40+ tips for streamers to acquire and retain viewers

I will give you the key to answers typical questions like:
How to get 20 viewers on Twitch?
How to grow my channel?
How to get viewers and followers on Twitch?
How can I set myself apart from other streamers?

You’re about to go live..but hold on a minute!

You spent time and resources to power-up your streaming career, but…you have 0 viewers — Where do you go from here? Should you just start streaming?

Luckily in this long blogpost I will explain every single aspect of successful streaming on platforms like Twitch, Mixer or YouTube. Everything you need to know. No exceptions.
The first and most important thing to remember is that there’s only one true rule on these platforms: Work hard, play nice and don’t give up.

Wait — what’s this all about?

I did the research and hard work for you, armed with Excel, pen and paper I took notes and researched the biggest channels on Twitch — what do they do, how they do it and why are they successful?

Then I looked at the uprising stars, smaller channels with hundreds of viewers and finally channels with under 100 average viewers. The results are compiled in the advice below.


I will go in-depth through a lot of topics including strategies to improve your channel and stream. Read it once, read it twice and or check this handy checklist out if you’re not someone who likes explanations:

🖐 → Hold on- are you the person who hasn’t got time to read a 5000+ word guide?

Then read this: Checklist to create a successful Twitch channel

Quicker but less informative⚡

Remember! You’ve got to commit. Success doesn’t happen for everyone and definitely not overnight. Just like training your body for a triathlon, doing your math exercises to pass your exams or pretty much anything in life, streaming requires commitment.

Short introduction about viewer behavior

As an avid viewer, you will feel that watching a streamer is just like watching television. Except it’s better and more interactive. However: Most viewers will be lurking in your stream, especially if you don’t know how to break the ice.

Remember: It is commonly known in the world of content producers that only 5–30% of your audience will interact with you (depending on audience size).

This includes the chat and donations. Some viewers will interact repeatedly over periods of days others more rarely, maybe once in a full-moon. 
Don’t freak out. Break the ice.

As your channel grows the number is likely to be closer to 5% than 30%.
What this means is that if you have 100 viewers, 30 will probably interact with you over the chat, or through other tools available in your channel.
On the other hand, if you have 10.000 viewers maybe 500 will be.

Streaming can be very rewarding but for most beginners it will likely become stressful, unfulfilling and…lonely, before getting much better.

Remember: Viewers are hard to please, you need to show them that you’re worth their time. And if you’re going after a niche it will probably require a lot of planning.

Remain positive and focused. Everyone starts with one viewer and then a few and then a lot more.

The MUST-DO of Twitch Streaming

Things to do as soon as possible — that will help tremendously your streaming experience

#1 Find A Schedule Then Stick To It

Do you like Star Wars? I love it.
I can’t think of any movie theater where I’d go to watch the latest Star Wars movie and not be able to see the movie times, in advance. 
Without a defined schedule I wouldn’t know when the movie would play and I couldn’t get any of my friends to commit to come.

Exactly the same works for Twitch. You must create a schedule around your streaming patterns. Once you manage to enter a pattern you should stick to it, this creates a habit in the journey of your viewers, and gives them something to look forward to.

Some time-slots are more accessible than others: Maybe you can only stream during your evenings, maybe only in the morning. You should try different streaming “slots” throughout the day to see what is more comfortable for you and what yields more average viewers.

#2 Engage and Communicate a lot, communicate clearly.

This comes in three simple steps. Your chat, mic and web-cam.

  • Put your chat ahead of anything else.
  • Get a microphone and set it up so you can communicate clearly
  • Get a face-camera, put some effort in looking decent and don’t be shy

Welcome new viewers by calling them out by their username, some usernames will sound unpronounceable, don’t be scared off by that (unless it reads out loud something rude) and just try to pronounce their username. Sometimes things get funny and people love the awkwardness!

Having the right hardware/software to communicate with your audience is critical to the growth of your channel. Not having the ability to read the comments and reply to them with your voice is a streamer-sin! Most streamers use a face-cam while they broadcast. Alternatively they use software that projects an avatar that mimics a face’s reactions. (Not an affiliate link)

Your audience wants to hear your opinions and love to be able to interact while looking at you. YOU are the entertainment.

Creating strong relationship with your audience through clear communication is the key to maintain a healthy Twitch audience.

Acknowledging their participation in the chat, their follows and/or donations will allow you to provide your viewers with an active way to interact with you.

#3 Moderate: How moderation works

Twitch is known for having a lot of noisy and busy chat, therefore moderation is also a part of streaming to your community.

A lot of times trolls that are on the look for chill streamers to prey on because of the lower amount of messages in the chat. That’s a big no-no and you can defend yourself.

👉 Setting your chat-rules (via your Twitch channel settings’ menu) is the first step to ensure everyone is on the same page. Doing so sets the standard on how to communicate in a civil manner.

But this is the internet, so things get out of control all the time! That’s why you use 🚫 auto-moderation tools — they act pretty instantly and can perform repetitive tasks (like deleting comments and shunning users) in milliseconds!

For example: You can rely on bots to censor users from using certain words or from sharing links.

Twitch has a language filter on by default. You can change the setting to have it be more aggressive, in your channel’s settings page.

You can also use word-blacklists. This will allow you to disable certain words and/or users from interacting with your chatroom but also used to disable certain URLs and terms.

Your mileage may vary: Some streamers don’t mind the language, others do — this is why it’s a really neat feature that can be customized based on your needs. 🤷🏼‍

Additionally you can try to use an external add-on bot to do the moderation for you.

👉 The most famous Twitch bot for moderation (and can do much more) is without a shadow of doubt, Nightbot:

Visiting the above gives you a really good overview of what the bot does, how you can set it up, and how you can use it to your advantage as a streamer or viewer.

Finally, you can (and should) elect members of your audience to act as moderators 🔨. This is not something to take lightly, and therefore you should pick moderators only when you’re really sure about their commitment and their ability in enforcing rules objectively in the chatroom.

To elect a moderator this use the command /mod <username> in your Twitch channel’s chat.

#4 Picking a great streaming title

Your thumbnail (generated by Twitch) and streaming title are what will get people to either make it or break it.

You can’t really edit the channel’s thumbnail since it’s generated but if you understand how it’s generated — basically a frame taken from your stream.

The second extremely important part to this is picking a likable title that will make people click.

Here’s advice on what the title should/could contain

  • Your streaming language
    i.e. [EN/FR] Come play / Venez jouer League of Legends!
  • Your rank (high rank in certain games will attract competitive players)
    i.e. Diamond 3 League of Legends
  • Whether you’re doing a very long streaming session or not
    i.e. 24-HOUR stream — Diamond 3 LoL midlaner
  • Personal records (in-game, stream-wise etc.)
    i.e. Just hit Diamond 1 — Come watch the climb
  • Some games have characters. Tell the world who is your favorite hero you’re going to be playing.
    i.e. Diamond Irelia ONLY (nerf pls) — Ranked stream till I drop

These are just simple examples — there’s a whole science behind creating catchy titles… If you’re interested let me know in the comments 🙌

#5 Ensuring your stream looks good from the outside

Viewer want to know more about your channel than you can imagine, therefore give them all the juicy information using Twitch native info-panels.

Go to your channel, then click the button/switch that says: 
“Edit Panels”

Press that big + to add a panel:
Now you can have a panel with text and images …and URLs. It’s a good idea to probably have a panel for each of these things

  • Information about yourself including social media links
  • Your Streaming schedule
  • Donator button
  • Your PC setup
  • Your game configs
  • Top donators

Here’s an example of what you can achieve — with basic graphic skills and some text.

You can’t use HTML here, but you can use markdown —learn more about markdown if you don’t know what markdown does (so you can create bold, italic, links etc)

#6 Develop your personal brand & streaming character

Streamers act, behave and look differently while they stream. If you decide to wear a wig, make-up, an outfit to create a character or to feel more confident while streaming that’s entirely up to you. There’s no limit to what you can come up with as long as it respects the terms of service (i.e. no nudity, nothing vulgar etc)

The way you present yourself to an audience will allow you to develop your own brand and ultimately community.

In the early days of streaming you can start thinking and crafting your personal brand.

Are you going to be the cosplay kind of streamer?

Are you going to be the screaming type of streamer?

Are you going to be the super nice and positive streamer?

Are you going to be the pro-gaming type of streamer?

Are you going to be a comic streamer?

You can decide to test different approaches and see what works best for your confidence and ultimately what your audience likes the most. Getting viewers and followers is a good way to track viewer satisfaction. Remember, a good streamer can wear many hats and be flexible, depending on the situation presented.

Confident Twitch Streaming

#1 Setting up the perfect stream with “advanced” visuals ⭐️

The most followed streamers not only have a great audio set up and interact a lot with their audience but also have amazing video and visual setups
Transitions, audio effects, small quirks throughout the streaming sessions, just show that you care about making your stream feel like home to your viewers.

Nowadays with all the technology you have access to, it is pretty simple (with the help of a green screen) to create different scenarios around — you just have to be creative and able to create overlays and animations. If you know how to use Photoshop and poke around your streaming software you will have all the tools needed to create next-level overlays, transitions and stream emotes.

As previously mentioned and at the bare minimum you want to have Twitch Panels set up: Using visual headers and text covering things like information about yourself, your stream and are posted under your video-player on your channel.

Using images you can customize these to look pretty and in-theme with your channel.

Doing so, you can communicate with your audience, especially with the people who land on your stream for the first time. It’s good to include a lot of information about who you are and what you do.

Here’s an example from a famous League of Legends streamer nicknamed Pokimane. See how a lot of basic information is rendered nicely and presented with graphics ? And before you ask: Anyone can create those & better!

👉 If you don’t have time or resources to get your emotes, overlays or transitions click here to get help 💛

Transitions & Other effects

Other things that can help your stream look and feel better are transition, overlays and video effects

Transitions are animations that happen between scenes — for example if you go to the restroom or if you’re switching camera/screen capture. You can use transitions to smoothly ease into the new view.
Example of a basic transition:

Overlays

Overlays on the other hand add little pieces of information in form of an interface around your stream’s inputs (camera, screen and more).
You can display information such as notifications, subscriber count, donators’ names, follower number and more, there’s no limit to what you can do with.

Here’s below, a pretty heavily customized overlay — it masks parts of the screen while revealing only what you want your audience to focus on.

You can go ballistic with these things — there’s no limit to the amount of effects and overlays you can use, as long as they feel good for you and your audience — you could decide to go full Michael Bay style!

DrDisrispect, a very popular Twitch streamer has/had a great audio-video-visual setup since the very beginning of his streaming days.

#2 Commentating, gameplay and entertaining

You have about 10 seconds to grab someones attention, after they clicked on your channel, before they decide to stay or leave!

Remember that you are the entertainment of your viewers, sitting in front of your camera and playing video games looking like a fish, isn’t enough!

Engaging (timely) with the audience and the chat is super important 🔥, but if you’re streaming yourself playing videogames, it’s necessary to provide context of what you’re thinking about.

The best way to understand this is to explore the option of commentating your own gameplay as it happens.

Your positioning, your strategy, your train of thought as things happen around you.

It will allow your audience to feel engaged and experience your stream as if they were in the game themselves, following you from a safe spot.
Doing so, you will enable viewers to agree/disagree with you and on the actions taken, resulting in many hahas but also Kappa‘s and Pogchamp ’s

My advice therefore:

Verbalise everything you’re thinking while playing the game, then watch back and learn to filter out the stuff that makes you cringe

Some of the best streamers manage to entertain while giving indications of how they’re “gaming” and what they’re about to do next. If you want to try this style of streaming remember that playing team-oriented games which usually require voice communication somewhat forces you to commentate and team-work. This adds a whole new level of interaction for your viewership.

#3 Set up Stream Extensions & Alerts

The most recommended stream extension is without the shadow of a doubt StreamLabs (I’m not affiliated with them, they’re just great to streamers…).
Since the begging of Twitch these people have been working hard to release tools for streamers that help tremendously with user participation and stream management.
Here’s a little video that shows the newest features that the tool has to offer:

You can find more about StreamLabs by just visiting their site and check out how their different features can integrate with your stream.
The most important ones are:

Follower and Subscriber Alert: Every time someone follows or donates you can trigger full-screen alerts with audio and graphics to celebrate this happening. Don’t forget to thank you audience for their support!

The Donation pop-up: Alerts the stream’s audience that someone has donated, can come with a message and can be customized to your likening with graphics.

The Donation bar: that show in real-time how many donation have happened in a certain timespan such as a month. Great to show your donation milestones and goals to viewers.

🔥 You can customize every alert with audio and animations. It’s extremely important that you choose carefully how you will represent your channel’s activity on your stream — make sure whatever you pick looks and feels right.
To this point you have to select animations and audio clips that will get played to the viewers when certain actions happen and think — does this action require an audio clip and an animation, or just one?

For example:

  • A new donation (different levels)
  • A new subscriber (different subscriptions levels)
  • A new follower
  • A re-subscription

Different actions lead to different effects, keep your stream unique and on-brand with these amazing power-ups!

#4 Know when to use Follower-Mode chat

Sometimes larger channels with thousands of viewers want to keep the chat-activity to only loyal followers and not hit-n-run kinda viewers. Other times some channels are sadly targeted by toxic viewers. When either of these situation happen there is a powerful tool that Twitch released early in 2017 and that is: Follower-Mode only chat.

As the name implies it, by enabling this feature you can force the chat area of your stream to allow ONLY followers to chat with you — you can specify a duration for how long a user must be following your channel before being able to speak. This value can also be 0 seconds to allow new followers to speak instantaneously after following your channel.

Usage (in your channel’s chat window): “/followers [duration]” — Enables followers-only mode (only users who have followed for ‘duration’ may chat). Examples: “30m”, “1 week”, “5 days 12 hours”. Must be less than 3 months.

To undo use /followersoff

Similarly you can use the chat command /subscribers to enable a Subscriber’s only mode (mostly useful for partners).

To undo use /subscribersoff

Another fun option is to use /emoteonly to force chat users to only user emotes as communication.

To undo use /emoteonlyoff

You get it…

Advanced Twitch: Growing Your Audience & Creating A Community.

Now you’ve learned the must-do’s of Twitch streaming to reach Affiliate level, let’s dive deep into more topics.

Like I previously stated, your stream is all about your audience.
When they like what they see, they’ll stick around. If they stick around they eventually start interacting, which means they will be more involved and engaged — and your channel will grow as a result.

There’s no special potion that you can drink and will turn you into the most likeable person on Twitch. You need to have all the attributes:

  • Are you quick at interacting with your audience?
  • How skilled are you at playing the game you’re streaming?
  • Are you generally like-able?
  • Are you funny?
  • What’s unique about your channel that separates you from the rest (branding)?

These are only some of the pillars of streaming that you should excellent at.

#1 Manage Giveaways

Giveaways are the most effective (as to date) way to gain followers. The premise is simple: As a viewer you perform an action such as: Following or subbing a streamer, subscribing to on of their social media channel etc. In exchange you’re entered in a lottery to win something.

The catch is that the more actions you perform as a viewer, for example you follow all the social media channels and subscribe to YouTube and Twitch, the more chances to win you get.
How do you track all of this? It’s pretty simple you use a tool called
GLEAM.io (not affiliate either)
It’s just as simple as 1,2,3: You list what accounts you have, when followers subscribe/follow those accounts they’re given more chances to win — all handled by the gleam platform.

#2 Playing with your audience

Game nights and playing with your followers and subscribers is a great way to learn more about your audience, while having fun and making new friends.

Most of the people on Twitch are out there to have a good time, make friends and most importantly, have a good time (yes I repeat myself).

Knowledge is the major key here. If you understand what your audience is after, you will be able to deliver it faster and better. That means you’re doing your job right.

Learning about your audience lets you create more high quality, entertaining content. This leads to retaining viewers which is the key to becoming a great streamer. If you can retain them, you’re doing something right — scaling up something that is done right is easier than scaling that is something done wrong.

► By retaining users you will create loyalty.
Loyalty creates implicitly word of mouth awareness (for your channel).
► Word of mouth is the cheapest and most effective way to market a streaming channel.

Example:

  • You have 3 loyal followers who watch your stream every day at the same time.
  • You take it to the next level by playing games and inviting them to your stream games
  • Your 3 loyal followers tell 3 of their best friends each about your channel and how quality and fun you are. They decide to watch you too to see what all the fuzz is about.
  • Now 9 new people are watching your channel, 3 loyal +9 new followers = 12 total.

Say that you retain 50% of these, you just doubled your following without spending $1 just by being nice, entertaining and cultivating your followers.

#3 Staying Active Outside of Twitch

(YouTube, Discord, Steam, Social Media)

Again: Streaming isn’t about you. It’s about your audience. How do you keep them engaged when you’re not streaming? How do you market yourself through other additional channels?

🙌 Create additional content outside of your stream for your followers

Creating a sense of community around yourself is extremely important. Whether you create (and update) a Twitter, Instagram or Facebook page — discord server or YouTube community or a mix of those. What works for you might be not what works for someone else.

Example:

c9’s shroud — one of the most prominent PUBG streamers — doesn’t have a Discord, he has a huge twitter following and an even better YouTube channel audience.
He figured it out.

How? The way he acquires viewers is by creating compilation videos of his best gameplay clips. Make them into a longer video and post it on YouTube. From there he funnels people into his stream. On there he advertises his twitter account where people can interact with him and ask him questions, while he’s not streaming.

Smaller streamers usually have a omnipresent social media presence.
By that I mean having multiple accounts like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat etc…

I don’t think that is the best way to go. You will start with a small number of followers and because of that, spreading yourself throughout multiple platforms and not really understanding each of them is going to penalize you as you begin the creation of your brand.

Keep your focus on one (or two max) media channels, on top of your Twitch stream, to begin with!

#4 Promote yourself in legitimate ways, especially by networking

Promoting done wrong can feel pushy and spammy but it doesn’t have to be.

Making friends on Twitch can be easy and it will help you grow your audience a lot, especially as the “host” + “raid” features have been added to Twitch recently.

Hosting and Raiding do pretty much the same thing: They will allow a streamer viewers to be “moved” into the channel of another stream seamlessly.

The key difference is that hosting can happen automatically when you go offline. And it’s super easy to set up!

That is a great way for you to start auto-hosting people you’ve met and that you enjoy, hoping that they will reciprocate the act of hosting you when they go offline and you’re online!

But hold on: what does that mean for you? Why would you want to have your viewers watch another person’s stream?

That’s because sharing is caring. Usually as you wind up your broadcast, before you go do something else, you can decide to be altruistic and help another streamer with a little few extra viewers. Other streamers will highly appreciate you and will, possibly, in the future — raid you back. Like many things in life: it’s not guaranteed but most people will remember your kindness!

More information about Twitch raids can be found here — it’s super simple to get started with the integrated Twitch chat /raid command for broadcasters.

So it’s pretty simple: Be nice, make friends, do random acts of kindness and your channel will grow!

#5 Choosing the right game

In a world filled with streamers, it is hard to differentiate yourself. There’s not much that you can do to become unique.
Money and skills can only get you that far in making your stream look amazing or unique — sometimes you have to look a little bit further and set yourself aside from the masses.

That is why a lot of streamers spend hours researching what are fun games to stream.

  1. Streaming potential: How many hours can you spend streaming the game? Is it a single player story game? Is it challenge based game? Is it a choose-your-own-adventure type of game? Is it exclusively multiplayer and online? Many questions can be asked and you can trial different types of games to see what sticks most for you and your audience.
    Asking your community what games they want to see you play can also help a little
  2. Fun level: There are some games where you absolutely stand no chance, you keep dying and you get frustrated. Losing isn’t fun, getting mad isn’t fun either. Finding a fun game
  3. Intensity: How invested will you be in the game? Is this a one time stream sessions type of game or can you incorporate it into your streaming habits?

Sometimes being the 10th streamer with 2 viewers in a smaller game is better than being the 1000th streamer with 2 viewers in a big game like WoW, PUBG or League of Legends. Why?

Because a smaller game might allow you to receive more attention from the viewers. Being on the 1st page vs the 20th page is a huge difference.

#6 Making your stream Google friendly — Publishing to stream(ers) databases

If you have some prior knowledge of Search Engine Marketing this will come to no surprise to you.
Spreading your channel’s name, information and URL around (where allowed) is advised, but you can take it one step further and submit your details to a “streamer database”. This will index your channel further on Google and also allows visitors of the database site to pick up on your stream.

Streamer Databases aren’t a new concept — think of it like playlists: These are large indexes of streamers, organized in a way to allow streamers to be discovered more easily by the users of these sites. It’s a great way to find people to create partnerships with and to network. Use them wisely!

Additionally, at times, after being active and putting the hard work, you might end up being featured on the stream database’s home page.

Everything that gives you a little boost is good, especially when it’s free; as we know it being featured on Twitch’s homepage is extremely hard.

There are a few streamer databases around the web. One of the most famous ones is Purple Plus (https://purple.plus/) and another one is https://twitchdb.info/

I suggest you submit your profile to these two stream databases — it costs you nothing and it enables you to earn a chance in being discovered more easily by the crowd of viewers out there.

One last thing: If you do go ahead and submit your profile as suggested, make sure to re-visit your profile later on and to keep it up to date when things change (i.e. stream schedule, stream focus etc)

#7 Join a community and Collaborate

Networking is the name, collaboration is the game!

Joining a streaming team or a streaming community will allow other streamers to host, raid and/or feature your stream.

There are countless communities directly in Twitch that you can join. 
Some communities are invite only — others are open: depending on how good you are at networking you will be able to join many and more!

Alternatively you can search on Facebook for Twitch streaming groups.
These are great ways to advertise your stream in a twitch-friendly community environment. Make sure you follow the rules of the community, so you know you’re allowed to advertise in the right way. Some communities require you to introduce yourself before advertising your stream URL. That makes sense right?

Another great resource directly from Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/Twitch/comments/789gbo/monthly_collaboration_thread/

Goals

Everything is done because you’re reaching a goal, whether it’s to become the number one streamer in the world and make hundred gazillion dollars a month, or the best streamer in your neighborhood...or just to have some good ol’ fun with people across the internet.

#1 Figuring out how to reach your peak stream, day after day

Your first goal after setting up your account is to figure out what and when you will be streaming.

Analyze your twitch average viewers by using the dashboard available here https://www.twitch.tv/YOUR-USERNAME/dashboard/stats
There are a lot of insights here and you should always keep an eye on the stats at the end of a stream : Who did you target geographically, how many new followers or viewers did you get, how much chat activity happened.

Keep track of all these stats in a spreadsheet, that is super important for your channel’s data analysis, because after a while (30 days) the numbers are rinsed out.

#2 Become a Twitch Affiliate

After you started a regular high quality stream and you keep tracking of your stats, you will start to realize that you might want to make money from all the streaming.
As your channel grows and reaches double digits concurrent viewers you can work your way to become a Twitch Affiliate.

#3 Become a Twitch Partner

Once you unlock the Twitch Partner achievement you’ve reached a pretty good milestone. Congrats in advance!

Twitch officially claims that the only things you need to reach Twitch Partner are:
 — An established and steadily growing audience and chat
 — A regular broadcast schedule of at least 3 times a week
 — Content that conforms to our their rules and other terms

Reaching Partner rank allows you to:
- Share of the ad revenue generated from all broadcasts on channel.
- Monthly subscription revenue from viewers.
- Stores for selling custom apparel.
- Tips and cheering revenue from viewers via Bits.
- Video Quality dropdown

As you grow as a partner you will get more beneficial shares of revenue, sometimes up to 70% you-30% twitch — or a monthly salary for streaming a certain amount of hours — sweet right?

To become a Twitch partner you also have to submit an application, and that’s additionally to reaching the numbers required to apply. Read more about becoming a partner here.


Closing remarks

Always Iterate Around Your Stream Until You Find Your Secret Recipe

Don’t even think you made it until you are racking in those 20k average viewers (and even then…). There is work to be done and you need to realize that as soon as you get too confident, there will be another streamer taking away half of your audience — so always aim high and higher. Pretty damn stressful — right?

Most importantly, work hard but have a good time — being positive and having a great time is critical. If you are not having fun streaming, playing and whatnot — people will notice it and you will destroy everything you’ve work hard for. Don’t be afraid of taking some days off streaming once in a while!

Hard work has shown to pay off most times than not. There’s no secret sauce that’s going to change that statement. Don’t take shortcuts like buying fake followers or viewers, things like that will eventually be discovered and bite you in the back

Hard work and improving is not easy. Small steps. Building communities takes efforts and experimenting what works for you, is the way to not fall in the trap of becoming a generic streamer.

Questions? Suggestions? Find me on twitter @orliesaurus

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