's important to realize a few things: the added responsibility of creating a new page like this, figuring out what kind of content you want to make, and probably most importantly, figuring out why you want to make it. 

As I say before every entry of this sort, especially if you just started with The Twitch Playbook and skipped to this one first: becoming consistent and skilled at actually streaming is always more important than building your brand. If you can't do ten streams without missing a single scheduled show (or if you haven't done ten streams yet in general), see the entry Surviving Your First Ten Streams before attempting anything I lay out here. Trying to expand too soon can kill your channel before it even begins.


➢ WITH GREAT POWER


So what do I mean when I say 'social media channels'? These are any pages on other platforms that you create as part of your Twitch brand, and only feature content meant to further your Twitch persona. What I'm not talking about when I mention 'social media channels' are personal Facebook, Instagram or Twitter pages that your all your friends and family are connected to, which feature your first and last name. Those are not branded social media channels, they're personal profiles. You can post things to them if you want, but they're not what we're discussing in this entry. 

Don't bite off more than you can chew.

Before starting any social media undertaking, make sure you don't bite off more than you can chew. It's better to begin with small, achievable milestones than massive plans that you abandon after a few days. It's essentially the same as starting a Twitch channel in that respect- you need to build enough discipline that you'll keep posting on schedule, every single time, whether or not you're in the mood to do so. If you already have several social media channels for your brand, consider cutting back and focusing on a single one. You can find more information about how to do this effectively in the growth check-in entry called Simplify Your Streams.


➢ THE LOVE YOU MAKE


Here's the most popular post made by Twitch streamers on Instagram: a photograph of their PC setup with OBS open, with a caption saying, "I'm going live now!" and a link to their channel below it. Many accounts, if you look at their Instagram profiles, are just rows and rows of nearly identical photos like this, because they post this exact same thing every time they do a show. I personally think this is a wildly ineffective strategy for two reasons: it brings no value, and it misunderstands how content gets displayed in the first place. 

If you've made that exact post before, consider the following: who benefits from that content? Imagine if someone was following your Instagram account, and they were pelted every single day with the same picture of your computer. It's not interesting to look at, and it doesn't say anything interesting in itself. On the contrary in fact- it's asking them to do something that benefits you. You're essentially posting an advertisement and asking people to engage with it. But why should they? Yes, your stream might be interesting, but these people on Instagram aren't seeing your stream, they're seeing the picture of your computer. The only engagement you're likely to gain by such attempts are from bot accounts trying to sell you something of their own. 

If you don't enjoy making the posts, and nobody
sees them, then who wins?

And most ironically, even if people were interested enough to check out your channel based on a post like this, they likely wouldn't even be shown the content. Social media algorithms work by sending your content to small percentages of your audience, and after those people engage with the post (if they engage with it), it'll be sent to another small percentage. This means that a post which provides little to no value to the recipient isn't likely to get past that first small percentage. And if it does, that chain of algorithmic distribution might take so long that people only see it after your show is over. Letting people know you're live might be useful if you have 50,000 Instagram followers who are all interested to know such information, but it's not a good way to grow when you're small. 


➢ CONTENT IS KING


This value-add philosophy doesn't only apply to Instagram of course. No matter what platform you use, you should try to create something that benefits the audience rather than blatantly playing to your own self-interests. Whether it's a beautiful image, a funny video, or an interesting thought, convey it in a way that you would find worth sharing if it weren't your post. 

Even if you never post links to your streams, or even mention you're a Twitch streamer at all, people who enjoy your content enough will eventually look at your profile page and follow the embedded link to your channel. And going further than that, even if they didn't follow your Twitch channel, there's nothing wrong with simply building an Instagram, YouTube, or TikTok that has a following of its own. You might find that there are things about those platforms that unlock different creative outlets than your Twitch channel provides. 

Similar to my philosophy about Twitch streaming, I think it's best to post whatever brings you the most creative fulfillment. Do you like making funny clips of your shows, taking artful in-game screenshots, or sharing theories about lore? Then focus on that. Don't worry about trying to herd people into your streams. Just like chasing followers on Twitch, making content that you think will get results rather than what you actually want to make, will only produce burnout. When expanding your Twitch brand, first find what you truly enjoy creating. The rest will fall into place.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Separate Your Two Streaming Selves



Many streamers run into the same tricky problem: they're about to start their show, but at that exact moment, they see something wrong with their channel that needs to be fixed, or a graphic they want to take a crack at redesigning, or they decide they're actually feeling kind of under the weather all of a sudden. Whatever the hangup, all these options lead to the same result: their stream doesn't go live when it's supposed to. As I've mentioned in previous entries, this final moment before broadcasting is when we typically feel the strongest pull not to press the Go Live button. 

This all comes down to that cunning and malevolent internal force residing in all of us, which I've referred to in previous entries as The Enemy. It's a feeling we all get, which takes a thousand different forms, that tries to prevent us from following our life goals. Any time you get sidetracked from streaming, it's because you allowed The Enemy to poison your mind. In the entry How to Get in the Habit of Streaming, I helped you to combat this deadly dream-killing foe by using better organization and discipline throughout your day. The Enemy is tricky though, and it'll constantly surprise you with new ways to stop you from doing what you're supposed to. One of the sneakiest is by making you do the right work at the wrong time, making you feel like you're getting things done, while in reality your habits and efficiency levels, and eventually your channel, all crumble around you. In this entry, I will help you to correctly prioritize your content creation habits by separating your two streaming selves. 


➢ THE CUTTING ROOM FLOOR


Of all the jobs that get done on a feature film, I've always been most fascinated with the responsibilities of an editor. They take thousands of disparate pieces and assemble them like a puzzle, reorganizing and sometimes essentially rewriting the entire film in the process. Whenever you hear editors in interviews, it's interesting to hear them talk about comedy scenes. Comedy is tough- a joke can be funny when you're reading it off the page, it can be funny when you see the actors perform it on camera, but it can't be funny after you've tweaked the same scene for the thousandth time. It just can't. So how do they judge whether the joke still lands, when they've been watching it over and over again, from a dozen different angles and in a hundred different ways? The usual answer is quite shocking: they don't. The editor typically has to remember that they and the director thought the joke was funny when they first added it, and trust that it's still funny in the end. 

Make your stream 'viewtiful!'

This is very similar to how I try to deal with creative aspirations. In my opinion, none of us are actually qualified to make decisions about our creative goals in the moment. When we sit down to do a stream, or even work on the behind-the-scenes aspects of our streams, we immediately feel something invisible and intangible, pulling us away from our keyboards. We start thinking of any reason, no matter how absurd, not to simply sit down and get our work done. When this happens to me, I try to take a page out of the film editor's handbook. Like the editor trusting their past judgment higher than their current thoughts, I might not feel like doing my stream in this exact moment, but I put trust in my past self's decision to stream and I do the show anyway. No matter what I'm feeling at the time, I follow the track I had laid for myself beforehand. If I still feel like I don't want to stream after the show is over, I tell myself, then I can cancel the next one. But of course, once the stream is finished, I always feel invigorated, and I never have those negative thoughts anymore. I know enough not to trust my 'in the moment self' about these decisions, because it's always the instant right before productivity that the mental roadblocks start coming out. 


➢ MACRO VS MICRO


As Twitch streamers, I believe there are two separate selves within each of us: the architect and the builder. An architect creates large-scale designs, separated from the day-to-day aspects of putting up walls and hammering nails. A builder, who comes onto the job site once the project is already planned, brings those designs to life. Neither job is more important than the other, because both are required to create a finished structure. But one should never try to do the work of the other. 

Kind of like how you should separate your sewage
plant from the water supply. A mistake I'll never
make again in this game.

The builder doesn't decide what a building looks like, or whether they do his work that day, or make the creative decisions about the work they're doing. The builder's job involves executing on a set of blueprints which are already established. In short, the architect plans, and the builder builds. As a creative person, you must always keep your architect self separated from your builder self. When you're planning your stream, you're the architect. You lay out the schedule, you decide what your channel will be about, and you come up with new ideas for graphics and layouts. But the architect never sits down to create the actual stream. The architect can worry about making decisions and changes once the show is done, but never in the moment. Allowing yourself to stay in architect mode right up until stream time is what causes those last-minute tweaks and changes which turn into hours-long overhaul sessions, delaying or cancelling your shows. When you sit down to do a stream, you should always be the builder. The builder is not allowed to decide whether the stream happens that day, or tweak the graphics, or fiddle around with other top-level creative choices. Those decisions have all been made already. The builder just has to clock in, make the show happen to the best of his or her ability, and clock out. If you're able to identify these two distinct sides of yourself and keep them away from each other, you'll be much more consistent about getting your streams done on time.


➢ STAY ON TARGET


The only time when we should be making decisions about our creative goals is when we're not about to work on them. When we're in the planning stage as architects, we're detached. Our visions aren't being warped by lethargy, laziness, last-minute ideas or whatever else might get in the way. When it's time to do our work, we don't get a say. That work simply gets done, and any decisions about changes or fixes can be made after the fact. To stay on top of your aspirations even more effectively, return to the entry 'Fix One Thing About Your Stream Every Day.' Using the techniques to write down channel ideas laid out there, you won't feel as much pressure to make changes in the moment, and your architect self will stay away from your builder self more easily. The writer Elbert Hubbard once said, "Self-discipline is the ability to make yourself do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not." And when you separate your two streaming selves, you'll see just how much that self-discipline improves your streams.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Focusing a Streaming Webcam



One of the most highly sought-after pieces of equipment for a Twitch streamer is a good camera. We all want to look good on our streams, after all. As I've mentioned in previous entries however, it's not always necessary to upgrade your camera to make your facecam shots shine. In the entry How to Make Your Camera Look Better, I took you through the two most important aspects of a good looking camera shot: composition and lighting. By understanding those, your frames will look a lot more professional. But there's another, more technical feature, which streamers often struggle with. In this entry, I'll teach you to understand your camera's focus in order to create a much more stable image. 


➢ THE MECHANICS OF FOCUS


Focus, as it pertains to a camera, is what causes some things in frame to be clear and some blurry. But how does focus work? Why is it that some cameras make the background super blurry and some don't? What causes certain cameras to switch what they're focusing on at seemingly random times? Learning what makes cameras and lenses tick is a massive rabbit hole, but it's not necessary to understand everything about them in order to create a nice looking Twitch stream. For our purposes, it's easiest to understand lenses when you think of them as eyes. This comparison might seem overly simplistic, but you'd be surprised how close to reality it actually is. It's so close in fact, that you can test out several camera focusing tricks simply by holding fingers up in front of your eyes in various positions. And throughout this entry, I'll ask you to do just that, so be ready to participate if it's safe for you to do so. 

Focus controls which parts of your frame are
blurry and which are clear.

The most popular kind of camera Twitch streamers tend to use is a webcam, either built into the computer itself or resting above the monitor. These webcams are designed for maximum ease of use, and therefore have many automatic settings enabled by default. One of these settings is auto-focus. This means the camera will decide for itself where the subject is placed in frame, and will focus its attention on that. This is very useful, because it offers you the freedom to move around your frame forwards or backwards, and not worry whether or not the camera is picking you up. You usually don't need to do anything fancy to make a stream look good with autofocus, but it's useful to understand what causes your camera to choose its subject. You'll often see streamers attempt to hold an object up to their camera for example, only for the lens to wildly alternate its focus between the close object and the streamer's face behind it. This is because the camera is still able to see two distinct planes- the face it was focusing on before, and the newly introduced close-up item- but it can't focus on both. To demonstrate this, try closing one eye and holding your finger about 6 inches from your other eye. If you focus on the finger, the wall or scenery behind it will be blurry. Now if you focus on the wall, the finger will be blurry. No matter how hard you try, you can't make both come into focus without moving the finger. It's the same with camera lenses. To get your camera's autofocus to easily zero in on the object you're holding close to the lens, try using your other hand or a piece of paper to block the background. This makes it so that the camera can't see anything except the closer object, and it will be forced to settle on what you want it to look at. You can try this with a finger as well. Close one eye and hold a finger six inches from the other eye again. Now take your other hand and press the palm behind that finger, so it acts as a background. Now, whether you're focusing on the finger or the palm, they're both in focus. That's because they're so close together that the eye doesn't need to choose anymore. There's no more foreground and background, it's all just foreground. 


➢ THE LIMITS OF AUTOFOCUS


Focus isn't all-powerful though. Every camera lens, from a webcam to Hollywood cinema glass, has its limits for how closely it can focus on an object. If you attempt to show something closer than that point, it will always be blurry, no matter how much focusing you do. You can test this with your finger too. Try closing one eye and placing your finger right in front of the open eye, so it's almost touching it. Now try to focus your eye on that finger. You can't do it. Unless you move the finger back, you won't be able to see it clearly at ultra-close range. The same holds true with cameras- each has a different limit, but they all have a point of no return like this. 

When using an autofocusing camera, you also want to make sure the shot itself is somewhat controlled. When you're sitting in your chair playing a game for example, there shouldn't be anything closer to the camera than you are. This depends on your setup, but if you have a corner of your lampshade, or a toy, or a book in the corner of the frame, sitting closer to the camera than your face, then the camera will likely be spending the whole show racking its focus between you and that foreground object. This is a problem you can easily identify by watching your streams after the fact. If you see something like this happening, check what the camera is focusing on other than your face and either relocate or remove it from the frame. 

Harsh backlights can mess with your camera's
focusing ability.

Sometimes, even if you've removed any extreme foreground objects from your frame, your camera will still have a hard time finding focus. This might be due to an imbalance of light, or just an overall lack of light. Cameras have a hard time seeing in the dark. The less light in your scene, the less visual information your camera will have to work with. You might not be able to tell by looking at your camera shot that it's too dark in your room, because most modern cameras will automatically turn on low-light compensation, making it look bright in frame even when it isn't bright in your camera's sensor. But that's just an effect- it doesn't mean the camera itself is able to see you any better. Try introducing more light into the area where you stream, and see if this solves the problem. This indecisive focus can also be caused by improper placement of lights- an ultra-bright light or window behind you in the camera shot will sometimes pull focus away from your face as well, so make sure your face is the largest and brightest thing in frame. To learn more about properly setting up lights, see the entry I mentioned earlier called How to Make Your Camera Look Better

Depending on how your stream is configured, focusing your camera can sometimes be a troublesome task. But by keeping these simple camera lens mechanics, as well as their limits, in mind, your stream will look much more stable. So now you just have to make sure you look good, because you won't be blurry anymore! 

Friday, November 6, 2020

Being More Authentic on Stream



If you've been on Twitch for a while, you might be wondering if there are some ways to better connect with your community while streaming. We've covered several techniques in past entries to become more welcoming to new viewers, moderate your chat, get to know people's interests, and more easily remember names. But I haven't talked quite as much about going in the other direction, and opening up so your chat can get to know you. Twitch provides you the unique experience of being able to not only state your opinions, but go back and forth with your community about them. It allows a much more free exchange of ideas than other platforms where the content is merely created beforehand and posted. 

In an effort to connect to as many potential viewers as possible, it's common for Twitch streamers to take very noncommittal stances on just about every subject. They won't necessarily open up about about what they dislike, or even go into great detail about the things they like, so that they can have ample room to agree with the stance of whichever chatter is talking. I used to fall into this 'don't rock the boat' mindset as well, until I realized something: It's actually easier for viewers to connect to a streamer who takes a stance about the things they care about, than to a streamer who simply agrees with what everyone says.


➢ VOICING YOUR OPINIONS


Imagine you're sitting down to dinner at a restaurant. You want to find the best item on the menu, and you ask the server what they recommend. I don't know about you, but I find it hard to trust the advice of a waiter or waitress who says, "Oh, everything's good here." Instead, I'd rather that person choose one or two items and tell me they're the best the chef has to offer. It's even better if they launch into an impassioned description about what makes those few dishes so great. This means they're really showing their viewpoint, and putting themselves out there. By omitting every other menu item from their recommendation they may technically be mildly criticizing them, but the trust built by focusing on something specific makes their endorsement much more compelling. Now to take it one step further, the thing that allows me to connect to a server the most is if they actively warn against getting a certain dish. If they tell me that I shouldn't get the fish because it's not the menu's strongest point, but then give me a few other great options based on what I like, that means they not only have an opinion, but it feels like they actually care about my dining experience. 

Don't be rude, but it helps to be honest.

When streaming, the same holds true. It's hard to find a connection with someone who doesn't seem to care one way or the other about anything. It's often said that acquaintances agree, but friends argue. Taking a stand on a subject and not simply nodding your head instantly implies a deeper connection with the other party. This doesn't mean you have to fight with your chat, but simply be willing to let your mind be heard. You will limit the amount of people who agree with your opinion, but you'll increase the amount of people who respect your opinion. And having someone respect where you're coming from, whether or not they agree with you, is much more important. 


➢ WHAT ARE YOUR PASSIONS? 


This doesn't only apply to the way you respond to questions or comments either. What are the things you're passionate about? Don't be afraid to gush about them on stream when the mood strikes. This allows people to know what you're likely interested to talk about on future shows, and positions you as an authority on these subjects. There are a few things I tend to voice very strong opinions about on my shows: anything from the writings of JRR Tolkien, to the Metal Gear Solid franchise, or Japanese toilet seats (don't get me started on these by the way- I find it insane that every first world household doesn't have them). People who love my shows know that I'm passionate about those topics, and it allows them to associate certain subjects with my content. As I've mentioned in the entry Your Channel is Not a One Stop Shop, establishing myself as someone who particularly loves Tolkien lore means that viewers will think of me when a new Lord of the Rings game, movie or TV show comes out. They know that when I watch or play that new release, I'll adore certain aspects and likely passionately oppose others. I might even strongly dislike the whole thing, but the fact that it comes from a place of love for the overall property means that even an unfavorable assessment wouldn't simply feel negative. Showing my authentic interest in a topic allows that to become a signature aspect of my streams, and means that even viewers who don't agree with my opinions will likely still respect them. 

When I play these games, it's open season for 
unleashing all the Silmarillion quotes.

There are other things that I show my love for, rather than just talk about. I don't necessarily discuss the Japanese language that much on my shows for example, but because I've streamed my Duolingo studies for so many days in a row, people know it's a huge interest of mine. My non-stream content is enhanced by the things I care about as well. If you've been following The Twitch Playbook for example, you've seen several of my passions find their way into the various entries. Movies, literature, 1960's music, history and tech startup companies often get used as examples. Sometimes I even write entire entries about them, which I tie back into the various disciplines of Twitch streaming. These entries would probably be pretty drab if I had only stuck to broad generalisms and dry technical language. They're instances where the content itself is made more interesting and more personal by the author being more authentic. 


➢ WARTS AND ALL


Being authentic also means allowing yourself to be seen when you're not at your best. It's much easier for your viewers to connect to you when they understand what you went through to get where you are. In The Twitch Playbook that's something I've tried to do quite often, and you'll see in almost every entry very specific examples of how I've failed and picked myself back up. I hope it's empowered many of you, especially those who are brand new to streaming, to realize there's nothing wrong with making mistakes. And on your streams, you can help your own community by being just as genuine. Try showing your authentic self to your community, and see how much more powerful your connections can become. 

Friday, October 30, 2020

Revising Your Streams from the Ground Up



Sometimes when making your streams, it can feel like you've hit your creative limit. You may assess the shows, with their current level of graphics, audio and interactivity, and not see much else that can be done. You start thinking that you've finally reached the point where if you want to improve, the only place to go from here is buy better tech. But before you go out and grab some gadget to boost your streams, consider taking a step backwards. What if you re-made your existing stream? 

I know this sounds drastic, but let the idea sink in for a second. By taking your stream apart and rebuilding it from the ground up, you'd be approaching each problem with a fresh perspective. You might find completely new avenues to take, and measurably improve the entire show. This works when updating the whole channel, or even just changing one aspect of your content. Think about it- each component of your existing stream has been comprised of countless smaller decisions and implementations. As you've continuously built upon those ideas to add new things to the channel, the older ones may no longer be the best solutions to your modern problems. Much like the 'First Principles' concept I described in the entry Simplify Your Streaming Problems, by reapproaching your situation from its absolute basic form you'll be opening your mind to potential paradigm shifts. In this entry, I'll help you to better revise your streams by taking advantage of this idea. 


➢ FROM THE STUDIO BACKLOT


One great example of effective revision took place on the Universal Studios Lot in California, almost 100 years ago. When silent films went away and sound became the norm, big movie studios had a very hard time creating international versions of their films. Because technological limitations prevented subtitling and dubbing from being implemented easily, studios couldn't put out their new movies in other territories, and were losing a huge portion of their revenue. So they came up with an interesting stopgap solution, which bred a quite unexpected result. 

Followed closely by this version of Dracula.

Even if you haven't seen the film, you're probably familiar with the classic 1931 adaptation of Dracula starring Bela Lugosi. It kickstarted an entire era of monster movies, and his embodiment of that famous vampire is the image most of us imagine when we think of the character. But what you probably don't know is that there was another version of Dracula produced by the same studio, at the exact same time, for Spanish-speaking audiences. These productions featured two separate crews and two separate casts, but had the same screenplay and were so closely mirrored that they were actually shot on the same sets, and even on the same days! The English language crew would come in and film from morning to evening, then they'd clear out and the Spanish crew would arrive two hours later to shoot the same scenes from evening all the way until morning. 

This meant there were two near-identical versions of the film produced, and it meant that Universal could release Dracula for Spanish-speaking audiences as well as English-speaking ones. This alternate Spanish incarnation of the movie, along with most every other film's foreign language versions, got destroyed or lost in the ensuing years, and this curious film production practice became largely forgotten. That is, until the 1990's, when a copy of the Spanish version of Dracula was discovered, restored, and recirculated on home video. And then a very interesting thing happened. Critics began to point out that the Spanish Dracula, produced as a cheap alternative to the American monster classic, was actually a superior film! And it all came down to a simple detail: because the Spanish crew arrived on set after the English speaking crew was done filming, they were encouraged to watch the daily playbacks of everything shot that day, so they could recreate it as closely as possible. But when the Spanish director and cinematographer would watch the scenes back, they'd say to themselves, "Oh, I could improve on that shot," or, "I think we could do better than that performance." What resulted is a film in which almost every shot is more dynamic, the storyline is more coherent, and even the editing is better. It just goes to show how anything, even a film that would go on to become a masterpiece and define its genre like Dracula, can be improved upon if only approached with an inquisitive mind. 


➢ REMAKING YOUR OWN CONTENT


The movies can all teach us a thing or two 
about production.

Most of us only ever re-do something on our streams if it's causing us tangible problems- visual glitches, botched audio, or performance hitches are the main culprits. But this purely reactive mindset doesn't usually lead to true innovation. It's important to also be proactive about updating your content. Even if something has been working perfectly on your channel, that's no reason not to reassess the idea from the ground up. In fact, it's usually the things that work perfectly that you should be most aggressive about changing after a while, because if they never stop working, they'll start to stagnate without you even noticing. There have been several aspects of my own streams that I thought were already perfect, but after tinkering with them myself, getting suggestions from viewers, or just blindly stumbling onto some alternate idea, I'd measurably improve upon the entire feature. Sometimes when it comes to streaming, the old saying is wrong: if it ain't broke, do fix it. And by revising your content from the ground up, you may just pave the way to a whole new level of production value.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Displaying Twitch Highlights in Collections



Throughout The Twitch Playbook, you've heard me talk a lot about different ways to create, organize and utilize your clips and highlights. I genuinely think that these two tools are some of the most powerful on the entire platform. They allow you to take the best moments from larger shows and spin them off into small videos of their own, without the use of any external editing software. And the number of possibilities this opens up for your brand is staggering. I've already covered many facets of clipping in the entries Using Twitch Clips to Their FullestClipping and Highlighting Your Streams, and Organizing Your Twitch Clips. In this entry we'll focus more specifically on highlights which, unlike clips, can be added to special playlists and displayed more prominently on your channel itself.  


➢ THE BENEFIT OF HIGHLIGHTS


As I've described in previous entries, clips and highlights ultimately have the same end goal: they both permanently preserve a section of your stream as a separate video. But on Twitch, there's a platform-level distinction between clips and highlights. You may have already noticed that the front page of your Twitch channel on mobile features a tab titled 'Clips.' But even though highlights serve essentially the same purpose, the 'Clips' tab does not feature your channel's highlights as well. The highlights live under the 'Videos' tab. You'll notice that they even fall under different managers inside your channel's dashboard- clips have their own 'Clips Manager' section, while highlights are managed from the general 'Video Producer' that you'd also use to handle past broadcasts and uploads. 

Show off!

You can see the distinction pretty clearly when looking at how a viewer is able to interact with your clips and highlights. There's no way to organize clips when looking at your channel, other than showing a list of recently captured, or most popular clips. Highlights however, are able to be arranged by the streamer into specific collections, complete with descriptions and even custom thumbnail images. It seems that the intention is for clips to be more short-lived, like viral videos showing up on a newsfeed. And highlights are there to be displayed for the long term, more akin to playlists on a YouTube channel. In short, clips are best for bringing new people to the channel, while highlights are best suited for keeping them entertained after they've arrived. 


➢ BEST FOOT FORWARD


To get the most out of your highlights, consider placing them into themed 'collections.' You can put any of your highlights or uploads into these playlists. This will make it easier for viewers to find some of your best content, as well as make your channel more attractive to look at. I have several collections on my own channel which feature my 'Voice of Nick Voices' - the custom characters I make up on stream. Viewers who enjoy these moments on the shows are able to go back through these collections at any time, which now feature over a thousand highlighted character appearances to choose from. There are also collections for funny moments that were too long to be saved as clips, as well as exciting moments like first-try Dark Souls boss wins. As I mentioned in previous entries, highlights can be as long as you choose- they can even preserve an entire broadcast from beginning to end. When I streamed from my vacation in Tokyo, I highlighted every one of the 19 broadcasts in its entirety and put those into their own collection. 

There's no limit to the amount of full episodes you can permanently save as highlights. Many variety streamers, especially those who play story-based games from beginning to end like I do, will save every stream in its entirety as a series of highlights, then save those highlights into collections so viewers can easily go back and see all the episodes in one place. Collections have a convenient 'Play All' button, so someone trying to catch up on everything that's happened so far can easily binge with a single click. 

Your highlights can be as long as you want. 
They can even be full streams!

Like with clips, it's important to make sure your highlights and collections look good to the outside observer. The default title for a highlight will be the exact title from that stream, but it's usually not best to leave this as the highlight's name, even if you're saving the broadcast in its entirety. Many aspects of the average stream title, like suggestions for commands, posing a question to chat, or telling viewers about a timed giveaway, will become irrelevant after the show is no longer live. It's best to think of your highlights like YouTube videos- make an eye-catching name that gets straight to the point. If you want to go even further, highlights have the added advantage of allowing you to choose one of three thumbnails from your video, or even uploading your own. You can really go all-out, if you're so inclined! 


➢ FRONT PAGE CONTENT


In addition to organizing your highlights into collections, you can actually have some of those playlists featured among your channel's videos. By entering the 'Videos' tab while looking at your Twitch profile, you can click 'Customize Layout.' This allows you to show off some of your favorite collections for viewers to easily find while looking at your channel's other videos. Make sure these have interesting content, and give an extra bit of attention to the naming and look of the videos in these more outward-facing collections. 

Because you can set a custom thumbnail for any highlight you've saved, the collections you show in your Videos tab layout should definitely get this treatment. If you don't like the three auto-generated thumbnail choices Twitch gives you for these videos, and if you don't want to design your own thumbnails, then there's a nice workaround you can use instead. Simply watch the video in question in fullscreen, then grab a screenshot using your computer. If you're on Mac, screenshot tools are built into the operating system. If you're on Windows, you can use free software like ShareX to easily get what you need. Or worst case scenario, you can watch the video on your phone, screenshot what you want and then email the image to yourself. After this, you can simply upload the image you captured as the thumbnail for your highlight. You can then choose the best thumbnail from the entire collection to be the master thumbnail for the collection itself. All this is a great way to really up the presentation value to viewers looking at your channel, and it'll make it much easier for them to quickly find your best content. 

On top of that, whichever collection you choose to feature at the top will not only appear in your custom Videos tab layout, but will also show up on your channel's homepage! This only applies to one collection, so make sure whichever you place in that spot is your most important content- this is what almost everyone looking at your channel will see first. On my channel, I use a collection featuring my trailer and updates about new content I'm making. If you do nothing else with collections, I suggest you at least create and feature one set of highlights in this coveted spot. 


➢ PERSONALIZE YOUR CHANNEL


Of course, you don't have to only use highlights and collections in the ways I've suggested. You can get as creative with it as you want! You can feature clip compilations you've edited, highlights of the best (or worst) dad jokes you've done on stream, or even upload little status update vlogs to let viewers know what you're doing each day. When you use collections with your highlights, your channel will become much more personalized. So show your viewers what you've got! 

Friday, October 16, 2020

How to Avoid Streamer's Block



Have you ever been in a situation like this? It's time to stream, and you're excited to go live. The only problem is, you're not really in the mood for the game you're supposed to be playing on today's show. Maybe your schedule says that it's 'Spooky Sunday,' but you don't feel like getting scared. Or you might have been working through a massive JRPG for the past few weeks, but think you need a little break from all the dice rolls and anime hairstyles. It could be that you're exclusively a Fall Guys streamer, but for whatever reason you just want a change of scenery for the day. So you find yourself scrolling through your Steam catalog, looking intently for something else you could do on today's show. Some of the games stick out to you, but none of them seems perfect, so you keep scrolling. Maybe you could do a Just Chatting stream? But no, you decide against that too. You know you want to play something, you just don't know what it is you want to play. This process goes on for so long that you've already passed your scheduled show's start and lost a major chunk of potential broadcasting time. Eventually you decide that you just don't feel like going live today. 

If you've been in this situation before, you understand what it is to be struck by streamer's block. No matter how experienced you are as a streamer, and no matter how willing you are to stream, this endless loop of indecision can strike at any time and bring you to your knees. Of course, you're not alone in feeling the block's deadly effect. Ask any writer who spent the whole day in front of a blank page, or an artist who can't put brush to canvas. But while you might be in good company, this isn't somewhere you'll want to stay for long. In this entry, I'll help you to avoid streamer's block. 


➢ THE VILLAIN WITH A THOUSAND FACES


It's not just creative people who experience block, either. I'm willing to bet you've been caught in its grip more than a few times throughout your life, no matter your past experience. Have you ever tried to choose a brand of toilet paper, or dishwasher detergent, or toothpaste at the grocery store for example? It's not uncommon to suddenly find oneself over-analyzing all the various brands' boxes, unable to just pick one and move on. How about when looking online for new electronics? I've certainly found myself swimming in comparisons, features and pricing charts when looking for a new television or graphics card, to the point that it becomes hard to make a purchase at all. And then there's the infamous Netflix scroll. You know you want to watch something new on Netflix, you just don't know what it is yet. There are a million good options, but no perfect one for the moment. This leads to endlessly looking through titles, oftentimes for so long that we've wasted a good chunk of our potential watch time just by browsing. 

Watch out.

All this can be traced back to a concept I've described in the entry How to Get in the Habit of Streaming. There, I referred to it as The Enemy, a force inside all of us which actively tries to stop us from doing whatever it is we truly want most in life. It takes many forms, each trickier and more seductive than the last, and it will fight against productivity every chance it gets. We might not care that much about wasting time choosing toothpaste, but this only represents the seed being planted in preparation for a much darker reaping. By not letting us decide during little moments like this, The Enemy is cultivating that habit within us, so that it can flip the switch to sabotage us when we're trying to do something we truly care about. Something like streaming. 


➢ LIMITING YOUR OPTIONS


The reason we fall into this trap is because we over-estimate the consequences of making the wrong choice. What if I get the wrong TV and I'm stuck with a dud for the next several years? Will I choose a bad movie and have to sit through two hours of drivel? Mostly, this is all just an illusion. At the end of the day, picking the toothpaste with MaxFresh technology over the one with 360 Degree Whole Mouth Clean isn't going to have much impact on your life. In fact, it's not likely to impact your life at all. The only reason we spend time making the decision is because a decision is there to be made. If there was only one brand of toothpaste on the shelf, we'd pick it up and move on without a second thought. If there was only one available model of the GTX 3090 rather than the dozens of little incrementally different options, we'd have no problem buying it.

Always a banger, whether you're 
choosing the game or the movie.

I used to get caught in this bind all the time when choosing things to watch on Netflix. I'm a huge movie fan. I'm a member at a few of the historic theaters in Los Angeles, I seek out interesting film events whenever I can, and I watch at least one movie every day. At some point, I realized it didn't really matter to me what movie I watched on Netflix on a given day, it just mattered that I watched it. Whether a movie is good or bad, I end up finding something to enjoy either way, so why stress about the quality of my choice? Now, when browsing Netflix, I improve my ability to choose by removing most of the potential choices. I created a system that I call 'The 20-Second Movie.' Under these guidelines, from the moment I open the Netflix movies page, I have only 20 seconds to find a movie to watch. If I can't decide on something in that time, then I have to watch whatever the cursor lands on when the second hand strikes twenty. This has led me to find a huge amount of amazing movies, either that I regularly passed up on the menu or never would have discovered in the first place. I've done this for dozens and dozens of films in the past year, and I've never regretted a single choice. As I expected, the fun was in watching a movie, no matter what it is. Not sitting on the couch thinking about watching a movie, which is what I was doing when scrolling through the Netflix menus.

Whenever I've been struck by streamer's block, I've employed the same type of strategy. If I'm choosing between multiple games, I go with my first gut thought and stick with it. What's the worst that can happen? I play something I don't love for a few hours? Much like watching movies, it's not the game that typically brings me joy but the act of streaming itself. Being live on camera, playing or doing something different, getting to have new kinds of conversations with viewers- these are the things that are most exciting about streaming a new game. So the next time you're hit by streamer's block, try choosing a '20 Second Game.' Even if your choice isn't the perfect one for that moment, you'll still have a good time. And more importantly, you won't have wasted your time.


➢ AN OBJECT IN MOTION


Remember that force we talked about earlier in this entry, The Enemy? It wants you to slow down. It wants you to pause and mull over some small decision. The more insignificant the better. Every moment you take to second-guess yourself increases this dark hold over your psyche. So give up on perfection. Go with your gut. Buy the first toothpaste you see. Get off that Netflix Browse screen. And just pick a game to play. Twitch streaming is fun. Don't think yourself out of doing it. If you want to avoid streamer's block, all you have to do is make a decision. 

Friday, October 9, 2020

Your Stream is Your Own



Getting into Twitch streaming can be a very scary process. The biggest reason many people never start is because they're afraid their content won't measure up to whatever standard they've set for themselves. In reality, this standard is an illusion. It isn't really set by the prospective streamer, but instead constructed out of hundreds or thousands of other influences they've accumulated throughout their lifetime: whether those are different streamers, other video content, TV shows, movies or anything else. We're constantly collecting influences to compare ourselves to in one category or another throughout our days, whether we want to or not. And as I've mentioned in previous entries, comparing your content to other peoples' content can be very harmful. 


➢ THE ESSENTIALS OF STREAMING


How is it possible to tell whether you've been influenced or not? That's not too difficult to do. Answer the following question truthfully, and in as much detail as you can: What elements comprise a Twitch stream?

The typical answer is that a Twitch stream involves someone playing one or multiple video games live on the Twitch platform for the entertainment of others, while viewers are able to chat with the show's host and possibly play along. That's not all though. Most of you who answered this question have a minimum length for your streams in mind too, whether you explicitly thought about it or not. (For example, would one hour be too short for a Twitch stream? How about one minute? What about one second? There's clearly a cutoff somewhere.) Many see a picture in their head of typical 'video game aesthetics' like light-up keyboards, or branded headphones. Possibly a hanging microphone, or even a certain cadence to a broadcaster's speech pattern. Almost all of us imagine some basic paradigm for how a stream is laid out. (For example, I'm guessing you imagine some variation where the game is large on-screen, and there's a box in the corner which shows a video of the streamer.) 

Don't be afraid to let go of your preconceptions.

Everyone has different visions and mental associations when imagining what a Twitch stream 'looks like.' But all of those are constructed from our past influences and inspirations. For many streamers, certain elements like the light-up keyboard are optional, while other aspects are non-negotiable. It's pretty typical for instance, to see a streamer talk about how their stream 'could never' be under a certain length- one hour, two hours, four hours, whatever. That element is simply essential for streaming in their minds. Other things, like chatting with viewers, are pretty much globally accepted as facts of life when making a Twitch stream. 

But which of these elements are actually necessary, and which are optional? Surely if you knew, you could expand your creative horizons without upsetting the 'status quo,' right? Here's the thing: there are only two concepts in that earlier description which actually comprise a Twitch stream: 

1. It's live
2. It's on Twitch

That's it. Everything after those two components is just based on your own preconceptions, influences and personal ego. Every other restriction you put on yourself may not necessarily be hurting your channel, but it is limiting your perspective. With each element you allow yourself to believe that a Twitch stream needs, your list of possible creative options shrinks. 


➢ DEFINING A SUCCESSFUL STREAM


Usually, we build these creative walls around our Twitch channels because of what we think makes a 'successful' Twitch stream. This is the classic algorithm-chasing mentality that has produced so many successful-yet-miserable influencers over the past decade of social media. The problem here is two-fold: First, as I've discussed in many entries before, if you achieve success but don't enjoy what you're doing, there really isn't as much fulfillment in it as you think. And second, algorithms have a curious habit of changing. Like, all the time. So even if you do play the system perfectly, your ascent isn't likely to continue on a steady trajectory for long. So instead of working within a set of rigid limits that in reality can guarantee neither success nor enjoyment, why not begin by defining what you actually want to accomplish, and working up from there? 

Even the smallest stream can change the course
of your channel.

I'll communicate this idea by using an example I've mentioned a few times before in The Twitch Playbook. Once I had established my streaming habit, a new aspiration with streaming started to form. I wanted to use the strong work ethic I had instilled through broadcasting to achieve my life goal of learning another language. I knew that by streaming my progress live every day, I'd have a set routine for when learning takes place, and I'd have the added bonus of being able to go back and see how much I'd improved over time. Notice that this objective had nothing to do with introducing new viewership, or trying to gamify the show for the benefit of others- this stream had a higher purpose. It wasn't traditional entertainment, as much as it was a way to facilitate one of my life goals. And in breaking myself free of the bondage of every preconception I had known, I was able to build this stream from the ground up in the exact way which would suit my learning needs. I smashed my idea of minimum show length- where my normal streams were a few hours long, these lasted less than 15 minutes each day. This certainly meant that I'd have fewer viewers on these shows, and little to no engagement, but I was also able to set a realistic and manageable daily learning goal. The results speak for themselves- by not biting off more than I can chew, I've been able to stick with the habit now for more than 500 consecutive days, and can have roughly a 30-minute conversation in the language without ever reverting back to English. If I had committed to each Japanese stream being two hours just to satisfy my preconceptions about how long a show 'has to be,' it would be very easy to miss study days whenever I didn't feel like I could carve out the time among all my other livestream content.  

These shows may be short and have very small viewer interaction compared to all the other streams I do, but don't be too quick to judge my choice to make this a livestream rather than a pre-recorded video either. Over time, other Japanese-learning viewers of my channel have not only followed along but used them as inspiration to continue their own journeys. Even viewers who are learning other languages have told me that watching my Japanese streams and the learning techniques I use has helped them with German, Welsh and other totally different languages than the one I was studying. Prospective language-learners of all kinds have looked to my dedication in the past year to keep pushing themselves and not give up. That's a pretty gratifying feeling. And it all came from a stream that sometimes lasts as few as five minutes a day.  


➢ DO WHAT'S BEST FOR YOU


The language stream is just one example of an extremely unconventional show that has worked for me only because I set aside every preconception I had about what a Twitch stream is. And to return to the other point, even if these streams had no distinguishing factors to differentiate them from YouTube videos, I would still choose to broadcast them live rather than posting them as pre-recorded videos. Because I like making livestreams. And the same can apply to you as well- do what's best for you. It's always your choice what you do on your channel- it doesn't matter if it nets viewers, it doesn't matter if it's helpful to anyone, it doesn't even matter if it's entertaining. As I've mentioned in many other entries before, the only thing that matters about a Twitch stream is if you enjoy making it. So think about what you want to accomplish with your Twitch streams, and then you can truly make them your own! 

Friday, October 2, 2020

Make Sure to Rest from Streaming



It's hard to form a habit like Twitch streaming, and when life gets tough it can be even harder to keep that habit going. Once you've been doing it consistently for a long time, the memories of how difficult that habit was to establish can help keep you chugging along. But sometimes we can lose ourselves in the process of building our channels. We may find ourselves putting in more and more work, but not getting as much return for our efforts. Sometimes as we commit increased hours to our streams, the results don't just plateau- they actually get worse. And of course, once you've made a habit out of committing huge parts of your day to streaming, you might find it hard to spend time doing other things outside of your channel. It's easy to write all this off as natural speed bumps in the road to success. You may feel that you'll be able to iron out all the kinks once you've reached some goal, so you don't need to worry about your other commitments now. But it's important to maintain a larger perspective about what you're doing. If you don't take care of yourself every once in a while, you'll begin dropping the ball, both on stream and off. Let this entry be a reminder that you need to schedule time to rest from streaming. 


➢ REST FACILITATES WORK


If you're trying to build your channel and keep habits going, it might be hard to see how resting is a valuable thing to do at all. If you aren't live, and you aren't working on your channel, then how does that help your stream? If your ultimate dream is to broadcast on Twitch, then shouldn't you be doing that as often as humanly possible? To an extent yes, but without some level of moderation you'll end up hurting yourself more than helping. Allow me to explain this concept by taking us over a century back in time.
Don't let history repeat itself.

After the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, the opportunities for manufacturing increased exponentially. Suddenly, factories in the 1800s could produce in a day the amount of products that used to take them weeks or months by previous methods. These businesses only required one thing in common: able-bodied workers able to operate the machinery. And in exploring these new technologies, factory owners weren't satisfied with merely leaping past their old production figures, they wanted to push those numbers as far as they could possibly go. This meant that workers were typically on the job anywhere from 12 to 14 hours, six days a week, with many putting in as many as 100 hours in a seven-day span. Not only did this mean they couldn't spend much time with their families, but it led to major problems with drinking on their one day off. Because workers would get so incredibly drunk on those work-free Sundays, it led to coining the concept of "Saint Monday," a day in which employees would regularly skip work entirely so they could recover from their epic binges. They were being worked so hard that any time they were given for themselves sent them into overdrive, wrecking their family lives and eventually their work lives in the process. 

This brutal schedule went on for decades, until in 1926, business titan Henry Ford made an unprecedented move. He changed his auto company's schedule to five 8-hour working days, without altering employees' pay. This gave workers more time to spend with their families, and more time to enjoy themselves safely, without feeling like they had to cram all their debauchery into one single night. The Ford Motor Company clearly won a lot of good will with its employees, who were able to turn in better results by being less sleep-deprived and stressed, despite being on the clock for fewer hours. The move even helped the economy, because workers with more free time on their hands ended up buying more products. This counter-intuitive decision rocked the American labor force, and soon other businesses were adopting the practice. Today, almost a century later, the 40-hour work week is still an established paradigm. 

We can all learn a thing of two from Henry Ford's groundbreaking move- more work doesn't always mean better results. Sometimes you need to take a step back, recharge, and approach your challenges with a fresh perspective to be truly efficient. Plus, by giving yourself time to rest you'll be able to spend more time doing the other things you care about, and keeping your life in balance. 


➢ FITTING IN BREAKS


Now I don't know what you do on your Twitch streams, but it's unlikely that it's as intensive as working in an automotive factory. But no matter what you're spending your energy on, you still need some time to yourself. Many streamers find it useful to schedule one or two rest days every week. If going live every day is important to you, it can even be as simple as making sure there's ample time each day dedicated to non-Twitch activities. As I mentioned in the entry Making Twitch a Part of Your Life, many new streamers struggle to make Twitch a consistent part of their days, while others who have already been streaming consistently will struggle to bring Twitch back into balance with everything else. With the momentum of a pair of tipping scales, experienced streamers start to face the exact same problem that new streamers encounter, but in reverse. They're so used to making a stream happen at all costs that it becomes hard to schedule leisure time around all the streaming, community engaging, and behind-the-scenes adjusting. 

You can't be at 100% forever. Nobody can.

New or prospective streamers might think this sounds like a nice problem to have. But having been in this situation before, I can say from experience that it's not pleasant when you know you're hurting yourself and your relationships but also can't rein in the habit. For people who are stuck in the deep end now, I suggest taking advantage of the extreme discipline you've created by streaming, and redirecting it. Take out your calendar and literally schedule chunks of time where you have to do something that isn't stream-related. This could involve spending time with loved ones, watching a movie, going out for a walk, or cooking a nice dinner. It may sound completely ridiculous to be so rigid about it, but when you've caught the bug and can't stop yourself from thinking about streaming, you'll find that any 'down-time' in your day begins to get taken over by creeping stream-related activities. If you're not preventing against this phenomenon, you might only be halfway paying attention at dinner because you're thinking about new channel ideas, or you'll take the few hours you have before bed to tinker with stream graphics and layouts. Maybe you fill the gaps in your day looking at new equipment, watching other streamers, or talking with your Discord. Even if these things aren't actually streaming, they're still related to your stream, and they represent an unwillingness to completely detach yourself from the craft for a while. Finding a stream-life balance means making a clean break from Twitch. Not just being off the air, but removing your channel from your mind entirely while you mentally recuperate. 


➢ RESTING ISN'T LAZINESS


You might feel that resting is only going to slow you down, but if you do so responsibly, you'll find that it does anything but. Like with Henry Ford's employees when given regulated working hours and another day off, you'll see that your performance while on the clock actually improves, and you get to strengthen your personal life while you're at it. So try marking out scheduled days, or even scheduled hours for yourself. See how much you can gain by giving yourself a rest from streaming.