Updated: Sep 28
Among the list of to-dos for any actor is developing and maintaining a social media presence. This can feel tedious, especially in the beginning. It can take a while to develop an audience that is interested in what you’re up to and what you have to say, and most actors don’t have enough exciting career news to fill their followers feeds on a daily basis. Utilizing online video can be a great way to meet your social media goals, while simultaneously building a potentially lucrative business. While the online video space is constantly changing, YouTube has consistently been a leader in creating opportunities for individuals to earn revenue from video for over ten years, so that’s where we’ll focus on placing your content.
No actor expects that they’ll make their big break overnight. It certainly can and does happen, but it’s way more practical to assume you’ll have to hone your skills, audition, and form relationships over time to build your career. It’s an investment of time and resources. The same can be said for online video, but it will have the benefit of creating a body of work that represents your brand, eventually becomes a stream of revenue, and bundles into the investments you’re already making into your acting career.
The first thing you’ll have to come up with is a concept. You’ll want it to be something you can replicate on a regular basis without breaking the bank. You’ll want to post your videos with some sort of regularity, so that the audience you develop has a reasonable expectation of when you’ll deliver, and will be able to check in with you accordingly. Once you get to the point where you’re earning money from your content, it’s not practical to expect that every video you produce will go viral, earning you maximum exposure and revenue. That’s a “success overnight” mentality, and while you’ll of course welcome that, it will be more practical to expect to earn a few dollars on each video, and focus on developing a sizable library of your work. Over time, your audience and views will grow, and your revenue will too.
There are some common misconceptions about viral videos. Some people that think that monetization begins when a video goes over one million views. Others believe that you can retire off a video that is viewed over a million times. Neither is true. Currently, in order to partner your channel with YouTube and start earning revenue from your videos, you must have one thousand subscribers and four thousand hours of watch time over the course of a twelve month period. There are a lot of factors that impact a channel’s earnings, but the old adage is that you can expect about one dollar per one thousand views. Having that expectation can guide you in how you invest in your own content. Having a viral video here and there can really help you recoup the investments you’ve made into online video, but you can see how spending even hundreds of dollars per video may require massive amounts of views in order to just break even.
So, it’s important to take all of this into consideration when developing your concept. No matter what you decide, you’ll want to make content that plays to your strengths. You can improv, or write material depending on what you’re comfortable with. You can talk about yourself or others, be funny or informative, or create skits and sketches. They can feature just you, or you can get others involved. The possibilities are endless. It’s great to explore the platform to find inspiration. If you know very little about video production and editing, you can start with just using your cell phone as a camera. If you need to edit, you can do a search for free video editing software and tutorials online, or visit sites like Fiverr and Upwork to hire contractors if you have no interest in learning those skills yourself. Online video audiences are very forgiving of missing production elements, and it’s more important to get started with what you do know, than to have everything figured out before you begin. That could potentially hold you back from ever getting started, and no matter what, your content is going to change as you grow. Online video production is best learned by doing. It’s easier to solve problems related to challenges you’re experiencing, rather than trying to imagine them without the experience of doing.
You goal should be to create content that is entertaining enough that people will regularly look for your uploads, and that people who stumble upon your videos are converted from casual viewers to subscribers. In the beginning it may feel like you’re casting your videos aimlessly into the ether. At this stage, it is good to share your videos with friends and family to start to give your content some momentum. The more subscribers you have, the better your videos should perform in their first few days. YouTube has an ever-changing algorithm that decides to whom and how often it will suggest your content to new people. While no one knows exactly how the algorithm works, it’s widely accepted that it places some weight into analyzing the first couple of days of any video’s statistics. The more views, watch time, and interaction via likes and comments that your video garners, the more likely it is that your video will be shown to new people.
Another thing to consider when it comes to discovery on YouTube is your content’s metadata. You can potentially piggy-back off the success of the subjects of other videos on the platform. For instance, if a very popular movie is released, and you happen to be talking about it in a review or have a skit about it, you can make sure to include the name of the film in your video’s description and tags, and people may discover you by searching the name of the film, or might be suggested your video after watching the film’s trailer or other associated content.
No matter what, having regular online videos to share on social media is a good way to sell and promote your brand. Earning money from that content will likely take time and dedication, so you’ll really have to love it or appreciate its value to your acting career to keep you motivated. You can keep things super simple and make it mainly an investment of time, and as you get more confident in your online video skills, reach, and the trajectory of your channel, it’s easy to scale up and invest some financial resources. You could even leverage some brilliant idea with a sizable budget right off the bat, but practically speaking, slow and steady wins the race.
So, consider utilizing online video to support your brand today. At the very least, it’ll be an engaging way to keep yourself active on social media, but it has the potential to be a very realistic stream of revenue to help relieve you of some of the responsibility of a “survival job”. In the end, having a dedicated audience online who is interested in things you create can be really fulfilling, and can make your resume more attractive to casting directors and agents.
Written By Jared Winkler