Part I: Getting Started
So you’ve not been deterred by the information vomit in the Introduction post. Excellent. This is where we get to the good bits.
1. Are you able to stream?
More appropriately, will your Internet connection be able to handle your stream? As broadcasting/streaming involves the use of the Internet to transfer video information to viewers, you need to make sure that your connection is sufficient enough to do so. This is determined on your Internet Speed, specifically your upload speed (and to some extent, download speed also).
You can find out what your Internet speed is via several websites like Ookla Speedtest, Speedof.me, and so on. These websites give a general indication as to how much data you can transfer per second by sending and receiving information on the Internet.
Internet speed is incredibly important to a streamer, as not having enough bandwidth will result in interference with the stream video. Things like repeated buffering, latency, picture quality and more are associated with not having enough bandwidth to transfer the video to the Internet.
Being completely honest, there is no real minimum speed requirement to stream. You can totally stream on a potato 400 kilobit per second (kbps) upload connection (0.4mbps) and it’ll stream fine, given you tweak the stream settings to accommodate the low bitrate value. That said, while it is possible to stream at that bitrate, your video quality will likely look as blurry as shit smeared on toast.
Now as far as the minimum recommended line speed for streaming goes, I’d say that 600kbps is the absolute minimum you should stream at, which is the typical speed of the average ADSL2+ user. As most ADSL2+ connections with carry a maximum of 1000kbps (or 1 megabit per second), factoring in connection overheads and attenuation, this is what you’re likely to get.
None of the above factors in how stable your line is. You could achieve the minimum recommended speed, and still not be able to stream if your like doesn’t hold itself up.
If you’re able to achieve that, then you’re ready to start with the next steps.
2. Choosing your streaming service and creating an account
Before we dive in to setting up our streaming software, we’ll need to pick a service that will host your channel. As mentioned in the intro post, there are a dozens of streaming services available. We’ll go through them briefly below.
- Pros: Most popular and supported streaming service, wide reaching video infrastructure, more users and viewers, and has been in the livestreaming game a lot longer than their rival sites. Has an amazing community of content creators. Many games are now featuring Twitch integration, so viewers can directly influence gameplay of the streamer.
- Cons: Can feel somewhat overcrowded given its popularity, can feel hard to get your channel off the ground with so many other streamers, and some users (a very small percentage) are incredibly toxic which can be disheartening.
b. YouTube Gaming
- Pros: Probably the largest community userbase out of any services to date given that it is integrated into YouTube. Works very similar to Twitch.
- Cons: The community can be just as toxic, not as many active viewers or content creators on the streaming side.
c. Mixer (formerly Beam.pro)
- Pros: Significantly reduced latency between broadcaster and audience which is super close to real time. More interactive options for viewers to get involved with the stream. Simple but elegant website design. Plenty of opportunity to make a name for yourself in a smaller community.
- Cons: Not as many registered users as the other two services being relatively new to the game. Not as widely supported in most applications (albeit, it’s catching up). Limited exposure and opportunity for partnerships etc.
3. Creating your “Brand” of entertainment
One of the biggest keys to your streaming success will ultimately revolve around your personal brand. We’re not talking about what streaming equipment you use, or what flavour of Energy drink you consume – we’re talking about you and how you present yourself to a potential audience.
The moment you flick the switch to go live, you become the name you create for yourself and you represent your brand, which in time becomes synonymous with the pseudonym you pick. Picking your online moniker is simple enough, because literally any username will do – but the difference is how memorable it is.
For example: Johnny wants to start streaming, and so he creates a username like xXx_JDogg2495_xXx or 69_420BlazeIt_69. He goes live on Twitch, and introduces himself as such. Meanwhile, Darren creates a pretty unique and catchy username that rolls off the tongue with ease, and calls himself RetroBoy.
Now, ask yourself – which of the two names are you most likely to remember as a viewer? The guy whose username looks fancy on paper, or the dude whose username you can actually pronounce in general conversation without effort?
The importance of your brand doesn’t just stop with being able to verbalise it. Your brand name will be used on promotional material, artwork, social media profiles, web addresses, emails, and so on.
With this in mind, it’s time to check if the desired name is available for registration. I generally recommend using a website called NAMECHK to check usernames, web address domains, social accounts etc. As much as it is important to have a memorable username, it’s equally as important to have that username be consistent in all places so fans can find you easily.
Once you’ve worked out how you want to present yourself, and assuming the name you’ve chosen is available, it’s time to get started with creating an account.
4. Creating an account
This is by far the easiest step so far. Once you’ve decided on a username in line with the branding recommendations above, you’re ready to create your account on whichever service you’re going with: Twitch, Mixer, YouTube Gaming, Hitbox… the world is yours.
In the next guide…
We’ll be covering the actual setup of a streaming client or software, which will handle the output to one of the streaming services we’ve already talked about.