One of the most common pieces of advice given to many aspiring creators is to be consistent. David Cherry, who goes by DataDave online, streams six days a week while also having a full-time job as a college professor. His content covers the gambit, ranging from video game playthroughs and movie discussions to everyday life musings. That’s all to the delight of his continually growing audience. We talked with Dave about how he has managed to grow such a loyal audience while also managing a full-time career in education.

DataDave Twitch thumbnail

Followers: 62.6K
Uploads: 387
Video views: 501,593
Content type: Gaming

User created: Sep 10th, 2016

All about DataDave

Dave is currently a Twitch streamer, voice-over artist and college professor. His streams, much like his life, vary from day to day. He describes, “we’re experiencing video games together, cracking some jokes here and there. Sometimes we’re doing some highly competitive games where we all could play together … and other times, even off the stream, we’re just watching it and just joining the movie together.”

“It’s not only me being the entertainment, but the entertainment comes from me with the community and the community engaging with you. So welcome to the community,” David shares.

Creating community

Dave’s audience flocks to his channel to connect with him. They also join the community that he facilitates. Many of his streams are conversational and will focus on any audience member’s recommendations. When he’s not streaming or teaching, Dave’s working as a voice artist. His voice has been featured in commercials, indie games and audiobooks. Very much like how he got into streaming, his interest was piqued by someone in his community.

He recalls, “I’ve been [voice acting] for three, almost four years. I got interested in it. I heard one streamer did it, and I’m like, ‘That seems cool, let me get into it.’ I just love to learn. If I get interested in something, [I want to learn about it].” Dave has been coached by Gary L. Gray, Melanie Chartoff and more. He works with these coaches actively because he ultimately wants to pursue voice acting full time.

Aside from Twitch and teaching, Dave also has a
successful as a voice actor.

Life before Twitch

Dave was first introduced to streaming during his time as a Ph.D. graduate student. After graduating from Morehouse College with a degree in computer science, his advisers suggested he go for a graduate degree. Dave details, “And I (was) like, ‘Sure, why not?’ You know the Ph.D., I knew that would get paid if I went that route. And if I didn’t really care for it, I would get a Master’s along the way. I decided to walk with my Master’s.” During this program, Dave taught as a teaching assistant, spending most of his time in class doing research.

Dave recalls, “And then just through happenstance, one of my students mentioned a video game to me, and I was playing a video game with my homie, and he’s like, ‘My friend’s streaming.’ And I’m like, ‘Streaming, what’s that?'”

First livestream

With his equipment all set, DataDave went live with his first stream. He played an indie game recommended by his student called “Undertale” (2015). “I streamed, and I got literally one viewer. He came in there, and I was just streaming and chatting, and I’m like, ‘I have no idea where to go.’ So he helped me get through the stage and stuff, and then before you knew it, we just started talking about shows, gaming [and] what else to play.” After all the fun he experienced during his first stream, Dave sought to do it again the next day. After that, he met someone else online and continued. “… and then before you knew it, call me wild, I streamed … roughly 380 days straight,” Dave reveals.

After six months of streaming, DataDave was partnered on Twitch. He admits, “I was just streaming saying, ‘This is fun.’ Then I got partnered, and I’m like, ‘Wait, I’m getting a little money from this.’ So it just kept building up, building up, until it became something that plays a daily role in my life, from sponsors to streaming games to meeting all these people. So it just kind of trickled in, and I just kept it.”

Today Dave streams consistently on Twitch, with over 60K followers and utilizes his YouTube channel as a home for livestream clips, sketches and YouTube Shorts. Also, he leverages TikTok to further grow his Twitch audience. However, his primary platform is Twitch.

Dave built his streaming setup from the ground up, starting with what he could afford and upgrading as he gain a larger following.

Livestream setup

Commenting on his livestream setup, Dave admits, “… it’s nice to have the flashy stuff and the lighting. It looks good, but in all honesty, this is [extra] stuff. I’ve been streaming for about five and a half years. … I’ve gotten [most of my equipment] over the past two to three years.” Recalling when he first streamed, Dave stresses the idea that you don’t necessarily need fancy gear to make it: “When I got partnered, I was staying at my mom’s place at the time; I streamed off her couch in the basement when I was visiting. So it’s nice to have, but not really needed.”

He elaborates, “You don’t necessarily need a webcam. Personally, I like watching streams with people with a webcam because I can see them. I can see their reactions, et cetera. But you don’t necessarily need it. Some people stream with virtual avatars (VTubers), and it works for them, but really all you need is just a computer and free software called OBS to screen capture, and that’s really it. Ideally, [you should have] a microphone because you want to talk to chat and such. [But] a webcam, that’s your choice.”

Audience engagement

Dave focuses on interacting and engaging with his viewers while on stream.

Growing your audience online can be challenging, mainly because people typically don’t know who their audience is. That’s why DataDave’s audience is so loyal. He takes the time to engage and get to know who his audience is.

“I generally have a lot of interests. I can find an interest in most things,” Dave shares. Continuing, he says, “I don’t know anything about ballet, but if I met somebody and they do ballet, I’m going to be like, ‘Cool, why do you like it? Tell me about it.’ I just want to know; I’m just interested in what are you interested in.”

Dave continues, “… that’s one reason I feel like I’m good at it. This is why I encourage anyone that says, ‘Maybe, I’m not sure if I could do that. I’m not used to it.’ It’s like, ‘Just try it.’ When I first started streaming, I’m like, ‘I’m talking to one person; what do I talk about?’ So I’m like, ‘I’ll talk about whatever.’ And somebody might chime in. So I’ve gotten much better at it because I’ve done it so much. It just helps for me that I’m kind of the person that [says], ‘Tell me about it, I want to hear. I’m interested.'”

DataDave, the college professor

In addition to being a partnered streamer, Dave has a full-time job as a college professor teaching at a university. While many may think streaming would distract from his full-time job, it doesn’t. During his time as streaming as a Ph.D. student, Dave adopted several productive disciplines to help him manage his time well.

He reflects, “I loved streaming. I want to stream six to eight hours a day. Well, I can’t do that if I’m not on my stuff. And that made me be like, ‘I’m really going to stay on my stuff because I really want to do this.’ Because anything I slack on during school, [means] less time to stream or I can’t stream. Dave made sure to carve out time in his schedule to study, which helped him develop his time management skills, “I want to make sure I stick to my own schedule to be able to stream — to do what I enjoy.”

Dave says that if you truly love to do something, you will find a way to do it, “If you enjoy something and you also make money from it, or you just love doing it, you’re going to find ways to overcome so you can do what you want to do.” For Dave, his passion is content creation.

For the most part, Dave keeps his streaming life and his work life relatively separate. While he doesn’t advertise to his colleagues or students that he streams, he’s aware that there will be occasions when these two worlds collide. On his first day of teaching, Dave recalls, “I’m walking in on my first day; I see a student, he says ‘DataDave?’ And I was like, ‘Who are you?’ Turns out, two to three weeks prior, he was actually one of the viewers that were helping me navigate [a] game [on stream] because he was interested in getting it.”

Unexpected growth

It turns out that the largest area of growth DataDave has experienced hasn’t been online. He expresses that becoming a streamer has allowed him to grow as a person. He shares, “… six years ago, not being a streamer … I didn’t know too many people, and I just kind of kept to myself. [During my time at grad school,] I would just mind my business, really.” Today, Dave has met and befriended many streamers and audience members.

Dave, who identifies as an LGBTQIA+ person, was worried about coming out to his audience. He shares how hard it was to come out to his audience: “… [I was] terrified of coming out to my own family. It’s like, ‘Am I about to lose my entire audience coming out?'” When Dave did come out, he was met with love and affirmations from his community. He recalls coming out to one of his streamer friends, “I told one of my streamer friends, like, ‘Hey, so I put this on Twitter, I came out, hopefully, we good.’ He’s like, ‘Dave … what game are you streaming today?’ Like, it’s that kind of love, like, ‘Bro, I don’t care. I’m still your friend.'”

Dave credits his growth to his audience showing him continued support, mentioning, “Those interactions, thought, support, the kindness. I think that has made me a much better person: being outgoing [and being] ambitious for things I want to go for … communities do really support the streamer. The people’s support is real.”

Advice for creators

Many believe the path to growth is high-quality equipment, but Dave advises against waiting until you have the latest tech to get started. For Dave, he started with a pretty poor laptop, a cheap microphone and an equally cheap webcam. However, he was still able to find success and become a Twitch partner. “This [new tech] is great to have — highly recommend — but it’s not needed,” Dave says.

Dave also advises creators to diversify where they post their content. For twitch streamers, it’s hard to drive new audiences to their streams. “To grow on Twitch, you have to grow in other places,” Dave reveals, “like yes, you should be doing Twitch, but you should be doing YouTube and TikTok.”

You don’t need the supercomputer; just stream what you can see how you feel.

Dave advises aspiring creators to just continue to create content and not get discouraged if growth happens slowly. “… Let’s say you do a reaction YouTube video and [get] two new viewers. They think: ‘They’re funny; I’m going to tune into that stream.’ You just got two new viewers that boost your view count, which [as] your view count [gets] higher on Twitch, that makes you more visible in a lot of cases.”

From his experience, the best way to create is to create. Reflecting on creating content for TikTok, he shares, “The funniest part to me is most of my Tiktoks I was like, ‘okay, this is dumb. It’s not going to hit.’ Those have been my most viewed ones. And I’m like, ‘really?’ I honestly think that happens for a lot of people. The stuff you just kind of sitting on or you not going to throw out there, even if it doesn’t hit.”

Taking in the moment

Unlike prerecorded video, livestreaming is all about being in the moment. Dave has found a great deal of growth by embracing the medium as an opportunity to experiment. We’re excited to see where his stream and his passionate community take him.