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How to Get Started with Online Streaming on Twitch.tv

Updated on December 4, 2016

The World of Online Video Game Streaming

If someone would have told you just a few years ago that they made thousands of dollars a week streaming themselves playing video games to online viewers, you would have called them crazy. If someone said the same thing today, you should give their story a chance because it just might be true. Millions of people around the world tune in to live streaming websites like Twitch.tv, and professional and novice gamers alike are capitalizing on the massive viewership and opportunity to make big money.

Whether you’re a hardcore gamer or someone who just likes to kick back and relax for some fun, there’s merit to considering streaming. Streaming can be an excellent way to turn a great hobby like playing video games into an online source of income. However, before you jump into the world of online video game streaming, there are a few tips you should be aware of to help ensure your success in streaming.

Twitch.tv is one of the most popular streaming websites for gamers
Twitch.tv is one of the most popular streaming websites for gamers
Check out this streaming setup!
Check out this streaming setup!

What You’ll Need:

It’s time to talk hardware. In order to be able to provide your potential audience with a quality viewing experience, there are several key pieces of equipment you should consider investing in.

  • A Good Computer: Your computer is the most important component of your streaming career. Streaming video games to websites like Twitch takes some power. In order for your in-game performance to hold up while simultaneously being broadcast to viewers, your computer needs to be able to handle the workload. Make sure your graphics card and drivers are up to date, and that overall, your system can pack a punch. Up your RAM if you need to, or invest in a better graphics card, cooling system, or hard drive.
  • A High Speed Internet Connection: In order for your stream to maintain quality and appear in high resolution, you’ll need a good and stable internet connection. There’s really no way around this as this is another fundamental component of offering a high quality video game stream.

  • A Microphone: While a microphone is entirely option, and while some streamers do maintain massive viewership without ever speaking, a microphone is a good way to help connect with your audience and develop personality. I’ll mention the importance of developing an audience connection later on, though an immensely high quality microphone I recommend is the Blue Microphone Snowball USB Microphone. I’ve used this microphone in the past for YouTube recordings and it offers excellent sound quality for the modest price range, making it a good beginner microphone.
  • A Webcam: A webcam is another way for you to establish a streamer personality and attract viewership. If your computer has a built in webcam, use this when first beginning streaming. However, if you are serious about video game streaming, I recommend upgrading to the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920. It offers 1080p and is overall a superb microphone for any streaming setup.

Streaming Software:

Streaming video games on Twitch isn’t as simple as starting up your game and heading over to the website. You’ll need to download a broadcasting software that will allow you to broadcast your game play. The two most popular broadcasting programs streamers utilize are Open Broadcasting Software (OBS) and XSplit. OBS is free, XSplit offers more customization but is subscription based.

Both programs allow you to customize your streaming layout (such as laying out your webcam display and how much of your game play will take up the screen). Ultimately, what program you choose is up to you, but do some reading and don’t be afraid to experiment with both after some time streaming!

XSplit is a premium broadcasting program that is popular with streamers
XSplit is a premium broadcasting program that is popular with streamers

Tips on Growing Your Streaming Audience

Just because you have the capability to stream, it doesn’t mean an audience will suddenly appear. In order to build your streaming community and following, you need to offer a high quality experience that will make viewers want to come back time and time again. Here’s a few tips on how to do just that.

Set Yourself Apart

When streaming was just becoming popular, it might have been enough to just stream your game play and capitalize on the under saturated market. These days, that just won’t cut it. There are thousands of streamers but only a handful will ever establish a loyal, consistent viewership. In order to set yourself apart from the herd, you need to be unique. There are several ways you can go about offering something truly different in streaming.

  • Stream A Game That Fits A Niche: Now, this is a bit tricky, but it’s a tip that’s worth mentioning. Everyone these days seems to stream League of Legends or Counter Strike, but there are many smaller gaming communities out there that still have room for new streamers. Maybe you can stream older games that offer nostalgic pleasure for viewers, or perhaps you’re the most insane Pinball player the world has ever seen and the novelty of your stream will attract viewers. Whatever the case, consider streaming to a niche audience.
  • Build Your Personality: When it comes to video game streaming, there are many common archetypes and character ideas that have simply become too overdone by too many streamers. There’s the ragers, the hardcore gamers, the jokesters, and the cosplayers. Whatever route you decide to take in streaming, keep this in mind. Perhaps mix several archetype ideas together, or think completely outside the box and create your own image. Or just be you! Sometimes, there’s nothing more refreshing than an honest, simple stream.

Popular Streamer Trump Teaches Streaming 101 Basics

Interact With The Viewers

One of the most powerful and appealing aspects of Twitch is that it allows for streamer-viewer interaction. Now, unless you have thousands of viewers and your chat is moving so fast you cannot read it, there’s no excuse to ignore your viewers. Ask for their feedback, joke with them, and thank them for their time spent watching your game play.

One of the fundamentals of being a good streamer is setting a stream schedule
One of the fundamentals of being a good streamer is setting a stream schedule

Be Consistent

It helps to think of your video game stream as being a television program. Successful T.V. programs typically run at the same time year round in order to make sure loyal fans know when to tune in. The same concept applies with streaming. Set a streaming schedule and advertise this schedule on your stream with a graphic or calendar. Then, stick to the schedule. This is a critical part of maintaining a streaming audience, and if you’re serious about becoming a streamer, this is just a fact of the job.

Incorporate Social Media With Your Stream

If you’re truly serious about streaming on the side, social media will be your best friend. Make a Twitter that is linked to your stream so your viewers can follow you and receive tweets when you go live. Consider making a Snapchat or Instagram, and if you have the time, upload stream snippets to a YouTube channel and begin building a secondary audience there. In the long run, establishing multiple social media platforms that are connected will help grow your viewership.

Social media platforms can help you stay connected with your viewers
Social media platforms can help you stay connected with your viewers

Some Final Thoughts

Streaming your video game play can be an excellent way to establish a side hobby or income, but it will ultimately take time, patience, and dedication. The suggested hardware in this Hub should not be purchased without considering the amount of effort required to begin streaming, nor should they be purchased if you just want to stream for some fun. However, if growing an audience on Twitch is your goal, then utilize the info from this Hub and watch as your audience grows over the months and years.

Best of luck, and thanks for reading! If you’re considering trying to make money online in different ways, check out my Hub on how to earn money with Freelance work on the web!

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      Johan Guttenberg 17 months ago from Massachusetts

      This is great, thanks for putting this together. I am thinking of starting to stream one the O games.