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So, you want to make money playing video games, huh? Wouldn’t that be the dream! There hasn’t been a better time to start streaming video games– with the country in lock down there’s not much else to do but play, right? But how do you start? What do you need to get a stream live? You’ve come to the right place – this Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Twitch Stream has everything you need to know to get your stream up and running.
Guide to Starting a Twitch Stream
First, I think it’s important to curb expectations here. It’s extremely difficult to make real money as a gamer. You might be able to reach affiliate level, get a few subscribers, and make a few extra bucks, but it will take a lot of hard work and dedication. And if you want to make a full-time income off it – well I don’t even know how to go about doing that. It takes way more dedication than I have at the moment, I’ll tell you that!
This post isn’t about how to make it big, or make a full-time income streaming. This post is about how to start streaming – what equipment you need, what downloads you need, what platforms you should look at. This post will help get you started, but it won’t help you build your audience. That part’s up to you!
There’s also something to be said about streaming for fun. The main reason I stream is so that I can find people to play Jackbox with me. I enjoy it, they enjoy it, good times are had by all. I have no expectation of replacing my primary income with streaming basically ever, but I enjoy doing it. That’s okay too.
So, with all that being said, here’s you’re guide to starting a Twitch Stream:
What is Twitch?
First – a run down of the basics. Twitch is a live-stream platform that allows you to broadcast your game play on the internet. Its an excellent way to engage with people who are interested in the same games that you are and connect with other players. It’s my favorite streaming platform, especially now that Mixer isn’t a thing anymore.
A great thing about Twitch is how easy it is to start monetizing your stream. Okay -that’s a lie – making real money isn’t actually easy on the platform. But getting set up, reaching affiliate, and turning your gaming session into a side hustle is easier on Twitch than on any of the other gaming platforms.
What Equipment Do I Need to Start a Twitch Stream?
The first thing we’re going to go over in the guide to starting a Twitch stream is what equipment you will need. First, you’ll need a computer powerful enough to handle gaming – I love my MSI Stealth Pro. I’ve had it for over two years and it’s been amazing. Hopefully if you’re really interested in gaming you already have a computer that’s powerful enough to handle it, but if not, I can’t speak highly enough about MSI as a brand. And, they keyboard lights up and is all colorful! You can’t beat that!
You will also need an internet connection with a fairly decent upload speed. Live streaming takes a ton of bandwith, so make sure your ISP can handle it. Connection speed is super important when making live stream videos!
After you have those two things squared away, you’ll need to get some hardware that’s specific to video recording and streaming.
The next thing you need in order to start a Twitch stream is a capture device. This is a tiny little box, also called a capture card, that coordinates signals between your computer, your tv, and your console. It “captures” the screen from your tv, and shares it with your computer, so that you can stream it on Twitch.
There are a few capture cards on the market, all with different features. You want to make sure that the card you get is compatible with your console and your computer. I went with the Razer Ripsaw HD, because it’s compatible with the PC, PS4, XBOX, and Switch. I’m currently only using the Switch for streaming, but you never know when I might want to switch it up and use something different. And at $130, you’d better believe that I want to make the capture card a one-time purchase!
Many others go with the Elgato. It’s also compatible with all the console games, and it’s pretty user friendly. Either option will allow you to stream from most consoles without any issues.
Cheaper options are available, but be careful! Make sure they are meant for streaming video games, and that they will work with your console before making the purchase.
You can also stream from certain consoles without a capture card. Microsoft includes game capture software on the Xbox so you can stream from it directly. The PlayStation 4 has this option as well. Even most Microsoft computers offer some type of screen capture software. Although the capture card isn’t necessary for these types of systems, using one will improve your stream quality.
One of the main components of streaming is the interaction between you and your audience. People want to hear what you’re saying, what your thought process is. Most computers do have some type of built in audio, but the sound quality with those isn’t the greatest.
If you’re serious about streaming, you will want to get a decent microphone that let’s you play with the settings. I use a Blue Yeti – it’s one of the best microphones on the market. It’s super easy to customize the sound settings, and it picks up everything you need it to. To be fair, I did go with a top of the line model because I’ve also used it for podcasting, so you can probably get something a little less expensive. However, if you want to have a professional sounding stream, your sound needs to be stellar. The Yeti will make sure that happens.
I don’t use headphones when streaming. Really I just hate wearing them. But, there are some limitations to not wearing headphones, and the most striking one is that you can’t hear your game. Trust me, it’s not easy to sit and play in silence, with only your own voice keeping you company.
You see, if you have the volume of your tv up so that you can hear the game without headphones, your microphone will pick up the sound. And since the capture card is already grabbing the audio along with the video, your viewers will hear both. That means you will have double sound on your stream, which will lead to annoying feedback that no one will want to listen to.
Sometimes, I put the tv volume on extremely low so I can just barely hear it, and I bring the microphone much closer to me than the tv. Then, I set it so that it doesn’t pick up low volume sounds. That way, I have a tiny bit of back ground music, but it doesn’t interrupt my stream. Although this works for me, it’s probably not the ideal setup for most streamers.
Amazon has a pretty great selection of headphones – check them out!
You don’t exactly need a webcam to start steaming. You can easily stream and start building a following without one. But, it’s nice to have. People like to see who they are talking to and interacting with. And yes, most computers do come with a built-in camera, but if you’ve ever face-timed or skyped with it, you know it’s not the highest quality. Also, when I stream, my computer is pretty far away from me, so I needed a web cam that I could position to be closer.
You don’t need anything fancy. I’ve been eyeballing this HD live streaming webcam and that’s probably what I’m going to go with. It comes with a built in microphone, which I don’t need, but its an ideal solution for those who want to get started with minimal start up costs. Although webcams aren’t a requirement, I’ve heard tell that viewers prefer to watch streams that have one. Keep that in mind if you are trying to reach affiliate.
You don’t need a green screen. Plenty of streamers don’t use one, and they do just fine. However, if you want to be a super cool gamer who has their face literally on the game, the green screen is the way to go.
It’s incredibly easy to set up. You just need to get a green fabric and put it up behind you. When I helped an ex get his stream set up a few years ago, we just went to JoAnn’s and bought a piece of green fabric for like five bucks. We hung it up with clothes pins! If you’re creative, you can find a way to do it fairly cheaply.
But, if you want the professional grade one, Amazon has tons of options. I got this entire studio kit for about $150 – I use it for lighting when I paint and taking high-quality pictures of models. When I finally get my webcam, I’m going to set up the green screen that came with it to make my stream really stand out. But if you just want a green screen, you can find much cheaper options.
What Software Do I Need to Start a Twitch Stream?
One of the best things about streaming is that the software you need is free. OBS is an open source software for live streaming and video recording. Once you have all your physical equipment set up, go to this link to download it.
Once it’s installed, you will have to play with the settings a little bit to get the stream right for you. You can change the audio settings, the visual settings, and even update your stream information right from the OBS platform.
After I played with OBS for awhile, I decided to switch to Streamlabs. OBS is great, and it has a lot of options, but in my opinion streamlabs is easier to use. It also offers a few free overlays, which helps your stream look a little sleeker and more professional.
Regardless of which software you chose, there will be a slight learning curve. It took me about a month to be able to turn everything on and have it just work right. There’s a ton of different settings in each software, and you will have to play with everything to get things right for your system and your stream.
How Do I Start a Twitch Stream?
Twitch is still the most popular site out there for streaming. Youtube live and Facebook live are currently the best alternatives to Twitch, but I think Twitch is the best option for a new streamer.
It’s incredibly easy to start a stream on Twitch. Go to twitch.tv and create an account! I’m guessing you already have an account, if you’re interested in streaming on you own. All you have to do is connect your Twitch account to your streaming software.
To do this, go into the settings in the “Controls” dock. All you need to do is add in your stream key from Twitch to get connected! And OBS makes it really easy – just make sure you are logged into Twitch and click the “get my stream key” button. It should take you directly to your channel dashboard.
Alternatively, you can go to Twitch, go to your settings, and go to your channel settings. Your stream code will be hidden, but you can view it to copy and past it into OBS. You don’t ever want to share your stream code with anyone, so make sure you aren’t live streaming while you’re looking at it!
Now that you’ve connected Twitch and OBS, you are ready to start streaming!
Building a Following
The next step is to build a following – if you need some hints on how to do that, check out my epic post on how to Become a Twitch Affiliate in Thirty Days. Also, I’m always happy to swap follows on my Twitch account with new and upcoming streamers, so hit me up and let’s grow together!
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.