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Which Video Sharing Service is Best for You?

The NoFilmSchool newsletter includes a lot of exclusive content that doesn’t appear on this site; this post is a sample of one such email that used to go out. In it, we’ll look at why you should use a video sharing service, and which services might work best for you. I mistakenly removed this email from the list thinking it was causing folks to unsubscribe, but it turns out I was reading the analytics wrong (and I can’t reinstitute the email without sending it a second time). So here’s a sample of the newsletter — subscribe free for more exclusive content!

While I recommend BlueHost for good, cheap web hosting, for sharing your videos I don’t recommend using your own host — it’s better to use a video sharing service (many of which are free). Before we get into the particulars of different sharing sites, however, first let’s look at some reasons to use a video sharing service:

  1. A bona fide sharing service is tested thoroughly on different browsers, ensuring that more people will be able to view your videos.
  2. Good video sites offer the best sharing tools — like allowing others to embed your video, drastically increasing your views and reach.
  3. Video sites adapt to changing technology; for example, HTML5 is steadily replacing Flash video, and sites like YouTube and Vimeo adapt without requiring you to go back and reformat your uploads.
  4. Good sharing services give you granular statistics on how many views your videos get — and where those views are coming from.

I learned these things the hard way, as we built or own custom video player for our DIY web series The West Side — and despite the fact that we won a Webby Award and the series got us an agent (and our foot in the door in Hollywood), to this day I still can’t tell you with any certainty exactly how many views we got. Oops.

So you’re going to want to use an existing service rather than self-host. Which service you use comes down to a few questions:

  1. Do you just need somewhere to host your videos, or are you going to actively try to build a following and maximize your # of views?
  2. What kind of videos are you going to be posting — narrative shorts, web series, home videos, tutorials?
  3. Are you going to try to monetize your videos?

I’m not going to do an exhaustive run-through of all of the video hosting services out there — which I did years ago — so this time around, let’s just focus on three main options (I’ll throw in a bonus as well). Briefly:

Vimeo

Pros: Vimeo has a great community of video creators. By and large the community is more friendly, and you’ll get more intelligent feedback, than YouTube. It’s free to post, view, and share content. There are no ads run in front of your videos. You can often download source files if the creator enables it. Cons: There’s no way to monetize your video. If you want to upload and share a lot of HD content — or if you want access to the full statistics back-end, which is terrific — you’ll want to spring for Vimeo Plus, which is $60 a year (that works out to a mere $5/month, however).

YouTube

Pros: The largest video platform out there and the third-most visited web site on the planet. Offers a lot of audience-building tools if you’re planning on posting frequently and creating your own “channel.” If your videos get a lot of views, you can get paid for ads run on top of your content via the Partner Program. Offers unlimited HD uploads and embeds (content is restricted to 15 minutes for non-partners, however). Cons: The comments can get pretty ugly. Don’t be surprised if people say dumbass things; such is the nature of all faceless internet commentary, but especially on YouTube. The payouts of the partner program, which relies heavily on overlay ads instead of pre-rolls, are reportedly lower than some other options.

blip.tv

Pros: Blip is a great option if you’re doing a web series. If your content is serialized and you think of it as a “show,” that’s exactly Blip’s territory. They are focused on monetizing web series, with a full ad sales team dedicated to doing so; definitely check them out if this is what you’re pursuing. I also hear that their payouts per view are higher than YouTube’s. Finally, they syndicate content to other sites — including Vimeo, YouTube, and iTunes — for you, which is great if you want to upload once and publish to multiple destinations. Cons: They don’t have the viewership that YouTube does. As with anything you do, however, it’s going to be up to you to build an audience — no service will not do that for you automatically! Unless you want to cheat and buy views on YouTube.

TubeMogul

TubeMogul isn’t a sharing service like the others; rather, it’s a “syndicator” that allows you to upload your videos to a number of sites (including the aforementioned three) at once. Basically you link your account at these three services (and many others) to TubeMogul, which will then automatically upload your videos and track statistics across multiple sites. This way you’ll actually know how many views your videos are getting — no matter where they appear. This portion of TubeMogul is free, and they’ve also launched a video ad service that has increasingly become their focus (I haven’t had a chance to test it yet, however).

That should do it for now. I hope this email post was helpful in figuring out where to post your videos — this is stuff I would’ve liked to have known from the beginning. Perhaps in the future we’ll go more in-depth with these services and several more as well. That’s the difference between an email and a blog post: I try to keep emails down to a certain length. Feel free to share your own experiences or preferred video sharing services in the comments…

[top image from TubeMogul]

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