Friday, March 29, 2019

How to Stay Motivated About Twitch Streaming

Maybe there's a day when you wake up and just feel bad. You might feel sick, or have a lot on your mind, or have a bad hair day. Maybe your morning drive is fraught with traffic, your workday was long, or your lunch was disappointing. Whatever the factor, by the time you get home and come up to your usual streaming time, you're just not feeling it. You decide to send out a Tweet, or an Instagram post, or a Facebook message about whatever is troubling you and cancel the stream. Yes it might feel better to give yourself the 'day off' and pick the streaming back up tomorrow, but this is a slippery slope. You shouldn't give yourself the luxury of a 'day off' unless it's absolutely critical. When in doubt, you should always Go Live.

I can speak on livestreams, but sometimes my brain
tells me I can't. The only cure for this is to
get out there and do it anyway.
Let me tell you about me: I'm a terrible public speaker- I can't speak on stage to save my life and talking to large audiences scares me. Many mornings I think I look terrible or wake up sore. Sometimes I oversleep and get a significantly late start, demotivating me from starting my show. For no reason at all, software or hardware on my PC malfunctions and causes me major problems. Sometimes I'm so wounded by something said in Twitch chat that it consumes me for days. Like everybody, I get struck by bouts of 'impostor syndrome,' feeling like I'm a fraud and don't deserve any recognition. And for one or multiple of these reasons, I'll often feel a clutching anxiety about hitting the Go Live button. In those instances, I feel like everything would be OK if I just stopped for one single day.

And what do I do after thinking that? I go live anyway. 

I'm not a masochist, and I'm not superhuman. But I've done this long enough to know that streaming isn't what causes those problems and insecurities to crop up- it's not streaming. Specifically, the mental block that we all have, the one that says we're not good enough or that we can't do it. Letting that evil force win, proving it right, is what causes problems. It will try to trick you, it will give you what seem like very legitimate reasons not to pursue your goals, but you should never believe it. You have to power through the self-doubt and excuses.

Since going full-time on Twitch, I've had to travel to roughly a dozen different US states on business, my internet has had chronic outages, my PC has broken multiple times, and I've been sick enough to vomit. All things that would cause major logistical problems to a video game streamer, and all more than sufficient excuses to call things off for a day. But through every single one of these, I never missed a single stream. I've streamed a minimum of three separate times per day, seven days per week, with no days off, for nine months. That's more than 800 streams, two thousand hours of content, without ever missing a single show. I'm not trying to brag, and I'm not saying you have to stream as often as I do. What I'm saying is you shouldn't deviate from your routine for anything but the most extreme circumstances.


The problem most prospective Twitch streamers have is they don't treat streaming like work. Now, I'm not saying that streaming can't be fun or that you can't enjoy it, but if you truly want to take your Twitch channel to the next level, you will need discipline as well as passion. Too many Twitch streamers get overly precious about their channels- like they can't have it be anything less than perfect every day, and if they're not feeling 100%, then they shouldn't stream. But if you're thinking of streaming like a job, you see things differently.

What was the coolest job you ever had? Maybe it was something you loved doing, maybe you had fun coworkers, or maybe it was in a field you were passionate about. No matter how interesting or fun the work itself was though, you still had bad days. You might have felt groggy that morning, argued with your significant other before leaving, or didn't have as much time to get ready as you wanted. But you still went into the office, despite one or all of those factors. You didn't just call in sick every time you felt a general discomfort. You might have been putting in only 70% of your dedication that day, counting the seconds until you could go home, but you went to work and you did your job. 

Now think about any days you've taken off from Twitch streaming. This includes missed scheduled days, or days when you wanted to stream but decided not to at the last minute. What was the factor that stopped you from streaming that day? Would you have taken off work for the same reason?

If a giant planet-sized statue was going to poke the Earth, I'd probably
take a day off. 


The important thing on Twitch is not to have a perfect stream every time you go live- it's to be there. With people. On the internet. I always feel better when I go live because I get to talk to people who are excited to see me. Or even if there's no one in chat, I get to relax and do something I love rather than sit and stew over the negative emotions that were consuming me moments earlier. It's not that I don't feel insecure or sick or upset while I'm streaming, but knowing that I didn't let those feelings get the better of me is incredibly empowering. And like taking a day off work, it would take a lot for me to actually take a day off from streaming. That might mean putting in only 70% of my energy on a bad day, but I always show up.

"But Nick," you might be saying, "If you're only giving it 70% on some days, isn't that unfair to your audience?" 

Absolutely not. If you're lucky enough to have an audience, they understand that you're a person just like them. There will be good days and bad days. And if they care about you, you can bet they'd rather you talk to them about it, or at least be able to take your mind off your problems, than sit and brood in the dark. That's what a community is about- you are there to help your viewers through problems and they are there to help you. You're not a burden on them, you're letting them in.

And what about entertainment value? Yes, there are days when my show is only 70% as entertaining as a perfect day, but the way I look at it, that's 70% more entertaining than I would have been if I'd decided not to go live at all. Again, the fact that you're there spending time with your audience is always the most important thing. They want to get to know you, and the way they do that is by seeing you not just when you're at your absolute best. You may not even realize how important your being there is for someone on a certain day- maybe someone in chat, or even lurking without chatting, had a bad day as well. Maybe they spent all day looking forward to seeing your stream. Some will watch with rapt attention, but others will tune in and out while studying, or leave your stream on in the background- they may not even notice you aren't your usual self. You never know what's happening on the other side of the computer screen, somewhere else in the world.
You're not a wooden statue. You're a person. Your viewers
know that. Don't be afraid to show up when
you're not at your best. 

Now, if you truly need to take a day for 'mental health' reasons, that's fine. I don't pretend to be an expert on the subject, and I can't advise you one way or the other about whether you should power through it. All I know is, you can't let it become a habit. The world won't stop turning if you take a day off. People will understand. They'll even encourage you. But if you let that become the norm, we start getting into the tricky territory I mentioned in previous entries about the encouragement feeling better than doing the actual work. Don't let yourself fall into a rut. Only take a day off if you would have taken off for the same reason at your 9-5 job.

Now that I'm a full-time streamer, treating Twitch like my job is no longer optional. But even when I had a salary and went to an office, I treated my personal after hours Twitch streaming this same way. It's the only way I've found to truly keep myself accountable, and be able to track my own progress, both in channel metrics and in mental efficiency. By keeping myself to a rigid work regimen even while doing the thing I love, I've been able to get more than double the streaming done in the same amount of hours. That means I get to do twice as much of the thing that makes me happiest in the world- who wouldn't want that? Many new streamers who see my insane Twitch schedule ask me how I stay motivated- this is the best answer I've been able to come up with: treat Twitch like it's your job. Because someday, if you work hard enough, it just might be!

Friday, March 22, 2019

Three Easy Ways to Stand Out on Twitch

We all know you should play whichever games make you happy, and always enjoying the stuff you stream on Twitch. But if you're choosing between streaming two games you love at a given moment, which should you go with? Is there a way to predict which will yield a higher view count, attract more new followers, or have more chat activity? The answer is a resounding "Sort of." There will always be a thousand factors that you can't predict on any social media platform, but a lot of the things people think are up to chance actually can be controlled. The problem is, most streamers are looking at the wrong criteria. I have a few tips that, utilized correctly, will get you noticed more often on Twitch.

Let me start by saying that this process isn't necessarily easy. It's where Twitch streaming gets more complex than simply pressing the "Go Live" button and broadcasting yourself to the internet. You're now entering the world of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and social media management. There's a whole industry of people whose careers hinge entirely on their ability to demystify these concepts for brands all over the world. I'm not the leading mind in social marketing, and I'm not promising to make you an expert in this field either, but I have found trends and shortcuts that help me get the most out of the games I play.


Take some time to write a creative title.
This first tip is pretty easy, and one that most people already understand on some level. You want to have an attractive title for your stream. There are a million ways you could go with titling, and if you already have a following then it becomes less important, but if you're a new streamer this is where you need to get scrappy. To that potential viewer out there who's choosing between 10 streams of the same game, you bet your title could help swing them in your favor. It's a great way of 'punching above your weight.' The average viewer browsing Twitch will typically choose to watch one of the highest-viewed streams of the game they're looking for, because that's "where the party's at." It's where, at a glance, they can assume there will be more interesting chat activity or gameplay. We all know that's not necessarily true and that your stream might be just as entertaining, if not more so than the biggest stream, but how do you tell that to this prospective viewer? Using an interesting title for your stream is a great way to convince them to give you a chance.

A title on Twitch can fit roughly 33 characters before getting cut off by a [...], so make sure the important stuff is kept to the front. Don't always try to make your title look like everyone else's titles- stand out! Use emojis, weird formatting, or hilariously terrible dad jokes. When raiding other channels, there have been several times where I would choose to share a stream with my viewers based on its title alone, so I can attest to the fact that this works. Get creative and have fun with it!


You want to be a big fish in a small pond whenever possible.
I usually find that the best response on Twitch actually doesn't come from the biggest games. Instead, the most positive response comes from games that have a small number of people streaming relative to their following. Here's what I mean by this: if you go to the page for Fortnite on Twitch, you can see a number of people who are "following" the game itself. As of this writing, there about 41 million accounts "following" Fortnite. That's great, right? There's a giant group of people who all want to see Fortnite gameplay! So why hasn't your channel gotten noticed when you play it? That's because there are countless other people streaming the game at any given time, and every one of those streams is virtually indistinguishable. Yes, your own fans will join your stream, and a few new people might stumble upon your channel, but you won't be anywhere near the top of the list of channels streaming the game. You won't likely even be in the top 100 channels streaming the game. On a 1080p HD screen, you can see 10 Twitch streams on a game's front page before you need to scroll down. Fortnite typically doesn't have anyone with less than a few HUNDRED viewers in this Top 10 area. If you're not at that point, you need to understand that Fortnite won't likely get you quick results on its own.

So again, the kind of following you want to look for is not JUST a huge amount of potential viewers, but a higher likelihood of being seen. For example, if you're playing the remastered version of Dark Souls II, called 'Scholar of the First Sin,' you could conceivably categorize the stream as either "Dark Souls II" or "Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin." They both have their own pages, with their own separate follower counts, "Scholar" having 350K followers and the normal "Dark Souls II" having 200K. If you plan on streaming the game, but the page for "Scholar" already has 30 people playing, it might be worth looking at how many are livestreaming the regular "Dark Souls II." It might actually be more valuable to stream to this community of the comparatively smaller 200K followers if you're among only 3 people streaming it. Mathematically, that means you're more than 5x more likely to attract a new viewer by choosing "Dark Souls II" over "Scholar" as your game category, because the ratio of streams to followers is better. Didn't think we were going to be doing math, did you? Well, I told you this is where it gets tricky! At the end of the day, this is all to say you want to be a BIG FISH IN A SMALL POND. If you could split a large pizza with 30 people or a medium pizza with 3 people, you'd likely end up eating more pizza by choosing the medium sized one- even if the pizza itself is smaller.


There are a lot of people playing Fortnite, you can't
change that. But there are other factors you can control.
Anyone who streams Fortnite is probably pretty pissed at me right now. It sounds like I'm saying they shouldn't play the game they love, because it's hard to stand out when streaming it. What you have to remember is: you can only influence the things that you can control. Yes, objectively speaking it is more difficult to stand out from the crowd when you're playing Fortnite, Apex Legends, Overwatch, or any of the massively popular games on Twitch's Top 20 list. I'm not going to try to convince you otherwise, and you shouldn't pretend otherwise. That just means you need to stop fighting against the current, and change the rules in your favor. Are you 100% dedicated to Fortnite, with no interest in any other games? One thing you can try is avoiding the "after school/work" streaming time, when everybody else is going live. Try streaming at different times of night or morning by staying up late or waking up early. You might notice that there are cracks in the solid wall of massively viewed streams at 4:00am, and there is a whole market of night owls craving more interesting Fortnite content while many of the most popular streamers are asleep. Granted, you still might be the 50th stream on the list, but at least you won't be the 200th! 

Maybe you love Fortnite, but there are other games you'd like to stream as well. In that case, you never know until you try. Out of the list of games you're interested in streaming, use the concept outlined above to pick the best one at the specific moment you're going live. You might find another game that can be your ongoing go-to when you're on a Fortnite loss streak. You might find that your existing viewers appreciate the change of pace, or that new viewers find your stream more easily while you're playing this alternate game. Whatever you do, just don't try to fight against what can't be changed. Everything has its advantages and disadvantages- small games have fewer potential viewers, but a higher chance for someone to discover your stream. Large games have the opposite. Don't expect to have your cake and eat it too- get scrappy and change the rules in your favor! 


While all of these factors can help you immensely, don't ever let these concepts lead you onto a path of grinding through games you hate, just because it gets you higher follower numbers. In the entry 'If You Can't Describe Your Channel, Who Can?' I talked about making sure you are branding your channel around the things that make you unique, rather than creating gimmicks just to force your channel to stand out. This is just as true with the games you play- don't turn Twitch streaming into a hellish clock-in, clock-out grind just because you want to play a game where you think the viewers are. Even on my channel, I make calculated decisions about which times I'm not going to optimize my games. Sometimes I play PS2 games on stream that so few people have heard of that they don't even have a follower count on Twitch. But classic games are part of my identity, and they're something I love to play, and people who love watching my shows enjoy these games even more because they know that they come with my recommendation.

The three tips I've described above are some of the easiest ways I've found to optimize a Twitch channel, but you still have to make sure you're putting in the hard work and dedication. You won't see results after a single stream- you need to get a feel for how your streams were performing, and how a change to your strategy might be tipping things in your favor. There are dozens of factors just like these going through my head every time I go live on Twitch, and we can get into some of the more complex stuff later, but hopefully these three tips will help you stand out on Twitch!

Friday, March 15, 2019

When Streaming on Twitch, "We" is Better Than "Me"

Here's a mistake I see a shocking amount of Twitch streamers make: They talk about their channel by saying "I reached Affiliate status last week," or say "I got my first win in Apex Legends the other day." This way of speaking always makes me cringe a little. It's not that these are factually inaccurate- this person does own the Twitch channel that reached Affiliate status, and he or she was the player controlling the game when Apex Legends showed its victory screen. But in my opinion, it's a critical misstep to think that anything done on Twitch is done alone. You are the one pressing buttons and talking on screen, but you're not the only thing that makes your stream entertaining. On Twitch, you should always have the mindset of "we" rather than "me."

This is something that I realized in the early stages of my channel, but only because I had been creating content the wrong way on other previous channels for years beforehand. I used to have a completely different channel on YouTube, and for my early streams in 2012 I had absolutely no audience. I'd go dozens of streams with no live views and no video views, but I kept doing it because I loved the work itself. This taught me a crucial skill- learning to stream without needing the validation of anyone chatting- something I wrote about in the entry 'Host Your Streams Like Nobody's Watching'. But it also hardened me and solidified a notion that I was doing everything alone. This side effect was my biggest mental block, though I couldn't see it at the time.

Next time you get a chicken dinner in PUBG, make sure you're crediting
everybody with that win, not just yourself.


Let's say you're at the absolute beginning of your streaming career like I was- no chatters, viewers or fans at all. It's going to feel lonely, it's going to feel like you're putting in so much effort for very little return, and you're going to feel like you're doing everything by yourself, because by definition you are. But what happens when someone eventually stumbles onto your stream and follows? What about when 50 people follow? Think of how much work you will have put in by then- the sleepless nights, missed appointments, stolen hours, all to make sure your streams got done. It'll be easy to think these 50 people didn't do much at all- certainly not compared to all the sacrifices you've already made! Do they even understand how much time, how much of your life you've put into this channel? "It's my achievement," you say. "I'm the one who put in all this work. All they had to do was click a button with a heart on it. They're all just along for the ride."

Don't be a Bond villain, pretending that nobody
but you has helped you to achieve success.
That's not fun for anyone.
This might be a little more Bond villain-esque than any of us are in reality, but I'm sure you can see what I mean. If you start thinking that you were the only person responsible for your success once you've achieved some of it, you will have a very hard time breaking out of this mindset going forward. It can hurt both your channel's growth and your community's happiness, because you're alienating and belittling the very people who love you the most. You can't let yourself think this way.

If you're someone who focuses a lot on viewer interaction- chatting with your audience, allowing them to pick your games or setting up events- it should be pretty clear how your community has helped you attain success. They may have had a direct hand in selecting your new favorite game, or kept the conversation flowing through some of your loneliest moments. In this case, your audience was front and center at every turn, and you'll likely have an easy time recognizing how much of an impact they've had. It may be that no single audience member has been there for the majority of your streams, but as a collective they been there for you.

But what about when you don't really have any active audience members? Yes, there may be a person or two here and there who talks in chat, but mostly your streams are populated by viewers who watch without chatting. This then puts the burden on you to create all the entertainment, and very quickly solidifies the isolationist mindset. If you're still gaining followers or viewership numbers with this kind of audience though, it's critical that you not discount how important your community was in reaching that point. And yes, they are your community, even if you don't see or talk to them. First, those people who are populating your streams but not chatting are still WATCHING your streams. That means they enjoy your content. Not everybody wants to talk- they might be at work or school, they might be multitasking while watching, they might have social anxiety and not want to chat, but they are still watching. They are spending valuable time consuming your content rather than the thousands of other Twitch streamers who are live at the same moment. They have contributed to your success, even if you can't see it.

For most of us, it's not one or the other- a channel full of chatters OR one without any interaction at all- but rather a combination of both. The more plausible scenario on Twitch when you're growing is to have some streams with chat activity, one or two perfect storms where everyone is chatting like crazy, and a good amount of shows with absolutely nobody watching or chatting. Sometimes it's not even entire shows, just long stretches of streams where the chat has completely dried up. It still happens to me- often with such whiplash-inducing speed that I think my chat page has frozen. But the point is not to dwell on these moments when it seems like nobody is around, it's to appreciate all the moments when people ARE.

Someone could be out there at any time, just out of
sight, who loves your shows. Don't trust your
follower count or view numbers alone.
Don't discount the invisible endorsements of your community. Community members have told me about having shared my channel with their parents, siblings or friends. I've had raids come in, whose communities would tell me how highly the raiding streamer spoke of my channel just moments earlier. The Twitch Playbook itself is a completely new experience for me, lacking the instant interaction of streaming, but people I've never met have contacted me through Twitch, Instagram and Twitter to let me know that they enjoyed the content. These are all things that happened completely without my knowledge, but there's no denying that they've all helped my brand. If I hadn't been told about someone sharing my show or speaking highly of my stream before a raid, I never would have known. But just because I don't know about it doesn't mean it isn't helping.

So make sure you're always thinking in terms of "we" in everything you do on your channel. On mine, I not only say "We reached this follower goal," but also "We're playing this game," or "Our channel has been around for this long." It's everybody's Twitch channel, and everybody has a part in making the shows what they are. Not only through chatting or sending games to play, but by watching or endorsing the streams in their own way. Since I started this Twitch channel, I've been thankful for everyone who engages with my shows in any way, and I think people pick up on and appreciate that. It's very humbling to think that someone chooses to spend their valuable time with me, and I try to give back with positivity, love and appreciation every chance I get. I'd suggest you do the same. It doesn't matter how many viewers or followers you have, how much time you put in just to get where you are. Assume someone is watching at all times, even if your view count says zero, and make sure every achievement includes everyone. Because at the end of the day, everything is more fun when you think in terms of "we" rather than "me!"

Friday, March 8, 2019

Twitch is the Only Social Channel You Need

You’ve done some streams and you’ve noticed the value of interacting with people on your show. You start to realize how important community is to a Twitch channel, and think of all the different kinds of value you could bring to your growing fan base if you had a Twitter, or a Facebook fan page, a Discord, a Snapchat. So you set them all up, carefully designing their logos and descriptions. You think of the kinds of content you want to make for each, and how they'll all flow seamlessly back into your main Twitch channel, enhancing the experience of watching your streams and strengthening your community. You're definitely onto something- this is great idea!

But it's just that: an idea.

If there are tumbleweeds rolling through your
Twitter, it's time to rethink your strategy.
Cut to two months later. Your Discord is beautiful, but only three out of your 32 Twitch followers has joined, and there's no discussion happening. Your schedule for reposting memes on your Facebook fan page has lapsed, and now you're only making a few posts in short bursts whenever you have time. Your Twitter has been a ghost town for weeks, and your YouTube is comprised of three videos- all three of which are apologies for not having posted in a while, and outlining your plan for future videos. This will hit painfully close to home for a lot of you, whether you have two followers or 2,000. It happens to all of us. In that case though, I have one suggestion: make a tactical retreat.

You shouldn't have a single social channel for your brand that you can't consistently and easily populate with interesting content. Streaming on Twitch is hard enough to get the hang of- don't bite off more than you can chew just because of how you WANT your brand to look. You need to learn to do one thing extremely well, and only then think about slowly adding more.


Eagle eyed readers may notice that this is beginning to sound like the philosophy I laid out in the entry about Starting Your Twitch channel With NO MONEY, and they'd be right. There's a reason that sentiment was the first Twitch Playbook post after the introduction. I utilize that "Minimum Viable Product" philosophy in everything I do on Twitch- it's not just a great way to make content, but an important way to prevent yourself from becoming burned out.

Think about it. If your brain is pulled in five different directions, it's hard to focus on any one thing. Every time you go live, you're thinking about that YouTube video that still needs to be edited, or how your Facebook fan page has been slipping. And as we all know, there isn't just the specter of content generation that we all worry about, but the ever-present dread of follower growth. If you have a Twitch channel and four separate social channels, it's likely that at least one of those isn't growing so well. Maybe nobody is liking your Instagram posts, sharing your 'going live' tweets, or talking in your Discord. The shame you feel when thinking about all of the places you've failed in your burgeoning social media empire may even prevent you from streaming on some days, acting as that tiny straw of self-doubt that finally breaks the camel's back. This is obviously unacceptable.

If you recognize the stress that comes with having too many
things to worry about, don't worry. There's a solution.


Here's what I suggest: first, shut down every channel you have besides Twitch. (This is of course not referring to personal social channels, but ones meant to amplify your Twitch brand.) If you can deactivate the fan page like on Facebook, putting it into a state of hibernation ready to be collected at any time later, then that's perfect. If not, then strike the channel completely from your mind. Don't spend a single moment on Twitter, delete the app from your phone, declare the channel 100% dead and spend not one ounce of mental energy on that channel for the next 12 months. If you're going this route though, I'd suggest putting some serious thought into deleting. Yes this course is permanent, but for a channel that hasn't grown much yet, why not? If you've sunk dozens of hours into your Twitter or Instagram, but can't figure out how to network, haven't gained any followers, or generally don't feel that account is helping your Twitch streams, then cut your loss and get rid of it. If you're trying to be a Twitch streamer, then Twitch is the only channel you should be absolutely concrete about never giving up on.

Too many people confuse EFFORT with PROGRESS. There's a concept in poker where someone becomes "pot committed," a situation where they've put so many chips into the communal betting 'pot' that they feel forced to continue playing their hand. In this person's mind, to give up the giant stack of chips they've already put into the pot would somehow be a bigger loss than losing those and all the rest of their chips by continuing to bet. This is a classic example of pride getting in the way of good judgment. The person feels they worked so hard to get the chips they see in front of them, and can't imagine going through the process of getting them again. Therefore, they'd rather go through a self-destructive spiral or take dangerous chances instead of simply cutting their losses. It's the reason some people are bad at Dark Souls, and it's the reason you are unwilling to get rid of your dead Twitter or Instagram account.

Don't let your ego get in the way of playing a good
game of metaphorical poker. Cutting your losses
is an important part of playing the game.
The biggest irony is that deleting your Twitter account doesn't actually put you back at square one. If you've spent dozens of hours trying to understand how growth works on the platform, you're not deleting that knowledge from your brain. You'll be able to optimize the growth of a new Twitter account significantly faster the next time, should you ever decide to start one up again. Plus, you'll still have all the logos, descriptions and banner images you made for this first iteration, which you won't have to spend time creating again if you start another one later. The connections you've made on Twitter won't likely go away either. If you were making a Twitter in order to grow your Twitch, you likely are following Twitch streamers. You can still find and interact with them on Twitch, the place where it most significantly helps both of you to interact. I'm sure that streamer would appreciate you chatting in their stream more than commenting on a fleeting Tweet. The same thing applies to YouTube, Facebook, Discord, anything that involves social networking.


How many hours of streams have you done so far? Less than 1,000? Then don't worry about being a social media mogul, just focus on making your Twitch streams everything they can be. How many times have you started your show and forgotten to turn on your mic, switch to the right OBS layout, turn on your camera lights, shut the door to your room, install a necessary game patch, change the stream title info, or set up your camera the way you like it? If you're making ANY of these mistakes, or any of the thousands like them, you should know that solving them isn't out of your control. They're likely happening because you have too many other things to think about.

Focus on one channel to begin with: your Twitch.
Don't try to "Catch 'Em All."
Instead of trying to branch out on other social platforms, treat Twitch like your social platform. There are millions of users on Twitch all looking to be entertained. And the added bonus? You already know they're interested in what you're doing on some level, since it's likely you're doing a type of stream that someone is on Twitch to see. If you're streaming video games, the vast majority of Twitch users are already guaranteed to enjoy video games- not like Twitter, where the range of interests runs the entire spectrum from news reporting and celebrity gossip to Wendy's hamburger restaurant clapbacks. Even if you're not streaming games, it's likely you're doing something that has an audience on Twitch, like chatting or creating art. As a Twitch streamer, one hour of work put into your Twitch channel is likely to get you significantly higher returns than an hour spent growing any other platform.

So be as social as you can on Twitch- get to know your community more, raid and host other channels, hang out on other streams. Stick to your bread and butter, make your channel as good as it can be, then maybe you can branch out in the future. You want to focus on what's important right now: streaming, improving your streams, and cultivating your community. If you're a Twitch streamer, Twitch is the only social channel you need.

Friday, March 1, 2019

How to Find the Time to Stream on Twitch

There's one concern that Twitch streamers have in common with every other profession on the planet, and that's a lack of time. Aside from any monetary challenges (which, if you read my entry about Starting Your Twitch Channel With NO MONEY, you will no longer be worried about), there just aren't enough hours in the day for you to think about streaming right now. This applies to people looking to get into Twitch, as well as existing streamers who don't go live as often as they'd like. It might take too long to research the technology required to stream, or be too complicated to set things up. You might not see where you can carve out a few extra hours each day or week to produce the actual stream, not to mention design logos and graphics.

You might have some big work project looming on the horizon, or some important personal engagement causing you anxiety. Maybe you have an exam to study for, a broken leg, a cold, a splinter, or an eyelash stuck in your eye. Once THAT is dealt with, THEN you can start thinking about streaming! If you really want to be a Twitch streamer but are letting other things get in the way of streaming, know this:

It's not because of your job. It's not because of school or your parents. It's definitely not because of Twitch. It's not even because of any other outside party or circumstance.

YOU are 100% responsible for your time.

Nathan Drake is a go-getter. Be like Nathan Drake.
Accepting this is a crucial part of building a Twitch channel. You have to be completely self-sufficient. There are no bosses or coworkers to blame things on. The universe doesn't care if you fail, it's up to YOU to care if you fail. And more importantly, it's up to you to make sure that failure is not an option. Now, if you don't really care about streaming on Twitch and you're fine with going the rest of your life without doing it, then great! I'm not sure why you're reading this blog, but I hope you find it entertaining and I wish you the best of luck in all your other endeavors. But if streaming on Twitch is important to you, if you think about doing it every day, you take notes about which streamers you like best, plan what your stream will look like and what your community will be called, but you still haven't found enough time to do it, here's the magic formula: you need to make it an absolute priority.


If something is an absolute priority, no trivial outside force can get in its way. It simply has to happen. Did you ever notice that at the end of a weekend you sometimes feel like nothing got done, like you can't even look back and know what you did in the past 48 hours? And yet, even if you "don't have time" during the week, you're capable of doing more during your off-work hours than you think. When something's important and can't be rescheduled to a weekend, you still find time to go to the bank, mail a package, organize your finances, or see a loved one appear in a play, even if that same simple task might take you an entire "lazy Sunday" to complete.

This is why I'm hammering so hard about responsibility. In order to find the time to stream on Twitch, you must first accept responsibility for everything that happens to you. You need to understand that things are going to happen, whether you can control them or not. They may not be fair, you might have to work harder than your neighbor, but no amount of excuses or procrastination will make you a Twitch streamer. Not even setting up graphics or equipment in preparation for streaming. The only thing that will make you a Twitch streamer is STREAMING ON TWITCH. 

Don't have time? OBJECTION!

Unfortunately, your biology is programmed against you. Humans always naturally find balance in things, even where there is no standard against which to measure. This is because of a concept known as the 'Hedonic Treadmill.' It essentially states that humans will always arrive at the same happiness to unhappiness ratio, no matter how much money, hardship, time, or other factors they might have going on. In other words: our programming is such that, if we allow ourselves to put things off until later, we will NEVER do them. We all have this gene in us, to put something off and confuse our slothful inaction for prudence or patience. But whenever you feel this idea buzzing around your brain, you need to squash it IMMEDIATELY. If you're putting off your goals until "a more opportune time," you are may as well have already quit.

So in the hierarchy of your day, make streaming as important as eating. Yes, I'm serious. I'm guessing you don't go an entire day without eating. You may always be busy, but you always find time to do it. Why should streaming be any different? Yes, it takes more time, but if it's truly in your blood, if it's a lifelong goal, I'm sure you can find an extra hour somewhere. Don't let anything get in your way.


I can attribute every piece of success I've had on Twitch to a single phrase I thought up on a whim. I had registered my Twitch channel, but hadn't been posting content on it. I wasn't ready to dive into streaming, but knew I wanted to do it eventually. When I looked at my schedule, I couldn't see enough free time per day to carve out a Twitch lifestyle. I felt content to keep telling myself that soon, it would be the perfect day to start putting myself out there. But then I took a step back, and this thought bubbled to the top of my head:

You'll never have more time than you do right now.

Do you want to be a Twitch streamer more than anything?
Then make it important as eating.
One of the things I've always been proud of is my ability to notice patterns and track trends. To look at the broad strokes of something over time and understand what needs to be fixed or improved in order to speed up its growth trajectory. And instead of looking at stats for social videos or production efficiency like I do for my career, I looked inwards. I looked at the trends of my life so far, and where it looked like my life was going. I wasn't making bad money or unhappy at my job, in fact I loved my work. But I knew I wanted to stream on Twitch. And if I looked forward, I didn't see any point in the future where I wasn't going through the same rinse-and-repeat cycle of waiting for the weekend, but then feeling so tired and demotivated Saturday and Sunday that nothing would get done.

More importantly I looked backwards, and considered a strange effect that used to come over me while I was in school: When I had a week to complete a project I'd always wait until the final night to start working, but I'd always get it done by the next day and be proud of the result. Why was I was able to summon this Herculean boost in motivation, to suddenly see through the fog for a short 6-10 hour span before falling right back into my "work for the weekend" stupor? Because my apathy turned into an active threat. Doing nothing at that point would hurt me just as much as making the wrong decision, because the clock was going to run out either way. This would usually get me motivated to shut up and work. But what happens when there's no set deadline? In that case, the motivation never comes. Someone could easily go 50 years, still thinking each and every day that they'll be able to start tomorrow.

Let me pose a question to you: What if a time traveler came back from 2 years in the future and said that you'll eventually become successful on Twitch, but only if you work your ass off RIGHT NOW to make that future a reality? Would you do it? I sure as hell would, and I did. (Start working I mean, not meet a time traveler.) I decided that the only way to truly find the time to work on my dream was NOT to quit my job, or wait until I hit the lottery, or hold off until an upcoming three day weekend, in order to start streaming. I had to accept that life would NEVER get easier.


If you catch yourself thinking you don't have
enough time, take a second to reassess.
There's always time.
Even to this day, I go through the same ritual when I think something will help my Twitch channel, but lament the fact that I don't have enough time to do it. I take a breath, tell myself, "You'll never have more time than you do right now," and somehow I find the time to get it done. It really works. The mantra isn't about whether you had it easier at work last week, but they just dropped this big project in your lap today. If it was so easy for you last week, why didn't you start your Twitch channel back then? Remember the Hedonic Treadmill: you will ALWAYS think you don't have enough time. Just get out there. Cut something wasteful from your off-work hours: absentmindedly watching Netflix, browsing Facebook, or going out to the store to get today's food but not tomorrow's. If you truly can't see something to remove from your schedule (which I doubt), then there are several perfectly good hours at night you're likely just wasting away. I sleep for four hours a night not by hitting the biological lottery (I'm the heaviest sleeper you'll ever meet), but because I care about Twitch streaming like I care about breathing. Go stock up on coffee, energy drinks and ramen noodles. You don't even have to stay up a crazy amount- if you shave your 8 hours of sleep down to 6, you'll likely feel just as tired as you always do in the morning- no more, no less. But you will have carved out two magical hours each night with which you can craft your dream. That's almost 60 potential hours of Twitch streaming per month- more than enough to build something great.

There are no excuses. You can do this. I guarantee you have enough time, you just aren't using it effectively. If Twitch is truly a priority for you, then treat it like one! Don't aspire to quit your job, or wait until you have 'more time,' just get out there and put in the work. I live my life every night like I have an assignment due the next day, and Twitch is the homework I'm furiously cramming to get done on time. I'm busier than I've ever been in my life, but I'm also happier in my work than I've ever been, because I'm living my dream. What I do is rewarding because it took a lot of hardship to get the reward. Technically it still takes hardship, but I'm past the hump where it feels like I'm doing any work at all. You need to get there, and that requires breaking through your own mental barrier.

How do you find the time to stream on Twitch? You don't have to find it. The time is already there, and it's been there all along. Are you willing to take the responsibility to reach out and grab it?