When I was young, my friends and I used to have a public access show. For those not in the know, back in the day, cable companies were required to offer a certain percentage of channels available to the public. Our cable company actually offered us free VHS cameras, lighting, and even access to an editing bay! We got our time slot sometime in 1992 or so. Eventually we got our first episode online.
But what we REALLY wanted to do was do an HOMAGE to a movie we just finished seeing; Terminator: Judgement Day! We wrote scripts and even shot around HALF of the movie, too!
What we EVENTUALLY wanted to do was
- Make a full-length movie
- Have it be picked up by some big-time production company
Needless to say, we never finished it. (we did a LOT, but not all of it.) BUT, over 5 or so years, we did make a BUNCH of short little videos! We learned a lot about pre-production, production, and post-production.
Around 2000 or so, I started wanting to do something creative. I began to learn graphics, web design, and animation on my own. I started my own blog, and even got an AdSense account. I figured I would put ads on my blog pages.
After trying out a variety of animation software, I settled on Macromedia Flash 4. I began making my own short films and animations. Some of the first animations I did was asking my small kiddos to make up a story, draw the story, and then narrate the story as I animated it. I eventually got comfortable enough with Flash to make long form cartoons, and eventually I even entered two 48 hour film competitions; Yes, write and animate a story in 48 hours. I succeeded one time, and failed the other time.
I eventually started out helping out with other video productions, and eventually started making my own short films. I am very proud of my first short, Cliptomaniac, and my second short, What To Do In A Zombie Attack, was created as basically “buffer” between the “real” short films for a now defunct short film festival! But, they were pretty good, so I made a few more.
My MISTAKE was that I was making these films and animations to please others! A very good example is my short film, Hell Is Work. The CONTEST was this: Mash up two movies and make a short film! I worked with a fantastic producer who wanted to mash Office Space and Evil Dead 2. I wrote the script, and we were on the way! It was a great combination of my kind of unique (read: STUPID) style, and DRY humor….
BUT, when it went up to the judges, half of them never saw Office Space and NONE of them had heard of the Evil Dead series! I think the winner had something to do with a mashup of Dirty Dancing and something else, starring a fat guy dressed in drag.
Despondent, I decided to just upload all my short films to YouTube. I would upload my videos whenever I finished them, and left it at that.
One of my short films, What To Do In A Zombie Attack, was gaining a following. I uploaded it to Archive.org, in the Prelinger Mashups section, since I had used a LOT of Prelinger Public Access Footage AND MUSIC for the short. For some reason, TONS of people were downloading it… I mean I think we got up from the low hundreds to the high thousands within a week. I was even contacted by teacher in Barcelona. He wanted to know if it would be OK if he translated the short to Catalan, for his class! HAHA! FUN!
What I didn’t realize was that Adsense account I had created in 2001 was also working on YouTube. Somehow, either on purpose of by accident, I had joined the two.
Because of that, I got an check from YouTube; 350 bucks! Seems that WTDIAZA hit a million views, and was raking in some ad revenue!
I would receive somewhere between 100 to 500 bucks a month from that little video over two years. It was very nice.
Back then, streaming video was considered small potatoes. the “real money” was in Physical Media! ( You don’t OWN anything? That’s stupid! It will NEVER catch on!)
I decided to get into the DVD business. I eventually found this thing called Createspace.com, and made a few DVDs with them. I liked how they worked; you authored your own DVD, and created your package and disk graphics using templates. You then uploaded the graphics and mailed the DVD, and eventually they’d mail you a DVD proof! If you approved it, it would be put on sale online on their quaint little website.
It was pretty cool, but it didn’t get SUPER cool until Createspace.com got purchased by Amazon! Once that happened, all my DVDs instantly were up for sale on Amazon.com! Afterwards, I found out that if you formatted you video correctly and provided a closed caption file, Amazon would allow you to stream my videos on Amazon Video.
Am I pulling in hundreds of bank? No, not really. I would say, on average, I get around 12 to 20 bucks a month from Amazon. Mainly from people who have Amazon Prime and an Amazon Fire looking around for some stupid stuff to watch. I have transcribed all of my animations, but still need to transcribe some of my live action stuff.
Now, another thing I started back in the late stages of the Out Crowd, was merchandise! Mainly T shirts. I looked into making T-shirts, but back then you needed a large investment and a place to store all your merchandise, not to mention the whole money exchange thing… blah. Never-mind. I ran into this website called CafePress.com, who had the same on-demand business plan that CreateSpace did. I gave them a try.
Would I get any money from this? No. Not really. At the time, you had to make so much money before they sent you a check… usually up to 50 bucks. BOO.
I totally forgot about merchandise as a means of making money. Eventually, whenever I would make a funny, ironic, or stupid design, I’d just put it on a t-shirt. Around 2015, I got myself a Redbubble.com account, which not only had a better user interface, but nicer items and the option to make a full print shirt! I also got a Society6 account, because… well, they sell shower curtains.
It wasn’t until recently that I began seeing some money from THESE guys; since I set up direct deposit, they now send your money to you every month, no matter how little the amount is. How much do I get from THIS: around 15 to 20 bucks a month.
“BOO!”, you may say! “I can’t quit my job with only 40 bucks a month!”
You’re missing the point.
I’m HALF-ASSING this! I haven’t made new video content in years! But, with planning, you can consistently create original content. As an example, when we were making The Out Crowd, we didn’t care about whose music, videos, or images we were using; it was public access! Nobody cared! When I posted old OC videos to YouTube, I would CONSTANTLY get gigged for “copyrighted material”. Nowadays, when I make new media, I find music that is free for use, or at least the right kind of Creative Commons licenses that can be use to make profit.
So if I made a video a week, would I make money? I dunno… but I will tell you this. I would have a better chance of making money with videos if I tried 52 times, instead of just with one or two.
If I made a different shirt a week and put it out, I am sure ONE of them may be a hit… and by hit I mean be purchased. But what does it cost me? An HOUR or so of half-assing a graphic!
It doesn’t cost me anything to put it online! Sure, the online store gets the majority of the profits, but who the hell wants to be in the T-shirt printing or online shopping cart business?
Now it’s time to bring it back; when I was in The Out Crowd, the dream was to be picked up by a big corporate company and given money to do the things we liked with more expensive equipment. Back then, DV tape was just a rumor in Popular Science, and if we could keep our videos below “Third Generation”, we considered ourselves lucky.
Nowadays, our phones can shoot 16 times better resolution than we could do with our old VHS cameras! Kids are doing what WE did for FUN!
It makes me wonder if we really needed to hit it big to do what we wanted if we were trying it today? I mean, when did success mean making the most money than anybody else, and making a LITTLE BIT more every year until you die? If THAT is what we’re shooting for, well… Yeah, we will fail.
An example I like to use is Buckethead. He is a very gifted guitarist, and all he wanted to do was make albums. He was so good Sony offered him a record contract. Supposedly, Sony was not too happy with the amount of music he was making, so he was ordered to only release two records a year. He bypassed the contract by creating Death Cube K, a negative version of himself. With this loophole, he could release more albums.
Afterwards, he never really messed with any big name record labels.
Nowadays he has been selling his albums online at Bandcamp.com, since 2011. He releases an album 2 albums a month, and as of the moment, has over 270 albums for sale.
They’re only 30 minutes long, but if you really are a fan of Buckethead, there is NOTHING like new content. Now don’t get me wrong; he can make some pretty crazy and experimental stuff. Not every fan buys every record. The TRICK is… ENOUGH fans buy records.
“Okay, Hose A, what does that have to do with me?”
Well, I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s free money. Instead of spending time on Facebook, spend some time creating something. Learn a new program, or just draw stuff. Good lord, even sit in front of you WebCam and talk about stuff.
Do you draw? Do you take pictures? Handy with the shopping of the photos? Want to learn? Well, go right ahead! IF you have ever created a meme for Facebook and GAVE IT TO THEM FOR FREE… well… stop.
Go to YouTube and set up Monetization. Yeah, they pretty much made it hard to make money with that “No ads until your video hits 10,000 views” thing, but… Hey. You might get there… someday. What U gotta lose?
Then set up an account on one of those t-shirt websites I mentioned, or others. I’m sure they’re tons of them out there.
When something comes to you, create it, then upload it and make merchandise. Society 6 and Redbubble let you download templates so you can position your drawings and images perfectly on the garments, but I like RedBubble, because it is more forgiving when you have large images with transparent backgrounds. Society 6 really needs you to follow the templates, which will allow quick uploading and store openings.
Once you create your merchandise, THEN post it on Facebook! May as well use Facebook to make you some money since they’re making money by siphoning your personal data, anyway.
The trick is to NOT quit your day job, and do these often. If you throw enough spaghetti against the wall, eventually something will stick.
And I know that this seems a little self serving; “You just want us to look at all your stuff and buy stuff!”
Sure. I’m no chump. And yeah, if you like something, buy it! If not, then screen capture it, print it out, fold it really small, put it in your purse or wallet, and pull it out to look at it when you need to be cheered up. Whatever.
I just want everyone to take the concept of not just being a content CONSUMER, but also a content CREATOR.
I REALLY think everyone should give it a shot.
And if you do post a pic or a video, let me know; i’d love to see it.
Now go make sh!t.