Should you Stream your Hobby?

For a lot of people, turning their hobby into a career is a distant dream. However, many streamers have managed to achieve just this. Despite making a living from your hobby being your end goal, it should not be where you start. To begin with, it’s important to test the water to see if you enjoy streaming, whether other people enjoy watching you, and if you’re able to maintain the level of consistency required to build an audience.

Stream Anything

People are streaming themselves performing all sorts of activities, from drawing and coloring to playing online poker; the possibilities are virtually endless. A variety of channel types are popular on YouTube, from car channels to gamers. One of the most famous YouTubers is PewDiePie, who gained popularity making videos of himself playing games. 

Below are a few tips to help you if you’re considering getting into streaming, as well as a few points to ponder. 

A growing medium

Watching videos is a growing pastime in most countries, with 85 percent of US internet users watching online content. Saudi Arabia and Turkey have the highest rate, with 95 percent of internet users watching online videos. The introduction of Facebook Live and Instagram Stories also increased the popularity of online videos.

The growing number of people consuming online video content has led to a wealth of material. According to the Influencer Marketing Hub, there are 44 billion minutes of video watched every month on Twitch alone. With over 9 million channels to choose from, it shouldn’t be surprising. Over 20 percent of video watched on Twitch is of eSports. Whether official eSports events or just a gamer streaming their own efforts, people seem to enjoy watching streams of games.  

Get Started

The first, obvious step is to open a Twitch account. Once you have an account, you will need broadcasting software. Thankfully, there are several options available, such as OBS (Open Broadcast Software), XSplit and Gameshow. It’s a good idea to spend a little time familiarising yourself with the software. You can even host some experimental practice streams just so you can make sure everything works as you think it should. Once you’re familiar with the setup and happy your stream is good, then you’re ready to start broadcasting. 

Spread the word

Once you’re up and running, it’s important to spread the word about your channel. You do this by being active on your chosen social channels. A lot of people are currently using a Discord Server to help them build a community too. Interacting with your community will help to get them more heavily invested in your streaming and your success. 

Don’t join every social network there is, as this will spread you too thin. After all, if you’re streaming your hobby, then you want it to remain enjoyable, so stick to the platforms you’re comfortable and familiar with. It’s great to build a global community but over-committing to too many channels can sap the enjoyment from the creative process. 

Vary your content

A big portion of your success will come from being consistent. However, if you stream regularly, you could quickly start running out of ideas. You don’t actually need that many different ideas to keep your content fresh. For example, if you stream your poker playing, then you could also add in an occasional video about your strategy in different scenarios, or even a more basic breakdown of the game for beginners. Your poker vlog will also turn into a record of your own progression.

Don’t worry if you’re not an expert player; people want to watch real people. Be honest if you’re not sure about something. Don’t be afraid to join your viewers on their learning curve. This will help to make you relatable, showing that you have some of the same problems as your viewers. Your community might even help you out and speed up the learning process for you. 

As you delve deeper into the content creation side, you’ll discover lots of new terms and things to learn that you weren’t even aware of before. How deep you go down this rabbit hole is personal preference. Andrew Neeme has written an insightful guide into his own thought processes about his vlog on poker games. While his experience is specific to him, there are lots of points that will apply whether you’re vlogging or streaming about Texas Hold’em, 7 Card Stud, or Omaha Hi/Lo. There are also general tips that will help people considering giving streaming a go, even if their own area of interest isn’t related to poker games or poker related things. 

Do what works for you

You can represent your hobby however you choose. Continuing to use poker as an example, a streamer could choose to stream themselves actually playing or even a split screen of themselves and the game, or simply opt to speak to the camera and start a discussion about related topics with their viewers. Getting your face on camera at some point can be a bonus, as it puts a face to the name for viewers. Even if you decide to diversify a bit and just have a general chat or Q&A session with your viewers, anything that personalizes their experience and humanizes your streams is good. 

Is anything too boring to stream?

While all the numbers mentioned above show how video content is growing in popularity, there is also an increasing number of content creators either just enjoying themselves or trying to cash in on this growing trend. Will this lead to the over-saturation of streaming sites with poor content, which could lead to decent content getting missed amongst the noise?

As with Google, which tries its best to provide the highest quality matches for whatever we search, the streaming sites will always ensure the quality content gains traction over the trash. Modern analytics make it easy for sites to identify content that’s worth the time of their users. If every viewer of a 30-minute video has left within 20 seconds, there’s a pretty good chance the video didn’t grab their attention, isn’t very well made, or simply doesn’t offer what it says it does. 

While there will undoubtedly be an absurd amount of videos uploaded, only producers who prove popular with their audience will gain enough traction to make it worth their while to keep streaming. Of course, some people will stream for their own entertainment as much as other people and, if you love streaming and vlogging your hobby, then why not. One thing the internet has already proven is that there is an audience for nearly everything, even if that audience is sometimes quite small. Nothing is too boring, badly made or wacky; it will find a home somewhere. 

Perhaps more telling for the future of streaming is what’s happening with more mainstream media consumption. According to Forbes, Netflix boasted 125 million subscribers at the end of March 2018, and this is while box office receipts are at three-year lows. Our society is changing how it consumes its entertainment, and the disruption currently happening in the entertainment and gaming industry is probably bigger than we currently realize. It’s hard to gain perspective on the disruption while living through it but, if you were investing in the future, all the signs point towards streaming becoming the main source of entertainment. Whether Hollywood blockbusters or an individual’s poker stream, the cultural shift is becoming increasingly obvious. 

Don’t procrastinate

If you fancy giving streaming a go, then simply do it. You have all the tools you need already, and everything else you might need is free. You can invest in a better webcam with a tripod, fancy lighting, and even a microphone after you’ve learned a few valuable lessons. Most importantly, you’re in control. Whether you stream about coloring or poker, you have nothing to lose by giving it a go.

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