Selling video Everything you need to know about selling digital video content online
Lately we’ve been talking a lot about how to sell different types of digital products – and video is more relevant than ever!
With YouTube ranking as the second largest search engine in the world, video has become a digital content juggernaut, with projections that it will grow to make up over 80% of internet traffic by 2021. Content creators build entire businesses, brands, livelihoods, and legacies off of video, providing eager audiences with easily-consumable content that engages the senses even more than audio or visual content alone. And as modern culture shifts more and more toward digital life, video continues to be an effective way for people to pursue education, self-development, community, and entertainment.
Now, are you ready to start selling your own videos? In this post we’ve created a quick guide to the basics, so you can get things going with confidence!
No matter what kind of digital product you’re selling, pricing can be tricky. Where do you start? Do you compete on price? What are the industry standard prices? The price range for video content can vary a lot, so step number one is to be informed. We’ve previously discussed pricing your digital products, and along with asking yourself the following questions, you’ll be better positioned to start setting your price range:
- Are you offering single videos, a series, or bundle? Individual videos are often priced in the single digits (depending on length and quality), while series and bundles can be sold at higher prices.
- Are you selling a digital course? Courses and eLearning programs tend to have higher price tags – often into the hundreds, and sometimes even thousands for long-term, advanced courses.
- Is your video content exclusive? What’s your market niche like? Is there an overabundance of content like yours? Do you have a competitive edge, patented method, trade secret, or other distinctive feature of your work that makes it exclusive and hard to find elsewhere?
- Do your videos have high-quality production value? With the increase in popularity of video content, the expectations of consumers have also grown.
- Do your videos come with bonus materials or extras? Things like 1-to-1 coaching, community access, webinars, downloadable PDF guides, workbooks, and other digital assets can add significant value to your videos. Consider the principles of value-based pricing when formulating your prices.
- Who are your competitors and what do they charge? You can learn a lot from other people selling videos in your niche, so use them as a reference point (not necessarily as an exact guide).
If you can create videos on an ongoing basis, you can make some serious cash with subscriptions / memberships. Regularly replenishing your videos is key, as customers typically pay a monthly fee for access to your content, and will consequently expect new material as time goes on. The membership model gives you the potential for continually building upon your existing customer base, bringing in more and more subscribers (and revenue) over time.
Many video content creators have affiliate partnerships with other companies, service providers, and bloggers within their niche, giving them even more earning avenues, expanding their reach, and growing their businesses overall. For example, if you produce fitness videos, you might think about networking with (and partnering with) nutrition, fitness, and self-development bloggers, writers, gurus, and other public figures whose audiences might be interested in your videos.
Websites like Patreon are also good places to build recurring income, and many video makers use them. Some YouTubers, for example, give away free videos on YouTube to build an audience, and then direct their loyal fans toward their Patreon account, where the fans can become “patrons”, or sign up to support the content creator for a monthly fee, usually in exchange for exclusive content.
Another useful method for maximizing your income with video is to make additional formats available – things like audio versions and transcripts. If it’s topic-appropriate, these extra options give customers the ability to listen to your audio version while driving the car, or cleaning the house, or read a transcript if they’re looking for quiet time, for example. It all depends on the nature of your content!
When it comes to the way people consume videos, free streaming is number one – and video sharing websites like YouTube and Vimeo are the go-to places for hosting them for free. Once you upload your videos to these platforms, embedding them onto your web pages is easy. It’s worth noting that YouTube is the biggest and most central location for video content, however embedded videos still display things like end cards and ads, whereas Vimeo allows different options for customizing the way your videos appear to your customers.
If you’re selling videos that can be packaged into digital courses, there are a variety of learning platforms available to help you get up and running quickly, with immediate access to a wide audience, however you can be much more limited in the prices you charge. With lots of competition within the marketplace itself, you may have a hard time earning as much as you’d like (depending on your goals).
Of course, selling videos through your own website allows you to not only make more money, but also have complete control over how your content is presented and marketed. Use your website not only as a distribution channel, but also as a “base” for potential customers who come from free channels to learn more about the epic visual content you create.
Although video streaming is the modern standard, and videos tend to have large file sizes that can be time-consuming for customers to download, you may decide to give your customers the option to download the videos they’ve paid for, so they can enjoy them offline as well.
In terms of most video sharing platforms, as well as downloadable videos, .MP4 is the most widely supported industry standard. For a full 1080p HD .MP4 video, you’re looking at specifications of a H.264 codec (video compression standard), an AAC audio codec, a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels, and one of the standard aspect ratios of either 4:3 or 16:9. The frame rate you use should match that of your source video, meaning that if you record your video at 30 frames per second (fps), your exported video should match. You can find extra guidance on video specifications for YouTube here, and Vimeo here.
If you decide to offer additional formats, some standards include .MP3 for audio and .PDF for transcripts. To host your MP3s, you can use audio sharing platforms like SoundCloud, which allow you to easily embed unlisted tracks onto your web pages. You can also distribute audio versions of your content through platforms like Spotify, Amazon, Google Play, and podcasting platforms like Libsyn and Podbean.
If you decide to go with the membership method, you will need to implement a way to restrict your content, reserving access to your videos to paying customers. If you have a WordPress website, there are some helpful plugins available that can turn your site into a fully-functioning membership site, giving you full control over what your members can see (or not see). This way, you can have flexibility with how much you give away, what you charge for, as well as different membership levels for your customers.
When it comes to commercial video quality, people are often looking for a certain standard – and that standard is, at a bare minimum, high definition (at least 720p; ideally 1080p or even 4K). And aside from pure entertainment, video often serves the purpose of educating an audience, meaning that there are some key elements to have in place if you want to build a loyal fan base who will rave about your work. For example, whether it’s structuring and outlining your video series so that your customers can easily navigate and get the most out of your videos, or producing professional-quality videos that are well thought-out and visually appealing, aiming for the complete package will not only help you stay competitive in a saturated market; it will also set the bar for the rest of your content and define your brand at the same time.
To maximize your presence online and increase your reach, you might think about getting active on social media. Twitter is a great place to engage in conversations with people in fields related to your videos, and ultimately bring in prospective customers, too! When it comes to other social platforms, having a Facebook page for your business is expected nowadays – and fortunately, there are also lots of useful networking, professional, and interest-based Facebook groups that can expand your audience as well as your industry authority. LinkedIn remains a go-to site for building professional relationships and networks, and Instagram can be especially helpful for video content creators who are into lifestyle, self-development, and DIY topics. If you make tutorial videos, there is likely an audience waiting for you on Instagram, eager to give you their attention! With any of these platforms, interaction is the name of the game; put yourself out there professionally and be of value consistently, and you just might see your sales start to take off!
It’s not just about the visuals
Video is indeed a visual form of content – but, above all, remember that with your specific skillset, knowledge, expertise, and/or authority you have a certain value to impart onto your audience. People often pay for videos because they want specific results, whether it’s entertainment, enjoyment, encouragement, ideas, skill-building, or useful information. If you can give that to them, you’ve got a win-win situation where both you and the customer benefit – and that equates to a rewarding and sustainable business model based almost entirely on your own creative output. Awesome!
What has been your experience with selling videos? Do you have any wisdom to share? Comment below and let us know!