How to Get Started in Streaming
Updated on September 9, 2021 | by Alex Smith
From a beginning filled with confusion and underestimation, streaming today has become a hobby and career beloved by millions. It’s a way to meet new people, share ideas and laugh, and maybe even earn a few bucks on the side. It’s also, however, not as easy as it might seem. Far from plugging in and getting going, starting in streaming requires a lot of careful consideration and practice, and that’s what we’re going to explore today.
Your Brand and Logo
Before starting on any journey, you need to decide where you want to go. In streaming, this means looking at how you want to present yourself, and the audience you want to foster. Do you emulate another, or do you build your streaming identity from scratch? Are you going to be loud and abrasive, or a more relaxed stream where viewers can watch and chill? While you’re going to have room to experiment and expand, you need to at least home some clue of potential branding before you begin.
To this end, you also need to consider the most immediately visible aspects of your channel, such as your logo. If you take off, this logo is going to be a symbol of your accomplishment and all you stand for, so it’s not something that should be overlooked. To this end, logo maker websites can be a great place to start. With powerful tools and a wide range of templates to draw from, up-and-coming streamers can create a logo that looks very professional thanks to services like these. Having the right branding can give a jumpstart in the first steps of streaming, and can even help inspire a theme and direction.
What Do You Want to Stream?
In the early days of streaming on websites like Twitch, video games were the only real option. Over time, however, streaming has grown well beyond the confines of the gaming market. Today, one of the most routinely popular channels is found in just chatting, which regularly boasts over 300,000 simultaneous viewers. Crafting and music channels also perform extremely well, with many hosts that have zero interest in the video gaming industry.
Of course, chances are video games are going to be your go-to, which raises a host of questions in itself. If you want to focus on one game, then you need to consider both long-term viability and the problem of eventual burnout. No game stays relevant forever (unless we’re talking about Doom), so game-dedicated streamers will eventually have to make a jump to something new. For some streamers, this might be as simple as moving to a sequel, but those who play games that aren’t in a series might not be so lucky.
Burnout can be a much more difficult problem to predict and address. Sure, you may love playing games for long periods, but can you extend that love to weeks, and then months? Keep in mind that professional-level streamers will have to play so much as to make a game their full-time job, which can be extremely difficult to maintain by all but the most passionate.
Variety streamers have a different problem, in that instead of relying on a game as the core of their streaming output, the channel is going to be weighted much more heavily towards personality. Variety streamers need to be able to adapt to often very different genres and terms, riffing off certain themes and memes as they go. Though skills like these do develop over time, they rarely start off easy.
The Physical Setup
When you have a direction and a game, you then need to jump through the hoops of creating a physical streaming setup. Before working on the layout, you first need to ensure that your internet is up to scratch. HD streaming will require up to 61.5 Mbps, where going over the 100 Mbps mark can help with overhead. If you haven’t checked your ISP for years, know that they often drop prices without telling existing customers, so it might be possible to claim a faster connection for the same price or even cheaper than what you currently pay for.
As for your streaming environment, you won’t need to start with the most expensive options out there. What you will need is a dedicated streaming microphone, as the difference between even an entry-level streaming mic and headset mic is night and day. This one small change alone can generate a huge feeling of professionalism, so it should place high on your wish list.
The camera isn’t quite as important, as most streamers spend their time as a small box in the streaming window, rather than taking up the whole screen. This means cutting-edge 4k cameras won’t usually be worth the effort, at least unless you also get into longer-form and more personal videos and content creation.
From here, all you need to do is to suitably decorate your environment, and you’re ready to go. Remember, you don’t need to actually create a private little streaming room, but it can help to a fake one through decoration. Essentially, you want to foster an intimate feel, which is difficult to do with a more cavernous setup.
Like any other hobby or professional pursuit, your first few weeks are likely to be filled with confusion and trial-and-error. Even after this point, the difficulty of building an audience can be disheartening. Don’t give up, and remember that many popular streamers had to work for years to find a reliable audience. Learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others, create a positive atmosphere, and your odds of success will be all the better for it.