By CLAYTON GUTZMORE
“Sexless”, “Black Actress”, and “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” are just some of the web series that have successfully made their mark–and made some money–on the Internet today.
But how did the creators of these series manage to find success, and how can you do it too?
The people responsible for these successful web series came together to discuss how they created–and most importantly, monetized–them as part of the American Black Film Festival in New York earlier this month.
Numa Perrier, co-founder of Black&SexyTV, the site’s Chief Creative Officer Dennis Dortch, and Andrea Lewis, creator of the web series “Black Actress” shared their stories of how they create and distribute their content and how the freedom of the Internet impacts that.
It’s a freedom that requires a little more creativity, said Perrier of Black&Sexy.
“You have to be shameless on the Internet,” she said. “I think a lot of artists are afraid of that.”
But if you’re going to create a web series, especially if it’s something that you want people to pay for, you have to go into it with a plan, Perrier said.
First, plan your series with the end in mind and determine how you’re going to get there. Secondly, think of what you’re going to need to need to produce the series, but start with the resources you have, Perrier said. For example, the first episode of her series was shot in her apartment, she said.
“People tend to go outside of what they have for their series,” Perrier said. “They need to learn to start small and let it blossom”
Next, you should form a team that compliments you to help you with your project, Lewis said. You can’t do everything and the key to success is to recognize that, she said.
“My strength is my team because they help me be strong in areas i’m weak in” she said.
“You can start a group right where you are,” Perrier agreed. “Reach out to people locally through social media.”
Social media, in fact, is one of the most important things you’ll need for a successful web series, Dortch said. It’s where you and your viewers will come together first and will determine how successful your series is, he said.
“The way to be successful with your series is to interact with your viewers,” Dortch said. “It builds the symbiotic relationship that makes the series last.” said Dortch.
“Your comments are your currency,” Perrier said.
Advertising is another important part of making money on your web series. How you get viewers interested in your show is important because there’s a lot of content on the Internet and you have to make yourself stand out, the trio said.
If advertising isn’t your strong suit, taking a look at your favorite commercials might give you some ideas, Perrier said.
“Pay attention to campaigns that you really love then ask why [you love them],” Perrier said. “Is it the photo? Is it the message? The delivery?” said Perrer.
When you’ve established a solid fan base, you can then start charging for your content. money. According to the trio, when you find your formula of making content for your series, your needs should go up. “The need is Money. your needs should be going up when you make more content. People are going to want to more content,” said Dortch.
But don’t spend your money all in one place, or on one series, the panelists said. Think of your next series, when you’d like to start it, and save some of the money you’ve earned from your first web series foray to pay for the next one.
And most importantly, maintain your creative edge. Be fearless.
“Fear is a part of the business,” Perrier said. “We get scared every time we take the company in a new direction. Using fear as an excuse not to do something is building a psyche in your mind that won’t go away.”