Everything you need to know about how to start streaming on twitch

How to start streaming on Twitch

From regular people turned superstars drawing thousand of viewers evey day, to celebrities like Post Malone or Boston Celtics’ Gordon Hayward showing their skills, 2020 has been the year for livestreams. After Mixer’s shutdown earlier in the year and despite growing competition from players like Facebook Gaming and Youtube, Twitch is increasingly a household name in the digital ecosystem. The Amazon-owned descendant from Justin.tv has witnessed major landmarks this year like topping 5B total hours watched.

The best part is that anyone can really do it. But understanding how to setup a livestreaming operation can be daunting and keeps many people from even trying it in the first place. What do I need to start streming on Twitch? How do I stream? What’s the Twitch streaming setup I need? How to go live, and what internet speed is required for streaming on Twitch? In this guide we go over all these questions so you understand what do you need, how can you grow a community and how to build a great show and get your first viewers, in less than a day. Start streaming on Twitch right now!

Streaming on Twitch - Create Account

Getting started to stream to Twitch: setting up an account

Signing up in the platform is your absolute first step to unlock what Twitch has to offer. Even when you are not streaming actively on Twitch, an account is required for you to interact with other streamers and their broadcasts – to comment, follow or subscribe to their content. So let’s get it started. This is how you sign up and set an account on Twitch.

1. Understand Twitch’s community guidelines

We know the legal details are usually hard to get through with but a big part on how to start streaming on Twitch is understanding what practices are emphasized and which are disallowed. It’s highly suggested at least to go over the community guidelines as they are not too time-consuming – around a 7 minute read – and you’ll learn a lot from it as policies get updated occasionally, so you’re aware of what guidelines are changed or newly enforced.

2. Create account

If you’re on desktop, it’s a simple form to be filled. Just click “Sign up” and follow the steps. On mobile you’ll have to download the app to proceed, but you’ll also require a computer for the following step.

3. Enable two-factor authentication (2FA)

This step applies only if you’re signing on Twitch to stream your content, which is what we’re looking for here. Two-factor authentication can only be enabled on desktop computers, so even if you sign up through a mobile device you’ll need to access it. On your computer log in to the account, access the security settings and enable 2FA (activation requires a mobile phone).

Streaming on Twitch - Essentials

Essentials to start streaming on Twitch

Congratulations! You just created your account and now you’re asking yourself what do I need to go live on Twitch? We’ll make you a quick rundown of the checklist needed to tick all the boxes.

Streaming on Twitch - Hardware

Hardware to stream on Twitch

Here’s the good part: gone are the days where you needed the latest high-end computer or peripherals to be able to produce great content. Fast and dynamic technology means that there are plenty of great options to stream with high-quality at affordable prices – and maybe you already own them. Twitch notably doesn’t support 4K streaming yet, so a Twitch streaming setup doesn’t need to be focused on the leading edge of video quality.

However, there’s a lot of processing power involved in streaming a game that’s being played at the same time in one computer. To make sure you can do that, your gear needs to be efficient. Let’s look at each item at a time.

a) Where are you playing the games – a computer, console or smartphone.

A fairly obvious centerpiece of your Twitch streaming setup is the platform where you’ll play the games. If you own them, consoles like the Playstation 4 and Xbox One are great starting points because they offer a way to stream as they are built with all the software to start streaming on Twitch and only take a few steps (see later on this guide on how to stream on Twitch through a PS4/Xbox One). It’s also expected that the Playstation 5 and the Xbox Series X will have the process streamlined in similar manner. This option is very simple to get started, but the downside is that they provide little flexibility in how your stream looks.

Streaming through a desktop requires a bit more time for the setup, but the upside is that it provides a lot of flexibility and customizations in how your stream looks and feels. It’s common that people even play console games (PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch or any console) but still use a desktop computer to broadcast while they are gaming.

In short, once you have your Twitch streaming setup prepared through a PC, you’ll see options are nearly limitless. Here’s what to keep in mind when setting up a computer for streaming:

  • A CPU powerful enough to handle gaming and encoding. An i5 processor should work for you to start.
  • A GPU that is able to to process and render the streaming. Nvidia RTX graphics card are good options.
  • A good amount of memory to handle the processes – 8GB of RAM should do the trick.

b) Internet connection

After the hardware, a solid internet connection is a major requirement to ensure your streams go flawlessly and without hiccups.

What is the internet speed for streaming on Twitch? There isn’t a straightforward answer that comes into play here as it greatly depends on the quality that you want to output. Twitch recommends a range between 2,500 and 4,000 kbps for video, plus up to 160 kbps for audio. The recommended upload internet speed for streaming on Twitch depends greatly on the resolution and framerate of the stream you want to put out. Here are the Twitch general thresholds for you to compare with your upload speed:

Resolution + framerateBitrateUpload speed
720p, 30 fps2 500 – 4 0003.2 Mbps – 5 Mbps
720p, 60fps3 500 – 5 0004.4 Mpbs – 6.2 Mpbs
1080p, 30fps3 500 – 5 0004.4 Mpbs – 6.2 Mpbs
1080p, 60fps4 500 – 6 0005.6 Mbps – 7.4 Mbps

If you’re falling short of the requirements, here are some quick tips for you to improve the internet speed for streaming on Twitch:

  • A wired connection will be more stable and cause less interference compared to standard WiFi connections.
  • Disable not needed devices from the network who are competing for the connection. Some of these can take a big share of the upload speed without you noticing.
  • Log out from excess programs and apps on computer and other devices.
  • Make sure your hardware and software are updated with the latest drivers. Old drivers might be unprepared for higher upload speeds and can be capping your connection at lower values.

c) Microphone and Camera

A big part on a Twitch streaming setup are the ways through which you can communicate with your audience. Sure, there’s always the chat window, but putting your face and voice on stream goes a long way to keep viewers engaged and show your personality. Luckily, you don’t have to spend big amounts to get good sound & video quality for these peripherals, as with around $100 you’ll be able to get some great and long-lasting options.

Audio quality is more important than what you think. While gaming headsets’ microphone can cover you in the early beginning, you’ll soon start noticing that their quality isn’t extremely high from a viewer’s perspective. Here are some of the most used choices for standalone microphones:

  • Zalman ZM-Mic1
  • Maono AU-04 USB Microphone Kit
  • Blue Yeti Nano
  • Samson G-Track Pro
  • Blue Yeti X

If you’ve been in a videocall the past few months – and it’s very likely you have – then you know how camera quality affects your viewer experience. The same goes for Twitch streaming. Here’s some of the best starting choices.

  • Logitech HD Pro C920
  • Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000
  • Logitech C922 Pro Stream
  • Razer Kiyo
  • Logitech Brio 4K

d) Additional equipment to enhance your streams

When you are looking to move away from the more basic setup for streaming on Twitch, there are quite some options to consider. Lighting rigs can help you picture become clearer and green screens can allow you to display creative backgrounds or remove your current one. Game capture cards provide you more flexibility for devices that you connect for streaming, and stream decks are tools that enable you to assign tasks to simple button presses.

These options are a bit pricier and require some more commitment to your streaming activity – going as far as changing the way your work station is presented, so make sure you have a plan before just blindly opting for such toolsets!

e) A idea of what you’ll start streaming on Twitch

As you’ve seen, it really doesn’t take much to start streaming on Twitch. In fact, the most important question is not “how to stream on Twitch” but rather “WHAT to stream”.

It depends a lot on what you like to do. Twitch hosts a variety of video content, not only content. Feel like you can provide a great discussion of current topics? Want to show retro games? Going for a few matches of Fall Guys with friends? Almost anything is eligible – it just helps to understand what can really make your stream stand out and how would your friends and audience be more entertained by seeing you on-screen.

The major rule about how to stream on Twitch: have a lot of fun.

Streaming on Twitch - Software

Software to stream on Twitch

If you’re inexperienced with streaming, thinking about setting up the necessary software to broadcasting on Twitch can sound like a lot to handle, but it’s surprisingly easy. If you want to start streaming on Twitch from a PS4 or a Xbox One this setup is even more straightforward and we’ll cover it later in this post.

A encoder is what sends what you capture on a screen into wherever you want to broadcast (in this case, Twitch). When you are streaming on Twitch from a desktop computer, it’s recommended to start with a software encoder as it’s considered easier to use and more affordable than a hardware encoder.

There’s a big variety of software encoders which come with different advantages. Twitch itself recommends some options here for users who want to start streaming in here. Below we list some of the most popular ones for a Twitch streaming setup that are easy to use, from free to paid alternatives.

  • OBS Studio is the most popular choice for beginners as they are free, open-source and allow for cross-platform compatibility.
  • Streamlabs OBS is only available on Windows, but is a great tool to help channel monetization.
  • Twitch’s own Twitch Studio is currently open beta and promises to keep offering more options as features get developed.
  • Xsplit’s paid product offers a more robust option when you want to explore some more features than the basic options.
  • vMix is also paid, and allows your productions to look much more professional when you want to take it a step further.
Streaming on Twitch - From your PC

How to stream on Twitch from a PC

As mentioned before, PC is considered the primary mean to start streaming on Twitch as it offers a almost unparalleled range of flexible and accessible options to get started. Once you have the necessary hardware and software ready, here’s how to get it all working together.

1. Make sure all hardware is properly connected

Before starting to set up the streaming software, make sure all peripherals are connected: webcam, microphone and, if you want to use it, a second monitor.

2. Install the software and connect your accounts

We will use OBS Studio for our example. In this step, you’ll want to make sure that your encoder is capturing the content you want to broadcast (the input) and transmitting it to Twitch (the output).

Let’s connect to your own Twitch account. Head to File > Settings > Stream in OBS Studio, choose ‘Twitch’ as the service, and link to Twitch using your own stream key. This can be found on Twitch at Settings > Channel and Videos. Copy your stream key and past it into OBS. Your OBS is now connected to your Twitch account!

Streaming on Twitch - OBS settings

3. Add the audio and video sources you want in your stream.

A fundamental part of that setup is understanding that anything you want to show on stream has to be added as a source in OBS. This means the game you’re playing, the audio from the game, your microphone input, your webcam or any other input you’d like.

To add a video source, check the ‘sources’ parameter in the main panel of OBS, click ‘+’, and from there you’ll be to add what you’ll want to display on stream. This panel is very flexible so you have plenty of options in selecting what you’ll choose to display.

If OBS doesn’t detect the audio source automatically, go to File > Settings > Audio and add it manually. Ideally, you’ll want two audio sources to show up on stream: desktop sounds (from your game) and a device for sounds that originate from your microphone.

4. Tune up the settings to your preference

As you’ll quickly realize, there’s a whole suite of settings that you’ll be able to finetune in order to optimize the way your stream looks and feel. Once you go live on Twitch, testing these settings over time will enable to get the most out your computer capacity and to take advantage of the internet speed (refer back to our table of optimal speeds per framerate and resolution).

Streaming on Twitch - From your console

How to livestream to Twitch from consoles (PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, others) or smartphones.

If the game you are looking to stream isn’t or can’t be played on PC, there are still ways to setup a stream with varying degrees of effort! If you’re wondering how to go live on Twitch through another device, in this section you’ll find na answer to help you.

How to stream on Twitch from the Playstation 4

The Playstation 4 operating system already has a natively built-in feature that lets you stream directly to Twitch. These are the steps to follow:

  1. Disable HDCP under Settings > System
  2. Connect the devices to the PS4 and adjust their levels. By default the audio of the game is not shared. Activate this by going into Sharing and Broadcast Settings > Broadcast Settings > Advanced Settings > Audio Sharing Settings. You can also enable the chat in the screen if you want to under Broadcast Settings > Advanced Settings.
  3. Connect the PS4 to your Twitch account by pressing the “share” button on the controller, selecting “Broadcast Gameplay” and then “Twitch”. You’ll be able to scan a QR code or go to twitch.tv/activate and enter the code on screen.
  4. Type a title for the screen, enable the camera if you want, select quality and that’s it!

How to stream on Twitch from the Xbox One

The main difference in the process compared to the PS4 is that the Twitch integration is not native.  

  1. Install the Twitch app in the Xbox store
  2. Connect the app to your Twitch account by running it, getting a six-digit code and entering it manually at twitch.tv/activate.
  3. Connect the devices to the Xbox One and adjust their levels.
  4. Type a title for the screen, and you’re ready to go.

How to stream on Twitch from the Nintendo Switch / other consoles

Wondering how to go live on Twitch with games for the Nintendo Switch? The process is not as swift as for the two other consoles, but there still is a solution. However you will be required to have an external capture card that can connect through HDMI to your console and then to your computer.

Then, you need to set in OBS a new video source that processes the input from the external capture card, and then the process is identical to the one described for the PC. This process is replicable to any console that has a HDMI port for output, so you can even use it for the PS4 or Xbox One. Many streamers chose this method as it allows them to customize fully their broadcast.

If you want to go for retro games and consoles, there will be an extra step to start streaming on Twitch. You’ll have to acquire an adapter that turns their analog video output into HDMI, and then connect as described above.

Streaming on Twitch - From your phone

How to stream on Twitch from a smartphone

Mobile gaming is steadily on the rise and it has been showing increasingly on Twitch! However Twitch’s official app only lets you broadcast from the phone’s camera. Here’s how to stream directly from it.

  1. Download & install the Twitch app and log in.
  2. Press your profile image and choose “go live”
  3. Pick up a name, chose the type of content, camera and share the streams if you want to.
  4. “Start stream” and you’re live!
Streaming on Twitch - Road to partner

Becoming an expert on Twitch streaming: road to affiliate and partner!

It’s very easy to get started on Twitch, but the road to the top is way harder. Only four thousand of top streamers account for 75% of live hours watched! If you’re looking to take your streaming seriously, some more planning is required. Content is the best place to start!

On Twitch, gaming content is still king and the primary driver of viewers to the platform as two games are the most popular – League of Legends and Fortnite – with new releases getting the top spots upon release, like Fall Guys who has witnessed na amazing boom in Twitch hours watched since it debuted. However other categories are steadily growing, like Just chatting, slots, music, poker or art channels. This flexibility means that you’re able to choose something you truly enjoy to stream and you can have an audience to it – there’s no need to figure out how to go live on Twitch with something you don’t enjoy.

As such this is the first rule: enjoy and love what you’re streaming. Everyone goes through a phase where they have viewers in the single digits, or none at all at some points! Don’t stress to much about it and the best way to be persistent at it is if you’re doing something you truly enjoy. Remember – it’s as much about broadcasting as it is about playing.

The second step is to understand what type of content you want to put out. Do you want to stick to one category only, like fighting games? Do you want to explore retro games from the 90s? Or do you want to play a single game that you’re an expert at? If you’re going to stream a variety of games and content, then it’s important for your personality to shine and for you to have the knowledge to back it up. If you choose to focus on a single game to stream on Twitch your skills will play a big role as it’s likely people will watch your content to understand how to become better.

The most popular games are also very competitive in streaming – this means that people will tend to go to established streamers to see new Fortnite or Counter Strike content. Use tools like Quizzical Pixel’s What to Stream to find games that can help you grow a lot in the early stages of your channel. Also consider that within games there’s a lot of variety in categories with drawing power: speedrunning is a greatly established community, as it is the world of competitive gaming or gaming tidbits and history. Think what makes you special, and give it a go!

The final major advise is consistency. Twitch greatly favours people who are able to produce content on a regular basis. Sticking to a schedule goes a long way in making your name established as a streamer, in opposition to going live on Twitch here and there without plan.

Streaming on Twitch - Standing out

More than the basics: making your stream feel different.

Up until now this guide covered the basics in getting your feet wet and telling how to start streaming on Twitch. That helps you settle on operational aspects like internet connection, hardware and gear to stream, but when you want to get past a certain threshold it’s important improve how the stream looks and sounds.

If you take a look around the most watched streamers on Twitch you’ll see that they went a long way to provide a big brand-like identity to the stream. You can do it too if you’re willing to put the time into going pro on Twitch. Here are some tips to make your Twitch streams look great:

  • Scenes on OBS Studio are a great way to stream smoothly as they are layouts of content that will appear on screen.
  • Prepare screen for beginning, ending and intermission of the stream, static or dynamic images that let your viewers know what’s coming on the stream, make it easier to keep people around if you need to step out for a minute.
  • Overlays help customization of the screen, look into how to use them!
  • Sound alerts play on your stream according to defined triggers, like subscriptions follows or comments on the chat. Use them through third-parties to make your content richer.
  • Twitch extensions are apps that interact with the stream and can provide data and feedback about the performance or let your viewers interact directly with what’s going on the screen.
  • Adding a soundtrack can give a lot of personality and make your stream stand-out. be careful to not play copyrighted music as rules have tighten up on its use recently.
  • Step into your audience’s shoes and watch your stream with a viewer mindset. Is the audio off? Is video out of sync with sound effects? Is there something missing that would add a lot of value? Understanding it from the audience perspective can probide you a lot of tools to enhance your broadcasts.

If you see your channel growing and want to grow even further, expanding your gear and Twitch streaming setup is also a possibility. Adding a PC exclusively dedicated to streaming means that you’ll be able to dedicate more power into handling the stream. Capture cards, as mentioned before, provide you much more flexibility to what you can stream and how you make it look. The options are limitless, it comes down to how much are you willing to push your path to becoming a top Twitch streamer.

Streaming on Twitch - Your audience

Interacting with your audience – what’s the streaming and Twitch etiquette?

So you know how to go live on Twitch, you’ve started streaming on Twitch and even got some viewers you don’t know personally! How to retain and grow this audience? If you’ve ever been watching a top streamer, you know a lot of attention goes into how these channels interact with the viewers and chat – answering questions, showing more personality and so on.

The first part is making sure you’re aligned with the community guidelines, the do’s and don’ts of Twitch as we’ve talked about in the beginning. Remember them? After those, there are some unwritten rules that act as great advice on how to become a great influence as a streamer and to let everyone have a good time. Here are some Twitch audience tips:

  • Greet your viewers when you see them joining in or commenting and thank those who support you. A simple ‘hello’ will acknowledge them as an important part of your viewerbase and will create fidelity on the long-term.
  • Set a Twitch streaming schedule, share it and stick by it. It’s way easier this way for your audience to know when you’re live on Twitch rather than just guessing. Respect your viewers’ time.
  • Promote your channel on social media: share your channel URL, let people know when you’re going live, share past videos or show highlights of the past stream. These are all fantastic ways to raise awareness to what you’re doing when streaming on Twitch.
  • Be insightful and stimulate discussion and interaction with viewers. Ask for opinions, provide recommendations and understand feedback. You want to create your own audience and this is a great way to know them.

As for some notorious ‘Don’t’ of promoting your channel:

  • DON’T promote your stream and channel on other peoples streams through the chat. This has a high probability of not driving any viewers to you and will most likely backfire as will put your channel in a very negative light to viewers and the streaming community (and can get you blocked).
  • DON’T ignore the audience. Think of your community as a close circle of shared interests and these viewers are choosing to spend their time watching you stream on Twitch. Ignoring them misses the point of live streaming and could just be achieved by making regular videos.
  • DON’T go live for short periods of time. Obviously this can happen due to unexpected situations, but in average you’ll want to commit some time to each stream as Twitch favors those who create longer content as this will also mean it gives your audience reasons to stick around.
Streaming on Twitch - Your audience

From Twitch to social media

As we’ve mentioned, social media and Twitch streaming are very close together. Social networks are incredibly powerful to generate engagement for your stream, and in turn your longer duration content can boost your presence on other channels.

Turning the long hours of Twitch content into posts in social media is made way easier with Replai. Social networks are made to capture a viewer’s attention in less than five seconds, so you can’t just post something that’s hours-long. And until recently, editing the highlights from a Twitch stream to short-video suited to Instagram, Twitter or Tiktok  used to take dozens of hours or a dedicated fanbase working for free. With Replai, all it takes is a click.

Replai is a service that allows you to automatically generate the highlights from your gaming stream. With one button, Replai allows you to transform your content from Twitch to Tiktok or any other network, ready to go viral on these different audiences.

Conclusion

Twitch streaming is a wonderful world and if you followed this guide it’s very likely you have a pretty good idea on how to start streaming on Twitch and go beyond that. Twitch is currently the leading streaming platform and while it’s facing a fierce competition from other growing platforms, it’s still the best place to start a channel and grow an audience. However, the beauty is in the flexibility: if you believe that Facebook Gaming, Youtube or any other platform is where you want to be, many of the tips showcased here still apply.

No matter where you start streaming, it’s all in your hands. And when you first go live on Twitch or if you start streaming on Facebook, growing your channel will be one of your key priorities in the first stages. If you’re looking for a way to show what your amazing content is all about while reducing your effort, Replai is the tool to use.