Streaming has a lot of potential. A lot of gamers and entertainers come onto platforms like Twitch in order to grow, reach a new audience, and make money. The ideal goal for most Twitch streamers is to reach a large audience, get tons of subscribers and viewers, and attract lots of large brands to secure brand deals.

It’s a logical goal. Why not try to capitalize on what you enjoy doing and turn it into a sustainable career?

The Rat Race

In order to obtain the goal mentioned above, people are constantly trying to grow and get discovered on Twitch. They are focusing on things like 24-hour streams, sub-a-thons, and playing popular games. They are spending tons of money on good equipment, graphics, computers, and all types of “stream-enhancing” features and add-ons. They want to reach this goal, make a ton of money, and become famous.

Because of this, they’re unwitting participants in a constant social media rat race. Many streamers treat streaming as a competition rather than an enjoyable hobby or career.

And honestly, these days, you kind of have to do this if you want to get ahead. You have to find a way to stand out and make yourself known in an oversaturated industry with a lot of people doing the same thing.

But, as a new streamer, I am not doing this. I am not competing, playing games I don’t enjoy, and doing miserable 24-hour live streams in the hopes that people will discover my channel and I will grow. In fact, I would prefer NOT to grow too large as a streamer.

You may think I am an absolute psychopath, so let me give you a bit of background information.

A screenshot from one of the author's recent streams.  In it he's playing Minecraft and is in a dimly lit room of what looks to be a shop.  There's a shopkeeper ahead of him at the far side of the room, and different colored and textured blocks on the walls of the shop itself.  There's an inset face cam of the the author in which he's sitting at his desk, mic on a boom arm in front of him, and he has his hands up in the air as though he were surprised or shocked at what's happening in the game.
A day in the life of a Minecraft streamer

My Background

I have been creating videos on YouTube for nearly five years now and have witnessed the type of growth that everyone on the platform is striving to achieve. I’ve landed brand deals, a merch line, free stuff, and a lot of other cool perks. I even got invited to an exclusive IGN hosted party at E3 2019. I have spent thousands of hours writing, recording, editing, revising, and creating hundreds of videos to post on my channel. I have learned three different editing softwares, six different recording softwares, and have been involved in countless communities in order to get my name out there and gain some recognition.

I have been grinding for a long time, but the hard work has paid off. Today I have amassed more than 365,000 subscribers and have achieved what many people would look at as the “YouTube dream”.

I feel like I have finally made it on an unforgiving and challenging platform.

But as this growth has occurred, there was a phase where I felt empty, like I was missing something.

As my community got larger, I felt like it was losing its sense of community.

After talking to some other creators about this, I have come to realize that it is a fairly common problem with larger creators. As you get bigger, you can’t answer all of your comments anymore. You can’t reach out to your fans and play games with all of them. It becomes hard to see and recognize usernames of people who are always around because their comments are hidden under a sea of other, newer people’s comments.

Growth is a weird, double-edged sword and it can often be hard to balance everything, especially if the growth comes quickly.

That lack of community has been a defining characteristic of my YouTube experience for the last year or so and it is not a good thing. So, that’s exactly why I started streaming.

Streaming is a good way for me to rediscover the community interaction that I have been missing for so long. While streaming, I can play games that I enjoy, laugh when chat sends hilarious messages, and see the same recurring faces in all of my streams.

With this, I am actually trying to avoid growth. I don’t want to grind and try to grow just to once again lose the community that I am longing for in the first place. I am completely content with having 20-50 concurrent viewers because it is the perfect balance of liveliness and interaction. It is not sustainable financially, but because of my other income streams I am able to do it, make a few extra bucks, and still have a good time. If I became fully financially dependent on streaming to earn my living, I would be too focused on reaching specific goals and numbers to truly enjoy it.

The Point

I wrote this for a reason. If you only get one thing out of it, it should be this: numbers aren’t everything. Sometimes, growth can turn your hobby into a sustainable and thriving career. But, in the process, you can often lose the very thing that got you there to begin with. I still urge you to follow your dreams if you want to become a full-time, large streamer, but try to keep this in the back of your mind and remember to focus on what is truly important.

Good luck everyone!

For more from Tanner, be sure to hit up his YouTube channel, where he's built an epic catalog of content over the years. Here's just a sample, and one of our favorites:

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