What YouTube is to video sharing, and Instagram is to image sharing, Twitch is to live streaming. However, each has its own rules of engagement, so when you want to start streaming on Twitch, the first thing you should do is get in the spirit of the platform.
What to Know Before You Stream on Twitch
- Although it began as a platform to stream video game playthroughs — and still is, primarily — Twitch today is also much more.
- It’s expanded into a community for gamers, musicians, and artists alike (plus all their real-time viewers, of course).
- There’s even a generalized IRL category to host everything else.
Twitch isn’t the only live streaming option anymore, but it’s remained on top, especially in esports and video game streams. Video games always prove to be communal entertainment. Multiplayer games are an obvious example of this, but we find ways to connect even with single-player games.
Learning how to stream on Twitch is one good way to connect with an online gaming community. (Or it can be a fun way to build your community around whatever it is you stream instead of games!) Aside from the hardware, software, and content we’ll discuss, you should always head into a Twitch stream with your audience in mind — even if it is just hypothetical.
- Why should people come to your stream to watch you?
- What’s the vibe? What kind of crowd would you like to attract?
- What kind of experience do you want to give them, in terms of visuals and participation?
- Make sure you’ve watched a variety of streams before launching your own. You’ll get a feel for different streaming setups and interaction styles you can then use as a jumping-off point.
- And finally, what will be enjoyable for you as the streamer? Sure, your audience is important, but if you’re having a bad time, viewers won’t have a good time.
How to Start Streaming on Twitch
Figuring out how to set up a Twitch stream isn’t that difficult. It takes a few steps involving both hardware and software, as we mentioned above. You can stream from your computer, console, or smartphone.
Learning how to stream on Twitch on a PC is technically the most complex, so that’s what we’ll outline in depth. You need to install and configure additional software, whereas you mostly need to adjust your settings and link Twitch on consoles. Twitch Help has a guide here and recommends you get the smartphone app as well to access the Twitch dashboard and further customization.
- To stream in any capacity, you’ll need to sign up for an account and enable two-factor authentication.
- For the best chances of success, you’ll want at least a microphone and possibly a webcam. We’ll get into that more below, but the point is that you’ll need to hook everything external up to your computer.
- Install a broadcasting program to serve as your software encoder. Basically, a program that can take your streaming data and compress it and make it compatible with the output of a streaming site. This is somewhat resource-intensive, so your computer needs enough processing power to run the game and the encoder simultaneously.
- Within your chosen program, select Twitch as your streaming service and connect your account. Then you’ll have to add each individual streaming element as a source or capture so that the program knows to include it. Add the game window (or drawing program, webpage, music software, etc.), the computer audio, your mic audio, your camera.
- You can then adjust your actual stream settings within the program and your Twitch-based settings from the website’s creator dashboard. All that’s left is to go live.
Hardware for Streaming
There are two tiers of hardware you might need for streaming: those for function and those for quality of life. To perform basic live stream functions, you’ll need:
- A computer with a graphics card and an i5 or better processor/current-gen console
- A microphone, which may be built-in, part of a headset, or standalone
- A web camera, either built-in or standalone
To improve the quality and beauty of your live streams:
- You should always use dedicated mics and cameras whenever possible (with the PS4, for example, you can only use the built-in camera).
- If there’s a particular style you’re aiming for — like two camera angles to show your face and your hands, or ASMR — make sure to buy specialized tools for the job!
- Invest in a lights setup (or just one or two targeted lights) for a better IRL visual and sound dampening or other enhancements to achieve your best audio.
Software for Streaming
There are several dedicated options for your broadcast encoder. You can even use a cloud encoder to split a single stream across several platforms if you’re thinking about how to stream but aren’t convinced about being Twitch exclusive.
- Two of the most popular encoders are OBS Studio and SLOBS: Open Broadcaster Software and Streamlabs Open Broadcast Software.
- These programs are free to use and open-source, meaning that anyone can view the code they’re built on. This allows other developers to build on what’s there and help increase functionality.
- As you might have guessed by the names, Streamlabs OBS is based on the original OBS. If you learn one, you’ll be able to use the other, although they have different interfaces and a handful of distinct features.
- If you start in OBS first, you can import your settings to SLOBS, but SLOBS settings aren’t backward compatible with OBS and can’t be ported. Additionally, SLOBS is Windows only.
How to Stream on Twitch With OBS
We’ve already covered how to stream with OBS in the most basic sense. That’s outlined above with the PC streaming. However, the wonderful thing about OBS and SLOBS is that even as entry-level programs, they still make your stream highly customizable.
- They work as a switchboard of sorts, letting you easily toggle between different audio and video sources.
- You can add text and image overlays — displaying follow and subscribe alerts or other data — and apply filters to your videos, images, and audio.
- SLOBS comes with a built-in chat functionality and preview widget.
- Perhaps, more importantly, you can use either one to build out and save “scenes” made of your specific sources. This allows you to make a game or page-specific layouts that you can toggle on when appropriate and turn off once you’re done.
- After you get the hang of how to start a Twitch stream using these programs, use the features to add some pizzazz and entice viewers.
Despite the density of this article, Twitch streaming isn’t actually hard or complicated. It can still be intimidating and require a little practice, but you can say that about almost anything!
If you’ve got your gaming machine and earbuds with a mic, you’re already 90% of the way there. You have the tools you need to stream, and now you know how to go live on Twitch, so get out there and turn some people into your fans.