Hi there! I was lucky enough to attend a panel discussion at USC this past weekend featuring the likes of Freddie Wong (FreddieW YouTube channel), Mike Tringe (co-founder, CreatorUp), Matt Arnold (RocketJump), Jeremy Azevedo (Sr. Director of Original Programming at Machinima), Seth Jaret (CEO of ContentEngine), and Tarika Khan (Maker Studios). The subject of the panel was Monetizing Content for New Media Platforms. As this was a pretty common subject during my webseries meetups I thought it was prudent to attend. Here's what I picked up:
Note, if you're a frequent visitor to my blog you'll not see a lot of new info here.
Let me start out by saying the theater was packed for this. And why not? This is some juicy shit right here. We all want to know how to make that Google money. The general consensus across the panel was to diversify your revenue streams as much as possible - organic brand integration and Google ads being the top money-earners for YouTube channels. Other streams include getting paid to tweet, crowdfunding, merchandise sales, and licensing deals (work for hire). Of course none of these are really possible until you have an audience.
So we come back to content and developing your content along with your audience. Freddie, Matt, and Seth were very clear that your content is who you are - this is quite simply your business. Don't skimp out on content just to get shit up. Make something you're passionate in and research who might also like that. Target that audience - blogs, forums, Facebook groups, etc. Find wherever this audience may be hiding and direct them to your channel. Then work with them to improve and provide more of what they're looking for. But bottom line if you're not passionate about your work your audience is going to lose interest as well.
To be truly successful it entails a lot of work. You need to have a new video at LEAST once a week. Your audience is content hungry. The channel reps - Jeremy and Tarika - emphasized this point. Their channels aggregate millions of views and content is continually being uploaded and spread across their network. There's always something new. If you're releasing once a month or less (like I am!) you'd better be backing that up with content elsewhere like a blog, website, Twitter, or better yet all of the above.
I'm not sure who on the panel said it but you want to "establish your eyeballs" first. That is, grow your audience using your content. Once you've got a sizable enough viewership then you can start to make a dent in monetizing. I can tell you first hand that even 10,000 views on a video amounts to a pittance in Google ads. Something like $0.24 or so. But if you're posting multiple 10,000+ view videos a week, that can slowly add up and your content then becomes more valuable to brands looking to expand their own viewership.
Freddie had a good point in encouraging new producers to not rely on view count alone. Audience engagement can be worth a lot more in the long run than strictly views. If users watch the first second or so of your video and then turn it off or switch to something else you'll never keep them long enough to watch that mid-video embedded ad. An engaged audience member is many more times likely to follow an advertiser you link to, share your video, and donate to your Kickstarter campaign.
If you want to get yourself involved with a network like Machinima or Maker you need to establish yourself first. Both entities work with "personalities" and deal less with producers trying to pitch shows to them than they are incorporating producers who already have shows running with modest success. The benefit of joining a network like that is an increased viewership and a revenue stream that's spread over many similar channels.
The main thing to remember is that you are your brand. Owning your IP (as Felicia Day has done with The Guild) is of utmost importance. But, as Jeremy at Machinima stated, it should not kill you to keep your IP. Be prepared to negotiate in order to get what you want.
Lastly YouTube is not, as many people believe, a "meritocracy." No matter how good your show is it could linger at the bottom of YouTube searches for a myriad of reasons. Think "virality" when you create content in addition to production value. Work on tags and metadata. These will help bring in that audience to help you monetize your videos.
What do you think? Agree or disagree with the panelists? Were you there and think I missed anything important? Let me know in the comments!