There has been a lot of talk about streamer health throughout the internet recently. So much so, that it got me remembering my thoughts from the beginning of my casting career. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to stream drumming for 8 hours straight every day; it was going to be physically impossible for me to keep that up. So, I decided to keep my casts short and sweet: 3–4 Hours a day, 4 days a week. Turns out, it was one of the best decisions I could have made! I have been able to do so much more with the stream because of my shorter casts. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but hear me out.
First off, you have much more time to work on things that I consider, the “Back-end” or “Everything that you do while you are not live to make the stream better”. Things like updating stream assets, working on social media, or just getting things ready for the next time you hit “Start Streaming” is so much easier and less stressful when you have more time. It also allows you to spend more time interacting with your community in other ways! I try to jump into Discord with my community before and after every stream. This gives us more time to chat and get to know each other, and lets us become closer as a community! With a shorter cast, you can spend this time more easily without feeling overwhelmed or stressed! Which leads me to my next point: Mental Health.
Having a shorter cast has helped me to separate my online life from my personal life which has been very beneficial to my mental state. This separation helps you to remember to make room in your schedule for other important things. Make use of the extra time that you have by hanging with family or friends, exercising, or anything that helps you to better your mental health. The main point here is “Balance”. When you have this online/offline balance in your life, you won’t want to take days off from streaming because it will be a joy to cast, never a chore! The shorter casting time helps you keep this balance!
I know what you are thinking, “Shorter Casting time = Less Growth and Success”. Well, that can be true, but what makes the difference is how you make your cast work for you! Here are some ideas to put into place to help make a shorter stream rock!
- Make sure you are consistent with your schedule. It is just like going to the movies, people expect the showing to start at the advertised time!
- Use every second of screen time to your advantage. Make every moment fun and entertaining to your viewer. Having a shorter stream allows you to make every second engaging and more entertaining, so your viewers will enjoy your cast more while you’re live. Also, the shorter stream run time allows for less breaks so more consistent action!
- Have a dedicated starting and ending routine. Have an opening theme song or ending song and a sign off that you say every stream. It makes the stream more concise and more like a whole package. Plus, viewers love being able to predict how the cast will function, it makes them feel like they’re a part of it, knowing what’s coming next, and gives them something to look forward to. In my stream we always have a raffle once a day. My viewers are able to expect it and look forward to it. The predictability helps to keep them engaged.
- Remember to use hosting to your advantage. That way, the fun continues for your viewers even after the stream ends!
- Reuse your content in creative ways! Create highlight reels and make your stream work for you even when you are offline.
- Remember that your audience members might have limited time in their schedules to watch streams. This way, they can get the whole experience without having to miss anything! This means that the viewers you do have are more engaged with your content, and are more likely to return.
By having an episodic stream schedule, you make your time more valuable to your viewers. You are not always on whenever they want, they have to make time to watch your cast. However, by having a strict streaming schedule, they can predict when you are going to be live, and this allows them to put aside the proper time to come to your show. Your stream now becomes more like a TV show. Think of Game of Thrones; everyone knows the show is on Sunday evenings, and sets aside time to watch every episode. Because the show is only an hour long, they can be there for the whole show and not miss anything. Once the show is over, they feel good about having a complete experience and can start getting excited for the next one!
There are so many ways to make an episodic stream style work to your advantage. More time to work on back-end projects, better mental health, and a less stressful personal life are just a few of the many benefits that you will see. It’s understandable to be worried about the numbers. You might lose viewership to begin with, but remember that new viewers will be able to enjoy a lot more of your content overall! Keep in mind the law of diminishing returns. Take some time to look at the statistics of your channel and decide if those extra hours are really worth the sacrifice to your mental (and possibly physical) health. Remember to be thankful for any increase or support that you may receive, we have an awesome “job”!
No matter how long your streams go for, have fun! Your mental health and the satisfaction of your viewers is what is most important!
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