how to stream guide

How to Stream in 2021

You’ve probably come across the term streaming somewhere, and if you aren’t camera-shy, you may have even considered doing it. But, knowing how to stream is a complicated first step for many. This is why they tend to give up far before they get any kind of popularity or viewership.

Well, don’t fret – we’re here to explain things for you and make things as simple as possible. Not only will we touch upon what streaming is, but we’ll take a look at how to stream in terms of equipment and software necessary. Oh, and we’ll also give you a few tips to maximize your viewership. Let’s go.

What is Streaming, and How to Stream?

Even though some might make it a lot more complicated than it actually is, streaming is a pretty simple thing. It’s all about you, playing a game (or just chatting, or doing anything really), and showcasing that live to your viewers.

Of course, that’s the simple explanation. The slightly more complex one is that you need to be good at what you’re doing when starting, and you need to have a way of attracting viewers to your stream. Whether that’s playing a game that not a lot of people are playing (but a lot of people want to watch it), or doing something creative and interesting that no other streamer is doing, you need to have something.

Knowing how to stream is the easier part. It’s all about setting up your streaming setup, choosing the software to use and platform to stream on, and doing it. With that in mind, let’s take a look at your streaming setup and what it needs.

Knowing How to Stream Starts With You

The most important thing about your setup is you, as a streamer. You can have all the fancy equipment in the world, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, and how to entertain your viewers, that won’t get you too far. Therefore, the first thing you should do is make sure you’re presentable.

Now, not all streamers use video. But if you want any success, you’ll need it. Therefore, make sure you look nice, and things around you are clean and tidy. Nobody wants to look at the mess of clothes on your bed behind you, nor do they enjoy the fact that you haven’t had a haircut in months. Look nice. It helps a lot.

Let’s Talk Systems

When you’re streaming, the first thing you’ll need in terms of equipment is your gaming PC. Or, if you’re going to be console streaming, you’ll need your console, and a PC, through which you’ll stream.

The thing is, you don’t need something like our all-out Intel build to do this – a midrange gaming PC is oftentimes more than enough. You will need it to be powerful enough to run the games you’ll be playing. In terms of hardware, it should have a high core count on the CPU. This will make sure you don’t get any performance issues while gaming and streaming simultaneously.

When you’re streaming from your console, you’ll be using a capture card that is connected to your PC. This will act as a middleman that captures the signal from your console’s video output and then sends it to the PC. This PC then streams said signal to Twitch or any other streaming platform of your choice.

Now, an alternative, and one that’s rather popular nowadays, is to go with a dual-system setup. A dual-system setup means that you have one PC that’s dedicated to your game, and it does absolutely nothing else. This is done to maximize in-game performance. And then you have a second PC that does the streaming, also without a lot of extra things going on. While this is probably the best way to go about things, performance-wise, it’s also the priciest.

What About Extra Equipment?

As we mentioned, it’s not just your PC you will need for streaming. You will also need a way for your viewers to see you, and hear you, too. This means getting a webcam and a good microphone.

When it comes to webcams, you have two options. The first one is to go for a PC-oriented webcam, a few suggestions for which you’ll find in our list. This gives you a not-too-expensive way of getting decent video quality, and a camera that doesn’t take up a lot of space. This is why this solution is preferred by many. The other one is to actually get a prosumer-grade photo or video camera and use that through a capture device. This is a lot more expensive, true. But it does give you much, much better video quality in pretty much any environment. Which one you go for is up to you.

Then comes the other big thing – a microphone. There are plenty of microphones to choose from, so make sure you do your due diligence and find the one that fits your budget well but works well. A good microphone can easily be the difference between viewers enjoying your stream for hours, or them just skipping to the next streamer because they struggle to understand what you’re saying.

Optional Extras

With the basics out of the way, two more things are optional but can go a long way towards upping your stream’s quality. We’re talking about lighting and a green screen. Good lighting will illuminate your face, and make your camera’s job a lot easier. It doesn’t have to struggle with bad lighting and compensate for that. A green screen lets you set your own background, and add things like subtitles or photos or anything else you want.

Which Platform?

Probably the biggest question surrounding the “how to stream” thing is which platform to stream on. There used to be four major platforms: Twitch, YouTube Gaming, Facebook Gaming, and Mixer. But recently, Microsoft shut down Mixer and joined forces with Facebook gaming, so now you have three.

Twitch is the most popular platform out there and is the top dog when it comes to viewers. It has an average of 2.91 million viewers at any moment, which is impressive, to say the least. What’s nice is that this number is growing constantly.

YouTube Gaming is second, but it does trail behind quite a bit. The average number of viewers is about 758 thousand, which is about a fourth of what Twitch gets you. However, this does mean that you have a bit less competition because all the big names in streaming are on Twitch. Except for Dr. Disrespect, but he was banned from Twitch anyway.

And last but not least, we have Facebook Gaming, which combined forces with Mixer but it has yet to see any significant success. It doesn’t have too much competition, nor does it have too many viewers, so it’s not that much of an attractive prospect.

Our suggestion, if you’re serious about streaming, is to head to Twitch directly. Yes, there is a lot of competition, that’s true. But there’s also the biggest chance for success, too, which is what you want, isn’t it?

Software – Just Get OBS

Even though there have been some alternatives every now and then, OBS or Open Broadcaster Software is probably the go-to solution for most streamers. The reasons are simple – it works, it’s easy to use, and it’s as reliable as they come.

It comes with features such as an unlimited number of scenes, real-time capturing and mixing, powerful configuration options, and a modular UI that lets you arrange things as you see fit. You can make your stream as simple, or as complex and advanced as you’d like, and you can set things up to give them your own personal touch, which is neat.

What is also nice is that OBS has a rather powerful API, which lets you use one of the many available plugins and scripts. Whether it’s to use some advanced functionalities or to get further customization, you can find something for everyone.

How to Stream and Grow Your Viewership

This is the tricky part – streaming isn’t just about doing it for yourself. It’s about amassing an audience that enjoys your streams and is there consistently when you’re live. It’s about making a name for yourself, making sure people know you as a good personality and someone who they enjoy watching.

To this end, the first thing you should ensure is that all the technical aspects of your stream are covered and reliable. You should have a stable internet connection and a PC that isn’t problematic. Your video quality should be good, and your microphone shouldn’t have issues. You should give your viewers a technically perfect experience, as much as you can.

The next thing is to carefully pick what you stream. Yes, you want to stream something that people actually enjoy watching. But you should also stream something that isn’t on every other streamer’s monitor. To add to this, you should try to give your streams a unique twist, regardless of how you do that. Give the viewers a reason to watch your stream.

Last but not least, be engaging! The main difference between watching a streamer and watching YouTube videos is the engagement, take advantage of that. Get a chatbot, talk to the viewers that talk to you on chat, and make sure there’s an engaging experience. Give back to those who donate to you or subscribe using things like Twitch Prime. Make their money worth it.

Wrapping Things Up – Knowing How to Stream Isn’t Difficult

When you take everything we said into consideration, it’s not that difficult to start streaming and make it big. At the most basic level, you need a midrange PC and a bit of charisma. If you want to go more advanced, you can consider a dual-system setup, good lighting and camera, and regular stream times and scheduling. But that’s all up to you – you can go as far as you want.

If you’re fun, and people have a reason to come back to your stream, you’ll find that your viewership grows every day. Before you know it, you’ll be popular, and you’ll have new viewers that push you to work harder and improve yourself.

Leave a Comment:

Mike says

This is a great article. I’m considering getting into this but feel we’re too old or our audience might be too small. We shall see. Regardless, this is a well written and very helpful article!

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Rob S. says

Streaming doesn’t take much effort, particularly for those that are looking to do it just as a hobby. However, for those looking to make it more of a long-term endeavor, it may be worth looking into technology to make video clearer, audio better, and the like.

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