Verity is a physics with teaching BSc (Hons) graduate. In her spare time, she likes to cook, read and play video games.
What Is Twitch?
Twitch is an online streaming service, with a focus on video game-related content (though the addition of the 'Creative' section allows artists to stream their processes to the public).
Streaming on Twitch is an excellent way to indulge in your favourite hobbies while being an active part of a large online community. Streamers usually find that after a while the same viewers will return to watch you stream and become your regulars. Growing your base of regulars will result in a growth in popularity, and can lead to the eventual monetization of your content via the addition of a donation button to your stream. But be warned, you can't just slap a donation button in your description and expect to be making $50 per stream a week after joining.
However, there are steps that you can take to increase your stream quality and encourage followers!
7 Basics to Building a Following on Twitch
- High-Quality Streaming
- Using a Webcam
- Speaking With Followers Using a Headset
- Have a Schedule
- Interact With Viewers
- Have Channel Art
- Use a Moderator Bot
1. Streaming Settings for High Quality
This is where factors such as bitrate, resolution and FPS (Frames Per Second) come into play. Novice streamers will tend to put all their settings at maximum, this is not recommended.
- Firstly, if you put the settings at a higher level than your streaming device can handle, this will result in gameplay issues such as lag and the stream will also lag and buffer.
- Secondly, even if your streaming device can handle it, not everyone viewing will be able to watch with the settings maxed out. The last thing you want to do is 'freeze out' potential viewers by making it impossible for them to be able to watch your stream.
The Open Broadcast Software website has a great calculator here. Enter your computer's details and your internet upload speed and the calculator will tell you the optimal settings for bitrate, resolution, FPS, buffer size and much more. (If you do not know your internet speeds, you can find that out here at SpeedTest.net)
2. Use a Webcam: People Want to See You
Yes, believe it or not, people want to see your face. When the viewer can see you reacting to the game, or your expressions when you read their comments, it makes the stream feel more personal. Plus everyone likes to be able to put a face to a voice. The webcam I currently use is the Logitech C920 960-000767.
Having a face camera allows for unique opportunities for the streamer to interact with the audience. For example, having a themed stream where you dress up. Or having an audio command that viewers can use to scare you. When the viewer can see you enjoying yourself, or reacting to something they did, they feel as if they can better connect to you.
But be careful about it. Don't just slap the camera randomly on the screen. Make sure that the facecam doesn't obscure an important sector of the game (e.g putting it over the health bar). Always make sure that your game capture is bigger than your facecam, people come to see you game, not to just see you while you happen to be playing a game. It can be helpful to make an overlay with a box for your facecam and a separate box for the game capture.
3. Interact With Followers Using a Headset With Microphone
Interacting with your viewers is an absolute must, therefore a microphone is a necessity.
A good investment is a headset with a microphone attached. I use the G430 Gaming headset. The reason for this is that if you play game sound from your computer for example, and have an on-desk microphone then the microphone will pick up the game sound twice and there will be an annoying echo. This also increases the chance of digital feedback (that high-pitched screeching noise) and static: both of which will turn viewers away very quickly.
A further advantage of a headset with a microphone is that you can hear the game sounds better, any stream notifications better and you don't have to compete in volume with your surroundings (reducing your need to shout, your throat will be very thankful).
A good gaming headset needs to be comfortable too, especially if you are wearing it for 4-5 hours non-stop. Thankfully, high-quality headsets can be obtained at a reasonable price.
4. Have a Schedule
Having a regular schedule benefits you in two main ways
- It lets the viewers know when you are streaming and allow them to anticipate your stream
- It shows that you are serious about streaming as you are approaching it with the professional manner you would approach a job.
Even if you can't commit to specific time ranges, that's ok, even something such as "Streams will take place after 5 p.m. GMT Monday–Friday" can allow viewers to set apart time for you in their daily routine.
5. Did I Mention Interact With Your Viewers?
If I've said it once then I have said it a million times! There are multiple ways to interact with your viewers:
- Read and respond to comments that users make in your chat
- Play games with your followers from time to time (good games for this are Cards Against Humanity and Quiplash)
It is also important to get involved in the community. Watch the streams of people who come and watch you. If you follow one of your viewers on another social media (e.g., Twitter), they will follow you back. All of sudden you have a tight-knit group of people who all follow each other and will spread your stream. This includes hosting the channels of other streamers that you enjoy.
It can also be beneficial to set up a Steam group or Facebook group for your channel and invite all of your friends to like it. If you do this then you can set up daily 'events' which notify members of the group when you start streaming.
6. Have Channel Art
Rather than just having a small description under your stream have it in sections: e.g., About Me, Rules, FAQ, Social Media, etc. It can be more aesthetically pleasing if you have images as your section titles rather than just text, these images can be made really quickly in MS Paint and it allows for you to add your own flare on your page and makes you stand out from the crowd!
Channel art also includes an image displayed on your video player when you are offline. Having an image with your streaming times and social media contacts on it encourages people to follow and come back when you are streaming. It also shows that you have put effort into your channel and once again helps it stand out from the generic grey offline screens.
7. Make Use of a Moderator Bot
Channel moderator bots are indispensable! It stays in your channel 24/7 and different bots have a whole multitude of different features and functions. These functions can allow you to:
- Set up banned words and will Time Out people who use them.
- Post thank you messages in chat for new follows/hosts.
- Let viewers add music to a song queue played on stream.
- Play games such as magic 8 ball or bank heists together.
- Add funny quotes during the stream and allow a random quote to be brought up on demand.
- Audio commands for in-jokes or to scare the streamer.
If you are proficient in programming with resources such as mIRC or C++ you can write your own bot and customise it any way that you like.
This concludes the guide on the steps that you can take to improve the quality of your stream and to get more followers. I hope that it has been beneficial to you. If you have any more questions please feel free to message me and comment below! Happy Twitching!
Other important factors to remember are:
- Spread your stream within online communities that you are already a part of (but don't spam people or they definitely won't watch your stream).
- Adhere to the Twitch Rules.
- You might be tempted to do something called View Botting (where you pay for 1000s of bots to visit your stream to give you an increased view count). Do NOT do this. It is very obvious when someone does this and it is against the Twitch rules. You will be banned.
- If you are struggling to come up with a name for your channel/brand or if you regularly struggle to name characters in games you can name them after people in your chat. Or to avoid spending too much time trying to come up with something, just use a random name generator such as the Chains to Gains name generator.
- Have fun! Viewers can tell if a streamer is having fun or bored. If you are bored: so are they!
Once you have built up your viewer count and you are getting regulars, then feel free to add a donation button to your stream. To do this you can use Streamlabs or TwitchAlerts. It is useful to viewers if you add a donation goal, where you make it clear what you are raising money for. If viewers know that their donations will go towards you upgrading your webcam or getting the sequel to your current game; it will encourage them to give and they will be able to see the fruits of their labour.
Questions & Answers
Question: How do I get more followers or ask them at the end of my VOD on Twitch?
Answer: Getting more followers takes time and lots of consistent, hard work. If you read the article, I set out lots of things you can do that will get people to come to your channel, and will make them more likely to stay.
If you want to sign off at the end of your stream, you could say something like "Thanks for a great stream guys! If you like what you see, feel free to hit that follow button, I'll see you when I stream *insert next stream time here*. Take care guys!"
Just be authentic to yourself and enjoy what you do, and the follows will come.
Question: I've been getting a fair amount of views on Twitch, but no one follows me. What could be the problem?
Answer: That's hard for me to answer since I don't know you or your stream.
Obviously, your streams are interesting enough to get people to watch, so perhaps you simply need to engage with your viewers more. Create a community that people will want to be a part of. Think about communities that you enjoy being a part of, and what makes it feel so appealing and so much fun, and try to incorporate that into your own community. Make people feel valued!
It takes time and doesn't just happen overnight. Just keep going and be your authentic self!
© 2016 VerityPrice
kodnap on February 27, 2018:
Really good tips, will help me allot! :) @VerityPrice
Ahmed M. Gamil on January 10, 2018:
A very useful article, indeed. I'm gonna use some of its notes right away.. Many many thanks @VerityPrice.
Robbin from Oevel on July 14, 2016:
Great Article, I might consider starting to stream after all.. :) What game(s) do you stream?
Anders Espeland on April 14, 2016:
i like the tips
VerityPrice (author) from UK on January 05, 2016:
Than you! Good luck with your stream :)
Jasmeet Kaur from India on January 05, 2016: