Things I learned at the Monetizing Web Video panel discussion

Createscape was proud to host a recent Austin Film Meet discussion panel on “Monetizing Web Video”. Panelists included David Ward (director, writer, producer – Ralph Smyth Entertainment, HUMORdy, Do Anything Stoned), Carey Martell (CEO, Martell Broadcasting Systems & Power Up TV, Host of the RPG Fanatic Show), Brian Morgan (producer, Tiny Courage), Eric Robbins (Founder, CEO – Austin WebFest). It was a great event hosted by H.Cherdon, Founder & Director of Austin Film Meet and over 50 people were in attendance. The following are tidbits of advice and notes taken from the discussion panel, for your reference.

There’s a market for anything instructional on the internet (on-going web video series).

About 75% of submissions to web video contests are comedy, so looking at other genres that are less saturated is a good idea for getting noticed.

A “YouTube Network” works like a television channel with programming and scheduling of YouTube videos.

Getting sponsors and crowdfunding is a good option for funding to produce content.

You have to really market yourself and show what you can do. You probably need to be able to do at least a year’s worth of videos for free to build an audience first. Prove you are somebody worth watching.

Come up with something you can shoot easily and not have to spend much on, whether it’s a simple setup or structure.

Find websites that are dedicated exactly to what your video is about. Sending emails to them saying something like “Hey, I think your audience would enjoy this” works. Send it out to 100s of websites because only about 1 in 15 might even respond. Cast a wide net.

Know your audience. And keep in mind you don’t make content for “everyone”. Find a niche audience.

YouTube is primarily a “search engine” for videos, not necessarily a platform.

Apparently Vimeo will give you the majority of the profits for videos on demand on their site. Another option is a “tip jar” on Vimeo.

Yahoo Screen is trying to get content creators to move over to their site.

Make good content, build a following across social media and in real life.

Some alternative monetization options include product placement (which could take a lot of cold-calling) and advertising. Timing is a big factor in finding sponsors—the time of the year plays a part in their budgeting. There are also “fiscal sponsorships” or underwritings from non-profits.

Analytics: once you get a following, you can show people who’s watching.

Sometimes your success in a viral video can translate into paid work if advertisers see potential in your vision and style.

Sometimes you can incorporate related merchandising for sale into the videos you create.

When it comes to Kickstarters and crowd funding, keep in mind you can only ask Grandma to pitch in $100 so many times. Keeping these kinds of things to no more than one per year is a good idea.

If you have a video that “accidentally” goes viral all of a sudden, you better have other ideas, scripts, and projects in the pipeline ready to talk about and present and pitch. Don’t let the opportunity pass you up. People want to know what’s next for you, what other ideas you have, etc. So having at least one pilot or feature scripts ready and on-hand is a good plan of action. You’re only “hot” for a moment with something viral and it’s up to you to prove you are have the talent to back up your 15 minutes of fame.

Have a home base for your videos or series. Don’t spread them too thin across multiple sites, channels, etc. It just dilutes your view counts.

Email lists are more important than social media followers because they can be held onto for longer amounts of time in case a social media network fades away or loses its impact (think MySpace’s decline).

Don’t underestimate the amount of work involved. You have to be willing to work harder than the guy next to you. Be humble, be nice, and don’t overthink it.

You’re probably doing something right and moving in the right direction if you are always looking back at work you did 2 years ago and hate it.

Audio is incredible important. If your web videos have bad audio quality, it’s worthless.

The audiences are there, you just have to find them.

Some ways to reach audiences include SEO stuff (keywords, search phrases, how-to instructional web video series); casting an actor with a following; access a channel or Facebook page with a following already in place.

It’s hard to create an audience entirely virtually, you have to interact and network in the physical world as well.

Leave positive comments on videos of the people with similar-sized audiences to you on Vimeo and YouTube.


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