My name is Lachlan and I go by Eljayem_ on Twitch. I started streaming in the first week of March 2020. On the night of March 20th, 2020, I reached Affiliate status and on May 8th, 2020, I hit 54 subscribers. I achieved these milestones by researching the industry, networking, taking advice from my friends and viewers, and continually setting goals to keep myself driven. Just over a year later, I average 230+ viewers and have been a partner on the platform for several months.
In this post, I will cover the technical aspects of how to stream to Twitch. I write with the assumption that you have most of the essential streamer hardware necessary to stream. While I’ll cover webcams and microphones briefly, I’ll skip over any mention of PCs or consoles. My primary focus will be to cover the essentials of how to set up your accounts and software in order to stream.
How to Start Streaming on Twitch in 2021
This comprehensive guide will tell you everything you need to know about how to stream from Twitch, from setting up your account, finding the right software and equipment, to going live for the first time.
1. Set Up a Twitch Account
The first thing you need to do is set up a Twitch account if you don’t already have one. You can also change your Twitch username if you have a current account but a different streamer name.
To set up a Twitch account, complete the following steps:
Visit twitch.com and click the “Sign Up” button in the upper-right hand corner of the screen.
Create a Twitch name and a password. You will also need to add your birthday and email address.
Verify your email address through the account you provided.
Choose three or more categories of things you may like to watch on Twitch. Pick games that you love as well as games within the same genre.
Let your real-life friends know about your new account and add them as friends on the platform.
Spend some time on the platform to learn how it works. Find entertaining streamers and write down the things about their streams that you enjoy the most. You can use these as inspiration as you create your own channel.
Know Twitch’s Community Guidelines
It is a good idea to be well versed in Twitch’s community guidelines from the very start so that you don’t accidently break any rules. Twitch can be very strict on broadcasters, especially when they are still starting out and growing.
You should also enable the 2-factor authentication on your account to prevent it being hacked by anyone in the future. You won’t usually need it unless you re-sign in on a mobile device or tablet.
2. Set Up Streamlabs OBS
Streamlabs OBS (also known as SLOBS) is one of the best streaming software. We recommend it due to its ease of use and versatility. You can also enter their “all-star program” to unlock special rewards as your channel grows. Here is how you can set up Streamlabs OBS:
Visit the Streamlabs website and download the free software.
Install Streamlabs OBS on to your computer. Sync the program with your Twitch account.
If you already have SLOBS installed, but not synced with your Twitch account, click on the Settings icon (a cog) at the lower left-hand side of the screen, then select “Stream.”
Signing in through Twitch on Streamlabs should automatically set you up to stream. However, in the event that it doesn’t work, here is how you can input your Twitch stream key.
Locate your Twitch key by visiting the Dashboard on Twitch. Click on your avatar and choose the Creator Dashboard button on the drop-down menu. At the bottom of the screen, you’ll see a link that states “Find your personal stream key here.” Click the link.
Copy your stream key by clicking the purple “Copy” button next to the stream key.
Go into your SLOBS settings by clicking the cog button at the lower-left hand side of the screen. Choose the “Stream” tab, then click on the “Stream to custom ingest” button.
Paste your stream key in the provided box on the new screen.
While you can technically start streaming now, there are a few things you should do to make your channel more appealing to the average viewers.
Why I Initially Used Streamlabs OBS
Not only is SLOBS easy to set up, there are few features why I believe it is the best choice:
- Streamlabs also has one of the best cloudbots for streamers. It comes already integrated, making it easy to set up commands right from the start.
- You can set up widgets to help with viewer interaction.
- Many streamers use Streamlabs OBS, so you can always find help if you need it. Streamlabs also has excellent support.
- The program is always being updated, with new features added periodically. You can also upgrade to Streamlabs Prime to unlock premium features to take your stream to the next level.
3. Set up Your Twitch Scenes
In addition to your game or other content, you should set up scenes for you to show while you are starting your stream, ending your stream, or chatting with your viewers. You can either edit the basic one that Streamlabs has pre-installed, or you can upload your own (Recommendations below).
You can edit your SLOBS base scenes by selecting each individual source in the source boxes. Each source will have unique features that you can edit. You can also upload additional sources to these scenes to make them more unique.
You can have multiple different scenes that you can switch to depending on what you are currently doing on your stream. In the future, you will want an Elgato Stream Deck to help streamline this process, but for now, you can switch from scene to scene within Streamlabs. Most streamers will have at least one of each of the following:
- Just Chatting Scene – typically used at the beginning and end of each stream as you greet your viewers and wish them well.
- Content Scene – usually shows your content with a webcam box in a corner as well as widgets detailing the most recent followers and subscribers.
- BRB Scene – we all need to take short breaks if we stream for several hours. Using a “Be Right Back” scene will let your viewers know that you are currently AFK but will return shortly.
To set up scenes for your content, jump down to the “Decide What to Stream” section of this article.
You can also set up transitions that will happen between each scene change. These added details will create professional value for your viewers.
4. Upload Graphics to Your Twitch Channel
Using graphics on your stream is very important for your stream branding overall. They show your viewers that you are serious about putting in the effort to give them a quality stream. When dealing with sponsors in the future, you want your branding and professionalism to be on point to get the best deals.
Look to create continuity on your channel and across your social media platforms. While you can start out basic at first, remember to continually build on your graphics to give your viewers the quality they expect.
What Graphics Do You Need for Your Twitch Channel?
When it comes to graphics for your Twitch channel, you will need to have the following:
- Overlays – the best Twitch overlays will allow you to show data on your screen while you stream. They will add detail around your camera, make each scene interesting, and potentially showcase future sponsors or products.
- Logo/Avatar/Profile Picture – when you are first starting, use a photo of yourself as your profile picture. As you create your brand over time, you’ll be able to find a logo that suits your personal style and community.
- Panels – Twitch panels help separate the information in your Twitch bio and solidifies your branding. You can create ones in various different sizes or keep them all uniform.
- Emotes and Badges – while you won’t be able to use emotes or badges on your channel until you reach Affiliate status, it is a good idea to think about what you want and plan for the future. Having a couple emotes ready for when you meet the Affiliate milestone means that you can deliver emotes to your community much faster.
Best Twitch Channel Graphics
Here are four great places where you can find graphics for your Twitch channel:
- OWN3D – OWN3D has a large collection of discounted graphics packages that are perfect for new streamers. These packages will give you everything you need to build your Twitch channel. They even have an emote generator.
- Nerd or Die – Nerd or Die has a broad range of graphics that are appealing to a spectrum of streamers. They also have a free Twitch panels generator to get you started.
- Placeit – With an affordable monthly subscription, you will have full access to customizable graphics for your Twitch channel as well as your socials.
- Fiverr – Fiverr is an online freelance marketplace where you can find designers who can create custom work for you. You can search through the portfolios to find graphics that you love and commission them individually.
Add Your Twitch Bio and Panels
While you are adding your Twitch panels to your channel, write a Twitch bio for yourself, as well as channel rules, chat commands, and fun facts. Later on, when you are an affiliate, you should add information for your subscribers. Here’s how to add Twitch panels and stream bio:
Log in to Twitch.
Click on your avatar in the top right-hand side of the screen and pick “Channel” from the drop-down menu.
Select the “About” option, then click the “Edit Panels” toggle at the bottom of the screen.
Click on the gray box with a “+” sign that appears below the panel extensions, then select “Add a Text or Image Panel.”
Add the Panel image or description (or both). You can also add a link to the image if you wish.
5. Set up the Streamlabs Chatbot and Cloudbot
I am fortunate to have three monitors while I stream, so I am able to view my chat directly from Streamlabs on my second monitor and have the cloudbot settings on my third monitor. If you don’t have a second monitor, you can see your Twitch chat while you stream using Restream, Baffler, Chatty, or another plug-in. You can even set up a tablet or your phone next to your screen to view your chat messages.
The Streamlabs Cloudbot will help you moderate your chat and allow your viewers to use commands for memes and information. You and your viewers will interact with it through your chat throughout the duration of your stream. It is one of the most essential tools you can set up when you begin your career on Twitch.
For more information, check out the following article:
6. Set up Stream Alerts
Stream alerts will show up on your screen when your viewers follow, subscribe, or donate to your channel. The best Twitch alerts will be visually appealing and match the overall branding of your channel in some way.
Setting up stream alerts using SLOBS is easy as the most popular stream alerts widget is also made by Streamlabs. Here is how it is done:
Click the “+” above the Source box to add a new source.
Choose “Alertbox” from the available widgets.
Name the source whatever you wish, then press the “Add Source” button.
Edit the setting for each alert by clicking the name of it on the left side of the menu. You can change the title message, what image of gif is shown (you can even upload your own), the colors, and the fonts. You can even set up several variations depending on how many Bits are donated, etc.
Test each widget at the end to ensure that you have exactly what you want. When you are finished, press the “Done” button.
Move the widget box to your desired location on the scene by clicking on the image and dragging it.
Other Alert Widgets from Streamlabs
There are several other widgets that you can use to celebrate your viewers on screen. You can use an event tracker to show who recently followed or subscribed, keep track of your current goals, or set up stream labels in SLOBS. Just remember to not clutter your screen too much as your viewers will still need to be able to see your content.
7. Set up Your Mic and Audio for Streaming
One of the most important things about a stream set up is your mic. While it is possible to grow a following without a webcam, it is nearly impossible to grow a following without a mic. Sound quality is just as important as people will be turned off by static, background noise, and uneven sound.
If you can only afford either a good mic or a webcam, go with the good mic. Don’t skimp on your audio quality.
Add Audio Source to Streamlabs OBS
Most of your audio will already be picked up by Streamlabs OBS. In the event that you need to add another audio source to SLOBS, complete the following:
Click the “+” above the Source box to add a new source.
Select “Audio Output Capture” from the Standard options.
Name the source whatever you wish.
Choose the source you want to input from the drop-down menu. Click the “Done” button to finish.
Stream Mics for Beginners
When it comes to mics for streamers, you don’t need to spend much money to get the quality you need. Most viewers won’t notice a difference in a mic that costs $100-150 when compared to one that is far more expensive.
That being said, there are some mics in the $50-75 range that work quite well and will give you the audio quality you need. Don’t rely on a headset or webcam mic as these are generally lower quality.
Here are three great stream mics for beginner streamers:
- Crystal Clear Audio
- USB 2.0 Device
- No Drivers Needed
- Tap to Mute Censor
- Shock Mount
- 4 Polar Patterns
- Zero Latency
- Multiple Pattern Selection
- Mute Button
Sound Mixers for Beginner Streamers
Mixers are used to balance the volume from your mic and the volume from your game for your viewers. You can also adjust the volume from your Discord friends and any other audio input.
- Streamlabs OBS – Streamlabs has a built-in mixer on SLOBS that will meet the majority of your basic mixing needs early on in your streaming career. You can adjust the sound easily from the main screen.
- Voicemeeter Banana – If you need slightly advanced software from the SLOBS mixer, you can download Voicemeeter Banana for free!
Use Royalty Free Music and Sounds
If you are taking your streaming seriously, you want to make sure that you aren’t breaking any ToS by streaming copyrighted content. VoDs will be muted if you stream music that isn’t royalty-free. In some cases, you could be banned.
You can find royalty-free music for your stream in a variety of places, but Streamlabs Prime makes it easy once again with their Jingle Punks app, which has over 100,000 tracks in every genre that is copyright-free and stream-friendly. The same goes for any sounds you play on stream. It is important to find media that won’t attract a DMCA takedown.
8. Set up Webcam, Green Screen, and Lighting
Many Twitch viewers enjoy watching the reaction of the person they are watching. Setting up a webcam in SLOBS makes your stream more personable and helps strangers connect with you. If you have more than one camera, you can import feed from different ones to either show you at multiple angles on different scenes, show a project you are working on, or show off your pet.
How to Set Up Your Webcam in SLOBS
To set up your webcam feed in SLOBS, complete the following steps:
Click the “+” above the sources box.
Select “Video Capture Device” from the available options, then click “Add Source.”
Make sure your webcam is connected to your PC so that the software can find it. Choose the right camera source, then configure the settings to your liking. Click “Done” when you are satisfied.
Move or resize the SLOBS webcam feed anywhere on the scene until you find the right look.
Best Stream Webcams for Beginners
Connect with your viewers with one of these webcams. The minimum resolution you should use is 720p. For now, that is good enough, especially since your webcam will generally just take a small portion of your screen. If you want to future-proof a little, however, look for one with 1080p or higher.
Here are three great picks for webcams:
- HD 1080p Resolution
- Brighter Images
- 72° Field of View
- Built-in Ring Light
- HD 1080p Resolution
- Foldable Design
- HD 720p Resolution
- Entry-Level Webcam
- Clear Video Quality
Use a Green Screen to Stream
If you use a green screen, you can remove your background or replace it with something else entirely. Setting up a green screen in Streamlabs OBS can be done quite easily, especially if you have proper lighting.
In one of my early streams, I made a joke about how I don’t use a webcam because I am constantly chugging strawberry milk and dribbling it all over myself, weird I know but it really stuck with people.
When it came time to get a webcam, I knew I had to make it funny and a conversation starter. I ended up using the image of a milk aisle behind me. My viewers loved it and almost every stream now people pop into the channel just to ask why I’m streaming in a shop.
Best Green Screens for Beginner Streamers
Depending on your space or budget, there are several options for green screens available. Here are three great choices:
- Attaches to Chair
- 56″ Diameter Screen
- Folds for Storage
- Premium Screen
- Collapses for Storage
- Full Coverage Chroma
- 3.5 x 8.5 Feet
- Backdrop Stand
- Multiple Screens
Set Up Your Stream Lighting Equipment
While this isn’t a necessary expense when you first start streaming, once you make a little money, you should look into good lighting to improve your video quality. After your mic, webcam, and graphics, lights should be your next expense.
If you have room for them, you will eventually want to have at least 3 quality lights set up around your stream room. Here is what you will need:
- Key light – your key light will be the main source of light. It should be placed in front of you and to the side so that it lights up your face, but isn’t centered on your face.
- Fill light – the fill light will be placed on the other side of your set up to fill in any shadows created by the key light.
- Back light – the back light should be behind you to the side so that it is filling in the space behind you. This will help create a separation between you and your background or green screen. When using a green screen, direct the light toward the screen to remove any harsh or obvious shadows.
When you are just starting, you really only need the key and fill lights to start. If you adjust the fill light correctly, it should also cover your green screen.
Best Stream Lighting for Beginners
Good lighting can make all the difference in your video quality. Here are few lights for you to consider as you venture into your streaming career:
- 1400 Lumens
- 4 Colors
- 2 Soft Light Set
Crenova Ring Light
- 3 Colors
- 10 Brightness Levels
- Stable and Flexible
Elgato Key Light
- 2800 Lumens, Fully Dimmable
- Glare-Free Diffusion
9. Decide What to Stream
Though you have probably considered what you would want to stream before setting up your Twitch account, you will need to have a little strategy in order to bring in new viewers. This will require some market research on sites like TwitchMetrics or SullyGnome. It will also involve some creativity and thinking outside of the box.
Depending on what you stream, you will need to set up scenes in Streamlabs to show off your content.
How I Started Streaming on Twitch
When I started streaming, I knew I’d have to put a lot more work to get an audience to my stream. Here is how I did it:
I reached out to the XCom community on Reddit and said I wanted to do a playthrough with the characters they created for me. I gave them a template of character traits to submit. I received over 200+ soldier submissions and replied to every single person individually.
I created a huge google doc of every single suggestion. Then I began streaming, never telling the Xcom community that I was streaming, after each stream I did a write up of everything that happened. The highs, lows, screenshots, etc were all added with a bit of creative writing to make it readable.
The community really enjoyed it, and I did this for four more streams, before mentioning my Twitch at all. I mentioned it with the screenshots as a link to clips of the moment and not in the direct post because I wanted to make sure it didn’t look like I was advertising. Nothing turns people off more than being sold to, I wanted people to value what I was doing before even hearing I streamed.
It’s important to note that setting up everything so I could stream initially took hours. When I did start streaming, I’d do about 30 minutes prep before going live every time. The stream would take 2 – 3 hours, and every write up I did for the Xcom community took me about 3 – 4 hours. Then every comment or reply I got, I would engage directly with them on a personal level taking more time.
In order to get initial growth on Twitch, you have to put yourself out there. Find a unique niche to stand out among the crowd. Make a serious time investment in your own community.
Several of the people who’s characters had become a part of the campaign came to watch the stream and were greeted by a few of my real-life friends who agreed to hang out in my chat for a while. These people became the first few members of my community, from there I bounced around games while keeping the XCom series going. I picked up a few more members of the community, and we grew.
How to Stream Games on Twitch
Most Twitch streamers focus on gaming. Here is how you can set up your gaming app through SLOBS:
Create a new scene using the “+” button above the “Scene box.”
Then click the “+” icon that sits above the “Sources” box.
Select “Game Capture” from the Standard source choices, then click “Add Source.”
Name the source whatever you wish
A new screen will appear with the standard settings with this source (shown above). Edit these settings to your personal preferences. Click “Add Source.”
Streamlabs will automatically pull the visuals for most modern games without you having to input the actual game if you have the “auto” capture on. There are a few games that won’t automatically capture, so you will want to test the game before you go live.
Try to avoid saturated games. Instead, pick games that have a good viewer to streamer ratio. This will allow you to have a better chance to be seen by random people browsing channels.
How to Stream Your Desktop on Twitch
If you are a creative streamer who does digital art on stream, a developer teaching people to code, or want to show your display for another reason, you can easily set up your Streamlabs OBS to stream your desktop on Twitch. Here’s how:
Click the “+” above the source box to add a new source.
Select “Display Capture” from the available options, then click “Add Source.”
Name the source whatever you wish.
Choose whether or not you want to capture your cursor, then click “Done.”
Add any overlays you want to add to the screen.
Note: try to use a second monitor or a portion of the screen that won’t show notifications. You don’t want a random Facebook post from one of your friends to dox you.
Other Ways to Stream On Twitch
There are several other ways you can stream on Twitch both in and out of your home. You also have the ability to stream with almost any piece of equipment that comes equipped with a camera. Here are a few other ways people stream around their home:
- If you don’t have a webcam, you can start to stream using a mobile phone. You can easily set it up through SLOBS or other broadcasting software and the quality is good.
- You can import another streamer’s webcam feed into your software so that you can stream both of you (or stream multiple people) at the same time. This is great for talk-shows or mock game show events.
- Set up a camera almost anywhere. Use a pet-cam. Cook your favorite meal with your viewers. The opportunities for fun and exposure are almost endless.
10. Go Live on Twitch
When it is finally time to go live, follow these steps:
Make sure your equipment is turned on and in place.
Launch SLOBS and make sure that your settings are correct.
Select your starting screen so that it is what is seen.
Note: I highly recommend that you set up a confirmation message before you go live. This will help you make sure that your title, categories, and other aspects are correct and prevent you from accidentally streaming when it isn’t your intention.
To do this, go into your Streamlabs settings, and select the “Confirm stream title and game before going live” option.
11. Build Your Twitch Community
View your first few streams as a practice round. Very few people are comfortable right out of the gate. Ask some good friends to spend time with you in your chat and to give you feedback about what you can improve. Take their advice. If someone joins your channel, interact with them as soon as you can and be welcoming. Let them know that you are just starting and wanting to learn the ropes.
Keep talking and entertaining. If the game you are playing makes it difficult to interact with your chat, you may need to find another game while you are growing. Newer channels rely on interaction to grow. Be yourself and laugh as much as you can. Don’t be afraid to poke fun at your mistakes or if something on your stream breaks. Your viewers are more likely to stay if you can laugh about a situation instead of becoming angry or frustrated.
Create a streaming schedule and stick to it. Start off doing 3-4 days per week until you know how much you want to stream. You don’t want to burn out, but you also want to be seen by as many people as you can.
12. Thank Your Viewers and Sign Off
Don’t forget to thank your viewers for spending time on your channel. Play your ending scene with a little music to die down or raid another Twitch channel. After you have finished, make sure that you have turned off your webcam and your streaming software. Several people have inadvertently let their camera continue running, occasionally getting banned for streaming content against ToS.
We are always here to help. We frequently post new tutorials and streaming guides for beginners. Taking your first few steps as a streamer can be tricky, but with some research and strategy, you could build a great Twitch channel for your viewers.