Friday, December 23, 2022

Plant the Seeds for Future Streams

It’s easy to think that large, singular ideas are what make the most important changes for a Twitch streamer. This new feature on the show, that new game you’re playing, or a new schedule you announced to your followers. But gimmicks like this only act as a shot in the arm for a Twitch channel. They don’t actually make you any better of a streamer. In reality, like planting a seed and continuing to water it over time, great changes on a Twitch channel are effected by making continuous small efforts each day. In this entry, we’ll talk about planting the seeds for future streams. 


Let’s say you’ve just announced to your followers that you’re going to start streaming on a new schedule. Mondays are for horror games, Thursdays are for sidescrollers and Saturdays are when you play competitive shooters with your community. This is great, and it might even get a positive boost in attention from your community, but this announcement, while exciting, doesn’t represent any actual progress. Not yet at least. What will really decide the excellence of your plan is whether you’re disciplined enough to stick to this schedule you’ve committed yourself to. If you start missing your Thursday shows because you continuously have to work late, your promises for Thursday content don’t really count for much. 

Your plan for playing spooky games only 
matters if you can stick to it.

These kinds of things usually come back to your general discipline. Can you stick to habits once you start them? This is a difficult but necessary skill for anyone who wants to grow as a streamer, or even to keep streaming in general. Once you have built a solid foundation of discipline however, it usually carries over from one thing to another. For example, following your pre-stream setup routine consistently might make you more likely to stick to your live schedule a year from now, and that might make you better at consistently posting your content on TikTok the year after that. These are all different activities, but they all involve the same mindset. You make a habit and you stick to it. In the entry
Solidify Your Streaming Habits I spoke about how I obey the systems I’ve built without question, and this has helped me to improve several aspects of my content, and keep my shows coming out no matter what. 


The book Good to Great by Jim Collins is primarily about business, but many of its teachings apply to pretty much any field. One of the anecdotes that stuck with me (at the risk of now mixing the metaphors of this entry) was his idea of the ‘Flywheel Effect.’ Here’s how he describes this concept on his website

“No matter how dramatic the end result, good-to-great transformations never happen in one fell swoop. In building a great company or social sector enterprise, there is no single defining action, no grand program, no one killer innovation, no solitary lucky break, no miracle moment. Rather, the process resembles relentlessly pushing a giant, heavy flywheel, turn upon turn, building momentum until a point of breakthrough, and beyond.”

Pirate ships also have big, heavy wheels.

At first, the massive wheel (which, in his example, is 30 feet in diameter and weighs 5,000 pounds) is so huge that it takes hours of pushing just to make it turn once on its axis. But as you keep going, the momentum you’ve built up with the wheel makes it easier and easier to push. Eventually, if you don’t give up the momentum, the wheel begins spinning with such force that it’s nearly unstoppable. Collins goes on to say, “Now suppose someone came along and asked, “What was the one big push that caused this thing to go so fast?” You wouldn’t be able to answer; it’s just a nonsensical question. Was it the first push? The second? The fifth? The hundredth? No! It was all of them added together in an overall accumulation of effort applied in a consistent direction. Some pushes may have been bigger than others, but any single heave—no matter how large—reflects a small fraction of the entire cumulative effect upon the flywheel.”

When you stream on Twitch, you’re pushing your own massive flywheel. Yes, the first push is important in a symbolic sense, but that push won’t create much actual movement in the wheel itself. It’s only once you’ve stuck to your regimen and kept up the momentum that you can truly begin to see results. 


And while your stream as a whole is churning along under the sway of this massive wheel, the individual parts are also influenced by what you do each day, sort of like a garden. There are dozens or even hundreds of little things that get done on a stream each time you go live. Are you committing to good habits when doing these things, or are you taking the easy way out? Even if your work gets done and looks good today, doing it with a bad technique may be planting the seed for negative results to show themselves later. The entry I referenced above, Solidify Your Streaming Habits, talked about something which has helped me a lot on my streams. If I skip a step in my pre-stream setup process, even if it’s not a necessary step for the stream I’m about to do at that moment, I’ll start the whole process over from the beginning. In the past I’ve had habits turn sour, and I realized that it was moment-to-moment leniency which allowed the bad seeds to take root. Like with a garden, you can’t see the results of your work on the same day that you , but they will show themselves eventually. Make sure that on your own streams you’re nurturing only the habits that will yield strong growth. 

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