Monday, October 3, 2022

Pay Your Streams Forward

So you’ve streaming for a while. You have hundreds of broadcasts under your belt, and the amount of mistakes you make on stream has dropped significantly. You’re in a pretty comfortable place with your shows. If this is the case, it might be a good time to pay back the goodwill you’ve received throughout your Twitch journey by helping others. 

Whether you create YouTube tutorials, write hardware buying guides, interview other streamers on a podcast, or just answer questions about how to stream in your Twitch chat, there are many ways you can use your experiences to help other streamers create better content. Almost four years ago, I created this podcast. It’s gone on to help more streamers than I ever could have imagined I’d reach. I’m glad to know I’ve brought so much value to so many people. What you yourself are interested in talking about, and what form your own helpful content takes may be different, but I think you’ll find a similar gratification from helping others no matter how you choose to do it. 


If you were going to teach others about streaming, what happens if your lessons don’t all resonate with people? The first thing to understand is that they won’t. Not always. There’s no way for all of your teachings to apply to everyone. But then again, why should they? We all learn a huge amount of lessons when we stream on Twitch. Many of them can only truly be internalized when we’ve experienced them for ourselves. Some lessons you’ve learned may be too advanced for beginners, but will come in handy for more seasoned streamers. And in the case of streamers who have done it even longer than you have, certain lessons might no longer be helpful at their level. In many cases, you may simply have different goals in streaming than someone else, and one of your lessons may not apply. If you’ve been listening to this podcast for example, think about how many episodes have really spoken to you. It’s likely that number isn’t close to 100%. You probably felt some entries were more useful than others. Certain ones may even seem to make no sense at all. Maybe you feel I contradict myself, or that I take a weak stance on certain issues and too strong a stance on others. And yet, you’ve hopefully found something of value in hearing my stories and the lessons I’ve learned along the way. Everything I say is true to my own experience, and it’s true to my beliefs about streaming at the time I write it. But it’s not necessarily all true to your experience or beliefs. And that’s okay. We’re all different. We all go down different paths. But there will always be certain points where our paths intersect. 

Everybody has a different approach 
to their craft.

If you choose to make some helpful content of your own, I suggest embracing that idea. What you want to teach will never be 100% applicable to the next person. But just because they don’t take all your advice doesn’t mean they won’t benefit from some of it. Rather than just advising, I also try to focus on sharing my experience. I think it’s useful to be as candid as possible about what I've done on Twitch, both good and bad. I try not to focus too much on the positive or glamorous aspects, but really show the times when I’ve failed, or felt bad about what I was doing. This hopefully helps others to get a realistic impression of what it’s like, without being overly preachy. I also try to explain complex concepts, both technical (like setting up a greenscreen) and spiritual (like losing motivation when overpromising) by using examples and stories I personally find inspiring. I can’t know what others will respond to, but I can know what I would respond to if I were listening. And I try to go by that. If I start getting excited about a metaphor or anecdote in an entry, I know I’m on the right track. 

Whatever you choose to make, you don’t need to approach it from a solely altruistic point of view either. You’re choosing to sacrifice a chunk of your time making something outside of your streams, after all. Yes, it’ll help other streamers, but you will also find it helps you just as much. In the entry Chronicle Your Twitch Progress, I spoke about how you can better understand streaming by writing about streaming. What’s going well on your streams? What’s not going well? Where is there a specific issue? What might solve it? You’ll find there’s a lot of power in writing, or even just talking openly about things like this, because your own thoughts become more lucid when you clarify them. In addition, this educational side-project can help your Twitch channel if you want it to. Plenty of YouTubers and Twitch streamers have made names for themselves by helping up-and-coming creators get off the ground. If you want to make this educational project part of your brand, it can become a powerful source of growth. 


You can take whatever approach you want when helping other Twitch streamers, but I would advise against a few particular avenues. Denigrating other streamers is not a very nice thing to do. It’s certainly rude to do this to someone’s face by mocking their content in their own chat, but it shouldn’t even be done indirectly. You’ll notice for example, that I take care never to use the content or styles of other specific streamers as negative examples in this podcast. I may talk about paradigms in streaming I don’t like, or traits to avoid, but I simply don’t believe in talking badly about someone else’s work. Everyone is in this together, trying their best to create whatever content is meaningful for them, and we shouldn’t be putting each other down. After all, the whole point of this project would be to lift other streamers up. It wouldn’t make much sense if you were making someone feel bad in order to do it. 

Even if you think you're being helpful, 
don't offer advice where it isn't 
specifically asked for.

I also strongly advise against offering your advice where it isn’t asked for. Many streamers, especially new ones, feel the need to criticize other streamers in their live chats. This unhelpful kind of advice typically only serves to grate on the recipient, and make the advisor look bad. If someone asks you what you think, that’s one thing. If they didn’t ask you, it’s rude and presumptuous to try to impose your own will on them. If you find the line between solicited and unsolicited advice difficult to manage, you can’t go wrong with simply creating content instead. When you make something pre-packaged of your own, like a video or podcast that’s intended to help others, people will come to it specifically because they’re looking for guidance. Like you did when finding this podcast. I’m offering my opinions and experiences here, and telling you what I think is good or bad, but you signed up to hear those things. I’m not entering your stream’s chat and rattling off what I think needs to change about your channel. For more of my thoughts on giving unsolicited advice, see the entry How to Learn from Other Streamers (And How Not To).


If you’ve been streaming on Twitch for a while, you’ve had all sorts of experiences. You’ve faced challenges and you overcame them. You’ve started projects, abandoned others, changed your channel’s course and revised ideas. All of these things have taught you valuable lessons. Why not share those with others? Who knows who you might help by doing so? You might even help yourself. Pay your streams forward. You never know what those seeds of positivity might grow into. 

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