Each week we Spotlight a Chill Streamer on Twitch.
This week we’re Spotlighting…
What got you into Twitch streaming?
I’ve been on Twitch as a viewer since the beginning of quarantine in early 2020. I was desperately looking to make some virtual friends – I’m a very, very social person, and it absolutely fills my cup to have community with other people. So, my need for social activities were extremely dry at the time, and I was looking for communities with similar interests through online outlets.
I’ve been a “gamer” for most of my life. I’ve always loved playing computer games… on my family’s shared desktop when I was little (the learning games like JumpStart that kids like to do over the summer when they’re not in school!), when I got a little older and downloaded my first Sims game, little online games like Club Penguin and NeoPets (lol!), and then it carried on into adulthood with more simulation games, where I really found my niche. 🙂 So Twitch quickly became a place where I felt like I was around “my people.”
All that said… once I spent a little time on Twitch watching other streamers, I thought I could try making YouTube videos for The Sims 4 – I’ve played for many, many years, have all the expansions, and am not half bad at challenges, building, and general gameplay. I started there, made ONE singular YouTube video and thought, “Now, this is very hard. I am very bad at video editing. It takes 3 hours to record the video and 7 hours to edit it afterward. I work full time and it’s just not possible or enjoyable.”
Again, I went back to participating in streams as a viewer. And then I thought, why not try “live” instead of “recorded”? So, I streamed once. It went very poorly. I had one viewer, and while she was sweet and supportive, and stuck around for a good bit, she ended up having to hop off, and I realized there was a lot more to streaming than just booting up the computer, turning on the webcam, and playing your favorite game.
So I quit. Back to the Twitch viewer and community member. I remember being on one of my favorite streamers’ channels, and they switched from The Sims and started playing a new game I hadn’t heard of before, Stardew Valley. The gameplay looked fun, the game was VERY cheap in comparison to other games, so I thought I’d give it a shot. I became obsessed quickly and started watching a whole new category of streamers: speedrunners. I was like, “oh, fun and cozy games, but FAST!” That inspired me to try streaming again.
New game, new strategy, new me.
I streamed once or twice again, had a handful of viewers, but still nothing to “write home to Mom about,” as they say. But this time I set up a few new custom settings, had a better camera, and had my own “office” for streaming. I realized there were a lot of things I was missing from my stream if I wanted to make it a more viewer-centric stream rather than being a self-promotion extraordinaire. This gave me a list full of action items (my fave) that I could try to work with before I picked streaming back up again (for real this time).
A few months later, I spent a little money on good lighting, bought another monitor, repurposed some old music recording equipment (I was a musician first!), and finally had a REAL stream setup. I spent some time designing a few “branding” things in Canva, a free graphic design website, like stream backgrounds, animated alerts, “starting soon,” “be right back,” “just chatting,” and a few other stream scenes. I went into it this time with the “if you build it, they’ll come” mentality. A risky mentality, but I’m a sales and marketing professional by day, so I thought, “why wouldn’t I use that knowledge to promote a stream channel?”
Around the same time, I got a Nintendo Switch, immediately bought Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and said: “Okay for real this time.” I dressed up like a cat, bought a silly Animal Crossing-themed hat, and stuck through one or two very weird, uncomfy, lonely streams with two viewers, then three viewers, and one day I got raided by the kindest soul in all the land, AkaxFunnyMan (affectionately known as FunnyMan) who brought our very own Lord__Boom (affectionately known as Boom) into my stream. This is when everything changed.
They were so kind, so supportive, and so active in my chat, and it completely changed the atmosphere. They rounded up all of their Twitch friends (and family!) to come follow and watch, which spiked my viewer numbers to about 7 or 8. More than I’d ever had. Twitch favors that kind of activity in the algorithm.
Shortly after that during the same stream, another streamer, ItsElury, found my channel and raided me a second time. Whaaaat? Elury then brought his entire Twitch community to come and follow when he saw I was interested in becoming a Twitch Affiliate. That brought my total followers close to 20 or 30 in my second or third stream. After this stream, I started having over 3 consistent viewers in my stream, which is a milestone Twitch requires to become a Twitch Affiliate. Giving you the opportunity to monetize the stream.
At this point, I was so close. There was no quitting or turning back! Then I met you, WhimsicalVix 🙂 You became such a consistent viewer and supporter, brought over a few of your Twitch community friends, and I finally got to the 50-follower threshold that allowed me to become a Twitch Affiliate in just under 10 days. Twitch automatically favors Affiliates in their search algorithms because once your stream is monetized, Twitch starts making money off of your stream, too.
Then the viewership started rolling in. A few more raids, a few more silly costumes, and a lot of laughs later, I made it to 100 followers at the 3-week mark. Now, at the 20-day mark, I’m consistently getting double-digit viewers, and I’m getting dangerously close to having about 20 people consistently throughout each of my streams. A 20% “conversion rate” of followers-to-viewers isn’t half bad. The community is really, actually growing, and I’m so excited for the future.
What makes you and your channel different from other streams?
I think a differentiating factor of our channel is, well, just that. It’s our channel. It’s not a place for me to inflate my ego by having XX viewers watch me, it’s not a place where I’m begging for monetary support because it’s my full-time job, it’s a place where like-minded gamers can come be goofy together and forget about the stresses of everyday life.
Not to say we’re living unauthentically, we’re not. The world moves around us as it always does. But it’s a safe place where we can all relax and play cozy games together. There’s nothing I love more than watching people connect in the chat. Where it’s more of a “chat room with a focal point.” Viewers are here, yes, to watch me. But they also come to hang out with each other in the chat!
I don’t aspire to be “famous” or an “influencer,” I just want to be a means by which other gamers can connect and make friends (and fill that ever-depleting social need!) while we play Animal Crossing, The Sims, or Stardew Valley together. Sure, the monetary support is helpful, and so very kind. But I plan to use all of that to put right back into the stream so we can have better things for the community as a whole.
I’ve seen a few viewers say that they love the stream because of how welcoming everyone is. I feel the exact same way. I’ve gone in other streams before where I’ll chat something here and there and it scrolls by unnoticed. It’s totally fine, I’m not hurt by it, there’s a lot going on, and it’s easy to miss a few messages. But it’s really just very cool to watch our community go out of their way to check in with each other if they haven’t been around in awhile, and also connect with new first-time viewers.
That’s something I’ll never want to lose. The best part of the stream is the connection we have with each other both while we’re live, and also while we’re in the Discord channel throughout the day. It’s really fulfilling to hear when other viewers make new friends by being in the stream together.
What fun things have you done on your stream or plan to do in the future?
Since the stream is so young, it’s hard to say. But I love doing silly dress-ups as game characters, community channel point redemptions, and finding other various ways to help viewers on the other side of the screen interact and be part of the stream, too. Anything I can do to encourage and foster that togetherness is something I’ll want to repeat. I’d love to be able to let viewers control most of what goes on in the stream, to again, allow them to do more than just react to the stream, but truly be a part of it.
That’s one of the reasons I really loved doing Dream Address tours in Animal Crossing. We get to highlight other gamers’ hard work and swoon over their talent while we’re live. I’d love to do something like that again soon. That’s also possible in The Sims… building contests, Create A Sim contests, and more. I’d love to highlight other gamers and give their work the attention and praise it deserves on stream.
More multiplayer games where we can bring other viewers in to play along, more Family Feud, more Words on Stream… just giving everyone a chance to make the channel “ours” and not “mine.” 🙂
What advice would you offer a brand new Twitch streamer?
The best thing I think a new streamer can do is network with other streamers of similar size. For example, a few times now, I’ve been raided by someone with ~30-40 viewers. A lot of them tend to hang on for about another hour or more, and about 15-20 of them usually follow! So that’s always huge for those of us just starting out.
But the reason that happened was because one night – when I wasn’t streaming – I went shopping for other streamers… sorted views from low-to-high, found someone playing games similar to what I play, and we clicked immediately and became friends right off the bat. I was super active in her chat, made a couple of friends, and she eventually asked me if I streamed. I told her I did, so she “shouted me out” in her chat and told her community to go follow me. The next day when I was streaming, one of those new friends raided me.
That’s happened more than once, now.
But, it’s not always that easy. Sometimes you find people who aren’t a lot like you, which then in turn indicates their audience might not be as interested in you, so it’s just not a good fit. Sometimes you find people whose values don’t align with yours, and their viewership wouldn’t have a lot of crossover, either. And other times, you might find someone who’s a lot like you, but plays completely different games. Another not-as-good crossover. Because while those people will possibly like my personality and sit through the raid for the night, they probably won’t return to the stream again.
It’s all about finding a small “stream team” of sorts full of people with similar humor, gameplay, and values.
Another thing I’ve noticed is sticking with one specific game for a good bit if you find traction with it. Like, if you notice you get a good amount of viewers and followers from playing The Sims, stick with that game for a few more days so you can grow your Sims audience. I’ve really found that people come for the game but stay for the streamer. So once you build up a nice little following and get some good viewer numbers, you can more safely switch to different games and not notice a huge drop in followers or viewership.
When it comes to the self-promotion part, which I’m extremely uncomfortable with, but am pushing through… I’ve noticed that utilizing good and accurate hashtags on Instagram/Twitter have brought a lot of new friends to my channel, too. People are very active on social media, and a lot of people follow certain hashtags, which is great when you’re starting with a new account and consistently use similar hashtags to help people find your content.
I’ve found friends from using the #animalcrossing hashtag, the #gamergirl hashtag (for viewers who are very passionate about women supporting other women), and the #twitch hashtags. People following the Twitch-related hashtags are already active Twitch users and will be more likely to give you a chance.
Also, setting up a Discord server early on is a great idea, too. Even if there are only like… 3 people in it at first, keep chugging along. If you build it, they’ll come. Fostering the community when you’re offline is extremely important to getting people to come back to the stream a second, third, fourth… etc. times. 🙂 It also helps your viewers form relationships with each OTHER rather than just with the streamer. Also very important.
In the same vein, once you get your Discord channel going, it’s a good idea to keep your community posted and informed about when you’re going live – early and often – so they can make plans to attend the stream. My best attendance rates are when I’ve promoted the upcoming stream early in the morning the day of the stream, and then again about an hour before, and then one last time as soon as I go live (5 minutes before I actually go live – with a Starting Soon screen).
It’s really good to have a few faithful viewers join the stream as soon as it starts. It’s really REALLY good for the Twitch algorithm to have early engagement. Twitch will definitely favor you on the “browse” or “recommended channels” sections if you have early and frequent engagement in chat.
The biggest tip is to be prepared and ready to go as soon as you begin the stream. Sitting idle and quiet onscreen, scrolling through your phone, trying to navigate your streaming software, answering *phone calls on stream* (yes, I’ve seen that), when you don’t have many viewers is not favored by Twitch.
The worst thing you can do is have solid radio silence. It causes a high “bounce rate” for new first-time viewers. If you’re sitting on stream for 2 or 3 minutes and haven’t said anything, those new viewers assume the stream is, for lack of a better word, “boring” or “inactive.”
Take a look at some articles online for best practices for your niche – time zones, game category, length of stream, the time you go live… all of these matter greatly when you’re first starting out. People are willing to give smaller streamers a chance when their favorite large streamers haven’t begun their stream yet, or have already logged off for the day. Morning streams, or late night streams are the best to get new viewership and new followers.
Thank you, Sophi. You’re an Inspiration to us all!
Follow Sophi at all the usual suspects…