This is Part 2 of 3 in a series of how to have a successful startup stream!
Sharing your stream
I talked about this before in Part 1
, but will say it again. You want to be sharing with as many people as you can, and be a bit shameless with your promotion :)
If you have Facebook, post it on there. Slack groups, telegram groups, friends, family, Twitter, Reddit, Indie Hackers, etc etc. And don’t just share once, share many updates (I’ll get to this in a bit).
The more people you can bring to a stream will help you.
If there is some way to set yourself apart from other streamers, then do it!
Some people are streaming in Spanish or other languages. Maybe you commit to monetizing first, or something, I don’t know.
If you can think of a unique twist on your stream and/or your product (maybe a controversial/hot topic) - use that, and exploit it. Let the world know about your crazy ideas ahead of time, during the stream, and after. Be crazy and stand out.
For me, my crazy thing was the time constraint of 24 hours
(before it was this challenge). I tweeted this the day before and it built a ton of hype
Providing people with updates
What I think made my original stream so successful were the constant updates I did throughout the stream.
You obviously should share when your stream is starting. But you can go above and beyond that.
I would advise constantly providing updates to people that are not in your stream such as your Twitter feed, and give them an incentive to join. Work hard to get people in the door and even bring them back.
I just provide an update with a simple checklist to show I am making progress.
Thinking out loud
Once you have a plan on how to get people into your stream, the next pillar of success is to have an entertaining stream.
Usually when you code, you are within your own thoughts (and quiet). For the stream, you need to take those thoughts and express them for the audience.
So when you are experiencing an annoying bug, get upset & emotional. When you solved that bug, jump up in excitement. Be yourself, but have fun with it. Show off your personality.
Viewers will get bored and leave if you are silent. If there are no viewers, the streamer may feel uncomfortable talking because no one is there. Don’t do this! You should be talking even if no one is in the stream!
Speaking is the hook to keep a new streamer to stay and participate as a viewer.
Because Twitch will bring random people into your stream, you have constant opportunities to gain new viewers and followers. By hooking them, they stay, and then you have +1 viewers. Do this 10-20 times, and you will have a great stream.
Talk about the why
Also, in general, always talk about what you’re doing and WHY you’re doing it.
For example - Why are you writing your method in this hacky way? What’s the benefits of that strategy in your opinion?
Explain your thought process to the viewers and field questions in the chat. Be opinionated - people love that.
If you think you are shy
I am a shy person. I hate public speaking. However, I really have no problem being myself on Twitch and don’t feel nervous, even when I had over 150 viewers at once.
Maybe it’s because I can’t visually see the reactions of people watching. It’s just a number on a screen. It doesn’t feel that very real.
Also, try not to look at the viewer count. Pop out the chat and hide the Twitch window. Don’t worry about it at all. Focus on your startup - viewers will come.
Engaging your audience
Some more tips about how to engage your audience:
Be clear about what you’re building
There’s a better chance people will stay on your stream if they know what you’re building.
It’s important to be clear about that, and make sure it’s easy to understand for a random viewer who might be clueless.
You can easily do this by naming your stream, for example, BUILDING TINDER FOR CATS IN 24 HOURS #24hrstartup. It’s obvious, and how could you not click that?
You can also utilize the “info” section below your stream to explain more, provide links, etc:
I’ve noticed that some streamers only show their IDE/code editor and hide away other stuff like their chats, Twitter, and other windows.
I believe you should involve your audience in everything that you’re doing. Show them how you promote on Twitter, post to Product Hunt, text messages from your mom, etc.
Launching a startup is much more than just code, so show everything!
Tangents & talk about yourself
Personally, I love going on tangents during a stream, especially if they are spontaneous.
Often, someone will ask something random in the chat and it will lead to a fun discussion / learning something new.
When viewers asked me about my other side projects, I took 5-10 minutes to walk them through it and do a mini “behind the scenes”. I pulled up my website, Google Analytics, revenue reports, etc right on the stream. This helped build a rapport with those viewers and I think it made the stream more entertaining.
Coding is like baseball. It’s so much fun to do, but it is horrendous to watch.
Most people don’t want to watch you code. They want to watch you build features. They want to watch a sexy startup get created and launched from nothing.
Something to remember: What you are doing is super cool, and badass as hell! Viewers want to understand your perspective, your beliefs, and they want to learn more about YOU.
One of the best parts about having an live audience is that you can get real-time feedback on your code, design, plan, etc.
Ask for help, suggestions, advice, etc. It drives engagement and may get some of the quiet lurkers to leave something in the chat!
You should try to be open to feedback and let your audience help you build something better and guide you in the right direction. I can’t count the number of times my product improved from the feedback I received.
But important not to listen to everything. You should be able to filter the good ideas from a sea of bad ones. It will be obvious if an idea is good or bad. Go with your gut.
This is also great if you haven’t yet come up with a name for your startup. I’ve gotten the names of all of my projects from viewers on stream, and it’s a really fun activity - the viewers love it.
Your audience becomes your advocates
One of the best things about streaming your startup is that you have potential users before your product is launched.
Equally important, your new audience can help you spread the word about your product. By keeping your audience engaged, they will probably upvote you on the 24HR Startup voting page, Product Hunt, Twitter, etc.
When I finally finished my first 24hr startup, I had a small army of people to upvote my product. I didn’t even ask them to upvote, they just did it!
Collect emails on your 24 Hour Startup profile, we will email them when your product is launched!
Some more general advice:
Number one thing!! Focus on the task at hand… launching a 24-hour startup. There will be times where you just need to ignore people in the chat and ship!
Keep a sense of time
As you make your way through your 24-hour journey, you will gain a sense of time, like if you are ahead of schedule, or behind schedule. Stay aware of that.
In my past streams, if I was feeling behind schedule, I would do everything to get back on track.
When I felt ahead of schedule, I’ll take a break or try to be more entertaining in the stream.
Your stream title
Think of an interesting and unique stream title.
This is what will draw people into your stream from the Twitch discover page. We also ask that you use the #24hrstartup hashtag in your title! We really really want to trend on Twitter!!
Like I said earlier, LAUNCHING TINDER FOR CATS IN 24 HOURS #24hrstartup :)
There will be trolls. There will always be some douche that will ruin it for everyone.
I had a public google sheet that tons of viewers were working on, and someone went in and started deleting columns.
Another example - I had a form on my website that didn’t require a login, where someone was spamming the form thousands of times. Very annoying.
For public stuff, make sure you have a plan for this, just in case. Save backups and try to put forms behind logins/use a captcha, if you can.
Pop out the chat
This should be obvious, but you should pop out the chat and always have it in sight. Important for keeping your viewers engaged.
Showing chat on the screen is also helpful for people to catch up with a conversation that they join in the middle of.
Click the gear icon below the chat and select Popout (under Chat Options):
If you are not working an external monitor, I recommend using a second window for the chat on the right, like this:
Have a written plan
Use a google doc and have a high-level plan of what you want to accomplish. Link to this below your stream so viewers can see.
High-level plan for me, looked like:
- Plan the features
- Create and deploy blank project
- Basic landing page
- Code features
And then I check these off as I go. For example, the Plan the features section had it’s own subsection where we went a bit deeper:
Note: For planning features, I recommend writing down all the features that you want, and then highlight the “need to have for launch” and then everything else as “nice to have”.
Once you know that, you know exactly what needs to get done in the next 24 hours.
Features before design
If you’ve ever launched a product before, you know the features take 20% of your time to build, and the design/CSS/copy takes 80% of your time.
Implement the features with no style first. Even with no style, you have a launchable product.
The products I launched in 24 hours never looked very good, and it was OK.
You can touch up the design after the launch. Also, utilize design frameworks like Bootstrap
if you can.
Having a launch plan
Before the stream, you should have an idea of where you’re going to share your launched product and potentially have some idea about the messaging you want.
Start researching now some good places to launch, as well as the timing of that launch.
Note: Part 3, my next blog post, will cover this in more detail. So don’t worry so much.
As said before, don’t listen to everyone in the chat.
Sometimes people just join and jerk you around. I just ignore them.
And if you have some loyal viewers in the chat, you can rely on them to handle it for you.
Food & water
Make it easy on yourself with meals. Have something prepared and easy. Stock up on La Croix’s if you can :)
Just like coding anything, you will get stuck and you will get frustrated.
Try to take a break, utilize the audience, and even ping the 24hr startup chat for help. Not everyone will be streaming at the same time, and hopefully, someone can help you out.
If you get stuck, just like in an exam, move on to another task - come back to it later.
Commit/save your code often! Obvious, but I usually forget because I’m stressed.
In my streams, I probably take a break every hour, or whenever I finish something really hard / get stuck. Take breaks and chill with the audience, browse twitter, promote your stuff!
Thanks for reading!
Follow these tips and I promise you will have a successful stream! Good luck in the 24 Hour Startup Challenge!