Friday, June 12, 2020

Growth Check-In: Getting Back on Track

As a Twitch streamer, it's easy to get off track. What we do is exciting, and we love to do it, and oftentimes we spin out of control, collecting new features and practices for our streams like Pokémon cards. And as soon as a few more features are in place, the old ones might fall out of practice. Even if they were good ideas. Even if these older practices helped our channels, they're not new or exciting anymore and we forget to keep maintaining them. The previous Growth Check-in entry, called Simplifying Your Streams, focused on helping you take an important pause to assess which things really matter on your channel and which need to be scaled back. But because we streamers can get so excited about things, jumping from one new big idea to another, we often collect half-formed habits in the same way we collect useless channel add-ons. 

Maybe you started using a calendar to organize your streams, but recently your days have been getting out of hand again. Or it's possible that you have been implementing a new style of chat engagement, but aren't getting the results you'd hoped. It even could be that you've lapsed out of streaming altogether recently. All of these things are normal, they're nothing to worry about. But if you want to improve, you have to be willing to admit that something needs to change. Just as important as dumping the baggage of our old stream ideas, it's vital that we check in every once in a while to make sure we're keeping up with the good habits we've tried to form. In this entry, we'll focus on the stream habits that you have the most difficulty with, and we'll bring them back on track. 


Have you been keeping track of the problems you've encountered on stream? If so, are you solving them in regimented fashion? Try not to only solve problems as soon as you think of them- this relies on inspiration, which is inconsistent. Write things down and return to them at pre-ordained times. For more info about how to maximize your problem solving, see the entry Fix One Thing About Your Stream Every Day.

Frank West has gotten very good at time management. 
How about a calendar? Have you created one in the first place? If so, do you still check and update it every day? Or maybe despite using a calendar you feel like your days are still getting away from you, and time is slipping away? I find a calendar only really works if so much of your day is on it that you need to regularly check it to see your plans. For me, the phrase, "Let me check my calendar," has changed over the past years from an ironic joke to an actual necessity when making plans. There's no plan I have that isn't in the calendar, and the fact that I can rely on it to be a complete picture of my day is how I know nothing will slip through the cracks. For more info about keeping a calendar and why it's necessary, see the entry How to Get in the Habit of Streaming.  

The easiest habits to lose track of, at least in my experience, are the administrative ones like these. Logging down channel problems, keeping a calendar, watching old episodes to to check for quality, anything that involves regimented actions behind the scenes. For me starting out, these were the things that felt the most like work, and therefore they were also the ones that I was least interested in associating with streaming. But as you could probably imagine by following The Twitch Playbook up to this point, keeping up with these kinds of structured tasks have been the most useful in making me not only never miss a show, but constantly improve and refine my channel. Rather than thinking of them as time you could have spent streaming, think of them as boosts to help you do more of what you love. 


Don't rely on external excuses not to stream.
There are some aspects of streaming that mess with your mind. These factors can cause you to associate negative feelings with streaming, and against your better judgment, might even make you want to do less of what you love. Is the setup time for your show causing you strife? It could be that there are too many steps involved, and it's hindering your ability to create content. In the entry Perfecting Your Stream Prep, I laid out ways in which you could consolidate, shorten or even remove pre-stream steps in order to make the whole process smoother overall. Have you had a hard time finding motivation or energy because your surroundings have changed? The world may be different, but the difficulty of streaming will always be the same. It won't get any easier, but it also hasn't gotten any harder. You can find more on this topic in the entry Streaming Under Quarantine

It can be very difficult to cultivate the kind of community you want for your channel. Many times, in the pursuit of more views and followers, we let things slide which go against our core beliefs. Has your chat upheld the standards you'd like for your channel? There are several different entries dealing with this subject. In Who Is Watching Your Streams, And Why? we tried to understand the different motivations for people joining your shows in the first place. There's also Your Twitch Chat is a Reflection of Yourself, where I went deeper into setting up rules and enforcing them on your streams. Then The Power of Positive Streaming is all about making sure you put your best foot forward. And if you run into true troublemakers, entries like Dealing With Disruptors in Twitch Chat and Combat Negativity in Twitch Chat go into different strategies for removing those you don't want to deal with. If your community is putting out the wrong vibes, it's still within your power to shape and mold it into something to be proud of. But you have to take active steps toward doing this, and stand behind your decisions to make everyone know you mean business. 


Now that The Twitch Playbook has been going for one and a half years, your channel has likely changed a lot since you began following the podcast or blog. Some ideas I've laid out may have helped you, others may not. As I always say, not everything that works for my channel is going to work for yours. It's important to keep this in perspective. In other cases, it may not have been the advice that didn't work, but your habits- maybe you stopped doing something too early before it could take root and become a true part of your stream. If you went back from the first entry all the way up to now, much of my advice would likely take on all new meaning in your more experienced eyes. As Twitch streamers we're always evolving. It's important at various intervals to look back at our progress and judge for ourselves where we've strayed from the path. We're not perfect, but we don't need to be. We just need to get back on track. 

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