Here’s How to Set Up a Livestream on Twitch

By Jamie GreysonLast Updated Feb 12, 2021 2:20:40 PM ET
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Photo Courtesy: Mythic Quest/Ubisoft via Apple TV+

If you've used YouTube or Twitch within the last five or so years, you've likely seen at least one instance of livestreaming. Unlike more traditional videos, livestreams are exactly what they sound like: live videos being broadcast in real-time. Although YouTube personalities and Instagram influencers livestream on their respective platforms, Twitch is becoming one of the most popular (and most massive) livestreaming platforms out there. So, how does a livestream work — and, if you’re a newbie, how do you get started on Twitch?

What Is Twitch?

Twitch has undergone several significant changes since its creation in 2011. While the platform was initially geared toward gamers, it has since grown into one of the most trusted platforms for streams of nearly all types and categories. In addition to gaming livestreams, viewers can find channels dedicated to cooking, ASMR and more.

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Photo Courtesy: Twitch

Still, the primary content is all things video games and eSports, so whether you’re into multiplayer games like Valorant or retro hits like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, you’re bound to find something up your alley. And, if you intend to be a streamer, you can find an audience for nearly every game in your library. But, before you get ahead of yourself, let’s dig into the basics of setting up a stream.

How Does Livestreaming on Twitch Work?

To start a livestream on Twitch, you’ll need four simple things: a Twitch account, a stable internet connection, a decent camera, and a microphone. Of course, this is an oversimplification of the process, but, nonetheless, these are must-haves for any wannabe Twitch streamers.

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Photo Courtesy: babynectar/Twitch

While you can access Twitch from your smartphone or tablet, we recommend streaming from a desktop or high-quality laptop. First, you’ll want to set up your camera and microphone; since there’s a lot of variety out there when it comes to webcams and mics, you’ll want to refer to the manufacturers’ instructions while installing them. Once you’ve got your audio and visual components set, log into your Twitch account. When you’re ready to stream, simply press the "Go Live" button.

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Once you’ve gone live, viewers will see that you’re livestreaming and, if they’re interested, they can visit your channel to watch, post comments in the chat and so on. Once you finish a streaming session, you have the option of saving your recording for future use. Still feeling a bit overwhelmed? You might want to watch a few for yourself first.

Can You Earn Money While Livestreaming?

While many streamers begin their Twitch adventure simply because they have a passion for their content or online socialization, some recognize it as an opportunity for monetary gain. It’s widely known that YouTube stars and other social media influencers earn substantial incomes from both their content and partnerships. Although streamers who create gaming content may use different platforms or have different affiliate programs, there’s still quite a bit of opportunity.

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Photo Courtesy: MaryJLeee/Twitch

In fact, Twitch offers a competitive option for established streamers who want to earn a little income from their content. Called the Twitch Affiliate Program, this option lets Twitch streamers accumulate some revenue via paid subscribers. So, how do you enroll? Well, you’ll need to satisfy a few requirements first. For starters, you need at least 50 followers. If you’re not there yet (or if you have no interest in the affiliate program), you can still garner cash rewards and gifts from your loyal viewers during a livestream.

Investing in the Best Streaming Equipment

If you're tight on cash, you may be able to use your computer's built-in microphone and camera. However, if you’re looking to take things to the next level, you’ll want to impress viewers with the best possible video and audio quality. Additionally, editing software and a computer with great specs — that is, enough processing power to handle gameplay and streaming simultaneously — are also great investments. Pro tip: Being comfortable during a session is also important, so nabbing a nice pair of headphones and a top-notch gaming chair should be high priority for serious streamers.

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Photo Courtesy: Carol Yepes/Getty Images

Apart from upgrading your tech, there are other ways to enhance the quality of your livestreams. Many of Twitch’s most popular creators use virtual backgrounds, decorate their room to match their personality or channel aesthetic, and invest in accessories that can help them communicate with fans. For example, multiple monitors can help you keep track of viewer comments, the Twitch chat feature, and incoming donations, all while you’re gaming. Additionally, creating a welcome screen or video, intermission graphics, and channel-specific overlays. Need some examples? Check out one of Twitch’s biggest names.