When I started out streaming I honestly had no idea where/how to get started. I knew Twitch was the place to be but had no idea how I’d get the games from my PC to the interwebs. I ended up scouring tons of lists of “must haves” for streaming, watched dozens of YouTube tutorials, and I’m still figuring it out.
To help all of you folks just starting out and you folks who’ve been at this streaming game for a while, I decided to put together a toolkit of various programs and resources that helped me ton, so you don’t have to scour the interwebs like I did. This is by no means a comprehensive list, if I missed something super valuable please let me know in the comments so I can add it to the list.
We all need a way to get our stuff out there. From you to the eyes and the ears of the interwebs, you’ll need broadcasting software to get the signal out. Below are the software that I’m familiar with, but there are tons out there.
- Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) is the go to solution for anyone looking to either stream content onto Twitch/YouTube/Mixer/etc or record content that you can edit and upload later. It’s an open source program that is constantly being updated, it has a Discord Server to support users, and it has tons of YouTube tutorials if you’re ever needing helping.
- Streamlabs OBS (SLOBS) is my personal favorite. The awesome folks over at Streamlabs have taken the open source code of OBS and integrated all their amazing support programs/features into it. So, you have a one-stop-shop for all your streaming needs: broadcasting, overlays, Streamlabels, alerts, loyalty, and merch just to name a few features. Much like OBS, SLOBS has a robust catalog of YouTube tutorials as well, I also happen to stop by their Discord Server whenever I have a random question.
- Twitch also has a list of various programs that you can use to stream your software, while I’m not personally familiar with these programs, I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least show you where you can find out what Twitch recommends. So follow this LINK over to the Twitch list.
Overlays are super important, there are a ton of places to get overlays. I highly recommend commissioning an artist (yes I mean actually paying an artist) to create you some overlays. But until then the two options below offer some great free overlays, you won’t win points for individuality but you’re stream will look sleek.
Much like overlays, panels are super important. These are the first impression a lot of folks get of you and your stream. You can take the time to explain who you are, layout your stream schedule (if you don’t have a schedule, set one), or even put loyalty leaderboards.
- Did you know Nerd or Die has a free panel generator you can use? These bad boys may not be the most unique option but they look sleek and professional. And for the folks out there like me who don’t have a drop of artistic blood in their bodies this is a godsend.
- If you have a bit more of that artistic aptitude but are lacking the funding for some of the more robust software suites, why not try GIMP 2? This free software is quite useful, why I may not be the artistic fellow, there are a ton of YouTube tutorials to help you figure out the features. I made a few panels in it myself, made me feel artistic.
Having a chat bot can be super helpful. Make sure you do some research on what the bot’s capabilities are before you integrate it into your channel. I use mine for some moderator functions but it doesn’t replace having a human moderating you channel.
- Streamlabs Chatbot (I believe it used to be Ankhbot) is useful and has the support of the awesome folks over at Streamlabs. This guy may not be the most user friendly to setup, but he has my seal of approval. If you’re ever needing help with this guy he has his own Discord Server for support, so remember to stop by there for commands and scripts. I think the only down side to SLBot versus other bots is that he must be hosted from your computer, while others are hosted by their creators.
- There are tons of other chatbots out there for you to try here are few to start: Stream Elements, Nightbot, MooBot, Wizebot.
Part of being a streamer is joining a community so that you can meet other likeminded folks, get their advice, and to also support the content of others. It can be daunting just joining a new group and trying to make friends, but I can’t recommend it enough. I’ve learned so much from the Discord Servers I’ve joined. If you’re just starting out and have no idea where to go, worry not! For I am part of several Discord servers and have a few I’d recommend (I’ll break them down based on size, smallest to largest):
I’m in all these communities, and I try to be as active as time will allow. Just remember that you get back what you put in: if you join a community just so you can spam your live link and never actually participate in chat, no one is going to checkout your channel.
- Another major thing about streaming is building your own community, what better way to do that than starting your own Discord Server? (Shameless self-advertisement time) I started the “The Caffeine Crusade” a few months ago and I’m already at 25 members. Crazy right?! It’s nice to have a place where you can talk with your community outside of your streams.
We live in the digital age! If you want to get your stream out there you’re going to need to learn how to properly utilize social media. Below are the platforms I use, but there are an endless number you can put your content on.
- Twitter is an awesome place to let folks know when you’re going live, but it’s also a fantastic place to keep in touch with fellow streamers. Don’t forget to give folks a shout out. Just be careful with all of your tags, don’t get too caught up with Retweeting services, I promise they won’t get you any followers.
- Instagram is awesome. I love posting pictures of my dog. But it’s also a great place to post pictures of your setup or maybe some clips from your latest stream.
I don’t know about you but I love to listen to music while I game. I know tons of streamers want to play some tunes while they’re live streaming, but did you know that depending upon the music you play your VODs could be muted due to DMCA restrictions? Below are two sources of music that are DMCA safe for you to use.
- Pretzel is an awesome free service that gives you access to DMCA-safe music for your monetized streams. It even has some awesome features that let you filter the type of music and even lets you use music that’s safe for YouTube posting.
- Did you know that Twitch already has a list of music approved for streamers to use? Well now you know, go check out Twitch Music next time you need some tunes for your stream.
Make smarter more informed decisions regarding your stream. To do that you need to have the right data. Here a few websites that want to help you gain access to that data and few other tools to help you out.
- Twitch Strike – gives you suggestions on what to stream based upon each games Streamers-to-Viewers Ratio. This can help you pick games that are saturated with streamers.
- Streamer Insights – SirSlaw has created a bot that will watch your streams and then give you data and suggestions for how to improve.
- Sullygnome – give you all the Twitch metrics over time. You can even look up your stats specifically.
- Voicemeeter Banana – are you looking to step up your audio game but don’t have the cash to get yourself a swanky soundboard? Well try out Voicemeeter Banana, it’s a virtual audio mixer than is leaps and bounds past Windows default audio mixer.
- Multitwitch – are you looking to co-stream with some buddies you’ve met on Discord? Remember to setup a Multitwitch that you can share with your chat, this will allow you and your co-streamers to share the same pool of viewers.
- Pwning – Pwning is a great short-term viewer solution. It is an opt-in service that does 15-minute rotations through various Twitch streams. I haven’t gained very many followers through this, but it will give you a little viewer bump every so often.
Are there any amazing tools you’ve used that I missed? Tell me about them in the comments.