Often have I been asked by a lot of people: “How do I stream live?” I put the question back to them asking: “Why do you want to stream live?”
I am going to share the Why, What and How of Live Streaming in this article along with my experience in doing the same.
Why do you want to stream?
It is very important to know why you want to stream live before you even start trying to do it. Trust me when I say this, it requires a lot of dedication, effort, consistency along with a pinch of luck to get it right.
While I started live streaming long ago with the aim of “becoming famous” and “earning money”, it soon reflected back in my results. Then I stopped and started questioning myself even though I really enjoyed it.
Is this why I want to stream? And when I asked this question, the creator in me woke up and asked me to stop right there and retrace my steps.
Becoming famous or earning money is just a result. Your aim should be something else. In my case, it then became sharing knowledge and engaging with people and if possible make some soul happy.
While I have not done any good live streams so far, I am planning to start some amazing live streams from this week. Watch out for it @ https://www.youtube.com/tvvignesh
What do you want to stream?
You may be a gamer (I was..) , a developer, traveller, artist or even a comedian. There is always room for everyone online. But, it is very important to know this:
What to stream, When to stream and Whom to stream to
If you are new to streaming, it is better to watch out on all these things because you would suddenly be exposed to a huge competition if you don’t do it right and you may not even get noticed.
Identify who your main audience would be, watch out for their timezone, make sure there are no other similar streams from the pros at the same time.
Once you have made sure of it, then make sure that you announce your stream before hand to the respective audience via your circles, sharing in social networking groups, and wherever you can find your target audience.
How to stream?
While streaming may sound too fancy or unreachable, its really easy to get started for beginners but may need a good amount of work to reach an advanced level.
There are various tools available for you to use and I have put a lot of them to use and I would say what tool you use is left to your convenience. In fact Twitch provides an index of the same here. An other good reference would be this: https://www.videogamespaymybills.com/top-73-useful-twitch-tools-list/
But, here is how I do it.
The tool I love a lot and use for streaming is Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) and being free and open source, its makes things even more awesome.
It allows you to provide various inputs/capture devices including your PC screen, camera, mic and even allows you to add custom elements to the frames like images, text, etc. simplifying things to a great extent.
Have a Live Chat which you want to integrate to your live stream? OBS even helps you out with that through the browser plugin available for you to use. You can basically embed your twitch/youtube/discord/smashcast/mixer/any chat for that matter to your OBS client using the browser plugin (since I use Linux, I use the Linux Browser plugin).
It again, does not stop there. To make your ecosystem more powerful, you can put many other tools and services to use. For eg. you may want to display your donation goals, playlist information, or even thank every time there is a new follower. You can do all that by integrating with third party services like Streamlabs, Restream, etc. and you have a plugin for almost everything.
You can even go to the extent of allowing song requests from viewers which you can then play in your stream.
Want to make your chatroom more interactive and cool? You have a lot of bots to come to your help. Services like Nightbot, Moobot, Deepbot, etc. help a lot in moderating your chat, and even acts as a medium through which users can send you donations or even request for songs.
Templates & Theming
Want to make your stream look cool with templates, background images or catchy overlays? There are a lot of templates available for you to use in your stream. You can choose what fits best based on the content you stream, your screen resolution, etc. Services like Strexm, Stream Labs also provide you with the same which you can customize and use. Doesn’t suffice? Make your own!
You can simultaneously stream to multiple channels/destinations at the same time. You can either use services like Restream to do it for you (they add credits in their free version) — You basically stream to Restream and they will take your stream and stream across the various channels you have added.
The other way is to do it yourself (Bandwidth/Network and performance intensive) where you can simultaneously stream to multiple destinations. OBS currently does not provide the option to do this, you would have to open multiple OBS windows which is not advisable. What you can rather do is, setup your own Nginx RTMP Server by following the instructions here and stream to that.
Now, once you do that, you can add all your stream destinations with appropriate credentials (stream keys) and you should be good to go. You have to stream to your local RTMP server and it will stream to all the destinations.
Now, getting into more details.
It is very important to make sure that your configuration is right depending on what you want to do, your constraints and expectations.
It is essential to have an internet connection with good upload speed to make sure that there is no lag. You would also need to make sure that you set the configuration of the stream keeping your internet connectivity and system performance in mind. The higher the quality and resolution of output, the higher the resource and bandwidth required. There is a guide from twitch here on how to decide what bit rate to stream at depending on your settings.
It is very important to decide where you stream to gain as much as attention and visibility as possible to grow steadily. Lot of platforms help you in the same. Predominantly the user base is on Twitch, Youtube, Mixer, Smashcast, FB Live, etc. and it is for you to decide where you want to focus the most on. If you are going to stream games, Twitch is the go to platform and you can go for Youtube and FB Live for everything else. While other platforms are picking up, it is not to the pace of others.
If you are streaming across platforms, it is also important to respond to the users across various platforms and at the same time make sure that you don’t loose attention on what you are streaming. You might need to do quite a bit of multi tasking to manage it but it should not be a problem as soon as you get used to it.
Just make sure that you be yourself when you stream. You don’t have to pretend to be anyone else just to satisfy others.