I’m sure most of us have watched at least one or two Twitch streams since the platform blew up into this gaming phenomenon. And as someone still fresh to the YouTube gaming space, it was incredibly intimidating to try and start a Twitch stream, as well. Luckily, all of my anxiety has been for nothing—Twitch streaming is both easy and fun if you follow a few simple tips.
Obviously, the first tip would be to make sure you have all the right equipment, including a camera and/or a microphone for the very basic of setups. Once you have the equipment in hand, you’ll want to mentally prepare yourself for what’s to come. Remember that gaming is supposed to be fun. Even if you’re a high-level, very intense player, you should still be having a good time playing and interacting with people.
Streaming isn’t for everyone (personally, I like the arms-length nature that YouTube affords me), so if you try it out and it’s not an enjoyable experience for you—don’t worry about it. There are plenty of other ways to explore and share your love of gaming.
First things first—just be yourself! I know that sounds like a no-brainer, but with a camera and an audience, the instinct to do a little acting can kick in. It’s OK to be a little bit more animated or talkative than usual, but the people watching you and hanging out are there because they want to see you. I know it can be a little nerve racking the first time because you want people to be entertained, but don’t worry so much about putting on a show and just focus on having fun playing your game.
Go through your settings
One of the first things I did was make sure that my channel settings were what I wanted them to be. This included adding an extensive list of banned words (mostly derogatory words typically aimed at women), since I have a very low tolerance for abuse. You can also require email verification to keep your chat free from bots, and set who you want to allow messages from. Another important setting is whether or not you want your broadcasts to be archived—something I would recommend.
Have a comfy setup
Some people stream for 8 straight hours, so you can imagine that they want to be as comfortable as possible. Same goes for you, even if you’re just streaming for an hour or two every week. Make sure you’re wearing something you like—be it a dress or a hoodie and jeans—and make sure the desk and chair you have are comfortable. It would suck to have to constantly adjust your chair or rearrange your mouse every two seconds during the stream. Plus, when you’re feeling relaxed, you’ll be more relaxed.
Download a broadcasting software
If you’ll be streaming PC games, you’ll want to get a broadcasting software to make the process simple. Personally, I use Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) because it’s simple, easy, and free. Twitch has a few different software that they recommend, so you might want to try out a few of the free ones to see what works best for you and your system. Streaming from a console requires a bit more setup, but you’ll still need the same basic software and equipment.
Test everything beforehand
Speaking of testing—test everything before your first stream. That includes whatever broadcasting software you choose, your camera, your microphone, and the game. The first time I streamed, my microphone was doing this weird echoing thing and the game volume wasn’t loud enough — both things that could have been fixed beforehand. OBS will allow you to do a little test broadcast so you can make sure that your lighting, camera angle, and sound are all up to snuff before you start your actual broadcast.
Get ready to talk to an empty room
Unless you already have a big following on social or YouTube, chances are that your first stream will be a bit quiet chat-wise. And that’s totally OK! But just because no one is hanging out in chat doesn’t mean you have to be silent until someone shows up. Most people allow their broadcasts to be archived so that people can watch them later, so make sure you’re still talking and communicating—even if you’re talking to yourself. You could always talk to your significant other/friend/roommate off screen until you get a friendly watcher.
Interaction is fun!
Hopefully, after a stream or two, you’ll get more people in your chat, so make sure you interact with them. I connected my PC to two screens so that I could have the game on one and my chat screen on the other. I know it can be super scary to chat with strangers (especially when you’re a female gamer), but trust that people are watching you because they like you or the game you’re playing. You don’t have to pay attention to the chat every second, but sometimes your audience will have questions or suggestions you can acknowledge when you catch them.
There’s no wrong time to stream
Unlike a lot of social media and interactive endeavors, gaining an audience on stream is more about consistency than picking the perfect time. For instance, there are a few set timeframes where Twitter is most active and hence your Tweets will get the most attention. Not so much with Twitch. Twitch is 24/7, so even if people on the East Coast are snoozing during your stream, people on the West Coast are still up. Even if you’re streaming at 3 AM, gamers in Europe and Asia could tune into watch.
Unless you have Batman levels of wealth, you probably have a job and other things to do besides stream all day, everyday. So start with one or two streams a week for a few hours and see how it goes. People will start finding you if they know where and when to find you. You can post your streaming schedule in the side info or one your channel graphic to keep it in people’s minds—and don’t forget to let people know about your stream times and days one Twitter, Instagram, etc.
Play some not so popular games
Twitch is populated with tons of League of Legends, DOTA 2, and Counter-Strike players—and if you stream those games, that’s perfectly cool. But with so many other players out there, how do you get noticed on Twitch? Well, you can either be really good or really entertaining while playing all the popular games or you could play games that not everyone is playing. That includes retro games, fan favorites like Dragon Age: Inquisition, Star Wars games, the Assassin Creed franchise, or any other manner of games you like. People who love those games will be glad to see your gameplay.
Hire a chat bot and/or moderator
If you’re starting to get a good number of people in your chat, you should (at the very least) get a chat bot to monitor it. The chat bot will help keep out other bots and will help moderate so that you don’t have to pay attention every second. And if you start to have a lot of people and want a more watchful eye, you can always ask a friend or fellow streamer to act as your cat moderator. Ask someone who knows you well and who knows what you like and don’t like in your chat.