In a nutshell
- The best tip to give a Twitch streamer looking to branch out is to brace for a drop in viewership
- Twitch’s category system makes it hard for streamers to make it big in new categories
- To lower the blow to your revenue when switching games, diversify your revenue sources
At first glance, one might think Twitch is the best platform for new streamers. It’s the biggest streaming platform and easily clocks in the most watch time — with YouTube Gaming coming in at a distant second. However, in truth, Twitch isn’t that friendly to streamers starting out. While Twitch may have more viewers than any other streaming platform, most of those viewers go to the platform’s top creators. This makes it extremely hard for small streamers to build a following and branch out into other sectors of Twitch when they do find their audience.
Since Twitch breaks streamers into categories based on their content type, it’s hard for new streamers and those looking to branch out on Twitch and gain an audience in multiple categories. This is because viewers will flock to the streamers highest in that category’s directory. So, for games like VALORANT, Fornite, Grand Theft Auto V and League of Legends, it will be almost impossible for new streamers and streamers branching out to compete in this category.
So, what do you do?
The best tip we can give to Twitch streamers wanting to build an audience in a new category is to not play games that are already popular. Play games that are just about to be popular. Be one of the few streamers playing that game. That way you will be one of the only options to watch when the game eventually blows up. Games like Among Us and Dead by Daylight built up many smaller streamers when the games first became popular. Now, it would be next to impossible to blow up while playing either game. So, while those ships have sailed, there’s always another uncovered gem ready to blow up on Twitch; you just have to find it.
For those looking to branch out after already establishing their following, it’s a bit trickier. To minimize the potential viewership loss, it’s best to switch to a game slowly. And try to choose one that’s still in your community’s interests. For instance, if you’re known for playing Fortnite, switching over to Apex or Valorant isn’t as big of a stretch as switching over to Super Smash Brothers Ultimate. No matter how big you are, expect a viewership drop when you switch games. Viewership loss will vary, but losing up to 70 percent of your audience isn’t out of the question. This is why many streamers wait until they have a massive audience. That way, when they switch categories, they can still support themselves.
What does this mean for variety streaming?
It’s a dream of most streamers to make it big doing whatever they want on Twitch. After all, playing the same game for years and years non-stop doesn’t sound like a fun time. However, to be frank, making it as a variety streamer today is extremely hard. There are no tips or tricks that will make it any easier on Twitch streamers looking to break away from their breakout game. Twitch’s variety streamers have already been established and those looking for variety content will almost always go to them.
The only realistic way to make it as a variety streamer on Twitch is to start as a one-game Andy, and build an audience in that game’s community. Then you can eventually break away to another game when your channel is big enough to withstand a massive blow to your viewership. The drop happens because while many viewers stay because they like the streamer as a whole, a majority stay because they like the streamer when they’re playing that one specific game. It’s a scary thought going from 10K viewers to 3K viewers overnight, but it’s a reality even bigger streamers face if they want to break into variety.
Can you still make a living with fewer views?
Of course you can. You just have to ensure that you have a big enough community. However, that’s admittedly easier said than done, especially if Twitch is your full-time career. Streamers who rely on the viewership they get to pay their bills need to be very careful when switching. You want to make sure switching is also a smart business decision. The last thing you want is to lose so much income that you can no longer support yourself.
Some tips for streamers looking to mix things up
Soften the financial blow of losing revenue on Twitch. This allows you more freedom to do what you want on Twitch. You can earn money elsewhere as a creator. Posting content to places like YouTube enables you to have another income source. Also, Patreon lets your community donate to support you across platforms. Also, be sure to make your personality and brand the forefront of your stream. More people will stick around for you and less for the game you’re playing. Also, build genuine relationships with other streamers by collaborating. They can introduce you to their game’s community.
Keep working on your community, and while it may be a long road ahead, don’t lose hope.