10 Steps to Live Stream on YouTube for Complete Beginners

Live streaming has become an increasingly popular way for individuals and businesses to connect with their audience. 

According to a 2018 survey by IAB, 47% of live stream viewers say they watch more live videos than they did a year ago. 

They also found that 44% watch less live TV due to live streaming.

YouTube is the second most popular online streaming site, falling right behind Twitch. 

While Twitch is centered around video gaming and eSports competitions, YouTube live streams offer a diverse range of content including educational lectures, cooking shows, tutorials, Q&A sessions and religious sermons.

If done right, YouTube live streaming is a powerful way to grow a tight-knit and highly engaged online community around your brand. Many brands use live streaming to generate leads.

Compared to regular video uploads on YouTube, live streaming is easier and faster

You don’t have to worry about writing a script, doing multiple takes or spending countless hours in post-production to get a perfect video.

If you’re new to live streaming and looking to get started on YouTube, you may be wondering where to begin. 

In this post, we’ll provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to live stream on YouTube, so you can connect with your audience in real-time and grow your online presence.

Follow these 10 Steps to Live Stream on YouTube

Before the Live Stream

During the Live Stream

After the Live Stream

Step 1: Enable live streaming on YouTube

Before live streaming on YouTube, your channel must meet the necessary requirements:

If you plan to live stream via your computer’s webcam, you need:

And if you plan to live stream via your mobile device, you need:

Note: YouTube may limit the number of viewers on your mobile live stream if you have less than 1000 subscribers. To sidestep the subscriber limitations, then it’s best to stream using your computer or connect your channel to a mobile streaming software. 

If you meet the criteria above, you must wait 24 hours after your first visit to YouTube’s Live Control Room to host your live stream.

Live stream on YouTube
Live stream on YouTube

Step 2: Prepare for your live stream

Successful live streams don’t just happen – they require thorough preparation to appear effortless. The bulk of the planning phase goes into delivering valuable and engaging content to your audience. 

First, you need to pick the right topic for discussion. Here are four different ways to decide on a topic for your live stream:

Once you’ve picked a topic, start planning for the following:

Here are additional considerations for your live stream:

Step 3: Promote your live stream

Once you’ve set up your account and your stream is ready to go, it’s time to start promoting your live stream! The goal is to get as many people as possible to watch your stream, so it’s important to get the word out. 

The most important thing to remember is to give your audience plenty of advance notice. Try to promote your live stream at least a week in advance so that people have time to plan for it. Also make sure that you regularly remind your audience of it, so they don’t forget about it.

Before promoting the live stream, you have to schedule it in advance. When you schedule a public live stream, it appears under the Live tab of your channel and on the homepage of your subscribers. However, your audience gets no notification of your “scheduled” live stream. 

When you go live, your audience gets a notification and it also appears in their subscription feed on mobile. 

Here are three more ways to promote your live stream on YouTube:

Outside of YouTube, you can share the link to your upcoming live stream on your social media platforms and also with your email list. When your audience opens the link, they can choose to set a reminder for the event.

Step 4: Set up your live streaming equipment

If you are not aiming for the highest quality of live video output, then your computer or mobile’s built-in webcam and microphone will do the job.

On the other hand, if you are very concerned about hosting a high-quality live stream, you should consider getting the following equipment if you don’t already have them:

If you are curious about what screen recorders do YouTubers use, there are several high-quality options available that can help you capture your live streams effectively.

Step 5: Choose a streaming platform

There are three main ways to stream on YouTube:

Webcam of your Computer

Hosting a live stream via the built-in webcam and audio system of your computer is very easy and straightforward.

1. Open your browser, and navigate to YouTube Studio.

2. Click on the Create button and select Go Live from the drop-down list.

Go live on YouTube Studio
Go live on YouTube Studio

If this is your first time streaming, you have to wait for 24 hours.

Wait 24 hours to start streaming
Wait 24 hours to start streaming

After 24 hours, refresh the page.

3. Click the Start button beside the Right Now or Later date option.

Start streaming now or schedule for later
Start streaming now or schedule for later

4. Click on the Go button beside the Built-in webcam option.

Stream with built-in camera
Stream with built-in camera

5. Enter a Title and Description for your live stream.

Add title and description to your stream
Add title and description to your stream

6. Select a Category for your live stream

Add category to your stream
Add category to your stream

7. Upload a thumbnail and select a playlist for your live stream.

Add thumbnail and add your stream to a playlist
Add thumbnail and add your stream to a playlist

8. Choose whether or not your live stream content is made for kids.

Choose the audience for your stream
Choose the audience for your stream

9. Click on the drop-down arrow for the Age restriction section and select whether or not to age-restrict your viewing audience.

Add age restriction if needed
Add age restriction if needed

10. Click on the Show More option if you want to explore more settings, and click on the Next button once you’re done.

Explore more settings for more specific audience
Explore more settings for more specific audience

11. Enable Live Chat for your stream and enable Live chat replay if you want the live chat to be visible after the live stream. 

You can also choose which types of participants can send messages in your live chat.

Enable live chat and who can participate
Enable live chat and who can participate

12. Enable Slow mode if you want participants to wait before they are able to send another message in the live chat.

You can set the wait time from 1 second to 300 seconds (5 minutes).

Click on the Next button when you’re done.

Enable slow mode to avoid spam chats
Enable slow mode to avoid spam chats

13. Choose a Privacy setting for your live stream.

Set the visibility of your stream
Set the visibility of your stream

14. Schedule your live stream.

Set the date and time for scheduled streams
Set the date and time for scheduled streams

15. On the stream preview page, you can choose to Share the link to your live stream, Go Live immediately, or select Done if you’ve scheduled the live stream for later.

Share your link to let your potential audience discover
Share your link to let your potential audience discover

When you are ready to go Live, you can find the Scheduled live stream under the Manage tab.

Manage your scheduled streams
Manage your scheduled streams

Mobile Device

Remember that to live stream on mobile, you need to have at least 50 subscribers. If you have less than 1000 subscribers, there is a high likelihood that YouTube limits the number of viewers on your live stream.

To bypass both restrictions, switch to your computer or get external software to host your live stream.

1. Open the YouTube app and click on the Plus icon.

2. Select the Go Live option.

Go live on mobile devices
Go live on mobile devices

3. Add the Title of your Live Stream and ensure the default settings are suitable.

4. Click on More options.

Select your audience appropriately with these options
Select your audience appropriately with these options

5. Enable Schedule for later if you want to schedule your live stream, and set a date and time.

6. Click on Advanced settings.

7. Adjust the default settings under Advanced settings.

Schedule your stream for later and set live chat settings
Schedule your stream for later and set live chat settings

8. Click on Next.

9. Smile for a thumbnail : )

Add a thumbnail
Add a thumbnail

10. Click on the pencil icon to edit or retake your thumbnail, or upload a thumbnail saved on your device.

11. You can Go Live right away or click Done to complete scheduling your live stream.

Take or upload a photo as a thumbnail
Take or upload a photo as a thumbnail

When you are ready to go Live, navigate to the Go Live section and click on the Calendar icon to view all your scheduled streams.

Manage your scheduled streams anytime
Manage your scheduled streams anytime

Streaming Software

There are many streaming software (aka software encoders) that make it easy to host high-grade live streams. Some of these include OBS Studio, Ecamm Live, StreamYard, Wirecast, Be.Live and vMix.

Regardless of which streaming software you choose, the process to connect it to YouTube is pretty much the same.

1. Open your browser, and navigate to YouTube Studio.

2. Click on the Create button and select Go Live from the drop-down list.

Go live on YouTube Studio
Go live on YouTube Studio

3. Select the Stream option.

Explore more stream options
Explore more stream options

4. Click on the Edit button to edit the details of your live stream.

5. Copy the Stream key and/or Stream URL into your streaming platform.

Obtain your stream key or stream URL
Obtain your stream key or stream URL

6. Select a suitable Stream latency.

7. Adjust the options under Additional settings to suit your preference.

8. When you’re done, start streaming from your streaming software to go live on YouTube.

Explore more settings to match your desired stream
Explore more settings to match your desired stream

Step 6: Test your live stream environment

Testing your live stream environment before going live is important because it ensures that everything is working correctly. The best way to execute a test is to host a private or unlisted live stream with your colleagues or friends as viewers.

Here are the key areas you should look out for:

From the internet speed test, ensure you have a consistent stable connection, with a minimum upload speed between 2.5 – 3 MBPS and an ideal upload speed between 5 – 10 MBPS. Consider switching your internet connection if you currently do not meet the minimum requirements.

Testing a live stream helps to prevent any unexpected errors and allows you to troubleshoot any potential issues. It also gives you the chance to get more comfortable with YouTube’s live control room, your streaming software, and your camera confidence.

Step 7: Engage your audience

There are many ways to engage with your audience during a live stream. If done right, your viewers stick around for longer during the live stream. It also serves as a way to strengthen the relationship with your audience.

Step 8: View your live stream’s performance

During your live stream, YouTube displays the duration of your live stream, the number of viewers and likes.

View your streams performance
View your streams performance

If you choose to connect YouTube with a streaming software, the view is different with a few more options.

If you need help understanding the metrics, check this out.

View more stream performance data
View more stream performance data

At the end of the live stream, YouTube gives you a snapshot of your live stream’s analytics. You may want to take a screenshot of this if you are interested in gathering data specific to the live stream.

Summary of your stream performance
Summary of your stream performance

Once your streamed video becomes available on YouTube, YouTube studio combines the analytics from the live stream and from the replays.

Step 9: Edit the live stream

If your live stream is set to Public, it will appear under the Live tab of your channel page. If live chat replay is enabled, then viewers can see the replay of the live chat alongside the streamed video.

You can choose to edit your live stream before making it accessible on your channel. To do this, navigate to the Editor in YouTube Studio at the end of your live stream.

Live stream editor
Live stream editor

Note: If you choose to edit your live stream, you’ll lose the live chat replay

Step 10: Optimize the live stream for search

In addition to editing your live stream, you can choose to optimize your streamed video (just like a regular YouTube upload) for search.

In the Details tab, you can optimize your title, tags and description for search. You can also choose to add it to a playlist, add cards and end screens.

Add more details and interactive elements
Add more details and interactive elements

Frequently Asked Questions When Live Streaming on YouTube

Can you live stream on YouTube for free?

Yes, live streaming on YouTube is completely free. You only need to satisfy YouTube’s live streaming requirements.

What are the requirements for live streaming on YouTube?

You need to verify your phone number and ensure you have no strikes within the last 90 days.

Do I need 1000 subscribers on YouTube to live stream?

No. You can live stream from your computer with 0 subscribers. However, if you want to live stream via mobile, you need at least 50 subscribers.

Key Takeaways to Live Stream on YouTube

If you’re planning to host a live stream soon, get started now by ensuring you’ve verified your channel and you have no strikes

In addition, navigate to YouTube’s Live Control room to start the 24-hour wait before your first live stream.

For a smooth and successful live stream, most of the work takes place before going live. 

You have to settle on a topic and prepare to deliver valuable content, schedule your live stream in advance, promote it and ensure your equipment and environment are ready.

Finally, test your live stream to ensure everything is functioning properly.

With this article as a guide, you have everything you need to get started with your first live stream. 

The more live streams you host, the better you get at it. 

Happy streaming!

Picture of Erkki Muuga

Erkki Muuga

Erkki has over 10 years of experience as a software product manager and a proven track record in building and growing SaaS products. He has a keen eye for key differentiating factors and spotting truly valuable software features that enable business use cases.

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