Livestreaming is more than just entertaining a virtual audience, it can make you some money. 25% of the total streamer population is actively earning revenue. Some have turned it into a full-time job.
1. Start with your friends
Facebook has been losing popularity since 2019 (because it’s Facebook). Younger audiences tend to skew towards quick format platforms like Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, etc. However, Facebook is still host to nearly 3 Billion users, and some of them are your friends and family.
Since their acquisition of PlayGiga, Facebook has developed a presence in the streaming space (fb.gg).
Now, grown people likely aren’t that hip on new platforms, so Facebook is a good starting point for the kind of people you want to interact with. It makes sense to actively pursue Live streaming as a hobby or career by starting where you have an audience. Your own feed.
There are other platforms, like YouTube, and Twitch that will gladly send viewers your way, but they take time to build an audience.
Whichever platform you start with, do some in-depth research first to find out what each platform has to offer. If you are looking to monetize your stream, then you want the following information:
- Total viewed hours of your stream.
- Minimum number of subscribers.
- Minimum number of active viewers.
- Any restrictions on type of content.
2. Figure out the equipment
Some successful live streamers boast production standards to make Peter Jackson drool. These are usually live streamers who have achieved a certain level of success and can afford some serious hardware.
Some have a monster streaming rig with a $40,000 Hasselblad camera, a Brauner microphone attached to studio grade DAW over gigabit internet, powered by studio lighting processing information through a 4K capture card, because they profit from producing high quality content.
If that is within your budget, sweet. If not, no need to pack it up. You can easily start small.
Despite all the aforementioned firepower, there is a ceiling on the quality levels of a live stream. This ceiling exists because most live streaming platforms compress audio and video to ensure a smooth broadcasting and streaming experience for audiences all over the planet.
While you might be recording and storing your streams in uncompressed quality (which will take a few terabytes of storage), the streaming platform will compress your feed into oblivion.
That performance cap means you don’t need too many gizmos to get started.
You need an audible microphone, a webcam with a decent angle on your face, and a secondary screen to monitor chat (your phone can pull that off quite nicely), and some light on your face (if that’s part of the stream).
There are even tools purpose built for streamers, like Canon’s EOS Webcam Utility, that can turn any old DSLR into Webcams. For audio, a standard lavalier/lapel microphone will do an adequate job of capturing your audio, you could also invest in a USB podcast mic, like these.
You will also need a viable light source to keep you illuminated, a cheap ring light will work just as efficiently as studio lighting. If you don’t want to spend anything on lighting, just use a regular lamp at a distance from your face and diffuse the light with something white and translucent (like a piece of paper).
Some streamers also use streaming decks as shortcuts to numerous streaming actions, like pausing streams, displaying certain messages, launching apps, or launching effects etc. If you have unassigned macro keys on your laptop, you could just as easily use these, or keyboard shortcuts (i.e. ctrl + shift + 1) to get the same usage as a stream deck.
Another means of having an all-in-one studio at your disposal, just get yourself access to Droidcam, a tool that will turn your phone’s mic and camera into a live feed.
A capture card is designed to take all your outputs and combine them into a neat little package to output wherever you designate. However, a capture card has a ceiling on what kind of resolution it can capture at what efficiency.
Open Broadcast Software (OBS) is an open-source tool that lets people live stream to virtually any platform without the use of any additional hardware and can output any resolution your hardware can support.
While you could just be on your way with just a webcam and mic, you can maximize the experience for your viewers and yourself by adding plugins.
You can add all sorts of plugins free and paid alike. Some plugin add visual effects, some for branding. An audio equalizer if you are doing just audio. So on and so forth.
All OBS archives are in layers, so make sure visuals don’t overlap each other.
Most live stream platforms allow you to connect third party software to stream your feed to your viewers. You could output the sum total of your stream via OBS, audio/video/plugins et al. and connect it to the live stream and you will feature your entire branding, and supporting content on-going.
Another thing you want to keep in mind that you will need a secondary display to monitor and respond to chat. Your phone could easily double as a chat monitor.
All live streams take place with a slight latency. So, the time it takes for you to get a chat message and respond could probably take 10-12 seconds to get there. There is no known way to reduce this total time.
Lastly, know that OBS will tax your CPU and it might even affect performance.
You can download OBS from here
4. You could earn from it
A fresh entrant with none to limited audience is not likely going to profit from a live stream.
However, if you do anything well, and do it continuously, you might get some paying traffic.
Twitch streamers have many ways to make money, including donations, advertisements, subscriptions, and sponsorships. Just like in real life, viewers can donate money to Twitch streamers in the form of “bits.” On average, they are worth $0.01 each.
Facebook has the potential to earn you more than most other platforms simply because you are likely to have more friends there who are going to give your stream a better shot especially since they don’t have to leave the platform at any point.
Most live streaming platforms require you to achieve some level of success before they can get you paid. However, they do offer some kind of specialized reward, like Subs in Twitch, Stars in Fb.gg, Superchat in YouTube, etc. that basically means your viewers can pay you as they watch.
5. Think about Content
It isn’t uncommon to associate live streams exclusively with gaming. A lot of streamers are indeed gamers, and given this blog is for gaming, we want to focus on that.
However, there are other forms of entertainment on live streams, such as city tours from locals, musicians playing music, people having fun, playing sports, etc. Whichever you think you can do best, go with that. Just make sure to do it consistently.
Now, on the subject of gaming, your choices are:
- Play anything you want – low probability of success.
- Play a game you’re good at – probability of some success.
- Play a popular game, but play it well – significant probability of success.
Option 1 is most fun for the gamer, and usually translates to fun for the viewer. Option 2 is also fun, especially if you play well, but can get tedious. Option 3 is bound to be tedious, but will get you some immediate traffic.
Battle Royale games, like PUBG, Fortnite, Call of Duty Warzone usually have a dedicated audience, but loyalty from this crowd is a fickle target. Some streamer report that if they lose even once, their audience immediately cuts in half.
Another popular game is GTA V Online, plenty of followers for that format, especially if you get some outlandish mods installed.
Then there are retro games, which is such a flexible term that includes anything from Tennis for Two (the first ever game released) to Metal Gear Solid (1998). This is for fun and appeals to a massive audience. If you know how to beat levels quickly, you will attract a massive following.
Once you have finished a live stream, it is behooves one to keep a copy of the entire thing.
You can edit it using some video tool to highlight the best parts and publish it on YouTube, or Facebook Video and then share it across your social media.
Since your core audience might be on any platform and you don’t want to risk being incommunicado.
Also, you will have noticed that some live streamers have their own YouTube channel where they cut down hours of footage into minutes of entertainment. That also helps brings more fans in.
Live streaming, as we suggested earlier, is a lot of fun. It is an opportunity for you to do whatever you want while you have fun. This is a worthy pursuit that doesn’t need to take up more than 30 minutes of your time a day. If that doesn’t work out for you, no harm done. If it does, then that’s something to ponder.