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I'm sure that one of the reasons you create videos is for fun, but wouldn't you like to see a profit from them too? You don't need an outside distributor sell your films. It's fast, easy, and free to setup. All you need is basic knowledge of HTML, a web page such as www.myspace.com or your own website, an account with www.paypal.com, a www.verotel.com account, NoteTab Lite, and a FTP program.
I'm going to take for granted that you already have a video that you would love for paying audiences to see. Your editing software should allow you to put that film onto DVD and output it into either a Windows Media Player video or a QuickTime video. Now you have a product ready for sale. Here's what you need to do next:
To Sell DVDs:
Get yourself a Premier/Business account with www.paypal.com. Setup is free and you're only charged a small percentage from every sale (1.9% to 2.9% + $0.30). With Paypal your customers can pay you with any major credit cards or an electronic check. Paypal is one of the most popular and inexpensive payment methods out there. My favorite thing about Paypal is that you can deposit your money into your bank account at anytime (after you have more than $10.00 in your account) for free. And if you choose to be in the Paypal Money Market, you'll earn a small percentage (5.20%) on the money that you do keep in your account.
Once you sign up for a Premier/Business account, click on the "Merchant Services" tab. From there, you'll find text links for "Add to Cart" and "Buy Now" buttons. If you have several videos to sell, you'll want to start using the shopping cart feature. If you only have one video, choose the "Buy Now" button.
I would advise starting with the "Add to Cart" buttons. This way you won't have to change any of the coding if you decide to add more videos later.
Click on "Add to Cart" and start filling out the information on your video: title, price, etc. Here you have the choice to add your own button for people to click on when buying the DVD. After you have entered in everything (some boxes are optional), you'll notice two buttons at the bottom of the screen - "Create Button Now" and "Add More Options". The "Add More Options" will allow you to be more descriptive with your DVD. In the "Add More Options" page, I always click yes for the "Customer notes and special instructions," because sometimes someone will want to say how cool the film is or will have special mailing instructions for the DVD.
Now click on "Create Button Now" and follow the instructions on how to copy and paste your HTML code. Put this code on your website or your www.myspace.com page and you're done! Paypal will email you a notice when someone buys your DVD. This email will include that person's email address and mailing address.
Now what if you don't have a website or a web page? As mentioned earlier, Myspace is a good way to go. It's free and your profile has a chance of being viewed by millions of people. Don't forget to join Myspace groups that cater around the same theme as your films. You'll be using them to help spread the word about your video(s).
Somewhere in the "About Me" section of your Myspace profile, write a brief summary about your film, add photos with the description or add the photos in your photo album, and include the film details: DVD or VOD, length of film, and price.
You're now ready for business. To make things cheaper for yourself, I suggest buying a DVD copy station, DVD/CD bubble envelopes in bulk, and other supplies off www.ebay.com.
To Sell VODs:
To sell VODs, you'll need your own website - and you might have one but not even know it. If you (or your parents) pay for internet, then that internet company may a free website waiting for you. According to www.Comcast.com's website, they offer "the ability to create and host Personal Web Pages." Please check with your internet provider for details. Make sure to ask your internet provider if they have CGI capability and if they will allow you to upload your web pages via FTP.
After you have your website sorted out, you'll need to cut your video into 10- or 20-minute segments for easier download. When making these files, I highly suggest making them regular high-quality videos with a screen size of a minimum of 640x480. For example, I output my videos to Windows Media High Quality NTSC 640x480 (vbr) with Audio stereo (128kbit/sec). Remember, the higher the resolution, the more bandwidth and storage space your video will take up. Check with your provider to see how much storage space and bandwidth you have, because if you go over, they may charge you highly for it.
Once your video has been segmented, open NoteTab Lite to write your .html file. If you don't already have NoteTab Lite, you can download it for free at www.notepad.com. For fun, let's make a .html page and call it film_accesspage.html. This file will be the page that people will encounter after they pay for your video. I would highly advise keeping the file in .html format so that anyone from any country will be able to open it without problem.
In film_accesspage.html, type in the urls to your film. This exact url will be explained later in the article. Be sure to make the urls clickable (not only write the exact url, but also code it in HTML markup), because people will right-click on the urls to save the video onto their computer. People should NEVER watch the film directly from your server as it will take too much time and the playback will be horrid. Here's an example of one of my .html video pages.
<html> <head> <title>Perm video #315</title> </head> <body text="000000" link="blue" vlink="orange"> <p> <b>The best way to view your video selection is to right click on the link and save the video to your computer. You have only seven days before this link expires, so please download your video now. If you have problems downloading this video, you probably hit a peak download time. Please try again in an hour. Also, please do not surf the internet while your video is downloading. <p> <center> <a href="http://www.haircuttingfun.com/permvideo315/video/perm_vod1.wmv">http://www.haircuttingfun.com/permvideo315/video/perm_vod1.wmv</a> <br> <a href="http://www.haircuttingfun.com/permvideo315/video/perm_vod2.wmv">http://www.haircuttingfun.com/permvideo315/video/perm_vod2.wmv</a> <br> <a href="http://www.haircuttingfun.com/permvideo315/video/perm_vod3.wmv">http://www.haircuttingfun.com/permvideo315/video/perm_vod3.wmv</a> </center> <p> Please remember that this video will only play in Window's Media Player. If you don't have this player, click <a href="http://www.windowsmedia.com"> here</a> for a free Window's Media Player. If you have a Mac, you can find your free Window's Media Player <a href="http://www.microsoft.com/mac/otherproducts/otherproducts.aspx?pid=windowsmedia">here</a>. <p> <center><h1><i>Thank you!</i></font></h1></center> </body> </head> </html>
Here is what this page will look like in an internet browser:
The best way to view your video selection is to right click on the link and save the video to your computer. You have only seven days before this link expires, so please download your video now. If you have problems downloading this video, you probably hit a peak download time. Please try again in an hour. Also, please do not surf the internet while your video is downloading.
Please remember that this video will only play in Window's Media Player. If you don't have this player, click here for a free Window's Media Player. If you have a Mac, you can find your free Window's Media Player here. Thank you!
IMPORTANT! Whether your video files are .wmv (Microsoft's Window's Media Player), .mov (QuickTime), or any other video file, you'll need to provide a link to the website where the customer can download that media player to view your video. Much sure the link you give out has a free version on the video player.
When the film_accesspage.html file is ready, open your FTP program. If you don't have an FTP program, go to www.download.com for your free Leech FTP 1.3 program. Once that program is installed and you are connected (see webpage http://support.hosting4less.com/leechftp.html if aren't sure how to set up your FTP for the first time), look at the first column with many files. Double-click on the yellow folder where your video and the film_accesspage.html file are stored. You may have to double-click on the folder with the arrow to open up a different directory. If you still cannot find your video folder, click on "Local" on your FTP's menu bar. ("Local" means on your computer.) Once you have found your files, you are ready to upload them.
In the FTP's menu bar at the top, you'll notice "remote directory". Click on that, and it will open a submenu. Click on "new folder" to create a new folder to house your film_accesspage.html file. (The folder will be created in the right column.) For example, let's call the new folder "my_film".
Double-click on the my_film folder to open it. Now click, drag over and drop your film_accesspage.html file into the my_film folder. It's as easy as that. Next you'll create a folder called "video". This is where your actual video will be stored and where people will access it. As you did previously, go to the "remote directory" menu bar, click on "new folder," and name that folder "video." Now you can add your videos into this folder.
You're almost done, sort of. Once all the videos are finished being uploaded to the server, you'll want to write down the exact url to the film_accesspage.html file. For example: http://www.mysite.com/my_film/film_accesspage.html
You'll also need to know if your host server is CGI capable (it probably will be), the IP address of your site (you could google this or visit your account on your host's website), and the username and password of your FTP. I highly suggest writing all of this down where you can refer to it again in the future. This will make setting up your VOD a snap.
If you don't have a merchant account with www.Verotel.com, you'll need to set it up. There are no setup fees. The only fees that incur are on your VOD sales, on average 14.5% - 16% for credit card and check sales. As long as you choose to have the money you make direct deposited into your bank account, there are no other fees. With Verotel, people can purchase your video with all major credit cards, with their phone bill, and etc. Setting up a Ticket's Club account is free. There is an application form on their website for new merchants (you) to fill out and fax or snail mail back. You should set up your account with Verotel as soon as possible so that you can be authorized to sell your video(s) and to get paid.
Once Verotel has approved your application form, log into your account. In the menu, click on "My Setup" to bring you to another menu page. Click on "My Websites,"which is just under the "Content" heading. Clicking on "My Websites" will send you to a page where you can now list your video. Click on the "Add a new website" button and type in the information about your video: its description, url to the film_accesspage.html page, name of your video, and pick a category that best fits your video. Your my_film folder is known to Verotel as a website. Each new video folder that you make, will also be known as a website, so don't let that throw you off.
Next, click on the "My Setup" in the text menu bar. There you'll see "User payment options" under the "Order Page" heading. Click on "User payment options," select your video from the drop-down box, click on the "Add a new subscription" button on the next page, enter in the dollar amount that you think is fair for someone to pay to watch your video. Of course, you have other options on this page. Normally, for VODs, the "length of subscription" is seven days, and the customer will be billed once (change the option for Type of recurring billing to "one-time"). In the description box, you should write 7 days, one-time billing, so that your customers know for sure that they will only be billed for the video once.
My advice is to check out other video VOD sites that have similar videos to get an idea of how much you should charge. You can always change this price anytime (go to "My Setup," "User Payment Options," select your video, and then clicking the "Modify" button). If you do change the price, don't forget to change the price on your website.
Now you are ready to hand over your baby to Verotel, for them to love and protect. Back in "My Setup", you'll find "Request free help with your setup" under the "Remote user management" heading. This is where you'll be entering all that information that I had you write down earlier. Verotel will use this information to access your files and they will password-protect your video folder. This way no hackers get a freebie video. Verotel will have this completed usually within 24 hours. Once they password-protect the folder, it will be passed to Risk Management to make sure the film your film isn't illegal. This takes 1-2 days. I advise asking Verotel to do that password protection during the week, as they tend to be busier during the weekend and your wait time may be longer.
IMPORTANT! Do not request the free help with your setup until both your film_accesspage.html page and your video files have been uploaded. Otherwise, Verotel won't do anything until after those are uploaded and after you have sent an email saying that everything is there. You will have to write to them because they won't do anything until after you notify them.
When Risk Management has viewed your video, they will authorize the website and send you an email, letting you know "it's authorized". In plain English this means, you can start advertising that your video is now available as a VOD.
To list your VOD on your website or on myspace, you'll need to log into your account with Verotel. Click on "Preview order page," which is located under the "Order Page" heading. Copy and paste that url into your website/webpage. This order page will allow your customers to buy your video.
Armed with that coding, you are going to make another clickable link, just as you saw earlier in this article. But this time, this link will lead people to pay. Here's an example of what you'll do:
<a href="your verotel url here"> Buy VOD for $18.00</a>
The text between the <a href…> and the </a> will be clickable, and will take people to Verotel's ordering page so that they can buy your video. Verotel will send the customer an email with your video's url, and their username and password. But sometimes people delete that email after they have written down their username and password, so you'll also need to include that video url on your website too. Near the "Buy VOD for $18.00" you'll want to include <a href="http://www.mysite.com/my_film/film_accesspage.html">Download Video Here</a> after purchase. This way you've got your customers covered.
My last suggestion for successfully selling your videos as DVDs and/or VODs is to place a minute or two video clip on www.youtube.com, placing a direct link in the video's description to the website or webpage to where your video can be purchased. With all these websites at your fingertips and the advice in this article, you have all the opportunities to sell your work to an eager audience in minutes. Enjoy creating your videos and enjoy creating a profit too.
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