Why Artists Should Live Stream on Twitch
What if there was a way to push yourself to draw or paint uninterrupted for hours everyday and at the same time create a wealth of content to utilize. But wait, there’s more, you’re also building meaningful relationships with fans that last much longer than the 15 seconds someone sees your post for on other social media. This magical place exists right now and it’s just waiting for you to join in. It’s been two months since I started live streaming on Twitch and its positive effect on my work has been astounding. All of this has led me to believe that every artist with the means and desire should start streaming on Twitch right now.
Turning Your Process into Content
In the social media age of marketing, content is king. The more content you produce the quicker you gain followers. By live streaming you are turning your productivity into content. Every other form of social media requires you to stop working and spend precious time or money on their platform to get any kind of gain.
My new creation flow is to produce an entire illustration while live streaming to an active and growing community. Then download my broadcasts (Twitch automatically saves all of them) and turn them into time lapse videos that I can post to YouTube, Instagram, and the product pages of my website. Then I create a Patreon-only version with commentary. In the same way that we as independent artists can use our images to make prints, play mats, books, and other products, I reuse my live stream video multiple times to generate content to post on multiple platforms.
A consistent schedule is key to building a following on Twitch. People want to hangout with you and the community you’re cultivating everyday while you work. Having more viewers means you move up the category list and attract even more viewers - it’s a snowball effect. Setting yourself this routine not only will help you grow your channel faster, but it will have a tremendous effect on your productivity. I stream for 4 hours every weekday and there’s nothing that will supercharge your ability to produce work like forcing yourself to turn off your phone and remove other distractions for 3 to 4 hours every day. This forces you to build your routine around your painting time instead of sneaking in painting time when you can.
There are few things that motivate me more than wanting to get out of an uncomfortable situation. Early on in my streaming experience I felt like I was botching a drawing, live, in front of a dozen or more people. I hadn’t developed a solid direction before trying to work the drawing out on my stream. No one watching had any clue of my internal turmoil or thought of the drawing being poor, but you better believe I don’t want to experience that again. Instead of giving up I began to push myself to come up with new ideas faster and get them to a developed stage before my next stream. This type of positive pressure has been like rocket fuel for my productivity.
Work at Your Pace
Unlike other social media where you post an image and the algorithm tanks it in a few days, Twitch is mostly unbiased towards length of process - in fact it might actually reward artists who have a longer process. Viewers love to watch an illustration come together and feel like they are a part of the process. An artist that has more steps or executes more complex illustrations can get more content out of each image. This has been a dramatic shift for me as I tend to spend at least a few weeks on an image, leading to me constantly scrambling to find things to post on Instagram.
Possibly the most beneficial part of live streaming is the meaningful relationships I have already developed in my short time streaming. I greet regular viewers by name, we talk about our daily struggles, our interests, our dreams, and our views on life. There is some fear of harassment that comes along with live streaming. I can only speak from the perspective of a straight white male, but from what I have seen the community on Twitch forms around you and what you allow. If you treat others with respect and tolerance you will receive the same in return. My community is nothing but amazing supportive people who are all on their own journeys. Some are artists themselves, others are teachers, software engineers, or students. Most importantly they are all like minded people who are coming together to have a place to be themselves and I’m honored to facilitate that. You also have the ability to promote community members to moderators and if there is an occasional bad apple they can ban them swiftly.
The relationships you develop with viewers are much more meaningful and personal than other social media where someone simply likes your image and moves on.
A Fresh Start
Wouldn’t it be great to go back in time 8 years to when Instagram was just starting and really focus on building a following before all the algorithm changes? The number of unique broadcasters on Twitch increased 70% in 2018 from 2 million to 3.4 million and tons of video game channels have exploded in popularity over the last few years, some seeing as many as 630,000 people watching live. The art section still feels very young and now is the time to start building your channel. Even if the art category never reaches the heights of the latest trending video game there is no reason to sit out and watch another social media platform outgrow you.