So, how do you make money off of an internet video show?

I was hoping to get some ideas from you guys that we maybe haven’t thought of. My boyfriend and his buddy have a show ( that’s got a lot of local fans, and has spread to a few non-local places. (For some reason there’s a high school in Nova Scotia that’s all about us.) It’s popular among a lot of people, folks are talking about it, etc. So, the question is, how does it make money? (Just to pay for itself, even?)

We’ve started to approach people for sponsorships. Obviously alcohol is the easy way to go - we’re going to try to contact Firefly Vodka, because they’re the only distillery in South Carolina and have a bit of an edgier branding. Local bars, too - we had a live show at one of them. Also, they’re going to take the show on the road and tour a little in the region - but you can’t really charge that much per head, and bars tend to operate on the “band” paradigm where they don’t share profits or anything. Thing is, they really ought to, as for at least this past live show they were open when they wouldn’t normally have been and they made fucktons of money off of the crowd. Probably not going to happen, though.

So, merchandise - t-shirts sold fast when they were new, but not now that everybody who wants one has one. I’m going to be crocheting mustaches (with certificate of authencitiy!) and little crocheted stuffed Aarons and Grants, but we don’t know if those will sell and even if they do it’s not like I could personally keep up with a big demand. Drinking-related paraphernalia would sell (steins, shot glasses, flasks) but requires an initial uncertain investment. And we have no money, keep in mind. If you have to spend money to make money, we are pre-fucked.

So, are there some avenues to funding we haven’t considered? Creative ideas?

… no ideas?

Watch on Nickelodeon for some wacky ideas. They seem to do really well especially for teenage girls. Maybe that will trigger an idea. I am not a marketing person so I am coming up a little short in the actual ideas that may work department though.

Do they have any contests (although given the subject matter that may not be such a hot idea)? People like those and it would add to the content but I am not sure how to translate that into raw, hard cash for more booze.

You get a TV or book deal. I can’t really imagine how else this specific kind of online venture (a show, versus an app or marketplace site) would make money. Which means the show has to get incredibly well known. Which means while you may not have to spend money, you need to spend lots of time and effort making it great, attention-grabbing and all over the internet. T-shirt sales are good for minor costs, though.

Well this is an obvious suggestion but what about online advertising through banner ads and Google AdSense. Perhaps you can start a related blog and generate ad revenue that way. Or perhaps start an audio podcast and get a sponsor. Basically the more quality content you have the more the chances of generating ad revenue. There are many websites like ProBloggerwith tips on making money through blogging which should at least be good for ideas.

Some guys I know had a college-aged blog and most of their advertising came from

They did a lot of work to saturate the pages with ads and to draw visitors daily (lots of activity in the comment area), but from what I’ve heard they have done very well with their ad revenue.

They also used AdSense.

Here’s their site: You can maybe look there for more ideas.

ETA: As for merch, you sort of need to make new merch as new videos go up, then entice people to buy the new stuff. Eventually you’ll come up with a shirt or something with a cool enough slogan on it that outsiders will want them and in turn will find your site.

Homestar Runner makes money, I think just off of merchandise, and doesn’t have a book or TV deal (although I think they do have DVDs now.) Obviously TV is the way to go, but you have to get huge first. (I know they’ve tried to contact Tim and Eric, which gave me an honest to god nightmare where they showed up at my parents’ Christmas party. I woke up and was sure it had happened.)

More contests are a great idea to increase consistent viewership - I think they’re running one now where you write an Aaron and Grant fanfic and the winner gets his filmed.

I’d like to see them do more cooperative stuff with local businesses - go to their website and print out a coupon for one of the bars they do shows at, that sort of thing. Again, not monetary, but viewership (and you can’t make money without viewers!)

They already spend WAY too much time on this thing, taking their energy away from the real live businesses they own. (Also, Aaron is running for mayor and Grant is running for city council, so, uh, there’s that.) The merchandising just hasn’t been as lucrative as we expected - the response is okay, but isn’t consistent and the initial outlay is prohibitive. (Well, except for the mustaches - we’ll see if people buy those.)

ETA - missed you on preview - I think we may be underestimating the potential ad revenue and the importance of continuing to come out with new merchandise.

Incidentally there was an earlier threadon blogging as a business venture with some interesting posts by Sam Stone in particular.

An improv group I belonged to did something like this (minus the touring part) for a year or two. Once a month we would take over the banquet room at a local bar and grill. We collected a $10 cover charge for the room, and the management kept the food and beverage sales. They made a lot of money, we made a little, so it worked for everyone. The trick is to find a place that has a banquet room, has management that is open to trying something different, and isn’t so successful they’re turning away customers, but isn’t doing so poorly they’re going to abruptly go out of business (which is what kept happening to us).

Cafe Press will put your logo on a mug or a stein or any of hundreds of other tchotskes.* It’s free to set up a basic “shop” and they print and ship to order, so you won’t spend more than you make. There are other sites that do similar things.

  • A word I don’t know how to spell.

Mr. Deity solicits one-time donations and subscriptions from viewers. I know I felt pretty sanguine about signing up for the $0.99/week subscription for something I like.

They also have completely random sponsors like GoDaddy - it doesn’t have to be related to the content, necessarily. And their Google ads are almost all really religious, which is an example of keywords generating some humor.

They’re not thrilled with Cafe Press, I don’t know why.

Here’s one of our latest ideas - he’s just a prototype, obviously the lapels of his jacket are way, way too long and he needs a tie and maybe a white felt shirt, but he’s mostly good. Handmade by Aaron’s actual girlfriend, set of two amigurumi just 40 bucks! (The question is, will people buy, and then will people buy too many and make me spend all my free time crocheting little homonuculususses?)

Well, that’s not very helpful. How about Printfection? I suspect they may not like the fact that the lion’s share of revenue goes to the sites, but that’s the sacrifice you make in exchange for not paying manufacturing costs up front and getting stuck with overstock.

No offense intended, really, but why on earth would I pay for that? I may not be the target audience here, but if I were a fan or just wanted to support my friends, I’d be much happier with a mug or a T-shirt.

All the girls squeak about them. I don’t know if they’ll squeak their way to the “add to cart” button, but there’s a lot of expressed interest.

ETA - plus, they’re pure profit, and they don’t have to be made unless somebody orders one. It’s a risk-free item.

Ah, girls. Never claimed to understand them.

Sounds like a winner, then!

After looking at the site, the obvious thing you’re missing is Google’s Adsense. This will geneate ads on your website.

Go to Google’s Adsense and look around and start an account.

Now you’re gonna have to do something with your website. It’s fine for what it is, but it’s too heavy in video and not enough in words.

Here’s the tricky part, Adsense puts ads on your site, based on keywords it finds on your site.

So you’re going to have to do, just a bit, of redesigning to be more keywords on your site, but at the same time you don’t want to make the site look busy. Your site as it is now is fine in terms of how it’s looks. It’s streamlined, it loads fast and it’s not “busy” looking. But it lacks verbal descripton

The tricky part will be how to design the site to get more words in, so Adsense will work, without making the site look busy.