How to sell a video online 101
September 15, 2020 7:58 AM   Subscribe

A friend has completed a video that they sell in physical format. They want to add a digital online option. They know zero about this. How can I guide them to the best information, service, help? They have no knowledge as a starting point.

Friends have been giving them advice that is leading to confusion, so I figured I would ask here. They have one video, and possibly more to come, which they sell physically, but are absolutely confused by selling the digital aspect.

* They have a wordpress website and audience for the product.
* They are curious about the difference between streaming and download (video is 8 gigs) and what goes into maintaining each, long term.
* Easiest options to get set up without tech knowledge.
* Anything they can read easily to get an understanding of what a digital product entails as an overview.

Also, might this be suitable for Mefi Jobs?
posted by MountainDaisy to Technology (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How worried is your friend about someone buying the video, downloading, and distributing it for free?
posted by bbqturtle at 8:02 AM on September 15

That is one thing that makes them pretty nervous, the security issue.
posted by MountainDaisy at 8:03 AM on September 15

I'd also look at this from the perspective of their customers/clients.

If there are discussion groups or mailing lists in the field, or if your friend has a mailing list or is willing to invite comments via a blog post, how about putting it to the fans/existing customers?

If friend has online competition, how does the online competition provides downloadable/streamable videos?

So figure out an option that would appeal to this particular niche, and then work backwards to figure out security and technology.

Re security: I'm told the Grateful Dead considered all the bootleg tapes free publicity. Friend could roll with that, or have a shorter "teaser" version of the video online, that could leverage free distribution to generate buzz.
posted by alittleknowledge at 8:09 AM on September 15

The big thing that matters for security is how organized and tech-saavy the consumer base is. If the video was, say, a at home dance or exercise video, well, the community around the consumer base is going to be small, if any. So unlikely that consumers would pirate it to / from each other. However, if the video was a "How to game the youtube algorithm" then many creators in their private channels that know each other might send around the file.

So like, how many customers of your website know each other good enough to share around a file?

The way I see it, is you have several options. You could post the video unlisted onto youtube, where anyone with the link could view it. Sharing that link would be trivial among people who have the link. You could just email a raw link to the video file to consumers. High chances of them just forwarding that email to someone else they know. You could set up consumers with a username / password to view the file, but they could still download it and re-host. Still, a little bit harder.

A very manual way of accomplishing this would be to use a private youtube video. You can only share that with specific youtube users and yourself, it would take a bit of work to get them setup correctly, but it might be worth it because everyone has youtube and the tech is already there. This is very doable if it's under 100 people, but over 100 and you might look for something more automated.

Another thing to note, a lot of people use patreon for these kinds of tasks. You might look around patreon to see solutions they have used. In general, they use unlisted youtube videos (anyone with the link can view) and just hope that the patreons don't spread the links to non-patreons.
posted by bbqturtle at 8:14 AM on September 15

This depends on the scale of their operation. For selling a couple of copies a week I might be tempted to just manually watermark each copy with the name of the customer to deter sharing and send the filevia email if it is not too huge - edit - provide a unique link for the 8gig file.

Do they want to support streaming?
posted by AndrewStephens at 8:16 AM on September 15

If the video is any good, and the quality as sold on the physical format is decent, it's going to get ripped and shared whether it's also available for online purchase or not. Also, it's really no harder to rip and redistribute stuff that's only released as a stream compared to stuff that's released as downloadable as well.

The best protection against losing sales to piracy is to make buying the video easier than pirating it. If it's reasonably priced, purchasable via PayPal so customers don't need to enter a credit card number, and paying for it gets the customer a video file in a standard format without DRM that they can play on whatever device they damn well please from now until forever, there's very little incentive to seek out and acquire a pirate copy instead.
posted by flabdablet at 8:20 AM on September 15 [1 favorite]

It also remains highly arguable whether or not piracy actually does cost sales.

If you just add up the number of pirate copies in circulation and treat each one as a lost sale then you will indeed end up with a large and enraging number. MPA lobbyists would obviously prefer that that's where your analysis stops; somebody has to stay cross enough to keep paying their salaries.

But if you allow for the fact that a substantial portion of those pirate copies are the only way that those who hold them would ever acquire the product - with so much stuff around that can be pirated easily it's by no means a given that a frustrated pirate will in fact go on to purchase your particular thing rather than pirate something else - then it also becomes apparent that pirate copies in circulation function, to some extent, in much the same way as broadcast radio airplay always has for music.

It's pretty much impossible to measure the buzz benefit of unofficial distribution channels compared to their actual cost to sales, which is why most people cling so tightly to their own untestable beliefs on this issue.
posted by flabdablet at 8:35 AM on September 15 [1 favorite]

Just to add, a boxed solution with the full payment processing, etc. could be great.

* Might WooCommerce set up be easiest? Do they handle the tech part of getting the video to the customer? (this is just my personal question, as I use them in my business, and I see a digital option)

* They do not know the technology and do not know if they want streaming or not.

* It is a professional training video.

* They just wanted to know about security in general, and what most people do, but it is not central to the issue she is trying to solve, which is just the basics of selling a digital video and how it works in general.
posted by MountainDaisy at 8:41 AM on September 15

I feel like this is a generational thing, because even as a not-that-young 30 something who is obsessed with tech and gadgets, I do not own a single device that can play physical media. Might as well be selling 8 tracks. If I did have a DVD drive I would just rip it to a file and chuck the DVD straight into the trash. Who buys physical media anymore?

For me I either buy a digital file or I don't buy it. I've passed on buying videos I was otherwise interested in for this exact reason.
posted by bradbane at 10:19 AM on September 15 [1 favorite]

bradbane, this is why I am asking how people do this: "They want to add a digital online option." The actual question I posted is "how", coming from someone who has no knowledge of it. I am confused as to how this is relates to the question? Did I post it poorly?
posted by MountainDaisy at 11:18 AM on September 15

I've found the process of buying videos released via Vimeo to be quite smooth and painless. Here's my most recent purchase.
posted by flabdablet at 12:07 PM on September 15 [4 favorites]

Gumroad is very simple, inexpensive, and allows video purchases with a credit card or Paypal, including "streaming-only" videos which should cut down on piracy (will their target audience bother though?)

There's also Uscreen and similar services (I haven't used them).

Some e-learning platforms like LearnWorlds add watermarks to videos, but it's an expensive service. But something to consider if they might expand to video-driven courses.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:45 PM on September 15 [1 favorite]

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