Beginner-friendly Twitch guide!
by a beginner for beginners!
(with love)

So you have decided to take up streaming on twitch? AWESOME! This guide is going to be broken up into sections so whatever level you are at you can jump in to where you are and move along!  

Step 0: Getting started

Before you start streaming you have to have a moment with yourself: Why do you want to stream? Are you looking for fame and fortune? Because being real now, if you are in a stream to zero people, a dream to be the next [add super famous and rich streamer here later Maya] is not gonna give you comfort. I know folks who took years to be able to reach affiliate status--that means they took years to reach an average of three people in chat and fifty followers! You need to create because it makes you happy. You get to play games! You get to show off your passions with the world! The act of content creation is what brings you joy. Building friendships with others be it other streamers or folks in your chat--that is why you create. Also what are you going to do? You can play games for sure, but what games? Are there a particular kind of games you enjoy? Scary games? Retro games? And remember, if gaming isn't your main jam Twitch is a home for everyone! Do you like crafting? Knitting? Drawing? Raising chickens? Gardening? What brings you joy? Because Twitch is a place where you can do whatever you want! You are your own boss here, and if you are having fun your audience will have fun. Once you have the why and what settled, it's time to set up the how.


You will need a tool to stream with. This can be a PS4, a Computer, a tablet, a laptop, a smartphone-- you need some way to connect your content to the world. A way to speak with your audience.


A way to speak with your audience. Most folks assume this means you have to go out and get an expensive microphone, but this is not true at all. It can be a rock band USB mic, a corded headphone mic, or you can even grab a beginner mic off amazon. The mic that I have used from the very beginning has been a blue snowball that I got for fifty dollars and it is frequently on sale. I saw the white color version going for as low as 27 USD.
Using a mic is not the only way you can interact with your audience! You can use TTS to speak your words to your audience! One of the top streamers on twitch does something similar to that. 
And what if you are not able to get a mic but typing in TTS is not your preference? You can just type on screen! You can literally just open a notepad file and type in the open window. Or, if you worry about space on your desktop you can just type in the chat box with your audience directly! If you want a chance to chat on stream with some personality here is an option that is available for 20 dollars!


Have something to represent you The most popular way is a camera. This can be a phone camera, a webcam, a digital camera--there are so many tools and tutorials on youtube on how to stream with it! Another option if cameras are not your thing is PNGtubing! In this instance you choose some kind of image to represent you and when you speak it will either bounce, light up, or change expression depending on what tools you use. Vtubing is a style of streaming that is getting more popular by the day. In this case you use an avatar to represent you that is far more expressive than what a PNGtuber can give. Often folks use an anime-style humanoid to represent them but there are so many options beyond that!

You will need a twitch account! You need a twitch account to get started! If you have any account even to just chat in other streams you can skip this step but a twitch account is a must to stream. Even if you wanna stream to other platforms (tiktok, Youtube, etc) you can do so at the same time as you stream on twitch. Twitch has discoverability and is very beginner-friendly. If you are gonna get started, twitch is a great first step!

With all that settled, we get get to the REAL first step-- STREAMING SOFTWARE!

Step 1: Streaming software!

Now that you have a twitch channel, how are you going to get what is on your computer to appear on your twitch channel? You will need streaming software! In my experience the best starting software you can use is to go with OBS studio. It is the base form of streaming software and other programs like Streamlabs are not only based on them, but they can also hide hidden fees in their programming.

But more than that, OBS allows you to do everything yourself. It may be a little more work, but you will know how everything works and as a result when something goes wrong or someone else needs help, you will know how to fix it. Future you will be proud of the choice you make now! Of course, at the end of the day the choice of what streaming software is yours. This guide will be using OBS Studio, but most softwares is very similar so it should still be helpful to you!

Step 2: Make the channel ours!

Now that your account is setup, we can personalize your channel. The twitch algo will recommend you, even if you have a low viewer count--so it's time to give them some eye candy! The first thing folks will see when they go to your twitch page is basically your first introduction to anyone, so show your audience who you are! You can either add /your username after the url or you can just go to the twitch homepage and click your icon in the corner and from the drop-down menu hit "channel". This, as you probably would assume, will take you to your personal twitch channel.

The first place you will want to work on is your panels. These are where you will share short information about yourself. Try to use small sentences and break each panel off in a different group. One for chat rules, one for socials, one for an "about me", etc… Check out the about pages of streamers you like and see what info you would want to share. Click the "edit panels" section and all your panels will change to editable options. Here you can add images and descriptions! The image should be 320 pixels or less otherwise it will not upload. When you use free or pre-made assets for your panels you won't have to worry about that, but if you are planning to make your own, that is useful to remember! Any "header" text will appear above the image, and any text you add will appear beneath the image. Be sure you save the panel before you turn off the edit mode or all your hard work will be lost!

"I recommend looking up free vtuber assets" and "free vtuber overlays list" on twitter. Tons of creative and kind folks have offered tons of options for free and all they ask is a credit in your about section. I recommend using some kind of art asset to split up everything so that folks who visit won't be hit with a huge wall of text.

Next, you are going to want to edit your bio. This is a great place to give an overall synopsis of who you are, what content you want to share, and also quick links to your socials as well! So go to the far right and hit the button labeled as 'edit about and links'. This will take you to the customization options for your channel! Here you can customize your bio, your username's CaPiTaLiZaTiOn, and link your socials! This is a great idea because some folks use bots that will share info about your bio and it's just a great place to be genuine with your audience. The 'about me' section in your panel is useful, but the bio section of your page is essential!

One of the panels I recommend setting up is a tip page. This can be placed with a thank-you message and can be called 'donations' or 'tips', whatever you like! On twitch there are three levels of being a streamer. A beginner, affiliate, and a partner. In order to become an affiliate you will need to have fifty followers, stream for 8 hours, at least seven days a month, and have an average of three viewers per stream. You won't be able to gain access to things like bit donations or subs until you become an affiliate so if your chat loves you and wants to give you support having a donation would be the only option!

Step 3: Welcome to StreamElements!

Now that you have your twitch channel completely set up it's time to venture off to the streamer's best secret: StreamElements! You can find it here and this is going to be a fantastic resource to you from now on. Up in the top right corner is a button that says 'get started' that you're gonna wanna hit. Here, a popup will appear that will allow you to sign in with various platforms. Select 'connect with twitch' and after a brief verification you will be taken to the main hub of streamelements.

There is a lot to see where we are, and we will get to it as the adventure goes on. But for right now we are going to head down to the right side and select 'tipping settings' under the revenue drop-down menu. For obvious reasons I can't give too many screenshots here, but you can setup your payment options, decorate your page, and at the very bottom will be the URL for your donation page. After you finish setting up everything here, copy the tipping page link and have the panel for donations link to this page.

After you have received your donations you can click the SE.Pay and as long as the donation is at least five dollars, you can take the money out! Payday!

Step 4: It's time to open OBS!

Finally we get to use OBS! You can download the streaming software from this site here

When you first set it up, it will bring up a little setup questionnaire. I really recommend doing it upon your first go-around!

Set it to streaming optimization, 1080 resolution, 60 FPS, and connect it to your twitch account. Now here’s a question: Why would I stream in 1080 Resolution if I have a monitor that can stream in 4K resolution? That is because you are not a partner yet. There are some things that aren’t going to be unlocked until you advance in Twitch. If you try to push things to more than you are allowed at this stage, your stream will have the opposite effect! Problems like loading issues, lag, and tanked graphics will hit--especially for members of your chat that are on mobile.

Afterwards it will do a bandwidth test and while it may give you a high number like 6k, I would recommend changing it to a lower number. Because of the above reasons, I recommend going into the settings and bringing it down to 4k or even 3k to make things easier for members of your chat with slower internet connections or are on mobile data. So to fix up this, go up to File>Settings and this will pop up.

Here you can also change the visual settings for OBS if you like. Go down to output on the right side and change your video bitrate to 4000. Then after your first stream, take a look at how the video quality was. If things appear to be chugging along or dropping out, drop down to 4500 or 3000.

After you connect your twitch account, two windows appear with your stream information and your chat. You can click and drag them to wherever you like and the OBS layout will adjust to fit them in place. You can also stack one window on top of the other to make tabs appear that you can click between. In this way you can customize each section (called 'docks') to whatever would work best for you and the layout of your screen. If you happen to accidentally delete a dock then just go up to the toolbar and select docks and click the one you lost and you can bring it back! Don't be afraid to try out different docks and layouts to fit a format that you enjoy. When you have the layout in a way you like, click 'lock docks' in the docks toolbar to secure everything in place.

Here's the layout I enjoy for streaming:

If you're curious what you're looking at, here's a quick explanation:

Scenes: This is where your 'starting soon', 'be right back', 'in game' and any other overlays you make will be so that you can easily switch between them during your stream. While you don't necessarily need any extra scenes to be able to stream, it's something I would highly recommend. At the very least, you need a 'starting soon' scene, a 'main' scene, and a 'stream ending' scene. This will give you a bit of a buffer so that you can have the time to set up and make sure everything is perfect before you start, and if you were to forget to press the 'end stream' icon you don't have a stream that is an extra two hours of you staring blankly at your screen or worse-- changing into your pajamas live on twitch! If you want to have special layouts for just chatting with your audience, a movie theater for watchalongs, or anything else you can think of, scenes are what make it possible.
Sources: This is where everything that you put on stream will be on display. If you add any images or any applications you wish to stream it will show up in here. You can raise or lower different applications to bring them forward or backwards on the screen and make things invisible if you want to take them off or on screen. By using the eye to turn on and off sources in this menu, you won’t make permanent changes to the whole stream. For example, if you don't want to have your mic pickup what you say when you start streams, just make the mic invisible (or don't put a mic source in that scene at all) and it won't pick up on that screen, but it will when you change it. If you mute the mic in the mixer, then it will be muted for the entire overlay no matter what scene you are in.
Mixer: this is the volume control for every scene you put on screen.

'Desktop audio' is the main audio source, and usually linked to your headphones. This used to be the main way that someone would get audio from different sources. Now, you don't really need to have a desktop audio source because now you can have OBS capture the audio of each source so this isn't usually needed. By default it is set so that your audience can hear it but you cannot. This is usually set this way so that you won't hear any echo with any music or sources that are currently playing. If you have a circumstance where you want to hear the source as well as the audience, select the three dots and hit 'advanced audio properties' and select the source you want to hear under audio monitoring and select 'monitor and output' in the dropdown menu. If you want to change it back, do the same and set it back to 'monitor only'.
'Mic/Aux' which is your microphone settings! When you add a microphone to your sources it will link to here and you can control your volume at a click! Be sure to check your volume under the 'sound settings' menu if you're using windows 10! The first six months of streaming I had my mic at 50% volume and didn't even realize it!

Twitch Activity Feed: This might not appear right away and if so, you can add it by selecting it under the 'docks' toolbar. When you are streaming, any actions that your viewers make will show up here! Whether they are following, donating, or after you become an affiliate any subscriptions or bit donations will appear in this window as well.
Display window: Everything that appears here is how it appears on your stream! If your computer is closer to a toaster than a supercomputer, you can right-click and disable the preview. This will make it so you won't be able to have a live window displaying how your stream is going, but it will make things a little easier to run.
Stream Chat: This appears when you connect OBS to your twitch account. (or if not you can just add it under the docks menu. When someone chats in your stream you can see their messages here. Now this is not going to appear on stream itself, so if you want the chat to display on the stream you'll have to set it up in the overlay.

Step 5: Select an Overlay!

An overlay or theme is everything that isn't your content that appears on your stream. Again it’s not a need in order to be able to stream. It is not only really fun but it also adds a lot of class to your stream layout. You want your stream to look interesting, because that is what will draw people to your stream! Now there are several places where you can get overlays set up and with the prominence of AI art and scam bots it can be pretty scary when you are trying to get started. This is why I recommend looking up free overlays on twitter instead of buying it off a place like etsy. You are just barely getting started and as such you should spend as little as possible on this. When you get a few streams under your belt you can go ahead and spend money at a good source like Vgen--but for now stick to what you can get for free. put your info here, you can fit anything ! put your info here, you can fit anything ! put your info here, you can fit anything ! put your info here, you can fit anything ! put your info here, you can fit anything ! put your info here, you can fit anything ! put your info here, you can fit anything ! put your info here, you can fit anything ! put your info here, you can fit anything ! put your info here, you can fit anything ! put your info here, you can fit anything ! put your info here, you can fit anything ! put your info here, you can fit anything ! put your info here, you can fit anything ! put your info here, you can fit anything ! put your info here, you can fit anything ! put your info here, you can fit anything ! put your info here, you can fit anything ! put your info here, you can fit anything ! put your info here, you can fit anything ! put your info here, you can fit anything ! put your info here, you can fit anything ! put your info here, you can fit anything ! put your info here, you can fit anything ! put your info here, you can fit anything ! put your info here, you can fit anything ! put your info here, you can fit anything ! put your info here, you can fit anything ! put your info here, you can fit anything ! put your info here, you can fit anything ! put your info here, you can fit anything ! put your info here, you can fit anything ! put your info here, you can fit anything ! put your info here, you can fit anything ! put your info here, you can fit anything ! put your info here, you can fit anything ! put your info here, you can fit anything !