Getting Started On Twitch
Your First Stream

So you are going to stream on Twitch for the first time ever, but where do you start?

In part one of our guide to Getting Started On Twitch, we go through what you need to do as you press the ‘Go Live’ button and go live for the first time.

  • What software do you need to start?
  • How to set up your Twitch channel
  • How to design your channel
  • What to do on your first stream
  • How to get your first viewers

Let’s get you started!

How To Start

Are you looking to start streaming on Twitch? Welcome to our first guide for complete beginners. This guide will show you everything I’ve learnt you need to know when it comes to starting your first ever stream.

Streaming has become a huge industry, with over 4.5 million unique broadcasters every month on Twitch alone. YouTube livestreams increased 45% in the first six months of 2020 and Facebook Gaming grew by 79 percent during the first Coronavirus pandemic lockdown in 2020.

These are some incredible numbers and it’s highlighted a huge demand from audiences for live streaming content.

While gaming is the dominant genre for live-streamed content, the rise of Just Chatting, travel vlogging and educational content have been fantastic to see. No longer are platforms like Twitch limited to playing League of Legends or Call of Duty. You can do (almost) anything!

I started creating educational content in 2017 during lunch breaks at work. What started off as three individual guides have grown into a full website with over 2.3 million views and 65 in-depth guides for streamers.

Let’s see what you need to begin with.

Now assuming you have set up a Twitch Account set up, a decent PC and a strong internet connection, you need to think about the software that you need.

There are 6 main options to choose from

  • OBS – an open-source, free and in-depth customisable tool. But a bit difficult to use for new users
  • Streamlabs OBS – Easier to use for beginners, but more limited in their features and options. Some of the best parts are paid-only 🙁
  • Xsplit Broadcaster – An alternative to OBS with a huge amount of useful features
  • Gamecaster – a tool from Logitech
  • Twitch Studio – Twitch’s own tool allowing you to easily start streaming, however, it is extremely basic
  • Lightstream Studio – a cloud-based streaming tool 

Next, you need to think about the equipment that you need and whether you are sitting comfortably. We’ve created a recommended section of the website with the best webcams and microphones to get you started.

I know it kind of defeats the point of this advice, but honestly, it is important to not worry about your gear.

Some of the best and biggest streamers started off with computers struggling to render the games and with no webcam, and today even Lirik uses audio-only and no webcam!

I've kept this old screenshot because you'll never see DrDisrespect there again 👀

Now you have your software installed, you need to find your stream key:

Go to your Twitch account, and click Dashboard. Then select ‘channel’ on the left-hand side of the navigation. Click ‘stream key’ and copy and paste it into your respective tool.

Don’t go live yet! You still need to go through the tough decision of building your profile, selecting the right things in options, what to name your stream and preparing to go live!

So, let’s start with designing your Twitch channel.

If you are looking for more advice, some of the favourite guides to read before you start your first stream can be found here:

What to do?

In this chapter, we’re going to cover how to set up your profile for success and make it stand out as much as possible.

We’ll show you the basics such as designing a standout profile picture, why you should use Twitch Panels and make sure your profile is optimised for growth.

How to Design Your Twitch Channel

Design and branding are a whole area which you are going to need to learn about. At least the very basics anyway! While we’re not here to give you an in-depth course, you do need to consider how your profile picture, logo, overlay and alerts make your viewers think.

Design and branding are complicated topics full of split-second decisions, colour psychology and creating an experience for viewers. It influences what we think and can subtly affect the decisions we make. It can help people find your content, grow your viewership, and give you sponsorship opportunities.

The first thing to think about your stream design is whether it can be considered ‘consistent’ with your Twitch ‘name’, your profile picture (logo), your cover image and the overall ‘tone’ of the channel.

If you are a loudspeaker who plays Call of Duty and Apex Legends, you likely don’t want to use calm pastel colours in your brand, a picture of a tree as your picture and water splash sounds as your alerts.

Consider what a potential viewer will naturally expect to see when they click on your channel, and then be creative with ways to stand out.

For example, every Twitch Advice website when I started out used a black background with bright red or blue as their colours. It felt like an esport team! So I decided to switch it up by using a pinker-red colour and orange. It gave this website a cleaner and softer design which hopefully helps people learn better.

If not, it still stands out compared to everyone else!

Hopefully, this colour guide breaks it down for you and makes it easier to understand what you need to do.

And now you know why every esport and sport team use red…

What do I need to make for my channel?

Twitch design includes:

  • Overall profile design
  • A profile picture
  • Twitch overlays
  • Twitch banners
  • Twitch panels
  • Twitch alerts
  • Twitch emotes (for when you become an affiliate)

All the parts of your Twitch profile

Profile settings and channel design are key for branding and helping your audience understand exactly who you are.

Your Profile Picture —a logo or a photo of you / your face – this must be no more than 10MB. This is recommended to be at least 800 x 800. Test it first and make sure it is clear on mobile!

Banner/Cover image — You can either either select the generated one (using your name) or upload your own custom image. Alongside with your logo, your banner image is key to make your ‘brand’ stand out. Make sure it is consistent and (if possible) use the available space to show your schedule

Biography — At 150 characters, your bio comes in just over a tweet length, so keep your description short & sweet. For new streamers, make sure you say who you are, what you like and when you stream, eventually it can be whatever you want.

For a full guide to writing your Twitch bio, read more at our website: How To Write A Twitch Bio – The Emergence

Twitch Panels — Twitch panels are found at the bottom of your info tab on the app, or below your stream on desktop. These can be either an image or text. They are commonly used to give further information on who you are, what you like to stream, your schedule and advice on community/chat standards and donations. They can also be used to provide links to your website or social channels. Make sure your Twitch Panels are consistent with your branding.

Twitch’s own full guide to Twitch Panels can be found here and you can find see some great examples here.

Offline Image — When you are offline (and not auto-hosting anybody), make sure viewers know when you will no longer be online by using your offline banner (found in your settings). Also use this to communicate your schedule so potential viewers know when to expect you. (Please provide more than EST or GMT timezones — Twitch viewers are worldwide).

Profile Accent – You can also change the accent of your profile to your ‘brand’ colour. This helps keep everything consistent alongside your logo and banner.

Are you looking to start streaming in Just Chatting?

14 Tips For Just Chatting Streams​

What Do You Do?

Are you struggling to get people watching your stream? Maybe there are hundreds of other streamers doing the same thing as you, and your stream information isn’t persuading potential viewers to come to watch you?

In this chapter, we’ll discuss what to craft a good twitch stream title and how to attract people and stand out amongst the 1000s of others.

Stream Title and Information

Go to your Dashboard and you will see the following options:

Title — The title of your stream, consider what will attract viewers to click through and watch you, how do you stand out? Should you use a funny quote? Should you clearly explain what you are doing?

Please never refer to the amount of followers, viewers or subscribers you have…

How to title a Twitch stream? – Always put the most important information first. A lot of streamers also add the language of their stream at the beginning so viewers know what to expect.

Now with the new redesign, it doesn’t say the game you are playing, just a small logo on the bottom right, this makes it important to add the game in if you are a variety streamer. Many suggest that you put the name of your game at the end of your title.

Are you looking to make a better stream title? Here’s a guide to creating a stream title that stands out.

Some example stream titles

  1. [LANGUAGE] SMITE: First Ranked Game — Only Playing Support!
  2. (GER) [Game Name] — [Something about the Game] — First Playthrough/100% Serious Play/Ranked Games
  3. Donating Money to Charity Every Game I Lose
  4. Why Is Pikachu The Worst Pokemon? | !Instagram

If you want more examples, click the button above this!

The best piece of advice I have seen on stream titles is the following found on a Reddit thread.

"A good streamer creates a detailed title such as: “[720p/60fps/PC] First Playthrough Blind” which tells me a LOT about your stream without even opening it. An excellent streamer uses the title to let their personality shine such as “Livin’ la vida Los Santos” (GTA:V) or “Darkblood Soulborne” (Bloodborne) or “Touching all the Butts… with a Dagger” (Assassin’s Creed) or “Praise the Talos” (Skyrim). These titles might not be the best in the world but I came up with all 4 in a minute or two. In any case as a viewer I’m 100x more likely to join a channel with a witty title like these because they show you have a sense of humor, which is big considering how many streamers’s commentary and/or viewer interaction could be handled just as well by a sack of potatoes. While the titles I gave as examples may not appeal to you personally they do appeal to the type of viewers I looking for on my stream. Bear in mind who you want to attract when making your own titles."

Some more features on the Twitch stream dashboard include:

Tags — Twitch Tags are the newest way to group content and genres (and therefore viewers together). Tags are adding to a stream automatically or by the streamer and allow viewers to create filters (similar to how you’d search for a new t-shirt by colour, price, and size).

Language — Choose the language that you are going to be talking in, some streams will use the title to say their language to stand out or explain they are using two languages (for example JAP/ENG). You are able to limit your chat to the chosen language but as you are just starting out, I would not recommend this, you can always just tell them you don’t understand or use Google Translate on your phone and attempt communication (which could end up being quite funny and earning you a follow)

Game/Category — the most important choice. Do make sure to name it the game you are actually playing, or else nobody will find what you are doing (or they’ll be very confused as to why you are playing Stardew Valley when they search through H1Z1 games)

Next up, go to settings/options and make sure you have selected:

  • Archive Broadcasts — automatically save your broadcasted streams to the ‘videos’ tab on Twitch. Highly recommended so users can watch VODs (videos on demand) whenever they want to catch up on what they may of missed
  • Automod rules — this is completely up to you, it depends on what you want your community/chat to see, what the content of your channel is going to show and how much control you want to have yourself. You can learn more here.
  • Followers-only mode (on your videos) — this is a new feature that limits commenting on your videos to those who have followed you for at least a few days

While Automod is a fantastic tool from Twitch. It doesn’t give you the full options like a moderator bot does. While my favourite to use is Nightbot, there are loads of others you can easily install and set up.

Luckily we reviewed over 9 of the best ones here: 

Join Your Fellow Streamers​

A free monthly email to help you know what to stream

Pre-Stream Preparation
Getting Ready To Stream

That’s it, your channel is set up perfectly and you are now ready to give live.

Too many times I have seen a streamer make a mistake or something breaks while they are live, and they have to go offline to fix it… losing all their viewers. So let’s get you ready so your first stream goes amazing. The more prepared you are, the better it will go and the less panicking you will be doing when you are live and can’t do much about it.

Pre-Stream Promotion

Be sure to share the link to your stream on social media channels

  • Do you have an active social media channel already? Utilise it to drive people to your stream
  • You may find many are not interested in watching your live stream, but some may and they should know!
  • Personally, I streamed without promoting it for a number of weeks to practice my skills and test the software was working correctly
  • Getting people that you know in your stream will help boost your total viewers, and when Twitch is sorted by most viewers, this is incredibly important to stand out near the top of the feed
  • Find more promotion tips in our 41 promotion tips for Twitch streamers!
  • Remember to keep your dashboard open to monitor your stream health and Twitch chat while you are streaming.

Pre-Stream Planning

There are a number of things you can do before your stream to make sure you are as prepared as you can be.

I’ve created the below graphic to be as useful as possible!

Other things to consider are the games you are playing, your schedule and what topics you are going to talk about.

Other streamers have previously said they use a couple of post-it notes on their desks of questions and conversation starters to engage chat throughout.

While other streamers now plan full shows into their streams. For example, Lugwig does this perfectly.

Check out this breakdown thread I wrote about one of his streams!

I know, I know took forever… but it is important!

Especially if you want this to be a successful hobby or even grow into something more!

You’ve made it.

Now it is time to go live! GO GO GO!

What To Do After Your First Stream?

So that was it! How did it go? Did you enjoy it?

Watch back and review your footage, making sure it is saved (see how to do this in the settings above).

Make notes on what didn’t go well on your first stream, were the audio levels okay? Did your computer struggle during the graphic-intensive moments of the game?

Was there any standout moments that you can make into a clip and share on Twitch and across social media? Can you export your video to YouTube?

Look at the stats and see how popular you were! Hey, here’s our complete guide to Twitch Stats!

Building A Community & Following

In part two we discuss how to build a community and grow your following.

We talk about the following:

  • Being prepared and planning
  • Why consistency is so important
  • What content you should be making
  • The importance of networking
  • What success actually means to you
  • Getting attention off Twitch
  • And much more!

How Do I Promote My Twitch Stream?

Honestly, this is going to be a short one because our best guides can be found here:

There are so many different ways to promote your streams and stand out among the 4.6 million different channels (February 2021 data) vying for attention.

While my advice gives you some ideas, strategies and foundations to follow. A lot of the streamers who have blown up in the past few years have done it by doing the opposite of what everyone advises. So, as long as you are not hurting anyone, be creative and do it your way.

How Much Does A Beginner Twitch Streamer Make?

At the very beginning, a streamer will likely make nothing from streaming. Twitch does not pay you, and you are ineligible to make money from YouTube ads, nor do you have the attention to start asking sponsors for money. While you can get donations, without a loyal audience straight away, this will be unlikely.

This will be the same across all forms of content creation or in business. You have to put in the work first before you can start making money.

Sometimes the desire to make money as quickly as possible will ruin your chances of making even more money later on. Some streamers don’t even set up a donation page until somebody asks them “how can I donate to you?.”

Nothing is going to happen because you just ‘want’ it to, unfortunately, none of us are entitled to reach these goals through luck and sporadic work. You need to plan, find your niche, constantly engage, work hard, take streaming seriously and endure patience in order to reach these goals.

Be patient and wait until the opportunity feels right. Then you’ll start to be able to transition this to a business.

But how can you start making money and getting paid on Twitch money?

While you can add donations through tools like Streamlabs straight away, with a small audience, you are unlikely to make a stable revenue from streaming. Once you are a Twitch Affiliate, you do unlock their own currency (Bits) which makes it easier for some to donate to you and subscriptions (a monthly payment which Twitch Prime subscribers get for free). Twitch has features like Hype Train that helps increase engagement for your viewers.

Other methods of earning revenue from streaming include:

  • Sponsorships
  • Affiliate deals
  • Merchandise
  • Selling products & services (like designs, artwork, music or coaching)
  • Advertising revenue (this is likely to be very small on Twitch)

There are many ways to make money, but it still requires you to put in a huge amount of work and build an engaged community.

The End!

Hope you enjoyed the guide to your first stream. If you have anything that worked for you, comments or feedback, Join our Discord or tweet me at @emergencegg.

Wondering what The Emergence is?

The Emergence is a streamer education website. It’s run by Mark who has worked in marketing for over 7 years and has been playing games since the Amiga days when he learnt the alphabet by playing a Mickey Mouse game.

You can find more of what we do here:

Not Sure Where To Start?

How can we help you?

Twitch Guides

How do you start streaming, build a community and grow your following? Our guides are in-depth helping to make you a successful streamer on Twitch.


Wondering what is best for you to use? This is our recommended books, podcasts, microphones and webcams for content creators and Twitch streamers.

Email Newsletter

Are you looking for monthly advice via email? I'll review what is trending and give you the information you actually need. Appear & Emerge is an ongoing newsletter that will show you the best content opportunities on Twitch every month, be it game or category.

Watch me on Twitch

Sometimes inconsistent but we play lots of games while discussing Twitch streaming, content creation and sometimes interesting subjects like history, music, our favourite emojis and why the end part of bread is my favourite.

Want to talk to us?