Friday, July 29, 2022

Streaming from Your Mobile Device

In the recent entry Travel with an IRL Streaming Backpack, I spoke about buying, renting or building an all-in-one solution for streaming on the go. But this is a very advanced piece of equipment, which I really only recommend to those who have done a good deal of IRL streaming in the past, and plan to do a lot of IRL streaming in the future. Isn’t there a way to livestream your morning walk, or your trip to a restaurant, without making such a commitment? 

Why yes, yes there is! In this entry we’re going to explore a very simple (and free!) way to stream your adventures in life, by using the smartphone or tablet you already own. And on top of IRL streaming, I have a few excellent options for beginner video game streamers using these methods as well. 


Any smartphone or tablet could become
your next streaming device.

Going live from your phone or tablet is a very simple process. Just like when using a PC, all you need is a piece of streaming software and an internet connection. For iOS and Android there are several good options for accomplishing this, but the one I’ve been using for the past few years is the
Streamlabs mobile app. This is the same company which makes all sorts of streaming widgets, layouts and tools, as well as the excellent Streamlabs OBS software for Windows. As one might expect from such a developer, their app for phones and tablets is similarly feature-rich. You can set up various output settings for different kinds of connections, multistream through the app itself or a custom RTMP, add custom widgets to your shows, build overlays, see your chat and view count in realtime, and monitor recent follows, hosts and raids. To be honest, using this mobile app you have almost all the same possibilities as on your stream at home. 

If you want to do IRL streaming through the app, it will harness your phone’s front or back camera, in either horizontal or vertical mode. This means you can hold the phone in front of you while walking down the street to show a POV shot, and then flip it around to your face at the touch of a button to show yourself talking to chat. I’ve done this kind of stream several times when I was in interesting locations, and it works great. It’s also perfect for when you eat at a restaurant. You can either prop the phone up against something, or get a cheap little mini-tripod on Amazon (usually around $10) to show either your food itself or your face while eating. I’ve had a lot of fun doing restaurant and cafe streams with my phone, and doing so has helped me to discover a lot of cool new places I hadn’t visited before. 

Now, using your phone for IRL streaming does have its drawbacks. Depending on your carrier plan, you’ll need to keep an eye on how much you’re streaming. Unless you’ve got unlimited data, you could find yourself facing overages if you’re not careful. Letting your phone run the stream also poses the logistical concern of not being able to use your phone for anything else. This can be tricky when traveling, as you might want to look up directions to where you’re going, or reviews for restaurants and attractions before getting there. And while I can’t speak to Android capabilities, iOS will pause the broadcast if I switch to another app. It would also flat-out end the entire show if I got a phone call during the stream. Lastly, you should keep in mind that, just like with a PC, the mobile device’s performance comes into play when streaming. Adding too many widgets or overlay elements can make the stream lag or crash, depending on your phone or tablet model. All these concerns are minor however, when you consider what you’re getting. This is an incredibly powerful resource for IRL livestreaming, and it’s likely you already own all the hardware you need to get started. It’s tough to beat a deal like that!


On top of IRL streaming, there’s another feature I’ve personally gotten a lot of use out of on my phone and tablet. Using the Streamlabs app (as well as several of the others) you can actually broadcast whatever appears on your phone or tablet screen directly to Twitch. This has been incredibly useful for me personally. Whenever I’m out of town, I do all my non-IRL shows like this. Instead of setting up my laptop to broadcast my streams, or going live from a phone pointing at the iPad (a workaround I unfortunately had to use for a while), I can simply do all my streaming directly from my iPad. My daily Duolingo show goes live from a Google Chrome window, and the artwork I make comes straight from iPad Photoshop. Remember all the book illustrations I described creating in the entry Make Your Masterpiece on Stream? Those were all done straight from my iPad too! I’ve even streamed video games using iPad screen capture, complete with a PS4 controller that I keep in my luggage. It’s like having a miniature stream PC on vacation or business trips. 

There are lots of popular mobile games 
out there for you to stream.

This screen recording feature can also be extremely helpful for those wanting to get into streaming for the first time. It’s a great way to start broadcasting without needing a console, PC, or any other kind of equipment. Even if you have no interest in the portability aspect, you can go live straight from your phone or tablet with only a few button presses, using your home WiFi, without paying for anything at all. 

On top of that, I’ve seen other streamers use the screen recording feature in lots of creative ways. Someone with a streaming backpack for example, can use their phone’s screen as a secondary camera for an IRL broadcast. This would allow them to show themselves playing a mobile game waiting for a bus near their house or while standing in line at a ramen shop in Tokyo. 


As you can see, going live from a mobile device can be useful for all types of streamers, throughout the full range of skill levels. Whether you’re an absolute beginner, a seasoned expert or anything in between, you’re bound to find something that can come in handy. Plus, there’s no risk- it doesn’t cost anything to set up. So consider adding a new dimension to your livestreams. Take that phone or tablet and make something amazing! 

Friday, July 22, 2022

Setting Up Pre-Stream Automation

In previous entries, I’ve spoken about how I create habits and systems to facilitate the streaming process. Entries like Creating a Pre-Stream Checklist explored my method of defining what I need to get a stream started, and then following that script to the letter every time I go live. There are many items that may appear on a pre-stream checklist. Some are physical, like turning on lights or cameras. Others occur in software, like getting your scenes calibrated and opening necessary apps. Finally, you prepare and format various aspects of your show on the internet. In this entry, I’m going to detail my specific process in tackling this last step, and how I’ve improved my stream prep by a large margin by using some simple shortcuts. 

Turn your setup process into an 
assembly line.

By automating this part of the pre-stream process, I’ve been able to make my content higher quality, cut down on production prep time, and significantly reduce errors all in one stroke. If you’ve only created a handful of streams so far, the technique I’m about to describe may sound like overkill. But after your hundredth or thousandth stream, you’ll grow to appreciate anything that can get your shows onto the air faster, with fewer errors. And though my specific order of operations isn’t going to magically work for your channel’s content, I guarantee that if you take the internal logic of my decisions to heart and create your own custom automation steps, you’ll start to see better results on your channel within only a few broadcasts. 


When getting ready to do a show, before setting up OBS or even opening my game, I execute my initial pre-stream setup. This all occurs on a set of Google Chrome tabs, in which I title the episode, choose its Twitch category, prepare it for multistreaming (I go live to Twitch and YouTube simultaneously), add any necessary other details, and open the two monitoring windows I use to keep an eye on the stream’s status and chat. 

This is all done in the same exact way, and in the same exact order, every single time. In Google Chrome, I have a ‘Pre-Stream’ folder in my Bookmarks Bar, with every page I’ll need to visit saved in chronological order. By simply choosing to open the entire folder at once (you can do this by middle mouse clicking the folder itself), Chrome will instantly populate my browser with every tab I need to set up my show. I can then close each tab as I finish its corresponding task, and when they’re all gone I know the show is ready. This turns pre-stream formatting, usually a swirl of things to remember and possible mistakes to make, into a simple assembly line process. It lifts a huge burden from the mind. Here are all the tabs I use when setting up my show, and what I use them for: 

  1. Twitch Video Producer - I use this screen, which shows all my previous broadcasts, to copy the name of the most recent episode of whichever game I’m going to play. A simple step, but an important one. 

  2. YouTube Studio Live Dashboard - Here, I choose the YouTube Stream Key that I’ve set up for my show (which for some reason on YouTube needs to be selected every time you go live) and paste the title of the episode into the broadcast’s info. All my episodes of a game are numbered, so I make sure to increase that number and remove any extra formatting from the previous episode title. I change the hashtag in the description, set a general ‘Going Live’ thumbnail I’ve created, choose which game-specific playlist the episode will be on, set the game title in YouTube’s category section, and paste in a set of appropriate tags. All this ensures that most of the formatting work for my YouTube archive is finished before the stream even begins. 

  3. Restream Dashboard - I use this step for a few simple yet necessary tasks. First, YouTube’s ‘Event’ (a pre-made set of show info, which contains everything we set up in the previous tab) needs to be enabled every time a stream goes live or it’ll default to a generic title, so I enable the event that I set up in the second tab. This step is also a nice way to check that I didn’t miss anything while setting up the info. Then I select the new show title I’ve created and copy it, so we can bring it to: 

  4. Twitch Stream Manager - Here I paste in the episode title I copied from the YouTube show, and I set the Twitch category. 

  5. Twitch Chat Popout Window, Twitch Stream Manager - These final two tabs are both meant to be used at once. I have three monitors on my PC, so I play the game on the center screen, open the Twitch Chat Popout Window on the left, and the Twitch Stream Manager on the right. This allows me to check various stats, along with chat messages, during the broadcast. Once these windows are placed on my two satellite monitors, I can move into opening the game and setting up OBS.

That’s the process. Those six tabs are opened automatically, in a specific sequence, every time I get ready to set up my show. I always address them in the exact order they’ve been opened, because I’ve meticulously worked out that order for maximum efficiency over the years. You’ll notice that it even opens Twitch four separate times. This is meant to discourage me from needing to think in this setup stage, to instead simply follow the plan I’ve already laid out. Each tab with a Twitch window is used for a different purpose, at a different stage of the process. I don’t leave old tabs open and go back to them, or click to different screens within the same tab. I close a tab when its specific task is complete, and move down the line. There is much less room for error when I don’t need to think about where to navigate next. 

I’m very proud of this quality of life improvement in my Twitch channel, because the time saved compounds over the many streams I’ve done. Remember, I’ve broadcast over 6,000 livestreams on my channel at this point. Any time saving method is going to make a huge difference when extrapolated to such a scale, and this particular method saves more time than most. 


There's always room for iteration in 
any strategy. 

Having said that, I still don’t consider this configuration of pre-stream setup tabs to be perfect. There’s always room for improvement, and I try to keep an open mind. Even in the last few months, I’ve added an extra tab with the YouTube Studio Live Dashboard at the end, so I can monitor that stream along with Twitch. In the past few years, I’ve also added another set of simple tabs on my separate streaming PC, which automatically opens the Google speed testing tool to test my connection before every show, as well as Restream’s monitoring software so I can see what the show is doing before it reaches Twitch. This last step is important for me, because it allows me to see at a glance whether an issue or outage is caused by my broadcast, or by the Twitch platform receiving the broadcast. 

This whole process is one of the biggest time-saving and accident-preventing improvements I’ve made to my channel over its lifetime. With the setup stage down to a science I can think about more important things, like making a good Twitch stream, without worrying about whether I’ve forgotten something along the way. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve refined this workflow over the course of thousands of my own broadcasts, and it works specifically for the content that I make. Simply copying what I do won’t work for your own shows. But if you come up with your own set of steps, you’ll see an improvement very quickly. So try setting up some pre-stream automation on your channel. Your shows will thank you for it. 

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Travel with an IRL Streaming Backpack

In the entry How to Stream While Traveling Anywhere, I talked about my most recent trip to Tokyo, Japan, and how I was able to go live my usual three times per day, seven days a week, even from my vacation. I spoke about preparing for the trip beforehand, figuring out what kind of content to make, and talking with my traveling companions to see what they were comfortable with. These are all extremely important concerns, but what I didn’t cover in that entry is the kind of equipment I used during my trip to get the most out of the experience. In this entry, we’ll talk about just that: traveling with an IRL streaming backpack. 

Tokyo is a very photogenic place.

On the outside, an IRL streaming backpack just looks like a regular backpack. But inside, it’s filled with a few key pieces of equipment: a camera, one or more pocket WiFi units, and several portable chargers to power all your devices (as well as a whole bunch of cables). It’s basically an all-in-one accessory to let you go live for several hours at a time, often hands-free with a shoulder mount, while staying connected to the internet much more reliably than with a normal phone plan. This is very useful when traveling, because you can use your phone while streaming to look up directions or read chat, and the internet signal comes from a separate SIM card, so you aren’t wasting your phone’s data to make the broadcast. 


Like with many pieces of equipment, there are three main ways to get your hands on an IRL streaming backpack: rent, buy or build. No matter what option you go with, this thing is going to be pretty expensive. There are many different kinds, and prices vary, so I’ll use rough pricing equivalents rather than hard figures to describe each. 

First, you can just buy a streaming backpack outright. The Gunrun Backpack is probably the premiere choice, and it’ll require next to no setup when it arrives at your door, but that convenience comes with a price. Just to get the backpack itself will cost you roughly what you’d pay for a high-end games PC, and the various subscriptions you’ll need to get the thing connected to the internet can set you back the price of a new game console every month. This is beyond prohibitively expensive for most of us who don’t make huge amounts of money from our streams, especially if IRL streaming is something we only want to do once in a while. But, if you have the money this is a very easy, stable and high-end way to get the job done. 

The Gunrun Backpack is a sleek and
high-end solution, but it'll cost you.

You can also rent streaming backpacks, complete with everything all set up, for set amounts of time. For my Tokyo trip, I rented a Gunrun Backpack from the service
UnlimitedIRL. This wasn’t cheap either- two weeks with the backpack cost me about as much as the plane ticket I used to get to Tokyo, but it was a relief not to have to worry about setting things up. Recently UnlimitedIRL seems to only be accepting limited amounts of rentals, but they’re a great choice if you can get your hands on a booking and don’t want to commit to owning. 

Finally, you could always build your own. When I was looking into streaming backpacks for that Tokyo trip back in 2019, this was also a prohibitively expensive option. No matter how cheap you made the equipment, you couldn’t really get around the astronomical subscription costs for the data, tethering, cloud servers and other services required to actually get the signal to Twitch. But recently, that’s all changed. 


This year, after publishing my book about the Trojan War, I decided the best way to celebrate would be a trip to Greece. It was my first major trip since Tokyo three years prior, and after seeing how much it would cost to rent a streaming backpack again, I figured I’d check for alternate options. To my surprise, a few key discoveries were made in the three years since I was last in the market, which allow someone to build an entire streaming backpack, with no monthly fees required, all for less than the price I paid for my two week rental in Tokyo. All of a sudden, owning an IRL streaming backpack has become a very realistic option. 

The main concept of this affordable IRL solution, pioneered by the Twitch streamer SprEEEzy, is that it sidesteps the few ultra-expensive bottlenecks of the traditional streaming backpack. It uses a slightly less stable, but exponentially more affordable means of connecting to the internet (cutting out one of the major subscription fees), and compensating for that lower connectivity with better video compression algorithms. Then, by using your home PC as a remote relay for the broadcast itself, you cut out the other major subscription cost that would normally be required. This means that with just one prepaid data SIM card (easily attainable anywhere, though I had good success with the Japanese service iVideo) you can go live with pretty good stability, and have no other costs outside of the initial purchase of the equipment itself. For more information about the tech details behind this kit, you can find an excellent series of walkthrough videos on SprEEEzy’s YouTube channel. 

The main caveat with this route, just like when building a PC, is that you need to put the whole thing together yourself. That means a lot of patience, reading, iteration, sending back defective or incorrect parts, and experimenting with software settings. It's not going to magically work overnight, but if you’re like me and enjoy this sort of challenge every once in a while, you shouldn’t have too many problems. Plus, SprEEEzy has a very helpful Discord community where you can ask questions. 


Taken from my IRL backpack, at
the Acropolis of Athens.

Having built my streaming backpack, and having taken the time to really make sure everything worked before leaving, my Greece trip went incredibly well. In addition to streaming, I knew I’d also be traveling to ancient ruins, going to museums, and generally visiting a lot of places that wouldn’t have internet connectivity no matter what kind of data plan I used. So I invested in an SD card for local storage on the backpack’s camera. That way, I could easily switch between doing live shows and recorded shows without interrupting the fun or authenticity of my travel experience. Using this combination method, I was able to do
28 separate IRL episodes from my vacation, all with minimal worry. Many of my favorite historical sites, restaurants and other locations were discovered while walking around during the shows, and the backpack was so low profile that I didn’t stick out like a sore thumb on the street or in restaurants, bothering everyone around me. 

Building a streaming backpack is still a significant purchase, however. So it’s important to only go down this route if you’re sure you’ll get use out of it. I personally already had experience using an IRL backpack from my trip to Japan, and I had done many streams before that just from my iPhone. If you’re interested in becoming an IRL streamer, I would recommend (as I always do in Twitch Playbook entries) to go with the cheapest option first. Assuming you have a decent phone data plan, you can go live directly from the phone in your pocket without paying anything at all. Give that a try a few times, and see if IRL streaming is something you actually enjoy doing. If you think it’ll be worth taking the leap, then this affordable backpack solution by SprEEEzy is a great way to go. If you have more money to burn and don’t want to put things together yourself, you can always buy or rent pre-made kits. Whether you go live from your doorstep or from a city across the globe, a streaming backpack can turn that trip into an adventure not just for you, but for your audience as well. 

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Growth Check-In: Keep Your Streams Going

When learning about Twitch streaming, most people want to know about the glamourous stuff. How do you make your channel grow faster? Can you get the streams to look more professional? What can you say to make your chat more engaged? How do you make money? These are all very useful topics, and I’ve covered them all several times in the past. But the most important subject for a Twitch streamer is one that new content creators usually don’t think about: keeping your habit alive

This simple subject, despite being less popular (and probably less interesting), is the one we come up against the most often on Twitch. Our channels are constantly under attack. And the enemy is within ourselves. For any number of reasons, you will see streamers begin to falter in their broadcast regularity, until eventually they take long breaks and then give up altogether. In this growth check-in entry we’ll look back at a few of the recent Twitch Playbook tips dealing with this topic. If you utilize the advice within, I’m confident you’ll be able to keep your streams going for that much longer. 


The easiest way to stick to a habit is to truly love what you’re doing. When you’re excited to go live each day, you’ll feel much less friction when preparing to do your broadcast. Many streamers however, confuse loving what they’re doing with loving the attention they get from what they’re doing. Both of these can help you keep going, but only the former can propel you even through the worst of times. If you’re confused as to which motivating factor is driving your stream, ask yourself the following question: If your channel never grew, and every broadcast had zero viewers, would you still enjoy what you're doing? In entries like Streaming For Yourself, I spoke about how even positive feedback like channel growth or chat activity can skew your view of your own content, and potentially stunt your overall enjoyment of the craft. 

Keep your habit afloat.

Now, what if you really do end up in a slump like I described above? Whether it’s your viewership, chat engagement, or performance while playing games that are inexplicably drying up, you might find that this recession in momentum starts to erode your will to stream. These spans of decreased activity on a Twitch channel are the most common reasons a streamer might throw in the towel. Don’t let a temporary setback become a permanent failure. In the entry
Survive the Streaming Doldrums, I spoke about how you can overcome your reliance on the fickle ‘winds’ of outside factors, and instead use the self-propulsion of a strong creative vision to drive your channel forward. 

No matter how passionate and driven you are about streaming however, you will still have your off days. You might wake up to find that your confidence is simply drained, or your computer is suddenly having problems. These things can’t be predicted or prevented, but they can be planned for. In the entry Stream With the Hand You’re Dealt, I compared Twitch streaming to playing an eternal game of poker. Each day the cards might be good or bad, but even in the worst scenario you can protect your interests. And sometimes, in streaming as in poker, you can have major success even with a terrible hand. 


It helps to create smaller routines for yourself within your streaming habit. A few interlocking micro-habits working in concert can do wonders for keeping a larger habit alive. The entry Cut Down on Stream Errors will help you to break down your most troublesome weaknesses and prevent you from falling into various creative traps. Creating a Pre-Stream Checklist will help you to automate the setup time before your show begins, ensuring that you don’t forget or botch any of the steps. Strengthen Your Twitch Habits goes into detail about how to retrain your brain to replace any bad habit with a good one. All of these things involve solving small problems on a Twitch channel, but you’d be surprised how much these improvements can help your overall streaming habit. When you often make little mistakes, that embarrassment and frustration can keep compounding until you don’t want to stream anymore. Being able to go live without worries removes all that friction. 

More ingredients doesn't always mean 
a better dish. 

Finally, in the recent entry Build a Better Streaming Habit, I talked about how implementing good ideas at the wrong time can be very harmful to a Twitch channel, especially for new streamers. We can get overly ambitious, whether we’re trying to implement daily or weekly show concepts, widgets and plugins for our chat’s enjoyment, raffles and contests, or other features we think might help our channels. None of these are bad ideas in themselves, but they can bring harmful results if you’re biting off more than you can chew. Just because something can be implemented doesn’t always mean it should. Each feature we add to our Twitch channels attaches baggage to our streams. If you add too much, you may not be able to carry that weight each time you go live. 


Being a Twitch streamer means constantly trying to stop yourself from giving up. This isn’t what most prospective streamers want to hear (and many won’t even believe it until they’ve streamed themselves), but it’s the reality that everyone should hear. If you can keep your broadcasting habit going, even if you don’t do anything special to improve your content as you go, you’ll already be doing better than the majority of other streamers to ever grace the platform. The most common Twitch channel is a flash in the pan- a lot of big ideas and excitement in the beginning, only to disappear as quickly as it came. Instead, aim to keep your flame alive for years to come, and build something that stands the test of time. 

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Streaming When Plans Go Awry

Throughout The Twitch Playbook, I’ve talked about the many ways you might reach a roadblock in making your streams. Many of these are mental, but some are completely out of your control. It’s important however, not to let the unpredictability of life prevent you from achieving your goals. In this entry we’re going to explore one of the tougher scenarios I’ve faced in my own content creation journey: being quarantined away from home due to Covid. We’ll look at the challenges I faced, and the compromises I made in order to ensure I didn’t let the flame of my content die out. 

First, let me clarify a few things before jumping in. I’ll be describing how I powered through my problem and got my work done on my own terms, despite being sick. However, I was lucky enough not to get very seriously ill after testing positive. This entry is not a way of minimizing the difficulty or danger of sickness in any form. We’re here to talk about the scheduling challenge that being quarantined away from home created. The virus itself does not come into play in this entry. If you feel sick, you should seek medical attention, and when you’re not sick you should take whatever precautions are required where you live. Stay safe, everybody! 


It was the most wonderful time of the year. I had flown from LA to New Jersey to stay with my parents during the holiday season, and we were excited to host our big yearly party for friends, attend some others, and then see our relatives during Christmas and the new year. In December of 2021 however, this just wasn’t meant to be. Everyone around the country had the same idea, and ended up spreading a lot more than just good cheer. When the number of cases kept rising, my family decided to be responsible and cancel all our party plans, instead opting to do a small Zoom call. I had flown two and a half thousand miles to do another holiday over the computer screen, but at least I was with my immediate family at my parents’ house, and I was happy not to be part of the larger problem. 

Since I'd be away from home, I couldn't
stream video games, but I had a 
backup plan in place. 

Unfortunately, due to a weird ‘six degrees of Kevin Bacon’ scenario which made its way to one of my family members, a few of us got sick anyway. As I mentioned, I was lucky not to be badly affected by the illness, but this all occurred right before I was scheduled to fly home, so I was forced to extend my stay. I ended up being in New Jersey for almost an extra two weeks while I waited for the virus to run its course, and in that time you could imagine how some things about my content might be thrown off. Since I wasn’t going to be home, I needed to have some kind of stream I could do consistently, and in my then-weakened state. I was fortunate to have already come up with the art-making shows that I’ve mentioned in other entries, so those were perfect for this scenario. I could stuff a tissue in my nose, draw a few pictures on my iPad, finish the show and go to sleep. I didn’t need to go anywhere or exert a lot of energy. However, if I had been planning to do IRL streams where I would walk around town during my stay, it would have required a bit more strategizing to come up with a lower-impact show I could do while quarantined. That’s why it’s always useful to have some alternate stream ideas in your back pocket. You never know when you might need to use them. 

Since I had the livestreams mostly under control, the thing that actually ended up causing me the most stress during this time was The Twitch Playbook podcast. More than a week would pass before I got back to my house, where I had all my recording equipment. And because I didn’t plan to be in New Jersey for the extra time, I didn’t create enough episodes beforehand that I could release while I was away. I was faced with a real conundrum. 


As I’ve mentioned in earlier episodes, I had always structured this podcast like an audiobook, with each entry acting as a new chapter. There are section headers within each week’s episode to separate my thoughts, and everything is written and copy-edited beforehand to be as concise and entertaining as I can make it. It wasn’t necessarily the kind of podcast I had heard before, but it was one I knew I personally would want to listen to. I had always taken pride in the production value of the show, and the lessons I learned recording and editing it eventually helped me to become a narrator of actual audiobooks. But now, faced with the prospect of being away from home for an extra stretch, I had to decide between either skipping a few weeks and recording the episodes when I got back to my real setup, or coming to terms with imperfection and simply getting the work done. Keeping with my usual belief that it’s more important to be there than to be perfect, I chose to make the episodes from quarantine.

Sometimes, life (or dragons) will 
get in the way.

So it was decided. I knew the show would be lower quality in some way, but it was still my choice where I would make those concessions. Luckily, I had a project file from an old episode of the podcast on my laptop, so I could still have the usual intro, outro and other effects applied. Plus, being away from home didn’t affect my ability to write, so I could make the entry on the page just as good as any other. Really, the only thing I was lacking was a professional microphone. So I had a mission statement. I was determined that the quality of the content wouldn’t suffer from this setback, even if the presentation had to. The point of this show is to help someone understand how to stream on Twitch after all, and therefore it’s the information that matters most- not the audio’s crispness. 

Finally, I thought it would be important to let listeners know about the dip in audio quality before listening to the episode. Then, first-timers who landed on that entry would know it wasn’t always like this, and long-time followers would understand there wasn’t something wrong with their speakers. I carefully worded my addition, appended right after the episode title, to present only the basic facts. Keeping it in the audiobook style, I called it an ‘editor’s note’: 


"I’m currently away from home, so this entry will sound slightly different than others. Hope you’ll stick with me, and I hope you enjoy the episode."

It was important to me not to go into a long-winded explanation or make excuses. Yes, my situation was understandable, but I didn't want to use that as a crutch. As I’ve mentioned in entries like Don’t Apologize for Your Streams, Just Improve, long explanations, apologies and promises are nothing but empty words meant to make the speaker feel better about themselves. The best thing is always to simply do what you can, and do better next time. Therefore, this short introduction presents only what’s relevant to the listener. Yes, it’s going to sound different. But I hope they like the episode anyway. Simple and, hopefully effective.

With this small editor’s note in place, I felt the new ‘away from home’ podcast episode concept made sense. A listener could follow along without missing a beat, and I could keep making the podcast, even when life got in the way. When I got home, the show returned to its normal audio quality. I didn’t re-record the quarantine episodes- they were simply part of the canon of the podcast. A reminder of a major problem I overcame, both technically and mentally. And some of those ‘imperfect’ episodes ended up becoming personal favorites, despite their inferior audio quality! It makes me really glad that I didn't skip those weeks, in order to wait until I got back to my normal setup.


Eventually, while on a different vacation, I got quarantined overseas in Greece (a story for another entry) and was able to use this time-tested method again to continue making Twitch Playbook entries despite the unusual circumstances. You might not have the exact same problem, but I can promise that at some point, life will interfere with your content plans. It’s important then, to accept that what we make can’t always be perfect. And while life as a whole might be outside our control, there are still plenty of things we can guide in our favor. So whatever kind of content you make, don’t let an upset in your plans ruin your streak. Take out your thinking cap, conquer your ego, and come up with a solution that works for you.