How To Live Stream On YouTube

By Jeff Cobb.  Last Updated on September 28, 2023

YouTube logo atop a film reel.

Did you know that 80% of consumers would rather watch a brand’s live video than read an article on its blog? Now combine this with the fact that 70% of users prefer YouTube Live over any other live streaming platform.

In short, live streaming on YouTube can be a game-changer for your brand’s online marketing strategy.

In this detailed guide, I’ll show you how to live stream on YouTube the right way. Plus, I’ll share methods, strategies, tips, and tools to help you create YouTube live streams that stand out from the crowd and help you drive more conversions.

Let’s dive in.

What Is YouTube Live?

YouTube Live is a free live streaming platform that allows you to broadcast pre-recorded and real-time live stream videos to unlimited viewers worldwide.

Launched in 2011, YouTube Live is the world’s second most popular live streaming platform behind Twitch. But while Twitch is known primarily for video game streams, YouTube Live is used for live streaming sports & entertainment events, online courses, webinars, news, talk shows, and all kinds of content.

There’s even a dedicated YouTube Live channel you can subscribe to keep track of your favorite live streams.

YouTube live channel Featured Live Streams

As a content creator, you can create public live streams that any YouTube user can watch. Or, you could create private or unlisted live streams that only your selected viewers can see.

Once you go live on YouTube, your viewers can see the “Live” icon in your video player indicating the live stream.

YouTube live studio red arrow pointing at LIVE

They can also see the number of people watching your stream and can communicate with you using the live comments section under your video.

YouTube Live, red arrow pointing at Live chat drop down menu

Since YouTube Live is so easy to use and accessible to everyone, even beginner online course creators and marketers can use it to great effect.

You’ll find numerous YouTube live streams by digital product sellers, course creators, coaches, and marketers at any time.

YouTube live stream, red arrow pointing at LIVE. Within the live stream, two men are engaged in conversation

Using these live stream sessions, digital product sellers and online marketers not only engage their subscribers and attract new viewers but also build their brand’s credibility by showcasing their best content live.

The Benefits Of Live Streaming On YouTube

Live Streaming on YouTube Live has numerous benefits for online marketers, digital product sellers, and any business looking to engage its audience.

Let’s quickly discuss some of the main benefits.

Free Access To Millions Of Viewers

YouTube is the world’s biggest online video streaming platform, with more than 2.5 billion monthly active users and the first choice for most digital content viewers.

Oberlo infographic pie chart displaying informational data

YouTube Live gives you free access to millions of relevant YouTube users in your industry. No other streaming platform offers such exposure for free.

Easily Accessible To Your Audience

Almost every smartphone user has the YouTube mobile app making it the number one choice for viewing digital content. So, your audience doesn’t need to install any extra apps to watch your content.

Plus, YouTube’s algorithms regularly recommend new videos, live streams, and channels to its users based on their interests. This makes it easier for your audience to discover your content and subscribe to your YouTube channel. 

Grows Your Community

YouTube is one of the best places to grow your online audience and build a solid community around your brand. When you regularly live stream high-quality video content on YouTube, people start subscribing to your channel. This gradually increases the size of your online community and your brand’s influence.

Drives Organic Search Traffic

Live streaming on YouTube can help you attract thousands of visitors through organic search results. How? Google owns YouTube and regularly shows YouTube videos in its search results against relevant search keywords.

When your live stream ends, it is added to your channel’s video library. If you optimize your video using YouTube SEO techniques, you can easily feature in Google’s search results and attract organic visitors to your channel.

Offers Multiple Monetization Options 

Live streaming on YouTube opens up multiple monetization options for your business. For example, as your YouTube audience grows, you can earn with Google Ads, sponsored content, affiliate offers, etc. Since the audience size on YouTube is much bigger than on any other platform, any monetization method is likely to earn you more money.

Opens Partnership Opportunities

YouTube is an open platform where anyone can watch your content. So, as your channel audience grows, the brands and businesses in your industry start noticing you. This opens up new partnership opportunities where you can join hands with other brands or creators to do something unique and profitable for your business. Again, YouTube offers such opportunities more frequently because of its size and global reach.

Jeff Cobb using live streaming software in the Learning Revolution streaming studio
Founder Jeff Cobb using OBS in in the Learning Revolution live streaming studio

Things You Need To Start Live Streaming On YouTube

Okay, so you’re convinced YouTube is the place to start live streaming your content. Great!

But do you need any extra equipment or gadgets to get started? Not really.

Here are the only three things you need to start live streaming on YouTube.

A Verified YouTube Channel

You’ll need to start a YouTube channel to live stream your content. Plus, you’ll also need to verify your channel to enable YouTube Live on it. This verification is different from the celebrity channel verification on YouTube. The YouTube Live verification process only requires you to enter and confirm your phone number. I’ll explain how to do it later in the article.

A Camera

You’ll need a good camera if you want to capture your surroundings or show your face in your live stream. You can use your smartphone’s camera or your laptop’s webcam. While there’s no quality restriction on YouTube video streams, you’ll want to stream in 720p or 1080p video quality to ensure your content is clearly visible to your audience.

A Mic

Smartphones and webcams usually come with an internal mic. But if you’re shooting outdoors or in a closed room with echo, you’ll want to use an external mic to capture your voice more clearly.

An Encoder

You won’t need an encoder for smartphone live streams. But if you want to live stream your computer screen, apply visual effects to your videos, or live stream pre-recorded videos, you’ll need to connect a third-party video encoder (like OBS) with your YouTube account to process your stream. 

3 Ways To Live Stream On YouTube

YouTube Live allows you to live stream your content in three different ways. Let’s discuss them in more detail.

YouTube Live Streaming On Mobile

You can live stream videos on YouTube Live using any smartphone with an internet connection and the YouTube mobile app. Live streaming via smartphones is ideal for creating vlogs, covering events, or creating content for your audience on the go. It is the most popular method content creators use for live streaming on YouTube.

However, you’ll need at least 50 subscribers to use YouTube live streaming on your smartphone. Once you reach that number, you can enable live streaming for a limited audience.

To access the full range of YouTube Live features, you’ll need to reach 1000 subscribers without violating YouTube’s channel and content guidelines.

YouTube Live Streaming On Webcam

You can also live stream content on YouTube from your desktop computer with an internal or external webcam. Unlike smartphone streaming, YouTube Live’s desktop streaming feature doesn’t have a subscriber limit before you can fully access it. So, you can stream content as soon as you create and verify your YouTube channel. 

Desktop live streaming is ideal for online courses, coaching sessions, presentations, or any other video type where you want to directly address your audience.

However, to ensure excellent video quality, you’ll need to invest in a professional external webcam (unless your laptop already has an internal HD camera).

YouTube Live Streaming Via Encoder

Apart from streaming from your smartphone or desktop, you can also use a third-party encoder to live stream your content.

A live streaming encoder is a tool that allows you to share your desktop screen, add visual effects (animation & transitions), add information cards, run pre-recorded videos, live stream playlists, etc.

Why use an encoder with YouTube Live? Because it opens up numerous possibilities and provides you features that aren’t available when streaming directly from YouTube Live

You can use it for live streaming video games, running interactive workshops, making formal presentations, etc.

Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) is the most popular free video encoder ideal for beginners and low-budget content creators. But you can also use premium live streaming tools to access advanced features and create more polished live streams through YouTube Live.

11 Steps To Live Streaming On YouTube

Let’s now discuss the step-by-step process for live streaming on YouTube

Step 1: Create A YouTube Account

You can sign in to YouTube using your Gmail account. But if you don’t already have a Gmail account, click here to create one.

Step 2: Create A YouTube Channel

After signing in to your YouTube account, you need to create a channel. Here’s how to do it.

  • Click on your profile picture at the top of your screen
  • Click Create a channel.
  • Enter your channel name, description, and profile picture.
  • Click Create.

You now have an active YouTube account where you can upload videos. But you still can’t use YouTube Live because it’s not enabled yet.

Step 3: Enable Live Streaming

New YouTube channels need to enable live streaming by verifying their phone number. Here’s how to do it.

  • Click the camera icon on top of your screen.
YouTube enable live streaming, red arrow pointing to camera with + in upper right hand corner
  • Click “Go live”
  • This takes you to YouTube Studio, where you see the following message.
YouTube Live Studio: screen, featuring the 'Request Access to Streaming' option displayed
  • Click Request to see the following pop-up message.
YouTube Live Studio: Gain access to use feature displaying an option to close or verify
  • As you can see, you’ll need to verify your phone number to access YouTube Live. Click Verify to start the verification process.
YouTube phone verification (step 1 of 2) menu
  • Once you complete the verification process, YouTube takes up to 24 hours to enable live streaming on your account.

As I said before, you’ll only get full access to YouTube Live on your smartphone when you reach 1000 subscribers.

Step 4: Configure Your YouTube Live Stream And Go Live

Now that your account is eligible for live streaming, here’s how you can go live on YouTube Live.


  • Open the YouTube app on your smartphone
  • Click the + icon at the bottom of your screen.
Mobile YouTube app screen, presenting an interface for configuring YouTube Live Stream. The screen features Google Ads and a menu at the bottom with a + sign for selecting additional options.
  • Click “Go live”
Mobile YouTube app screen shown with Google Ads, and just below, a 'Create' menu for customization
  • Give your live video a title and description.
  • Select your smartphone camera (front or back). You can change this during the stream as well.
  • Choose whether to make your stream Public or Unlisted
  • Select your audience types (made for children or not)
  • Fill any other required fields and click Next.
  • Select a thumbnail for your video (take a picture or upload an image).
  • Go live.


  • Go to and sign in to your account.
  • Click the camera icon and click Go live.
YouTube enable live streaming, red arrow pointing to camera with + in upper right hand corner
  • This takes you to the YouTube Studio, where you will configure your stream settings.
  • First, decide if you want to live stream immediately or schedule a stream for later. We’ll choose “Right Now”.
YouTube Studio live streaming menu: When do you want to go live?, red arrow pointing at "Start" right now box
  • Next, you need to decide if you want to use your webcam or a third-party streaming tool. For this example, we’ll use the webcam.
YouTube Studio live stream settings Pick the type of stream to begin: Built-in webcam or streaming software red arrow pointing at webman option
  • Next, add a video title, description, and choose the other necessary video settings. These are the same options that you get while configuring a video stream. It’s all self-explanatory and quite simple to configure.
YouTube live stream video options menu create a title
  • You can also monetize your live stream with Google Ads if your channel is eligible.
  • Once you complete the configuration settings, choose a thumbnail for your video by capturing your photo or uploading an image from your computer.
  • Click Go live to start streaming.


  • Download and install your preferred encoder software. We’ll use OBS (download from here) for this article but you can choose any live streaming tool with YouTube Live.
  • Sign in to YouTube from your desktop and click Go live from the create icon on the top-right of your screen.
  • In YouTube Studio, click Stream from the left menu.
YouTube live studio menu with red arrow pointing at Stream
  • In the Live Studio, under Stream Settings, copy your stream key.
YouTube, Live Studio, Stream Settings, yellow box around stream key
  • Now, open OBS (your streaming software) and click Settings.
YouTube with OBS menu, red arrow pointing at settings
  • In Settings, Click Stream.
Configure Your YouTube Live Stream And Go Live, settings, red arrow pointing at -Stream- Under general settings
  • Choose YouTube from the Service dropdown.
  • Now click Use Stream Key to connect your account with OBS.
YouTube live with OBS menu, red box around Connect Account and Use Stream Key
  • Copy/Paste the stream key from your YouTube Live Studio and click OK.
OBS menu for YouTube live, Service, Server, pasting stream key
  • Now your YouTube account is connected with OBS.
  • Open OBS and click on the + icon to add a media source.
YouTube Studio connected to OBS, menu to select Media Source, red arroow pointing at +
  • Choose the relevant media source from the menu.
YouTube live studio menu options to choose source
  • The source you choose from this list will be streamed to your YouTube Live channel. So, for example, if you want to stream video through an external video camera, choose “Video Capture Device.” Or, choose “Display Capture” for screen sharing.
  • Next, click Start Streaming to begin your broadcast.
YouTube live studio with OBS, menu and red arrow pointing at Start streaming

– Now go back to your YouTube studio, where you should see your connection status and the Live label on your video player.

YouTube live studio with red arrow ponting at LIVE 0:10, and red box around Excellent connection

– Click End Stream on YouTube to stop the broadcast.

– Then go to OBS and click Stop Streaming.

I’ve described the basic process of connecting an encoder with your YouTube Live Studio. OBS is free but offers limited features. But you can do a lot more by connecting a premium live streaming tool with your YouTube account using your Stream Key and URL. Thankfully, the integration process would be the same for most tools.

Ways To Promote Your YouTube Live Stream

Okay so you’re ready to live stream on YouTube and can’t wait to get started. But how do you attract viewers to your stream? Let me quickly share some ideas.

1. Schedule Your Live Stream

YouTube Live allows you to schedule your live streams in advance so that you can announce it to the world and create anticipation. You have the option to schedule both real-time and pre-recorded live streams.

Scheduling a stream creates a premiere thumbnail on your channel visible to your subscribers and YouTube users interested in your content. Viewers can click the upcoming video thumbnail and request to be notified when it goes live.

YouTube live streaming channel with upcoming shows, red arrow pointing at Notify Me

YouTube recommends scheduling and announcing your stream at least 48 hours earlier so that you have enough time to promote it.

2. Create An Engaging Trailer

Scheduling a stream isn’t enough to attract viewers. If you want to build real anticipation, create an engaging trailer of your upcoming live stream that gives your audience an idea of what to expect. YouTube allows you to add trailers (up to 3 minutes in duration) to scheduled streams.

You can add a trailer to your stream when creating a premiere from the scheduled stream section. So, until your live stream starts, YouTube shows your video trailer when someone clicks your premiere thumbnail. Once your video goes live, the same premiere starts broadcasting your live stream.

3. Optimize Your Stream For YouTube SEO

YouTube is the world’s second biggest search engine after Google Search. So, If you want your live stream to feature in your target audience’s recommended videos and drive organic search traffic, optimize it using YouTube SEO techniques. We’ve covered all the essentials of YouTube SEO in this article.

4. Spread The Word

Once you schedule your live stream, share its link with your social media followers and email subscribers. Plus, create a YouTube post promoting your live stream as a reminder to your channel subscribers.

If you’re hosting multiple guests in a live stream, ask them to share its link in their circles to attract a wider audience.

5. Host Recurring Live Streams

Hosting recurring live streams at fixed times can help you grow faster. For example, if you host a live video podcast, set a day and time instead of randomly hosting it whenever you’re free. When you consistently follow a fixed schedule, your audience starts looking forward to your content and helps you spread the word about your show.

6. Host Live Q&A Sessions

Hosting live Q&A sessions on YouTube Live is an excellent way to attract more viewers. This is particularly effective in the online course and coaching industry where your prospects have lots of questions for you. 

7. Embed Your Stream

Embedding your live stream on your site is another excellent way to attract a wider audience. If you have a high-traffic site, you can create a dedicated “Live Content” page on it where your visitors can see your live streams at fixed times every week.

YouTube Live Stream Examples Worth Emulating

Looking for live streaming inspiration? Here are examples of different brands using Youtube Live the right way.


Three Dynamic content creators displayed in YouTube video

ConvertKit regularly hosts live YouTube podcasts inviting creators from different industries and highlighting their success stories. These podcasts attract live viewers and traffic to ConvertKit’s channel and site. 


Two male content creators engaged in a informational discussion

Shopify is another brand that uses YouTube Live to great effect. It hosts different eCommerce experts and store owners in a weekly podcast for its audience.

Pat Flynn

A male content creator deeply immersed in a thought-provoking and informative discussion on YouTube.

Pat Flynn is well-known in the online marketing and course selling industry. He uses YouTube Live to host live workshops and free classes that attract thousands of viewers every week. These live streams have become a crucial part of the lead generation and sales strategy of Pat’s online courses.

AC Hampton

A male content creator fully engrossed in his educational YouTube discussion

AC Hampton is an eCommerce and dropshipping expert who uses YouTube Live to host live Q & A sessions with his audience. These sessions help him strengthen his brand image and generate leads for your premium courses and mentorship programs.

Are You Ready To Live Stream On YouTube Live?

As you’ve seen in this article, getting started with YouTube Live is pretty straightforward and doesn’t require any expensive equipment or software. Yet, it offers an amazing opportunity for digital marketers, online course sellers, and coaches & consultants to grow their audience, strengthen their brand image, and generate leads for their businesses.

If you have questions about using YouTube Live for growing your online business, let me know in the comments section. 

YouTube Live Streaming | Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is YouTube live streaming free?

Yes, YouTube Live is a free platform any YouTube user can use to create live streams.

Is there a time limit on YouTube live streams?

There’s no time limit on your live streams. However, YouTube doesn’t archive streams longer than 12 hours. So, if you want your live videos to appear in your video library, limit them to under 12 hours.

Do you need to have 1000 subscribers to use YouTube Live?

No, desktop and webcam users don’t have any subscriber requirements to use YouTube Live. However, mobile users need to have at least 1000 subscribers to get full access to YouTube Live features. 

See also:

Head shot of Learning Revolution Founder Jeff Cobb

Jeff Cobb, Founder of Learning Revolution

Jeff Cobb is an expert in online education and the business of adult lifelong learning. Over the past 20+ years he has built a thriving career based on that expertise – as an entrepreneur, a consultant, an author, and a speaker. Learning Revolution is a place where Jeff curates tips, insights, and resources to help you build a thriving expertise-based business. Learn more about Jeff Cobb here.

How to Live Stream on YouTube

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