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How to Livestream: The Beginner’s Guidebook [2020]

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Got a hobby and you want to share it with the world? Why not livestream it? With our beginner’s guidebook, you’ll be well prepared to livestream.

For the uninitiated, Livestreaming is a way to connect to a group of people through a live video and audio stream. There are many factors that go into livestreaming, and we plan to cover them all here. This guidebook will be updated frequently and will act as a compendium of sorts to all of our content.

Learning the ropes of a Livestream

Starting off, we have some minimum requirements that you need to meet in order to Livestream. Those minimums involve some technical terms that the average internet user may not know. It is important to pay close attention to these if you are not adept with technology. Of course, if you have a question, leave a comment below or join our discord server to ask!

Questions? Ask in #the-help-desk in the Streamer’s Haven Discord!

There is a minimum Internet speed

The very first, and perhaps the biggest hurdle is the speed of your internet. We have a fairly comprehensive guide on what kind of bandwidth you need, but we’ll briefly cover it here;

The most important number for livestreaming bandwidth is internet upload speed. It is the most important thing to know if you want to start streaming.

Your download could be off the charts, but if you don’t have sufficient upload, you cannot Livestream.

Our Recommendation for upload speed is 8Mbps or greater. However, if you are unable to get or afford an internet connection in your area that is fast enough, you can go lower. The absolute minimum upload speed we recommend for Livestreaming is 3Mbps, and that is assuming that only you are the one using the bandwidth.

While you could get away with less, by that point you will start to drop frames(the video feed and audio will freeze occasionally and skip ahead) any time there is internet instability. Either that or stream lower than 720p30.

This issue is compounded as the home network becomes saturated with your family wanting to watch the latest Stranger Things that they are behind on, or are having a video chat with their boyfriend/girlfriend, etc.

We recommend recording content and premiering it if you have such constraints.

Finally, there is one more thing to consider: Metered connections. You should be aware that you will chew through bandwidth like a pack of starving dogs does to a slab of steak. If you are on one of these connections, consider the financial implications that Livestreaming will have on you and your viewers.

There are some rules set by the FTC to abide by

Next up, we want to ensure you have a strong understanding of the rules that apply to streamers. As a streamer, you are considered a “digital Influencer”, as you actively advertise yourself and your content to an audience, influencing their perspective.

In some cases, you may even be sponsored by a company at some point as proof of your ability to influence others. However, you must know exactly what do do in this case, which was clarified in a post made by the FTC.

We wrote an article covering this, and we strongly suggest you read it before you continue, so you have a good understanding of what is expected of you.

Decide on the type of streamer you will be

If you’re new to the streaming game, this is important. You need to ask yourself: “What do I want from streaming? Who do I want to be? Why Do I want to livestream?”

There are two types of streamers out there, Casual streamers, and occupational streamers. Of course, you could lay somewhere in between, and most do. That is totally okay! We are going to break it down for you of the benefits and drawbacks of the type of streamers.

The Types of Streamers – Casuals and Occupational.

Casual StreamerOccupational Streamer
+ No set Schedule necessary, stream when you want. You’r house, your rules.– Consistant schedule necessary to keep people coming back. If people don’t know when you are live next, they might not make it to your next stream.
+ Low Stress from low expectations (You aren’t worried about viewer metrics.)– High Stress – You need to pull an audience who will drop a sub/bits your way to generate income.
+ Low Cost – You don’t need a DSLR webcam, a studio lighting setup, or room acoustics treatment– High cost – You are essentially a Home Studio broadcaster. Your audio equipment should be high quality, your face camera(If you use one) should be phenominal looking, your set should have a good composition, etc.

Not Required, per se. But it tends to be a consequence.
– Low to no income – Typically, low effort streams result in low rewards.+ Potential for High income – Utilizing multiple methods of monetization and marketing, you draw in a large audience. You go beyond the “Go live” button and are constantly researching new ways to draw interest.
+/- Depends on how you look at it. You won’t be famous. +/- You are somewhat famous. Good luck. That comes with it’s own problems and stress.

Start Casually:

If you are just starting out, we really do recommend starting off casually. With there being more chiefs than Indians, you are unlikely to make a livable income streaming for a long time.

Don’t try and plan to be successful and burn your savings to dust. Start small, figure out if streaming is for you, and build up slowly from there.

Basic Hardware Requirements to Livestream – Got all your hardware already? Skip!

livestream hardware involves a lot  of circuitry.

This section is the one that gets a bit technical.

For example, you have a passion for cooking and are a cook at a local restaurant. You talked to your boss, and they think that live streaming the cooks’ work and take orders is a good idea for advertising their business. (You would first need to get consent from the other cooks in this situation too.)

So what would you need to do this?

First would be the network connection to stream it; Then the camera/webcam, and finally a mic. (And a Key light, ideally, Though not required per se, depends on the lighting in the room, and the subject on camera).

Most streamers opt for streaming video games. If you are in that category, we have a lot more information on that subject.

It is really difficult to pin down your exact needs without knowing what it is that you want to stream. Ask us in discord If you had something specific!

A barebones streaming pc capable of high-quality video encoding (Skip this section if you plan to only use your phone/laptop/console)

We have put together a pretty awesome PC from a parts list that is relatively cheap, without breaking the bank outright. It cuts in areas that as a streamer you don’t really need while keeping the powerhouse core components intact.

If you don’t have a budget of $800-1000, you will need to make further compromises; such as buying used or previous generation components or PCs. As a rule of thumb; we strongly recommend buying a new SSD/HDD regardless of your budget(Or format the drive if you feel comfortable doing that. Follow the video linked and you’ll be fine. Its purely a confidence thing.)

Our recommended M.2 NVMe Drive(Make sure your motherboard has an M.2 slot!!) is the Samsung 970 Evo. Can’t afford it? This Saberent drive will do the trick! ( At the cost of lifespan. We strongly advise using a cloud backup service in place with these drives.)

Don’t have an M.2 slot? No problem! Western Digital makes a solid (pc nerd joke) drive. Don’t know what any of that is? Watch this video before you buy anything.

Tech Quickie Ft. Linus Sebastian, explaining M.2 SSD drives.
Why reformat/buy a new SSD if you’re buying a used PC that comes with one?

We have three reasons why we recommend this: Security, Data Liability & Driver issues.

  • Security (Major concern & Primary reason for wiping any used Storage device)
    • Keyloggers to steal personally-identifying information
    • Malware that the previous owner picked up along the way(Intentional or otherwise)
    • Ransomware; This particularly nasty virus will lock down your PC, and demand a financial ransom for your data to be restored. This Ransomware can go unnoticed for years, and once enough information is stored in the storage device, a malicious entity triggers the lockdown.
  • Data Liability (Moderate Concern, out of respect for the previous owners of the hardware)
    • Any leftover data from the previous owner may still remain, such as their Microsoft account, or other forms of personal information.
    • When buying a used PC, always double-check with the seller to ensure they have everything they need from it. Common courtesy.
  • Driver issues (Minor-Major in severity. You never know what you’re going to get.)
    • Not everyone is a PC enthusiast; Heck, most people aren’t Chances are, that HDD/SSD is LOADED with outdated drivers & registry issues. a fresh reformat solves almost all of these issues.
Not convinced? Maybe catastrophic data loss will convince you…

We strongly recommend buying new storage, as a catastrophic data loss can potentially end your business(If you intend on doing business on that pc), and any irreplaceable files like pictures. With old storage, you run the risk of it failing early. After all, you’ve no way of knowing how old a drive is, or if it has been used and abused and is on it’s way out.

If you value your data, set up regular backups. Include any Stream assets here as well, like sound clips, or overlay elements. Amazon Prime comes with some cloud storage solutions, and some bonuses for users who use the Twitch platform.

While we are on the subject of security…

Cybersecurity is a major concern in the modern world. Hackers are finding huge vulnerabilities in our connected world, and a Livestream account is no exception.

There was a time that we visited r/twitch, we see more posts of account theft every day. It’s so prevalent they had to configure the auto-mod to delete those posts and link appropriate threads with solutions. We advise you to secure it with Two-Factor Authentication, and in fact, everything you use that has support for 2FA.

It is an inconvenience; but when you take into consideration that you can get paid on these platforms to Livestream, it all becomes clear as to why livestreaming is being targeted. Two Factor Authentication is a necessity in today’s world.

In our eyes, It isn’t worth the financial nightmare that can come of it. Horror stories of whole bank accounts burned away as if kindling in a forest fire. Just practice good security measures, and rest a little bit easier.

Also, you’ll want to get a password manager.

Decide to go used?

Great! Used PC parts are a great way to get amazing deals on Livestream capable pc components if you know what you are looking for. We recommend starting your used pc search on overclocker forums. Overclockers are a bunch of PC enthusiasts looking to squeeze every inch out of their hardware. You know exactly what you are getting, its condition & and can trust them to have a supply of high-end components for cheap as they sell parts to upgrade to the bleeding edge of technology.

They are a strongly knit community, going back over a decade, and I’ve been a part of them since 2011. I have traded several PC components with members on that forum over the years, and have yet to get anything but what they advertised.

After that, Check Amazon, eBay, or Craigslist.

You will want a Ryzen based system ideally, 8 gigs of ram and at least a GTX 1050 ti or 1660ti if you want one capable of a bit of gaming.

For those of you looking to stream a console to a streaming platform

If you have a PS4 or XboxOne, Then you’ve dodged a budget bullet. With these modern consoles, you are able to stream directly to the streaming platforms.

However, if you are wanting to stream Switch or older console gameplay, you will need either a Capture card(and a slot to fit it in on your pc) or an Emulator on your PC(Which puts an enormous strain on even the fastest PC’s. (Note, emulators are not illegal. However, the Roms that are not created by you specifically are illegal.)

We recommend the capture card, as it opens the door to a LOT of configuration options, such as overlays & Alerts. These aren’t strictly necessary, but worth mentioning.

Accessories – Non-essential components & more

For those on a tight budget, you can safely skip (You may want to bookmark this article for when you do have a bigger budget to invest in your stream.)this whole section. These components are for those with an extra budget to invest into their streams.

Studio-Grade Audio – Utilizing audio technology once reserved for recording studios.

A Silver Consenser XLR Microphone in a  recording studio.

a livestream can use these mics to drastically boost the audio quality.

The point to focus on when you are looking to get your first set up to upgrade isn’t convenience; It’s audio. Audio is, in fact, one of the points that led us down one too many rabbit holes (Clawing our way back up with this information was HARD!).

Studio Microphones

Starting with your microphone, the sound of your voice is the one that your viewers will hear the most. You have a huge quantity of considerations to make when deciding on your microphone.

  • Is the microphone good quality?
  • Is my room noisy?
  • Do I have a lot of noise somewhere else in the house?
  • etc.

Did you buy a Samson Q2U? If it is your first desktop mic, you should. Don’t even bother considering the blue yeti, its only USB, and a condenser mic that sounds like a $50 mic. (Contrary to MAJOR popular opinion, mind you.)

Q2U Dynamic Microphone for Livestream use. Video by EposVox.
Sound Treatment in a nutshell

You’ll want to take at our guide for room acoustics treatment to become informed on that subject.

Free & Highly effective Treatments:

  • Shut your door
  • Shut your window
  • Turn off AC/Heater for the duration of your livestream(within reason)
  • Force your pc fans to a slower speed to reduce audible noise where possible.
  • (potentially free, if you have materials laying around) Make a PVC rack and hang a thick, heavy blanket over it(beware of static shocks. Always discharge before touching your electronic hardware.)
    • Place this rack behind your setup (behind the greenscreen if you have one)

You’ll want to read that article for the full breakdown.

Audio Interfaces & Mixers

If you did buy a mic with an XLR port, you should then consider buying an Audio Interface or mixer(Preference/cost-based) when your budget next allows you to upgrade your setup.

Lighting is more important than this, So be sure to add at least a key light to your setup.

Lighting the way – A dedicated light for your camera feed (Webcam or otherwise.)

A single, 6500k 1,600 lumens Key light is a bare minimum we’d recommend if you are going to use a face cam. There is a lot to consider with lighting, and in fact, a lighting operator is considered to be their own occupation with how much you need to consider for lighting. Just read that article and you’ll know everything you need to know for a basic setup.

Oh, and avoid all RGB LED bulbs like the Philips HUE, at least as the key light. They lack the color accuracy necessary to be a good key light. That said, as an accent light, backlight, rim light, or other non-primary light, they are a decent choice.

Stream Assets

One of the things you absolutely need is a logo for your channel. You need to establish a brand associated with your livestream for it to gain recognition. Brands are synonymous with trust.

Our partnered communities have artists who do great work. Join their discords and get in touch with them. Let em know we sent you! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Livestream Overkill Territory – Skip if your wallet already weeps (Mainly wrote for fun ๐Ÿ™‚ ).

Now, we enter into the realm of overkill & unnecessary. For those who have no budget limit to this; A Dedicated streaming pc tied to a Gaming pc is the answer many streamers find towards 2-3 years into it. But do you really need a Dedicated streaming pc? Nope. Totally overkill unless you are aiming for the absolute best video quality possible.

But hey, If you are rearing to give it all just cause’ you can… go for it. Just get the Ryzen 9 3900x or 3950X when that launches, an X570 Motherboard, 32 gigs of ddr4 3600 Ram, maybe an RTX 2080 Super…an EVGA G3 750 watt, etc. Oooh, you’ll need a DSLR too!

Don’t forget your Overkill lighting kit and that one 32 input mixer that you’ll never fully populate unless you were doing a live performance with a band and multiple mics ETC.

Oh, and the HVAC system, Recording studio soundproofing… The list goes on and on for ways to improve(It’s negligible after a certain point).

Sarcasm aside, This hobby/job can get expensive FAST. There is a reason Big budget movies cost millions & billions of dollars. This hardware and the talent that uses it.

Choose your Livestream platform – Mixer & Twitch (Plus others)

Your gear in order? Great! Now you choose the platform to call home. You have a lot of Livestream platforms to choose from, but there are two big ones.

These are the two main platforms that focus entirely on Livestreaming; Twitch.tv, owned by Amazon, and Mixer.com, owned by Microsoft.

That said, Platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Steam & recently(as of this article publish date) Discord all offer a Livestreaming feature, to varying degrees of complexity & size.

We don’t really recommend YouTube as your Streaming platform of choice, nor Facebook or Steam, but Discord could be a cool thing for your subscribers to get access to private Sub-only streams (If that is something you want to do.) The other platforms are more for Hobby streamers.

In the end, the decision is your own.

Choose your streaming software

In case you missed it on our home page, OBS and Streamlabs OBS are the two programs we recommend over the myriad of other solutions.

There are a number of other options, should you find them inadequate.

  • Xsplit
  • Nvidia Shadowplay(Or whatever they are deciding to call it now)
  • Radeon Relive

to name a few. However, Nvidia and Radeon are exclusive to whichever brand GPU you have, and Xsplit is a watered-down mess in its free state. (In our opinion.) There are several others to consider as well, but again, we feel OBS has the best feature set out of all of them.

Figure out your platform yet? Awesome! Advertise it to death.

A livestream platform is only as good as the sum of its parts. we see far too many streamers focus on the platform itself, with their goals to be at the top of the game category of their respective platforms. We assure you, the reason big streamers are big isn’t that they are at the top of the streaming category.

It’s because they have led & still lead a successful advertisement campaign. If nobody knows about you, how will they know you exist? By reaching out and influencing others to watch you.

But before you start advertising it, ensure the quality of your content is acceptable to you. Watch back your Vods, and fix issues you notice: Dead air, your webcam lighting, your ability to talk into a mic, etc.

That said, being at the top does help to boost your exposure. However, it should not be the goal, and instead should be the consequence.

Being a top streamer does not mean being the best streamer. Far from it. I’ve seen several amazing streamers with nobody watching them. They just haven’t figured out that you need to actively advertise your stream in order for people to know about you.

Need a break from advertising? Forge & Enforce connections by Networking

In this world, connections are everything. You know how Linus Tech Tips are sponsored in nearly every single video they do? Well, it is because they forged powerful and deep-rooted connections with the industry leaders from the quality of their content & presentations.

Sponsors are connections to these companies. Talk to people, get to know them. Form your own community, Include your regulars in on special events & content. Just be aware of the rules regarding sponsorship.

Streaming is a very powerful platform to take root in, assuming you have the tenacity to keep up with everything you do. It is a lot of work, to be sure.

If you have a Community, and you are looking to expand it, let us know! We partner with communities and provide immediate and up-to-date links to solve issues that members of various communities have.

Networking with streamers in DND is a great option

We recently dove headfirst into the world of tabletop RPG’s with our Homebrew campaign, “The Plaguelands”. One of the best aspects of such an open-ended game is that you can do…pretty much anything you want. But it actually is a whole lot better; It combats Dead Air and other serious flaws that a streamer may experience in a solo stream.

And remember, when you livestream DND, your followers and viewers may have some fun ideas; Get them in on the action in the world!

Networking with other streamers within a community can lead to explosive growth, but ensure you are there for their friendship, not their numbers. Give it a shot! It really is a ton of fun!

What Streamer’s Haven can do for your livestream channel

Patreon Banner for our livestream supporters

On the subject of forging connections, Streamer’s Haven is an educational platform designed to answer common & technical questions about live-streaming. We are more than happy to answer any questions you might have here in the comments, or on our discord server.

As a benefit of being a Patreon supporter of Streamer’s Haven, we will regularly shout you out on Twitter & promote your stream on our Patron dedication page. We also frequently use assets provided by our Patreon supporters in articles, with credits to them in the form of backlinks. You also get 1 on 1 help with your streaming set up to resolve any issues that you might have.

This support is purely optional, none of our blog content will ever be locked behind a paywall. That, we can assure you. Thank you for your time, and good luck, my fellow streamers. Safe travels.

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