What tech do you need to be a live streamer?

Does it take a tech genius to learn how to live stream? Absolutely not! Anyone can learn what they need to know about live streaming software and hardware, thanks to influencers like Dale L. Roberts and his brother Walt, who run a Live Streaming Tech YouTube channel. Dale spoke with Friday Lives host Anya Razina about the technical requirements for live streaming, how to grow your audience, and tips for starting out as a live streamer. In addition to creating Live Streaming Tech on YouTube, Dale is also a self-published, bestselling author who offers self-publishing advice and brand-building consulting.

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For a live show about live streaming technology, it was probably inevitable that it would start with some technical issues. It just goes to show you that there will always be tech issues with live streaming, even when you’ve prepared everything, and even if you’re an expert streamer. Fortunately for Anya and Dale, Dale’s power came back on shortly after being switched off, so they were able to start the show just a few minutes late.

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The start of Dale’s YouTube channel

Dale’s successful YouTube channel was born from necessity. People kept asking him what tech he was using to live stream, and he got most of his information from his brother, Walt. After some nudging, he eventually convinced his brother to start Live Streaming Tech two years ago, and the channel has taken off since then.

We just want to show people that live streaming online isn’t as difficult as you think it is; it’s not as expensive as you think it is.

Why should you learn to live stream?

Dale believes in the power of human connection that live streaming brings. It’s especially important during a pandemic, when people are in lockdown and unable to see each other face-to-face. Live streaming is the perfect remedy for our tendency to become recluses during this time.

You build the sense of community. Live streaming, now more than ever, is one of the greatest ways to just connect with other human beings out there.

Who can benefit from Live Streaming Tech?

People from all industries benefit from the live streaming tech tips on Dale’s channel. He and his brother cover all major live streaming platforms, so they have content that appeals to everybody. They’re also able to broadcast to multiple channels at once with Restream. Dale and his brother focus on giving people simple, actionable tips for getting online and sharing their messages. Ultimately, Dale considers himself more of a live streaming advocate than an expert.

The very first thing you should know about live streaming

Before you start streaming on any platform, you should get to know your audience. Figure out who they are, what kind of content they’re looking for, and how you can bring value to them. Also, determine the best way to communicate with them and how your message will reach them.

If you're going to live stream on the platform, discoverability is going to be key – and it all starts with identifying your ideal viewer.

How to discover your ideal audience member

If you’re first starting out as a live streamer, Dale suggests sketching a profile of your ideal audience member. Write down who you’re speaking to, including their demographics, interests, and other characteristics. When you first start live streaming, you’re speaking to a lens, not another person. You might not have a lot of people tuning in to your first live streams (and that’s okay!), so you have to imagine you’re having a conversation with your ideal viewer to keep the stream going.

What is their pain point? How can you be a solution to their problem?

As you get more comfortable with live streaming or build up your following, you may have more interaction from viewers or get better at identifying your audience right away.

The secret to overcoming a lack of live streaming skills

Dale has two solutions for people who think they don’t have the necessary skills to live stream: practice and learning. He compares live streaming to working out. You head to the gym for the first time with a goal of getting in shape but feel overwhelmed by all the equipment and aren’t sure you can do it.

Of course, live streaming will feel like a lot the first time you try it. But just like with working out, you can’t get stronger if you don’t get your reps in. If you want to overcome being camera shy or have difficulty understanding the tech behind live streaming, then you just have to start – and keep practicing.

While you’re practicing, seek out resources to help you learn what you need to know. Find books, YouTube channels, or successful people and identify what it takes to reach your goals. Then do it.

How to live stream without the hassle

After you’ve identified your audience, the next step is getting the equipment. That doesn’t mean you should drop a ton of money on a nice webcam, stream deck, microphone, lights, and a fancy set-up. Figure out what you have on hand that you can live stream with, and go from there. You may start out live streaming from your laptop or your smartphone. If you’re a gamer, you’ll probably need more equipment than a non-gamer, so you’ll have to factor that in.

After you start live streaming, you can work your way up to nicer equipment. The important thing to focus on when you’re getting started is spreading your message and showing up.

Do not plunk down hundreds to thousands of dollars. In fact, do not break over a hundred dollars investing in any equipment when you go live for the first time.

Essential streaming software for beginners and more advanced streamers

For beginners, Dale has two recommendations:

  • Start streaming directly from a platform that offers it, like YouTube Live or Facebook Live.
  • Use Restream to quickly and easily add channels; use Restream Studio to add overlays and personalized graphics (just like Anya does with the Friday Lives show).
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⚡️ To learn more, check out our guide on Restream Studio.

For intermediate or advanced streamers, Dale suggests using an encoder – software that converts video files from RAW (the format your laptop puts it in as you’re recording) to digital (the format needed for a live streaming platform). The encoder Dale uses, and one of the most popular encoders available, is OBS Studio.

Setting up OBS Studio for streaming (adding a mic, adding an overlay, etc.) takes a bit more attention than with Restream, for example. But for those who want to use OBS Studio and need a more “plug-and-play” solution, Streamlabs OBS, also known as SLOBS, is another great solution.

How to use OBS when you’re first starting out

Dale gives the first three steps for setting up OBS so you can go live for the first time:

  • Scene: Scenes are the visual elements of your live stream, like canvases. You can reposition scenes or add filters to increase your production value. If you just want to go live, however, you only need one basic scene.
  • Sources: Your two important sources for live streaming are your camera and your microphone. On your dashboard, you should be able to add these two to your sources.
  • Settings: Under Settings, you’ll need to add your live stream key so you’re streaming to the proper platform. You’ll be able to choose from multiple platforms, including Facebook Live, Twitch, YouTube, and even Restream.

Dale has another tip for testing OBS for the first time: name your stream “test” so if any viewers do happen to find it, they’ll know you’re just running a test. For more details about using or setting up OBS, check out the Live Streaming Tech channel on YouTube.

Live streaming hardware for beginners and more advanced streamers

When it comes to hardware, the very first thing to invest in is sound quality. For Dale, a decent microphone is more important than a decent webcam, and you can get a decent microphone for under $100. Dale’s recommendation for starter mics is the brand Yeti, which makes USB microphones.

After you have good sound quality, you can worry about your webcam. Dale uses a Logitech C-920 and finds that it works perfectly for his needs. A webcam of this quality won’t cost you more than $50.

The third piece of equipment to invest in is lighting. Dale recommends an LED key light because it can significantly improve the quality of the camera. A decent LED light will run about $20 to $30. Lighting makes all the difference when it comes to your video quality.

You can have the worst camera in the world, but if you give good lighting, it will change everything.

For more advanced streamers, Dale also demonstrates how to use a stream deck to control lighting, your mic, and your camera.

Why should you stream to multiple destinations?

Dale recommends multistreaming so you can meet people where they’re at. Not all your viewers use every platform, so you don’t want to exclude anyone. Try to capture as much of your audience as you can.

If you’re streaming to multiple platforms, you should make sure your chat is centralized, too. With a central chat hub, like you can have with Restream Studio, you don’t have to keep switching between tabs on your browser, and you can feature questions from every platform.

Aggregating out through software, like Restream multistreaming, is a great way to meet everybody where they’re at and not have to make them move over.

Does Restream work with a GoPro?

Yes! You can stream from a GoPro camera with a smartphone app. The set-up would be the GoPro camera as the source, the app as the encoder, and the smartphone as the processing computer. It’s great for live streaming action shots (as you’d expect with a GoPro), but the app only works with the HERO7 Black and later. There’s native support for streaming to YouTube and Facebook and RTMP support for Twitch and Douyu, but that’s about it.

If you want to stream with earlier versions of the GoPro or use Restream, you need the Live4 app. You can read an explanation of how to set it up to learn more.

How to make a great call to action

Keeping up with your followers and subscribers takes more than asking them to like or subscribe. You need a “creed” or mission statement that expresses your value to viewers, according to Dale. Why should followers or subscribers be interested in your content?

Dale provides himself as an example, referencing his success as a self-published author. His CTA always includes the fact that he’s an author and that he can help his viewers become self-published authors too. When his viewers hear that Dale has something valuable to offer them, they’re more likely to like and subscribe to his videos.

Simply asking people to subscribe to your YouTube channel or follow you on Facebook is just not enough. You have to understand that people are not there for you. They're there for themselves.

Why does the video quality differ when you’re multistreaming?

Each live streaming platform has its own standard for the resolution and frames per second it will allow. YouTube has the infrastructure to support just about any level – you can stream in 1080p and 60 frames per second without a problem.

Twitch, on the other hand, has that infrastructure but only makes it available to affiliates and partners. On Twitch, it’s better to stream at 720p and 30 frames per second, even if you’re an affiliate. Facebook is similar, with anything above 720p rendering very poorly. Dale’s advice is to know which platform you’re streaming to has the lowest resolution and frames per second threshold and to stream in that quality so you have consistency.

I recommend, for multistreaming, to keep the resolution low. Keep the lowest level that you can without sacrificing good quality streaming.

Integrating live streaming with Microsoft Teams

If you want to stream to a corporate network, social media platforms like Facebook usually aren’t your best solution for live streaming. You have two workarounds if you want to stream with Microsoft Teams:

  1. Use OBS Studio to capture your recording, and post it in your closed corporate channel, such as on Skype, Slack, or a closed Facebook group.
  2. Use Restream Studio (instead of Microsoft Teams), and invite up to ten guests to view the live stream. You could also stream to a closed, unlisted YouTube channel or to a closed Facebook group.
  3. Multistream your Zoom meetings with Restream.

Capturing the webcam with SLOBS

Adding a new webcam as a source on Streamlabs OBS is easy. You simply navigate to the Sources section on your dashboard and click the plus sign (+). You name the source and select it as a new source. Then, you’ll need to select which device your source is (in this case, your webcam). Streamlabs will automatically add your microphone, however, so you don’t need to complete this process for your audio.

With Restream Studio, there’s no need to add a source. When you stream directly from your browser, the application will pick up on your webcam and default microphone. When you want to add a guest’s or co-host’s feed to your live stream, all they have to do is click the link you’ve shared with them.

Does the type of stream you’re doing dictate your hardware?

Different genres of streaming will require different equipment. Gamers probably have the biggest hardware concerns because they need a computer powerful enough to host games as well as live stream. For some craft or art streamers, all it takes is a mobile device placed above their workstation.

Whatever kind of stream you’re planning to do, always test your equipment and your desired platform to see what works and what doesn’t.

Techniques for growing your audience on YouTube

Dale offers four tips for growing an audience on YouTube:

  1. Consistency. You can’t grow an audience if you don’t stream regularly. It might be more of a hassle for you or make live streaming feel more like a job, but people like tuning in at the same times on the same days of the week.
  2. Title and description. You need a searchable video title that will entice viewers to click on your video. YouTube is a search engine, and when you’ve optimized your title and description for your ideal audience, your video will be easier to find.
  3. Thumbnail. A clickable thumbnail is also important for attracting viewers. A good thumbnail makes your video look more interesting.
  4. Audience retention. YouTube rewards channels that can keep people watching. Live streaming is a great way to keep people viewing longer.
Consistency is key when it comes to becoming successful on YouTube.

Tips for monetizing your channel and audience

There are several ways to monetize live streaming. One is through brand sponsorships. The best way to get brands to notice you is by having engaged viewers and subscribers. A brand would rather sponsor you with fewer, more engaged viewers than with hundreds of subscribers who never tune in.

Brands would rather see that you have five super engaged people than 5,000 people that never say a single word to you.

Other ways to monetize include:

  • Partner programs on YouTube and Twitch
  • Capitalizing on your skills by creating products and soliciting donations through Patreon or with an online course
  • Creating and selling merchandise
  • Affiliate marketing

When you’re seeking monetization options, always remember the value you bring to the table. Don’t let brands take advantage of you for free content or free promotion. When you’re considering monetization, always think about where you want to go, not where you currently are. How could a partnership or collaboration take you to the level you want to be at?

It breaks my heart sometimes to see some creators that are just willing to receive free things or do stuff for free for brands that are otherwise making money hand-over-fist from this collaboration.

If you love a brand’s product and want to promote it on your own, that’s another story. If there’s a tool or software you use that you really love, create content about it, and that brand might just reach out to you. In fact, Dale’s several videos about Restream and how much he likes using it are how Anya found Dale’s channel and was able to reach out to him to appear on Friday Lives.

Wrapping up

Dale L. Roberts had some great insights on live streaming tech throughout his conversation with Anya, including:

  • Dale’s start on YouTube
  • How live streaming can be beneficial to anyone
  • First steps with live streaming, including software and hardware needed
  • Growing a live streaming audience as a beginner
  • How to build live streaming skills
  • How multistreaming helps grow your audience
  • Why video quality differs on platforms when you’re multistreaming and what to do about it
  • Tips for monetizing your channel

Thanks to Dale for sharing all his insights about live streaming and demonstrating how to use some basic live streaming tech tools!


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