I had a conversation a few days ago with a friend who asked me what I thought about blogging / podcasting / creating video content, specifically as it pertains to viewership and even more specifically as it pertains to NUMBERS of viewers for content we post to the internet. Continue reading “Blog Subscribers, Commenters, Lurkers & Passers-By”
People always want to know how to make money with social media.
The problem is that social media doesn’t make money FOR you. Social media ENABLES YOU to make money…. maybe.
Everybody wants to know how their sales are going to increase once they hire you to create a website or set them up with a presence on Facebook or Twitter. Continue reading “Social Media Budgeting (Cars, Not Trophies)”
One of the things that makes me who I am as a video editor is that I can visualize aspects of the project that haven’t occurred yet. When I see a scene or a picture, I know how it will work (if at all) with other footage I’ve seen. When I hear something, I know what I can use it for. Basically, I create the video while I’m reviewing the footage and then I basically trace what I already saw instead of building a video from scratch and wondering whether it’s going to work or not.
There are a lot of elements that go into making a video that don’t become important until the final output, yet if you don’t pay attention to those elements ahead of time (known as pre-production), you may end up needing to re-do all the work you just did. Elements include frame dimensions (16×9 vs 4×3), frame size (in pixels), data rate, codec, font, font size, lower 3rds, drop shadows, transitions… For just one example, if your video is going to be seen @ 320×180 (width and height, in pixels), you’re going to want to deal with your font sizes differently than if you were going to present in 1280×720 HD (high definition). If you act as if you’re going to output in HD, you might have to change all your titles when the client sees them in 320×180, because they can’t be read.
The reason I bring this up is that this ability increases my efficiency. I know the questions to ask ahead of time so I don’t waste time. Also, I can see my way clear through to the end of the project. I can basically “see” the finished video as if I fast-forwarded time to when I was finished. This is because everything goes onto a “checklist”. If I know what the video dimensions are, I can visualize the size that the final output will be. If I know the font, I can imagine what the text will look like…
OTOH… If I *DON’T* know what the background color is… That becomes apparent to me in my visualization and I ask the client if they want to use a background image or they have a specific color in mind. Same thing for font color or music selection. I have a good basic idea of what’s missing and what I need to figure out ASAP in order to efficiently get the job done. Continue reading “Time, Part 07: “Subcontracting””
Here’s how the process works… When someone with 1,200 Facebook Friends and 400 Linkedin Contacts and another 1,200 MySpace Friends and 2,300 Twitter Followers clicks on your email, that email is going to be scanned for a number. If there’s no number, that email is going to be IGNORED. Continue reading “Time, Part 06: “What’s Your Budget?””
Life is easy when you 9-5 it. All you have to do is go where they told you, do what they told you and leave when they told you. Two weeks from now, you get a check and then the cycle starts all over again.
As a freelancer, your time has to be divided amongst several things every day, and it’s up to you to get proficient with selecting what to focus on and how much time to devote to it.
The selection process is actually critically important. I already discussed micromanagement of time, but it’s just as important, if not more so, to minimize the time that you waste DECIDING what to focus on. For instance, it might take you one minute to read someone’s email, but it took you 30 seconds to DECIDE whether you were going to read that email. Perhaps a more efficient style would be to jump right in, start reading and if you realize it’s something you don’t care about, bail.
I know that 10 seconds or 30 seconds doesn’t sound like much, and a year or two ago, it wasn’t much to me either. When you get to the point of receiving 100 emails every day of varying levels of importance, those seconds can add up to a major time sink. Consider the process to respond to a “new Twitter follower” notification (assuming you don’t use a program to auto-follow people who follow you): Continue reading “Time, Part 05: “Focus & Motion””
“The best things in life are free… But you can keep them for the birds & bees… Now give me money (that’s… what I want) that’s what I want…”
“Your love will give me a thrill… But your lovin’ don’t pay my bills… Now give me money (that’s… what I want) that’s what I want…”
“Money don’t get everything, it’s true… What it don’t get… I can’t use!… Now give me money (that’s… what I want) that’s what I want…”
Everybody loves free stuff! *FREE* *STUFF*!!! 😀
How free is “free”, though? Did you ever stop and think about how much free stuff costs you? Right now, you’re thinking “A-DUH!… It costs me NOTHING, by the definition of FREE!”. So let’s take a look at why some “free” things cost you more than the money you SHOULD have spent on them.
While you think about that as we go through a few examples, consider whether your BUSINESS can afford to utilize “free” goods & services.
Enhancing functionality or productivity
A few weeks ago, I wanted to enhance the functionality of my computer/music/editing setup. I knew exactly where I was and where I wanted to go, but I wasn’t sure about which software I wanted to add to my system. Continue reading “Time, Part 04: “Spend Your Money””
Roxanne & Shane, founders & owners of Bare Feet Studios & Beachwalks.tv have been consulting and in the internet industry a lot longer than I have and I was fortunate enough to receive some vital coaching from both of them concerning Time, specifically relating to being a freelancer.
I physically met Roxanne Darling two years ago in November 2006, but I knew her already from the Yahoo Videoblogging Group. We had some great and important conversations and I knew she had her finger on the pulse of what was going on in this new “New Media” world I was diving into from my Corporate and Broadcast video background.
Rox & Shane did their own show, Beachwalks.tv, but what I didn’t know at the time was that they were also very, very, VERY busy with their consulting business where they have 12 years of experience working in internet technology, streaming media, audio & video podcasting, new media creation and consulting, content management systems, event production, and public speaking.
Fast Forward to March 2007, and I accompanied Rox to NYC’s BlogHerBiz ’07 conference. We were filming or attending discussions all day, which probably amounted to 6 or 8 hours, tops, before we shut the productions down and got ready to socialize for the rest of the evening.
When Rox turned her computer on, she said something about having 80 emails since she had last checked this morning. I remember laughing at that, thinking “ha ha, you have all this spam/bacn to get rid of, hahaha” To my shock & horror, I found out she had 80 actual legitimate BUSINESS emails, with more coming in.
At the time, I was probably only getting 30 emails a day… like, meaning in a 24-hour period… and those were mostly garbage. There was something about Rox’s email situation that told me to pay attention, because I was looking at my future. We headed to the socializing events with both of us knowing that by the time she returned from having a good time (and, less importantly, business networking at the same time), even MORE email would be stacking up… Continue reading “Time, Business & Handouts [Time, Part 1]”
In professional productions, broadcast or corporate, there is a deadline. If you miss that deadline, you lose. If you don’t want to miss that deadline, you have to hire someone competent and trusted. People competent and trusted have rates. If you don’t want to pay that rate, you can hire someone else.
Since you have an air-date, there isn’t an infinite amount of time that can be spent on your project. This is another reason to hire a competent editor. You can either have a REALLY GOOD video in 8 hours or an “ok” video in 8 hours. Actually, depending on how much you skimp, you might not have a video AT ALL in 8 hours and miss your deadline.
Quality’s important when you’re doing professional work. This is because the company that hires you cares about its image and its brand. The whole point is to get people to feel like trusting the company with their business based on how they present themselves through media. Because of this, companies tend to go with post houses or editors that they know can and will make them look good, and pay those people accordingly.
Getting involved with video productions on the web is totally different. There’s no revenue stream coming from advertisers down to companies down to producers, shooters and editors. If a company’s going to make videos for the net, they have to be prepared to take a financial loss in return for increased brand recognition or social cred. They will NOT be making their money back via revenue-sharing. Unless they get tons of views, they will NOT be making their money back via sponsorships. They *have* to treat their videos as ADVERTISING and not some vehicle to make money with. They have to weigh their increase in social and business cred against the cost of their videos in order to justify a budget… ANY budget.
This is what makes it tough for professionals to feel like getting involved with the internet video business. Everyone in the space is trying to “make it”. Everyone’s clawing for that next dollar and that next passionate viewer and that next page hit to the point where it’s like a high school play. “Oh… could you run the lights for me?” “Could you dress up like a tree and stand in the background here for an hour?” “Can you pull the string that opens the curtains?” It’s REALLY incredibly unprofessional, but like I said, it needs to be, because these aren’t video production companies… They’re companies that are attempting to UTILIZE video on the net to gain something else. The bottom line is to spend as little as you can to produce videos that get you as many views as you can get that you can turn around and sell to someone that wants to advertise something.
So what you end up with is individuals or groups whose budget is 1/3 of your day rate who want you to get on board with doing a project that you know is going to take you three days. This is where TIME comes back into play. The question you have to ask yourself as a freelancer is “What else could I be doing during the time that I’m spending on this person’s project?”. Let’s see… You could be:
- Doing work at your actual day rate
- Socializing and making new business connections
- Learning new styles and concepts in editing
- Learning about new sites and apps on the web
- Reading what others have to say in their blogs about your chosen field
- Doing Trial & Error testing of new tools and concepts you’ve recently acquired
- Doing follow-up calls & emails on invoices people haven’t paid you for yet
- Posting to your blog or video blog
- Spending time with family & friends
- Enjoying your hobbies & other entertainment
- Living YOUR life
So, basically, the point of the budget is to get the producer, shooter or editor to focus on YOUR project instead of doing ANYTHING ELSE UNDER THE SUN that’s more beneficial or entertaining to him or her. Therefore, the lower your budget is, the less time that person’s willing to apply to your production.
Unfortunately, there’s a baseline to the amount of time that’s necessary for a project, so there’s a baseline to the budget. For instance… If someone gives me a tape that’s an hour long, off the bat, that’s an hour that has to be spent loading the tape onto the drive (less time if it’s coming from a digital source, like an SD card or P2 card). There are only two other ways around this expenditure of money/time. Pay someone else to be a loader and make sure they coordinate with the editor so they know how to load the tapes properly, or DO. IT. YOURSELF. Do it yourself and say to the editor, I have this drive with all the footage on it, and I need you to edit it. Saves you money right off the top.
There’s also a baseline in PLANNING that’s necessary for a video. If you give me a page with clearly marked ins and outs, video and dialogue cues, I can crunch that out in no time. If you give me NOTHING, then you have to pay for all the time it takes me to watch all your footage and make up an entire story in my head that makes you and your company look good. Even if the final product is 30 seconds long, if you gave me three hours of footage from which to select the best 30 seconds…….
Then you have to deal with changes. If the editor you hire isn’t also going to be the EP (Executive Producer), you’re going to have opinions about the video after it’s done. “Change my title”. “Move this part here”. “Take that part out”. “Change the volume”. “I don’t look good here”. This means that MORE time is taken listening to / reading your changes and more time is taken making them and then encoding the file and getting you a review copy. This is why a lot of work is done on a day rate basis instead of a package deal basis. Video is almost entirely SUBJECTIVE and people will tweak and tweak until they run out of time (air-time deadline) or money (budget / agreement). As long as they’re paying for the time they’re taking up (and to the degree that it makes it worthwile to the editor), more power to them.
This is why production companies are now swooping down into the space and creating all these web shows. Their editors are STAFFERS. They get paid REGARDLESS of how many people watch the videos, whether they go viral, whether there’s rev-share advertising on it, whether it has a shelf-life of more than three days. This works for the reasons I stated above. Production companies gain social & business cred from doing QUALITY WORK. Since they pay their editors to DO that work, their ROI is continued and increasing business from clients who want that same level of quality and consistency for their productions.
Is there a solution to this? I don’t think there will be. In fact, it’s not even actually a ‘problem’. Since most people are concerned with hits and viewership and membership, it’s not an issue for them to output GARBAGE and do that for as close to $0.00 as they can. Their reputation is based on how many eyeballs they can attract to sell to advertisers and NOT the quality of the video on their site(s). Nobody’s ever going to ask them to get their team to make a web video for them or a corporate video for them or something to go on broadcast television. Nobody’s going to ask them to work on a film… evAr. As long as the video is the means and not an end, it’s going to remain a high school production, and as long as that translates into hits, views and sales, these web companies are going to be happy.
The only decision here is whether to dress up like that tree and go stand in the background or only entertain video production proposals from individuals and groups with a focus on quality and an understanding of what it takes to make that happen.
At this point, doing live shows has become a fad. Justin.TV, LiveVideo, Yahoo Live, Mogulus, Operator11, BlogTV, Ustream, Stickam, is YouTube doing live video now? There are tons of people doing live shows now, but to what effect? For what purpose?
I streamed several sessions live from PodCampNYC 2.
I do live shows from my “Live” page:
I still follow and participate in Jonny’s shows on BlogTV:
Rana Part 1
IME, There are only two reasons to do a show live. 1) You’re broadcasting time-sensitive information, or 2) You want your audience to be able to interact live with the hosts & guests.
Time-sensitive information would be the new Apple announcements as they’re occurring or maybe a sporting event like a football game or an MMA event. Basically, it’s a replacement for people not being able to travel to that location and view it themselves, in person. This is why I was streaming sessions from PodCampNYC. There were people in other towns that I was in communication with that were interested in seeing what was going on in NYC *while* it was going on.
In this case, there was communication with me, but not with the people doing the panels. The idea was to give the experience of “being there”. Then again, *I* was the one doing the show, not the panelists, so there actually WAS direct interaction with the host.
Most of the services I mentioned will save your video for you as an archive. This means that if your information isn’t time-sensitive, more people will watch the archive asynchronously than will tune in at that particular day and time to watch your show live. The only incentive they have to tune in live is reason #2.
The only reason to bother tuning in to an internet show at a particular time instead of watching it whenever you get around to it is that you’re going to have a different experience during the live show than you have watching the archive.
George Kelly did a live show on Yahoo a few months back that I thought was really enjoyable and well-done. George plays guitar, and instead of having people tune in to watch him play whatever he had already decided, he was taking requests from the chat room. Automatically, there was value added, because the show was being created on the fly. Meanwhile, the text-chatters were socializing amongst themselves. George was in and out of attention to the chat room and “a fine time was had by all”. 😀
Jonny Goldstein‘s shows are fun because he does them consistently and has built up a “studio audience” that’s gotten to know each other via his show and maintained our relationships via other formats of social media. Jonny’s very attentive to the chat room, and he’s more of a facilitator of conversation than someone that just sits there talking to a guest as if there’s no live audience.
The reason I was thinking about this is that as stingy as companies are in trying to leverage pre-recorded video and UGC (User-Generated Content), I can’t see *WHY* they would turn around and waste their money making LIVE shows that are the exact same experience as the saved archive. Where’s the ROI? Are there really so many extra people tuning in to the live show that it justifies the expenditure? Isn’t it just preaching to the choir? For that, assemble the same hosts & guests, turn a video camera on, turn it back off, edit & upload that video and you’ll have just as many people watching it while retaining ducats in your video budget to create some worthwhile programming.
Perhaps ask yourself “What difference does it make if my audience watches my show live versus if they watch it later today?” or “What difference does it make if my audience watches this show next Tuesday, or next month?” If the answer is *NONE*, then save your money and focus on pre-recorded content.
Reader Adam H. had a couple of questions about what I thought about the Fast Company / Robert Scoble / Shel Israel thing that’s been going on now for about a month. The first GlobalNeighbourhoods.TV video was dropped on March 19th… Actually, the first FOUR episodes were released on that date and since then, post-production of that show has essentially been non-existent during a virtual metalstorm of criticism of nearly every single aspect of that show.
I commented five days ago on Shel’s site here and here. I thought I’d say something today about budgeting for internet video, with the focus being essentially that you get what you pay for, and if you don’t pay for anything it’s not only the content creator that’s going to be ridiculed, it’s YOUR brand.
Here’s the problem with internet video. I’ve been saying this for probably over a year now, and nothing’s different today. The way television works (which I know, because I’m a broadcast editor) is that the money comes from advertisers. The reason the money comes from advertisers is because they want to take advantage of *you*… the viewer. They know that 2 million people are going to sit in front of the television and watch this show, so they’re willing to pay the network to get their product in front of that many potential customers. Television is ALLLLLLL about sales. That’s why they call them “soap operas”. The point was to sell soap. ACTUAL soap.
This model doesn’t exist with internet video. Not only do you generally have a smaller audience, but you can’t prove demographics. This means you can’t convince an advertiser to give you big money to do an internet show. Since there’s no real revenue stream, it’s spawned a mentality of individuals and companies trying to do or get something for nothing. The less they can spend and still have a video to put on youtube or wherever and try to get hits, page views and revenue shares, the more they like it.
That’s the internet video formula. Spend little, get a garbage product, have people click on it anyway, split the revenue with the host. As we’ve seen with people that have gotten millions of hits on a video and pulled in maybe a couple of thousand dollars worth of revenue, it’s just not worth it. The odds are low that you’re going to get that many hits, and the fact of the matter is that time is money. Unless you have a sponsor, making video on the internet is a money-LOSING situation.
For example… If you work in NYC, and you’re the slowest, least-knowledgeable nonlinear video editor with his/her own system, you can still get $30/hour. Using that insanely-low number as a base, let’s look at the time that it would take to do the Shel Israel show. Actually… Let’s kick it down to McDonald’s wages… What do they get? $10/hour? Is that minimum wage at this point? Let’s say you could get someone to work for $10/hour to make Global Neighbourhoods Television.
The first thing you have to do is shoot the show. Assuming the company you’re going to talk to is local to you, you have to get paid for the time you spend at that company plus the time it took you to travel there. Let’s say you spent 5 hours at a company, traveled another two hours to get there and back and shot 2 hours of footage while you were there (I have no idea how long they actually take or how much they shoot to do their show).
Off the bat, your show has now cost you $70 in time and $15 in tape if you didn’t buy bulk. That’s assuming you already own a camera. That’s assuming you already own a microphone. That’s assuming you already own lights. That’s assuming you’re going to run the camera yourself WHILE you do the interview. If you want to have a cameraman follow you around, let’s say you were able to find someone else that was willing to work for my version of minimum wage, $10/hour. That means that your show is infinitely better, but that it now costs you $140 to shoot. It also means that most likely, the person that you hired… SUCKS, so there’s a good chance that you won’t get anything good for your no-budget production.
Now you have a show “in the can”, meaning you have the elements, but you don’t have a finished show. This means that you have to find someone that’s willing to edit your show for $10/hour. Off the bat, there’s going to be a two-hour loading fee because if you used tape, it has to be ingested into the system in real-time = $20. If you didn’t hire a producer for $10/hour to make sense out of the footage that you shot, that means that the editor has to play through ALL of your footage to extract the best parts = another two hours = $20. Now, the editor is either charged with making your show him/herself, or it’s a supervised edit, meaning someone is telling the editor what they’d like to see happen. Let’s assume it’s going to take four hours to edit the show. That’s another either $40 or $80 depending on the number of people involved. That also doesn’t take into account Suite Fees and Equipment Fees.
So… Adding up this bunch of $10s, we end up with a base price of something like $165/episode for a show that’s shot in one day, by one person and edited during a four hour time span. No revisions. No changes. No more work done on that show past one day. Now… How does that money come back? Revenue-sharing? Let’s say you can get a $7 CPM (cost per mille) for your videos. That means that for every ONE THOUSAND TIMES that someone clicks on your video, you receive a whopping $7. And that’s AFTER you accumulate enough of those thousands to make it over the low limit which the host has agreed in their ToS that they’ll write you a check. That might be $25 and it might be $100, so you don’t get paid JACK unless you get 25/7×1000 views. Let’s call it 4,000 views gets you $28 and THEN you get paid.
$165/$28 = 5.892. Multiply that by 4,000 views, and you’d have to get over 23,000 views to break even if you’re working for $10/hour. Sure, you can do other stuff like have banner ads on your page and google ads, but basically, you can see that without sponsorship, Shel’s not only doing a show for free, he’s actually LOSING MONEY doing the show. SOMEONE’S got to come up with that $165/episode. If it’s a weekly show, that’s $660/month.
PLUS… Unless you’ve got it like that, and you have a business that makes money without you being involved, you have to factor in the opportunity cost of not being able to make money during those hours that you’re shooting and editing your show. You also have to factor in downtime on your computer while videos are being rendered, compressed or uploaded to the internet.
So, even with this hypothetical minimum wage example, we’re looking at $800/month to produce Global Neighbourhoods Television…. in its CURRENT state.
So now, you’d have to wonder WHO you could get to pay you $800/month as a sponsor of a no-budget show. You’re not going to be able to sell “numbers” unless you’re popular for some reason. You’re not going to be able to sell page views either.
Apparently, what happened in this particular case is that Shel Israel’s show has been submitted for editing. Today is April 10th. The show, which was originally announced as a daily… was kicked back to being a weekly… and now hasn’t been updated since March 28th, which will be two weeks ago, tomorrow. If it actually becomes a weekly show, tack on that four hours of minimum wage editing for another $40/week = $160/month and now, the budget is approaching $1,000/month, including shipping tapes to the editor.
So now, I can get to Adam H’s questions:
Adam H: What is Billâ€™s opinion on this? What are his thoughts on why the videos are lag coming out, why they are long and boring, about FastCompanyTV in general?
My guess is that the videos aren’t coming out on schedule because Fast Company’s in between a rock and a hard place. They only have two choices… Release videos of the same ‘quality’ or get the videos worked on. It seems like they’ve chosen to get them worked on. Neither solution “works” for them.
If they release videos similar to what they’ve already produced, they’re going to be the subject of even more ridicule than they already have been. “They”, being the entire crew involved in this: FastCompany, Robert Scoble, Shel Israel… in that order.
If they get Shel’s videos worked on, the minimum wage editing money is going to have to appear out of thin air. As far as I know, there’s still no sponsor, even though that Seagate advertisement is STILL on fastcompany.tv/global-neighbourhoods-tv. Actually, they could virtually “pay” for Shel’s show to get edited if they have a staff editor and just tack it onto his/her list of duties for fastcompany.tv. That still incurs the opportunity cost of that editor taking time away from doing edits that were originally in their job description.
The other problem with getting the shows edited is that they’re already shot incorrectly. This means that the 4 hours (plus 2 hours for loading, plus an hour for encoding, uploading, tagging, etc) that I estimated for the edit will probably be more like 8 hours and probably spread out over several days, including running the show by an EP (more minimum wage $$/episode) and making several revisions until it’s deemed worthy to be released.
Why are they long and boring? Their focus is on “content” and not entertainment. Basically, what they do is bring you along as a fly on the wall while they hang out with business people and ask questions. Their goal is to archive these Q&A sessions. Basically, as an editor, I can tell you that watching their shows is like watching raw footage. It’s what you would see if you opened up the viewfinder on the camera they used to shoot it and pressed play. The credit that I can give them is that the only show of theirs that I’ve listened to end-to-end was the Jason Calacanis interview, which was broken up into a 20 MINUTE SEGMENT and a *24* MINUTE SEGMENT with a third segement still to be released. I probably watched the first 5 minutes’ worth, then let it play in a background window like a radio program while I did other things. So I can guess that if the niche that they report on consistently has topics/guests that someone’s actually interested in, then their long, boring videos are consistently useful to someone. I’d love to see stats on how many people are return viewers and what percentage (time-wise) of these 44-minute and counting videos are actually being watched.
What about FastCompany.TV in general? hahahaha Interestingly enough, I said what I had to say about FastCompany.TV when I heard about it through the grapevine. I left my comment on Robert Scoble’s announcement post, three months ago, on January 16th, 2008. Video quality isn’t based on a website… It’s based on a team. Bring the same team and you get the same videos.
Meet the new boss….
Same as the old boss………