Friday, August 30, 2019

Growth Check-In: Boosting Your Streams

If you've been following The Twitch Playbook for a while, you've likely made some modifications to your streams based on what you've heard here. In this entry we'll carve out the time to really reflect on your channel, and decide which of your channel's features are actual priorities. Whether you're trying to build your streaming fundamentals, optimize your usage of data tracking, or make tough calls about previous decisions you've made, it's always important to look back on your progress.

By being able to do this, you won't just improve your channel, you'll also become more adept at standing up to yourself. Many times we come up with ideas, and then won't pay attention to the warning signs that those ideas aren't working. If you're able to challenge your own assumptions about what works on your channel, you'll unlock a whole new level of accelerated growth.


Think back to when you did your first ten official streams. What was your channel like back then? Did you feel confident speaking on camera? Did you have a hard time going live at every scheduled showtime? What did your streams look like, compared to how they look now?

The basics are always key.
On these criteria alone, have you improved? You'll notice that these three previous questions have nothing to do with follower numbers, view count, people in chat, or anything external. These are solely meant for measuring your own personal growth as a Twitch streamer. If you haven't improved in these three key fields, there's only one thing that can help: experience. The more time you spend on camera, the more confident you'll be. The more streams you're able to do consistently, the better you'll be at not missing shows in the future. By doing more streams and watching the results from multiple broadcasts, you'll start coming up with more ideas for visual improvements.

You now have two options: stream at the same frequency and wait longer, or stream more often and improve faster. There's nothing wrong with choosing the first option, but you will need to double down on your ability to be patient. You can't stream infrequently but expect the results of someone who is live 5 hours per day. It just doesn't work that way, and it wouldn't be fair if it did. If you instead choose to increase the amount of time you stream, the entries How to Find the Time to Stream on Twitch and How to Free Up Time for Twitch should have given you a roadmap for making the most of your day. If you've expanded to other social media platforms to support your channel but want to increase your stream output, make sure to also see the entry Twitch is the Only Social Channel You Need- you may want to cut back and focus on fundamentals first.


If you've been improving in these three fields, and you want to track more empirical data about your streams, check out your channel's analytics tab. Twitch has several very useful data tracking metrics built into their platform, which can assess just about every statistic you could ask for. From overviews of individual streams to months or years of channel growth, there's a lot to take in here.

See through all the data.
Before we dive into the rabbit hole of raw data, it's important to note that too much of a good thing can end up hurting you more than helping. I try to limit my usage of stat screens like this, and I take their data with a grain of salt. There are always a few unforeseen and un-trackable outside factors which can affect and skew the charts, so you should use this tool as a guide rather than a blueprint.

When going through numbers, it's best to focus on single stats that are most important to you. If you're looking to specialize your channel and focus in on one game, the field 'Which Categories Do My Viewers Like To Watch?' can help you make an informed decision. You can also go to the bar graph and track 'New Followers', which will show you which streams attracted new followers during the shows. Someone trying to optimize their streams can see 'Average Chatters' and 'Average Chat Messages' to track engagement, 'Time Streamed' to see their personal growth,  'Average Viewers' to see which streams people like to watch, and so on.

There are many stats you can use for community building as well. In the entry Three Easy Tips to Network on Twitch, I talked about the importance of building relationships with other channels on Twitch. The stat 'Where Did My Views Come From?' is excellent for making sure you can show support to the channels that have been supporting you. The same goes for the stat 'Which Channels Have Viewers In Common With Mine?' This one will help you identify whose communities have the most crossover with yours, and can help you make decisions about who you might want to do multiplayer streams or other joint projects with. On the bar graph, you can see 'Host/Raid Viewers' for each stream you've done, which allows you to know what percentage of your viewers came from someone else's support.


Many times we will come up with an idea to improve our channels, we'll work out all the problems in our head before implementing it, we'll think of dozens of reasons why it should work, and we work out all the logistics of how it will fit into our schedules. Then we implement it, and... that's it. The problem is, when you're streaming on Twitch, there isn't really any oversight or outside party to hold you accountable for changes you make. So this change you enacted might have been a great one, or it might have been a dud, but you won't truly know until you do what most people aren't willing to do: go back and prove whether or not it's been working.

Constantly challenge yourself and your assumptions.
The nobel prize winning physicist Richard Feynman said it best. "The first principle is that you must not fool yourself- and you are the easiest person to fool."

Make sure to always challenge your assumptions. Even the things that seem like no-brainers should not be above reproach. What about the ones you've been doing forever, which have become a part of your channel's identity? Inspect those too. Be willing to make tough decisions, if it means making your streams better.

In the previous entry Fix One Thing About Your Stream Every Day, I talked about keeping a list of items you want to change on your channel, and breaking them down into categories to solve them more easily. Make sure you're writing down what you want to fix about your channel, or at least what you want to reassess in the future. You'd be surprised- putting something down in writing can be very powerful. When it comes time to make changes, don't try to fix ten things at once, just work on one of your checklist items. By bending all your will toward solving one specific problem, you will come up with solutions.

When we're able to identify problems and solve them efficiently, we're standing up to ourselves in a way most content creators are afraid to do. For most, the scariest enemy is admitting to ourselves that we were wrong in some way. But if you want to grow, this is a battle you'll have to fight. And if you're regularly looking backwards, you're already better equipped than most to face these challenges head-on.


It's very important to add things to your channel, make changes, and remove things that don't work, but it's just as important to regularly take the time to judge whether or not those additions, changes, or removals are delivering the effects you intended. Don't forget to take the time to reassess your decisions at regular intervals. Otherwise, who is going to hold you accountable? Whether your changes had a positive or negative impact on your channel, looking backwards will teach you valuable lessons about what works. So make sure to check in on your channel's growth every once in a while, in order to really boost your streams!

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