I started to live stream around March 2018. This marked the point in my Halo 5 SWAT career where I started seeing real improvement and got to the Diamond tier. I was inspired to start streaming by one of my best friends and SWAT mentors, NapTimez. If you enjoy top-tier Halo gameplay, please go to his channel, and drop a follow.
These past months, I’ve organically grown my channel from nothing to 438 followers as of the writing of this story. I’ve put time, passion, dedication, resources, and professionalism into my streams to get to that point. I’m also a Twitch Affiliate with 20 paid subscribers and a member of The Bakery Stream Team. I’m still taking baby steps, but getting there hasn’t been easy.
I want to tell you, from my experience, what I did to get there and what to avoid. I’m still in the process of growing my channel. I’ve noticed new members of the streaming community making some mistakes that prevent them from taking off. This is what I’ve learned along the way to get where I am today:
ESTABLISH YOUR BRAND
This is important because you want to be known, remembered, recognized. You want to raise interest, and ultimately build your audience. To achieve this, you need to put the time and resources into building your brand. There are many ways you can do this, and these are the steps I took:
- Create a logo, this is your face for the community.
- Create a custom color palette for all your graphical assets.
- Create custom streaming overlays and screens based on your color palette and logo.
- Create custom panels that are aesthetically pleasing. This will catch the attention of viewers and raise interest.
- Create a custom social media profile pictures and banners and use them across all your accounts.
- Have consistency, try to have the same handle across all of your social and gaming accounts. This is great for people to recognize you.
- Promote yourself on social media without spamming your timelines. There are guidelines on how to properly do this. I’m very sure you’re proficient with search engines and can figure that out yourself. There’s no size that fits all here, that’s why this will be up to you.
Most importantly, have a professional team or designer take care of all of the above because it does make a difference. It shows that you take it seriously and have professionalism. You can also leverage some good free-to-use designs out there to get started, but keep in mind a lot of people use them. They may not have the same impact as a design built around you.
HAVE THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT
You’ve decided to embark on a quest to become a streamer, to maybe even do it full time some day. That’s not going to happen if you don’t have the right equipment to produce high quality content. Being able to stream from your console is a great feature to have, but that won’t help you become the next Ninja.
If you take streaming seriously, I recommend you to invest in the following:
- A stable WIRED internet connection
- A good PC or laptop
- A capture card (if you’re a console streamer)
- A high quality microphone
- A high quality web cam
There are also other tools that will help like a Stream Deck, green screen, and professional lighting, but the above tools are a MUST if you really want to make something out of streaming.
With the right equipment you can also take full advantage of tools like Streamlabs. They do enhance the experience for your audience and it’s a game changer.
This is by far the most important piece of advice you’ll get from any successful streamer, and there are good reasons for it. Even if you have none or few viewers, keep doing it, don’t put your arms down. Even water will crack a rock with the right amount of time. Set yourself a schedule and stick to it, for real. You have no idea how much it helps.
I know many community members and friends that think success comes overnight. Growing a channel takes time, lots of it. Many streamers rush to get that Affiliate status, and guess what happens after they get it with the minimum requirements? Nothing! A big mistake I see from these folks is that they want to grow too fast without working on their reputation, and making themselves known. No, streaming for your 50+ followers and giving away stuff is not going to build you an audience. No matter how much money/stuff you throw out. It doesn’t work like that. Money doesn’t buy trust, respect, and loyalty.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t reward your audience, especially those who regularly watch your streams. First, you must have an audience, people that consistently come to watch you. You have to earn their respect, their trust, and that comes with time, and with your attitude! More about that on the next point.
One more BIG mistake I’ve seen is making “charity” streams that are not actually about charity. “For every xxx amount donated I’ll give xx amount to charity.” This is actually one of the things I hate the most. If you’re doing a charity stream, do it only if you have an audience that will actually help you raise the funds, and obviously, donate 100% of the funds raised for it. Don’t disguise soliciting with charity, it’s bad taste and not respectful. I recommend doing these streams when you have an established channel. As a side note, charity streams won’t get your 4-week old channel an audience. If you need equipment, setup a donation goal. I’d gladly donate to that, but if you do a charity stream for personal gain, kiss my respect for you good-bye.
Most people don’t like toxicity. It’s what kills any game or channel. It’s really not nice to constantly hear you yelling at your teammates and/or using foul language. Bring positivity to your streams, every single person that watches you will draw out conclusions in the very first seconds of watching you. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Champion tier player, if you’re labeled as a toxic person, it’s almost impossible to remove it. No one will want to watch you. Work on your self-control and composure. I’ve seen GREAT players that simply can’t grow their channels because of all the toxicity they spew.
I understand that gaming is a passion that can grind our gears some times. There are rough days and rough games, and no one is perfect. If you consistently have positive streams, your audience will understand if you start straying away from it a bit. Always apologize, shake your dust off, go back to your senses, and keep going.
I’ve had amazing streams where I’ve lost Champion and Onyx ranks in Halo many times. At the same time I’ve had a blast playing and interacting with my audience. The words of support and the positive vibes create an indescribable feeling. In the end, you do it for them, and they’re there for you.
LEARN TO SAY NO
It’s hard to say no, we all know it, but you have to do it when you have to do it. Remember: you’re streaming to grow your channel and build a positive community around it. Along the way you’ll encounter people asking for you to shout them out or blatantly asking for a host or raid. Learn to say no when you don’t feel like doing it. Use that unfollow button and tailor the content you really want to watch around the people you truly like and support. This also applies for your social media, be very selective with the people you follow and read in your different social media outlets. I’m extremely picky on who I friend on gaming platforms and social media. Believe me, it’s ok if you don’t follow your friend because everything he or she tweets is not of your interest.
I have a ZERO TOLERANCE policy on self-promotion, but that will be up to you. It takes time and effort to build a channel, and that must be respected. Anything that would draw attention away from your channel will hurt you. This doesn’t mean you can’t give shout outs to your friends and actually ask your audience to follow them too. I’ve done it before, and will continue to do it with the people I believe deserve it. You’ll have to draw your line for this one, mine is clear: no self-promotion allowed AT ALL in my channel.
CHERISH YOUR AUDIENCE
Your audience if your most valuable asset. Be kind, but also enforce respect and values when needed. Don’t handle toxicity with more toxicity. There will be special people among them, your regulars. In my case I know almost all my followers, I even know them by name (not Twitch handle). Treat them with respect and get to know them. Learn what they like and what they want. They’re the key to growing your channel, like clients asking exactly how they want their products. Interact with them in the chat, setup games with viewers, arrange giveaways or raffles for your subs. Use those VIP badges (if your account has been enabled to use them), and recognize your loyal viewers all the time. They are the reason you are where you are.
As a fun fact, I really don’t have that many friends “in real life.” Almost all of my best friends are people I’ve met online, gaming or on live streams. My parents have always told me that they’re worried about me not having friends. I tell them all the time that I have many friends, and that I actually see and talk to them every day.
Have fun! There’s nothing better than watching a streamer legitimately having fun and loving what they’re doing! I invite you to come and check out my channel on Twitch. Everybody is welcome. I play with my viewers no matter their rank. It’s all about having a good time and building a positive community.
If you want to watch the most positive FPS streams on Twitch, come to my channel at twitch.tv/itsprof and hit that follow button in the face! I stream every day starting at 9pm EST. See you soon dear citizens of the SWAT Nation, much love!