Is Streaming Hard in 2021?

For people who are starting out, streaming may appear to be a long-winded road. With successful streamers having a long time streaming and building up a great base, it can make it seem like you’re late to the game. For people in the game, burnout can happen at any point in time.

Starting to stream can be a challenge in today’s time. In this article, we’ll discuss, why is streaming hard in 2021 for a new streamer and ways to address that

So yes, streaming can be hard.

But at the same time, it can be fun to play games, make art, and create music. Things you love doing, sharing with like minded people, and even making a bit of money while doing it.

Setting your streaming goal is a challenge

 Like with everything else in life, there’s this question – why live streaming? Even if your answer to the why is, well, just like that, it works as long as you know and remind yourself about this answer.

While it’s not particularly hard to set your goals, it’s important, else it will lead to conflicts in your journey going forward. Every step from here on out will involve many decisions that would make you come back to this answer. That would include setup and platform choices, schedule discipline, time investment, etc.

If you are in it for the long run, try setting S.M.A.R.T. goals. S.M.A.R.T goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Related. For example:

I want to be popular and earn money through streaming

This is a great start, but making it S.M.A.R.T. by saying:

I want to gain 100 followers in 3 months, by streaming at least 5 times a week for 2 hours per day

This works better by giving a straightforward, realistic and time-bound goal.

Starting up stream is too complicated

Yes, starting up can be a bit overwhelming. You have to sit down to do the actual work, with the added pressure to compete with established streamers. There are many options to consider depending on your needs and goals (read point above). These choices would include:

  • Whether and how much you should invest in your setup at this stage
  • What kind of PC, camera, internet connection you should consider
  • Depending on your PC, what kind of streaming software you should go ahead with

No matter what kind of setup you choose, the streaming software will be your main tether in a way. There are many choices available, each with its advantages and disadvantages. The most commonly used streaming software, Open Broadcaster Software Studio or OBS Studio is great for many reasons:

  • It’s free
  • It’s customizable
  • Works great with Windows, Mac and Linux
  • It’s open source, which means it’s design is publicly accessible. Anyone can identify and highlight issues or security flaws

But the distributed ownership means there is no central team to ask questions. So, it can be difficult to set it all up, including scenes, sources, scene transitions and controls.

But don’t worry, it gets easier with time. Your setup can become your best friend once it’s in your control. Make sure you’re recording all your connections somewhere, so it can be easy to reset it in case anything fails.

Multiple platform choices and limitations

With many social channel options like Twitch, YouTube Live, Facebook Live and Instagram Live and more for live video streaming, there can only be more questions at this stage:

  • Should one go for a single destination or restream on multiple platforms?
  • What are the pros and cons of each platform
  • What can each platform do or can’t do?
  • What are the settings it will support?
  • Should one change platforms in case it’s not working with the current one?

Again, there’s no “one size fits all” answer here, and you’ll have to do research on each platform’s advantages and limitations and match them to your goals. Even after doing a thorough research, things can change at any stage as the platform decides to change their algorithm to best suit their consumers rather than creators.

To put this in perspective, in Q1, 2021, Twitch had 13 million unique streamers, with 1.3 million affiliates, and 36000 partners. That’s 10% affiliates and 0.3% partners. The top 5,000 channels (0.1% of all Twitch streamers) get 74% of all Twitch viewers. And if you reach an average of 20 viewers, you’re already in the top 1% of Twitch.

Managing stream is unsustainable

 Being a streamer is 50% streaming, and 50% working off-stream. This will include:

  • Preparing material and content for your stream
  • Improving your stream/setup
  • Reading and updating yourself about platform changes
  • Networking with fellow streamers
  • Socializing with your community on Discord, etc.
  • If you’re an art or music streamer, you also need time to practice

The social part is particularly important. You have to really care about your community, have a good team of moderators who represent your values, ban unwanted people, welcome new viewers, keep your chat alive, etc.

It’s not that easy to grow. You need to make your viewers want to come back.

Again, experiment with ideas here. Not everyone has the same personality, so it’s best to avoid formulas that have worked for other streamers so far.

Build up your personality, give your channel your own twist, and make people come back for you above anything else.

Mental and physical health while streaming can take a toll

Yes, streaming takes energy, and yes, it can be mentally taxing. It can get overwhelming to keep a check on simultaneous tracks, including your game/art/music, OBS scenes and sources, multiple streaming platforms, people dropping in across channels, maintaining a sturdy internet connection and setup of audio, lights and camera, etc.

It can be even more frustrating if after everything else, you get no or very little viewers on your stream. And that too, after sitting at one place for hours for long with no physical movement.

It’s important to maintain a frequency and follow a schedule that works for you.

Work too hard and you will exhaust yourself, work too little and it can be a hard climb up. Maintain a balance that works for your mental and physical health.

No one has studied the long term effects of being a streamer being a new field, so play it safe and keep yourself above your work. Enjoy your time streaming, and cover up your viewer count, stressing less and having more fun.

In conclusion

There are many factors that can make streaming seem hard. This can happen to the best of us, at any stage. Remember streaming takes time, consistency and a bit of luck so keep at it and don’t give up. Read my article on becoming a full-time streamer if you are planning to become one.

At the end of the day, you are doing something fun and trying out new things, so despite all challenges, that is a success in your journey as a streamer.

Top 5 Reasons why streaming is hard
Top 5 Reasons why streaming is hard