Advice for New Streamers

Practical and candid advice for those starting a stream career on Twitch or YouTube.

Stream Set Up


A microphone is crucial. It doesn’t need to be a state of the art SLR mic with mixer, but make sure it’s clear and doesn’t pick up excessive background noise. Test your voice volume to ensure it’s higher than the game sounds (or whatever content you’re streaming).

You don’t need background music, but if you want it, be aware that it’s technically a crime to play copyrighted music on your stream. Harris Heller offers Streambeats which is free to use. You can also search for stream friendly playlists on Spotify. If you really want to use copyrighted music:

  • On Twitch, you can usually get away with playing any music as long as it’s quiet enough. If it’s moderate to loud, you will start seeing your VODs getting muted, and may get your channel banned if there’s a DMCA takedown request.
  • Youtube automatically scan for copyrighted music, and one of two things will happen: If the artist has not agreed to share their music, your video will be taken down, and there may be other legal consequences, or penalizations against your channel. If the artist has agreed to share their music, then any advertising money that you would have made goes to the artist instead. Not a portion…all of it. Even if the music was just a minor part of the video, you will make no ad revenue from it.

cheap cam > no cam

Unless you’re a Vtuber, having a webcam is crucial. Expect very slow growth without a cam. Even a cheap low quality web cam is better than none.

Unless you feel your face is more interesting than your content, keep your cam small and don’t position it over important UI elements in the game. This means the position may differ from game to game, so test in advance.

To green screen or to showcase

You don’t need a greenscreen. Many successful streamers go without greenscreens and instead try to make their background surroundings attractive with things like coloured lights, posters, figurines etc. If your background can’t be made attractive (or at least clean), you can make your own greenscreen using a green sheet/paper/painted wall.


Good lighting is something to work towards. If your only light is directly overhead, it tends to create deep pockets of shadow on the face, which…if you’re going for that is fine, but it’s typically considered unattractive.

It’s advisable to have a soft light in front of you to soften the shadows. A cheap LED ring light will do the trick, but you can also make your own studio lighting, if that’s the look you’re going for.

Streamdeck Alternatives

A streamdeck is an expensive hardware device with programmable buttons. It has lots of uses, but one of the most common functions streamers assign, is being able to press a button on the streamdeck to change a scene. Without this, you have to tab out of your game to do it in OBS. Depending on the type of streamer you are, you may not need this, or it may be unjustifiable at the price. Even so, if you want this functionality, there are cheaper streamdeck alternatives.


For streaming software, we recommend OBS. It’s the industry standard and it’s free. We advise against StreamLabs (aka SLOBS) as they are known to steal opensource code and then sell it as their own.

If you’re a YouTuber and need editing software, Davinci Resolve is probably the most powerful, feature laden, free software. The interface and mechanics aren’t obvious, but fortunately there are many YouTube tutorials to get you going. HitFilm Express is also free and much easier to get the hang of, but it has a known bug where it randomly cuts off a few seconds from the end of your video on longer vids, so if you use this, always check the end of your video before uploading.

Stream Output

Many viewers will watch Twitch on mobile, from all over the world. So unless you have transcoding (the ability for your viewers to change playback quality on their end) enabled, it isn’t advisable to go 1080p/60fps/6000kbps. As an affiliate, restarting your stream multiple times can get you transcoding, but it’s a random chance. Partners have transcoding enabled by default.

Without transcoding, aim for 720p/30fps/35000kbps. Feel free to tweak these settings. The aim is to balance quality and bit rate, so that it’s not fugly, and it is accessible to more people.

For Youtube, you don’t need to skimp on quality. Go for the best quality you can, because Youtube will always provide lower quality options for viewers.

Game Choice Strategy

If you’re planning on streaming the top watched games on Twitch like Fornite and GTA, it’s going to be difficult for you to grow your channel. These games are oversaturated with streamers so viewers would have to scroll past many, many streamers before getting to your channel at the bottom, and chances are they would just pick someone near the top to watch.

So if growth is your aim, rather browse for games to stream that typically have around 800 – 1000 viewers that are spread out over the streamers within the game channel. If you see a game has 1000 viewers but 950 of them are watching the first streamer on the list and everyone else has one or two viewers, then you know those viewers are there for that particular streamer and not the game. Once the streamer goes, the viewers go with them.

From the list of games that meet that criteria, pick the ones you like and could potentially play, and then first try them off-stream. Narrow down the list to the games you could see yourself playing for a length of time, and check the traffic during different times of the day, to determine the best slot to stream.

Then stream that. Don’t bounce around from game to game, as that makes it harder for your lurkers to get used to you and decide to follow. You need to give the community time to bond and connect with you.

It’s also good to pre-plan some content or at least put thought into the content you may be able to create around the game you choose. Not all streamers are effective at streaming all games or genres. Make sure you will be able to be entertaining in the one you pick.

You need to have fun, so picking a game you can enjoy is crucial. Picking a game just because it looks like it has good growth, that you don’t enjoy, won’t work. Viewers will see through your charade and know you aren’t enjoying yourself.

If the game you really want to play is going to hurt your numbers, then don’t stream it. You don’t have to stream everything all the time. Feel free to simply play it on your down time.

Stream Schedule and Length

Many new viewers will watch a streamer a couple times before they decide to follow. If you have a schedule and stick with it, they will know when and where to find you, watch a couple times giving you a chance to grab them, and then maybe follow. If you aren’t there when they come back expecting you, they may find somebody else. And when they do see you again, they could potentially have lost their interest.

Another example why consistency is important is that some people only follow just enough streams to fill their day. So if they jump on, there is always somebody streaming, and they know beforehand who it’s going to be. So if they jump on and the streamer isn’t there, they may go looking for a new one, and replace that time slot with a more consistent streamer.

You don’t need to stream 8 hours a day, 7 days a week. In fact, putting in excessive amounts of streaming hours isn’t going to grow your channel. It’s just going to burn you out and make people take you for granted. Rather give your viewers a shorter, more entertaining stream, and realise that they have lives as well and can’t watch you all day.

The important thing is to try and be consistent with time slots, and show up when you say you will.


We’ve got a whole article on dealing with Twitch trolls but the absolutely essential advice is to go into your chat settings and allow only email-verified Twitch accounts to chat. You do this here:

Gear Icon > Manage Moderation Settings > Channel Privileges > Email Verification (set to on)

This will cut out the majority of trolls, but I do suggest reading the whole article for more tips.

Stream Graphics and Promotion

To start off with, you will probably be using free stream alerts, emotes, basic Twitch panels, and a makeshift logo. While you discover your niche as a streamer, you will get a better idea of what kind of theme suits your brand best.

Hire an artist

At that point, consider commissioning a professional artist/illustrator to create personalized graphics for you around that theme. Yes, I know you have a pirated copy of Photoshop, but that doesn’t make you a designer. If you want it done properly, hire a professional. The added benefit there is said professional will likely want to show off the work they did for you in their socials, and in turn promote your channel.

Promote yourself on socials

Twitch itself isn’t wonderful for discovery, so making content for, or posting clips and screenshots on other social media platforms can help. TikTok/YouTube/Instagram/Discords/Twitter/Facebook/Gab are all options you can try and promote yourself. We’ve also got an article on promoting your Twitch channel for free.

Quantity (post frequency) matters to a degree because the more you put out there, the more you will be seen, but quality matters more. You don’t want people seeing your worst content because if its the first content of yours they see, they will judge you on it.

If you’re used to interacting on social media in a personal capacity, you may find you have to adjust your behaviour as a public figure. On social media platforms like Twitter, remember that even posts you simply ‘like’ appear on your followers feeds. If you’re seen as endorsing something controversial, you may lose a portion of your followers, so make sure a post is worth standing by before liking/retweeting.

Also spamming your Twitter with automated “I’m going live on Twitch” messages isn’t engaging or useful content for your followers. If that is all your account is used for, you may as well not have one.

Important Netiquette

Do not, for the love of all that is holy, go onto another streamer’s channel or Discord to promote yourself. It makes you look like a total twat. If you were a hairdresser, you wouldn’t waltz into another salon and say. “Hey, lekker vahb here. I’ve got a salon down the street as well. You guys should come check it out”.

If another streamer wants to go out of their way to promote you, that is their prerogative, but don’t assume that self promo is harmless. Some streamers are only there for the social aspect, and don’t mind promoting other streamers, raiding etc, but some streamers are desperately trying to make a living out of it, so poaching their potential customers is shameful.

Realistic Expectations

If you’re just starting out streaming, you need to be realistic and acknowledge the fact that you’re entering a saturated market. When the lockdowns hit in 2020, millions of people were suddenly sitting at home with their new webcams they bought for Zoom meetings. Many of them then lost or quit their jobs, and started streaming instead.

I know you don’t want to hear it, but there has never been a worse time to start a streaming career…if that’s what it is for you (a career move).

If you’re just doing it for the social experience, and it brings you joy, then by all means carry on. If you’re hoping to make a career out of it though, you’re going to have to resolve within yourself, that this might not (and probably won’t) earn you enough money to get by.

Don’t buy followers

You may be tempted to buy followers and traffic on Twitch/YouTube to try and get ahead, but this won’t work for you. We’ve seen streamers cheating their way into Twitch partnership by buying popularity, but partnership doesn’t automatically get you a paycheck. These cheaters are still sitting there with their fancy purple partner badge, but now that they’ve stopped paying for views, they’re back down to the same or less average viewers than affiliates who didn’t cheat.

Follow for Follow Doesn’t Work

Forget about your social k/d (how many followers you have vs how many people you follow). It means nothing. Fake/coerced followers don’t translate into paychecks. Follow who you want to follow (because you like their stuff), and accept that they’re in no way obliged to follow you back, and may never follow you back. Obsessing over numbers that don’t ultimately pay you, is how to add stress to your life. Don’t add stress to your life. Life is hard enough.

Don’t quit your job

If you have a job, don’t quit it to become a streamer unless you already have good reason to believe that you can survive via your stream income. This is not negativity. This is just solid life advice. The good news is, you probably don’t need to quit your job anyway. Many people around the world have day jobs and stream in the evenings or on weekends for supplemental income.

The important thing is to have realistic expectations, and if you’re doing it for social reasons, ensure that it’s not becoming a stress for you. Look after your mental health. Take what you can from the streaming experience, and know when to call it quits.

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