What I've Learned From Streaming Myself Coding
For the past few weeks, I've coded every night on twitch for at least a few hours. It has been a lot of fun, and I've learned a lot about streaming, and branding myself in general.
Viewers are mostly there to hang out, don't sweat your coding skills
The first stream that I did was a completely blind building of an Angular app. I had no prior Angular experience, and I was looking at the documentation for every other line of code, and getting stuck on bugs for minutes at a time. Despite this, people watched, and chatted, and were super nice about it!
As it turns out, nobody expects you to be a perfect programmer 100% of the time. As long as you're actually putting a bit of effort in, that should be enough.
What you're building doesn't matter
Additionally, I thought having a really exciting app would be what brought people into the streams. I wanted to make sure my viewers were as excited about the app as I was, so I picked ideas that seemed to be a bit more interesting, like a Movie Database app or a workout tracker. However, looking at the more popular streams in the programming sphere of twitch shows that the projects really don't matter. Some people build robots, others build websites for freelance clients, others are building finance programs, and their view counts are all pretty high. People respond more to a good personality than what that person is building, so build whatever you want to or are able to.
Believe it or not, people like it when people are nice to them. This is a little known fact about life in general, but with streaming it goes double. In fact, being nice will get you way more engagement than being funny. I don't think I'm very funny on stream at all, and I still have a few viewers each stream that I do, just because I'm nice.
So, don't feel like you need to be funny all the time, or super interesting, as long as you're nice, you're doing a great job of being a streamer.
Streaming is a great motivator
Lately I've been struggling with finding the motivation to code. A certain global event has completely torn my normal routine apart, and I was left with a bunch of bad habits and a lack of willingness to do anything. I decided that with all my extra time at home, I'd try to stream to at least do something somewhat productive with my time.
What I found that not only did streaming make me feel like I was converting otherwise unproductive time (gaming) into something slightly more productive, it actually encouraged me to code A LOT, and learn a ton about tools available and the ones that I already use to make the stream as good as it can for my viewers.
Streaming made me go from "I don't want to code" to, "Boy, I can't wait to code for 4 hours on stream tonight". I'm getting more work done on side projects than I ever have before.
Make a schedule
Making a schedule is in my opinion, what separates a good streamer from a great one. As a viewer, nothing is better than being able to plan to watch a streamer at a certain point of the day. I know that I have a few people who I go out of my way to watch at their scheduled times, I've even woken up early to watch streams before. Giving yourself a schedule, even if it's rough, will get you viewers who return each day, and that's important for building a community.
Streaming is a ton of fun. If you have the means to, I'd recommend giving it a shot, you might just find a new hobby for yourself!