What's the quickest way to grow a YouTube channel or Twitch.tv stream? There's a two-part answer: First, be consistent and predictable in uploads. Second, stick to relevant, high-quality content. The “relevance” bit is key, and this article explains why.
Dozens of high-profile games are announced or ship each year. To be one of the first streamers of a new game – alpha, beta, or freshly launched – is an instant assurance of fairly high visibility. The earlier you start creating content around a to-be smash-hit game, the more exposure (by sheer absence of volume) you'll have to the community. This also helps establish your content early in the game's launch cycle, so that it may be discovered later through search engine queries.
Take “No Man's Sky” as an example: That game's going to be big; at least, it will be at launch. To stream early releases of the game would almost guarantee views, but it's on you to retain those viewers through consistency and high-quality commentary or gameplay (both are ideal).
Here's a list of some of the biggest games coming this year:
- No Man's Sky (Release date: August 12, 2016 on PC, or August 9 on PS4)
- Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (August 23, 2016)
- Overwatch (Already out – but with ongoing support and patches)
- Battlefield 1 (October 21, 2016)
- Titanfall 2 (October 28, 2016)
- Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (November 4, 2016)
Don't Be Afraid to Invest in Yourself
Applying to early beta or alpha periods is useful, but it's not always possible to get accepted into a free early access program. If you're serious about streaming as a career or secondary income, it may be worth considering an early investment in titles that you can reasonably wager will be popular. Oftentimes, modern games include early access with pre-orders – get in on that, if you think you can then turn that access around to make some return on investment (ROI) through content creation.
Make Yourself Discoverable
Don't forget to title streams or YouTube content appropriately. Make them searchable and discoverable. Let's pretend that you've gotten early access to Deus Ex. Titling a YouTube upload appropriately could get you early discovery, for example:
- Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Gameplay
- Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Walkthrough
- Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Cutscenes
- Let's Play – Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Similarly, Twitch.tv streams should be titled in a way that draws-in viewers who hit the landing page for a particular game. If you're focusing on personality and humor, use a title that reflects those things; if you're a more skilled player, and want to present gameplay as high-level as possible, again set an appropriate title.
But there's more to do once the viewers enter the proverbial door.
Capitalize on Early Discovery
You've got to keep those new viewers for future streams or uploads.
With Twitch.tv, be sure to remind viewers to subscribe, engage on twitter or in chat, and to bookmark your page. Be sure to leverage the space below your view for further means of engagement. This is a useful space to list sponsors, your social media (Facebook and Twitter) pages, and most importantly, your streaming times. Remind folks the set dates and times that you'll be streaming (and what game, if you stream multiple). This will help ensure that visitors become repeat visitors, as they'll likely want to see more of the content that first led them to the channel.
What Makes a Popular Streaming Game?
Competition lends itself well to streaming games. That's what makes Titanfall 2, Battlefield 1, Overwatch, and Call of Duty high-ranking on the list of games to pay attention to. People often watch competitive streams because they want to learn; if you get in early and get good, it's a prime opportunity to attract newer players who can benefit from your trials.
Some other games can become streaming hits, though. We can look to Minecraft for that – popular because it's a show-and-tell style game, which is naturally fun to watch. For similar reasons, No Man's Sky makes sense as a streaming title.
We hope that this provides some inspiration to kick-start efforts of attracting new viewers. Be sure to check some of our other guides for more helpful tips.