A Complete Guide To Streaming (5 Part Series)
This is a five-part series, providing step by step introduction into starting out on your streaming journey. We will break the five parts down into a simple guide to get you started, by covering a brief overview followed by more detailed topics that will take you from doing your first stream to growing your audience, and then on to how to make money from streaming.
How do I start Streaming?
I get asked this question all of the time; how do I start streaming? in fact, it’s possibly the most frequently asked question, I want to be a streamer, where do I start?
Now, in theory, anyone can start streaming, however, to be frank, it is also not something you can simply pick up and grow overnight to superstar level audiences such as Ninja, Pokimane, or Dr. Disrespect. These are the superstars of streaming after all who have put in a number of years to get where they are now, and as an important reminder, they often have a professional media team at their disposal to help them curate attention-grabbing content.
Don’t let this deter you, however, my point being is remembering to be patient, be consistent, essentially keep going, keep streaming, and more importantly make a start. More to that last point in a minute.
Ok, so how do I start streaming?
First things first, here is a crash course on What is Streaming?
Streaming, or to be a streamer, is to record yourself playing video games over a live video feed so that others can watch you play those games in the hope of either being entertained or learning gaming insights which they can then apply to their own gaming experiences.
If however, you don’t like the idea of live streaming, you can alternatively record yourself playing your favorite video games without live streaming, instead, you record and make edits to that video afterward, and then upload it to content providers such as Gamer One, and YouTube.
There are two ways streamers start streaming. By privately recording, and editing videos that get posted to content providers, or jumping straight in and live stream yourself playing video games straight to a broadcast live streaming platform such as Twitch and YouTube Gaming. The first option is certainly more forgiving as you can edit, cut, and chop out any content that you personally don’t like or don’t want to share. We think however that sometimes the best way to get started is simply to jump in and just start. With all that said, there are several famous gamers who started out as YouTubers, built up their audiences, and then branched out into live streaming.
It is a smart idea to work out why are you motivated to start streaming? Is it for an income, or to have a presence in the streaming community? You should ask yourself this question to help you with your overall approach moving forward.
What equipment do I need for streaming?
There are a few basics that you will need to stream video gaming. These equipment pieces include your hardware and software.
What hardware do I need for Streaming?
- Gaming hardware to play your games. This is your PC, console, or mobile device.
- A microphone (built-in default mic or wired/wireless headset)
- A camera (Phone camera, USB camera, Ipad camera, or built-in laptop camera)
Using a desktop computer or laptop for streaming
Most streamers will use a single desktop computer or a laptop for streaming. We call this a single system setup where the streamer uses one piece of hardware to play games and capture their live stream all at the same time.
For many this is simple and adequate, however, for those who wish to push the limits on the performance of both the game but also any in-stream animation and effects, they will typically go down the path of using two laptops or desktop computers. We call this a dual system setup. With one device being used to play the game, and the second device is used to capture, record, and broadcast their stream.
A benefit for using a dual system setup is that gaming is often performance-intensive, combine that with running streaming and camera software and you could impact the framerate, or to simplify, this would create latency, aka, lag which is a time delay between your computer and the game, and ultimately would impact your gaming abilities. Therefore using a dual system you have one computer system taking care of the game graphics and performance requirements, and another computer system taking care of the streaming and camera performance requirements. The outcome is a lot smoother and a professional streaming experience for all.
Using a game console for streaming
The latest consoles all have streaming software built-in. You will, however, need to purchase the online access passes which allow you to connect to the manufacturer’s online network. Microsoft’s Xbox, for example, has Xbox Live Gold, whereas Playstation has Playstation Plus. Once you have your access passes in place, connect up and access the built-in software which comes with simple setup steps all programmed in.
We recommend where possible combing your console with a desktop, whereby a desktop can offer far greater flexibility when it comes to both recording and editing your streams. We will cover more of this in Part 2 of this How to stream series.
Picking a Microphone for Streaming
To start you can simply use a built-in laptop microphone, or plug in your wired handsfree headphones into the mic jack of your desktop to pick up your audio. This is definitely the cheapest option to get started with.
When streaming, you want your voice to come across to your audience in a clear fashion. Often the biggest issues with using the basic kit are that it can be prone to ambient noise such as your gaming desktop fan whirling in the background, noisy keyboards or controllers, and any awkward heavy breathing. It is, therefore, a good idea to spend some money on buying a relatively decent headset that will act as both headphones and should come with a decent microphone.
If you’re looking for something a little more serious then check out SteelSeries Arctis Pro wireless gaming headset with lossless high fidelity wireless plus bluetooth or you can find out more in our Part 2 for a more complete equipment guide.
Picking a camera for Streaming
To start off, most built-in or external webcams are sufficient. However, we suggest you check the box for two important specs. These are frames per second (FPS), and P (progressive scan) which is the number of pixels displayed across a screen horizontally. You may be familiar already with this number when shopping for a TV however check for the recording resolution rather than display resolution.
For cameras the higher the number before the P the better, but for a basic webcam 720P is sufficient. We suggest you work from 720P upwards. 1080P is always going to broadcast clearer definition images to your audience so if you can afford it, go with that. Equally, we suggest a camera that has an FPS rating somewhere between 30fps – 90fps rating. There is a heap of additional features that you can pick up in higher-end cameras. But for starters, a 60fps 720p camera should cover the vast majority of streaming uses.
We would suggest starting with a budget camera such as the Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000, or alternatively a mid-tier level camera such as Logitech C922x Pro Stream webcam to get started with. This camera is widely popular with Twitch streamers. Otherwise, if you’re looking for something a little more serious then check out Part 2 for the complete streamers equipment guide.
As you can see, there is a starting point for anyone wanting to stream on a budget. However, we would strongly suggest that you buy a few bits and pieces to not only make your life easier but also produce a greater overall viewing experience, and subsequently you’re more likely to attract more of an audience.
What software do I need for Streaming?
The Streaming software is used for screen recording, video editing, and live streaming. It allows you to take your video stream footage and combine it with effects, logos, audio, and lots more. Overall provides that professional edge which can set you apart from the amateurs.
Right now we don’t think you can go too wrong with OBS Studio, a free open-source streaming software. Check out the TechRadar OBS Studio review here. There are numerous options out there right now for streaming software. Some are free to use, like OBS Studio, and some require a fee. Check out the list below for a few more options to consider.
- OBS Studio
- Nvidia Shadowplay
- Xsplit Gamecaster
- Streamlabs OBS
Now you have your hardware equipment checked off your list, and have picked a streaming software to help you with recording and editing it is now time to pick the platform you want to live stream on.
Whilst there are still a number of choices you can make here based on the technology. One key question you need to ask yourself or go back to is why do you want to stream in the first place? If you are looking to stream within a community of friends then your streaming universe opens up that little bit more. If however, you decide to stream to make an income, then you should be looking to stream on a platform that offers as many commercial and revenue opportunities as possible. Typically this falls within the following big three.
Streaming on Twitch
Twitch really set the precedent for streaming sites. It currently offers the largest audience of any streaming site. Our pro’s and cons of using Twitch:
- Free to use, however, you will get exposed to plenty of ads.
- Attracts a diverse range of gamers, from the very niche to most popular gaming genres and titles.
- The platform is relatively easy to use.
- Offers large audiences that can help you grow your personal brand within the community.
- You get to meet new people
- Large audiences allow for opportunities to monetize your channel.
- Can stream directly from Xbox One, PS4, and mobile.
- Can be easy to get lost as a new streamer.
- It can be hard to stand out from the crowd as highly competitive.
- You will need to spend serious time and money if you want to attract a global audience.
- Has a lot of repetitive functionality, which can take time to setup
- Has started to aggressively apply copyright takedown laws where audio (music) used for video overlays infringes on copyright laws. (This can also be seen as a Pro).
- Will ban users where Twitch rules are broken or demonetize.
Streaming on YouTube Gaming
YouTube offers the most diverse audience than any other streaming platform. Providing for endemic and non-endemic gaming content. There is a reason why YouTube is the world’s second most popular search engine after Google. Our pro’s and cons of using YouTube Gaming:
- Free to streamers
- Offers more than just gaming content.
- Has a lot of educational and supporting user resources available.
- Familiar layout
- The platform does tend to change, however, this often opens up new features and opportunities.
- Can stream directly from Android devices.
- Prone to frequent changes affecting users’ rules and monetization terms.
- Strict toward copyright infringements will result in ban or demonetization.
- Less friendly toward Nintendo streamers.
- No direct streaming from Xbox One
Streaming on Facebook Gaming
Whilst the gamers’ side is relatively a new one when compared to the other platforms, Facebook is obviously a well-established behemoth of a social network ready to swoop up Mixer’s users. Our pro’s and cons of using Facebook Gaming:
- Free to use
- Easy mobile broadcasting
- Pulls your data from existing Facebook profile
- Links to Facebook games support play with friends (existing contacts)
- It’s free, but at the cost of your personal data
- Plenty of ads
- Only on android devices
- Fewer monetization options
Streaming on Mixer…. Errmmm well yeah. Unfortunately, you no longer can so that keeps this step rather brief!
RIP MIXER (Shut down July 22, 2020)
Once you have set up an account with a streaming service, having selected one of the above, or all three. You will need to plan out the type of streamer you want to be. In theory, this should be your first step, but we are here now.
Many streamers, like actors, choose a stage name, being their gamer tag, username or alias. We highly recommend to never hand out your real personal first and last name. This can lead to all sorts of issues. Instead, try to identify yourself with a character and apply this persona to your stream broadcasts.
People will either love you, or unfortunately, dislike your stream (be prepared for both), but either way, we believe that the best streams are those that are run by authentic individuals who prefer to share their passions and fun for gaming or esports.
Coming soon! – In part 1B of this 5 part series, we will go into how to get you started with streaming.