Host Anya Razina spoke with Shane Miller for this edition of Friday Lives. Shane is a Cycling Tech Product Specialist, Champion Cyclist, and creator of the GPLama YouTube channel, which has over 120,000 followers. Anya and Shane talked about indoor and outdoor cycling, perspectives of live streaming for athletes, and the future of sports broadcasting.
👉 How it all started
Shane has two passions. The first one is cycling — the turning point in his life was the Tour de France in 2003, after which he got a bike and started his athletic journey. The second one is technology, as he studied IT at university. With the pace of time, technologies started invading every sphere of our lives, and cycling was no exception.
The technology was creeping more and more into cycling, and now it’s just a perfect crossover of my two passions.
With the development of YouTube interconnection of these two, interests have come to another level, so Shane started his channel where he shares some tips and live streams indoor cycling sessions.
🤓 How to engage people in indoor cycling
Shane started indoor cycling as a way of training. Since then, it has become a complex activity that unites people all over the world. Now you can ride with your friends while staying at home.
We have connected worlds. We have multiplayer competitions in games where you raise people all over the world. If you enjoy indoor cycling as much as I do, you’ll love it. If you enjoy it just even a little bit, as much as I do, you’ll still love it.
Shane spoke about how he uses new technology for indoor cycling. You don’t just look at the wall anymore. With new inventions, you can surround yourself with a simulation of an outdoor ride (you can even ride up the hills without going outside). Now you can gather your friends for so-called “social rides” online and have even more fun together.
⚙️ Set up
Before you start streaming, you need to get ready for it. Shane told us about his streaming setup. It can be divided into three parts:
1. For cycling
For Shane, streaming requires a lot of equipment just for cycling. He showed his “Lama lab” equipped with a bike, a smart trainer, heart rate monitors, fans, computers, and floor mats, as well as the food you need.
The requirements may seem a bit complicated, but Shane is a tech enthusiast, and he finds this part just as exciting as the cycling itself. Another pro of it — you get a better stream quality that can help engage the audience.
Talking about software, Shane uses OBS Studio for streaming and works on Windows 10 — Microsoft uses AI to remove all the background noise that can sometimes be distracting and annoying.
Background noise is an enemy of a live streamer.
He also uses a special companion app for chatting with friends and uses this chat while live streaming to keep in touch. With Restream Studio, however, you can make things much easier. It lets you stream with or without OBS Studio. It also has a Chat feature, where you can see all the comments from multiple platforms in one place.
🚴 Live streaming challenges for cyclists
As you can imagine, it is a bit challenging to ride and speak at the same time. An elevated heart rate can become an obstacle for casual conversations. Mispronunciation and stumbling over words are two of Shane’s most typical troubles. However, with some tools, such as Pulsoid, you can turn it into another part of the entertainment.
If I’m above 160, and I’ll give you an answer that doesn’t make sense, ask me again when my heart rate’s below 160.
Another possible challenge (which is pretty common for all kinds of streamers) is tech failure. You can never predict sudden blackouts or connection problems.
You’ve got to take care of the audio, the visuals, respond to questions, and troubleshoot things in real time.
However, Shane thinks such minor inconveniences can benefit you, as viewers see the streamer as a real human with emotions and ways to cope with problems and start rooting for them.
🤔 Are there any unstreamable sports?
Shane doesn’t think so. He believes everything is a matter of resources and time. Even if it is skydiving, you can still pre-record the video and comment on it later during the live stream.
Someone can live stream something that you’d think would never be streamable.
🔥 How to get ready for your first stream
Shane suggests some tips to get ready and become more confident if you feel insecure about starting live streaming.
Shane advises practicing offline if you are not sure about your articulation or just the general fluency of your speech. You can also record yourself (and publish the video later if you like it).
You can do absolutely everything the same as a live stream, but just not hit that broadcast button.
Get inspired by others
When starting to live stream, you may find it challenging to find your own style. Shane inspires us to look at other content creators, absorb interesting ideas, and look for insights. Don’t be afraid to ask them for advice. They don’t necessarily have to produce the same type of content you are going to. There’s still plenty of insights you can get. What emotion did they convey? What emotion did you feel watching that and why?
That’s how you can interact better, to get the viewership and provide value to viewers.
Take care of audio
For Shane, viewers can deal with not-so-perfect video, but the audio’s good quality is a must. If you want to learn more about it, you can find some suggestions for how to sound better with top microphones in our blog.
Consistency is crucial. Shane says it is important to make predictable content so your audience will know what to expect and therefore become more engaged and loyal to you. Of course, you may diversify the topics, but they still should be connected to the channel’s central theme.
Shane stresses that it is rarely possible to get famous overnight. Some videos might get more viewers and some less, but don’t be discouraged; it takes some time to build your audience.
If you try and go viral with every video, it’ll never work. You can never gain the algorithm.
🍀 Live streaming vs. evergreen content
On his channel, Shane uploads some bike-related reviews — power trainers, bikes, smart trainers, etc. — as well as some tips. It’s almost a library of content for Shane, like a standard library in the real world. On the other hand, live streaming helps create and build a community of like-minded people and engage them in interaction.
A live stream is also a great source of new ideas for your future content because you can ask people what they are interested in.
😷 COVID-19’s influence on sports streaming
On one hand, COVID-19 was a terrible blow to all athletes, especially cyclists, as you just can’t train outdoors during a lockdown.
Due to the pandemic, indoor activities, such as indoor cycling, have thrived (even competitions and championships have migrated to online platforms). Shane admits that online training became more prevalent during 2020, but he doesn’t think it will completely eradicate traditional sports.
I think we’re striving to go back to normal, with cycling races running again and us riding outside.
💪 How to grow a channel
For Shane, streaming is about being consistent and having some value for the viewership. The live stream should provide some informational or educational content. For example, Shane has reviews and how-to videos uploaded on his channel. Live streams can be valuable as well because you can interact with viewers in real time. According to Shane, they should feel that they have received a bit of experience without spending any money.
🤑 Monetization and sponsorship
Having grown the channel, you can start monetizing your content. There are several ways to do it.
Shane gets sponsored for reviewing products and shares his opinion with viewers. Sometimes it can be not only educational but also captivating and funny. Once, he was asked to review indoor and outdoor bikes for the GTA game, so he turned into a game live streamer for a bit. As a result, these videos attracted more people to the channel. Gamification is a good way to promote your content.
Shane also uses a YouTube monetization program, but it can be seasonal. For example, Christmas is always good because more partners are willing to promote their holiday season. That’s where Restream Studio can be handy. It lets you benefit from multiple platforms at the same time. By streaming to more than 30 platforms, you can find the more suitable and comfortable ones to monetize your content on. You can also share the link with your friends to invite them and start online marathons together.
- Any athlete can start streaming, from skydiver to cyclist — it is just a matter of resources. Just think of what is valuable and exciting about your content and start!
- Take care of your setup: prepare the place to train and organize the shooting space. Pay special attention to audio settings so people don’t get distracted by the background noises.
- Get inspired by others. Don’t hesitate to watch and learn from others — that is how you get new ideas.
- Be consistent. Let people understand what to expect from you. You may try to experiment, but don’t get too far from the main topic.
- Keep calm and carry on streaming. Even if there are some troubles during a live stream, there’s no need to get stressed. Your audience can get emotionally involved and even more engaged thanks to some inconveniences.
Thanks to Shane for sharing all his insights about live streaming and cycling!