I want to first say that this isn’t a scheme or magical program to make Twitch growth “easy.” It also isn’t an effort to get you to subscribe or donate to my channel. The sole purpose of writing this is to attempt to provide all of the information and strategy I’ve used to date in a single, concise and digestible post — something I wish I had on day one. As such, everything I have to share is below and there’s no link to bring you anywhere else. For those of you that I’ve talked with about this (friends, followers and subs) and those of you I don’t know, I really hope it helps!
Just over five weeks into streaming and I feel very fortunate to say that I reached affiliate status only a few days after the one-month mark. I’ve got 83 followers (only four of whom are people I personally know), 10 organic subscribers and nearly 1,000 views. No programs, No follow for follows, No boosts, No bot viewers/follows, etc. — No BS. This past week, I averaged around 8 viewers, with some times higher and others lower.
This isn’t a brag. This is to say that there are things that I’ve learned in the past month, read from various resources, and watched over the course of countless youtube videos, that have propelled my stream forward much faster than I ever would’ve anticipated. Some growth strategies you’ll read about from only six months ago may no longer work due to the saturated nature of Twitch, while others may have been developed years ago and still work to this day. Perhaps to you, my numbers are quite low, or maybe you’ve been on your twitch journey for months, still seeking affiliate status but don’t quite know where to go next. Either way, I hope I can offer something to help you below.
Introductions aside, here are the points I’ve found most critical thus far in no particular order;
CAM – It seems to be the consensus among larger streamers and content creators that you absolutely need to have a cam if you want your channel to get anywhere. I completely agree with this sentiment. You are the focal point of your stream. Without a cam, your viewers are essentially watching gameplay footage with commentary here and there which can just as easily be done elsewhere. If you don’t have a cam and can’t afford one, that’s okay! You can actually use your phone as a cam and it’s much easier than you think it would be. Just google “EpocCam.” In my opinion, the app made it fairly self explanatory to set up. There’s a free version of the app and a paid version for something like eight dollars to get rid of the ads. It’s well worth the eight dollars, because the ads make it a frustration and you’ll already have plenty of those elsewhere when setting up your stream for the first time. P.S. I’m not endorsed or sponsored by this company — If you’ve got a more efficient/inexpensive way to get a cam, take it!
PERSONALITY – Let the you who is you shine through. I just made that up. It’s 4:00AM. In all sincerity, this will likely be the most critical element of your channel. I have a theory on the success of this point which comes from a personal favorite streamer; the two-time himself, DrDisrespect. Doc clearly plays a well-developed character, but it comes across genuine. This gave me the impression of embellishing who he really is. Is Guy Beahm (Doc’s real name) actually an 80’s super villain, destroying anyone and anything in his path from behind the wheel of his red 1990 Lambo? No. BUT is he a guy who’s into the 80’s aesthetic, rages at games, and is a little overly competitive? Probably!
This got me thinking about the idea of taking your own personality and embellishing the bits which make you, YOU. I’ll give you an example. I’m a Zen Buddhist. I’m obsessed with Eastern philosophy and practices of Zen, presence and meditation are a significant part of my life. Therefore, on stream, I take these components and make them the focal point. If you ever watch me on stream, you’ll notice that in moments of absolute chaos and high tensions on screen, I remain almost comically calm and poke fun at the intensity of otherwise high-stress situations. I don’t tilt in moments that might frustrate others and will instead flip situations like these around into thoughts and questions about why we might feel that way. Even when I have engagements with toxic players, you’ll see that rather than engaging them with the reciprocal toxicity they’re looking for, I might say something like “Aw, friend, what happened today? It’s okay, you can tell me about it.” Not sarcastically, but in a genuine way! It’s fun to see if we can take the toxicity out of a teammate, BUT there is one more component to my stream which I would consider most significant. This leads us to our next point.
PASSION/REASON FOR STREAMING – Most people will tell you if you’re in it for the money, get out. I’ve read this sentence a million times. My feeling is that it’s not quite that simple. It’s perfectly okay to approach streaming with the goal of making it your full time job — That’s exactly what I’m doing! HOWEVER, Consider a person who wants to be a rockstar, but has never written a note of music. Or held a guitar. Or sang outside their shower. They want to be a rockstar for the fame, money, etc. but they’ve got no passion for the art itself. I think we both know it’s very unlikely they’ll get anywhere at all. The same is true of streaming. There’s a point where passion and effort coincide with return. You do it because you love it, but you can’t put everything into it without it becoming your livelihood. You also can’t make it your livelihood without putting everything into it.
Perhaps your passion is the game itself and the will to share it. You want to be a Radiant rank Valorant player, teaming up with Shroud and Summit to play against pros while your fans watch and spam your chat with PogChamps and KEKWs. That’s fantastic and that passion will take you far. There are plenty of passions that can fuel your drive to put in the work when the odds are against you!
When I watched my first Twitch stream, the first thing that struck me was the way that the streamer was able to engage with so many people in chat, while they were simultaneously engaging one another. A more specific point that took my interest was that it was all, for the most part, anonymous. I immediately had the thought that this would be a great platform for people to have a place to get things off their chest. Almost like the next level of jotting frustrations into a diary — only here, others can see, relate to, and even respond to the things you write in real-time. Even further, what if there were a streamer who, while delivering satisfying one-shot sniper content, could calmly talk over the chaos and offer perspective on the topic for that person and anyone else in chat going through the same sort of difficulties. For me, the passion is the potential to help people who are experiencing anxiety, depression, etc. with the same principals which helped me through these issues while creating a community where my viewers can offer the same for one another, if they choose to. That was the beginning of DrWatts.
UNIQUENESS – This should act as a sort of *bonus point* to the two above points. In a competitive game environment, it should be a given that you are at least decent at your game. It’s unlikely you’d be streaming it otherwise. Even if you’re great at it, it can only play to your advantage to push the aspect of your skill and offer something that few other channels can. While this can mean nearly anything, I’ll share with you the example of what I believe makes my on-screen content unique.
I predominantly stream VALORANT with regular switches to COD Warzone sprinkled between. In Warzone, I solo queue into Trios and use only the Kar98k, regardless of range, with success for the most part. In VALORANT however, it gets a little more elaborate. Essentially, I developed a stream “mini-game” within VALORANT wherein I only use the Marshal scout weapon. Throughout a match, certain things can happen which will force changes to my loadout. Additionally, I’ve added interesting and fun modifiers that chat can activate with channel points to make this “mini-game” more challenging or slightly easier on me. It’s a fun way to keep the gameplay fresh and interesting while keeping chat engaged with the gameplay. You can see the “DrWatts unrated VALORANT rules” in the about section on my channel if you’d like to see this in action. Perhaps it’ll give you some ideas!
OVERLAY – While it isn’t as essential as having the cam feed itself, it is still a critical component in my opinion. Have you ever been on twitch, perhaps looking at a lesser watched game, and decided to click on one of the handful of streamers playing it? Which did you click? I clicked the one with the best looking overlay in that tiny thumbnail box. Why? Because, as a viewer, It says something to me about “They put work into this” – “They care about the quality of their stream” – “They probably know the ropes and are NOT NEW AT THIS” — even if we are ;). There’s a few ways to approach this hurdle, some more costly than others. You can try to take on making your own overlay (more on this later*), purchase a premium pre-made overlay, or pay someone to custom make one for your channel. While the latter is ideal, I think most of us at the beginning will want to begin with a premium pre-made overlay. For around 30 bucks, you’ll have your stream looking, for the most part, pretty professional.
SCHEDULE AND CONSISTENCY – It is important to have a consistent and identifiable schedule. Your viewers need to know when and where to find you! Try out different schedules as early as possible and find one that works for you. Once you’ve found what works for you and your lifestyle, stick with it as closely as you can. If you want for streaming to become your job, you’ve got to treat it like one! If you’re going to be late or need to change the time of a stream, handle it the same way you would with any other job. Do what you can to let your audience know and try as much as you can to not make a habit of it. Life happens and there isn’t anything we can do about that, but the more consistent you can be, the better!
An important note on this point: Sometimes you need to take a day off and I’d never make a case to prioritize your stream over your mental or physical health. Holding yourself accountable for your schedule is important to your success on Twitch, but nothing is more important than your health, friends.
PLAYING WITH GROUPS – I have mixed feelings on this point. You are the focal point, don’t forget that. It’s great to play with other streamers and friends, but I’d recommend limiting this to a section of your stream, rather than making it an expectation or identifier of your channel. Use it as an enhancement to what you’ve already got to offer, not as a crutch if you aren’t quite feeling confident solo yet. It’s an excellent opportunity to practice engaging your viewers and –if we’re being honest– talking to yourself! Even when there’s no one to engage with, the lurkers in your chat won’t lurk for long if you’re sitting quietly playing the game. It is absolutely critical that you can stand on your own two feet, so don’t let playing with others inhibit your ability to do so!
BRANDING – This may seem like a point that “doesn’t matter til you’re big.” Remember when I said if you want it to be your job, you’ve got to treat it like a job? Your channel is your business and unless you treat it as such, it will be a failing business. Take that personality you developed and visualize it into a logo. Maybe you know photoshop, or maybe you get a friend to draw it for you. Maybe you make it in MS paint (I hope not). You really just need something that is identifiable as YOU. Once you’ve got it, put it everywhere. Everywhere. Twitch, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Reddit, Steam, Discord, Facebook. It will never hurt you to secure your brand on every platform even if you aren’t perpetually posting to each and every one!
If you guys would like to see a follow up post involving the social media marketing stuff I mentioned earlier, this would be another point that I would likely expand on as well.
KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GETTING YOURSELF INTO – This point isn’t to scare you. It’s to encourage you because YOU CAN undoubtedly do this. Further, this is more of a point for those who favor the densely saturated, top played games (Valorant, Warzone, Overwatch, League of Legends, etc.) This is the category that I fall into. You’ll do much more work off-stream than you do on-stream. From social media marketing to a constant influx of content creation, there’s a lot of work to be done. In games like these, you will never see organic growth via Twitch alone. It’s not because you’re not working hard and it’s not because you’re not amazing — you definitely are. It’s because with only a few viewers, your channel will be buried by 70 pages worth of others trying to do exactly what you’re doing, leaving your only option for discoverability elsewhere — at least at the beginning. If anyone is interested to see how I’ve approached these aspects of my stream, I’ll gladly do an additional post to cover them (Social media scheduling apps, content curation and editing, etc.)
BUYING FOLLOWERS / FOLLOW FOR FOLLOW / LURK FOR LURK / ETC. – Don’t do this. Just don’t. This is an absolute trap and serves no benefit to your channel. If you meet another streamer along the way and you mutually enjoy each others’ content, that’s awesome (This will happen!), but don’t follow each other simply for the number — it helps neither of you. There are countless reasons for this being the case and I’ll gladly talk about it with you in a PM or even on stream, but suffice to say there are too many reasons to list why this does not benefit you, nor the people exchanging with you.
MODS – For the obvious reasons, they’re important. You never know when the bots will show up in chat or, worse, when little Timmy is having a bad day and wants to let it out via profanity spam in your chat. Unlucky. Have a close friend or two to help you with this at the start if/when they’re available.
DON’T BE DISCOURAGED – Kudos to you if you’re still reading. I’d definitely wager that you’re committed to this and this point may be moot for you, but still I feel that it’s an important one to address. Developing growth on a streaming platform is hard, that’s for sure. But it’s not impossible and we’re all capable so long as we maintain our commitment to the passions we identified earlier. I have a life experience which taught a particular lesson and still to this day, it’s the most valuable lesson I’ve ever learned. I’d be glad to share that story with anyone who is interested, but it’s applicable to most low-odd gambles and goes something like this:
Every time you get that sensation of “this isn’t working, I want to quit,” so are a 1000 other channels. When those moments happen, YOU are going to be the one to say “No, I’m going to keep going.” Even after a seven hour stream with only 2 viewers. With no willingness to give up, you’ve already differentiated yourself from 50% of channels. THOSE DAYS WITH 3 VIEWERS WILL STILL HAPPEN, I HAVE THOSE DAYS TOO — Even your most loyal followership will still have a life outside of twitch. Keep that in your mind and don’t allow those discouraging thoughts in. Continue on the same as you would if there were 10, 100, or 1,000 people in chat. One day, friends 🙂
++ BONUS POINTS – This point is not at all essential, but is more of an ‘above and beyond’ that’ll benefit you along the way. During the course of my Twitch journey thus far, I’ve take it upon myself to learn Adobe Photoshop, Premier Pro and After Effects. I’m by no means a master of any of these programs, but I understand how to use each to a point where I’ve developed my own logo from scratch, made emotes, animated my logo, created a stream commercial and more. As I said, this is by no means essential, but if you should decide to take this point on, It’ll stand to benefit you going forward as it has for me.
Well, friends, we made it. I appreciate you taking the time to read this post and genuinely hope that you found at least a point or two which will help you along your journey through Twitch and beyond. As I said in the beginning, I’m not looking for any kind of return from this post, but feel free to stop by my channel if you’d like to see how I apply all of the points above! I’d be happy to further elaborate on any of the above on stream as well! I have followers that watch regularly who are interested in a lot of the same and enjoy stream discussions.
Let me know in the comments if this helps any of you achieve affiliate status! Thoughts and criticisms are always welcomed as well 🙂
Best of luck in your Twitch journeys, friends.
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