Today, independent Web series creators enjoy limitless creative freedom. They have the ability to create whatever they'd like and distribute it however they'd like, directly to their audiences. What's more is that the Web series ecosystem of producers, agents, distributors, advertisers and publishers is much more established than it was a few years ago. We've gotten to the point where original Web series are achieving audience scale, advertisers are co-creating with Web series creators, networks are funding new productions, and content creators are extending their series to platforms like TV and film.
But these content creators still face a big challenge: attracting funding. Despite the massive growth of the Web video ecosystem, not every Web series will succeed and achieve its monetary goals. In fact, as with every other form of media, many more will not succeed. But there are some things that you can do to improve your probability of success:
Define your goals. Before embarking on your Web series, figure out what you want to get out of it. Do you want to sell your series to a network? Do you want to get it put on TV? Or are you just looking to expand your creative reel? Is your goal entirely based on having creative freedom? You can't figure out how to make money from your Web series unless you know what you want to do with it.
Forget the paper pitch. To shoot or not to shoot your Web series, that is the question. When it comes to selling a Web series idea, content creators often question whether or not they should shoot their series first or just pitch the idea on paper. After all, the latter saves a lot of time and money. But undoubtedly you will find much more success with a trailer and/or episodes instead of just a pitch. Use your videos to show how good your series can be -- the content should speak for itself.
Prove that people will watch it. Show potential buyers that you can build an audience. Because if you're pitching your series with episodes that people are already watching, you are way ahead of the game. And if you can show that you have an audience and an extensive social presence, you definitely increase the likelihood of success.
Naturally, this means that you need to know your audience. Who are you creating your Web series for? Where do they live online? What are they interested in? If you're pitching your Web series to a potential sponsor, you need to show them that you're able to craft content that people will like and easily find. From foodies to gun nuts, every interest has a community and every community has a home. Prove to buyers that there's a community that you can tap into, and you'll make your content more appealing.
Revenue Through Advertising
What of the content creator that doesn't want to sell their series? There are other options available. Distribution platforms like YouTube and bliptv give content creators the opportunity to monetize their work through advertising.
More specifically, with blip.tv, you have the option from day one to turn on ads that will generate revenue for your series. With YouTube, it takes a bit more work -- content creators need to be accepted into the YouTube Partner Program, or be invited into one of the many content networks that are forming right now. In this case, getting accepted into a content program may be different from selling your series, but it's still another situation where you'll want to build your audience.
In fact, if you're running advertising on your videos, the biggest challenge then becomes building a large enough audience to generate substantial advertising revenue. Luckily, with the audiences for Web video growing every day, the numbers are moving in your favor. Plus, you can find some great tactics for building and maintaining a Web series audience here.
There's money to be made in Web video, but you just have to know how to find it.