Streaming and The Journey vs. The Destination

A while back, I was perusing r/twitch on Reddit when I stumbled on a thread from a user who was struggling to rebuild the audience he once had after taking an eight-month hiatus. At the time, the thread only had one response, but it strongly resonated with me while summarizing the biggest lesson I’ve learned as a streamer.

Learn to love the process, not the end goal.

– u/DRCsyntax

I am but one game streamer, so I can’t speak for everyone. However, speaking in the broadest of senses, I feel much of the streaming community focus heavily on the benefits of reaching the end goal rather than the joy that comes from the process.

It’s not hard to see how one could get caught up in the hype. From an outsider’s perspective, it looks like all you have to do to be rich and famous is to play video games with a webcam on. With the most basic form of streaming available at the click of a button on your PS4 or Xbox One, it seems like achieving that reality is easier than ever.

However, for most who have ambitions set on anything more than that, the struggle is real. Behind the scenes, there’s a ton of work that has to happen in order to broadcast and promote a stream. Going through the process has pushed me to learn all new skills in video production. I had to get out of my comfort zone in order to market my channel on other platforms. I had to get comfortable being in front of a camera, carrying a conversation with strangers from around the world. Even if I don’t do any of these things well, it’s still a lot of extra work on my plate.

With the scene being as saturated and hyper-competitive as it is, even the best shows struggle to build an audience. This is an environment where 89% of streamers can’t average three viewers per stream. Heck, there are many streamers who broadcast for years without getting a single viewer. My ambitions for streaming don’t go anywhere near being able to do this as a full-time career, but even working towards my goals of offering the best picture quality I can with the limited equipment I have while broadcasting to an audience larger than zero has proven difficult.

Going into streaming with the mentality that you’re going to be an overnight sensation is a surefire way to burn out. There’s a lot of work that goes into making a stream work and odds are, you won’t see a return in the form of fame and fortune anytime soon, if ever. At least not to the scale of Ninja, Pokimane, or any other streamer in that 1%.

It takes a lot to persevere as a streamer. Much more than just a passion for video games and a desire to become the next big thing. To DRCsyntax’s point, enjoying the process of streaming and all that it entails goes a long way towards having a good time regardless of your outcome.

I’ve grown to love the challenge that comes with putting on a good show. Yes, I’ve slammed my head against the wall trying to iron out the technical issues that have plagued me in the past, but I geek out every time I’m able to squeeze better performance out of my rig. I get giddy now when I add new equipment to my setup, whether it’s a new microphone, new lighting, or even just audio splitters that allow me to distribute sound in ways that normally aren’t possible (I’m looking at you, PS4).

Promoting my work has always been an issue of mine, particularly with the blog where I still see it more as a personal diary than a place where I write public-facing content in hopes of entertaining an audience. Over time, promotion has grown to be part of the process. Partly because I want to make every effort to get potential viewers to give my channel a chance.

Personally, I think a lot of cool stuff happens on stream that deserves a chance with a audience. Even if those on social media enjoy the clips but don’t visit the channel, at least that moment entertained a wider audience than it would have on my channel alone. It adds a lot of extra work to the process, but being able to share those moments with others genuinely excites me.

Right now, my big focus is to improve my on-camera presence. The person behind the webcam and the mic is the most important part of the equation. It’s critical that I find the right balance of being myself while also being someone that people want to watch and talk to.

At this point, I think that I do a really good job of being genuine on-camera while going to great lengths to have engaging conversations with my viewers. “Story Time with Jett” always seems to be a highlight. However, I struggle mightily with having things to talk about over the course of a multi-hour stream. Doing what I can to make sure I come prepared with talking points while drawing from my life experience when the chat takes the conversations to places I don’t expect!

Going through this process has fundamentally changed my approach to streaming. Before, it was an opportunity to make video content for the site and maybe attract a viewer or two. These days, I’m making a more concerted effort to put on a show. Not in the “I’m playing pretend” sense, but in the sense that I’m actively trying to entertain, inform, inspire, and connect with viewers. The best part of streaming for me has grown to become the interactions I have with you, as I can’t get that experience of connecting with gamers around the world anywhere else. Making those interactions only happens if I put in all of that work to make the stream the best it can be.

With the right mentality, streaming can be a lot of fun. Just be mindful of the fact that the actual act of playing games is just a small part of what’s actually involved in putting on a stream. It’s also the easiest. And fame and fortune probably won’t rain from the heavens as soon as you start. If you love the process, you’ll have a good time streaming regardless of where the journey takes you.

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