Twitch streaming has remained popular for several years now, and there are plenty of best practices for having a great Twitch stream. Anyone can fire up a stream, but it can be challenging to grow. If you’re starting your streaming career, these are the things you need to invest your time or money in. Cover photo by Fausto Sandoval.
1. An Excellent Microphone
When it comes to choosing a good camera or a good microphone, you should choose the microphone every time. Many streamers get by just fine without a camera, and plenty of viewers will throw a stream on a secondary monitor or TV screen without really paying close attention to what is onscreen. This means that a crisp and clear voice mic is infinitely more important than having a nice camera. You want a pleasant listening experience for your audience.
Not getting the sound you want out of your mic? Read our guide for getting the most out of your streaming microphone.
2. A Decent Camera
Having a good camera is less important than having a good microphone, but it can still add a lot to the experience. There are many webcams available for around $100, and these will get the job done. If you want to upgrade, you can utilize a DSLR camera that supports clean HDMI in order to get a high-resolution image.
See our picks for the best webcams for Twitch streamers.
Whether you use a webcam or a DSLR, you’ll be wasting your money unless you invest in good lighting. A great camera can’t make you look good unless you’re well-lit. A simple ring light above your camera is a great start to lighting your face.
4. Use Overlays and Alerts
To up the production value of your stream, you should use overlays, webcam frames, and animated alerts. You can make these yourself but there are actually a lot of great free or inexpensive options available online. This will make your stream look more professional and put-together, as well as give it a clear look and feel.
5. Show Your Personality or Your Skill
For the most part, streamers with compelling and charismatic personalities do better than those who lack them. And not every streamer can be the best at the games they play. This means that having a distinctive personality and a strong brand is critical. It will attract more viewers who want to see more of what you have to offer.
Skill is also a factor, though. Obviously, people want to watch people who are good at their craft. Whether this is a video game, a podcast, or art, many viewers want to see the best of the best.
If you have both personality and skill, that’s the best of both worlds and you’re well on your way to becoming a successful streamer. But if you know you’re not the most talented person, make your stream more about having fun and hanging out with you, than being the very best.
6. Emotes and Channel Points
Twitch lets streamers have emotes on their channel. Your subscribers can use these emotes in your chat as well as other chats. But not everyone is an artist. You might be able to cobble together some images, but you’ll probably need to pay a professional artist in order to create the perfect set of emotes for your channel. They should fit your aesthetic, be related to an inside joke, or just be emotes that people might want to use across Twitch.
Channel points are also good way to keep a chat engaged. Viewers get points for watching the stream, then can redeem these points for things like getting their chat message highlighted. The streamer can also customize these to add in additional rewards for their loyal viewers.
7. Chat Bots
Chat bots are bots built into your channel that can be customized to your needs and interact with your chat. They handle things like commands, as well as announcements. You can program in commands that your chat members can use, such as for seeing how long they have followed you, or keeping track of how many times you’ve done something during the stream. They can also be programmed to send a message every few minutes, like something linking to your latest YouTube video, or a reminder to subscribe. This means you don’t have to worry as much about promoting these things, because your chat bot is doing it for you.
8. Interact with Viewers
The great advantage that streaming has over on-demand videos is the fact that streamers can interact with their viewers in the moment. So, do it! No one wants to watch a stream or chat in a stream with a streamer that doesn’t care to see what people are talking about. Pay attention to your chat and always be responding to comments and questions. It’s up to you to keep the conversation going. At any point, a new viewer could drop off if they feel like they’re being ignored, so when you get someone new in chat, you want to make them feel welcome. This kind of continuous interaction is how you get regulars coming back for more every time you go live.
9. Always Be Talking
You should be talking as much as possible while streaming. At first, you’ll feel weird talking to yourself, but it’s very important. If you do feel weird about it, start off by playing some games with a friend who is in voice chat with you. It’s important to always be talking because someone new could come into your stream at any time. If they see someone staring at the screen without saying anything, they might just leave without even typing in the chat. You should strive to be entertaining at all times, even when you think no one is watching. Because you never know who might be!
You won’t get too far without some marketing and self-promotion. You’ll get a few viewers by happenstance, but this isn’t sustainable. Your social media profiles are a great place to start. Connect with other members of your community on Twitter, Instagram, or any other platforms you want to be active on. Every time you go live, let your followers know. But don’t just be a self-promotion machine. Shout out your friends and other streamers that you like. Talk about other things going on in your life. Show your followers that you’re a human being!
Being active in other streams is also a great way to spread your name around. You shouldn’t go into streams to promote yourself, but making your name known and befriending other small streamers and viewers can’t hurt, and can build up some goodwill. You can also make a name for yourself in Discord servers, in a Reddit community, or within a Twitter topic.
11. Create YouTube Content
While live Twitch streams are great, you can potentially increase your reach by turning some moments from your streams into YouTube videos. It can take some extra effort to do this, but you’ll attract a wider audience of viewers who would rather watch short-form content. Diversifying your portfolio is good advice for stock trading, and it’s good advice for being a content creator!
Learn our best practices for editing YouTube videos from stream content.
Streaming can be fun, and after enough hard work it can also be profitable. If you’ve been on the fence about starting to stream, or you’ve had a rough start at it, follow these 11 tips to jumpstart your new passion!