Releasing Your Web Series into the Wild Web! – @Stareable

So You Want To Make a Web Series – Step 12
by Bri Castellini

You’ve done it. You’ve made a web series. Before we go any further, from the bottom of my soul, congratulations. Writing is hard enough, but you have gone above and beyond. No matter what happens, this is something to be proud of. And now, it’s time to show it to off.

I’m writing this with the assumption that you’re uploading your series one episode at a time to a site like YouTube of Vimeo. I prefer YouTube, because of its playlist functionality and its prominence as the go-to video site online, but whatever floats your boat[a][b]. There are distributors you could also reach out to, who host your content and potentially get you a higher return on investment with advertising, but for your first time, self-distributing is probably your best bet.

So what should your individual web series episode look like? I have a couple suggestions, all centered around the concept that people should know your videos are a part of a narrative series, not just a random vlog or one-off.

Video Title

There are a bunch of ways to indicate that your show is, in fact, a show, using only the title. For example, “Brains S1E1: Alison 101.” We have the title of the show, the season number, the episode number, and then the episode title. This information being available immediately to a potential viewer puts them in the mindset of watching a narrative show, not a compilation of cake decorating videos. It’s also more professional.

Thumbnail

People should also be able to tell from your thumbnail that this isn’t any ordinary video. There should be a consistency to the way in which you visually brand the series so that your playlists look organized and uniform. Below are some of my favorites:

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Description Box

Once again, consistency is key, so no matter what you decide to put in your video description boxes, make sure it’s the same every time. In general, I recommend the following structure:

1. A one to two sentence description of the episode
2. A link to the full playlist of episodes
3. Principal cast/crew credits
4. Music credits (if applicable)
5. Links to the show’s website and social media

Playlists

Always have a playlist, even when you only have one episode online. People are easily confused and having an easy way to organize the episodes in sequence will only ever help you out. A few notes, though:

1. Links to the same videos are different in and out of a playlist. A link to a video inside of a playlist will bring the viewer to the playlist, whereas a video outside of a playlist might not have the next episode in sequence show up as the automatic suggested next video.
2. If you want to embed a mid-season episode on a web page individually, don’t use the link of the video from the playlist. It will show up as the entire playlist, not the individual episode.
3. Even within a playlist, make sure you have an end screen that points people in the direction of the previous and next videos in the series, just in case someone finds an individual video rather than the full playlist.

Make sure to have a consistent uploading schedule, and stick to it. If you upload your first episode at 10 am on Monday, every subsequent episode should go live within an hour or that time. Also, when you post about new episodes on social media, don’t just post when the episodes go live, because different people get online at different times. You should post about new episodes at least three times on the days they’re released, and then remind people a few times more throughout the rest of the week. Views don’t just happen, especially when you’re starting out.

I only have one more column planned for you guys, about submitting to film festivals and the anxiety-inducing adventure that is networking. However, if you have questions about any of the columns I’ve written before, or if you think I’ve glossed over something, please let me know, and I’d be happy to keep writing for you all! Leave a comment on this post, or tweet @stareable and @TVWriter with suggestions or questions.


Bri Castellini is an award-winning filmmaker as well as the Community Liaison at Stareable, a hub for web series. Check out www.stareable.com to find and read reviews of thousands of web series, all in one place. For more great articles about the craft of web series, visit the Stareable blog.

Marketing Your Web Series – @Stareable

So You Want To Make a Web Series – Step 11
by Bri Castellini

Think of the internet as a void. I know this imagery is controversial, since everyone knows the internet is a series of tubes, but bear with me because this is my column and you don’t have a choice.

So, the internet is a void. There are billions upon quadrillions of things already online, and on YouTube alone, 300 hours of video content are uploaded every minute. 5 billion videos are watched on YouTube a day. How are you, with your brand new unknown web series, going to get seen?
Social Media
Lucky you, the Stareable blog already has a few posts relating to social media, so I would definitely recommend them as resources. This one talks specifically about Twitter, while this one is a do/don’t list for all the major platforms.

If you’re not already familiar or comfortable with social media, I’d suggest only getting two accounts at first: Facebook and Twitter. Try to get the same username for both (and for all future show accounts) because branding is important and the easier it is to find you online, the more likely it is that you’ll get noticed in the void.

I suggest getting a Facebook page (not a personal page — a “fan page” specifically for your show) because that’s where you’ll get the most engagement from people you already know. Most people are already on Facebook, so it’s easier to reach them there.

I suggest Twitter because it’s where you’ll engage the most people who DON’T already know you. There’s a vibrant independent film and web series community on Twitter, and tapping into that will help you market your series immensely. Also, refer back to that Twitter blog I mentioned earlier because it highlights even more specifically why Twitter is a vital place to be a web series creator. So, what should you be posting to these new social media pages?

Promo images

Remember when I recommended you have someone in charge of taking on-set photos? This is when you’ll start using them — to promote and create hype for your show’s impending release! Social media is useless unless you have information and content to populate it, and people love seeing behind-the-scenes photos. At first, you can just post photos with a little bit of context (“actor Jimbob Thoresore learning a new stunt!”), but once you have a release date, you can also add a bit of text to the photos so when they’re shared, they’re also inherently spreading information about your release date and where they can find you online.

Trailer/teasers

Do you have enough material to make a trailer, or at least a teaser, for your series? Get on it, then! Nothing hypes people up for a new movie or show more than actually seeing it in action. If possible, make a few small teasers, all leading up to a full series trailer. People get excited by countdowns, so invent as many of them as you can.
Promo interviews

When big shots make movies and TV, they do press junkets, where the principal cast and crew are interviewed by a rotating barrage of journalists. When no one knows who you are, you have to do this yourself. Plus, a web series is an incredibly intimate viewing experience- — you and your cast and crew are part of the product you’re selling, and the more they know about you, the more inclined they are to be interested in what you have to say. For my show, I liked to personally interview my principal cast and crew, releasing them on a weekly basis leading up to the season premiere. That way, the growing audience got used to us releasing content for a few weeks before the actual show began. Plus, it allowed the audience to get to know us as people before watching us in the show, making the connection a little bit stronger.
IMDb

IMDb is laughably easy to submit your project to, but it’s also one of the clearest indications of legitimacy that you’re likely to get, especially before you even release the show. This Stareable blog post, which also offers other legitimacy-boosting ideas, walks you through how to make an IMDb page for your show.
Press Release

This may come as a surprise to you, but Stareable also has a post about creating and using a press release! Read it here. In the most basic terms, a press release is a one-page description of your project so that news outlets and blogs can write about you. Most sites won’t even consider interviewing you or writing about you unless you have a press release available. Then, send it to as many sites and news outlets as you can think about, focusing first on ones with a history of covering web series and then on ones you think your show would be relevant to (think about communities and themes you address).

Final thoughts on marketing your web series: it never ends. You thought a crowdfunding campaign was a full-time job? Once your series is online, it’s always online, and you never know what tweet or piece of press will rocket you towards fame and fortune. My web series premiered in 2015 and finished “airing” its second season in November 2016, and I’m still reaching out to podcasts and news outlets. It’s worth it, though, and the more of a splash you make, the more likely it is for a second season or a whole new show in the future.
Next week, all your hard work comes to a head as we talk RELEASE. I’ll cover everything from video thumbnails to crafting a consistent uploading schedule.


Bri Castellini is an award-winning filmmaker as well as the Community Liaison at Stareable, a hub for web series. Check out www.stareable.com to find and read reviews of thousands of web series, all in one place. For more great articles about the craft of web series, visit the Stareable blog.