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The Ultimate Guide to YouTube Live Streaming

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Mar 27, 2024• Proven solutions

Live streaming on YouTube is a great way to get more engagement from your audience, even if you do not have a huge following. As long as you have some reliable subscribers leaving comments on your videos you should be able to schedule a live stream and know it will have an audience. People feel a personal connection with their favorite vloggers so if you give your subscribers a chance to interact with you in real time they will probably plan to join in. The key to a good live streaming is to respond to comments and questions from people who are watching. Besides watching the live chat of your video you can create a hashtag for your stream and monitor it on twitter.

Table of Contents

Why Livestream?

You have grown your audience, and now you want to take your channel to the next level and diversify your content.

Whether you are vlogging, gaming, or running tutorials on YouTube, there is potential to host a live broadcast. It’s not limited to any genre, you simply need to create content that people are interested in watching.

Before we get started into the How, let’s start with a few reasons Why you should be live streaming your content.

Connect and engage with your audience

When a viewer leaves a comment during a livestream you will be able to see it right away and respond. Having an instantaneous conversation with a viewer while they are watching your video will encourage more engagement and establish a ber relationship with your viewers — and you will know that these viewers are not bots.

Increase watch time and session watch time on your channel

If you are making YouTube videos on average 10 minutes long, and the viewer only watches half of it, that’s only 5 minutes of watch time, which is fine... But if you are live streaming for 45 minutes, and you are able to hold the viewer's attention, you can surpass what your regular videos can do.

Make videos faster

As a YouTuber, you are always striving to be more efficient. Live streaming allows you to do that as you can set up and go. The content you end up creating during the duration of your livestream can then also be condensed into a highlight reel or a recap.

With a bit of planning before you go live, you can create a week’s worth of content in one go, instead of having multiple schedules for livestream content and your standard publishing videos.

Type of Content to Livestream

Live streaming has a lot of value, but what type of content should you be streaming?

Here are a few popular ideas for content that will attract viewers to your livestream:

Q&A session




Game or challenge


Sneak preview or review


Live events (just make sure the Internet can support it)


A demo or a tutorial


A live commentary or (if you are a gamer) Let’s Play video

What You Need to Livestream On YouTube

A Plan or Outline

It’s good to know what your livestream is going to be about before you start. Is there a key message you want to hit, an action you want your viewers to take, or a structure you want to follow.

Just because it’s live, doesn’t mean it all has to be improvised. If you go in without a plan, you might end up feeling flustered or getting stressed out. Allow for spontaneous comments or events to take you off your initial plan, but always return to your outline so you know how to wrap up your livestream when you have to.

Stable Internet Connection

You cannot conduct a quality livestream, if your Internet is bad. When evaluating your internet connection for live streaming on YouTube, look at the Upload speed. Depending on the quality of your video, these are the minimum upload speed rates your Internet will need to perform:

480p = 1.5 mbps

720p = 3 mbps

1080 = 5 mbps

In addition, be aware of external causes that may be slowing down your internet such as someone else using it, a poorly performing router, or a damaged cable.  


If you have a smartphone or a laptop with a webcam built in, that is the best camera for you to get started live streaming. It’s good to have a milestone and work towards a more advanced camera, but until then, don’t feel discouraged because you don’t have expensive gear. If you have a smartphone, a laptop, or a basic webcam, that’s perfectly fine.


You don’t need a great microphone for live streaming, you only need a good one. If you do want to spend several hundred to a thousand dollars for a professional studio microphone, nobody will stop you, but know this, a mic that is easy to use is as important as the audio quality as you develop a consistent live streaming schedule.  

Streaming Software (For Higher Quality Streams)

Once upon a time, to livestream on YouTube, you needed additional software to capture content from desktop, camera, microphone, etc, called encoding software — but not anymore.

Those encoding software, such as OBS, Wirecast, and VMix, are required if you are producing content that requires a high frame rate such as gaming, but not mandatory if you are simply vlogging or running a tutorial.

If you are using Chrome, you can stream live on YouTube without using an encoder.

A Capture Card (For Higher Quality Streams)

You will need a capture card when you are capturing footage from a different PC or console. If you are a gamer and you are using one PC to stream and one PC to play your game, then you should consider getting a capture card.

4 Ways to Setup Your Livestream On YouTube

There are 4 main ways you can start live streaming on YouTube. The one that works best for you depends on the content you are going to be streaming.

1. Camera/Go Live (Chrome Browser)

By accessing on the Google Chrome browser, you can start streaming immediately through your connected webcam. This way is best for a simple Q&A or letting your viewers know your thoughts in a timely situation. This method does not require an encoder.


There are 3 ways to access livestream this way:

1. Click here to connect to your YouTube channel

2. You can access it from the top menu on YouTube

access livestream

3. You can access it by clicking Camera under the Live Streaming tab in your Creator Studio


2. Google Hangouts On Air (Quick)

Another way to livestream without an encoding software is by using the Google Hangouts On Air feature.

This is great if you want the feel of your livestream to be similar to a board meeting, where you can invite people, split screen, and share screen to illustrate your point.

Here’s how you can access this Google Hangouts On Air:

Step 1: Go to Events under the Live Streaming tab in your Creator Studio

Step 2: Click New Live Event button on the top right corner

new live event button

Step 3: Enter the event’s Info and Setting page. Fill out the details of your Livestream, and under Type, select Quick (using Google Hangouts On Air).

new event info and setting

Step 4: You can schedule your livestream or Go Live immediately by clicking one of the blue buttons on the left-hand side.


3. Mobile

Live streaming via your mobile device gives you a lot more freedom to maneuver. You can walk around and give your viewers a tour — but remember to stay within the WiFi or LTE range. That means you still won’t be able to livestream well inside an elevator.

Here’s how you can livestream on mobile:

Step 1: Access the YouTube app and make sure you are signed in to the account you want to livestream from.

Step 2: At the top, click on the camera icon

Step 3: Click on Go Live



Pro Tip: When live streaming, always hold your smartphone horizontally. This allows your video to be oriented as a landscape, instead of a portrait.


4. Custom Encoder

The fourth way of live streaming on YouTube is with encoding software. This is the recommended method if video quality is essential, such as gaming videos.

Step 1: Download and install an encoding software. In this example, we’ll be using OBS.

Step 2: Open OBS

Step 3: Go to YouTube Creator Studio and enter the Stream Now page

youtube creator studio

Step 4: Under Encoder Setup, copy Stream name/key (Warning: DO NOT share this key with anyone)

Step 5: Return to OBS and enter the Setting menu on the lower right-hand side of the application

Step 6: Click into the Stream tab

a) Under Stream Type, select Streaming Services

b) Under Service, select YouTube/YouTube Gaming

c) Under Server, select Primary YouTube ingest server

d) In Stream Key box, paste the Stream Key you copied from YouTube

e) Click Apply and then OK

Step 7: Plug in your webcam

Step 8: In the main OBS dashboard, under the Sources menu, click the + icon and add Video Capture Device. You should now see visuals from your Webcam.

Step 9: Select the Resolution you want for your video and click OK

Step 10: Return to your YouTube Streaming Page and fill out the details of your livestream

Step 11: Go back to OBS and click Start Streaming

Step 12: See on YouTube Streaming Page at the top that you are Live. You are officially streaming. Once You are finished streaming, return to OBS and click Stop Streaming to end the stream.

8 Tips to Improve Your Livestream on YouTube

Do Speed Test

Before you start your livestream, do a speed test of your Internet. Check out from here.  

Have Good Lighting

Be aware of your surroundings when you are about to livestream. You don’t need the top-notch lighting kit, you can simply sit beside a window and allow natural lights to illuminate your stream.   

Shoot A Live Test (Unlisted)

Have a technical rehearsal by doing a livestream test, then rewatching it, and evaluating the quality of the audio and visual.

You don’t have to worry about your audience logging in and seeing your test if you set the Privacy of the stream to Unlisted.

Look at the Lens, Not the Screen

If you are streaming with the selfie camera on your smartphone or using your camera’s viewfinder to make sure you are in the frame, remember that you need to be looking at the lens — not the image of yourself.

Eye contact is important in building trust, and if you are looking at yourself, it will appear as if you are looking past your viewers instead of at them.

Show It To Your Viewers

Whatever you are talking about, if you can, show it to your viewers. YouTube is a visual medium, and that means your viewers can become disinterested if there’s nothing visual holding their attention.

In the beginning, you probably won’t have a multi-camera setup, so you cannot cut away from your livestream. However, you can share the screen and you can bring physical objects into a frame.

If you are talking about your dog, show her on camera. If you’re presenting something with a lot of steps, create a Powerpoint slideshow.

Consider what visuals or props you can add to your livestream to enhance your performance.

Find A Way to Make it Evergreen

Evergreen content refers to content that is relevant for a great length of time. Talking about an event isn’t evergreen, because the event will soon pass and become old news. However, giving some tips for how to plan an event would be evergreen content.

Since your livestream will be saved on YouTube and your viewers can replay and watch it. They’re more likely to enjoy it if the content is relevant and interesting.

It Doesn’t Have to Be Long

A livestream doesn’t need to be 40 minutes long. It only needs to be long enough for you to get your story across — and if you want to answer some questions and engage with your audience. As soon as your story is over, even if it’s only 5 minutes, that’s okay. Don’t stress about the length of your stream, it’s not an endurance competition.

Allow Yourself to Make Mistakes

Another thing you shouldn’t worry about at all is making mistakes. When you are doing livestreams pretend you are engaging with someone in real life. In real life, you aren’t able to edit out your mistakes, whether it’s a word mispronounced or coffee spilling. Roll with it and laugh it off.

How to Grow As A Livestreamer on YouTube

Let People Know When You Are Streaming

Give people enough time to schedule it in, don’t spring it on them in the last minute. Share it on social media, your website, and any other means.

Create a Streaming Link 2 Days Before

Share your livestream link via social media to remind everyone to tune in when you go live. Looking for your link? It should look something like this:[channelname]/live

Reach Out To the Communities Most Interested

If you are going to be live streaming about a specific topic, such as photography, you should reach out to those who are interested in the topic. Highlight what aspect of photography you are going to be streaming and attract new viewers to your content.

Be Aware of Time Difference

If you have an international audience, find time to livestream where you can get the optimal amount of viewers.

You can find the location of your main demographic in your YouTube analytics.

Create a Channel Trailer to Promote Livestream

Make a video and host it as your channel trailer, that way anyone who lands on your YouTube page will see the promo for your livestream.  

Promote Through Feature Content and Channel

YouTube has a feature that enables you to use your existing content to promote your upcoming livestream.

Here’s how to set it up:

Key Takeaways

  1. Live streaming will help you make more videos, engage with your audience, and grow your channel.
  2. You don’t need expensive equipment to livestream on YouTube, you only need a webcam and a microphone.
  3. YouTube has made live streaming as easy as a few clicks, no additional software needed unless you are gaming.
  4. Always do a test run of your livestream to ensure the internet, audio, and visual are all working properly.
  5. Create content and reach out to communities to promote your livestream.

Have you encountered any obstacles when setting up your livestream on YouTube? Let us know in the comments below, we are happy to help!

author avatar
Richard Bennett
Richard Bennett is a writer and a lover of all things video.
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