4 min read

5 Common Mistakes Freelancers Make While Livestreaming

While livestreaming may seem like a fun and easy assignment, there are some common pitfalls that you want to avoid. Athens-based mobile…
5 Common Mistakes Freelancers Make While Livestreaming
Credit: Wikimania 2016 Esino Lario

While livestreaming may seem like a fun and easy assignment, there are some common pitfalls that you want to avoid. Athens-based mobile journalist, Liana Spyropoulou, has been working to document the refugee crisis in Greece through livestreams. We spoke to her along with the Editor-in-Chief of Periscope, Evan Hansen, to get the scoop on the most common errors freelancers make when livestreaming from the field.

1. Feeding the trolls.

Having viewers watching and commenting on your livestream is a great thing, but the more popular your stream becomes, the more likely you are to get trolls. A few trolls can be an annoyance, but if dealt with incorrectly they can take over your comments section and ruin your stream. You need to have a strategy ahead of time for dealing with people who are just looking to cause trouble.

Liana Spyropoulou: I don’t address [the trolls]. I ignore them. If you start replying or having a discussion with them, you lose the story. Nobody cares about my fight with someone.

Evan Hansen: Don’t let the comment community bring you down. Don’t get distracted by the trolls. Respond to trolls, but don’t let it show it’s annoying you. Stick with your main theme but jump out every once in awhile to discipline people. Ignore it or make fun of it, but don’t let it bother you.

A viewer attempts to distract a livestreamer with unrelated questions. Credit: Youtube

2. Not practicing with the livestream platform before going live.

You shouldn’t go live before familiarizing yourself with the platform you’re streaming from. Periscope, Facebook Live, and Instagram all have different quirks you should be familiar with.

For example, on Facebook Live, If you want to stream a horizontal video, you must turn your phone horizontal before you start the video. If you don’t, your phone will shoot in portrait mode, and the video you are shooting will be streamed sideways. Periscope, however, can shoot in landscape or portrait mode during the same stream and will orient the camera as you rotate your phone.

While using Periscope, your phone will orient in the video in whichever direction you turn your phone. Credit: Periscope

Liana: I usually use Periscope and Facebook Live, but I didn’t know landscape doesn’t work easily on Facebook Live. It was my mistake. I did it two or three times. You can’t see the video properly.

3. Not interacting with your viewers.

Livestreams are great because you can interact with your viewers in real time. Viewers can become involved in the story by asking you questions and giving tips on what they want to see and understand.

If you ignore your audience, they will most likely leave to find someone who won’t. However, If you communicate with your viewers, you will start building a community that will follow your future broadcasts. There are some easy ways to make viewers feel comfortable. Make sure you always say where you are and what you are doing there. Repeating this often throughout the stream will help new viewers understand what your stream is about. Make sure to always answer their questions and pay attention to their comments.

Evan: You have to repeat yourself. People jump into videos late. Keep them engaged and give them information they need to know. Every three to five minutes you need to remind people what you are doing. Acknowledge their presence. Break the fourth wall and don’t pretend you’re lecturing. It’s more like a seminar than a lecture. People need to participate.

4. Staying stationary.

One of the greatest aspects of mobile livestreaming is that you can easily take your phone wherever you want to go. Phones are much smaller than most cameras, so you can take the viewer through different locations without worrying about lugging camera gear. If you stay stationary for too long, your viewers will get bored and leave.

Evan: You need an engaging backdrop to do a livestream. Be somewhere where there is something to look at. I’ll get on my bike and ride. I’ll just ride around wherever. Get your camera hooked up. Get interesting visuals going. Some of the most popular people are travel streamers. They always have something interesting going on.

5. Not bringing an extra battery.

Phone batteries can run dry quickly during a livestream as they take a lot of energy to produce. You don’t want to be reporting on a great story and suddenly have your phone die on you during the stream. It’s a good habit to always keep an extra battery on you, especially since live events can get interesting when you least expect it.

Liana: I always carry two power banks with me — everyday and everywhere. You never know when you’re going to need them. You may find a story. Last summer I was in Kythnos, and because of the soccer games, I was in a cafeteria watching the games with German tourists. I realized this is a great story: German tourists watching a soccer game on a Greek Island that is in the middle of a crisis.

Interested in receiving paid livestreaming opportunities? Learn more about becoming a mobile journalist on Storyhunter.

By Josh Futtersak, Storyhunter Writer