So, you want to be a hero?
I have always wanted to use that tagline from the Quest for Glory series of games (it probably shows my true age), but let’s replace hero, with “Twitch streamer”. In the South African context, this is becoming more prevalent, especially as fibre becomes more readily available all across this beautiful country. I am not going to bore you with information on Twitch, on the off chance that you already have a reasonable grasp on the service. This multi-part series will cover a bunch of topics, challenges or issues, that are mainly unique to streaming from South Africa.
Before we delve into the roller-coaster ride of madness that is, streaming on Twitch, we should start with an obvious introduction. After all, if you are looking for advice on Twitch streaming, you would not take it from someone who just started streaming a week ago, now would you?
I am Sarel “Zaffageek” Steyn, and I started my twitch journey in March 2015 while teaching English in South Korea. A year later I found myself returned to African soil, with a desire to continue streaming and in November of that same year, I threw myself into streaming completely and started my full-time streamer career.
When communities were announced early in 2017, I started the very first South African streaming community called TwitchZA, with the help of a few other like-minded streamers.
Fast-forward another year and I am on the cusp of celebrating my second year of streaming full-time on Twitch. I have learned a lot over the last few years, and I approached Geoff to see if he would be willing to help me share some of these insights with South Africa. Granted, some of these nuggets might seem strange and otherworldly to you, especially when it comes to bit-rate, among other things.
First things first
Why do you want to stream? Do you want internet fame? Do you want to make loads of money? Do you want to share your passion for gaming? There’re a lot of reasons why people start streaming, and, as you will see, there’s no correct answer. Just like the advice I want to share with you here, some of these things I have found to work for me…but they might not necessarily work for you.
If you came here to find the one golden rule for Twitch success, I am sorry to say, that there isn’t one. But do not despair, I have some good news. There are a few things that you should keep in mind when streaming, and these things are echoed across Twitch.
I cannot stress how important this is. If you have a schedule, carve that into stone tablets, go on top of the Twitter mountain and then keep to it. Twitch is a lot like television shows. Viewers tune in regularly and on a set schedule. If your schedule is inconsistent, then people won’t know when to catch your next stream.
“But what if I can only stream twice a week?”
Good question there, Susan. If that’s the case, then you stream twice a week, come hell or high water. However, the more streams you can push out per week, the better it is in the long run. I would recommend at the very least three streams on different days, every week.
Length (avoiding phallic joke at all costs)
How long should your average stream be? There’s no real golden number here, but there is a minimum that I have found works. Your stream should be 2 hours long at the very least, but I would suggest trying to hit the mark somewhere between 4 and 6 hours per stream.
I have had many potential streamers, both local and international, come into my chat and tell me that keeping people entertained for 4 hours is tough, and they wonder how I do it for 8 hours, 5 days a week. In this instance, it’s a case of practice makes perfect. Yes, I lose a lot of energy at about the 6-hour mark, but I have found that if I take a 5-minute break to stretch my legs every 2 hours, I can keep going for a lot longer. In essence, you should try for at least a 2-hour long stream but aim for 4 hours.
What do you need to stream?
This is an easier question to answer. A mid-to-high range PC, a decent internet connection, and some games. Obviously, a Twitch account wouldn’t hurt and a webcam is entirely optional. Oh, and don’t forget a decent microphone. To paraphrase the late TotalBiscuit, “If your audio isn’t good, then people won’t listen to you.”
Now keep in mind that I moved from South Korea back to South Africa, and I still continued to stream. At that time, fibre connections was still a myth in South Africa, and it still is a myth in my hometown, to be honest. I streamed on a 10mb VDSL connection, and yes, the evidence is still on my Twitch channel to this day. I moved from a country where I paid $5 a month for a 100/100 line, to a country where I paid R 1000 for a 10mb VDSL line, and I still streamed.
If you have all the above-mentioned gear, what is preventing you from firing up your first stream? In the next article, I will be covering a few more questions that I get asked – and then go into more detail on the back-end of running a stream. You can also catch me live 5 days a week, with a minimum of 8 hours a day over at twitch.tv/zaffa_geek.
Last Updated: August 15, 2018