Actress Felicia Day, best known as "Vi" on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, has also created a successful web video series without any help from Hollywood.
In 2007, she wrote, produced, and stared in her own series, The Guild, which follows a group of online gamers. After posting the content to YouTube, she received a number of studio offers, but decided it would be better to crowdfund ten additional episodes. After landing a coveted deal with Microsoft, six more seasons of The Guild appearead on Xbox’s Independent Video channel, as well as Hulu, Netflix, iTunes, YouTube, and Amazon.
In a recent interview, Day explained how entrepreneurs can launch a successful online video business for the leadership blog, Knowledge@Wharton. Here are five tips from that conversation.
Own your content.
"Creative property is all about IP [intellectual property]," says Day. "When you're creating worldscapes with scripted content, or even non-scripted content, the potential revenue is extremely high if you're able to take it to another platform, like TV or movies. To not be in control of that is not as good a business decision."
Churn out the content.
"The expectation for a native YouTube user is constant, constant content. [The YouTube audience] isn't as event driven; they're comfort driven. It's the equivalent of a morning show," Day says.
Create for more than one platform.
"I think it's a mistake to let the platform train you to make content only for that platform," says the actress. "We might not get four million hits on every single episode, but we're making something that can continue into a movie or TV."
Think big on a small budget.
You don't need a big budget to be successful. Online video is up to 90 percent cheaper to produce than TV and film. "Sometimes it will surprise you," says Day. "The thing you put the least effort into will be the most popular, and the thing you put all your effort into will not be popular."
Make something you love.
"If you're going to do it yourself, you're getting into the business of audience management," says Day. "Know that you have to be on 24/7. And make sure you're doing something you love enough that it doesn't become work to maintain your audience--something that you're passionate about, that would drive you every single day to get up and be excited to interact with people around. That's really the key to YouTube and online content in general."