How to stream on Twitch: top LGBT+ Rainbow Arcade streamers share tips on getting started
Twitch was already pretty huge before the pandemic, but since coronavirus hit the platform has grown exponentially, meaning there are a lot of new, novice users asking questions like “how do I stream?”
The popular online platform – owned by Amazon – is a go-to solution for people looking to stream content live to an audience. Though it became popular with gamers, it’s now full of content from drag performers, to artists, musicians and more.
It’s become a central part of lockdown entertainment for many people, with even more looking to start their own channel. You can also share your favourite content with host mode, which gives you the ability to host another channel’s live broadcast, or send viewers to another stream when you finish with a raid – a great way to share your audience with other streamers.
But what with so much to learn about Twitch, how do you get started with it?
One way to dip your toe into the fast-moving stream (see what we did there) is to join up with a team of like-minded people aiming for a common goal. Rainbow Arcade are a good example, comprising a diverse mix of LGBT+ streamers. The team not only shares audiences, but tips and support, and often joins forces for special events and charity fundraisers.
So how do you stream and find an audience on Twitch? We spoke with members of Rainbow Arcade to get their top tips.
Be active in the community
The most important piece of advice is not to stream in a vacuum. As a Twitch streamer you’re joining a community of others who you can learn from and grow with, not compete against.
“Being a part of other communities will help you to learn what you want to do and what you don’t want to do,” says J0hnJ0hnn. “You’ll passively start to learn how streamers balance the interactions vs. the content they’re providing.”
Says TopazTVee: “First, check out other communities that interest you and become a member and participate! Community engagement and knowing that there are people out there just like me is the best part to me, even before actually being a streamer.”
A big part of finding that community is by reaching out on social media, which can lead to growth on your own channel. Jeff Brutlag explains: “Make use of other social media platforms! Most of my growth has come through Twitter, as well as by networking with other streamers who end up liking my content enough to introduce their communities to me.”
Another tip is to focus on supporting others and they may support you in return.
“Try not to compare yourself with your peers!” says Project Ruby. “At one point or another you might feel like everyone else is doing better than you, but what works for some might not work for you and your community.”
Says Go_JG: “Raise up other voices and make sure your voice is also worth being raised up. Support other’s joy and not just because you want something in return.”
What’s more, it’s a great way to make friends who can provide invaluable support. “It’s so easy to feel alone in the streaming world, especially when you’re just starting out,” says drag artist AmethystMillennia. “Finding other people who are in the same boat as you goes a long way.”
Once you’re streaming online, it’s imperative that regular viewers know when to expect you. So create a schedule and be consistent in your streams. It will help to build your brand and show your commitment, with consistency more important than frequency.
“My biggest tip, aside from understanding why you want to start streaming, is to be consistent,” says J0hnJ0hnn. “Set a schedule for yourself early on. It helps you to get in the rhythm and also helps your community know when to expect you.”
Art streamer SpookyDraws suggests being flexible in the early days. “I would suggest a casual schedule at the beginning of your stream journey, with a couple of streaming categories to build consistency (aka MMO games, Just Chatting and Art). Once you realise what’s working for you, try to refine that schedule and content and stay consistent.”
It’s important not to overdo it though: look after yourself first and foremost and don’t risk burnout.
Curate your own community
Creating your own Twitch stream means creating your own space on the platform. That means you need to curate the community you want to attract, as much as the content you portray. And remember: you are responsible for maintaining that community.
“One thing that’s unique about Twitch is that it’s interactive and engaging, which is something I personally try to include in games I play or conversations I have, by actively including viewers,” says Sealburn. “Talking with people as a streamer is usually a new experience for a lot of us and I definitely took tips from other communities as I met more people.”
“Have a brief idea of what type of stream/community you’re building and what you yourself enjoy,” advises drag streamer Dona Tarte. “If you’re building a safe space within the LGBT+ community, make sure you are aware of specific rules, terminology and accessibility that will make everyone feel welcome and able to enjoy your streams.”
It’s best to do this right from the start, as Go_JG says: “Do not allow any sort of bad behaviour. The longer you allow it to stand the more it will fester and grow rotten.”
Sometimes that means making hard decisions. Spookydraws says: “Don’t be afraid of timing out or banning if people cross the line. Everyone in the chat is representative of your community so if you build it with a bunch of edgelords you’ll probably attract more edgelords and not enjoy your community as much. So don’t be shy, use the banhammer!”
There are so many people on Twitch it may seem hard to stand out. But remember, you are unique.
“Don’t feel like you have to change,” says TopazTVee. “Be you and you will find the people who are meant to be a part of your journey and they will find you and love you for YOU.”
As Cheratomo notes, you should experiment and find your voice. “Take the time to discover what streaming means for you first, instead of following what other people say you need to do for growth,” she says. “That can come after you know what you want your stream to be.”
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Drag streamer SierraxMyst echoes that sentiment: “It takes time to find your stride and get into your own rhythm, but always do what feels most authentic. You will go through transformations, change content, schedules, emotes, overlays but always make sure it is authentic for yourself. A community will feel that authenticity and stay for it above everything else.”
Take a deep breath, and dive in
Above all, Twitch is a platform for having fun and enjoying yourself. Of course, it’s normal to be nervous putting yourself out there in front of a live audience. As Sealburn notes: “The nerves of hitting ‘Go Live’ are completely normal and it’s kind of like jumping into a cold pool, eventually you jump in. I recall sitting at my desk for 30+ minutes delaying myself from going live just because of pure nervousness but everyone goes through it, whether they’re just starting out or veteran streamers.”
“One thing I have picked up is that viewers can sense when you are uncomfortable or not enjoying yourself,” says Dona Tarte. “There will be times you’ll need to push through but truly do what you love and that will attract the right type of viewership!”
So if you’re considering starting your own Twitch channel, just do it. As Jeff Brutlag sums up:
“There’s an audience out there for most types of content you will want to create, so decide what kinds of games/content you would enjoy streaming most, figure out what kind of community you want to foster, and have fun. That’s it: that’s really all you need.”