Recently I’ve been thinking about one thing, how to evolve as a creator and improve the content I’m creating, or even make new types of content. I don’t want to keep making the same videos over and over again, record the same podcasts, and write the same articles. Not only will it burn me out and not satisfy any of my creative urges, it will be harder to foster growth, both for myself as a creator and for my audience, as well.
So that begs the question, how does one change? What direction should we go in? How do we grow in terms of creative effort? I don’t have solid answers to these questions that will satisfy everyone but I can share my thoughts that have been percolating in the ole noggin so far.
I basically have two main destinations that I set for myself when trying to come up with new ideas:
- Head in a direction that satisfies the audience’s desires
- Head in a direction that satisfies my own personal creative desires
Now I’ll explain in detail my thought processes for meeting the two criteria above but it should be noted here that you should focus on these two things separately or one at a time. They may take your content in conflicting directions so it’s best not to mesh them together into one unachievable goal.
For example, let’s take a look at streaming on Twitch. The strongest, most unique identifying feature that sets the content on Twitch apart from everything else is the real time user interaction. Other platforms are very limited in this regard and rely on asynchronous interactions between the creator and the consumer. Making static content devoid of reacting to user interactions will likely not stand out very much on a live streaming platform such as Twitch, Mixer, Facebook Gaming, etc. The key here, in terms of satisfying the audience’s desires, is to shift the focus more onto the user interactions themselves.
It’s important to note here my goal is to shift the focus to the user interactions, and not the users, as most would probably feel uncomfortable with too much attention on themselves. One method I came up with, was to make use of the new viewer point system available on Twitch. Viewers are given points to your channel as they keep watching and interacting, and those points can be used to redeem preset rewards or custom ones created by you. The preset rewards can range from unlocking an emote to your channel, to highlighting one of their messages. The custom rewards are only limited by your imagination and creativity. It is also important to note here, that you are not bound by the limitations put in place by Twitch and you can use your own custom bot to implement feature sets that best suit your type of content and audience.
By creating unique rewards that shift the focus to the user’s interaction, and make it the highlight of the stream, you not only encourage it, you reward it. Some of the custom rewards I made include giving out mediocre advice, feigning to pay attention, and showing a Star Wars meme (I love prequel memes). Now these rewards are best suited to myself and my own creative desires, meeting both criteria one and two. They are also suited to the audience I have. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. The viewers enjoy having more ways to interact with the stream and have their interactions made the focus, not the backdrop.
This can be applied even further to evolve your content. I don’t have a solid concrete idea yet, but I do want to do things like highlight follows and subs in some way to show appreciation with some creativity. I also have some rough ideas on how to implement this further into my streams and change the nature of how I’m playing games. Some ideas that I’ll implement in the far future will include shifting the focus from playing games, to making something more akin to a television show but with that key ingredient, immediate reaction to user interactions and changing the content based on those interactions in real time. One possible implementation, and I often think about this idea, is to create a cooking show but with some added chaos by letting the viewers add or subtract ingredients and cooking utensils, and etc. There is no platform that comes even close to this massive potential in creating new types of content that live streaming has.
Another example is related to last week’s episode. I changed the format of this article, which has an audio podcast companion, into a video podcast for my second YouTube channel. Now it only got eight views, which is not a lot, but it did get a lot more engagements on Twitter. I just started and my second channel has a very low subscriber count so it’ll take a while but this will definitely grow faster than just uploading audio only podcasts to YouTube. The people on YouTube want to see video, having audio only content will be much harder to succeed with. I went from creating an audio podcast on content creation, to writing blogs about it, to now creating videos. This is taking my content in a direction the audience wants in terms of packaging it, but I still let my creative desires direct the actual content of the video and the editing choices. Not to mention, now my content has exposure on three different platforms and three different ways to consume it.
I will end this thought experiment here. Hopefully it helps to inspire you guys in thinking about new ways to evolve your content. It doesn’t have to be something big, it just needs to be a tiny step forward. And one final key step in this process, when you have an idea or some inspiration strikes, write that idea down and do it right away. It’s ok if it’s messy, it’s ok if you make mistakes, but it’s necessary for growth and evolution. Doing nothing different is a surefire recipe for burning out sooner or later. You may even choose to not implement your new idea and revert back to what you were doing before. Somethings change isn’t necessary, but the willingness to change and the flexibility that comes with it, is necessary for survival in this relatively new field of content creation.