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A Quick Guide to Livestreaming for Beginners

Broadcasting live to thousands of people used to be the stuff of television, requiring millions of dollars and oodles of fancy equipment. Now we have supercomputers in our pockets. With a smartphone or a GoPro, we can broadcast anything to friends over Facebook and YouTube in seconds.

Why Livestream?

It’s fast, it’s fun, and it’s immediate. Livestreaming goes straight to the internet. There’s no editing, no fiddling around with cuts, no overlays or sound effects, and no special filter to make you like Tom Cruise. Just you and the audience. You can show off the best of your skills. Did you learn a new guitar song? Just finished a painting? Want to let the world know about the best graphic novels? Livestream it.

live stream smartphone cooking show
ibnjaafar/Getty Images

At a time when social contact is lacking around the world, you can connect with people in a different way. Viewers can ask questions and you can answer them live. Chat with friends or anyone listening and feel a bit of that human connection that is so hard to get on recorded video.

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If you own a business, you can chat with followers and invite them behind the scenes. For example, CBS News streamed a morning news segment live with a view of the studio behind the camera.

Once you’re done streaming, you can leave the recorded video on your Facebook profile, page, or YouTube channel. There’s no faster way to add videos to your profiles.

How to Livestream

The easiest ways to livestream are through the Facebook or YouTube apps. Throw in a GoPro and you’ve got a tiny camera you can mount anywhere or a first-person, point-of-view-style shot for your livestream.


Livestreaming through the Facebook app on your phone is the easiest way to get running.

  1. Open the Facebook app.
  2. Click “Live” where you would normally post status updates.
  3.  Add a description and click “Start Live Video.”
  4. Livestream to all your fans (or your family).
live stream go pro camera laptop
SteafPong88/Getty Images

GoPro cameras are the easiest way to get unique angles for your videos and live streams. With mounts that let you tie, stick, and wrap the GoPro to anything, it’s easy to film top-down while you’re making food or from your forehead while playing the guitar. To livestream with the GoPro, you just need some sort of Wi-Fi, whether through your home or your phone’s hot spot.

  1. Open the GoPro app on your phone and pair it with your camera.
  2. On the Preview screen in the GoPro app, swipe right and click the “Set Up Live” button.
  3. Log into Facebook to link your account with the app.
  4. Add the details of the stream, like the name and who you want to see it, then tap “Set Up Live Stream.”
  5. Tap “Go Live.”
  6. To see comments and the results of your epic livestream, pop over to the Facebook app.
GoPro: How to Go Live with your GoPro


Streaming with YouTube involves a couple more requirements. For starters, you’ll need 1,000 subscribers on your YouTube channel. The first livestream can take up to 24 hours to enable. Once you’ve got those set up, stream away!

  1. Open the YouTube app and click the video camera button at the top to post a video.
  2. Click “Go Live.”
  3. Set your live stream settings
  4. Click “Go Live” again.

Tips for Live Streaming

  • Make a list of things you want to say. It’s cool if you want your video to be dynamic and off-the-cuff but no one wants to see you say “um” and “ah” for an hour. Have a shortlist in your head of your points just like you would for a speech or a presentation.
  • Be mindful of your backgrounds. Livestreams are, well, live. If your wife or roommate walks through the background naked, they’re out there on the internet for all the viewers to see. Your wife hating you forever aside, backgrounds in your stream are important. Viewers don’t want to see your messy house; keep it simple so they can focus on you.
  • Test your sound before streaming. Bad video can come and go but bad audio makes it hard to watch a livestream. Record a quick video to see if your mic is working well and is loud enough.
  • Look at the camera. The camera is the tiny black dot at the top of your phone. It’s OK to look at the screen once and a while to see what you look like but all the people are in the tiny black hole at the top.

Livestreams for Inspiration

The YouTube Live channel is dedicated to recent livestreams from around the world, from Rolling Stones concerts to coronavirus news to giant Icelanders lifting thousands of pounds.

If animals are your thing, the Cincinnati Zoo does a daily livestream on Facebook showing off one of its animals like giant salamanders, sloths that smell like eggs, and Cruncher the alligator. The National Aquarium has a reef cam. And you can catch brown bears exploring Katmai National Park in Alaska.

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Ross Collicutt
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Ross is an outdoor adventure writer, amateur photographer, and computer programmer based on Vancouver Island, British…
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