James Q Quick's Blog

James Q Quick's Blog

Why and How to Get Started Live Streaming

Why and How to Get Started Live Streaming

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Live Streaming has seemingly become all the rage for developers these days. You've probably watched a Live Stream, but have you ever thought about Live Streaming yourself? In this article, I'll talk about why I got started and some tips to help you start also.

Check out the Live Streaming for Beginners episode of the Compressed.fm podcast for a more complete overview of Live Streaming.

Why Live Stream?

Let's start with other forms of content like YouTube videos and blog articles. What you get in those cases are polished pieces of work. What you don't get is a feel for...

  • time and effort put into the demo
  • the hours of research
  • the mistakes made along the way

Live Streams are different though. In a Live Stream, you get it all...the fumbled words, the missteps, the slogging through documentation. Because of this, Live Streams are just more genuine. They provide a perspective that is hard to find in other forms of content.

In addition to the genuineness, the audience for Live Streams, especially in the developer communities, is quickly growing. If you're looking to continue to grow your audience as a whole, you need to meet developers where they are. It turns out that developers really enjoy spending time in Live Streams.

Equipment to Get Started

What gear do you need if you want to stream? Although many streamers have thousands of dollars worth of equipment, you can start with a lot less.

Check out my uses page for a full list of equipment I use.

I want to reimphasize, you don't need to invest tons of money up front. My suggestion is to start cheap and gradually upgrade along the way. All of the equipment I use today, I've accumulated over the course of several years.

Camera

Although it won't look the best, you can start with the built-in camera on your laptop. If you're looking to take a step up from there, you can invest in a dedicated webcam. Here are a few options to consider.

I used the Logitech Brio for about a year myself before I upgraded to my Canon m50 mirrorless camera. Upgrading to this camera made a huge difference in my stream quality.

Lights

No matter how much you spend on a webcam or camera, it won't look near as good without good lighting. The first tip is to try and find some natural light near a window. It's amazing the difference FREE light can make in your video quality.

If you've got a bit of light budget, here are a few ideas.

If you've got the money for a bigger upgrade, I use the El Gato Key Lights, and they are incredible!

Mic

Next up is audio. I would first look around your room and see if you have any existing headsets you can use. If you don't have anything, you can pick up something like the Microsoft LifeChat Headset for about $35.

Instead of a headset, you can start looking at a few different USB mic options.

I upgraded a few years ago to the Shure SM7B XLR mic. This one is much more expensive and requires some additional equipemtn, but the sound is incredible.

How to Grow Your Audience

Here my two tips for growing your audience while streaming.

Stream Consistently

If you only stream once every couple of months, it's going to make it hard to get returning viewers. As you're learning, maybe start out with once per month. Then, as you become more comfortable, maybe you move to once a week or a couple of times per week.

The more you stream, and the more consistently you do it, the easier it is for people to find your content and come back for more.

Focus on Interactivity

One of the most unique aspects of watching a Live Stream is to be able to interact with the stream in some way. Your number 1 goal should be to make viewers feel appreciated and give them ways to influence what you do.

The easiest way to show appreciation for your viewers is to respond to ALL of your chat messages. Make sure that if viewers go out of their way to leave a comment or ask a question, that you respond to them. Let them know that their comments are valuable.

In addition to responding to chat messages, you need to give your viewers some way to interact with and potentially influence the stream itself. Not sure what I mean? Here are a couple of examples.

First, I have 2 Hue LED bulbs that can be controlled with code. So, I let users in my chat redeem their channel points, to change the color of my bulbs. It's a simple thing, but this is my most popular interaction by far.

Check out the full writeup on controlling Hue Lights with JavaScript.

I also allow users to save up channel points to make me do pushups. I'll be honest, this has bitten me in the ass before (several people pooled together to make me do LOTS of pushups), but it's a really fun interaction.

At the end of the day, your focus should be on keeping viewers engaged.

Wrap Up

Live Streaming is a huuuuuge rabbit hole, but it's a really fun one. I've spent tons of time researching equipment, stream interactions, etc., and I still have so much to learn.

If you're a streamer, share your link in this Tweet.

 
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