I’m a rarity amongst my friends in the mid 30’s – I stream on Twitch. I started mainly to cut down on drinking, but it’s made me connect with some amazing people, become better friends with people I already knew, as well as earn a little bit of money.
In recent weeks, with the Coronavirus issues, people have been looking to get more into Twitch streaming, and asking me how I did it. I’d thought I’d teach you how I do it. Here is a guide of how I did it.
Starting for “Free”
Before starting, I’d recommend getting things up and running as quickly as possible for free. I started with Retro Gaming with a stream of Championship Manager 93. For this I simply needed an emulator, ‘acquired’ copies of the game, and Open Broadcasting Software. Open Broadcasting Software (henceforth referred to as “OBS”) is a piece of software that has Mac, PC & Linux alternatives and allows you to put together a “scene”. This scene can pull in any window on your machine, images, your webcam, as well as any audio associated with it. You can then immediately stream by connecting the software to Twitch (here’s a guide on how to do it). Test everything is working (you can run test streams) and then go live!
Your first streams won’t have many viewers, that’s fine. I think my entire first 2 months of streaming I had less than 1 average viewer per stream. If you can bring people in that can be useful (my first regular viewers were people I knew outside of Twitch). But you should use this time to speak and get comfortable, which is why a game like Championship Manager is great as it’s slow paced and you can talk about what you’re seeing. Things like that. People may show up. People may not. But you should decide if you enjoy it, which is why I say a game like this is perfect. You can stream direct from Xbox/PS4’s, however they don’t have features like webcams, and it’s far easier to connect when you see somebody.
Investing in Streaming
Decide you enjoy it? Great stuff! Now let’s spend some cash
My entire streaming setup (outside of games & consoles) cost me about £250-300. I had some elements already (like the computer), and I did use some tokens to take some of the damage off, but this is what I bought.
- Elgato Game Capture HD60 Capture Card. This is the main thing, which allows you to capture any footage with a HDMI output and output it into your stream
- BenQ 23.8 Inch Widescreen LED Monitor & Invision PC Monitor Arm. This is what I play on, however you may have any montior or TV. Whatever’s comfortable.
- Havit 12″-17″ Laptop Cooler – this is because my laptop can get hot when running a stream. I’d probably recommend it.
When all the gear arrives, in between your console and your TV put the Elgato Capture Card and your console. You’ll want to capture the signal to put it into OBS, there are millions of ways to do this and my way is rather complicated (but works for me!). So I’ll not share it. However you should have something that looks like this.
Notice the fact that what I’m watching on the screen (top screen) is not running at the same time as my stream (bottom screen). This is deliberate as there will be a delay. Also it’s a good idea at this point to run as lean as possible – close all programs, drop the bitrate of the video (I stream at 760p standard definition as for retro stuff & my ugly mug it’s fine) and generally try and run the games in the resolution they were intended in on your monitor.
A Chatbot is a good thing to have in your stream. They can do basic moderation, help sort out spam, and respond to events as well as provide commands. You can see this in action by going to my stream and typing in commands such as !social, !discord & !prime. Or just write a few messages relatively slowly (so not to set off the spam filter). Here are a couple of ones.
- Streamlabs Cloudbot – probably the simplest to set up, and I’ll talk more about Streamlabs offering in another part.
- Nightbot – Popular with some elements of the community.
- Phantombot – What I use. Self hosted (so you have to pay for server space). Complex to setup, but I love their dashboard and it is open source. Plus it allows me to tinker and improve it however I wish.
You can also setup a dashboard. Dashboard are what you look at whilst streaming. It can tell you things like the bitrate (how your internet connection is), how long you’ve been streaming, how many viewers you have watching and anything that’s happening on your stream.
Some dashboards I’m familiar with are the following.
- The default Twitch Dashboard. If you watch it disable your video, as I found it make things all a lot slower.
- The default Twitch Dashboard on Mobile – again can be useful and easy to setup, running the dashboard on your mobile. I started with this.
- Phantombot’s Dashboard (this is what I use). I found it light and didn’t take up as many resources as the default Twitch Dashboard.
I’m not sure about any other Dashboards, but I’m sure there are plenty more. If you set up a dashboard switch off viewers. It can be distracting and disheartening when you’re performing to an audience of zero.
One thing I quite like is Alerts. They help improve interaction between you and your streamers. These are little animations that pop up when things happen on your stream. Two of the most popular ones are the following:-
- Streamlabs Alerts – I have this, and has a wealth of tools available to handle alerts for anything from followers to subscriptions.
- Soundalert Extension – This will allow users to donate bits (more on Bits later) or use channel points to play sound effects on your stream.
It’s up to you, but I put my streams up on My YouTube Channel whenever they are finished. Streams last on Twitch for a couple of weeks, but can be exported with the click of a button in Content > Video Producer.
Anything you clip, or one of your users clip last permanently though.
Growth & Monetization
And so the big one, how do you grow or monetise it? Well let’s start with growth.
Growth kind of happens slowly. It’s a good idea to have a community or things you can latch onto to help. If you can bring viewers to Twitch in some way (say if you have friends that enjoy games) that’s an easy way. Other than that, my three tips are.
- Share the love: once finishing streams “raid” a random person. Raiding is passing on your viewership to somebody else. Some people switch it off as it can be a bit overwhelming, but if you have a few viewers, find a streamer of a similar/larger size, and raid them. Be friendly and chatty and hang out for a bit – I try to end a stream earlier than you wish to make sure that I can have a small chat.
- Jump on hashtags: Some such as “#SmallStreamersConnect” and “#StreamFrens” retweet go live notifications – though you may want a dedicated Twitter account.
- Sit and watch other streams: Some of my earlier viewers came from people I had previously watched. You can do that.
Some communities exist that can help you grow. These are things such as the following:-
- Strem Frens Discord Server – Excellent community there! Will recommend that heavily
- Reddit Small Streamers
And finally onto earning. Well you cannot earn straight away, you need to become a Twitch Affiliate, to do this you need the following:-
- 50 Followers on Twitch.
- Stream on 7 Different Days over the last 30 days.
- Stream for 500 minutes over the last 30 days (8 and a bit hours).
- An average of over 3 viewers on your streams.
It sounds like a lot but it’s quite easy to get, it took me about 2-3 months to achieve but if you are committed you can do it quicker. Becoming Twitch Affiliate allows you to earn using the following ways.
- A share of the ad revenue.
- “Bits”, small donations when something cool happens (usually works out at 1 bit for $0.01).
- Affiliate income from games – rarer.
Subscriptions are the best way to earn as if you have Amazon Prime you can get Twitch Prime as well, which allows one subscription to somebody that’s not yourself on a monthly basis – you can read a guide on how to subscribe to a streamer with Twitch Prime here. So ask your friends to subscribe to you!
The only thing that is lacking is that it doesn’t auto renew, and designed to be a service where you share the wealth. A good alternative is my side project Streamer Sub Alert, which allows you to generate a link that you can put on your profile, or activated via a bot which allows people once subscribed to put a calendar reminder into their calendar to resubscribe. Paid subscriptions do auto renew though.
And how much can you earn? Well, it’s a slog, I’m after 9 months about a third of the way to the payout level. But it’s something to look into a side project rather than a main source of income. Do it for the love, rather than the money.
Thanks For Reading!
If you’ve enjoyed this article, great! I hope I answered questions. My inbox is open for any further questions. If you are on Twitch, please follow me on Twitch. Also YouTube, Twitter & Discord for my other services. If you have Amazon Prime and haven’t used your Twitch Prime Subscription, please consider using it with me – you get a cool emote that you can use on Twitch & Discord (thanks to ArdonPixels for the design). You can do so from my Twitch Profile by clicking on the “Subscribe” button at the top. If nothing else, thanks for reading and please share.