The entirety of our content creator guides detail how to build viewership, but this article aims to compile the most critical steps to building an audience. Before getting started, note that joining our sponsorship program is a strong step to building your revenue stream, which will in turn help build audience. We offer additional ways to monetize your content and profit even when you are finished streaming.
Let's build-out a basic plan:
Planning Your Twitch Content & Channel Growth
- What tone do you want to take with the content?
◦ Examples: Informative & Skilled; professional & distanced (e.g. a commentator / shout caster); playful / silly.
- What kind of content do you want to stream?
◦ Examples: Competitive only, highlights reels / commentary, casual (“let's play” style), cheese-y (cannon rushing in SC2, for instance), etc.
- How frequently do you want to stream? What days? Set these and stick to them. Predictable up-time is the most critical aspect to growth.
- Who will be your moderators and brand ambassadors? Sometimes it helps to bring friends on, sometimes it's best to wait for stream fans to crop-up.
Once these basic questions are answered, you'll have a more concrete plan for the next few steps.
Getting Started: Audio & Video Quality
This is the biggest differentiating factor of thrown-together streams and thought-out streams. Even an inconsistent streamer can instantly improve content quality by using better AV equipment.
We'd most strongly suggest improving audio quality, as that'll be the most heavily noticed by viewers. Moving off of a cheap headset mic and onto a desk mic (like the Blue Yeti – though cheaper options exist) will push content closer to “radio broadcast” vocal quality. Another option is to by a desk mixer (XLR or 1/4” input, then the mixer plugs into the computer via USB); an example of a good mixer to combine with a vocal XLR or 1/4” mic would be the Xenyx Q502USB. Either way you go, prepare to spend some time setting up the ideal input and gain levels, test it in Audacity or other software, and then be sure to tell your viewers and fans about the upgrade. That's a big part of brand building, which we'll discuss more later.
Video quality is also key. Setting up OBS and XSplit appropriately helps, but offering a “face” to the gameplay can further build brand recognition and create more personality with which viewers connect. A 1080p webcam will help start you out – the Logitech C920 is a common one for streamers – and will provide high enough quality video for vlogging / non-game streams.
Use OBS or XSplit to position the webcam feed in one corner of the stream (ideally, place this over something not too useful on the game's interface – you don't want to obfuscate the mini-map or HP). Once that scene's created, determine what you want shown through the camera. A feed of the keyboard/mouse input could be useful for channels that are more dedicated to educating viewers, whereas a view of your face might be more appreciated by folks seeking personality.
In addition to actually producing high-quality content, it's important to remind viewers that the content is, in fact, of a high quality standard. It sounds silly, but brand building is about building an image and reinforcing that image. Let the content do most of the talking, but don't be afraid to remind folks that you've just upgraded your microphone to a studio grade mic, or that you've added a 1080p webcam to the stream.
Similarly, logos and brand images help build recognition among repeat viewers. You'll be picked up more quickly in a sea of streams if you've got cohesive branding. Consider having an artistically inclined friend make a logo for your channel (or pay for one through a freelancing website, like Upwork or Fiver). Animations that roll during bathroom breaks are also useful, and help add a feeling of energy to even more static content (like during waits before games). These animations can later be leveraged as sponsor spots, another strategically useful move for growth.
But that's for later. For now, get a logo, pick a name (and stick to it), and plaster the branding all over your twitter, official Facebook, and YouTube or Twitch pages. Make sure people know the name, the logo, and the face (if applicable).
Marketing & Outreach
With all of this in place, it's time to start building viewership by doing some lightweight marketing. Using game-specific forums is a good way to get some basic visibility, especially if you're taking the knowledgeable / skilled approach to game streaming. Be sure to drop a link to your stream within the forum signature (check that this isn't against terms of service), that way there's a chance folks seeking to learn more will hit the link.
Sites like reddit will also have sub-sections (or sub-reddits, as it were) dedicated to games. These are a good place to lurk and occasionally comment, building some name recognition – just be sure to stay within the self-promotion rules. Simply commenting (without self-promoting) is a strong way to build brand recognition, especially if your comments tend to be informative or insightful.
Try to make friends with other streamers, too; size doesn't matter here. If you can build a relationship with another streamer, the two of you can work together to collaborate on future streams, bridging your two audiences into one. This pooling of viewers will expose your content to newcomers, who may potentially become your own viewers.
And then, of course, there's just titling and timing. Without any additional marketing effort at all, playing a new game and titling the stream appropriately (“CoD Map Exploits,” “Overwatch Strategy,” etc.) will naturally bring in new viewers, as there won't be as much competition streaming a new game.
If this content helped you, check out the rest of our guides for more!