So you’ve gotten pretty good at this online video thing, and now you want to start thinking about monetizing your content. But that can act as a roadblock for many video creators and businesses who aren’t sure what all their options are for making money from video content. It’s not a decision to take lightly, so we thought we’d lay out some of the options you have.
There are an awful lot of ways to go about the practice of online video monetization. We may not have room to cover them all, but we’ll try to hit the most common methods. If you’re looking for a way to make your videos work even harder for you, consider one of these options…
Monetize Video By Selling Ads
One of the most popular ways brands and other businesses monetize their videos is through advertising—the video content itself is free, but the creators make money by selling ads before, during, or around the video experience.
This might be pre-roll ads running prior to the destination content, or any of a number of more experimental ad-choice models like what Hulu uses or YouTube’s TrueView.
YouTube Partner channels can make money just by having their videos viewed. So a popular video creator like Freddie Wong can monetize videos like this by both running ads and simply getting views:
Sometimes the ad itself isn’t even a video—a lot of the top publishing sites sell display ads on pages hosting video content as well. Vidmeup allows you to embed Google Adsense code on all your video pages which well within the technical reach of most people.
Monetize Video Through Pay-Per-View Or Physical Sales
Videos can also bring in revenue by simply being a product itself—viewers have to pay in order to view the content. The obvious examples of this sort of thing would be something like Netflix—or Hollywood’s Ultraviolet for digital movie sales. Webinars are an everyday example of pay-per-view, whether they’re live or taped.
Vidmeup, who made this article possible, has pay-per-view capabilities built into one of their video hosting packages, allowing Enterprise-level customers to really start putting their videos to work for them. They've integrated the feature with PayPal so you just enter your PayPal merchant number to start charging for video views or subscriptions. Here's an unusual site monetizing very niche videos (grunge music videos) via Pay Per View using the vidmeup Enterprise platform.
Other platforms like Brightcove offer monetization options like a built-in ad server and an ad manager.
Of course, plenty of video content is sold online in physical form, mostly DVD, and while that format is likely to grow less and less lucrative, it’s still viable today for plenty of sectors.
Monetize Video Through Sponsorships
Some video shows, like Daisy Whitney’s New Media Minute, monetize through sponsorships, where an advertising brand receives special mention (usually toward the beginning of a clip) as being responsible for making the video happen.
When a show has a particularly large or loyal audience, or one that is very focused on a particular niche, there can be big payoff for companies sponsoring video content. That means there can be big payoff for the content creator as well.
Monetize Video Through Merchandise
Entertainment video can often be monetized through the sale of related merchandise. This might mean anything from t-shirts to mousepads, and creators are getting more creative all the time. There’s not much difference between traditional advertising and using merchandise to monetize—in both cases you’re giving away free content and allowing the income to come from related sources due to the show’s popularity.
So Epic Meal Time, an incredibly popular YouTube Channel, can run ads on videos like this:
But they also have a merchandise store on their official website where fans can help support their videos by buying t-shirts:
Monetize Video Through Freemium Or Other Hybrid Method
Some have found a monetization sweet spot using the freemium model—some video content is given away for free, but the very best and most in-depth stuff is reserved for paying members. It can be a tricky balance act, to find the right ratio between free and paid content under this model, but some content just lends itself to this format.
Take Hollywood, for example. In a way, they’ve been using the freemium model for decades: they give you a free taste, in the form of a trailer, but you’ll have to pay full price to see the full movie when it comes out.
In the video world, Hulu is a little bit like a freemium model. Some of their content is free to everyone, member or not, while the rest of it is hidden behind the Hulu Plus paywall.
Monetize Video Through Licensing
If you make the right kind of video, and it’s of high quality, you can monetize it through licensing. Again we can use Netflix as an example: every copyright holder who has their video content on Netflix is getting paid for the rights to use the license.
Similarly, if your training videos are good enough, other companies might be willing to pay to use them as opposed to creating their own from scratch.
Making Your Decision
There’s no one right answer with video monetization. Each of the methods discussed above has merit. Some work better for certain kinds of video than others, but they all work in certain situations.
It’s important not to rush the move to monetization: if your content isn’t quite up to the quality standards the audience demands, you could be shooting yourself in the foot.
But if you’ve honed your craft and are confident of your quality, well, maybe it’s time you start earning something for your trouble. Online video definitely doesn’t need to be monetized in order for it to be productive for you or your business…