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.
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.
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:
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
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.