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Why You Need To Develop A Video Strategy NOW If You’re A Comedian

December 3, 2011

While online video is nothing new, there have been several developments in the space over the past few months that have convinced me it’s never been more important than right now for every comedian to embrace videos and develop your own personal video strategy.

In light of this belief, I’ve decided to put together a couple posts to help you better understand why now is a moment of incredible opportunity and how you can best take advantage of it. In a couple days, I’ll offer some suggestions about how to develop an effective video strategy, but before I get to that I want to outline why I think now is the time that you have to put effort and resources into creating online videos.

Production Costs Have Dropped And Audiences Have Grown

It’s likely you’ve already posted at least a handful of videos online, but it’s just as likely you haven’t had the time, resources, or production knowledge necessary to commit to an ongoing video strategy. But, thanks to rapidly improving technology and the fact that just about every phone has a built in camera at this point, it’s never been cheaper or easier to produce high quality video content.

At the same time, the audience for online video continues to grow rapidly and the viewing experience has been dramatically improved as the technology has gotten better and broadband and wi-fi have become ubiquitous. On top of all of that, the growth of social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have made it easier than ever before for audiences who like what you create to subscribe or connect to your creations, which makes distribution of your creations easier than ever before as well.

This all has combined to create a perfect storm in which it’s never been easier to create video content and get it seen by lots of people.

Money Is Pouring Into The Online Video Space

Another of the big reasons that you may not have put much effort into creating videos is the belief that there’s ultimately no money in it. While that may have been true a few years ago, it’s not any more.

Money is pouring into the online video space from all kinds of different sources including major video distributors like YouTube, brands and advertisers, traditional networks and studios, and assorted other entertainment industry players who are seeking content they can monetize in one way or another. And this isn’t even counting the potential for you to monetize your own videos through merchandise, increased ticket sales, and other means.

YouTube recently invested over more than $100 million to various content producers to create new channels on YouTube and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s not uncommon for popular YouTube channels to make more than $1 million a year, and all of these numbers are growing fast.

I’m not saying you’re going to get rich as soon as you upload a video to YouTube, but there is no doubt we are in the midst of an online video gold rush and many of the “pioneers” who invest their time and effort in the space will reap huge rewards as more money continues to shift from traditional media to online video.

This Is Where Talent Is Being Discovered

You can spend all the time you want in comedy clubs and on festival stages, but if you really want a career as a writer or performer in Hollywood then the quickest way to get there is through online video.

I’ve had multiple meetings in the past month with some major traditional media companies in the entertainment industry and even I was blown away by the extent to which people who came out of the digital comedy world (specifically online video) are now at the center of that universe.

Hollywood executives have come a long way from the days when they wrote off YouTube and online video as second-rate crap – now, when they want something funny often the first place they go to look is online. That’s where comedy talent is being discovered and if you’re not living in that world, you’re drastically reducing your chances of being found.

Online Video Will Be The Same As TV Within Five Years

Just about every comedian has a goal of being on TV, but here’s what most of you don’t realize – online video is going to be the same as TV within five years (or less). If you’ve ever used an Apple TV or accessed YouTube through an Internet-connected TV, it will instantly change the way you think about what online video is and what it isn’t.

Within five years (probably sooner), there will be no difference between what is considered TV programming and what is considered online programming. This means that the best way for you to get yourself on TV isn’t to spend your time chasing down representation and auditions, but to spend your time producing your own videos and putting them on “TV” yourself by uploading them online. Create your own show, your own channel, etc., and carve out a spot for yourself that people will be able to watch on their TV sets from the comfort of  their couch sooner than you may realize.

There’s a war shaping up between the traditional TV companies and tech companies like Apple and Google for what happens on your television set and trust me, the traditional companies are going to lose. And when they do, people will be able to watch your YouTube channel just as easily as they watch NBC – but they’ll only be able to do so if you actually have a YouTube channel. That’s yet another reason you need to start embracing video now.

The Longer You Wait, The More Behind You Will Be

You may not think you’re ready to start producing and posting videos online, but here’s something to keep in mind: the longer you wait to do so, the more behind you will get.

As with just about everything online, there’s a learning curve and the best way to learn what works or doesn’t is by doing it. You have to experiment to find your voice in much the same way you need stage time to hone your stand up comedy act. At some point, you’re going to need to make videos and no matter when that moment comes, it’s going to take you time to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

That’s why I’d recommend you start now – we’re at a moment in time where new opportunities are being created every day and the longer you wait to start, the less likely you are to be able to take advantage of them.

What To Do Next…

Hopefully, this has at least convinced you that now is the right time to start seriously thinking about what your video strategy will be. But, assuming that’s the case, it leads to a much bigger question – how do you figure out a video strategy that will work?

I’ll tackle that question in a post in a couple days, but in the meantime if you’ve got some specific questions you’d like me to address in it feel free to leave them in the comments below…

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Trevor December 3, 2011 at 4:25 pm

Here’s something I’d like to hear others’ opinions on.

So I’m totally on board with creating youtube content. Having a background in screenwriting, comedy sketches are something I feel I can do very well and potentially give me an edge on other comics as far as online content. I’ve recently purchased a decent camera for doing so etc etc.

Problem is I’d obviously be collaborating with others to do these sorts of sketches and so forth so it would seem unfair to throw these all on my personal channel. At the same time, I’d also like to post videos of my stand up, which would obviously go on my own channel.

Ideally, however, I would like my potential fans to be able to find everything in one place. It seems like it would be far more difficult to get people to subscribe to multiple channels. I suppose you could play the “my camera, my channel” card, but that would be rather dickish and not something I’d want to do. Maybe just use my personal channel to “favorite” the videos on the sketch channel. Do you see this as a problem or am I making too much of it?

Reply

Josh Spector December 4, 2011 at 1:38 pm

I don’t really see it as a problem and there’s not necessarily a right or wrong way to do it. Here’s a couple things to think about…

If you’re asking people to be in your videos and they know up front that they’re going to live on your channel, they shouldn’t have any problem with it.

Also, if you want to have your sketch stuff on a separate channel for some reason, there’s nothing wrong with that either – it’s actually very common for bigger YouTube stars to launch secondary channels at some point to feature a different kind of content they’re creating.

Another thing you can do is host all the videos on your channel, but create separate playlists for the different types of videos – so you’d have a standup playlist, a sketch playlist, etc.

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jesse December 8, 2011 at 12:50 pm

the trick is to have your own personal website and use youtube to host your videos.

to create the ‘all in one’ experience for your fans, let them go to http://www.trevor.com where you embed the youtube videos for your standup in one section, then the youtube videos for your collaborations on another page, youtube videos from your professional work (like if you land a spot on a show) on another section.

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Matt Brookens December 5, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Here are some secrets to getting hits on YouTube.

I’m relaunching my youtube channel next year. Had to rebuild and regroup when I realized it’s pretty much my own personal Comedy Central.

YouTube Channel Steps to Success

1. Optimize Tags- What are the words people will use to find our comedy? Sample them in YouTube search and see what comes up. Then use those words.
2. Description: Add link First! Then use a LONG description like a blog post. Add keywords underneath. (If you have gmail, use google url shortener goo.gl.com)
3. Annotation Links- daisy Chain all your videos! Make sure there are places to click for more videos. Try a subscribe now link.
4. Reply to all comments- This keeps people involved. Don’t be negative.
5. Leave tons of comments- People find you this way.
6. Add everyone as friends. They notice and may subscribe.
7. Answer all subscriber questions. They are our life blood. Respect/love them.
8. Collaborate- Both collaborators put up the video and then link to the other’s channel. Works well with people w large followings.
9. Multi-channel – Make sure the other outlets are pointing to the channel– Facebook, website, Twitter all funnel in traffic.
10. New Content – must add new stuff regularly. This is gonna be tough.

Power to the people! HA!

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Josh Spector December 5, 2011 at 4:51 pm

Hey Matt, thanks for the great comment – lots of good suggestions there and I agree completely.

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Cliff Yates/Comedy Cop December 5, 2011 at 5:18 pm

This was great !,, This is the future and the time is now. This is where everybodys eyes are at, and this is where we need to be. You have me inspired to get some great video content out there. Looking forward to the next article on this subject. As a cop and a comedian, I have been shooting myself on the job and also doing comedy, I have to really be careful about my content, and what I might get in trouble for regarding my on duty videos, which I don’t get permission for, I have to totally go rogue, because I know they wouldnt be approved. for an upcoming video, I have ordered my own uniform with customized shirts,patches and badges, to avoid a trip to internal affairs. Your article has inspired some ideas for future videos.

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Jerry December 5, 2011 at 6:34 pm

This article is the truth cause making online videos has gotten me on a morning radio show as a repeat guest.

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Pete DAlessandro December 5, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Trevor –

I’d second what Josh has pointed out. If you’re up front about what the video IS, and up front about where it will appear, people will want to take advantage of the exposure you’re giving them. My wife and I have been doing this for a little while, with a great deal of support from friends.

The YouTube channel is analogous to a TV show. If that videos are all under the umbrella of “Trevor and Friends” or whatever you call your show, its no different than when a celebrity hosts or does a cameo on SNL.

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Mick Diflo December 10, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Not sure if you have any experience with someone who’s in SAG – I’ve done some skits, etc. & the producers have had to fill out some papers, etc. to have me ok’d by SAG to be on a web-series. Would this be the same situation? Thanks…………..Mick

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Leo Flowers December 14, 2011 at 3:00 am

Hey Josh,

I’m 6’1 1/2, Black, former college athlete and one of the few comedians with six-pack abs. i frequently after shows have people asking me about my diet and workout routine. I was thinking about posting workout videos on my youtube channel. Then writing a workout book and creating a protein powder to sell as part of my merch. I really just want to know what you think about me adding workout videos to my youtube channel? Would that be a conflict or should i just create an entirely new channel?

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