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How to Start Streaming on Twitch

You might think you have to be a pro gamer to get started with Twitch, but that’s not true. Everyone from artists and musicians to comedians and crafters have channels where they create, entertain—and, yes, even play games for their audience. Here’s how to find yours, and how to watch ours.

Prep Your PC

Whether you plan to stream video games or, well, anything else, you’ll need a computer that’s up to the task. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need a new one, though. Twitch has its own suggested PC specs, but they’re fairly lightweight, including only an Intel Core i5-4670 (or its AMD equivalent), 8 GB of RAM, and Windows 7 or newer.

Of course, if you plan on streaming games, you’ll want a PC that can handle the games and the streaming software you plan to use. OBS Studio is the most popular utility for Twitch broadcasting. It can definitely get CPU-intensive, depending on the game or video source you’re streaming, especially if you plan to stream hi-res, high-detail games, so take that into consideration. We’d recommend a modern quad-core processor, at least 8 GB of RAM (preferably more), and an up-to-date video card like an Nvidia RTX 2060 or newer (although personally, I stream just fine with an old GTX 1080.)

If that all sounds too complicated, plenty of gaming PC manufacturers will sell you a PC designed for streaming, with high-end components that will tackle challenging games with specs to spare. Similarly, if you don’t plan to stream PC games at all, you could stream directly from your console through the Twitch App (on the Xbox) or Share Menu (on PlayStation). You could even stream using the Twitch app from your phone, if all you need is a camera. You don’t get the same options as OBS Studio offers, but it’s a great way in without additional cost or confusion.

Get a Camera (If You Want)

Speaking of cameras, you don’t need one to stream games to Twitch if you prefer not to have your face onscreen, but many streamers like to add that personal touch. If you do, virtually any high-quality webcam will do, like the Logitech StreamCam or the more broadly popular Logitech C920 Pro. Some professional gamers even point their cameras at their hands, so viewers can see how they manage the controls of complicated games.

If you want to stream music, a talk show, or something else that’s not games, you could take things a step further and set up a DSLR or professional camera and connect it to your computer. If you’re just getting started, however, a webcam will do.

Make Sure You’re Heard

Once you have your video set up, you need to make sure your viewers will hear you clearly. A good gaming headset, like our favorite SteelSeries Arctis line or HyperX’s Cloud Alpha, will make sure you can hear your computer or console while you stream and your viewers can make out your voice.

A good headset, preferably a wired one (just to remove additional variables from your streaming setup) is a great way in, but when you’re ready to upgrade, consider a dedicated microphone and headphones for top-notch audio quality. The Blue Yeti is my go-to. It’s affordable and easy to set up and use, and it works well with any pair of headphones you enjoy listening to. We like the Sony MDR7506. They sound great, and they’re affordable to boot.

Set Up a Space

Now, you don’t need a special space for streaming, especially if you’re planning on streaming games, since your viewer will ideally be looking at what’s happening on your screen more than what’s lurking behind you in your home office or living room.

But if you want to stream art, music, or something else that would fit into Twitch’s IRL (In Real Life) category, you might want to invest in some lighting. Options vary, but a good ring-light behind your screen or directly on your face will put you in a flattering light, and some additional directional lights to even things out will make sure your viewers can see the instrument you’re playing, the canvas you’re painting on, or even your guests if you plan to host a panel or group show.

You might also consider setting up a green screen behind you so you can patch in a digital background that looks cooler than your messy office or just adds a little liveliness to your stream. After all, who wouldn’t want to play Dungeons and Dragons with a faux castle background, or a sci-fi video game from the bridge of the Enterprise?

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Lastly, consider some sound damping measures. It’s easy to say you should stream from a quiet place, but we don’t all have that luxury. You can find affordable foam acoustic panels on Amazon that you can mount on the walls to reduce echo.

Customize Your Channel and Spread the Word

Once you’re ready to go, it’s time to tell everyone about your channel. You don’t have to build Twitch banners, emotes, and other profile images, but it definitely helps. My suggestion: If you have an artist on Twitter or Instagram that you love, ask if you can commission them to create some art for your Twitch channel (and pay them appropriately)—you’ll usually get something better than you can make yourself, and your viewers will appreciate the unique look of your channel.

Whatever you do, make sure to personalize it. Make sure it reflects your personality and the vibe you’re going for on-stream, and it also includes links to your social media and where viewers can find you when you’re off-stream. And of course, make sure to set up Twitch to notify your followers on other platforms when you’re live, or make sure you do it yourself. Set a schedule for your channel so viewers know when to tune in, and try to stick to it. Consistency is key, and most importantly, so is having fun.

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