Friday, December 10, 2021

When Is Your Stream Enough?

As we build our Twitch channels, we’re always looking upward. What’s next? What new thing can we add? How can we make this better? It’s always fun to build things, and it’s great for your personal creativity, but I think there’s another important question you should ask yourself when expanding on Twitch: When is your stream enough? This applies to the channel as a whole, as well as to individual features within your channel. At some point, it must be okay to say, “This works, and I’m satisfied with it.” In this entry, we’ll try to identify when it’s okay to slow expansion and instead focus on refining what you have. 


First of all, why should we think about slowing down? Isn’t the objective to always be growing our brands? In a way, yes, but it’s about balance. If you truly love everything about what you do while you’re in maximum effort mode, then by all means keep doing it. Maybe check in every once in a while to make sure you’re taking care of yourself, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with enjoying the grind. For many of us however, it’s not a complete win-win. It’s more of a trade-off. We sacrifice some aspects of what we enjoy, in order to facilitate faster growth. And if you fall into this camp, you may want to look inwards sooner rather than later. But in the end, whether you enjoy what you’re doing or you don’t, always ensure you’re working toward the scale you actually want to achieve. 

Again, Scrooge McDuck may have a different
stance on this subject. 

Because the traditional mindset about building a brand is to keep constant upward momentum, this idea of aiming for a specific scale may sound ridiculous. “The sky's the limit,” you might say. “Why aim low?” And to communicate this idea, I’ll use another example that people usually chase after without any limit in mind:
money. Tim Ferriss, in his excellent book The 4-Hour Workweek, sums up the psychology of money this way: “People don’t want to be millionaires — they want to experience what they believe only millions can buy.” In other words, we want to be free to spend our days doing what we love, rather than what we must. We want to take vacations. We want to be able to buy gifts for loved ones and treat them to nice things. We want to stop having to worry about paying rent. Unless you’re Scrooge McDuck, it’s unlikely that you’re interested in the actual bills (or coins) of legal tender, and more interested in the kind of lifestyle that money represents


Similarly, on Twitch we chase followers in much the same way that we chase money. We try as hard as we can to collect them, and continue trying to make the number go up, no matter how high it gets. When chasing money, we keep working and saving, hoping to someday enjoy the benefits of our labor. And with Twitch, those followers accrue and grow our brands, in the hopes that someday we can do what we actually love on our channels, rather than what we have to do in order to get more followers. In the above mentioned book, Ferriss shows readers how he’s able to live on less money overall, but simultaneously cut expenses and time spent working in such a way that his net gain is higher than it was before. In short, because he takes on less work and spends wisely, he has more time to do the things he truly wants to do. And more than simply having a lot of money, that’s what it means to be rich. Because the overly ambitious investment banker who puts in 100 hour weeks is just as much a thrall to his paycheck as the rest of us working 9 to 5, because he never has the free time or peace of mind to truly enjoy his wealth. The same thing is very useful to consider on Twitch. Fast follower growth isn’t worth much if you’re spending all your time and energy trying to attain it. Because then, when do you truly taste the fruits of your labor? When you’re so burnt out that you can’t enjoy them? 

Your creativity flourishes when you have
more time to be creative.

Similar to the 80/20 Rule, which I described in the entry Stream Smarter, Not Harder, it’s about finding the highest gain that also takes the least of your time and energy to achieve. Be honest: if you had a hundred thousand followers, would you be doing the same thing on your channel that you do right now? Or would you no longer be worrying about how many followers you have? In that scenario, free of the concern for how you’ll ‘make it’ on Twitch, you may find you’d no longer be weighing all your game choices and show formats against which will perform better, and would instead be choosing based on whatever you actually want to do. The 4-Hour Workweek describes how to live your entire life as carefree as if you’re in retirement, rather than saving all your money for one big retirement at the end of your career. And I contend that the same can be done for streaming, when you’re able to de-prioritize growth enough to focus on what you truly love doing. 


Growing your channel is good. Don’t mistake this entry for a suggestion that you give up on your expansion efforts entirely. But in the end, your stream exists to serve you. It’s your passion project, and it would be a shame if that passion project didn’t allow you to actually engage in your passions. So of course reach for the things that challenge you, try new ideas, experiment, fail, and try again. But don’t let your efforts for growth get in the way of your potential for enjoyment. Ask yourself, when is your stream enough? When do you get to enjoy the content you’ve created for a change? If you organize your priorities well enough, you’ll see that the time has already come. You just have to put it into action.

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