As long as you have a webcam and a reasonably fast Internet connection (a minimum upload speed of 320 kbps is recommended), all you need to do before kicking off your broadcasting career is to sign up for a free Ustream membership [source: Ustream]. Simply hit the "Sign Up" button on the homepage to get started. From there, you'll have to decide on a login name and password and choose whether you want to tie your new Ustream broadcasts to your Facebook page. Ustream also allows you to use your OpenID (a single username and password used for all your online identities) with your new account if you want to. You can even choose to import your email contacts and/or Twitter followers, which is great if you want an easily accessible list of people who might be interested in checking out your show.
If you want to get started right away, you can simply name your show and hit the "Broadcast Now" button. Then, all you have do is decide if want to broadcast immediately, broadcast and record, or record and broadcast later. Your other alternative is to head over to the "Save My Show" option, which will allow you to select the settings for your new endeavor. You can upload a show logo, choose your show's category and subcategory, enter a description and even create search tags so people can easily find your new program.
Your options don't end there, however. After you get past the basics, you'll have an array of tabs and options to choose from. You can change or refine just about any aspect of your new show, including everything from the size, color and font of your text in the "Design" tab to scheduling a specific time for your broadcast by selecting the "Schedule" tab. You can even adjust your audio quality and video resolution if your broadcast is jumpy or you're experiencing a lag. To make sure you don't get overwhelmed, Ustream also offers tips and tricks to help you select appropriate titles and categories to ensure that your show finds an audience.
One of the more important options is the ability to password-protect your broadcasts. If you're planning on becoming the next Internet celebrity, this option is probably not for you. However, if you're broadcasting a more private event, such as a wedding, you might want to limit who has access to the show. Colleges often use this option for online courses and student projects, giving students the ability to review professors' past lectures and critique each others' work, all while remaining in an isolated school environment [source: EDUCAUSE].
For more information on Ustream and other social networking sites, visit the links on the next page.