Welcome to Streamers on the Rise, where we find streamers who are growing their channels, content, and audiences in extraordinary ways. Each week we’ll talk with a creator about what goes into livestreaming–both on and off camera.
The first time Caitibugzz got 2,000 concurrent viewers on her Twitch stream, she had no idea that was kind of a big deal.
And before that, she had no idea she’d end up on Twitch at all.
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Caiti–like many other teens during the COVID pandemic–first joined TikTok, hoping to establish an audience on that platform. But it wasn’t too long before her For You page started showing her clips from Twitch streamers.
“I was like, ‘Wait, that looks really cool. I want to try that,'” she says. “I had never had Twitch before. I downloaded the app just spontaneously. I didn’t know anyone who streamed on Twitch, nothing.”
She realized growing organically on Twitch was pretty difficult, so she decided to try building an audience on TikTok before committing to streaming. When she finally did go live on Twitch, her plan worked: she had around 40 viewers for her first stream–and that was necessary, because Caiti isn’t a gamer. Her streams are all Just Chatting, relying entirely on her interacting with and reacting to her audience members.
Caiti hit a peak, she says, in 2021. That’s when she was bringing in 2,000 viewers a stream, and when things had become too intense for her to read every single chat message that came through. She’d started using a Google Form and Discord, having people submit things for her to react to on stream.
But with all those eyes on her came concerns about her safety. Caiti was just 16 at the time (18 now), and she found some people getting too parasocially intense. Luckily, she had some dependable mods to bring the banhammer, and trustworthy people in her community who’d report anyone who was weird about boundaries.
These days, Caiti’s streams have settled to about 500 concurrent viewers–and that’s just fine by her. She’s focused on graduating high school, getting her health stable after being diagnosed with both colitis and Crohn’s, and has plans to take a gap year before college where she’ll travel, try expanding into vlogs on YouTube, and, of course, do more streams.
Check out our chat with her below.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Tubefilter: Let’s start off super basic. If there are people who are reading this and they don’t know who you are, they haven’t seen your content, can you give me a little bit of introduction about you, where you’re from, and how you got into streaming?
Caitibugzz: Yes! I’m Caitibugzz. I started off on TikTok and that’s more so where I posted content and everything. Then I just started seeing clips from Twitch on my For You page on TikTok. I thought, That looks really interesting. I was like, “Wait, that looks really cool. I want to try that.” I had never had Twitch before. I downloaded the app just spontaneously. I didn’t know anyone who streamed on Twitch, nothing.
I just started. Then I took three days off, it was a little holiday from school, and I looked up YouTube tutorials on how to set up a Discord and how to set up a Twitch channel. Then I did it all and I just started streaming. Then I basically streamed every single week. I posted my clips of my Twitch on TikTok. I’m also on literally every social media, Instagram, Twitter, but I mostly just stream weekly on Twitch. That’s how I got into it. I started out on TikTok. I still do post on TikTok, but now I’m a Twitch streamer, officially. [makes air quotes]
Tubefilter: I think you count officially without the air quotes.
Caitibugzz: Yes, I guess so.
Tubefilter: Did you start building an audience on TikTok?
Caitibugzz: I was planning on becoming a TikToker. As soon as TikTok started, I started posting as if I was famous already, even though I didn’t have that many followers. I guess I did build this community, but when it came to Twitch, I wanted to separate the two because I didn’t…I don’t know, I wanted people to know me as a streamer and not as a TikToker because I like separating my things.
I made a different TikTok strictly for Twitch stuff. I had that one for two months before I even did my first stream because I knew that my audience was going to be a very important part of my Twitch streams. The whole reason I wanted to stream was to interact with people, because I wasn’t really good at games. I wasn’t doing it to show off my skills. I just wanted to talk to people. I needed people watching me to do that. I built a community beforehand. My first stream had 40 people or something. I didn’t really know what the averages were, because I had never been on Twitch before. Looking back, I’m like, “That’s really good.”
Tubefilter: That is good, yes.
Caitibugzz: For two months beforehand, I built up my community and then once I started streaming, I just kept going.
Tubefilter: You obviously started with a base–like you said, you had 40 people on your first stream, which is really impressive. How have things changed from when you first started streaming to now? Have you gotten better at anything? Have you changed things?
Caitibugzz: I don’t know. Definitely have gotten better from my first stream. My first stream was horrible. I didn’t have any moderators. I was streaming on a laptop that was not meant for streaming. It was basically a slideshow. Honestly, there was just no connection. It was very bad. Then I did start building up my community. I got mods. I started really interacting and creating the community and it was really nice. I knew that continuing for it, I wanted the community to be the biggest part of my streaming and stuff. Just because that’s what I wanted the main point to be.
Again, because I wasn’t really good at games or anything, so I wasn’t going to be a valor streamer or whatever. If I did play games on stream, it would be games that the viewers wanted to see or story time games. I continued with that idea and just kept streaming. Then more and more people liked me so they started watching me and it was really fun. Then I hit a peak. I did back in 2021, I hit a peak and it was crazy because I still hadn’t realized how many viewers I was actually getting. How it was a big deal because it was 2,000 people, which looking back on it now is insane.
Again, because I had never grown up on Twitch or Discord or any of this stuff. I didn’t know what was good or not. I was just streaming and doing my own thing. Now looking back on it, obviously it peaked and then things have calmed down. Now I’m at 500 viewers, it’s more calm now. I never really changed the things I did. I just kept doing what I was doing. A lot of viewer-incorporated things. I would judge their rooms or have them ask me questions, that kind of stuff. I never really changed the things I did. I just went with what I was doing, and then the viewers would fluctuate and things would change. Definitely, it did get better from the first stream because that one was just bad. I learned from my mistakes. Definitely.
Tubefilter: Two thousand is a ton of people.
Caitibugzz: It is so much.
Tubefilter: I feel like we grow up with YouTube and it’s like, “Oh, this got one million views. Oh, this got 10 million views.” It’s like everybody knows that. That’s an impressive benchmark, universally. But with Twitch, I feel like the general public doesn’t have the same kind of knowledge when it comes to data and what average numbers are, what big numbers are…
Caitibugzz: It is a rollercoaster. Especially for the streamers, because it can fluctuate so much. You’re like, “Oh my gosh, what am I doing wrong?” Blah, blah. I used to be very anxious about that stuff because once I did start realizing how many viewers I had, I was like, “Oh!” I started to try and if something got more views one time, a certain stream, then I would try to keep doing those streams. I realized like the more I tried to do things based on the viewer count, even if it did help with the viewer count, it just wasn’t as fun.
I lost the aspect of why I started streaming and doing the things that I like doing. Then, anyway, with Twitch, it’s so unpredictable. If I just catered to whichever got me the most views, even Twitch, it’s going up and down. Even the highest number of views that even drops every now and then. It’s just so unpredictable. Again, that’s why only constant thing I can do is just do whatever I have fun doing. Then I hope it does good.
Tubefilter: Honestly, that’s the best way to approach it. How old are you now?
Caitibugzz: I’m 18. I started streaming again in 2021. I was 16 when I started streaming and now I’m 18. Crazy.
Tubefilter: Oh man, you were young. I mean, you still are young, but you started at 16, that’s really young.
Caitibugzz: I started out really young–and again, I just threw myself in. I didn’t have any friends on Twitch, didn’t know what Twitch was, but I was like, “Oh, let me start streaming.” Then I had my big blowup at the end of 2021. I was still 16. That’s crazy. I was young. Still am young.
Tubefilter: Well, I’m glad you had mods then.
Caitibugzz: Yes, exactly. Learned from that mistake.
Tubefilter: Are you still in high school? About to graduate?
Caitibugzz: I’m about to graduate in two weeks or something. I am so excited. Then I’m going to do a gap year. I was going to go to college, but I’m still going to try the content stuff, do a bunch of different stuff, spread my wings a little bit and then try everything. Then probably go to college after the gap year. I graduate soon, so I’m excited.
Tubefilter: If you do go to college, what will you go for?
Caitibugzz: I was planning on going to college for film. I really love movies and this is the weirdest thing, but with my vlogs that I post on YouTube and stuff, I take a bunch of videos and then shorten it all and then put music behind it, so I was like, it would fun to, for a living, edit movie trailers and that kind of stuff. I was just really interested in all that.
When it comes to movies and stuff, my favorite part is the trailers. I can just watch trailers an entire night and not even watch a single movie. I just love it. That’s why I wanted to go see that kind of stuff. I just love movies and all that. I was either going to go for film, or maybe even, I don’t know, something in the arts like music or even English, like writing, I don’t know, something around there. No math or science. None of that. I don’t want any of that. [laughs]
@twitch.caitibugzz glad to be back <3 #caitibugzz #FilmTeyvatIslands #streamer #twitchstreamer #twitch #twitchclips ♬ original sound – iver ! ☆
Tubefilter: Banish it. So obviously right now you have school, but what’s your current streaming schedule? Do you have one?
Caitibugzz: It’s all over the place, actually. This past year has just been crazy, because I don’t know if you know, maybe you don’t, but I’ve been in and out of the hospital with diagnosis and stuff.
Tubefilter: How’s that going?
Caitibugzz: Let me tell you about that. It’s so hard with streaming because so many factors of life kind of, you know, but I did have a schedule where I would stream four times a week, Monday through Thursday, and then it got set completely off. I got diagnosed last year around this time, a few months earlier, maybe, with ulcerative colitis, which that was like a whole thing. It made it hard because not only the fact that I was in the hospital, but even when I was back from the hospital, just the energy aspect of it and not being able to focus all my energy with that. Then I finally got a hold of that streaming stars go and I’m like okay. What was it, February, March this year? Literally a few months ago I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.
Tubefilter: Oh no, not both.
Caitibugzz: Yes. They just keep throwing it at me and I just keep taking it. I had colitis and I thought I was finally cruising and then they threw the Crohn’s curveball.
Tubefilter: You have a lot of diet changes and stuff?
Caitibugzz: Well, look, I was going to do the diet. They gave me multiple things. I didn’t end up doing the diet because they said they didn’t really know if it would work for me. Also, I’m just bad with diets and eating in general. They have me doing these, it sounds scary, but it isn’t, these chemo self-injections, which I say chemo and people get scared. It’s like this much dosage. [holds her fingers a tiny bit apart] It’s not that bad.
Tubefilter: Yes, just medicinal therapy.
Caitibugzz: Yes, exactly. Then, I just do that every week. I will say the Crohn’s is definitely different. Same kind of thing as the colitis, but the energy aspect with Crohn’s…So much less energy, very fatigued all the time. That’s really impacted my streaming. I feel like I don’t like streaming and stuff when I’m not full energy. I don’t want to just half do things. Now I’ve set my schedule to at least once a week streams. If I’m feeling good, I’ll stream more. This week I streamed two times. Then I’ll do things because I’m not streaming as much, I’ll do things that don’t require getting up and using as much energy like, YouTube videos, TikToks that kind of stuff. Right now, I’m working on like making music, that kind of stuff. I’m seeing my options, but I used to have a good stream schedule. Now it’s a little [wobbles her hand] but so’s life.
Tubefilter: You’re conscious, so that’s a good thing! Hopefully the fatigue fades. Once you graduate, are you expecting to change your schedule?
Caitibugzz: Oh, definitely. After I graduate, I will be traveling a lot, actually, around summertime, because I’m going to go see my streaming friends in the U.K. and do all that kind of stuff. Obviously going to all the conventions, like TwitchCon and all that. I plan on a lot of traveling. And then obviously when I’m not traveling, I’m going to have so much more time without school and all that so I can stream regularly and then also have time to do other content stuff. Hopefully, I can get back into my streaming schedule of at least four times a week. That’d be good.
Tubefilter: Got it. Cool. That’s for Twitch, and then are you planning to do any other things during this gap year, are you focusing on any other platforms?
Caitibugzz: Definitely. I think with the gap year, now that I’m going to have more time, definitely want to focus more on YouTube, because people have told me that they think I should get into YouTube. I do vlogs, little vlogs and I put music behind it, but there’s no really talking or anything like that. They love those. Every now and then I’ll post a video or vlog of me actually talking and just me being myself and they tell me to do that a lot more. I just don’t, because I don’t have the time. I definitely want to check out posting vlogs and just everyday life kind of stuff on YouTube. Then definitely music as well. I really want to get into music, just posting songs on Spotify. Maybe it’ll go somewhere, who knows. YouTube and music making, definitely.
@twitch.caitibugzz “oh” 💀 #caitibugzz #streamer #twitchstreamer #twitchclips #twitch #TopGunMode ♬ Coconut Mall (From “Mario Kart Wii”) – Arcade Player
Tubefilter: I know you built the start of your community on TikTok, but can you talk a little bit more about how you built your community on Twitch over the last couple of years? Like the importance of interactivity.
Caitibugzz: Yes. It was very interesting. A lot of people say that they really like my community or it’s a good community. I built it…Well, and it was weird because I never really thought about it. I had no clue what I was doing. I was just winging it. Weirdly enough, when I first started, my community was very strong. Even now, I still have a good community, but at the very beginning it was super strong. Especially with Discord and stuff. Everyone would talk on there, play games with each other.
I think because I had a smaller view count and I could really talk to the viewers and read all their chats, it was very much more personal and I could even play games with them, that kind of stuff. It just built a good connection. We’d have inside jokes and stuff and it made them feel special and it was just a good time.
Then once I couldn’t really interact the same ways I used to once my community started growing, especially when my viewer counts started growing and chats became too fast, that’s why I started doing the interactive streams where they would fill out a Google form and I could read those individually. Or the Twitter hashtags and I could scroll through those and make sure to really look at the things they posted, and talk about it and try and interact as much as I could. Even replying to them. I still made a pretty good boundary because sometimes people get a little too attached and a little too weird. It’s like, “Don’t worry, I’m just a creator, guys.” I did struggle with that more than some people because I was very interactive and nice. I yelled at them when I needed to and I got mad when I needed to and then they realized that and they backed off.
But yeah, definitely just interacting on streams and in Twitter and then TikTok. Sometimes I would reply to their comments like with a video and joke around with them. I really do like my community, especially because they send me letters through P.O. box and I read their letters on streams. Sometimes I’ll read their DMs and I won’t respond that much, but I will read them and they just talk about how much I help them and that kind of stuff. I’m very open with mental health stuff and also physical health because I post about when I was diagnosed and how much I struggle with it, that kind of stuff. Then people reach out who also have Crohn’s and colitis and it’s very sweet, just knowing how personable I am to them, and how much I can help them just by being honest about my own life. I really do like my community.
All of that built a good community. They look up to me a lot, which is weird. I don’t know why it’s weird. I didn’t really have anyone who looked up to me. It was very new, but it was awesome. They would even, I don’t know, they’d take after some style things I’d do, like little hats that I’d wear they would wear them. It was just so cute. It’s a very sweet community. Yes, interacting with them is very important to build a good community and setting boundaries, making sure they listen to it.
Tubefilter: Yeah, you’re young, and the fact that you blew up at 16 scares me a little bit. How have you handled safety aside from setting boundaries? How have you protected your safety?
Caitibugzz: Honestly, it was crazy. When I first blew up, more so, because I didn’t know what I was doing. If I would’ve blown up around now after being on for two years, that would’ve been okay. It was the same year that I started, a few months in, so I had no clue what I was doing. Safety, again, my first stream, I didn’t have mods. It was very not good. I guess I did get lucky when it came to the safety aspect because not too many people went after me trying to find my information all that kind of stuff. There were still people. I just had to really talk with my mods, that kind of stuff. Streams, all that we would do, like block a bunch of terms.
I would make sure there was a bunch of mods on my streams and they acted fast in case someone did anything. If someone did post something and I saw it, I didn’t acknowledge it, or I would brush it off, didn’t make a big deal about it. I wouldn’t interact with anyone who was spreading any info about me because I didn’t want more people to see it. I would just report it and move on. It was very scary, especially because I was young, but I would be out with friends and I would to see a post or something that was very– invading my privacy and it would stress me out the rest of the night.
It was just very bad. Some of the stuff I just couldn’t help, it was just because I was on the internet, I couldn’t really help it. It was especially weird going to school though. I will admit. Going to school when I blew up was basically torture. It did help me a little bit because I did end up going cyber for a little bit, which it was because of my illnesses and stuff because I was just getting too behind in school but actually low-key was saving me because in school, people would yell my username in the halls. They’d ask to take a picture with me or they’d like to snap secret pictures of me and people would like to follow me.
It was very, very weird. Definitely going cyber honestly helped me so much, which it’s not necessarily the solution but it helped a lot. Mostly, just controlling the things I could with my moderators and that kind of stuff, and making sure all this stuff in my past accounts, that kind of stuff everything was taken care of. Yes. That kind of stuff. It’s pretty scary though. Not going to lie.
Tubefilter: Yes. That’s wild. I’m glad you’re doing okay. I feel like a lot of people, especially people your age, struggle to set those boundaries. The parasocial relationship thing is very real. A lot of creators struggle with it and maybe don’t know how to deal with it. I’m glad that you are able to be that self-assured and tell these people to knock it off.
Caitibugzz: Yes. They take it too far sometimes, you’ve just got to put them in check. Make sure it’s not a joking tone because they will literally just take you out. You got to be stern with it.
Tubefilter: I feel like this is something that every streamer deals with, and then they don’t really talk about it very much.
Caitibugzz: Oh, definitely. Parasocial relationships, that’s such a big topic with streamers. Some streamers, people are crazy about them. It’s weird, because the viewers act as if they aren’t real people sometimes when they talk about them. They talk about it like they’re talking about a character that they love in a show or something. I’m like, “This is a real person.” Just some of the things people say, it’s just crazy how people’s heads just get so in this fantasy that’s just not real.
Tubefilter: Yeah, it’s wild to see. To wrap up, what are your plans and goals for the next year–aside from getting healthy, or getting at least more energy?
Caitibugzz: Yes, definitely getting healthy. Goals. I don’t know, I find it hard setting goals for myself because I get so down if I don’t meet them, that kind of stuff. No, no, no, that’s okay. I’m not going to set like, “I need this many followers” that kind of stuff. I thought about that. I used to think like that when I started, because that’s what everyone did. They’d be like, “I hope my goal for the end of the year is this many followers.” It’s just not, it doesn’t work that way. My goal is to still be doing something that I really love. Whether it’s streaming or making music, or doing YouTube. I hope I find, because even with streaming, I always do so many different things on my stream because I can never find my thing. My thing is a bunch of different, trying everything. I want to be able to find my niche, and the thing that I really like doing, and then I can continue with that. That’s my goal, to find my calling, or whatever.
Tubefilter: Is there anything else that you wanted to talk about? Any cool projects you’re working on? What about your songs?
Caitibugzz: I’m very excited about the songs and everything because my friend–who used to stream, doesn’t stream anymore–he produces music, that kind of stuff. Ever since I saw him producing music and then he’d post it, and all of his viewers on stream even, he incorporated his music into his streams. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. They’d get so excited when a song would come out, and I’m like, “I want to do that. This is perfect.” I love music, I love interacting with my viewers, and I’m like, “That’s what I want to do.”
I picked up guitar lessons, and I have five songs so far. I want to release a little EP, and just see what my viewers think about it. I want to see if they’d make little TikToks to it, and that kind of stuff. I’m very excited about the songs, and seeing how the community thinks about it.