Streaming is not only a fun hobby but also a lucrative business opportunity. Top streamers on sites like Twitch, YouTube or Facebook that grow large audiences can earn a great deal of revenue through partnerships and merchandise. Streaming can also be a great way to expose your existing business to a new audience.
But streaming isn’t just for gamers — many streamers provide educational content to promote courses, stream podcasts, react to other content, do product demonstrations or live sales, or simply interact with their audience through engaging conversations. No matter your area of business, streaming can be a fun way to engage and expand your audience.
The barrier to entry is not as high as many beginners may believe. Aspiring streamers can purchase streaming essentials for a relatively low cost and start right away. Explore these hardware and software products to build a professional streaming setup that will help you and your business get noticed.
JOUNIVO USB Recording Microphone: Best cheap microphone for streaming
The JV-603PRO USB Recording Microphone is an excellent choice if you are just getting started and want a reliable, cheap and easy-to-setup microphone. For less than $20, you get a solid microphone that doesn’t require any installation — all you need to do is plug it into an USB port and you are ready to go. A malleable neck combined with a relatively small size makes for a microphone you can fit in almost no matter what desk configuration you are using.
This is a streaming microphone you want to consider if you’re operating on a tight budget or just getting started and want to test the waters before commiting to a more expensive option.
Sensyne 10'' Ring Light with Extendable Tripod: Best cheap lighting for streaming
Depending on your streaming setup, lighting can make or break your stream. Whether you are using a green screen or using your natural surroundings, poor lighting will affect how your video renders, how grainy it looks and how low quality it appears to the audience. No matter how good your camera is, you’ll be doing it a disservice if you don’t pair it with some decent lighting.
For roughly $30, Sensyne offers really good value with their product. The tripod is actually a big part of why this item is so good — its versatility means you can have it on your desk, behind your monitor or standing right next to you. It comes with three different lighting levels, which can prove valuable if you don’t have a fixed schedule for streaming and have a setup affected by natural light.
Microsoft LifeCam Studio 1080p HD Webcam: Best cheap camera for streaming
If you are going to stream, then you are going to need a camera. Getting the right camera is a decision you should spend a lot of time on. Understand how a camera interfaces with the rest of your gear and consider how committed you are to streaming before you spend potentially hundreds of dollars on a device you might not know how to configure.
For this article, we are looking for a low-budget, high-quality webcam — rather than a traditional camera — that requires minimal to no-installation and that you won’t feel too bad replacing once you’ve moved on to better gear. That camera is Microsoft’s LifeCam Studio 1080p HD Webcam.
With a price range between $60 to $90, this webcam will allow you to stream at 1080p over USB. The glass lens helps make your picture look clearer compared to webcams that use a plastic lens. For this price and these specs, this one is hard to beat.
Uscreen: Best streaming management software
When considering what’s needed in order to stream, what immediately comes to mind is usually hardware related, notably a camera and a microphone. That makes sense; you certainly need those to get started.
But what you’ll soon find out is that there’s a plethora of software that will help you with streaming as well. Depending on the type of stream you plan to do, you’ll have a number of platforms that you can use, such as Twitch, YouTube or even Reddit. This is probably what you want to choose if you are just getting started.
However, once you have a better idea of what type of content you want to stream and how you want to present it to your audience, you might want to explore Uscreen. The software allows you to broadcast your stream live through your own website, meaning it can be viewed from all sorts of devices through web browsers and OTT apps.
The platform also gives you tools to manage and monetize your stream, which makes for a very powerful engagement and marketing tool. You can post videos behind a paywall, run private video streams and collect payments from users all in one single tool.
Uscreen currently offers a free trial, and you can also contact them for a free demo.
Vecteezy: Best stock images for streamers
If you are planning to stream and build an audience online, then you’ll need to manicure your profile across different platforms to attract an audience and convey the type of content you are broadcasting. You’ll likely need a logo, profile avatar and some form of banner. You might want to set up your own website. Chances are you’ll have a profile page on Twitch that you want to stand out or a YouTube channel where you post VODs of your streams.
This means, sooner or later, you’ll likely need to create graphics that illustrate your streaming persona, and while you can get someone to do that type of work for you, you might also be able to put together something simple all by yourself.
Vecteezy is an excellent source of free images, graphics and video. In most cases, you’ll need to provide attribution if you use any of the content available on the site, but for someone just getting started, Vecteezy is a great source of creative resources. For as little as $9/month you can upgrade to a Pro license, which allows for even wider usage. As with anything “free,” make sure to check their FAQ to understand what you can and can’t do with the resources you download.
GIMP: Best design software for streamers
Whether you are leveraging free or paid graphic resources, chances are at some point you’ll need an image editor. For that, we recommend GIMP.
GIMP is open-source and entirely free. It includes all the basic features you typically find in other paid design software solutions. The only downside is that you might find less tutorials online than you would for, say, Adobe Photoshop — but other than that, it’s a great tool for creating and editing all sorts of graphics.
Trello: Best project management software for streamers
The more you stream, the more you are going to find that streaming is a lot of work. You’ll want to create a list of all the different graphical elements you need to create, a schedule for when you stream and a place to note ideas, milestones and contacts you make along the way.
In other words, streaming will become a project — and like any other project, a good project management tool can make a huge difference.
Trello is a visual, kanban-style, web-based project management software. If you don’t know what “kanban” means, don’t worry: It’s basically the equivalent of having a whiteboard on your browser that allows you to pin as many cards as you want, organized in any manner you choose.
For example, you could have a column where you create a card every time you stream, and inside that card write down what the stream was about, your viewership, any notable links that people shared and questions that viewers asked. Then you can have another column for keeping track of your graphic design tasks. On this one, you could make a card for creating a logo or YouTube banner. You can create as many columns with as many cards as you see fit.
If you have other collaborators on your stream, such as moderators, you can share your boards with them, making it simpler to chat, share files and exchange ideas all in one place.
Kit Kat: Best snack for streamers
Streaming can be quite draining on your body and your brain: You’ll often be sitting for hours, looking at screens and conversing with folks while doing some sort of activity to entertain them. It can be quite a lot to juggle. Remember to drink loads of water, and if a Kit Kat break is your thing, you can always buy a box of 36.