Streaming is one of the most popular forms of gaming content and has seen steady growth in recent years. While many of us often watch our favorite streamers, streaming yourself can certainly seem daunting and impossible. With a wide variety of platforms and ever-changing trends, there is no wonder that beginning live streaming can be an overwhelming challenge.
Streaming is a great way to create content with a relatively low amount of effort and time. It also allows it to be somewhat organic and natural-feeling. Besides that, streaming can become an additional or even the main source of income when monetized. Though You should be aware that earning a living from streaming is an incredibly difficult task and one should not be streaming only with this intention.
How to prepare?
At first sight, it may seem like a great idea to stream anything that comes to mind. Yet even after a quick glimpse at streaming platforms, it becomes evident that there is a need to prepare beforehand.
Find Your niche. Broadcasting has tons of different categories and everyone can find one for them. Competitive or casual gaming, talking, podcasting, reviews – there is a plethora of niches out there.
Define the audience. If choosing the category of the stream is difficult, You can always try to define who would watch the stream. This could give some ideas on what content would get higher engagement. Besides that, knowing who watches You greatly helps to stream purposefully thus creating more interesting content.
Plan. If You want people to watch the stream, without a doubt it should fit the audience’s lifestyle – so the people are actually there to join.
Set goals. It becomes tough to measure the success of Your effort without setting any goals or milestones. While at first they may not seem intuitive, even trying to increase viewership by 10% each week is a great stepping stone.
Hardware & Software
At the beginning of streaming, there is no need for high-end SLR cameras or expensive audio interfaces. Yet several pieces of hardware can significantly improve the quality of the stream without much effort.
Camera. Logitech C920 is considered the gold standard for beginner streamers – it has natural colors, 1080p resolution, and good auto exposure. Some broadcasters later upgrade to Elgato, Razer, or better Logitech models. Yet the general consent for “the endgame” camera is an SLR with a low aperture lens (for that sweet Bokeh) and Elgato Capture card. If You know Your way around the second-hand market, You can get away with spending 300-400€ or even less.
Microphone. Microphones fall into two categories – standalone USB and ones needing an additional audio interface. For USB ones, Fifine has good budget options while Blue Yeti (incl. its variations) and Audio Technica AT2020 are great models if spending more. Otherwise, for analog ones – Shure SM7B is a gold standard that does not have any competition in the streaming space.
Software. OBS Studio, Streamlabs, Restream Studio, Nvidia’s, and AMD’s proprietary programs – all of them allow streaming to platforms. OBS Studio is considered to be an option for streamers willing to put more effort into tweaking the stream looks, while Streamlabs offers a relatively streamlined yet highly customizable experience.
Internet connection and computer resources. Capturing video and audio, encoding them into digital signals, and then sending them to the broadcasting platform requires both a stable internet connection and a somewhat powerful computer. Talking about the latter, almost any modern computer can handle streaming at 1080p at 60fps thus power is rarely a concern.
Accessories. Not necessary, yet they may be helpful. Lighting setup to improve the view from camera, green screen, Stream Deck, etc. They may not be helpful at first, but if streams begin to attract more and more people, You might want to look into improving them further.
Which platform to choose?
- Youtube Live if You do not know what to stream at first.
- Facebook Live works quite well if You have a following there. Otherwise, You are better elsewhere.
- Twitch is by far the most popular and the biggest broadcasting platform. It might look intimidating at first but is a great place to start as the audience is quite big there.
- Youtube Gaming is less popular than Twitch yet still has a relatively big community and is a great place to find new people.
Making money from streaming
As the experience of many shows, game streaming is the best way to generate incoming when streaming. The audience there is quite big and it does not take excruciatingly long to receive the first donations or subscriptions. Yet, there are several ways to make the stream more attractive and thus grow the exposure.
- Appropriate graphics. Eye-catching overlay and well-looking bio may not lure more people to tune in to watch, yet they can make them stay.
- Practice. Feeling and acting confident in front of a camera is not easy and worth practicing alone. Being engaged and interesting while in front of the audience is not a natural skill for many thus there is no shame in trying to get better at it.
- Feedback. Many streaming platforms provide various statistics and insights that can help to understand where to improve. Whether that be retention rate or average dropped frames, everything can help improve the stream’s quality.
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