Most of us are familiar with Mark Twain. He’s written some of the most famous pieces of literature ever to be released in the United States. In fact, his 1884 work ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ is widely considered one of the candidates for THE ‘Great American Novel.’ Whether we were made to read something of his during our school lives, or we became aware of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn through popular culture, we’ve all been exposed in some way by Twain’s body of work. But in addition to writing classics of literature, Twain was also a highly active public speaker, and in that capacity he’s become even more inspirational to me personally. This man has pumped out more incredible quotes than any other human being I’ve heard of. Seriously- take an afternoon sometime and just scroll through a list of his one-liners. Of course, if you’ve engaged with The Twitch Playbook up to this point, you know I love a good quote, and I’ve sprinkled many of my favorites throughout these entries. Something about a quote’s ultra-condensed nature makes it even more inspirational to me, because it’s open to all sorts of interpretations. Case in point: In this entry, Mark Twain, a man who could never have dreamed of video games or the internet, is about to teach you about Twitch streaming.
➢ SET YOURSELF APART
I’ve spoken before about finding interesting angles for your content. Twain had this to say on the subject: “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to reform (or pause and reflect).” It’s often not desirable to ‘fit in’ with everyone else on the platform. It’s difficult to give people a reason to care about what you’re making if your shows look and feel exactly like everyone else’s. Twitch is a big place, and there are thousands upon thousands of people already broadcasting whenever you might choose to go live. Why should a viewer engage with your channel over the flood of other options out there? I personally think the answer to that question lies in two subjects: honesty and specialization. When you’re creating content that incorporates your authentic passions outside the games you play, like-minded people will have something to identify with when they watch your shows. And if you narrow your focus to cover less ground, it will make you a stronger authority on what you do choose to zero in on. In entries like Don’t Be Afraid to Be Yourself on Stream and Your Channel is Not a One Stop Shop, I spoke about these two ideas and how you can best utilize them for your brand.
Open your eyes to the inspirations all around you.
In order to come up with engaging ideas at all, it’s useful to draw inspiration from a wide variety of places. Most new Twitch streamers assume they should be watching and studying other streamers who focus on the exact same games or content styles as their own channels. But this can put you into the same position as the previously mentioned problem- your shows will start to look the same as everyone else’s. Instead, try pulling from more sources, whether it’s Twitch content you’d never do yourself, entertainment outside of Twitch, or even everyday experiences. There’s no limit to what can inspire you, as long as you don’t shut off your brain. As Mark Twain said, “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” Think of ‘reading’ in this context as ‘seeing,’ in the sense of truly seeing something for the inspiration it contains. You have the capacity to leverage so many experiences for inspiration, but that capacity is worthless if you don’t utilize it. I explored this concept further in the entry To Improve Your Twitch, Get Inspired By Everything. Make sure you’re really seeing the things around you, and paying close attention.
➢ FACE YOUR FEARS
But what about those of us who haven’t started streaming yet? Twain has you covered as well. One of my all-time favorite quotes of his is deceptively simple: “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” Think about it. For every content creator out there making things, there are a dozen others on the sidelines who wanted to give it a try but couldn’t muster up the courage. In many ways, actually making that first stream on your channel is the biggest step you’ll ever take in streaming, because it’s exponentially more content than you’d been producing before. I’m a huge supporter of the idea that you should begin streaming as soon as possible, no matter what kind of equipment, skill or time commitment you have. That’s why the entry I wrote on that subject, titled Start Your Twitch Channel With No Money, was the first episode of this entire podcast after the introduction. It doesn’t matter how grand your plans are, or how beautiful your channel designs are- they all amount to nothing if you never actually stream. So take this ‘secret to getting ahead’ to heart, and just stream.
But what’s the reason most people put off beginning their Twitch journeys? It all boils down to one thing: fear. There’s just no way to know in advance what will happen. “Will people watch my shows?” “Will my content look good?” “Will I make a fool of myself in front of everyone?” These questions are what make streaming hopefuls put off their dreams until tomorrow. But then tomorrow they put it off until the next day, and then the day after that. Then after months and years, they still haven’t started. But it’s a waste of time to worry about things that haven’t yet come to pass- those thoughts only keep you on the bench while you watch everyone else play. As Twain put it, “I've lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” This anxiety about the unknown, in which we play out fictional scenarios in our heads, can affect streaming veterans just as easily as it can hamstring beginners. After all, trying to change something about an established channel two years into its lifespan can be just as scary as doing your first ever stream. Personally I try to use my streaming fears as beacons, which point me toward the things I want most. After all, if I didn’t care deeply about those new ideas, why would I be scared of them? You can find more information about this concept in the entry Fear is Great for Streaming.
As you continue streaming however, there will always be hardships which are out of your control. But these are few compared to the amount of hardships within your control. Surround yourself with people who inspire you and lift you up. This is true in the community you form, the way you handle your chat rules, the other streamers you get to know, and even the people you follow on social media. Not everything in life is within our power to change, but a surprising amount of things are. As Mark Twain said, “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” You can find more info about meeting other streamers in the entry 3 Easy Tips to Network on Twitch, and you can remove negative social media influences in entries like How to Easily Free Up Time for Twitch.
➢ MAKE YOUR MARK
So take some streaming advice from a man who lived over a century ago. Getting inspired, forcing yourself to start, facing your fears, and cultivating positivity are all universal concepts after all. Just because someone has never picked up a controller doesn’t mean that their wisdom can’t give you the motivation you need to make your channel as good as it can be. Streaming is a very new form of entertainment, and if you limit your perspective to only those who have streamed themselves, you’re robbing your channel of thousands of years of brilliant ideas. So let Mark Twain teach you how to stream- in many ways, he knew how to do it better than we do. And of course, keep in mind his most sagelike piece of wisdom: “All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure.”