While getting started with streaming is pretty straightforward, all you need is a few essential bits of hardware and software, gaining – and growing – an audience is far more difficult. No one wants to put all their effort into a stream that hardly anyone is watching, and in this guide, we’ll look at how you can gain a committed and active following online.
1. Invest in the best hardware
There are a lot of streamers out there, which means you’ll have a lot of competition when it comes to finding an audience and keep them watching. A poor quality stream that offers blurry video and garbled sound could see a lot of people switching off – and never returning.
So, to get your streaming career off to a strong start, try to get the best hardware you can for your budget. So, that means investing in a good quality microphone, or at the very least a good quality headset with a microphone built in. Don’t reply on the built-in microphone of your laptop or webcam, as nothing will make audience members switch off faster than a stream that has tinny or difficult to hear audio.
And, speaking of webcams, if you’re going to be visible on your stream (as opposed to simply streaming your gameplay), then you may want to invest in a decent standalone webcam that’s capable of recording in 1080p. This will instantly give your stream a more professional look.
2. Choose the right game
The vast majority of streamers focus on playing games, and it’s likely you’ll start off streaming your gameplay as well.
While it might be tempting to jump in and stream any (and all) games you’re currently playing, when you’re getting established it’s best to stick with one game. To build an audience, it’s a good idea to find a game that’s currently very popular. Games that are trending can quickly net an audience for streamers.
As a gamer, you should have a good idea of what games are currently hot, but you can also do a bit of research as well. Check out gaming websites and forums to see what games people are talking about, and looking at Twitch will also give you a feel for what games are trending.
However, there are some caveats here. Firstly, the more popular the game, the more competition you’ll have, which can make it harder to stand out, especially if you’re just getting started. You may also find that audiences grow tired if everyone is streaming just one game, so try to find games that are growing in popularity, but not oversaturated.
Also, bear in mind that you’ll be playing a lot of this game, so only choose a title that you won't get sick of. No matter how popular a game is, if you don’t enjoy playing it, your audience will pick up on this.
3. Set a schedule and stick with it
One of the most important parts of becoming a successful streamer, which many people sadly ignore, is that you should stream regularly, and at the same time and day each week. This helps your audience know when to expect a new stream from you, and when to tune in.
Try to remain consistent as well. Streaming once a week on the same day is much better than streaming every day, then taking weeks (or months) off at a time.
Of course, you can always change your schedule when things crop up, but by keeping to a schedule you’ll find your audience will keep returning. So, set up a schedule that you know you can keep to, even if it means only streaming at the weekends.
Also, when you’re not streaming, make sure your channel – be it on Twitch, YouTube or any other platform – advertises clearly when your next stream will be. Streamlabs Stream Schedule & Countdown is a handy widget for Twitch that automatically shows your schedule and upcoming streams to your audience, and is well worth adding to your channel.
4. Interact with your audience
So, you’ve started to get an audience tuning into your streams. That’s great! But don’t take them for granted. The best streamers will chat with their audience during a stream. This helps you inject a bit of personality into your stream, and means people aren’t just watching you silently playing games by yourself, which has dubious entertainment value.
During a stream, talk to your audience. Explain what you’re playing, if you’re enjoying it and what sort of tactics you’re employing. If there’s a tricky part of the game, why not ask your audience for help? That sort of interaction will keep people entertained and coming back for more. Also, when people subscribe to your channel, make sure you acknowledge it on the stream. It shows you’re grateful for your audience and will encourage others to do the same.
5. Continue that interaction after the stream ends
When you finish streaming, it doesn’t mean your interaction with your audience ends there. After all, you want them to return for the next stream, don’t you? Being active on social media such as Facebook and Twitter, will help you keep in contact with your audience.
You can share cool videos you’ve found, discuss what games you’ll be playing next, and promote your stream and when you’ll next be broadcasting.
It’s also important to remember that this isn’t a one-way street. So, it’s worth listening to your audience about what they like about the stream – and what can be improved. Suggestions for new games to play can help you suit your stream to your audience, while making them feel part of it.
These steps will help you establish a streaming channel and grow your audience. Once you’ve got a certain amount of followers, you can look into ways of monetising your stream, either through sponsorship and adverts, or through crowd funding platforms like Patreon.
Stay on the Cutting Edge
Join the experts who read Tom's Hardware for the inside track on enthusiast PC tech news — and have for over 25 years. We'll send breaking news and in-depth reviews of CPUs, GPUs, AI, maker hardware and more straight to your inbox.