Secrets of Online Distribution - Raindance

This article was previously published in the official festival catalogue of Raindance Film Festival and WebFest. However, the secrets of online marketing should not be limited to print media, so read up on our tips now:

Make Online Distribution Work

Online distribution sounds like an ideal situation for filmmakers, as they can reach an audience without having to spend a single penny. In actuality it is very complicated, and many find it frustrating to find an audience. Here we will take a look at some good and bad distribution methods.

Bad Online Distribution Methods

Treating The Audience Like Cinema-goers
When people are sat down watching a video at their computer, the last thing they want is something as long as a feature film. Most of them will be sat at their desks or tables, and won’t be nearly as comfortable as they would be in a cinema seat. When watching videos online, people want to be entertained instantly, so try and keep it short and sweet. Many filmmakers try to abide by what is known as the ‘two minute rule,’ while others drift a little over that. Recent research showed that the average length of the top 10 shared videos in the world is 4 minutes 11 seconds. Generally speaking, it is best to try and keep it below 10 minutes no matter what.

Don’t Expect Instant Success
Unfortunately, it is a bad idea to expect to be successful straight from the start. Most of the time you will need a little patience before you video becomes popular, if it ever does. Always try to be realistic about what your video is going to achieve when it appears online.

Good Online Distribution Methods

Learn From The Movies
Stephen King said that the key to becoming a good writer is to read a lot and write a lot. The same applies to movies. If you want to make a good film, you need to be watching a lot of movies and learning from them all. Pay attention to how emotions are conveyed, what characters are like and how that comes across, and how stories are structured.

Give Your Channel Lots Of Attention
Posting one video is never good enough. You need to have several videos in store, no matter what. If you only have the one complete edited film to hand, then dig up some deleted scenes and post them like they are a special feature. You could even find some outtakes and make your own blooper reel. And you can’t deny that blooper reels are popular online. This reel from the movie Star Trek has received nearly half a million views.

Optimise Your Videos
If you want a lot of people checking out your videos, then you need to make sure everything is optimised. This includes the title, keywords, and the description. Make sure the keywords and phrases you want are there. If you want some extra help with optimisation, check out Orama’s blog about optimising YouTube videos.

Adapt The Format
One of the great things about using online distribution is that there is no rulebook. While movies and television quite often follow the same format, you are free to try and test formulas when you are posting your creative work online.  Never hold back and just allow yourself to make something fresh and exciting.

Consider Paying For Promotions
If you were making a feature film, some of the budget would have to go on the marketing campaign. There is no reason why you can’t do the same even when you are using online distribution. Some people use things like Google Adwords, but you are probably better off using video advertising. Comparatively they are cheaper, and you can target the audience you want.

Bringing It All Together

Ultimately, the key to making online distribution worthwhile is lots of hard work. Once your video has been posting online, the work doesn’t stop there. After that you have to make sure that the video is optimised, and that you continue to post videos regularly. Always make sure that you are trying your best to do something different and fresh, and learn as many lessons as you can while your watching the movies. If you can bring it all together, then you can make online distribution the best thing that has ever happened to your filmmaking career.