Streaming on Twitch is a popular thing for PC gamers and other content publishers alike and therefore I want to show you how to start streaming on Twitch with a PC.
What Is Twitch
Twitch is a platform on which a lot of broadcasting channels with various content stream their live content and viewers are there to watch it. Twitch started in 2007 as Justin.TV. It became mainly popular through people playing games and showing their skills in games off through streaming it live on Twitch.TV. In 2014 Amazon bought twitch.TV and Justin.TV.
Nowadays you can find a variety of content on Twitch and not just gaming. Next to the popular gaming related channels, you will find channels streaming art, cooking, talk shows, interviews, podcasts, music and much more.
How To Watch Twitch Streams?
You can watch Twitch streams by going in your browser on your PC or tablet device to the Twitch.TV website and clicking on the various streams available. You can create an account to be able to keep track of your favourite streams.
Twitch has a mobile app available that can be used both to watch streams and you can also stream on Twitch with your phone. Twitch is also integrated in a number of other platforms and consoles that allow for both watching and streaming.
Viewers can support your content creation on Twitch by subscribing to your channel or by cheering (sending special emotes) with bits in chat. The bits are a Twitch currency that viewers can buy from Twitch and use in all affiliate and partnered streamers available on the platform.
This means that as a streamer on Twitch, you can now also make money with Twitch.
How To Stream On Twitch?
As I said earlier, you can also stream on Twitch. You will need a platform to stream with, content to stream and a Twitch account. You also need to be over the age of 13 to be able to create an account. That are the pure basics. Things get a bit more difficult from here on, but we will go through them all below one by one.
What Content To Stream?
Before I dive deep into the more technical aspects of how to start streaming on Twitch with a PC, let’s have a look at what possible content you could be streaming to Twitch.
Perhaps you are already a gamer playing a lot of games on your PC. Gaming content is definitely a very popular content format to stream to Twitch, but Twitch has nowadays also opened up for different types of content on their platform.
You could for example do a talk show, do interviews and discussions, play or sing to music, perform crafts and art, make food (cooking and baking), be out and exploring in nature or in cities.
There are so many ideas and possibilities when it comes down to streaming on Twitch. What you will have to figure out is “What will I do?” and also figure out what your niche is going to be in or about.
If you plan to stream something like a talk show, a multi camera stream interview or something like a cooking, or art stream, using a PC to stream on Twitch is also a good solution. On PC there is better software that allows you to stream with multiple camera’s, overlays and effects.
A PC isn’t the only platform you can stream with. There are other platforms you can use that have the software to enable you to stream with them too.
You can also stream using:
- A mobile phone for IRL streams
- Different consoles that have Twitch streaming integration
As you can see I have linked the other devices up so that you can find the separate guides for those. For this guide we keep it to streaming with a PC. So without further due, let’s get into it.
How To Start Streaming on Twitch with a PC?
Streaming on Twitch is pretty easy nowadays since software has been simplified and improved ever since the start of Twitch. As more and more platforms come available to stream towards, the software is also getting more diverse. Before we dive deep into Twitch setup and software to use, let’s have a good look at what you need.
What Do You Need?
You might get different advice on what you need to start a successful stream. Some people might advise you to get the most advanced streaming equipment to start streaming, but believe me, you can start out with a lot less.
To be able to stream on Twitch you need the following:
- A device that can stream, in this guide a PC or laptop
- A microphone
- Internet connection with decent upload
- Something to do or play
- (optional) A webcam
- Twitch Setup
Device To Stream
As I have mentioned before, you can stream to Twitch through various platforms, such as consoles, mobile phones and PC’s. As we are teaching you here how to stream on Twitch with a PC, we will keep to that platform. No matter whether your PC is a Mac, Linux machine or a Windows PC doesn’t really matter. They all will work, provided you got the software to do so.
Streaming can be taxing on your hardware, especially when you are also trying to play on the same machine. Keep that in your head. Ideally you should have a powerful machine for streaming, but even if you got a low-end machine, you can still technically stream to Twitch. You might have to lower the resolution of the output of your stream tremendously to prevent the stream to become very unstable.
While it isn’t an absolute requirement, it is still advised to have a microphone to interact with your chat. This is what streaming is about, communicating with your audience and you better get used to it. There are a lot of nice microphones available for streaming, but to start off you really don’t need to buy anything fancy. Even a simple headset with microphone will do. Some webcams come with a built-in microphone and will also work. Most laptops have built-in microphones and webcams and will have you settled all at once.
An internet connection is absolutely required to be able to stream on Twitch. 3G or 4G mobile networks can work fantastically, but please be careful that you are not running into high costs. Often do mobile operators put limits on the usage of bandwidth and also high prices on the GB’s.
An ADSL, cable or even better Fiber connection is really advised if you can get that. Satellite connections might not be ideal because of a delay in transfer. A minimum of 1mbit upload speed is really the best, the more the better.
Streaming is essentially sending video up to the internet, so you need to use a lot of uploads bandwidth. Download is less important for streaming, although you still want to see how your stream looks like (download) and being able to read chat.
Be careful with monthly connection limits too, if you got them. Streaming uses a lot of bandwidth, especially at higher resolutions. To lower bandwidth, one solution is to lower the streaming output resolution.
Something To Do Or Play
Most people might want to go and try playing a game while streaming. Figuring out what you want to do with your stream is essential and also might change the requirements for your stream. If you plan to just talk with people, you maybe want to really make sure you got a camera or webcam pointed at you. If you plan to do interviews or talk shows, you might need more than one microphone / headset.
This is entirely optional and many people who just start out with streaming on Twitch do skip on this part, but a webcam is also very nice to use while streaming. Your community where you do this all for, will want to connect with the streamer (you!) and what better way than to see you on the stream with a webcam.
The software that you can stream with allows for picture-in-picture display of a webcam over your other content (camera’s or game/application capture) and will make it look really professional.
Before you get started with the technical bit, you will need to register an username on Twitch. You also need to verify the email address that you used to register the account.
The channel name becomes the same name as your username, so choose an username that fits your niche. Some random name might not exactly be appropriate for your channel.
Setting Up Your Channel
Before you start setting up the software, you should do three things:
- Set some Settings
- Write some basic information on your channel page (panels)
- Dashboard Stream Setup
You might want to set up a couple of basic settings before starting streaming, such as chat rules, profile image, channel banner, offline-video banner and some modding settings.
Your Channel Page
When you go to your channel page, like so:
https://twitch.tv/smilebringer as is the case with mine, you will find there is a room below the place where video is displayed when you are streaming. It will say on the far left “Edit Panels” When you switch that one on, you can start adding different panels.
There is a cool website where you can easily create different graphics for your panels, alternatively you can just write a title and a description yourself. With some Photoshop, Gimp or Canvas skills you can also easily create these images yourself.
After setting a title, such as About Me (either through an image you upload or a text title you set), you should write some content below it that fits to that panel. Add multiple panels by clicking on the big + sign.
It is advised to create at least a panel for:
- About Me
- Chat / Channel Rules
The panels also allows for things called Twitch Extensions that are individual programmed widgets that you can find on the Twitch Extension Store. Most of them are free, but some do take a cut from for example bits that are used by users to use the extension.
Dashboard Stream Setup
Before you start streaming, you should go to your dashboard. Here you can set the stream title, go live notification (the notification that appears in your followers email and on the popup window on PC or mobile app) and the category (game title or category) as well as the tags for your stream (new tag system).
The dashboard give you also an overview over your stream, stream quality and chat among other statistics and things happening (hosts and raid control).
Setting Up Streaming Software
Now that your channel is ready to go, you can download and install software to be able to start streaming. There are a couple of different options, depending on the Operating System you are running at.
The main thing you need to configure in either of the programs is your Twitch streaming key. The Twitch streaming key can be found underneath your dashboard Channel Settings, like so:
https://www.twitch.TV/smilebringer/dashboard/settings <– but type in your username instead of smilebringer here to get to your key!
I do occasionally also stream on Twitch and you will find me under the name smilebringer. I generally play some simulation games and creative games like MineCraft to have some fun when I am not writing blogs for my site. My streams also open up the possibility for you to ask me questions about content creation, monetisation and affiliate marketing.
For PC the following software is available to stream on Twitch:
- StreamLabs Open Broadcasting Studio (SLOBS)
- Open Broadcasting Studio (OBS)
The programs above are very advanced as to what you can do with them, but I will go shortly into each of them to show you how to get them set up for streaming.
StreamLabs OBS (Windows, Mac)
StreamLabs OBS is a modified version of OBS (Open Broadcasting Studio) and has strong integration of the StreamLabs overlay and alerts platform. It comes with a lot of functionality you might want to use on your streams to make them look more professional. Streamlabs does however limit itself a little, just to make it easy for first-time streamers. If you want to do more advanced stuff, you might want to check out the following section about OBS Studio.
When you installed StreamLabs OBS you will get a wizard where you need to login to Twitch. After logging in, you will get a couple of questions. You might not need to add the API key like you need to do with other software, because logging into your Twitch account will already lay that link for you.
It does however ask some other questions and it will test for your internet speed towards the best Twitch streaming server. Afterwards you get a couple of questions of overlay elements you want to add to your scene. If you decide to click this away, you can add sources and scenes to your SLOBS by clicking the little + icons.
StreamLabs OBS comes with a lot of built-in functionality such as easier choosing of elements, integrated stream display, integrated chat, integrated bot and many other options right from within the streaming software. To start streaming, there is a start streaming button to the far right.
Open Broadcasting Studio (OBS)
In the newest version of “normal” OBS, you will get a setup wizard at the first startup. This startup wizard will help you configure your stream in the right way. All the important questions are going to be asked and most of it can be left to default.
The wizard will also test for the best Twitch server to used to connect to. After completion your OBS is ready to start your first stream. The real work after that comes to creating the environment and adding the camera’s or game content to the scene. By default, it will open up with Scene1 without any sources.
I will not go too deep into this subject, as that isn’t part of the scope of this article, but will in short terms try to explain what and how to add these sources.
You can click on the small + sign to add sources (or scenes in the scenes window). Each scene has a set of sources and when you got several scenes you can easily switch between them by clicking on the different scenes.
Hitting the + sign below sources allows you to add game capture, window capture and video capture as the most used options. There are many options available to add video sources.
The video capture is generally used for webcams and other connected camera’s.
The window capture is for application windows such as a browser.
The game capture is a type of capture that is able to capture the gameplay of a full screen or windowed game application you are running. Note that you need to run the application before adding them as sources. The higher the items are in the list means that they are above other layers.
On the far right you will find the start streaming button to start your very first stream.
What started as a pretty advanced package has been simplified big time over the past years. XSplit is a powerful tool to stream on several platforms such as Twitch. Previously it was a solely premium tool, nowadays there is a free version available that allows for basic streaming functionality.
A long time XSplit was the only way to stream on Twitch, while we nowadays got many other options available. This made them make the decision to improve and simplify the software for all audiences as well as releasing a free version of the software.
There are now two editions of the software:
- XSplit BroadCaster
- XSplit GameCaster
XSplit Broadcaster is the more advanced software among the two and allows for more options and a more flexible approach to streaming different types of content. XSplit GameCaster is made for the gaming streaming community and has some gaming-related functionality added to the software to make it ultra-easy to start streaming.
They also released software called XSplit VCam. The latter is software to allow you to cut away background of your webcam without the use of a green screen.
All software is extremely limited, but will give you the absolute minimum of streaming on each platform for free. The full capabilities of the software can be utilized as soon as you pay the premium subscription for the software.
There is a 3-monthly, 12-monthly, 36-monthly and lifetime membership you can pay for the software. Lifetime will give you the full version of the software and future updates, while the limited membership subscriptions will give you support for new versions for the duration of your subscription.
XSplit actually uses a similar system to add the Twitch credentials such as StreamLabs does. You need to login with your Twitch account after adding Twitch as an output (outputs – new output – Twitch – login with Twitch) to authorize XSplit to stream to Twitch.
You now can do some settings on resolution, frame rate and bit rate. You find these by clicking on the cogwheel inside outputs. You will also, just like with the other software, have to set up the sources such as your game you are going to play, the webcam you are going to use etc among other options.
With your software setup and your channel ready, you should hit your dashboard on Twitch if you had not already done so and configure your first stream. As soon as you are ready to stream, get your game running, set your beginning scene and hit the start streaming button to start streaming.
In this guide I have touched the bare basics of how to start to streaming on Twitch. It can get way more complicated and I could definitely have guided you to do way more with the software of your choice. I will rather take a look at the different pieces of software in separate articles that are dedicated to that piece of software.
Are you a content creator and want to learn more about monetisation? Get the guide on monetizing your content here!