How to Host a Private Live Stream on YouTube: The Complete 4-Step Guide

default image

Hey there! Have you ever wanted to live stream on YouTube, but only to a select group of people rather than the entire internet? If so, you‘ll be excited to learn that YouTube does allow you to host private live streams.

In this comprehensive guide, you‘ll learn exactly how to set up and broadcast a private YouTube live stream in just 4 simple steps. I‘ll explain what a private stream is, walk through how to make your stream private, give tips on inviting viewers, and much more.

By the end of this guide, you‘ll have the skills to host your own private live stream on YouTube from desktop like a pro!

What is a Private Live Stream on YouTube?

Let‘s start with the basics – a private YouTube live stream allows you to broadcast video that is only viewable by certain people you invite. Rather than being public where anyone can watch, a private stream is only accessible to your selected guests.

With a private live stream, you must manually enter the emails of who you want to invite to watch your stream. YouTube will then email those users a direct link to view your live video. The stream won‘t show up in YouTube search or be viewable by the general public.

Some common uses for YouTube private live streaming include:

  • Company meetings, events, or presentations
  • Classroom teaching sessions
  • Private concerts or performances
  • Gaming with friends
  • Customer webinars or trainings
  • Job interviews
  • Virtual conferences or gatherings

So if you want to stream video to a defined group that you pick, a private YouTube live stream is the way to go. Public streams are better for reaching a wide open audience.

Now let‘s get into the step-by-step guide…

Step 1: Click "Go Live" in YouTube Studio

The first thing you need to do is access the YouTube Studio live dashboard. Here‘s how:

  1. Go to and make sure you‘re signed into your account
  2. Click on your profile picture in the top right corner
  3. Select “Go Live” from the dropdown menu

This will open up the YouTube Live Control Room where you can setup and start your live stream.

One quick note – you can only live stream directly on YouTube from a desktop computer. If you want to stream from your phone, you need at least 1,000 subscribers on your YouTube channel.

But for this walkthrough, we‘ll be streaming from a desktop so you can try it out right away without any subscriber requirements.

Step 2: Choose “Stream Now” and “Webcam”

Once you access the Live Control Room, you need to select your stream settings:

  1. For when to stream, choose “Stream now” (don’t schedule for later)
  2. For stream type, select “Webcam”

“Stream now” will start your live stream instantly rather than scheduling it for a later date/time. I recommend going live right away for your first test stream.

Choosing “Webcam” will stream video directly from your built-in webcam. The other option “Encoder” allows you to connect professional streaming software like OBS or XSplit. But webcam is easiest if you’re just getting started.

With just these two quick selections, you’re ready to move on to making your stream private.

Step 3: Click “Edit” and Change to “Private”

Now it‘s time to edit your stream settings to make the live stream private:

  1. On the stream setup page, click the “Edit” button
  2. Go to the “Visibility” setting in Basic Info
  3. Change the visibility from “Public” to “Private”

By default, YouTube sets live streams to “Public” visibility, meaning anyone can watch. Changing this to “Private” means only people you invite will be able to view your live stream.

Step 4: Invite Viewers and Start Your Private Stream

The final step is inviting your selected viewers and starting your private stream:

  1. Click “Share Privately” to enter invitee emails
  2. Enter the emails of who you want to invite, separated by commas
  3. Check the box next to “Notify via email”
  4. Click “Done” to save your invites
  5. Click “Go Live” to start your private live stream!

Once live, the users you invited will get an email from YouTube with a direct link to watch your private stream. Only those people will have access – no one else will even know you are streaming!

It‘s that simple to host a private live stream that’s only viewable by your chosen audience. Now let’s go over some pro live streaming tips…

Tips for Hosting Awesome Private YouTube Live Streams

Once you understand the basic setup process, here are some pro tips to help you maximize your private YouTube live stream:

Test first – Always do a test stream before going live to your actual audience. Check your video/audio quality and stream settings.

Use streaming software – For a more professional stream, use OBS or XSplit to connect to YouTube Live rather than a webcam. This allows overlays, multi-camera, etc.

Enable DVR – Turn on DVR so viewers can replay your stream after it ends. Go to Stream Settings > DVR to enable.

Promote ahead of time – Let your target audience know about your private stream via email, social media, or messaging ahead of the event.

Interact with chat – Keep an eye on live chat to engage with your viewers, answer questions, and respond in real time.

Monitor analytics – Check the YouTube Studio Insights tab during and after your stream to see how your video is performing.

Have fun! – Don‘t stress about being perfect. The best streams feel natural, genuine, and focused on your audience.

Optimizing your private streams will take some practice, but you’ll improve each time you go live. Next let’s compare private vs. public YouTube live streams…

Private Live Stream vs Public – What‘s the Difference?

Compared to public YouTube live streams, here are some of the key differences with private live streaming:

Pros of Private Streams

  • More control over who can watch
  • Screen sensitive or confidential video content
  • No random people stumbling onto your stream
  • Easier to monitor and engage a smaller audience
  • Focused time with your close community

Cons of Private Streams

  • Harder to get exposure as a new creator
  • More limited organic reach
  • Not indexed on YouTube search like public streams
  • Can‘t monetize private streams with ads

Pros of Public Streams:

  • Reach a large audience of existing YouTube viewers
  • Get discovered by new viewers interested in your content
  • Videos indexed on YouTube to continue getting views
  • Ability to earn money via YouTube Partner Program

Cons of Public Streams:

  • Open access means more trolls and harassment
  • Stream Raiding by rival creators/communities
  • YouTube content rules are more strict
  • Harder to have meaningful conversations at scale

In summary, private streams are best for controlled, personal engagement with people you know. Public streams help you gain wide exposure and reach new audiences.

Evaluate your goals, content, and target viewers to decide if a private or public YouTube live stream makes the most sense.

How Does YouTube Live Compare to Other Streaming Platforms?

While YouTube Live is popular, other streaming tools like Twitch, Facebook Live, and dedicated webinar/meeting software have their own pros and cons compared to YouTube.

YouTube Live Advantages

  • Free to use (no time limits)
  • Easy onboarding for new streamers
  • Leverage existing YouTube creator tools
  • Established community norms and practices

YouTube Live Disadvantages

  • Limited mobile streaming support
  • Max 100 viewer limit for private streams
  • Less interactive than standalone tools
  • Fewer built-in monetization options

Standalone Streaming Tools Advantages

  • Often designed specifically for webinars or meetings
  • Robust mobile apps
  • Integrated audience interaction tools
  • Monetization options like paid registration

Standalone Streaming Tools Disadvantages

  • Typically paid subscriptions or usage limits
  • Less organic reach/exposure to new viewers
  • Can‘t leverage existing YouTube audience
  • Competitive landscape with many options

As you can see, every platform has trade-offs. Evaluate your specific streaming use case to decide which option makes the most sense. In many cases, YouTube Live provides the best ease of use for casual streamers.

Let‘s Recap How to Host a Private YouTube Live Stream

Just to recap, here is the 4-step process to host a private live stream on YouTube:

  1. Go to YouTube Studio and click “Go Live”
  2. Select “Stream Now” and “Webcam” as your stream type
  3. Click “Edit”, go to Visibility and select “Private”
  4. Invite viewers by email, then click “Go Live”

It only takes a minute to setup once you know the steps!

Double check your webcam, lighting, and audio ahead of time for best quality. Also test streaming software like OBS if you want to get more advanced.

Promote your private stream to your audience ahead of time for maximum attendance. Have fun interacting with your viewers in live chat!

And consider doing some public streams on occasion too to continue growing your channel. But private streams are great for focused engagement with your loyal community.

You‘re All Set to Host Awesome Private YouTube Live Streams!

I hope this guide was helpful for understanding how to host your own private live stream on YouTube. While it takes a bit of setup, the process is very straightforward once you know what to do.

Now you have the power to live stream cool events, gaming sessions, or webinars to a selected audience of your choosing.

As you continue streaming, look for ways to take your productions to the next level. Consider multi-camera, overlays, improved lighting, graphics, guests, and creative formats to stand out.

But don‘t obsess over perfection either – some of the best streams come from creators simply having fun and being themselves.

Good luck with your first YouTube private live stream! I can‘t wait to see what kinds of cool events and content you create. And as you grow your audience, remember you can still do public streams too to expand your reach.

With your new live streaming skills, you’ll be able to build stronger connections and engagement with your community. Now get out there, be yourself, and start streaming!


Written by Alexis Kestler

A female web designer and programmer - Now is a 36-year IT professional with over 15 years of experience living in NorCal. I enjoy keeping my feet wet in the world of technology through reading, working, and researching topics that pique my interest.