In China I have very set live streaming times and I will show up no matter what. Here, in the U.S. it’s been a bit more difficult to do that, mainly because I am not just here to live stream but also to see my family. As much as live streaming is a priority for me, spending quality time with my family is an even greater priority. Of course I am doing some live streaming with my family, but while I’m live streaming I must focus my energy on the live stream and not on them. On top of that, my family’s not the best at planning ahead and someone is always late or changing things last minute. This isn’t a huge problem, but it makes it very tough to send out announcements to my followers ahead of time to let them know of upcoming activities.
Two other timing-related issues are the time difference and jet lag. Right now with daylight savings there is a 13-hour time difference between NYS and Beijing. So ideally for the largest audience I must do video either before noon or after 7pm. Unfortunately, a lot of the fun activities with my family have been happening in the afternoon! Also, because of the jet lag I wasn’t sleeping well the first few nights here and wasn’t super eager to bound out of bed bright and early to do video.
Its freezing outside! Trying to film outside in Upstate NY in the winter without the proper clothing is not the best idea…so I’ve been trying to do more filming inside, but then there are signal problems…
Using LTE and 4G outside seems to be great; strong signal, clear images, not much lag, but I’ve run into lots of problems trying to film indoors using 4G/LTE (of course if it’s somewhere with decent Wi-Fi that’s no problem).
Let me give you an example. I tried live streaming while shopping downtown with my sister and mother. While we were walking on the street the signal was fine, but every time we stepped into a store the signal was terrible and viewers started complaining. The same thing happened the next day when I tried to show them our local farmer’s market, which is held indoors in the winter. There the signal was so bad I couldn’t even start the live stream! I was so frustrated because my followers had been so excited to see it. Same thing happened when I tried to take them shopping at Walmart.
This issue has really thrown me for a loop because most of the people and activities are indoors during the winter and this makes it difficult for me to come up with good content for my audience.
I’ve mentioned in previous posts that when I live stream on Momo I do not mention or show my fiancé Hank. On other platforms such as Meipai I do. In the past this hasn’t been an issue because in Beijing I tend to just live stream in my home office, but here in the US I don’t have a room I can escape to, and I am also trying to go out and do activities. Since Momo is where the majority of my followers are I obviously want to stream the most on there, but it’s been tricky to do so while also leaving Hank out. We’re here on holiday and to visit my family, I don’t want to leave him at home while I go out and do stuff just so that I can live stream! I’ve tried live streaming a couple times while he’s with me but that gets overwhelming trying not to talk to him and to keep him out of the picture.
Honestly just getting over my awkwardness and shyness about walking around speaking Chinese and live streaming is tougher than I thought! I don’t live in a huge city where I can be drowned in the crowd, I live in a town in Upstate New York where nobody is doing things like this. I can be a bit of an introvert and I feel so silly walking down the street speaking Chinese and I’m afraid people will feel uncomfortable if they find out I’m filming. I know I shouldn’t be so self-conscious, but it’s hard not to be! I don’t know why, but I’ve noticed that I find it easier to put myself in awkward, scary situations in China than I do in the U.S. In China I’ve been a travel show TV host and had to do lots of stupid things in public, so why do I have such trouble doing something similar here in my own country?
Here’s a funny example: I was trying to live stream in Walmart and my audience kept asking me to show them the gun section. I went over and there was a group of 8 or so huge, burly rednecks hanging out by the counter buying guns. I saw them and totally chickened out and walked away. All I kept thinking was they would see what I was doing and how awkward it would be. But now, looking back on it, I am totally regretting not going over. What’s the worst that could have happened? I mean it actually would have been pretty awesome if they had talked to me, I’m sure they would have said some ridiculous things and I could have asked them about what they were doing and my audience would have loved it!
I was pretty proud of myself on Wednesday when I went down to the local, popular coffee shop and hung out and live streamed for an hour and a half. Its noisy and busy enough in there that most people didn’t notice what I was doing or that I was speaking Chinese, and those that did just kind of gave me odd looks but didn’t say anything. My audience really enjoyed it and the Wi-Fi signal in the café was strong so it was quite the success!
Hopefully this is something that I can get better at with time. If I’m going to do live streaming full time I need to own it and not be embarrassed by it! I mean, what is there to be embarrassed about? I’m just sharing my life with people in China. Nothing wrong with that!
I thought people would be excited to see new content and I would receive more gifts. But my average earnings have stayed the same, which is pretty disappointing. Trying to figure out what content does the best is still the biggest struggle. I earn the most when I’m focused on my audience, answering their questions and thanking them for gifts. It is easier to do that when I’m stationed in one spot, so I often live stream at home. However, when I live stream from home they often ask me to take them out and show them other places and things, but when I go out and do video outside, and my attention is split, I tend to earn less. I find it very odd that when I give them the content they ask for I receive less gifts….
Before I left viewer numbers were down to about 500-1,000 people online at any given time, and now every time I live stream there are about 2,000-3,000 people watching simultaneously. People are very interested in seeing the U.S. and within 5 minutes of me starting the live stream I will have thousands of people watching.
They have been asking so many questions. They are very curious and they really are grateful that I am showing them my life here! I have had followers that have sent me messages thanking me for giving them a chance to see what America is really like and allowing them to feel like they are traveling abroad with me.
My audience loves seeing the general environment of the U.S., but what they seem to love the most is meeting new people. Not just seeing them out of the street, but watching me chatting with other people and giving the audience the opportunity to ask the person questions with me translating, like a casual interview. So far I’ve only gotten to do that with my family, but hopefully when my friends are home for the holidays I can convince some of them to join me too!
When I’m outside using 4G or indoors using strong Wi-Fi the internet connection is good enough to provide a clear live stream. All the issues live streaming indoors in public places definitely limits my content options during the winter time, but when the weather gets warmer there are numerous outdoor activities I can live stream, so knowing that the 4G signal works well outdoors leaves me feeling pretty optimistic.
Also, as I become more professional at live streaming I will need to start visiting places ahead of time to check on the signal and plan my route.
A strong internet connection and clear video is crucial to my success. No matter how awesome the content is, viewers will not stay online and will not give gifts if the connection is bad.
If I was living here and live streaming I would have set live streaming times. And because I could see my family any time I wanted to, I wouldn’t feel so torn between spending time with my family and live streaming. I would also be able to plan more activities ahead of time. And once we move here Hank will be working so I will have plenty of time to live stream without him around.
As for earnings, I think the key is to find places like the café I mentioned before, where I can be out showing them new things and stationed in one place focusing on them at the same time. In the Spring once the weather gets warmer that will be easier to do.
Overall, I’m feeling pretty optimistic. Many of the problems are self-imposed and can be resolved if I decide to make live streaming a priority and treat it as such. During this trip I have not been as dedicated to it as I was back in China and it shows.
Furthermore, if I am going to continue to do outdoor live streaming I need to become more professional in my content creation process by planning ahead locations and activities to film and ensuring that I have the necessary Wi-Fi and battery power.
I’ve learned a great deal so far and I’m excited to hopefully move back soon and show my audience more of the U.S.!