Most streamers don’t start with their ultimate set-up. Streaming can be a costly hobby or career, and as technology changes, you will need to upgrade your set-up continually. What part of your stream set-up should you upgrade first?
Streamers should always focus on items and graphics that will improve the quality of their content. Upgrade equipment that makes the video or audio quality better or the overall stream smoother. Design custom graphics and animations to use in your broadcast and on your channel. As you grow, there will be many opportunities to upgrade your equipment.
Before you invest heavily in your set-up, spend time streaming to make sure it is something you want to do. Not only is there a financial investment involved in the hobby, but it also takes up a lot of time.
What Should You Upgrade First?
Make a list of things you know could be better about your stream. Is your sound quality not where you want it? Do you need a light to brighten your image? Would an upgrade to your CPU allow you to run your game at a higher setting? Are you sitting in an uncomfortable chair?
Order your list by priority. Always optimize your viewer’s experience first. The goal of your channel should be to create entertaining content for your followers. Unless there is something external that makes streaming unbearable or impossible without a personal upgrade, focus your viewer’s needs first.
Products that Make Your Content Better
The best way to make your audience happy is to produce better content. This may mean to upgrade certain pieces of your hardware or add an extra camera for your pet. Pay attention to your followers, and listen to their suggestions.
Pet cams are a very popular feature on many channels. People love animals!
You can also invest in better graphics and alerts to play on stream. Consider having one or two displays that you can switch between depending on your content or your mood. Mixing up the look of your stream from time to time makes it more entertaining to watch.
First Equipment Suggestions
The most important thing outside of your content is your audio. People are more likely to forgive imperfect visuals than they are to forgive imperfect audio. If you don’t have a decent mic, upgrade it. If you have unwanted breathing or pop-sounds, invest in a pop filter.
After audio, focus on your visuals. Invest in a good webcam. Clear and decorate the space that is visible on-screen or use a green screen (more on this later). Get proper lighting to eliminate unwanted shadows and brighten up your area.
Get a second (or a third) monitor to help you keep track of everything going on in your stream (especially your chat!). The more information you can see at a glance, the better you’ll be able to keep track of your community and produce the content they want.
Upgrade equipment that will make your content better. Better equipment may mean getting a better keyboard if you play FPS games. It could mean saving up for a Taylor if you play acoustic guitar. Save up for better paintbrushes or a nicer easel for your art stream. If upgrading an item will result in a better broadcast, do it.
For a full list, read The Equipment You Need to Start Streaming.
First Software/Graphics Suggestions
OBS and StreamLabs OBS are great programs, and most streamers won’t ever need to upgrade their broadcasting software. Unless there is something that XSplit or another program offers that you can’t live without, don’t worry about upgrading your software.
Focus on your branding. Hire a designer to make your final logo, one or two overlays, some good emotes, and more. Expand to your opening scene sequence, your intermission screen, and your offline banner. As you grow, continue to upgrade and add to your graphics. Read The Graphics You Need for Your Twitch Channel for a full list and sizing information.
Consider Your Space
Think about the space where you stream. While you may want a multi-screen set-up, you might not have space for it. You may need to upgrade your desk or rent a larger apartment. While these items might not be “stream equipment” related, they do affect the overall potential of your set-up.
Consider the space around you. If you don’t use a green screen, how can you make your room more visually appealing for your viewers? Add lighting, posters, or items based on your content to make things interesting. Paint your walls if they need it. Your studio space is part of your content and your brand. How do you want to be perceived?
If you are streaming in a cramped or cluttered space, consider investing in a green screen. You can either replace your background with another image or remove it. For more information, read Green Screens: Set-Up and Strategies for Streamers.
Not All Upgrades are Visual
Don’t forget to upgrade software and Internet plans as needed. If a better Internet plan will allow you to stream at a higher resolution, it is worth the investment. Read Internet Requirement for Live Streaming Games for more information.
Upgrading editing software or investing in Discord Nitro are other ways where you can make upgrades that don’t necessarily result in something physical. If it adds value to your channel, then it’s an upgrade!
How Can You Fund Your Upgrades?
There are a few ways that you can fund your upgrades without having to wait for your viewers to start donating. We’ve listed a few below:
- Set aside money from your “day job” paychecks. Even if you can only spare $10-20 per check, the amount will add up quickly. These funds can go into purchasing more graphics for your stream or upgrading your internet plan.
- Cut back on frivolous expenses. People generally use the coffee analogy for this. If you don’t purchase your daily $5 specialty coffee, you will save $150 in a month. This is more than enough for an adequate microphone for your stream.
- Ask for streaming equipment for Christmas or your birthday. Your friends and family may be glad to support you, even if they have to pull their funds together to get you that Stream Deck or GoXLR.
- Set a donation goal on your channel. Keep it low-key and don’t annoy people for donations. Letting people see what you are currently saving to buy may remind them to support your channel. For more information, read How to Set Up Donations on Twitch or Mixer.
- Look for gently used items. You can save a lot of money buying second hand. Just be sure that the equipment is still in good condition and works.
Have a List of Upgrades in Your Profile
List your upgrades in your channel’s profile with a note of thanks to your viewers. Show them that you have used their contributions to create better content for them. This acknowledgment will let them feel like part of your stream and might encourage others to donate as well.
Always remember to thank your viewers for their support. Even small donations add up to new upgrades or the chance that you can earn a livable wage doing something you love.
You can also list the items that you are hoping to upgrade next and explain how that would add value to your stream.
Invest in Your Future
Save a portion of your donations for future upgrades. Know what your ultimate plans are and continually build toward it. As your stream grows in popularity and you earn more revenue, you’ll be able to build your ultimate stream set up and potentially make a living doing something you love.