It’s not healthy to intentionally monetize all of our hobbies. That being said, there comes a point when we may need a little extra cash, and making money from what we’re already doing is an efficient way to do this!
For people playing video games, singing, acting, or even just socializing, streaming is a fantastic way to monetize your downtime. Don’t misunderstand- it takes work and a “public face”, but for those of us crawling out of the customer service world, playing games while performing doesn’t seem so bad.
Interested in trying to stream for yourself? Below is a guide to bare-bones, economical options for your first stream setup. While there are multiple platforms to stream to, this guide will be geared toward desktop computer streaming on Twitch.tv, as it is the platform that I am familiar with. It will also assume that you already have a basic desktop computer/gaming setup.
Find a good stream app
Streaming apps are where the magic happens. Apps like Streamlabs or OBS will allow you to fully customize what your stream will look like, set up your camera, microphone, name plates, widgets, and hook up the the template to your twitch account via your stream key (found under Twitch Channel Settings). I personally use Streamlabs- there are a lot of free themes and extensions that allow you to install and use with minimal setup.
Once everything is set up here and it is linked to your twitch account, the stream can be started and stopped fully through the app, without needing to open Twitch.
Get a Microphone
Streamers influence people, and how you sound will be a very important factor in determining whether someone will keep your channel open in a tab at work and listen without watching. For the lowest budget option, a headset microphone will work if you already have one.
If you’re ready to upgrade to something that sounds great and doesn’t break the budget, try the FiFine USB Microphone. It’s a fraction of the price of a Blue Yeti Microphone, but comes through bright and clear.
Pick a Camera
Again, if you’re running on a zero budget, feel free to use that built in webcam on your monitor or whatever you have available. Sometimes you just need to get things started and build as you go.
When you’re ready to choose a standalone camera, the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 is a very popular choice among streamers of all levels. It comes with an adjustable bottom that allows you to attach it to your monitor for immediate use or screw it on to a tripod or flexible arm to allow you more control of your camera placement.
Consider the Lighting
Good lighting changes how you look! Having a light in front of your face will help combat shadows that make you appear tired or silhouetted. If you have natural lighting from a window or a close by lamp, make use of it! I have an old USB desk lamp that I have plugged in near my monitor.
Ring lights are a common tool used by streamers and makeup artists to fully light the front of the face.
Consider how you will Communicate
A major component of streaming is communicating with viewers, and in order to do this, the streamer must be able to see what is being said. The ideal setup would be to have a second monitor to use to pull up chat, but it’s not the only option. Twitch chat can also be seen via your cell phone or tablet, and having it up next to you while you’re playing will help keep chat lively!
That’s Great for PC, what about Console?
For PC, the above cover the basic bases. For console, however, we are missing a component. Our PC (and thus our Stream App) can’t connect to the PS4 or Xbox, so we need what is called a capture card. This will likely be one of the more expensive items you will need if you went for low end on the others.
Here are a few common options:
- Roxio Game Capture HD PRO
- Elgato Game Capture HD60S
- HDML-Cloner Box Evolve
- Elgato Game Capture HD60 Pro
With the above items, a fledgling streamer should have everything they need to leave the nest. There are plenty of options to upgrade in the future, but if the goal is to make some extra money, it’s important to consider the start up costs in relation to the amount of money you can expect to make.
Streamers starting out do not receive income from Twitch outside of donations- they must earn achievements that eventually lead to becoming a Twitch Affiliate, which enables you to earn subscription and bit revenue. With determination and a good presence on social media, this can be completed in under one month. Make sure to use all social channels to your advantage!
If you aren’t planning on playing a game on your PC or console, it is also possible to stream 100% with your phone, if that’s more your style. Try the Streamlabs mobile app!
Check out my weekly Twitch Stream!
Guild Wars 2 starts at 9:30 PM EST on Wednesdays. (9:00 PM EST on 6/5/2019 for AFFILIATE CELEBRATION)
Have questions? Comment below!