Being a streamer can be a really demanding hobby. If you have aspirations of honing your craft and building an audience, it requires you to be a content creator, video producer, audio technician, on-camera personality, graphic designer, social media manager, and more. Actually playing games is but a small – though still notable – part of the process.
Personally, I wasn’t born with all of the skills required to be a natural. It’s taken so much work just to get to where I am now, which is still a ways away from where I want to go. If anything, the amount of stuff I’m trying to improve on is longer and more specific now than it was then.
With so many questions in need of answering, I usually turn to the internet. However, not all information online is created equal. There are times when I have questions so specific that I can’t find any pre-existing answers online. At least one piece of advice borked my computer bad enough that I had to run a system restore to reverse the damage. Have also started to see questionable sources charging exorbitant amounts of money for streaming advice that’s sub-par or a downright scam. How does one find the the answers they need in the “Wild West” era of streaming knowledge?
Ask specific questions
If you’re having a particular challenge, being more specific in your phrasing will get you to the answer faster. For example, if you’re having technical issues, being able to articulate the exact problem while framing that question with the software and equipment you’re using could help you find a particular fix. Within the world of marketing and promotion, asking about best practices with regards to sharing your clips on Twitter will get you more precise answers than asking, “How do I use Twitter to promote my stream?”.
Where being overly general can really get you in trouble is when you start searching for phrases like, “How to get rich/famous on Twitch?” The combination of that question being broad and popular could lead you down a path with way too much information to process at once, be overly generic to help, or drive you towards sketchy sources trying to scam you.
Take information from multiple sources
While trying to help some friends with microphone compression, it dawned on me that I hadn’t set up a compressor of my own. Going through the process of learning how to use a compressor, I found that the information provided varied wildly. Some were very prescriptive, only stating exactly the numerical values you should use for each setting. Others took more time to explain how each setting worked, while also being upfront in that each person’s ideal settings will vary based on the microphone they’re using and the room they’re streaming in among other external factors.
Needless to say, the latter worked a lot better for me. Many of the guides where people only provided settings worked out terribly for me. With the more informative guides, I was better able to understand how the compressor worked and get a result that was closer to my desired outcome. Still have a lot of tweaking to do in order to get it perfect, but at least I’m armed with more knowledge to take care of the rest on my own, rather than scrambling to find another set of numbers that worked for someone else that may not work for me.
When looking for answers to a particular topic, get answers from as many sources as you can. From there, you can see trends in what the consensus might be, whittle things down to the one nugget of info that you need most, or take bits from multiple answers for a custom solution. Stopping your quest for knowledge at just one place could leave you short on the information you really need.
Don’t get fooled by get rich quick schemes
When it comes to content creators who specialize in providing streaming advice, I place a high value on creators who speak very candidly to their audience when it comes to success. I love hearing creators who offer streaming advice stress the fact that big-time success isn’t guaranteed for anyone, regardless of what tips you follow, how much money you spend on equipment, or how amazing you are as an on-camera personality.
Not to say that they provide bad advice, that you have no chance of “making it”, or that you shouldn’t bother streaming at all. It just critically serves as a reminder that they’re offering this information in order to help you perform at your best. Not to say that you won’t be the 1% or that your work isn’t of value if you’re not in the 1%, but no one can realistically guarantee your success as a streamer. Don’t fall into that trap because you want to hear otherwise.
When you see people start to talk in terms of guaranteed success, run. Run even faster if that start suggesting ineffective tactics such as “like for like”, “follow for follow”, “lurk for lurk”. Faster still if they’re charging money for “the secrets to streaming success” but don’t have a proven track record of their own to validate their own advice. There are great paid resources out there and more will rise as time passes. If you go the paid route, make sure you get it from those who are knowledgable, have a positive track record of success, and aren’t filling your brain with unrealistic dreams of being the next Ninja in exchange for hundreds of dollars or more.
Ask the online community for help
There are forums out there such as r/twitch and the official OBS forums that can help if you’re in a a very specific a jam. Sometimes you’ll get a few rotten answers, but generally, people there are more willing to help and are more helpful than not.
Try checking out some of my favourite streaming resources
These creators provide excellent advice that is very targeted towards specific challenges while keeping it real with their viewers. Their focus from the content I have seen is more on helping you put on the best stream, rather than trying to sell you snake oil.
Regardless of what your definition of success for streaming is, there’s no guaranteed path to follow in order to achieve it. However you choose to tackle the challenges ahead, make sure to develop that critical eye so that you don’t get taken advantage of or harmed along the way!