In a previous article I talked about four main types of live streamers in China. Unfortunately, right now I would consider myself to be the first type, eye candy. Why? Well I usually live stream in the same location, with the same background, and I rely on my looks (mainly that I’m a foreigner) and my charm (hahaha) to entertain my audience. Although this has been successful for me so far, as that article mentioned, this type of live streaming is difficult to maintain in the long-term.
First of all, it is really the only option for me at the moment – I’m not a good singer, I’m not a dancer, and I do not have some other performance type talent. My audience probably wouldn’t care if I sang horribly or awkwardly danced around – actually they would probably like it, but that’s just not me, and it’s not something I want to do in front of thousands of strangers.
As for the location, right now I am living in China and from a personal safety perspective I prefer to live stream in my house. I don’t really want people knowing where I am. There are a lot of viewers living in Beijing and I don’t really want people finding out where I work, where I like to hang out, etc. In the U.S. I would gladly film outdoors because I know there’s less chance of running into my audience and, even if I do, I would be ok with that, I would probably be excited to share the U.S. with them. It’s difficult to explain, but I just feel like the situation is different.
While chatting day in and day out can have its disadvantages, it also has a lot of advantages. One benefit of this format is that I can develop a close relationship with my audience and, by interacting with them, really get to know what kind of people they are and what they are interested in. Besides that, a lot of my audience has misunderstandings about the USA and we spend a lot of time discussing cultural differences.
- Where are you from? Are you Russian? Ukrainian?
- Which state are you from? Oh NY, Manhattan right? I’ve been to Manhattan! Oh, not Manhattan, so Brooklyn? Oh, NYS, where’s that?
- Where are you living now?
- How long have you been in China?
- Are you a student or are you working?
- What is your job?
- How tall are you?
- Is your hair natural or dyed?
- What are your hobbies?
- Do you like going to clubs and bars?
- How long have you been learning Chinese?
- Can you speak any local dialects?
- What places have you visited in China?
- Do you like Chinese food?
- Can you use chopsticks?
- What do you find interesting about China?
- Will you live in China forever?
- Which is better, China or America?
- Have you ever had a Chinese boyfriend?
- Are you single?
- Are you going to marry a Chinese guy?
- What’s the difference between Chinese guys and foreign guys?
- Can a Chinese guy satisfy you?
- Aren’t American girls very sexually open? (yes – people ask these kinds of questions EVERY DAY…THANKS HOLLYWOOD!)
- Can you marry me? I want to have a mixed race baby because they’re good looking.
- Why don’t many foreign girls date Chinese guys?
- Can you introduce an American girl to me?
- Do you have a gun?
- America is dangerous. (not a question, but I always react to it … again, thanks Hollywood and the news)
- Who does the South China Sea belong to? (I don’t answer this question, just trolls trying to get in a political fight)
- Is there a lot of discrimination in the US?
- What do Americans think about Chinese people?
- How much does a house cost in the U.S.?
- I want to travel to the U.S., can you give me some recommendations?
- Will you vote for Hillary or Trump?
- Do you watch NBA?
- Do you like Kobe?
- Do you watch WWE?
- Which American TV shows do you watch?
- Can you play Sugar by Maroon 5, Faded by Alan walker, and Love You Like a Love Song by Selena Gomez?
- Do you like Taylor Swift? Justin Beiber? Kim Kardashian?
- Can you tell us about American education?
- Is it true that as soon as you turn 18 you’re on your own?
As you can see, many of the most common questions are pretty basic. Some of them I really hate to discuss, such as the gun and sex related questions. I could ignore them, but I almost feel I have the responsibility to set people straight. Unfortunately, American pop culture and the media have given people in other countries a really distorted view of life in the U.S. Many people (oftentimes from smaller cities in China) think the U.S is this dangerous, crazy heathen place with people running around shooting guns and sleeping with any stranger they meet. Drives me insane. Note to all Chinese people: Gossip Girls and Fast and the Furious are NOT documentaries. Got it? K thanks. And while this is not true for everyone, unfortunately even a lot of educated Chinese people are afraid to go to America because they think it is unsafe and they are afraid of gun violence. I know many people who have chosen to study abroad in Canada and Australia just because they feel the U.S. is unsafe.
Anyway, back to my live streaming content. Why is this chatting format unsustainable? While there are always thousands of new people discovering my live stream every day who will generally ask these basic questions above, long-time followers find this repetitive and they desire something new. For me it is difficult to balance the needs of new and old viewers, I don’t want to ignore new viewers, but I also want to retain older viewers. However, right now, in my current living situation, I can only do chatting, which has already caused some older viewers to watch my lives streams less often. Hopefully in the near future I introduce more types of content and encourage them to watch more often. Either way, my follower numbers keep growing on a consistent basis, which is a good sign.
In the future, once I am back in America, I would like to transition to more of the third type of live streaming mention in that article, outdoor live streaming. By outdoors live streaming I don’t necessarily mean outdoors, I just mean going out into the world showing more than just yourself in a room, more dynamic and not so static. I will try this out in December when I am back in the US visiting. I would like my live streams to give people a glimpse into American life – instead of just talking about it.
I predict that my viewers will really enjoy seeing the US and meeting other Americans. However, some potential difficulties might include maintaining strong cell connection and trying to balance interaction (i.e. answering questions and thanking people for gifts) with content. People will be less likely to give gifts if they feel like you aren’t going to see and recognize them.
Yes, there is a lot of demand for live streaming English lessons. I always tell me audience members that if they want to send messages in English I will gladly use English to respond, but I’m not going to give English lessons. Lots of people want to learn English so it’s something to consider for the future and it has the potential to be an excellent source of income which I will keep in mind for the future. But ideally I would prefer to become known for lifestyle, travel and culture-related content. However, if language teaching live streaming interests you I suggest you check out these apps: Educhat, 跟谁学，and 人人讲, which are developed specially for teaching (don’t think those two have an English version though so you might need a Chinese friend to help you get started) .
I hope that helps give you a better picture of what goes on in my daily live streams. It’s essentially like small talk at a cocktail party of thousands of people, except everyone is trying to talk to you at once. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or email me!