Small Twitch Streamers: 5 Mistakes You’re Probably Making

Small Twitch Streamers: 5 Mistakes You’re Probably Making

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Most streamers want to grow on Twitch, since it’s a lot more fun streaming to a community and having people to interact with while streaming, rather than putting on a show and talking to yourself for an entire stream (at least in my experience). But many people start out streaming and get stuck for ages without increasing their viewer or follower numbers. This article doesn’t focus on how to grow, but rather on some things you may be doing that are hindering your growth.

Why should you trust my advice? Possibly you shouldn’t, but Jesse and I started our channel from scratch at the end of January 2020, and although we’re still relatively small ourselves, we’ve gained over 5500 followers and have an active chat in every stream. Along the way, we’ve made countless mistakes and learned through trial and error and through the suggestions of more experienced Twitch users/streamers.

I’ve noticed a lot of things new or smaller streamers do that we did ourselves, and thought some streamers might find the following tips helpful, despite streaming not having a one-size-fits-all approach.

Even after months of streaming, we still have issues with our stream!

1. FOLLOWERS-ONLY CHAT

This is probably the most common thing that small streamers don’t realise may be hurting their follower numbers. When you’re starting out and trying to gain more followers, you think it makes sense to make it so that someone who wants to write a message in your chat should follow first, thereby increasing your number of followers.

However, many viewers on Twitch are selective about who they follow and may want to talk to you, ask you questions, watch your stream for a while and then only follow if they enjoy you/your content and want to watch again in future. By putting your chat on followers-only, many viewers looking for new people to watch will skip over your channel and go to someone they can interact with first before deciding to follow the channel. Some streamers feel insulted when someone that’s been in chat for a whole stream only follows at the end of the stream, when really they should take it as a compliment that that person liked their content and would like to watch again in future. Remember that on Twitch no one “owes” you views or follows.

Another thing to note is that having ‘followers-only chat’ off makes raids to your channel a lot more enjoyable because everyone from that channel can say ‘hi’ or use raid emotes in chat, which might even make them hang around longer to see your reaction – some streamers don’t even raid channels when they see chat is in followers-only or sub-only mode.

2. NOT RAIDING OR RAIDING “INCORRECTLY”

On the subject of raids, probably the first thing to mention is that raids are a great way to help out other streamers and for that reason alone, it’s a good idea to raid other channels at the end of your streams – the streamer you raid will really appreciate it, even more so if you follow the tips below.

A raid is when a streamer sends their viewers to another streamer's channel at the end of a stream.

You should not raid another channel hoping that it’ll get you more followers from the alert on-stream or from a shoutout in chat. We’ve been able to send off sizeable raids (500+ viewers) to other streamers and we’ve had shoutouts in channels with thousands of active viewers, and I can tell you that (if you’re lucky) you’ll get a follow from one or two viewers as a result of a shoutout. Be honest, when last did you go follow a channel that raided the streamer you were watching? The only time you generally get a few followers from a raid is if the streamer takes time out of their stream to thank you and gives a personal recommendation because they watch your channel/are your friend.

In my opinion, there are three main reasons you should raid other streamers:

  • You just feel helping someone out and giving their viewer numbers a boost
  • You genuinely enjoy their content and think your community would enjoy it too (or you want to watch them after your stream, and feel like arriving with your own community to watch together)
  • It’s a channel close to your size (in terms of viewer numbers) and you’d like to support them or set up a future collaboration, and maybe in future they’ll reciprocate with a raid of their own

Think of it this way: if you have 5 viewers and raid another channel with 5 viewers, that’s doubling their numbers and will mean the world to them. If you send a raid of 5 to a channel with 500 viewers, you might get a shoutout but it likely won’t translate to more followers or a reciprocal raid in future.

TL;DR: If you’re a small streamer, don’t raid huge channels in the hopes of a shoutout benefitting you – you could rather be helping out small streamers or setting up collaborations/raids that can grow your stream in future.

3. NOT DOING ANY COLLABORATIONS

A great way to grow your channel and community is to do collaborations, but as a small streamer it’s unlikely you’ll have many people reaching out to you. Chess has many potential ways to collaborate depending on the other streamer – you can do a match, hand-and-brain, sub/follower battles, etc – this brings variety to your own stream, it’s great to have another person to interact with (especially if you have a quiet chat), and you’re also showing your personality/skill to the other streamer’s viewers.

An example of a collaboration between four streamers

Don’t be afraid to reach out to other streamers asking if they’d be up for a collaboration, but also don’t be insulted if they say no or don’t get back to you (some streamers receive a lot of collaboration requests, or they may be hesitant to collab with an unknown channel). Your best chance of getting a collab is to approach streamers of a similar viewer size and “stream style” to you with an idea that fits (i.e. if you’re a 1200, don’t approach a GM asking for a best-of-10 match. Similarly, if you’re a strong player but you average 5 viewers, Hikaru probably won’t agree to a collab with you).

Watch the person’s stream, interact with them in chat to see if it’s someone you’ll get along with (e.g. if your stream is family-friendly, check if they swear a lot during their streams), and then reach out to them via Twitch whispers/Twitter/Instagram – do not ask for a collaboration in twitch chat while they’re streaming or do any form of self-promotion in their chat, it makes it awkward for the streamer and may result in a ban. Even something like ‘Alright, I’m heading off now to start my stream’ can come across as you looking to take viewers away from the current streamer or you indirectly asking for a raid, so rather avoid talking about your own stream unless it comes up naturally. A raid is a good idea to let a streamer know that you also stream, and they’re then far more likely to check out or recommend your channel than if you bring it up yourself.

Also, as a bit of advice, set aside at least 30 minutes of set-up time for your first collaboration if you want to avoid starting your stream very late – technical difficulties with audio and cameras takes a lot longer than you’d think!

4. NOT STREAMING LONG ENOUGH, REGULARLY, OR ON A SCHEDULE

Which brings me to the next point, which is that it’s a good idea to have a regular schedule (or at least a schedule that you publish each week) and to start on time so that people know when they can find you streaming. This makes it more likely that you’ll get regular viewers than if you just stream at random times when you feel like it. It’s also a good idea to stream regularly (at least 3-4 times a week), since that way you can build more of a community – if you only stream once or twice a week, your viewers will probably watch other streams the days you’re not streaming and may begin to feel more a part of that community and choose to watch that streamer instead of you next time you’re both live.

An example of our schedule at https://t.co/AwscWrNjE9?amp=1

Another common thing we’ve seen new streamers doing is only streaming for an hour at a time, since streaming is tiring and those completely new to Twitch would assume that a 2-hour stream is pretty long (since that’s longer than some movies!). For most streamers, average viewership gradually climbs until it reaches its peak at around 2 hours of streaming, and after that it stays pretty stable until at some point it starts to decline again. You should probably be aiming to stream around 3-4 hours per stream if you can manage that, or longer depending on your viewership and new followers for each additional hour that you stream. Streaming longer does come with a caveat, though…

5. NOT ADVERTISING STREAMS

It doesn’t help to stream for 3-4 hours if no one knows you are streaming! A stream schedule will obviously help if you have some regular viewers or if you’re bringing viewers from other platforms (Chess.com/YouTube/Twitter/Instagram), but it’s incredibly important to advertise to your friends/family/followers that you’ll be streaming. Before our first-ever stream, Jesse and I reached over 1000 people with our advertisements – this only translated into 65 channel views (average 10 viewers over 2.5 hours) on our first stream, but considering how terrible our stream quality was and that we were completely unknown on the stream scene, it shows how important the advertising was!

Posters are very easy to create for free and with little skill on sites such as canva.com

Don’t spam ‘go live’ notifications to uninterested people, but definitely let people know what you’re doing. More viewers boosts your position on the ‘browse’ page, and in a category like chess it’s still possible to be discovered by new viewers with a relatively small number of viewers yourself. But please, please, please don’t advertise your stream in other people’s chats or discords, it’s likely to do you more harm than good. As mentioned earlier, becoming a valued member of their community (if you enjoy their content), is a much better way to have the streamer and other community members support your streams.

6. [BONUS] NOT REVIEWING STREAMS

As a bonus tip for those who’ve made it this far, you should definitely be going back and looking at your VODs to see what you can improve upon. Were your audio levels off, was your stream stuttering, did you have a constant static sound from your mic? Most technical problems you encounter can be fixed via a Google/YouTube search if channels like Aran Hawaii’s haven’t covered it and it’s important to constantly work on improving your stream quality (both technical and the way you interact with chat/on stream) – you need to be creating content that people want to watch in order for the above 5 tips to help you out!

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I hope some of the tips helped you, or have at least given you something to experiment with – let me know if you have any questions or if you disagree with anything (or if anything helps you!), and good luck with your streaming 😊