The first blog post is always the hardest with amblings on who you are and what you have set out to do. I’ve decided to keep the introduction short and jump right into some nice, worthwhile content. So, for those of you who don’t know me, my name is Mark and I’ve moved from zzmarketing.co.uk where I used to blog as “MarkZZ”, as zoomzoom’s Head of Online Marketing. If you’d like to know more, you can have a look here – or if you want to make some money, keep reading! [Update: Now working at Further as Online Marketing Manager]
An Introduction to Video Websites
There’s a lot of them about, a lot. Apart from the old-timers like ebaumsworld, Google’s acquisition of YouTube has really seen them starting to eat up this market. The great thing is, that doesn’t matter, videos are a disposal media – people look at them once, show their mates and then it’s old news. You’re only as good as your last video! What we’re going to look at doing here is setting up a video website with minimal cost & time and maximising our profit.
Now, I’m not claiming this will make you a millionaire, but you can earn around Â£500 ($1000 to our American friends) per month without too much trouble. So it’s well worth it for the day or two it will take to set up!
Step #1: Monetization Strategy
Okay, for this site we are going to make our bucks from a couple of different sources. Our main income will be made from Google Adsense. Adsense will display contextual adverts which you can neatly blend in with the design of your website, to make them non-intrusive, yet a natural click away. For this website we are aiming at generating a 25% click-through rate while staying well inside the Adsense Terms Of Service.
An important note: I’m going to give you some tips on optimising your Adsense placement and layout later, if you want to take the optimisation further, you may be pushing the limit on what Google does and doesn’t allow. The Adsense team can be merciless at times if they think you are breaking their ToS, which can be quite “grey” at times. So, stick to the guidelines and you’ll be fine, cross the line at your own risk!
Step #2: Setting up the website with WordPress
Yay for WordPress and its many uses! WordPress gives you an off the shelf platform for out video blog (vlog). It allows comments, pings, trackbacks, easy archiving, it’s SEO friendly and has loads of plugins. For this kind of mission, it’s definitely the number one choice.
There are two ways you can go about getting WordPress up and running:
1) You can go to wordpress.com and sign up for a wordpress account, they will provide you with a hosted blog such as myvideoblog.wordpress.com
2) You can go wordpress.org and download WordPress and install it on your server. This is really the preferred option as it will give you the power to use some neat features in the future, which will smooth out the money making process! If you haven’t got web hosting, I use Site5 (aff link) and they’ve always been good to me and are fairly priced.
Once you’ve uploaded WordPress to your server, follow the installation guide (it’s pretty simple) to get your WordPress installation and database up and running.
Step #3: Choosing a domain name
Probably the hardest part of building any website is finding a domain name! Don’t worry too much about getting keywords in there, organic SEO isn’t how we’ll be doing the bulk of our promotion, try and focus on getting something short, snappy and memorable. (That means no hyphens!). If you can get something with a keyword or two (funny, video, comedy, humour – reach for your thesaurus) all the better, but as I say – don’t sacrifice the name for it. Once that’s sorted, point it at your server so it will have resolved by the time you’re ready to launch.
Step #4: Plugins Galore
There are some great plugins for WordPress that will save you a hell of a lot of time and coding. I’ve experimented with quite a few and whittled the list down to some essentials.
Viper’s Video Quicktags – This plugin will save you having to rip out all the embed code from videos on major sites like YouTube, all you need to do is paste in the video ID and this plugin will do all the rest of the code & alignment for you. It’s essential to make adding videos as quick as possible.
WP-Email – This plugin adds an “E-mail This To A Friend” option at the bottom of every post (which will be your videos). I’ve been using these for a while and although you don’t get loads of people use them, personally recommendation is the best kind of marketing your website could hope for.
WP-PostRatings – This will add the “rate this video” 0-5 stars function at the bottom of each post. It’s a nice addon to get people to try and interact with your site if the can’t be bothered to post comments. Interaction is good – it’s the first step in relation building with your visitors and ultimately trying to get them to come back.
Sociable – Adds a mini-bar of just about every popular social bookmarking site worth mentioning at the bottom of each post. Digg, Reddit, Bloglines, they’re all there. Optimisation Tip: From experimenting, I found it is best not just to select all the social sites going, choose a maximum of 5 major ones, then rotate to see what is most successful. Having a line of 20 social bookmarking icons looks a bit confusing and seems to ultimately put people off using them.
StumbleUpon It! – StumbleUpon is a really great way to promote sites with entertainment and disposable content. This plugin gives you a “stumble it” button at the bottom of each post, which will play a part in our future marketing strategy.
Did You Pass Math? – Did you? This is just a basic anti-spam measure that puts one of those sums before you’re allowed to comment. Spam is a major problem, so I’d recommend this one, just to save you some time.
Akismet – This should be present in your default WordPress installation, you require a WordPress API key – but this little gem has stopped more spam than anything else I’ve ever tried.
Step #5: Get Feedburnt
Okay, with further promotion in mind it’s time to sign up to Feedburner. RSS is going to be one of the main ways we keep in touch with our readers, letting them know we’ve put more videos on our site and Feedburner offers a load of other ways to let people subscribe to your content.
Step #6: Theme Design
There are loads of great WordPress themes at themes.wordpress.net. Have a good look through them until you find something you like. I would generally recommend going for something fairly simplistic and neat with an either 2 or 3 column design. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you could always design your own!
Once you’ve got your theme and uploaded it, I’d suggest tweaking some of the graphics to make it your own. Get your branding up there, design a logo and base your site around the domain name. This is why we wanted something easy to remember and relevant earlier, it’s no good calling your site “Video Hustler” then having www.my-funny-internet-videos.cc and hoping people will remember it.
Some WordPress essentials
There are a couple of other tweaks you can do in WordPress to make your job easier.
1) Add a few categories, I used “Funny Videos”, “Extreme Videos” and “Sexy Videos” just so I could tag my content as I add it.
2) Use custom permalinks! This will make your URLs easier to remember and will help various bots crawl your site. To do this go to the “Options” menu, then “Permalinks” and at the bottom check the “custom” radio button and put /%postname%/ in the field.
3) Change page titles.
What we want to do is to swap the position of “Post Title” with “Blog Name”. This is because:
* Search engines uses your Page Title as the linking text in its search engine results page (SERP).
* The search keywords are bolded for page titles in search engines
* It makes it easier for search engine users to know right away if what they are looking for is correct
Now, this will involve some editing to your template files, which is normally called “header.php”. Find this:
and replace with:
And you’re done!
I’m not going to tell you how to design your layout pixel by pixel, because one of the keys with maximising your profit is experimentation. Here are some guidelines:
Adsense Placement & Optimisation
This is how you’re going to make your money, so it’s pretty important! On your main index page you want to have an Adsense content unit at the very top, below your site header, but above the first video. This for me, is by far the highest click though, achieving around 30-40%, with the right keywords later on we can marry these adverts up with your content beautifully.
In your Adsense control console, under Adsense for content, go into your “Ad Units”. These will get you paid after 1 click, whereas link units require a click to bring you to a results page, then a click on the results to get paid. So select link unit and leave “text only” (default) selected. There is 468×60 pixel size which fits perfectly above your standard Google or YouTube Video.
You second biggest earner will be the ad unit which will create a gap between the first video and the rest of the videos on the site. Your first video will obviously be visible above the scroll, but being an average 10-30 second long funny clip, people will never be able to resist at least looking at the other videos on your front page. You must exploit this human curiosity! The 336x280px “large rectangle” unit fits the bill perfectly. Again it will fit in nicely below your video and will give a nice chunk of adverts. This ad unit must only be displayed below the first video as there are limits on the amount of ad units you are allowed on 1 page. You will however, want this ad unit again on the “single post” page. So, if somebody links directly to one of your videos, you still have max Adsense coverage.
I would recommend showing the first 5 videos on the first page. Having less, will reduce the chances of people looking at anything but the first video on your site and will effectively reduce the page size – minimising advert space. Having a lots of videos will distract people from using other parts of your site navigation (well, by this I mean will keep people too amused to click on your ads!). It’s a fine line between wetting their appetite but then keeping them hungry for more.
It’s also worth having a vertical unit (skyscraper) near your navigation. You want both of these units clearly visible without scrolling down, so you’ve got the top of the page and the central part covered in lovely adverts, which is where peopleï¿½??s mousey clicks tend to go!
It is important to blend your Adsense into your site and there are two schools of thought on this. The default “blue” hyperlinks on websites will get the most clicks, always. This colour has been drilled into our head since the dawn of the www and your brain just says “click”, so if any of your other links on your site use this colour, you will need to use this colour for your Adsense titles. I however, think this colour is ugly, so I refrained from using it anywhere on my site at all. If you follow this approach as well, then you simply want to make your Adsense units the same colour as your standard hyperlinks. If you’re using Firefox there is a great Colour Picker addon, which gives you the hex code for any colour, live on a web page. Since you’re allowed a link unit on the page as well, I tend to put one of these in the footer, just because it looks okay and it does earn a few pennies every now and again.
Beating Adsense Smart Pricing
“Smart Pricing” is Google’s way of trying to keep its advertisers happy by lowering the cost of junk traffic. Unfortunately, they do this at your expense. Having poor advertisers on your site, will lead to you users clicking the adverts, then leaving the horrible site they land on almost instantly. When people do this, Google will think you’re sending out junky traffic, when actually it’s the advertiser’s site that is at fault. This will lead to the money you get per click, going down.
Fortunately, Google offer a “competitive ad filter”, which allows you to block certain advertisers from showing ads on your site. Login to your Google Adsense account and go to “Adsense Setup” and you’ll see a “Competitive Ad Filter” tab. Click this and you’ll be given a box of URLs to block.
Copy & paste this list into your competitive ad filter and this should help you keep a strong amount per click.
Google Coop is a custom search engine (CSE) which basically allows you to click a few buttons and make a custom search engine. The great thing is, you can tie this in with your current Adsense account and it will pay out when somebody clicks on a sponsored result from your custom search engine. So, rather than leave in the standard WordPress search, you might as well make some money from it!
Find the bit of code in your theme that shows the default WordPress search box and comment it out. Create a Google Coop account and you will be presented with if you would like your search engine to search the entire web, with preference to selected sites, or simply search specific sites. Choose the option to select specific sites and just add your own URL. Don’t forget to enter your Adsense Publisher ID!. Google will then generate a chunk of code for you, which you can paste in place of your current WordPress search. Voila! Monetized search! My search box generates around an extra 30% of my site revenue.
Get Feedburner on there
Login to your Feedburner account and get it to give you the code for an e-mail subscribe box. I’ve found I get more e-mail subscribers than RSS readers. I believe this is because RSS is really only embraced by the more “web savvy” user and they will be fully capable of finding videos on Digg, YouTube, Google and are more likely to be aware of the bigger sites. So for your regular Joe Blogs (heh), e-mail a nice, easy to understand way to get them to sign up to updates. If you can squeeze your Feedburner RSS subscribe button in above the scroll, all the better – but I have found people that want an RSS feed will find it.
Feedburner also offer “chicklets” which is a little button that shows the world how many subscribed readers you have. Generally, I’d advise not to install this until you have 100 or so readers, there’s no point showing people how unpopular your site is to begin with! Leave it for bragging rights later. It is quite possible to achieve 500-1000 readers within 6-12 months.
Here’s one I made earlier:
In Green: Our main above the scroll adsense
In Yellow: CPM advertising (we’ll talk about this later, but save some banner space!)
In Red: Our monetized Google Coop box
In Brown: The feedburner subscribe bits
That’s most of the design info covered.
Step #7: Sourcing and adding video content to your website
Okay, so how do we go about getting videos onto your site? Well there’s a quick and profitable way and a longer but more profitable away.
The quick and profitable way
I don’t recommend this method to begin with, even though it’s quicker, this is only something you should be doing after your site is established, or if you are very short on time.
Go to digg.com/videos and see what other people find funny. Follow the link through to the video site, grab the video ID and pop it in a post.
When you are post a video, make sure every 2-3 videos you have the words “funny” and/or “video” in the post title. WordPress uses header tags for these titles and it will help make your Adsense adverts more relevant. Below the video, type a couple of lines explaining the video (without giving too much away!). Be as funny/sarcastic as you like, but keep it short and interesting – and write your own descriptions!
The longer but more profitable way
Okay, this takes a bit more work, but will really, really help you promote your site. One neat thing about Google Video is that they allow you to download the videos. So, go have a search around Google Video and download 20-30 videos that you think are funny. Download them in “PSP” format which will give you a .mp4 format file.
If you have some decent video editing software that can handle mp4 files you can skip this step:
If you’re stuck using Windows Movie Editor you’ll have to convert the file before you can edit it. Now, if you can find a free program, let me know. I’ve been using Riverpast Video Cleaner, which will convert the mp4 files to avi without any real quality loss. It’s $30 but it will be your only expense in this operation. Riverpast will be able to convert all your videos in batch, so go make yourself a cuppa.
Once you’ve got your video in .avi format, create yourself a bitmap image with your site logo and site URL on it. Use your video editing software to show your logo for 5 seconds at the beginning and end of your video, so it’s all branded to you now!
Get your branded videos out there!
Once you’ve got branded videos, you’re really onto a winner. I pull in around 500-800 visitors per day from YouTube alone. Google have a batch video uploader, so your first port of all is to re-upload your newly edited videos onto Google Video.
Once they are uploaded you can add the video information. Generally in the title I again try and get the words “funny video”, “extreme video” or similar in. These help pick up a bunch of generic searches. I’ve found the description doesn’t make a huge difference to whether the video is viewed, as long as the title is good. If you’re uploading to Google, using the batch uploader there is a separate field to link to your website, which becomes an active link, so you may as well type a description. Keep it short and snappy to try and get as many views as possible. For tags, I use a set of standard: funny, video, humour, humor, comedy, laugh, lol, cool, extreme, stupid, insane, accident – then add a couple of video specific keywords on the end.
Repeat this process with YouTube. The only difference with YouTube is that there is no separate field for your own site URL. If you just pop your URL into the description, this will automatically become a clickable link. YouTube is a bit more of a pain because you can only upload 1 video at a time, but you can always do other stuff at the same time! The sheer amount of traffic that YouTube gets makes it worthwhile doing this.
Once you have a “base” of around 30 videos, you don’t need to keep finding new ones. You just create a new YouTube account under a hotmail address every week or so, since you’re a new user and uploading new content, your videos will more often or not appear on the front page briefly which will get you spurts of traffic.
Using your imagination, there are loads of places that accept video uploads that you can use. MySpace anyone? MySpace Video is taking off big-time at the moment, so if you have access to some large MySpace accounts, this can be a great way to get traffic. One other technique is taking a screenshot of your video at 00:00 then posting this picture on a MySpace profile or bulletin, so it looks like an embedded video, but will take people through to your site with the video on. Hey, that’s pretty scrappy – but it works. Make sure you use the border=”0″ attribute on such images so you don’t get a blue border around them!
Step #8: Kick Starting Promotion
Following this recipe so far, you’ll probably make $5-$10 per day. If you want to get up to the $40 per day mark to make your $1,000 a month, you’ll need to give your site a kick up the backside. Here’s how:
Go to www.stumbleupon.com and register yourself with an account and install their browser toolbar.
Once you’re all ready to rock with StumbleUpon, make your way over to www.stumblexchange.com. Stumblexchange is a system where you sign up, stumble a whole list of other people’s sites, then in return they stumble you back. StumbleUpon is fairly simple – the more stumbles your site gets, the more traffic they send you. StumbleUpon has a ton of users and this step will get you 200 more uniques a day for months to come. So login, register your account details and stumble everyone’s site. (If your so inclined, you could script this). Well done, you just added another $200 a month onto your earnings! There’s also a diggxchange and deliciousxchange in this network, however I haven’t experimented with them to comment on this.
Get some links
Everybody loves links, especially Google. There’s a massive list at RSSTop55 of directories and blog aggregators. I would start with these:
Now you’ve got some readers and some regular traffic, you can sign up for a CPA advertiser. Burst Media is quite easy to get into and has a large inventory. Having CPA ads will earn you money for page views, without clicks and makes for an excellent secondary income.
Above all, experiment, experiment, experiment! Let me know how you get on!