Have you been dreaming about building your own community of Twitch followers? Do you want to build video content for others to enjoy? Are you hoping that they’ll return time and time again to frolic through your very own corner of Twitch? This dream can become a reality, but first you need to take a few steps to get up and running.
If you want to start livestreaming on Twitch, you’ve come to the right place.
Wait, What’s a Twitch?!
For the most part, I’m going to assume that if you’re reading this, you probably have an idea about what the Twitch.TV platform is.
However, if you don’t have the slightest clue about Twitch, let me break it down for you. Twitch is a magical brew of live video streamed onto the internet, mixed with audience members who get to sit at home in pajamas and actually communicate with the person doing the streaming. Communication happens via Twitch Chat. The majority of streamers share games and tournaments, but Twitch members stream everything from social eating to performing arts.
During a live show, members of the audience can send online currency called bits, buy subscriptions (or subs for short), and donate money to the streamer. Twitch even has its own version of emojis called emotes.
All right, are you ready for the good stuff?
Preparing to Stream on Twitch
1. Join Twitch and create a channel.
First things first: You need a Twitch channel. Twitch channels are especially easy to make because all you have to do is create your user account on Twitch.TV. If you already have an account, you already have a channel!
To access your channel, open the menu in the top-right corner and then choose Channel.
2. Watch Twitch, learn Twitch, love Twitch.
Maybe you’ve been watching Twitch for years. If that’s the case, you can skip over this step because you’ve already done it.
If you’re new to Twitch, I recommend learning the ropes of the site before you load up and launch your first stream. The best way to do this is by watching and interacting with streamers and simply browsing around the purple world of Twitch. A few streams you can check out are PlayerOneEsports, PlayerOnePlayz, and my own stream, PeachyQueenXO. (Okay, so maybe I’m a little biased.)
The knowledge you’ll gain by using the site will help you feel more comfortable when you first start streaming.
3. Gear up! Get the basic equipment for streaming.
If you’ve totally fallen in love with Twitch and want to start streaming, you’ll need some equipment. “Equipment” might sound expensive, but the great thing is that it doesn’t have to be.
- Strong internet: To get started, let me state the obvious: You need internet access — preferably REALLY strong internet. Twitch has a quick and simple guide for you to read at https://stream.twitch.tv/encoding/
- Powerful computer: A computer is another obvious need, but the details matter. PCs work best and are prefered, especially if you plan to stream games, but you can use a laptop instead if needed. The PC I use and recommend is Alienware Aurora R6. I cannot stress enough how much I love Alienware. It’s clean, powerful, stylish, and sophisticated. If you aren’t a fan of Alienware, you have other options. My recommendation: Make sure your device has an Intel Core i5-4670, Windows 7 or newer, and 8GB of RAM.
- A good microphone: A decent microphone is a must for streaming. You need a microphone so that you don’t get a bunch of white noise and static in your audio. I like the Blue Design Yeti USB Microphone.
- Multiple monitors: If you plan to stream games, I recommend using two monitors. One is for gaming, and the other is for running OBS (which I explain momentarily) and leaving Twitch pulled up so you can read chat.
What is OBS? It stands for Open Broadcasting Software. This software allows your project (your Twitch stream) to go live and helps you set up different scenes, transitions, and even a green screen if you want to use one. OBS comes in a couple flavors:
- OBS Studio: It’s absolutely FREE to use and is open source. (obsproject.com)
- Stream Labs: This option is also FREE. (streamlabs.com)
- X-Split: Again, FREE. Yay for free stuff! (www.xsplit.com)
To be able to stream live on Twitch, you need to download and learn one of the options listed above. I personally use OBS studio. It may look super intimidating and scary at first, but it’s actually quite simple to learn. Because the internet offers so many learning sources, such as YouTube and blog posts, you’ll be able to teach yourself easily and quickly. You can also always ask a friend who may stream on Twitch or post a tech question on Reddit.com under the /Twitch subreddit.
You can also use Stream Labs for alerts. One of the best parts of Twitch is how interactive it it. When you set up alerts, you’ll get notified of donations, follows, subscriptions, hosts, and raids! (A raid is what happens when one Twitch streamer ends a broadcast and basically sends all of his or her current viewers to another channel.) You can also set up widgets, which are various kinds of tools. Widgets range from a chat box on screen to a donation goal box and a tip jar.
By using the features that Stream Labs offers, you can take a bland stream that looks like this (P.S. that’s me)…
…and turn it into something more lively and engaging, like this!
4. Ready for the big leagues? Get advanced equipment for streaming.
When you’re comfortable with streaming and ready to make more investments in equipment, I recommend these tools:
- El Gato Collapsible Green Screen: I love this green screen because it collapses, making it easy to put away after a stream. You can even travel with it! (For a more budget-friendly option, you can use a green screen sheet.)
- El Gato Stream Deck: This small doohickey is an absolute must for me. It helps organize scenes on OBS, and you can even add buttons for sound effects.
- Dragonpad USA Microphone Studio Pop Filter: Pop filters are great because they keep spit off your mic and keep loud pops from happening when air from your mouth hits the mic.
- Logitech BRIO – Ultra HD Webcam: Some webcams can be grainy and low quality. This webcam is very clear and makes your stream look more professional. Logitech makes a variety of webcams, so you can always find one that’s budget friendly.
- LIGHTS!! Make sure you have a brightly lit room or use actual staging lights. There are many great lighting options to choose from on Amazon.com. Ring lights are a great first step. Lights are important because they can prevent you from appearing washed out looking like a terrifying demon in an ultra dark room.
5. Customize your channel settings.
Now the fun starts: You can customize your own panels, emotes, offline screen, avatar, cover photo, and the Title and Category bar.
Panel: A panel is basically an information box for your viewers to check out. Common info panels include social media links, an About Me bio, or subscription information to showcase emotes and provide a link so followers can subscribe easily. You can update your panels by going to your channel and choosing Edit Panels.
Below are examples of Twitch panels.
Emotes: Emotes are the custom emojis in the world of Twitch, and if you click Twitch Affiliate, you can create three personal emotes for subscribers. Subscribers can pay $4.99 for a tier-one emote, $9.99 for the tier-one and tier-two emotes, or $24.99 for all three emotes. Do you see those things called Subscriber Badges or sometimes Loyalty Badges? When you become a subscriber on a streamer’s channel, you get sub badges. Sub badges are basically levels — they change depending on how many months you have been subscribed to the streamer. They start off at one month, then three, six, and then a year! It’s a great idea to have your sub badges grow or transition. That way each level is different, and you can tell subs apart. YouTube has some create instructional videos for creating and uploading your custom emotes and sub badges.
The offline screen: The offline screen is what your viewers see if they hang out at your channel when you aren’t live. You can customize it to show your schedule or leave it simple with just the word Offline, as shown in the top-right corner here in the following image.
To change your offline screen, first click the main menu in the top-right corner and choose Dashboard. Then on the left, under Settings, click Channel. Scroll to the Video Player Banner section and update the image there.
Cover photo and avatar: This is what you and your viewers see at the top of your channel. The avatar is basically your profile picture so I suggest it be a photo of you, a logo, or even an emote. The cover photo is just a long photo at the top of your channel. You can have it be your Twitch channel name or a photo that represents your stream. To update your cover photo and avatar, access the Settings for your account.
Title and Category bar: Below your offline photo is a little bar that says Title and Category. When you start streaming, you will change this daily depending on what you’re streaming. You can create your own title however you please. (I keep mine fun and bubbly, which fits my streamer persona.) You’ll also need to change the Category to the game or event you’re streaming. Twitch offers many categories. You can stream everything from travel around the world to music!
To update your Title and Category bar, go to your channel and click the Edit button on the bar below the main video display.
REMEMBER: It’s important to update the Title and Category bar every time you stream so people who are browsing through categories can find you! The update also lets your followers know what to expect when they come into your stream.
6. Develop your streamer persona.
When you’re streaming, enjoy the ride and don’t forget to have FUN. Even if no one shows up the first time, it’s important to be active. That includes talking to yourself and being animated. I follow streams to interact and watch someone be interactive. If I come across a stream where the host is silent, dead-faced, and apparently bored, I don’t usually stay.
You can better develop your streamer personality by watching your old broadcasts (or, as Twitch calls them, VODs) and deciding what you want to change. Hang out in different streams and find communities that fit your tastes.
To finish up, here are a few last words:
- Never give up, no matter how dead your stream may be. It takes time to gain followers and create a community.
- Make sure to laugh. Twitch is about fun, adventure, and spontaneity.
- Never compare your growth to someone else’s. Everyone grows at their own pace, and Twitch is a community where we can all grow together.
Bleed purple for life!
With love, PeachyQueenXO
Courtney Gray is a Content and Social Media Creator for Player One Esports, powered by BitLoft.