If you’re thinking about getting in to streaming, you’ve come to the right place. We’re here to walk you through the basics, all the way up to solving some of the hardest challenges in breaking through and capturing an audience.
1. Choose a platform to broadcast on.
You’ll want to start out by deciding how you want to broadcast and which platform you should choose. Twitch is already very established in the marketplace, and is known to be more lucrative for gamers. However, YouTube Gaming realizes the success Twitch is having and wants in on some of the action. eSports and online streaming is growing world-wide, and some day in the future anybody who wants to commit to that lifestyle of providing entertainment should be able to do so. It’s not easy though. We’re here to cover the basics and educate you on what you could be getting in to, as well as provide expectations. Ambitious Gamer wants to “break the glass” so to speak and make the mountain climb ahead more of a series of small hills.
Okay so let’s get in to this a little bit. In order to compete with Twitch, YouTube has to go a very long way. Fans of certain gamers are going to follow where those gamers broadcast. That’s just the nature of the business. Twitch is already more established in this field giving them a significant advantage over up and coming streaming platforms. Subscriptions, channels, and followers are already built-in and established there. So in turn, YouTube has to provide incentive for gamers to migrate their channels and audiences.
Earlier, I mentioned the word “lucrative”. Compensation is a very large part of this process. YouTube makes monetization very easy so it’s less of an up-hill climb, but there is a trade-off for that. YouTube takes a larger cut of your work. And when I say “work”, I mean it in a literal sense. There’s a ton of work that goes in to setting up these streams. The majority of income for most streamers actually comes from sponsors, merchandising, and donations. YouTube has “Google Wallet” implemented already, so that may make it easier for newer streamers to monetize on that platform. But before you go and create an account and decide to park there, there’s one last big point to cover. That’s right ladies and gentleman.. Copyright enforcement..
Twitch is an old western. YouTube Gaming is a corporate conglomerate. Even if you are extremely careful in broadcasting, you can get flagged for copyright infringement. Enough of these flags and there’s the end of your streaming on YouTube. Gameplay on YouTube is not against copyright rules on YouTube.. People are going to see what you’re broadcasting, it benefits the developers and game creators and there’s a lot to gain by allowing people to broadcast. The rule is though, if you’re going to monetize gameplay (which lets face it, you know you want to), you will want to make sure you’re partnered. Because it’s in all the legal mumbo jumbo of that partnership that gives you the legal rights to monetize that particular gameplay. Or you can just join the wild wild west.. Don’t worry, we’ll cover more on partnership later in this blog post.
2. Get Software and get your feet wet. Test the waters. Decide what you want to stream.
That’s right. You’re going to need some software to broadcast whatever you’re playing. Some of the newer consoles already have built-in software that will do most of the heavy lifting for you, but if you’re streaming from a computer, you’re going to need software to select what you want to broadcast. I recommend Open Broadcast Software or commonly known as OBS, but there are alternatives as well such as: XSplit Broadcaster, Gameshow, and vMix. OBS is open source and free, while others may come with a pricetag. Once installed, you’re going to want to set the software up and tell it to broadcast to your platform. Detailed instructions are available on the web and are easy to find and follow. You will need to make sure you are getting good upload speeds through your internet service provider as well. You want to aim for at least a 2MB upload speed. Visit testmy.net to test your internet connection. Make sure your computer is pretty good as well. We’ll cover PC hardware a bit later.
Once you’re live, you need to consider channel design. Setting up custom graphics, overlays, layers, etc. Customization is not that important but at the same time you don’t want to broadcast to the world private chat or personal information. Be sure to take some time to see what your stream looks like from a different computer if possible and play with the configuration settings until you get it the way you like it.
When starting a channel, it is important to decide what you want to stream. Do I want my channel to be open to all or closed off? Decisions you make early on can affect the long term growth of your channel. Do you want to add a tip button or leave it out? Do you want a PG show or one intended for mature audiences? Should you show your face while you game to connect more with your audience, or should you leave it out? Lots of people like to watch the emotional reactions take place while they game.. Without that body language it may be harder to connect to your audience. Are you going to be playing a variety of games or are you going to specialize in one?? If it’s just one, make sure you love that game. You will be playing it a lot. A culmination of all of these decisions will greatly impact your channel and growth. Really, you just want to start broadcasting and see if it’s something you enjoy doing.
3. Decide when you want to stream.
You don’t need a schedule, but you will want one. You know when your favorite show is on every week. There’s a reason you know it. At that time, if it’s something you’re excited about, you will tune in to see it at that time. The same goes for your audience. Pick a starting time and go until you stop having fun or life forces you to stop. There’s no rules that say you have to stream X amount of time until you’re established, but set manageable goals for yourself. Clearly if you decide to start out at 16 hours a day every day you are going to face burn out extremely fast. Streaming is an emotional investment, it’s a time investment and its a physical investment. Don’t quit your day job until you’re certain this is what you want and that the trade off for that investment is satisfying to you. Or just do it as a hobby in your off time. Unwind with your friends, and make new ones.
4. Are new streamers destined to fail?
No. And this is a big portion of this post. There’s a ton of talk going around about this very topic. In the current market, it is very hard to be the go-to channel. Twitch’s design currently is setup so that when you click on a game, it lists that games partnered streamers first, and then sorts everybody else by the number of people in the audience from highest to lowest. So if you’re new guy #10817, your stream is going to be buried by everybody else who has already been successful streaming that particular game, and then by people who have more viewers than you do. Standing out is a lot of hard work. It takes a ton of effort, social marketing, and self-marketing to be ahead of the pack. That’s where we want to come in. One of the original intentions of Ambitious Gamer is to help new streamers get their name out there. We’re working on developing a way for people to get instant recognition by the game they play. This system will include a community ranking system built-in, comments, entertainment value, star-power and much more. More work needs to be done to bridge the gap between highly successful channels and newbies. But if new guy #10817 is more entertaining than the established partner, the platform needs to know about it and not send this gamer packing and discouraged. This competition is fierce, and it’s a very hard market to break in to. That has got to change and more needs to be done for the new gamer. We will work in every way to bridge the gap for new gamers.
5. Hardware / Studio
Processor: This is one of the most important components of streaming hardware, as this is what sends all the encoding. Intel processors do a better job of this than AMD ones.
Graphics card: Graphic intensive video cards are preferred. But a great graphics card and a crummy processor is going to tank your frame rates and your stream will look awful. Nvidia has some nice features built in to the OBS software we mentioned earlier.. but what works great for one person may not look amazing for others. The rule of thumb is don’t go cheap on your processor or your graphics card.
Capture cards for consoles: Capture cards capture what you’re playing and sends it to the computer. You generally want to look for something with low delay times and high frame capture rates.
Cameras: 720, 1080, 4K or ultra HD. The higher the camera does the more clear the picture will be. The same players you would expect in this field dominate it.. Logitech, Creative, Microsoft, etc..
Microphone: You can use whatever built-in stuff you have to get you off the ground.. Pick up a USB microphone or headset if you don’t have one. For professional or studio microphones, some suggest MXL, Shure or Blue Snowball mics.
External Monitor(s): You’ll probably notice right away the need for more visible space when streaming. If you play something that takes up the full screen, you immediately lose intraction with your audience. It may be worth it to invest in a couple additional monitors and mount them in a way you can game and still interact with your audience, and look things up quickly.
Cozy chair: Required. Buy one you like 🙂
Green Screen / Lighting: Lighting is crucial if you don’t want to look like a strawberry monster or orange fireball. It makes a huge difference. Experiment with lighting to see what affects it has on the stream.
But a nice studio for streaming will not only give you the feeling that you are really doing this professionally, but it will help you in becoming successful at it.
It is worth noting that it is the content in which you produce which will matter a lot more than the hardware ever will.
Gaming offices or studios can run thousands of dollars.. But none of this professional stuff is required to get going.
6. Growing your audience, finding your stride and style.
Remember earlier we talked about what you want to stream? This comes in to play here. Picking 100 different games may turn away some viewers. It’s harder to build subscriptions with this method. You’ll want to get your name out there though either way. Let them know you’re playing and what you’re playing, and when you plan on playing it. Variety broadcasters may find it a lot harder to maintain a subscriber base if they tune in and see you playing a game they don’t like. Right for your viewing Twitch sets up the rules on getting partnered.. Within their application they state what they are looking for. Some of this criteria includes: Average concurrent viewership of 500+ (not just a one-time peak) and a Regular broadcast schedule of at least 3 times a week. A lot of effort and who you know comes in to play here.
Building your base will require a lot of work in the social media platforms. You have to do your work and research on Twitter, Facebook, anywhere really that will get you publicity. Going to start gaming? Tweet about it. Don’t like twitter? SIGN UP. You’re only hurting yourself by not using the tools of the internet that are available to you. It’s not hard to do. You can get partnered much easier through YouTube Gaming, but we talked about earlier the pros and cons of each platform. Promote other gamers you like. Talk about them with your friends. Make your channel title accurate. Don’t deceive viewers coming to see you playing a particular game for them to find out you’re playing something else.
Do some giveaways. Got something to offer your viewers? Offer it up. Just make sure you don’t sell the farm for a couple of vegetables. It will increase follower loyalty and build your reputation with your audience. This goes without saying but thank people for their donations. Do something special for them, give them a shout-out. People like to feel appreciated.. If someone donates to your channel or your cause, take some time to let it know that it’s keeping you motivated.
Be entertaining! If you’re way serious or tense, you’re going to come across that way to the audience. Some people aren’t successful streaming simply because they’re not engaging or interesting. I may like the Madden games but who am I going to have more fun watching? The animated guy who puts it all out there or the guy who streams and never says anything sitting there looking stoically? You have to be entertaining and produce entertaining content for people to want to come watch you.
7. Building relationships with developers
Once your channel takes off, it’s time to get in touch with some of these developers who make the very games you’ve been playing and entertaining people with. There are some firms out there who will reach out to you to set this process in motion. Developers have high interest in your stream believe it or not. They can work with you for product placements, word of mouth and more exposure. They do this so your channel has more influence. And that influence is valuable to developers. Developers look for high viewership, consistency, presence, participation, how negative or positive you are, all of this can impact a developers decision to work with you. Once you’re established or agree to terms, you could find yourself beta testing products, or even participating in live streams of pre-releases. You’re the only one streaming this brand new game everybody is excited about, your earning potential skyrockets. Developers are more inclined to reach out to the already established gamers, it is less risk for them. This could explain why the gaming platforms promote or sort their broadcasters by viewership / popularity.
Be prepared for legal jargon and make sure you read over and agree to everything before signing it.
8. Various closing thoughts
It’s worth noting that some things should really be taken in moderation. Please take care of yourself. Don’t forget about your family and loved ones as they will be the ones there to help pick you up if you do not succeed. Get up and walk around. Take care of your eye sight. Monitor headaches. Listen to your body. If you’re tired, take a break.
I wish you the greatest success and please stay tuned for our work on bridging the gap for new streamers!
If you would like to comment, or share success stories, or failures, please, please share below in the comments. We all learn through experience and I’d be happy to hear your stories.
Best of luck everybody,