Starting something new always means that you will have to learn, improvise and adapt to a new environment and unfamiliar situations. Creating content is no different and there’s not much out there to prepare you for the reality of it. If you are a viewer you won’t know the day to day grind of a YouTuber, since everything that’s happening behind the scenes is not shown. Heck, even if you are a content creator for a good while now, you are probably still discovering things that you’d wish someone told you about a long time ago.
If you’re lucky and you have friends who are streamers or YouTubers as well, you can sometimes hear stories from the front line and prepare yourself for what’s to come. But not everyone has that comfort. That’s why I prepared a list of things that I wish I had known when I just started out as a gaming influencer.
1. Nothing will ever be perfect (and that’s ok)
When some people start their channel they want everything to be perfect. They spend weeks preparing themselves, getting the right gear, thinking about software, trying to make their channel amazing. That’s all right, but the reality is that it will never be perfect.
No matter how hard you try, no matter how much you read and learn, no matter how much money you invest in your gaming setup. It will never be perfect and it will never be 100% the way you expect it to be.
When you’re starting out it’s impossible to know everything, including where your channel will go and how it will evolve. It’s also really hard to anticipate what will work for you. So that overlay you just got? You will probably find a better one and change it in a month or 2. That logo? It will get old and you will update it anyway. That super special game you waited for the last 2 months, so you can finally start your channel? Good chance is you will play it twice and move on. And who said that you need that expensive camera to start with your channel?
Don’t get me wrong here, it’s great to prepare before jumping into something new. It’s the right thing to do. But if you have a choice between giving something a go, seeing how you like it and waiting for the right gear/time/game to play you should never wait — just do it. See what happens and improve as you go.
2. IT issues happen, so get a backup plan
There is nothing worse for a streamer than an unexpected problem during a live stream. That’s why you should always have a ‘Be right back’ screen, so you can have a second to think and fix whatever is wrong.
There is nothing worse for a YouTuber than a dead PC on the day when your weekly video should be up. That’s why you should always have a few pre-uploaded videos just in case, so you can push them to live from your phone.
Backup plans are incredibly important for any content creator. Try and think about all the things that can go wrong. Don’t stress it, just give it a quick 5–10 minute consideration. Think about all the live fails you saw and how bad they were. How do you make sure it won’t happen to you? What do you think can break/stop working/go horribly wrong? How can you prevent that?
Having a backup plan is the greatest thing you can do for yourself. It will give you some peace of mind and save you lots of stress when something will finally happen (and believe me, it eventually will). So get ready for it.
3. Trolls, trolls everywhere
You may not even take this into consideration when you start creating videos or stream, but sooner or later you will get trolls. It’s inevitable. There’s nothing you can do to completely stop it. They will appear at some point and it’s up to you to handle it swiftly and not let it ruin your day.
Now, you may not think it’s a big deal for you. Fair enough, skip this one then.
But sometimes trolls can get under your skin. Someone is saying they donated to you on Twitch, but you didn’t set up any donation service? A person dug out your full address and it’s spamming it in chat? A user with multiple accounts is harassing you? Knowing how to handle them, ignore them or ban them (and how to do it exactly) can be such a helpful thing when it finally happens to you. If you are not sure how to ban, timeout, delete malicious comments, protect your personal data — do quick research the best practices your social media platform.
Also — try to read about common trolling tactics, so you can identify any potential problem faster. You can read about common issues (not only trolling related) on Twitch in here and Youtube here and learn how to handle it efficiently.
4. Getting viewers is harder than you think (and it takes way longer than you would like)
YouTube or Twitch channel to can take forever to build. Some channels will take months to get subscribers and followers. Some take years. Some will never make it past few views here and there.
It’s easy to fall into a ‘If I will just go out there, put some videos on, stream a bit I will go viral!’ mindset. It happened to other people, so it will happen to us too, right? Well…nope. There’s no guarantee for that. It is actually very unlikely.
But there are things you can do to help your channel grow. Creating and uploading content is only the most basic of things that you can do and you should definitely not stop there. Do networking, start hanging out in other channels, write comments on other content, co-create a video with someone, play with other streamers, ask people for feedback and improve your channel, be active on social media… It’s only the tip of an iceberg, but it’s a start. Find a way of reaching people that work for you and don’t wait for it to happen overnight.
5. Don’t be afraid of change
Your channel, content and you yourself will evolve with time. You can start with creating content around a single game and at some point, you will decide that it’s time to move on and introduce new games to the mix. You can go from daily live streaming to uploading weekly videos because your schedule changed. You can change your branding at some point. It’s ok.
This is very important to remember all this because your community may not always be supportive of everything that you want or need to do with your channel. You can’t please everyone and if you do something big and bold you may lose some followers or viewers in the process. Or you can gain new ones, you never know. Changing things can scary and exciting at the same time, but if there’s a reason — go for it.
A small extra: Take breaks or it will break you
Sometimes it can feel like creating gaming content is a super demanding 24/7 job with no holidays, no time for social life and no sick leave. Your deadlines are tight, you need to engage with your community all the time, network, email people…and you get more and more tired until you can’t do it anymore.
Ideally, you should manage your schedule, expectations, and content, so this never happens to you. If you don’t take any time off and burn out it is very likely that you will just abandon your channel at some point. Short term gain in views or followers is not worth the long-term consequences.
You need to understand that you are your channel. If you are tired or sick you will be unable to produce quality content. Take good care of yourself and remember that you, your body and mind, are the most important part of your channel that you should take care of. Not your gaming mouse, microphone or PC. Those things can be replaced. Your sanity, enthusiasm, and health on the other hand? Not so much.
Is there anything else you wish someone had told you before you became a streamer or YouTuber? Share the knowledge in the comments and help out other content creators out there.