After all of the algorithmic changes across social media, content creators have been feeling the impact. With ‘the death of email’ amongst my generation, I needed a space to directly connect with my readers and followers. Somewhere the people who care about my work the most are guaranteed to see it.
If you’re feeling ignored, overlooked, or censored (which was my issue) — creating your own platform is the best way to fix this, but it’s difficult to get the traffic you once had on Instagram, Twitter, etc. You are looking to build more than a business or platform, but a community. If this sounds like you, online streaming is probably where you want to go next.
So What Is Live-Streaming?
Well, It’s what it sounds like. You Stream video online of you doing something, live — rather than a pre-recorded video.
It’s great because you have a chance to engage with your viewers, live on stream! This makes people want to participate by chatting with you and other viewers.
Why Should I Live-Stream Online?
Live-streaming works as venue to promote yourself without feeling like you’re selling yourself constantly across social media.
My ultimate goal with live-streaming is to gain a more regular income while authentically connecting with people online who share my interests and enjoy my work. I also want my Twitch to be an online safe-space for other LGBTQ+ folx on the internet to hang out and listen to banging’ tunes.
You should make sure your reason for livestreaming is more than to just make money; it takes a while to build enough trust between you and your viewer to begin asking for donations and you need to offer them something worth it in return.
How Do I Start?
There a few platforms for live-streaming online: Twitch, Youtube, and Picarto are the largest platforms right now. I’m personally on Twitch because of the content I stream.
You can start with, or without an existing following. I’ve only been streaming a few weeks and gained a few followers during my first stream, ever!
Having a loyal fan or two from the beginning is so helpful; keeping your view count up and engaging in chat are important when making a first impression online and for engaging regularly with your audience.
Sign yourself up for a Twitch account and honestly, the rest is easy. If you would like a post about downloading and working with OBS and Streamlabs streaming software let me know!
What Do I Stream?
You should be providing value as well as entertainment — the easiest way for an artist to do this is to teach what you know! Being good company, personable, and active in chat can significantly enhance your experience streaming as well.
This is the kind of personal experience people who watch livestreams are expecting and enjoy most, whether they’re aware of it or not. I already have a regular chat to hang out with — this is also a great motivator to get back online and stream, you’re eager to see some regulars and catch up with them.
A lot of people don’t watch your live-stream — They’re listening. I’m definitely guilty of putting a livestream on for just the audio commentary.
Because of this, I don’t allow ‘dead air’ on stream. I always have music playing; I have an extension that posts the currently paying title in chat for me. Be sure to properly credit any music and media you use in your streams — don’t be that person. I also use my music visually on-screen, as album art is always a nice visual for those not reading the chat.
Many people will ‘lurk’ in chat the whole time and never say a word — they’re just around to observe, and that’s okay. Some stick around and watch for 20 minutes and leave, which is also normal.
You won’t always be talking about yourself on stream (because that would be boring), so having your most important information present at all times is important. That’s why I include my information across the bottom of my streaming screen as well as my Patreon page link at the top of the stream description.
Why I Started Live-Streaming Video Games Instead Of Art
One of my favourite Twitch live-streamers says he plays speed-runs of Mario64 to give himself a break from writing music.
My favourite YouTube-streamer — and who ultimately inspired me to finally start streaming — does extremely casual playthroughs of vintage console and handheld games on a CRT in his “Valley”. He uses it as an scheduled break from working on his solo full-length animated film.
See where I’m going with this?
After trying live-streaming art on Instagram; presenting myself on my strongest platform didn’t yield the results I wanted, the video quality I expected, or the video access I was promised. YouTube is fine for streaming, but Twitch works better with my limited set-up.
If You’re not comfortable being live-on-camera, try video instead!
Video is great if you need to edit out mistakes and misinformation.
The biggest thing I hear from Folx who are camera-shy is they’re afraid of “messing up” or “looking stupid”. You won’t mess up or look stupid in front of anyone else, because you can edit it out later!
I warmed up to the camera by holding ‘test’ live-streams on my Instagram as well as recording videos for my Patreon subscribers.
You can also create extra video content by editing down your livestreams into concise lessons or ‘episodes’ for social media or a YouTube Channel. Transcripts and Closed Captions are very valuable if you’re producing educational content, but since I do casual, multi-hour streams I forgo this extra step.
So, that’s why I’m now on Twitch! I’ve been live-streaming video games two nights a week. I do AMA (ask me anything) livestreams about mental health, queerness, and other topics of sensitivity — I want my Twitch to be an online safe-space for other LGBTQ+ folx on the internet to hang out and listen to banging’ tunes.
In the meantime, I urge you to read about how to make people care about your art and how to maximize your time creating in your studio in preparation for the New Year. You can also download this journalling prompt sheet, absolutely free, to get a head-start on 2020!
Until next time,