The current global health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has confined most of the world’s population to their homes. In these tough times, we have to rely on technology more than ever to stay in touch with our loved ones. However, businesses, in particular, have it rough since the global lockdown made it especially challenging for them to keep in touch with their audiences.
Challenging, but not impossible!
Nowadays, setting up a live stream has become easier than ever, and anyone can do it! Whether you are a business looking to make an announcement or interact with their audience or a normie in search of something new and exciting to do during the lockdown, streaming video is perfect for you. That is why we decided to write this quick guide on how to live stream video to help you get started. Here are the five steps that you need to follow to have a successful first stream:
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty straight away!
The first step is, of course, to get all the technical parts of the live streaming process out of the way. Here’s what you’ll need:
This point should be self-explanatory — if your internet connection is inconsistent, your stream might unnecessarily lag, freeze, or even go offline. That will ruin your viewers’ experience and might deter them from ever coming back to watch you again.
A craftsman is only as good as his tools, right? Well, that’s not necessarily true, but it does make a huge difference when it comes to live streaming. If you were a viewer and stumbled upon a 360p stream where the streamer sounded like they were speaking from the bottom of a well, would you stick around?
So you see, video production quality does matter! But what should you get then? Frankly, it all depends on your needs. For example, if you are someone who wants to stream some video games to a bunch of friends or just wishes to try their hand at IRL streaming, a built-in webcam and a regular mic or a high-quality smartphone will suffice (these can record both audio and video). However, if you are a business whose goal is (or should be) utmost professionalism, you should consider investing some money in more high-end gear.
Our advice would be to get multiple cameras for different-angle shots and a professional streaming microphone. You could even throw in a pop filter on top of it for even better sound quality!
Depending on where you stream from, you might need something to hold your camera. That is when you’ll need to get a camera stand. You can find a variety of different ones out there to fit your needs. Here are a few examples:
The last item you need is a video encoder. Essentially, video encoding is translating your video signals into digital formats. That is necessary because few devices come streaming-ready. Essentially, you have to adapt your recorded material for live streaming.
Unfortunately, your choice of a video encoder might not be as straightforward as there are three different types out there. Most mobile phones and tablets have encoding software included, which makes them an all-in-one solution; however, their capabilities are limited, so we wouldn’t recommend using them as such. That’s why we’ll focus on the two other types of encoding devices, as they are more suitable for professionals and businesses.
This type of encoder is essentially an application that utilizes your PC’s CPU abilities to encode the recorded video into digital format. But do keep in mind that your PC must have a capture card for this type of software to work.
There are plenty of both free and premium encoding software choices out there. Some of the best ones we’d recommend are OBS Studio or Wirecast. Just remember that you’ll need a powerful PC to support these since they will use up a lot of your CPU.
The primary advantage of hardware encoders is that they are external devices entirely dedicated to handling the encoding process. On top of that, you don’t need to have a capture card on your PC if you go with this encoding option. However, you will need to connect these bad boys to your network to be able to stream. You can easily do that via Ethernet or Wi-Fi.
Probably the best part about hardware encoders is that they don’t put a strain on your PC’s CPU. That’s why they are often a better choice between the two.
Now that you’re all set on the technical front, it’s time to do some brainstorming! What format do you want your live stream to be? Are you a business-oriented streamer or an entertainment streamer? Regardless of your answers, we’re here to give you a few suggestions!
If your goal is to provide your viewers with entertainment, you’re most likely looking at video game live streaming. This type of streaming is probably the most popular right now, especially with the rise of the esports industry.
But if you can’t picture yourself playing one game day in, day out, perhaps variety streaming will be more your cup of tea. As a variety streamer, you’d have a wide variety of activities you could do to keep your audience engaged — from exercising on camera to merely chatting with your viewers, the options are endless.
Finally, if you don’t mind sharing your personal life with internet strangers, you could give IRL streaming a shot. It has been gaining a lot of traction in the streaming world nowadays, and it usually includes you following your regular daily routine while recording yourself.
Whether you are merely looking to boost your brand awareness, inform or update your customers, or plan to have a live giveaway, there are plenty of different things you can focus your business-oriented stream around. Here are just a few ideas:
Your platform of choice will mostly depend on your needs and type of streaming you’re planning to do. Here are our four suggestions (in no particular order) for best video streaming platforms out there:
All most popular social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, now allow you to live stream to your followers! That takes interacting with your audience to a whole new level, as well as that it will enable you to promote your products easily. Not to mention that this form of live streaming can skyrocket your audience participation.
These live streaming platforms are best for businesses or influencers looking for ways to reach and interact with their audiences, especially in times when live events are lacking. A fantastic example would be the current situation we are facing as, for example, Facebook live is seeing a considerable increase in usage right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Twitch is probably the most popular and used streaming platform in the world right now, with over 3.8 million unique broadcasters and 1.44 million monthly average of concurrent viewers, according to Business of Apps.
Twitch primarily focuses on entertainment streaming, with video gaming being the most widespread. So if you are a business looking for exposure, this platform might not be the best choice for you. However, if you’ve always wanted to give video game streaming a shot, Twitch is probably the best option out there.
Unfortunately, the downsides of this platform are that it might prove challenging for a newcomer to get partnered on Twitch. That forces smaller streamers to look for alternative monetization methods.
Although YouTube is most famous as the world’s best video sharing platform, it also supports live streaming! The best advantage of streaming on YouTube Live is that it has a massive audience across thousands of niches. In other words, the variety of content that you can find there is immense. That is what makes YouTube suitable for both entertainment and business-focused streams.
The downside of this platform, however, is its monetization scheme. Namely, their content regulations are strict, but their algorithm flawed, and their appeal system slow. So you might find your videos and streams demonetized for no apparent reason and then have to wait for days for help.
Overall, if monetizing your content is not your priority, YouTube is an excellent choice! But if you’re looking to create a solid form of income from your live video content, you’d be better off looking for some YouTube monetization alternatives.
In contrast to our previous entry, Brid.TV is an ideal choice if you’re looking for a video platform with a straightforward and easy-to-grasp monetization solution. Not only do we make your monetization efforts seamless, but our platform also allows for a smooth streaming experience. The most notable features we offer are:
Know that our platform is available in multiple price plans, including a free one; however, live streaming is only supported for premium users, which can be fully tailored to your business needs. So if you’re looking for the best monetization solution for your brand, why not give us a try? All new users are given a 1-month free trial with full access to all of our platform’s features.
Now that you’ve picked the streaming platform that best suits your needs, it’s time to start planning! But what do we mean by that? Well, it means you can’t just wing it every time you stream — you must plan out what you’re going to do. We know you can’t take everything into account, but it’s still better to at least know in which direction you want to take your stream than not, right?
Now, this won’t be applicable to all types of streams. After all, for some entertainment streams, people actually enjoy their spontaneity. However, if you are a business holding an interview or a Q&A session with someone, you must have a plan. So don’t let yourself go on a massive tangent and lose viewers because you were too lazy to come up with a script!
How do you expect viewers to find you if they don’t know that you’re streaming? That’s why this step is one of the most crucial ones!
So before you go live, head over to social media and announce the time, platform, and the topic of your upcoming stream. Make sure to do that a day or two before the event too. After all, how many times were you stood up just because you gave someone a last-minute notice? Yeah, see our point now?
Here are some additional ideas on how you can advertise your stream beforehand. Some of these are most suitable for businesses, but even entertainment streamers might find some quite handy!
Now you’re equipped with all the information you need to start live streaming! So just because you’re stuck at home right now doesn’t mean you should lose your spirit. Whether you are just looking for a distraction and wish to try something new or are looking for ways to maintain contact with your customers in this time of crisis, you should consider live streaming.
Best of luck to you, and stay healthy!