When you’re thinking about how to start a streaming service, there are numerous considerations that come into play before you begin. Most importantly, having an overarching strategy that aligns with your business vision is crucial.
Below, we’ll be focusing on the key business and strategic decisions you will need to make when thinking about how to make a streaming website. After all, having a strategy and understanding the ‘what’ before you decide on the ‘how’ and ‘where’, will streamline and guide the rest of the process.
How to start a streaming service?
Decide how to add value to users’ lives
Attention is currency these days, and users are no longer subscribing to streaming apps that lack a clear value proposition.
Let’s assume you want to run a podcast on job hunting. Ask yourself – what exactly are you planning to offer to your audience? How will you set yourself apart from other streamers in your niche (i.e., what’s your unique value proposition?). Examples include leveraging your insider knowledge and experience as a recruiter, answering the difficult questions no one addresses, or offering free resume critiques to listeners.
Without a strategy for gaining and keeping people’s interest, growing your listener/viewer base on a streaming app to a point of monetization might be cut off.
Establish if and how you’d like to make revenue
Before starting any new venture, you must set your intention crystal clear. When launching a streaming service, there are two ways to go about it. Some streamers simply stream as a hobby and out of a passion to contribute to a community of like-minded individuals, and others intentionally build a strategy and plan to monetize their service.
If your intention is the former, then it would be of benefit for you to consider a free or affordable third-party platform to avoid high costs on a non-business-related project. If you intend to monetize, then the next step would be to decide whether you’d like to earn revenue through:
Ads, sponsored episodes, brand referrals – for example, affiliate discount codes for your listeners/viewers, etc.
User subscriptions – for example, monthly or yearly plans
Patreon, donations, or rewards from your audience/fan base.<
Although it might seem too early to start thinking about how you want to monetize your service and what your unique value proposition is, these considerations will impact what streaming platform you end up choosing (which we will cover further).
Create an editorial calendar
It’s 2022, and content is still king (or queen)! Whether you’re looking to launch an audio or video stream, content is the foundation of your streaming service, meaning it must be valuable to keep viewers/listeners coming back for more.
Before you decide which streaming app you’ll use (more on the intricacies later), you need to plan and strategize for each episode. For all forms of streaming – be it video, podcast, or interview style, you need to create an outline for each edition.
Planning episodes in advance will allow you plenty of time to prepare scripts if need be, and stay on track even in semi- or non-moderated interviews.
Decide on what features you will need
Depending on your niche and monetization goals (if any), you may want different features to help you deliver your content to the fullest. When planning out how to make a streaming website, this is arguably the most crucial element to think through, so don’t rush it.
For example, do you want a video-on-demand option or just a live streaming feature with no recordings? Or, perhaps, you need a feature that will allow you to collect donations live while you stream to your audience?
The degree of customization will depend on your streaming app of choice, but all of these options should be fleshed out and considered as you decide on how you’re going to bring your streaming service vision to life.
How to make a streaming website?
Conduct user research
Deep research is behind many of today’s successful products and services. As such, you need to thoroughly evaluate the needs of your audience before launching your streaming app.
If you’ve already used an external streaming platform, then you should have access to some insights on your audience and their preferences, which you can apply while building your own streaming website.
If you’re starting streaming from scratch, we recommend arranging in-depth surveys, user interviews, observational research, etc., to gauge your audience’s needs.
Run competitive research
What better research is there than dissecting what your competition is up to! Using software review sites such as Capterra, G2Crowd, or Serchen, you can find out third-party streaming app’s customers’ feedback and use those findings to your advantage by integrating certain features and leaving out others.
Another great research tool is social media. Check out the company profiles of well-established brands and see what people have to say in the comments section.
Decide if you want to do it in-house or not
Evaluate whether you have the resources (including the time, and the right people with the right expertise) to build a streaming app in-house, or if getting help from an external tech partner is a more reasonable approach.
For younger companies, and those in the growth/scaling stage, sustaining in-house developers may not be a viable option (the market for tech talent is very competitive). Hiring an agency could be a sound option in this scenario.
When companies are looking to launch what they deem might be the ‘next big thing,’ they often test the waters by launching a minimum viable product (MVP) before taking the bigger risk and investing large amounts of resources.
The same reasoning applies when launching your streaming website/service. You need to create an MVP, see how the market responds to your service, and strategize from there. In addition, dividing your product’s development into smaller chunks can make the budget more acceptable for the business. That being said, the goal is to produce an MVP that has the potential to be both valuable for the user and profitable.
After you launch the MVP, you’ll likely need to adjust by adding features as you go, based on the feedback you receive from your audience.
Here are a few MVP features you can consider when designing the first version of your app:
Play/pause/finish: before you can go live, you need features that enable you to start and finish streaming in a seamless and user-friendly way.
Signup form: a simple signup process enables viewers/listeners to register as a streaming app user and tune in. Fields you may want to include are email, password, phone number, and signup by social media platforms. With user-friendliness in mind, there should also be a ‘forget password’ feature.
Profile/personal data feature: you can allow users to share some personal information such as their interests, hobbies, and links to their social media profiles. This acts as a ‘profile’ feature and you can choose to let other users see each other’s profiles.
Settings: users appreciate features such as being able to set their profiles as private or public, having an option to block users, and mute notifications.
Chatting: when users are watching the live stream, there should be a chat option where thoughts and ideas can be exchanged.
Content search: users should have the ability to search for videos/podcasts by various categories.
Follow users: to be up to date with your content, users will want to follow/signup for notifications about upcoming events and live streams. You can include a ‘reminder’ option that integrates with their calendar, along with a countdown timer.
Figure out how you will monetize it
If you’ve decided you want to monetize your streaming service, here are four main strategies you can turn to:
Advertising (for example, a segment dedicated to a brand shout out, mentioning your affiliate discount codes)
Premium features (for example, access to more personalized content can be reserved for those who pay a higher fee)
Subscriptions (for example, monthly/yearly plans)
Partner programs (for example, partnering with third-party streaming apps who pay streamers if they reach certain criteria)
It’s worth brainstorming what your monetization model will look like at an early stage, as this dictates the app design and features that will be included.
When thinking about how to start a streaming service, it can feel ambiguous at first. By breaking down the process into simpler steps, including deciding on your unique value proposition, your monetization model, building an editorial calendar, and choosing a streaming website (or designing your own), the pieces will come together and you will be one step closer to realizing your streaming services vision and growing your business!