Anyone putting original video online knows the difficulties of trying to make money from it. The online video world is still new, and creators are left to experiment by trial and error with revenue creation systems.
To talk about monetization strategies that work, Susan Miller sat down for a red carpet interview at the recent Streaming Media West conference in Los Angeles. Miller is the executive producer of Anyone But Me, an original Web series that’s gained much praise in its first two seasons for its nuanced look at relationships among young adults in New York City.
Unlike many online series that get by on volunteer effort with the promise to pay people later if the project becomes a hit, Miller explains that it was important to her to pay people from the start. She was able to do so because of the private donation that paid for the first two season. After that, however, the show was on its own.
In those first 20 episodes the show found a firm following of about 6 million, and it was able to leverage that fan base when trying to fund season 3. For example, the show held a webathon where the cast asked for donations to fund more shooting. The webathon included original video, a walking tour of shooting locations, a show-themed game of charades, interviews, and readings of letters from fans telling what the show means to them. That webathon helped the show raise $33,000, said Miller.
She also touched on the show’s passionate fans when reaching out to sponsors, explaining that people this involved would support products advertised on the show. The people at Blip.TV were helpful when she was drafting her sponsor letter, offering her tips on crafting the right appeal. She contacted 25 companies that she’d researched and thought would be a good fit.
The series is carried on multiple websites, including Blip.TV, Hulu, and YouTube, and has revenue share agreements with each one. While that money helps, Miller said, it isn’t enough to sustain a show by itself.
Miler has worked in both television and web series, and shared three tips on working with an online series. It’s a do-it-yourself world, she said, so learn to do more than one job. Also, view mistakes as a learning process and embrace them. Finally, learn to self-promote. Reaching out to people is okay, she said, but bothering them isn’t.
To view the entire interview, watch the video below.