How to start a Twitch channel

Ready to start your journey to streaming stardom? Welcome to Twitch 101.

Young man playing online video games at home on PC
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Twitch is the premiere streaming platform and a great place to build a channel and grow an audience. Launching a channel from scratch and beginning on your streaming journey can seem intimidating, especially if you’ve been watching professional, full-time streamers, but getting started is easier than you think.

Yes, you can go all out with a top-tier gaming PC, professional mics, and an around-the-clock schedule, but we recommend starting small and having fun. There is some must-have gear, software, and baseline computer power you’ll need to get started, but you’d be surprised what you can get away with.

How to sign up for Twitch

Signing up for Twitch is a breeze, and anything you’d want to do on the channel is available with a free account. We’re going to go through setting up an account in a browser, but you can sign-up with the Twitch mobile app as well.

  • Go to
  • Click the purple “Sign Up” button in the top right-hand corner.
  • The sign-up process is similar to any other website — username, password, email and phone verification, etc. The only big question mark here is your username, which will be how you’re known on Twitch. Your username doesn’t really matter, but we recommend keeping it short and punchy so viewers will remember it. Anything too complex or with a random string of numbers will go in one ear and right out the other. Don’t worry about it too much — you can always change your username down the road.

Once your account is set up, you need to setup two-factor authentication (2FA) on your account with a phone on-hand. 2FA is required if you want to stream on Twitch, but it’s also a great security tool meant to protect your account data from hackers and scammers in the event of a data leak — which Twitch is all too familiar with. To enable 2FA, follow these steps:

  • Click on the profile icon in the upper right-hand corner while you’re signed in.
  • Click on “Settings.”
  • Navigate to the Security and Privacy tab.
  • Locate and click the “Set Up Two-factor Authentication” button.
  • We won’t go through the rest of the process in detail, but you’ll be prompted to verify your email address and phone number with separate verification codes, and download an authenticator app like Twitch’s Authy to complete the process.

What kind of gear do I need to stream on Twitch?

The equipment you need to run a channel depends entirely on what sort of channel you’re starting. A gaming channel aiming to hit top FPS during online tournaments certainly needs a bit more oomph than a simple talk show or live podcasting setup. We’re going to lean into gaming here, but these tips apply to any sort of channel.

Streaming software

Streamlabs OBS has everything you need to stream, from input management and stream layouts to notification systems and viewership data.

You’re going to need some streaming software to customize the look of your stream, manage displays and inputs, and create additional screens for your stream.

Twitch has its own free beta streaming software called Twitch Studio, which is built specifically with new streamers in mind. Or you can download the most popular free streaming tool: Streamlabs OBS. This software is going to have more streaming options and customization, but it's more complex. Of course, there are plenty of fantastic guides from the company on getting started and actually launching your stream.

A good PC (or console) and internet speed

A better PC and internet connection means a smoother and higher quality stream, but the basic rule of thumb is: if you can run it on your PC, you can stream it.

Most mid-tier PCs are going to be able to handle running a game, your audio components and streaming software at the same time OK — as long as you have a capture card. You’re going to want an internet upload speed of around 6-8 mbps to stream newer games smoothly, although you can get away with as low as 3 mbps if you’re running really simple software. The Elgato HD60 S+ is a top tier capture card for no-hassle streaming. If you’re looking to keep your card inside your PC, Elgato has an internal version of the previous model: the HD60 Pro.

Of course, you can always stream from a console. The Xbox Series X and the PS5 both have native Twitch apps you can stream from with a quick configuration, and you can even use a docked Nintendo Switch if you purchase some extra connectivity tools and a capture card. There are plenty of simple guides out there on setting up your console to stream. To get the top streaming experience though, you’ll probably want to hook up your console to a PC eventually for max customization.

A microphone and headphones

Audio quality can make or break a stream. It doesn’t matter how long your Call of Duty-Warzone win streak is — if your audio is garbage, viewers will click out faster them you can line up a headshot. Desktop microphones are typically better quality than anything attached to a gaming headset. The Shure SM7B Vocal Microphone is the king of the streaming and podcasting mics. It’s used by plenty of professional streamers, and the price tag proves it. If you’re looking for something a bit more entry-level, check out the Blue Yeti USB microphone or the HyperX QuadCast mic, which has serious gamer vibes.

Headphones are an absolute must — not only will it up your gaming skills but echoey audio is the absolute worst. Again, you don’t have to get the top-tier headset to stream, but you should look into headphones built for gaming. The Sennheiser Game One and SteelSeries Arctis 7 headsets are both premium headphones that balance audio quality and comfort for long gaming sessions.

A webcam

Putting your face on stream injects your channel with personality. While plenty of streamers have built an audience without ever showing their face, viewers love connecting with hosts. Your reaction to gameplay or connecting with viewings on camera can add a lot of value to your stream. The Logitech StreamCam is another top-tier option if you’ve got the budget.

Having a top-notch camera isn’t really necessary here — a good set-up with good lighting is just as important. If you’re less worried about webcam quality or only want to use one occasionally, you could also pick-up a budget option like the Microsoft Modern Webcam.

How do I monetize my Twitch channel?

Streaming for fun is all well and good, but it’s hard to ignore those top-tier streamers pulling in millions a year in donations. While most of us won’t ever hit that mark, it’s certainly possible to build up enough of a following to make some money on Twitch, even if its just enough to cover your streaming costs, time and gaming hobby. There are a few ways you can earn a couple bucks on Twitch.

Partner with Twitch

The most straight-forward way to monetize your channel is to build a small following and become a Twitch partner, which unlocks a variety of income options. There are two tiers to this system with their own requirements.

The Twitch Affiliate Program is a monetization option for entry-level streams building a channel. The program gives you access to paid subscriptions, allows you to earn Twitch bits, gives you a cut of game sales that originate from your channel and advertising sales, and allows you to accept donations from viewers. Right now, the requirements to sign-up for the program are as follows:

  • At least 50 followers.
  • Broadcast 500 total minutes in the last 30 days.
  • Have broadcast on at least 7 different days.
  • Averaged 3 or more concurrent viewers per stream.

Later on, you can upgrade to the Twitch Partnership Program. This program has identical monetization options and cuts, but opens up a treasure trove of channel customization options to help your channel grow. As a partner, you can create custom emoticons, stickers and badgers, get priority Twitch support and gain access to more opportunities on the platform, like live events and teaming up with other popular streamers. To apply to join this program, you have to hit the following milestones within a 30-day period:

  • Stream for 25 hours.
  • Stream 12 different days.
  • Average 75 concurrent viewers.

Third-party donation systems

If you don’t want to get tied-up with Twitch, want to monetize without hitting certain requirements or just want to open up more income streams, you can set up donations on any third-party platform.

You could start a Pateron account and offer your viewers bonus streams or behind-the-scenes videos for donations. Or you could cut out the extra content and make a PayPal donation link. And if you’re not looking to make a real income but want to give viewers the opportunity to donate, you could set up an account on a simple donation service like Buy Me A Coffee so they can toss you a couple bucks here and there.

However you choose to set-up third-party donations, make sure viewers have an option for donating font-and-center by putting in in your Twitch bio or reminding theme during streams. Also, be sure to protect any accounts linked to payment options by using 2FA and keeping your identity safe.

Sponsorship, affiliate links and merch

If you have a growing viewership and stream consistently, you might be approached to promote a specific product or game. Developers and hardware producers of all levels are always looking to give out game codes or discounts for serious streamers to use their product and pop a link to buy in chat.If you’re interested in pursuing any options along these lines, add a way for people to get in touch with you with inquiries. We recommend this being a separate email that you only use for business like this and not to tie it into your personal email.

Starting your own Twitch channel may seem like a lot of work (and it is compared to just gaming casually), but it’s loads of fun and you shouldn’t be scared to make the jump and give it a go if you have the means.

We went through all of the basics you need to get started streaming, but you can certainly give it a go without half of this information and gear. Stream some retro games on an emulator without any commentary. Try going live on Twitch from your phone without a plan. Sure, you might not rake in thousands of dollars in donations everyday or become a celebrity streamer, but there are plenty of viewers out there looking for all sorts of content and the connections you could make are endless.