Sweet Anita has Tourette syndrome. She’ll let you know that right away. Indeed, it’s this fact about her that draws many people into her stream on Twitch — at least initially. A clip of Anita’s tics will show up on Instagram or TikTok, prompting a new viewer to tune in live. They arrive hoping to see more Tourette-fueled absurdity. Instead, they are treated to thoughtful conversations, lots of laughs and a truly supportive community.
Recently, we had the pleasure of chatting with Sweet Anita about her experience and success as a streamer. Throughout our conversation, she unpacked her thoughtful approach to streaming and making a living on Twitch. Here’s what we learned.
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USER CREATED: Oct 21, 2018
How Sweet Anita arrived on Twitch
Before starting her career as a streamer in 2018, Sweet Anita supported herself. She ran a small business collecting and selling sea glass and helped run several animal rescues. At the same time, she maintained a productive garden while also caring full time for her mother. In her limited free time, Anita turned to online gaming as a way to connect with others.
“Twitch sort of just sucked me in,” Anita says, recalling the early days of her stream. She explains that she never intended to turn Twitch into her job. She only started using the platform so that she could play games and interact with more people. Even before streaming, her chattiness and sense of humor were beginning to attract a following. Veteran streamers took note of Anita’s engaging personality and encouraged her to give streaming a shot. In the end, however, Anita’s mainly used Twitch to game with groups larger than her limited six-player Overwatch team.
Now, with around 1.8 million followers on Twitch, Anita sees this casual beginning as a major factor in her long-term success as a Twitch streamer. “Things go much better on a live platform if you don’t take it too seriously,” Anita explains. According to her, your focus during a stream should be on enjoying yourself and connecting with people. As Anita observes, “When you become distracted by other goals and stats, your audience picks up on that.”
How to bring value to your audience
Rather than invent a scheme to boost views or attract more followers, Anita chooses to focus on providing value to her viewers. She believes this is the key to building a sustainable career as a streamer. “People aren’t looking to be your follower,” Anita observes. “People aren’t looking to boost your stats. They’re looking to connect with you.” She goes on to point out the unfortunate irony for those who stream solely for money or fame: “People who want to become big are infatuated with the stats, and that’s what’s going to stop them from ever growing.”
Because she doesn’t allow herself to fixate on stats, Anita can focus on connecting with fans on a human level. “I try to get people thinking in ways that will improve their life,” says Anita, “not in a preachy way. I just hang out and talk about my day, and I don’t have to sweat it too much.” She emphasizes the off-the-cuff nature of her streams as their main appeal. “If it’s too constructed,” she says, “it puts a barrier between you and your viewer.”
What does Sweet Anita talk about?
While initially focused on gaming, Anita has allowed her stream to evolve naturally over the years. She integrates gaming with workout routines, challenges and simply chatting with her viewers. She often allows the viewers in chat to influence the direction and content of the stream. “I don’t want people to just come and watch me,” she tells us, “I want people to come and connect.”
For Anita, this ability to chat directly with her audience is what gives livestreaming its unique appeal. “What makes a stream a good stream is when people feel involved,” she says. “You could work on a potato camera and still be very successful.” Indeed, Anita’s setup has come together piecemeal. That’s in no small part thanks to her fans and fellow streamers. Some have generously donated both time and gear to bring Anita’s steam up to the quality we see today. However, since Anita’s goal is to engage with her audience, it really doesn’t matter what gear she uses to produce her streams. Her success as a streamer came prior to any camera upgrade.
Streaming with Tourette syndrome
Sweet Anita doesn’t try to hide the fact that she has Tourette syndrome. In Anita’s case, this neurological disorder causes her to blurt out surprising and often inappropriate phrases. By definition, these outbursts, which can also include offensive gestures, are outside of Anita’s control. Personified as “Terrence,” Anita’s condition is an unavoidable part of her life, so of course, it shows up in her streams as well. It’s caused her some controversy over the years, but in the end, Twitch recognizes Tourette syndrome as a disability and doesn’t take issue with Sweet Anita’s involuntarily vulgar language. In any case, this is why her stream is explicitly stated to be for mature audiences only.
At the same time, Anita is careful not to let Terrence steal her spotlight. This can be an uphill battle. “When people start to notice you, no matter what content you bring to the table, people are going to remember you for your condition,” Anita explains. No matter what she does, Anita knows that some people will try to reduce her achievements to “Tourette’s girl did thing.”
“I can’t fix society,” she acknowledges, “I can’t change the fact that they’re gonna really notice my condition. So I sit there and think, ‘How could I benefit from this?’ And the way that I have decided to benefit from it is to trick people.” In other words, Anita has found a way to transform this obstacle into an opportunity.
Making clips work for her
Because of her condition, it’s common for people to clip Sweet Anita’s Twitch streams, fixating specifically on her most outrageous tics. Anita has seen many of these sensationalized video clips go viral across the internet, bringing a lot of new eyes to her streams on Twitch. Rather than try to stop these clips from surfacing, Anita has decided to take charge of the situation and release clips of her own:
“If I’m the one releasing it, I’m the one who benefits. If other people are releasing those clips, then they’re capitalizing off my condition, and that feels weird.”
By releasing her own clips, Anita gets to take charge of her narrative and the way her tics are presented to unfamiliar viewers. Her strategy is simple: turn people’s natural curiosity about Tourette syndrome to her advantage. Anita explains it this way: “If people laugh at one of my tics, they come and check out my channel. And they’ve been duped into thinking that they’re going to come have a laugh at a girl who says lots of inappropriate words. And what they actually get is a Ted Talk on, you know, animal biology, or human psychology or how to cope with certain mental conditions and things like this.”
It’s clear Anita finds this aspect of her career as a Twitch streamer especially rewarding. “I get to dazzle people with a deep conversation they weren’t expecting,” she says. “And it’s really working for me because now I have a massive community of people who’ve taken on new ideas, connected with each other, thrived, gotten through some things, and that’s what I’ve wanted to do with my content all along.”
Sweet Anita meets people where they are
Making and sharing funny clips of herself has become a cornerstone of Sweet Anita’s streaming strategy. Shorter, high-impact clips might end up on her Instagram or TikTok feeds. Longer clips work best on YouTube. “I decide based on the attention span of the platform,” Anita explains.
For instance, Anita’s YouTube channel is like a distilled version of her stream. The intent is primarily to entertain. Uploads include lighthearted content, like Anita taking driving lessons or attempting viral challenges. However, she’ll still sneak a message in for those who want to hear it. She says, of the clips that make it to YouTube, “Sometimes it’s to indulge people’s curiosity about my condition and other times it’s to nudge them in the right direction.”
Like her Twitch stream, Anita’s clips and videos on YouTube address all sorts of topics, from gaming to mental health to relationships. And she doesn’t shy away from controversy if what she has to say is something people need to hear. For instance, she doles out dating advice in her video “I Dated a Simp.” The message of the video comes down to the very reasonable “you can’t negotiate affection,” but it still earned Anita a wave of hate.
Anita also uses her YouTube channel specifically to address the most common questions posed in chat. “The YouTube channel helps me save my breath,” Anita reflects. Having a Q&A playlist ready to go when these questions come up means Anita can continue to evolve her content without having to repeat herself or focus exclusively on her condition. This approach helps her keep both her viewers and herself engaged and interested in her stream.
Behind the scenes: the Sweet Anita team
Anita doesn’t attempt to take on all of this on her own. With a half dozen different platforms to maintain, she relies on a team of editors and social media managers to keep up with her posting schedule. Anita provides her team with a direction and they execute her vision. And of course, she still has final approval over any content going out. Handing off some of these responsibilities allows Anita to live a life outside of Twitch and social media.
“I don’t do the editing myself,” she tells us, “I don’t think there’d be enough time in the world for that.” On top of hosting her streams and keeping up with her fans, Anita is still a full-time caregiver for her mom. That’s not to mention the menagerie of rescue animals Anita continues to look after, as well.
She does have some advice for creators looking to expand their production team. “Don’t hire friends,” Anita insists. “Get people involved who have experience and understand what to do.” She says an experienced team of professionals is vital for getting things done efficiently and avoiding resentment.
It’s all about connection
Sweet Anita values the connections she has cultivated within her community, but at the same time, she recognizes the limits of that kind of intimacy. As much as she enjoys spotting a familiar name in the comments or sharing an inside joke, Anita understands, “It can’t be like that for thousands of people.” However, she has found other ways to connect with and give back to her community. “What can happen is you start to build a close-knit community of people who feel connected to something.”
For Anita, that community congregates on Discord. Even with tens of thousands of members, Anita calls the Sweet Anita Discord server a haven. It’s a place where her viewers can make friends and support each other. “They really love each other there and look after each other,” Anita tells us, “and it wouldn’t be that if I were just ignoring chat.”
At the same time, Anita cautions her fans about becoming too attached to her. “I don’t really want to be an inspiration if I’m honest with you,” Anita says. She even gives talks on her streams about recognizing parasocial relationships and healthier ways to combat loneliness. Above all, Anita wants to avoid exploiting her audience and their attention. She feels it would be unfair to simply take from them without providing something in return.
“A bad streamer will try to get something out of their audience,” she says, “and good streamers will try to figure out every day what they can give to their audience.” That’s another reason Discord has become such a fixture in Anita’s life: “It’s genuinely a huge opportunity to give back to the most dedicated people in your community.”
How Sweet Anita makes a living
Sweet Anita keeps it simple when it comes to earning a living on Twitch. Rather than rush to sign up for every new revenue source, Anita focuses on providing value to her audience. Her main income sources include ad revenue and stream donations. “I try to focus on making that worthwhile,” Anita explains, “If I start a Patreon, and I had nothing to offer people who signed up for my Patreon, it would just look like I was just grabbing for money and begging, rather than actually providing anything.”
This emphasis on quality is integral to Anita’s overall business strategy, and she encourages aspiring streamers and videos creators to take note. “It’s not about how many different revenue streams. It’s about the quality you provide,” Anita reminds us.
Sweet Anita’s advice for creators
As we concluded our conversation, Anita had some final advice for fellow creators. “A really good idea, if you’re going to become a content creator, is to not look to other people for inspiration,” Anita says, reflecting again her desire to avoid becoming a role model. She reminds new streamers to focus instead on what they personally can offer potential viewers.
“It’s not about how well you can play the game. It’s not about how expensive your camera is. It’s literally what uniquely do you have to offer people,” she concludes. “I think that’s the most important question you got to ask yourself as a content creator. And it’s the one that will take you the furthest.”