The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Twitch Streaming
Live streaming on platforms like Twitch and YouTube are some of the most popular methods of content creation in recent memory. Many platforms have a live streaming capability however, Twitch is by a large margin the most popular at the moment. What was once thought of as a platform solely for video game streams has become a creative hub for everything from video games to cooking shows.
If you have the desire to live stream your content, whether it is gaming or something else, you need to consider using Twitch. But how do you start? Read on to discover the complete beginner’s guide to twitch streaming.
Create a Twitch Account
Twitch is the leader of online live streaming. According to one study, as of 2019, Twitch was leading the market with 73% of views. That is quite a large margin and one that should not be ignored.
Twitch has such a large audience that you can reach. While other platforms also have live streaming options, Twitch’s sole purpose has always been live content, so it is set up to foster that type of environment.
Starting at the beginning means creating an account on Twitch. Even if you just wanted to interact with other streamers, you first need a Twitch account. The account itself will provide you the main portal into your live streaming content. So what do you need to do to create a Twitch account? It is pretty simple.
- Read the community guidelines on the Twitch website. It is good to familiarize yourself with the guidelines before you start so that you know you are always following the rules. You do not want any misunderstandings or accidents that could hinder your performance on the platform, especially at the beginning.
- On the Twitch website, simply click the “Sign Up” tab, and you will be brought to the form you need to create an account. Like other platforms, you will include your name, login credentials, and similar information. Once done, your account will be active.
- You need to activate two-factor authorization if you want to stream. The platform requires this. You cannot do this on mobile, so make sure you have a desktop nearby to activate this feature.
Creating your account is the first step toward streaming on Twitch. Once you have an account created, you will be able to add a profile image and begin with the next phase of your Twitch journey.
Planning Your Content for Twitch
Twitch is normally thought of as a platform for gameplay streaming, but this is not the case anymore. If you have content you can livestream, then you can use Twitch. There is a large variety of streamers who stream content that has nothing to do with video games.
However, there is a common misconception that you can just create an account, get the proper equipment, and start streaming without much thought. This most likely will not work, but this does not need to be discouraging.
As with any form of content, you need to take your time and put a fair amount of effort into your project. Remember, if you want people to care about your content, they need to see that you care, too.
The more you plan, the easier it will be to get started. Consider the following elements when planning what content you would like to stream.
- What category of content are you going to create?
- What do you enjoy? What are your hobbies? Can they be translated into content?
- Is the content you want to stream able to be created consistently?
These are some of the questions you need to consider at the beginning because once you have the answers to them, you will be able to create your content with ease.
Categories of Content
There are categories of content you can choose from. For example, do you want to stream video game content, or do you want to stream cooking content? Do you want to do live chats, or do you want to paint?
That said, you are not boxed in with what category of content you choose. Many Twitch streamers will choose multiple categories and switch between them. This has a few benefits to it.
- A variety of content keeps your audience engaged. When you have different forms of content being streamed regularly, it keeps your audience coming back. It removes the possibility of monotony from your channel.
- It keeps you interested. Many content creators have cited burnout throughout the years because of making the same content over and over again. When you switch it up, you keep yourself interested, which will keep you motivated to create more content.
Of course, when you are just starting, it can be difficult to create a variety of content. So, consider starting with one form of content, and once you are settled and comfortable with that content, begin to branch out.
This does not mean you should try to create content for things you do not know or do not want to do. If you are a gamer who also likes to have non-game streams where you just chat, this is fine. Having a clear idea of the kind of content you want to create will simply focus your efforts to create better, higher-quality content.
What Do You Want to Stream?
This is slightly different from the category of content. This is the specific content you want to make. The category is the broad classification of the specific content you want to make.
It is important to enjoy the content you are creating. Your audience will likely be able to tell if the content isn’t genuine and when building a community, you do not want to appear disingenuous or fake. One of the key things to think about when considering the type of content you want to stream is what you want to be known for and what you want to build a community around because this is what you will be surrounded by every time you go live.
So, you need to pick content you enjoy making. For example, do you love video games? Make streams of you playing, discussing, and critiquing video games. Do you love reviewing products? Create a live stream of you reviewing certain products. Remember to keep the content unique, if your goal is building a community and audience, they have to have a reason to come to you over someone else doing the same type of content.
Another benefit to creating the content you love is that it will keep you motivated. In the beginning, as with any endeavor, it may seem like an arduous process and it can take some time get the viewership you want; patience is crucial!
However, by making content you love, it will be more bearable and more enjoyable during the ghost town phase of your live streaming career. As with most things, if you don’t love what you’re doing, you won’t stick with it.
Consistent Content is Key to Success
In the online world, consistency is crucial. Its incredibly difficult to have success without it. The last thing you want is to have people forget about you. Additionally, you cannot create any sort of momentum if you are not consistent with your content output.
Think about what you want to stream. Can this type of content be streamed regularly? If the answer is “yes,” then you are ready to begin. If you are not sure, you should take a closer look at your plan and consider whether or not creating standalone YouTube content is better for what you are wanting to accomplish.
Remember, having a plan for your content is like having a roadmap to success. It is the outline you will use to make your creative decisions and to keep you focused on your ultimate goals. You do not need a script or anything like that, but you do need to have a solidly worked-out idea to branch out from.
How to Grow on Twich
The most common reason why people give up on live streaming is due to a lack of engagement, in other words a lack of viewers. The most effective way to grow on Twitch, YouTube Gaming, or any other live streaming platform is to create other short and long-form content on other, more discoverable, platforms such as Tiktok and YouTube. This gives you another opportunity for your ideal audience to find you on platforms that are designed with discoverability in mind where Twitch and even YouTube Gaming do not currently excel in this areas.
When creating content for these platforms, remember that the same rules apply when it comes to creating unique and interesting content. Try not to simply download your vods from Twitch and reuploading them on YouTube as this is unlikely to attract a lot of attention.
Equipment and Software for Twitch Streaming
Now that you know what content you are going to create, it is time to start building your streaming setup. This does not have to be expensive. You can make a cheap beginner’s setup and upgrade later as your channel gets more popular.
But what do you need to begin streaming? Here are a few of the piece of equipment and software you will need to get started:
- Streaming software. When you are beginning, it is best to use software encoders. Some options include OBS Studio, XSplit, and Twitch Studio.
- Desktop computer. While it is possible to stream from your console, desktop computers are the most popular way to stream and the most reliable. You need a desktop because it is stronger and able to handle both streaming and gameplay simultaneously.
- Microphones. You want to make sure people can hear your voice clearly and crisply. Muddled audio can ruin a stream and cause people to avoid your channel. It does not matter how great the content is: if your audience cannot hear it, they will not engage with it.
- Cameras or Webcams. You may or may not choose to be on camera, depending on your niche. However, if you do decide to be on camera, you will need a quality camera or webcam to the job done. Live streams do not require you to have the highest-quality image to get popular.
- Lighting. If you are going to be on camera, then you need to have good lighting. A poorly lit video will disengage your audience.
- A green screen. This is optional, but you may decide you want to have a green screen, so superimpose different images behind you while you stream. This is not necessary, but it is something to consider.
A basic setup will not take long to put together. It is possible you already have a lot of this equipment.
To stream, you need to have software to make the stream possible. This is what separates live streaming content from pre-made content, such as the videos you find on YouTube.
There are three great options to look at when you are starting on Twitch. Two of these options are free, which is even better when you are starting since you do not know how much you are going to want to invest.
How to Use OBS Studio
OBS Studio is one the most popular streaming software used on Twitch. This option is free and while it has a little extra setup, is great for beginners who want to stream without spending too much.
Follow these steps to set up OBS Studio:
- Download OBS Studio onto your computer. Once you are logged in, you will select Settings.
- In settings, there is an option for Stream. Select it.
- Once you are in the stream setting, you will set your service to Twitch. You will then log in to Twitch. Your OBS Studio is now directly connected with your Twitch account.
Now that you have set up your OBS Studio with your Twitch account, it is time to start streaming. Follow the following steps to begin streaming with OBS Studio:
- First, you need to right-click the Sources option in OBS Studio. Once you have done this, you will click Add, which will allow you to add what source you want to stream. For this example, select Game Capture.
- Next, you can select which game you are going to capture from a dropdown menu that says Select Application. Remember, you need to have the game open on your computer.
- Next, right-click Sources again. Now you can add any additional sources you may want to stream.
- Select Preview Stream and Edit Scene to customize how your sources will appear. For example, you can add your webcam as an additional source and then modify it to be a small box while the game is on the big screen.
- Once you are satisfied with your settings for your additional sources, click Start Streaming. Your stream will then be live on Twitch.
How to Use XSplit
XSplit is another one of the more popular streaming software you can use on Twitch. There is a free version; however, for this option, it is recommended to use the paid version. It is not overly expensive and can start as low as $2.50 a month to use. It may be worth the investment.
XSplit is for Windows 10 computers, so it is important to keep that in mind before you start using it. To set up XSplit for streaming, follow these steps:
- Download XSplit. Once you are in, select Broadcast. You can then add a channel, which would be Twitch.
- You will then authorize XSplit to access Twitch by signing into Twitch through XSplit.
- Once you flick Finish, XSplit will begin to configure the best resolution for your screen. From here, you can then edit the specifics of your stream, including encoding properties, bitrate properties, and more.
Once you have set up XSplit, it is time to start streaming. To do this, follow these steps:
- First, navigate to the bottom-left of your interface and select Add under Scene Sources.
- You will then navigate to Game Capture. You will see a little arrow next to Game Capture. Hover over this, which will give you a menu of games you can access to stream. Select the one you wish to stream.
- Next, you will click Add again if you wish to add additional sources like your webcam.
- On the screen, you can manually resize the different sources to make them the size you want.
- Finally, select Broadcast in the top panel and then select Twitch. This will make your stream live.
Using Twitch Studio
Another option you can consider is using Twitch Studio. It is their offering to live streaming software. They built this software with beginners at the forefront.
You will still need to download the software like the others. Twitch Studio is still relatively new, so it is important to see whether you want to use it or not. Most will opt for one of the options, such as OBS Studio or XSplit.
Desktop Computers for Streaming
Desktop computers are the most popular (and easy) way to live stream on twitch, and there are several reasons for this.
For starters, desktop computers have the most power. They can handle:
- The software
- The webcam
You may also decide you want to have two computers: one that handles the gaming and one that handles the technical side of things.
Regardless, desktop computers also offer you the most options. You can see all the settings while you stream, and you can customize them. You have far more control with a desktop computer.
Additionally, you do not necessarily need a gaming computer, though it is advantageous to have one as they are more well-equipped to handle the demands of streaming.
Microphones for Streaming
Good audio is important for an engaging stream. When you are streaming, you need to provide audio commentary of some sort. This keeps your audience engaged with what you are doing, and if you want them to hear what you have to say, then you need a quality microphone.
The built-in microphone on your computer probably will not work well. When you are starting, you do not need a super-expensive microphone, either. You have probably seen Twitch streamers who have elaborate microphone setups with stands, pop filters, and XLR cables everywhere. This is not necessary when you are starting.
One example of a greater microphone is the Blue Yeti USB Microphone. This microphone can be mounted to a stand, if you have one, but it also comes with a desk stand. It offers clear and crisp audio. Depending on the model, you can get one for under $100 or up to around $130.
Of course, there are far cheaper options, too. Use what your budget can afford. The main takeaway is that most microphones will be much better than the built-in one on your computer.
Cameras and Webcams
Engaging with your audience is easier when they can see you. It creates a human-to-human connection. Once someone can see your face they will feel more connected to you and your content.
There are several options out there for capturing video for your lives treams. It depends on what you have and what you want.
- Your phone makes a good camera. Smartphones have come a long way in such a short time. The camera in your phone can probably shoot up to 4K, though this high-quality level is not necessary. If you need to save money, you can consider using your phone as your video capture device.
- DSLR Cameras can act as webcams. Using a USB cable, you can connect your DSLR camera to your computer and use it as a webcam. You can set it up on a tripod, if you have one, and have HD quality video.
- Using a webcam. There are many affordable options for streaming. Webcams are small cameras that attach directly to the monitor on your computer. This is a popular option. A good option is a model from Logitech that offers 1080p and is great for streaming.
Whichever type of camera you decide to use, you will be elevating the quality of your content. As with audio, if you are going to include video, you have to make sure it is high-quality otherwise people may turn away.
Lighting Equipment for Streaming
Even with the best camera equipment, you will need good lighting to make it come out clearly. Poorly lit video does not look good. You may show up grainy or hard-to-see.
You do not need an elaborate lighting system, either. While your standard desktop probably will not be enough, you can get inexpensive lighting setups that will light you up fine.
One thing to consider is to use indirect light. Do not have the lighting fixture focused directly at you. This can wash your face out in light. Instead, turn the light away from you slightly, or bounce the light off a nearby wall. You may also invest in a cheap diffuser that can be placed over the light source.
Engaging With Your Audience
A lot of the pre-stream work has been completed. You now have:
- A twitch account
- A plan for your content
- A good, starter setup to start streaming.
Your next step is to begin creating the content. Make sure you make a schedule and that you keep to it. Remember, consistency is key. However, it is not enough to just make content. It needs to be engaging.
You can do this through some technical elements, such as using music (make sure it is royalty-free), visual overlays, and making sure the audio is in sync.
But how else can you engage with your audience in Twitch? As longtime Twitch users will know, there is a certain etiquette that is followed when you are a part of the Twitch community.
Etiquette that Will Engage Your Audience
There are some simple, unwritten etiquette rules that, when followed, will help you engage your audience and also help you grow within the platform. Furthermore, following these etiquette rules will help you maintain a good position in the community that you are becoming a part of.
Some of the etiquette rules you should adhere to include:
- Acknowledge your audience. Live streams have live viewers. These are the people that are supporting you and leaving comments and potentially donating to your channel. Make sure to acknowledge them during the live stream by giving them a shoutout of some sort. This can go a long way
- Say “Thank You.” Likewise, apart from shoutouts, you can also thank specific users who have donated to your stream or who have been around for a long time. It gives other viewers incentive to participate because most people like being acknowledged on the platform.
- Networking. There are a multitude of Twitch streamers you are joining. Network with them. It is important to build a good network. This can lead to collaborations and also a sharing of viewers. It is a great way to build your reputation while also growing on your channel.
- No self-promotion on other channels. This is a big red flag for others. You should not go into other creators’ streams to promote your channel. Yes, there are a lot of people there that will see your message, but they will not take kindly to it.
- Use social media. Social media is the backbone to success in the twenty-first century. You should create social media accounts to promote your channel and to speak directly with your audience outside of Twitch.
- Be consistent. This keeps coming up, and for good reason. Have a schedule and adhere to it. People want new content. New content keeps them engaged and coming back for more. If you disappear, the likelihood that they forget about you goes up. Whatever momentum you had will be lost.
You want to be approachable. You want people to have a connection with both you and your content. By following these etiquette rules and techniques, you will ensure that they feel welcomed and a part of something great.
Nobody wants to follow a streamer they cannot relate to. This is why it is also important to listen to your audience. Talk with them. In the beginning, you may only have a handful of followers. Treat them with respect, and you will see that those numbers will grow.
Evolve Your Content
You have begun your journey on Twitch. You are streaming the content you want, and you are carefully curating your content to keep your audience engaged. However, there are some long-term aspects you need to think about even though you are just starting.
One thing that plagues a lot of streamers is getting bored of your content or, worse, your audience getting bored of it. While having a variety of content can help avoid this situation, there are other ways to avoiding it to
The most important one is to evolve your content over time. Broadly speaking, a lot of content creators from many years ago who never evolved their content have been forgotten. Why? Because nobody wants to see the same content over and over again, at least not entirely.
This does not mean you should completely change what you are doing over time. Rather, evolve it gently. Change subtle things. Introduce new topics or segments to your streams. It does not have to be anything drastic.
The main takeaway is to not get stuck. If you get stuck, you will become less motivated, and this low energy will show to your audience. If you are unsure, you can always ask your audience what they want to see. The final call is always up to you.