After getting their streaming software setup and everything ready to go, the next issue new streamers face is growing their audience. If you’re reading this article, chances are you know It can be a challenging task. Many new streamers give up after a while when their stream fails to start magically growing. The thing is, all streamers started where you are. But if you put in the work, it is possible to grow an audience on Twitch.
Why Grow an Audience?
This sounds like a ridiculous question. No streamer starts because they want to stream to themselves. But when we look deeper, we see that there are several different reasons a person might start streaming games. There is no right or wrong reason, but knowing why we’re streaming can help us understand how to best grow our audience on Twitch.
Many new streamers start because streaming can be a source of income. They start with the idea that they’re going to make a full-time living playing video games. A lot of people will tell you that this mindset is “bad,” or that it’s impossible to make money if you want to make money (which is ridiculous, no one makes money on accident). But that’s not necessarily the case. There is nothing wrong with having goals and pursuing them. The thing is, if you want to make money streaming, you have to treat it as being self-employed. It’s a job. It takes work. No streamer has magically built a following without putting in the work. Where a lot of these people fail is not that they want to make money, but that they don’t realize that it’s a job.
Of course, it helps if you also enjoy playing games, and enjoy streaming. It’s incredibly obvious when you find a streamer that is only in it because they think it will be an easy way to make a living, and don’t actually care about things like having a community. These are the people that welcome you to the stream by immediately pointing to their donation link or the people that aren’t engaging with chat.
Another reason someone might stream is to make friends. Streaming can be a great way to meet other people that are into the same games as you, and this can blossom into true friendships. You can see this in the communities of many successful streamers, they’ll have genuine conversations with the people in their chat, and in many cases, the people in their chat will become friends with each other as well. This can continue to grow if the streamer has a Discord server.
Some people being streaming because they want to teach others about the game. They may know certain shortcuts or be a speedrunner. They may be good at power-leveling characters in an RPG. Whatever the case, streaming on Twitch can provide the opportunity for a streamer to teach others tips and tricks about the game(s) they love.
Some people are natural entertainers, and want to start streaming on Twitch to entertain others. The streamer may be absolutely awful at the game they play, but entertaining and fun to watch. At the end of the day, most viewers don’t care about just watching the game. They can play games themselves. They want something entertaining and engaging. A streamer that knows how to be entertaining definitely has an advantage to building their audience, whether it involves being funny, wearing costumes, becoming a character, etc.
Methods for Growing Your Audience
Now that we’ve addressed some of the reasons someone may begin streaming, we can take a look at recommendations for growing an audience on Twitch. There are many recommendations listed below, and they are all important to being successful on the platform.
Have a Schedule
The first recommendation to grow an audience on Twitch is to have a schedule. As a streamer, people watch you the same way that they would watch a TV show, but with the addition of being able to chat with you as they watch. If you know that your favorite TV show is on Tuesdays at 8PM, you know when it’s on, and that you won’t miss anything by a surprise unannounced change to 8AM on Fridays.
If you have a schedule and stay consistent with it, people will know when you stream, and will be more likely to return to your stream again. It doesn’t matter if you stream once a week for a couple hours, or 5 days a week for 8 hours. If people know when you’re going to be live, they’ll check it out again in the future.
You can experiment with different times to see if any are more successful than others. There may be trends of times where many people are watching a game, but few people are streaming. If you can identify this trend, that would be an excellent time to stream. But make sure that you’re not neglecting your set schedule, and that you let people know if you plan to permanently change your schedule to a new time.
Being engaging is incredibly important to retaining viewers on Twitch. Most viewers decide within a matter of seconds if they’re going to watch your stream or not. If they open your stream and you’re sitting there, silently playing your game, without talking, they’re going to move on to a different stream. Of course, this can be hard when you’re first starting out, because you might not have any viewers, or if you do, they may not be chatting. In these situations, it can be tempting to silently play and wait until you have viewers, but it’s more important so appear engaging so that when people join your stream, they stay for a bit to listen to what you have to say. If there’s nothing happening in chat, just talk about what you’re doing, talk about your day, or even talk to a friend on Skype or Discord.
Hide the Viewer Count
This goes along with the last recommendation about being engaging. Don’t keep checking your viewer count. Like I mentioned before, people make the decision to stay or leave within a matter of seconds, but the viewer count is delayed by a bit. If you’re silently waiting to see that number go from 0 to 1 before you start talking, you’re going to watch it go right back to 0, because they will have left before you even see the count go up.
Like mentioned above, be continuously talking. Always assume you have an audience, even if no one is chatting. Practice talking to yourself, and eventually chat will become active. It may not happen your first day, or your first week, but if you keep it up you will eventually get there.
Another reason for hiding the viewer count is to resist the temptation to call out lurkers. Some people just enjoy watching a stream without chatting. If you have been sitting at zero viewers, and suddenly notice that you have a couple people watching, it can be tempting to start talking to your new viewers. This can give them the impression that you’re pressuring them to chat, and they may leave because of it. Some people just don’t enjoy chatting, and that’s totally fine.
Make Notes About Your Chatters
When you do have people chatting, make notes about them. Keep a Word Document open, or a spreadsheet, or even a notepad and pen on your desk. When someone chats, make notes about them and what they say. This really helps with viewer retention later on when they return to the stream.
If you have someone mention that they have to leave for a doctors appointment, or they’ve been stressed over a school assignment, you can ask about it the next time they’re in chat. They’ll be impressed that you remembered what they said last time, and it helps build a connection between you and them. They’ll be more likely to continue returning to your stream to chat, and more likely to tell their friends about your stream.
Utilize Social Media
Growing an audience for your Twitch stream is marketing, plain and simple. And Social Media is a great tool when it comes to any kind of marketing, including promoting your Twitch stream. Build dedicated accounts for your stream on various platforms, such as a Facebook page or an Instagram account. One important one for streamers is to use Twitter to promote as well. Since Twitter is more real time than apps like Facebook, it can be great for “Going Live” posts. Don’t just post, interact with other streamers on Twitter, follow other streamers, and be engaging, just like with your stream. This will lead to more people following you, which will lead to more people seeing your posts.
After you build your branded stream accounts on various social media platforms, don’t be afraid to use your personal accounts to promote as well if you already have a decent sized following on them. You can use those accounts to direct people to your stream branded accounts.
Discord is also useful for keeping your audience engaged even when you’re not streaming, and you can post alerts when you’re going live, and tag @everyone to let your server know. But I would recommend waiting before growing your Discord until your stream starts getting more of a following. Growing a Discord server can take a good bit of time, and will grow slowly if you try to push your Discord link before you have a following. But, you don’t necessarily have to wait on your stream to take off, once your Social Media accounts gain a decent following, you can use them to promote your Discord as well.
Become Involved in Other Streamers’ Communities
Becoming involved in the communities of other streamers can be great for growing your own audience for your Twitch stream. Check out some other streamers that play the same games that you like to stream, and start chatting with them. Become an active part of their community. Engage with the other people in chat as well. Make a genuine effort to make friends and network with people.
Remember, networking is not the same as just showing up out of nowhere to announce that you have a stream and everyone should check it out. Many streamers will kick you from chat if you start self-promoting out of the blue.
There is nothing wrong with letting people know that you stream, but mention it genuinely in conversation, not in a spammy way. After a while, they may ask you questions about your schedule or what you play. Let them initiate the conversation. Once you’ve brought up that you stream, they know. The more you keep mentioning it, the less likely people are to check out your stream.
What happens after a while is that eventually you make friends with the streamers, or the people in their communities. People will be likely to follow you and check out your stream when their favorite streamer is offline. They may even be more likely to host you if you can time it right.
A good tip for this type of networking is to start about an hour or so before you start your stream. Spend that hour being engaging with the streamer and their community. When it’s time to start yours, simply thank them for their stream, and let them know that you’re heading off to play whichever game. Wait in chat for a bit after you send that, and the streamer may ask if you’re going to be streaming. They may offer to host you after their stream ends.
I will say this again though: do not be pushy or spammy with this type of networking. Let them initiate the questions.
When you finish your stream for the day, don’t just end the stream. Browse Twitch for people streaming the same game that you’re playing. Don’t host the first person you see, but scroll down until you find someone that has around the same viewer count that you do. (When you’re ending your stream, you can go ahead and look at your viewer count). They’ll thank you for the host, and you can hang out in their chat for a bit and interact with them.
A cool thing about hosting is that many streamers will have a bot that will take !shoutout commands, providing a direct link to your stream and encouraging their followers to drop you a follow as well. They also may be more likely to host you in the future.
There are also several dedicated networking communities available that may be useful for new streamers. Some of the most prominent ones are Twitch Kittens and The Lunchroom. These communities allow streamers to network with each other, build connections, and help each other grow. Some of these communities will also allow their members to post when they are going live so that other members can check them out. The more you interact with people in communities like these, the more you are working to grow the audience for your Twitch stream!
Keep it Up!
I hope some of these suggestions are able to help you grow your audience on Twitch! In closing, the biggest piece of advice I can give you is, don’t give up! There may be times when you feel like nothing is working, your audience isn’t growing, no one’s chatting, and you want to just throw in the towel. Keep it up! Keep streaming! Your audience absolutely will not grow if you don’t stream. Even if you’re streaming to an empty room for days, weeks, or even months, just keep going. Look at how you’re networking, look at your schedule, see if there are any changes you need to make. Just remember, no one grew a large community overnight. Every successful streamer you’ve ever watched has been where you’re at right now. You can do it too.