How do you create a successful web series?
August 16, 2010 5:34 AM   Subscribe

A friend is going to be in a web series starting this fall. What things should they do to make the series successful? What even counts as successful for a web series? Any tips or red flags? Any suggestions about where to post (Vimeo/YouTube/other), marketing tips, or other suggestions from the Hive Mind greatly appreciated.
posted by nometa to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Felicia Day (creator of the web series The Guild) has this excellent blog post about creating a web series. If you google her name, she's also been interviewed several times on the subject.
posted by Zephyrial at 7:21 AM on August 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I spent over two years at a production company that made web series. Like movies and TV, a key ingredient to a successful show is marketing.

That doesn't just mean a website. That means a Facebook fan page and/or group, and not just one that sits on Facebook waiting for people to discover it. It means going to, say, the Dr. Horrible fan page and posting about your series on their Wall, or even trying to friend that show's fans. A Twitter account is also helpful, whether it's a production diary or one character's secret thoughts or interactive things like contests that require viewing the episodes ("@reply us the name of Melissa's dog and win a T-shirt!"). Again, whoever is running the Twitter account(s) can't just hope people find it. They have to follow other producers of web series (like Felicia Day) and do searches for people who like "comedy" or "sci-fi" or whatever the series is about.

Also create a group on MySpace and/or a page in MySpace Film (or MySpace Comedy if the web series qualifies). Think MySpace is a joke that no one cares about? Well, they still have about 40 million users -- and their Film, Comedy, and Music departments are still going strong. I see no reason to ignore all those millions of people.

If the producers' marketing strategy for the series is "We'll put it on YouTube and tell all our friends!" then you're sunk. As Felicia Day says in her blog post, you have to know and find your audience. They WILL NOT find you without help.

Lastly, I wouldn't put too much stock in YouTube. Even people searching for your keywords (you have keywords, right?) may not find you because you'll be buried under a hundred similar search results. I'd recommend hosting the videos on the series' official site, or posting the video somewhere "quieter," like Vimeo. You can certainly put it on YouTube, too, but don't count on that site for all your views or metrics.

Oh, the reason I don't work at the production company anymore? Because they're going out of business. So you can see how tough a web series can be.

Best of luck to your friend.
posted by Flying Saucer at 9:13 AM on August 16, 2010 [3 favorites]

As a consumer, I think one of the best things a web series can do for success is consistency, such as always having content up at the same time every week. If people know when to expect things, they'll check back. (I know I do.) Skipping possible updates and having frequent delays, even if the series is really good, can end with it being forgotten in short order.
posted by vienaragis at 12:05 PM on August 16, 2010

Response by poster: Our star-to-be says "thanks!" to everyone for the suggestions...
posted by nometa at 12:18 PM on September 15, 2010

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