Guerilla Showrunner

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The Complete Guide To Setting Up Your Webseries Webpage, Part 3: Design and Designers

Other parts of this series : The Complete Guide to Setting Up Your Webseries Webpage

Hello and welcome to the third part in our series on creating your webseries’ webpage. (Yes, it’s a series on a webpage about making a webpage for a series. Meta, huh?)

This week, we’ll be looking at the final aspects of your website: setting up a design that will achieve the goals we set out in the first article, looking at customisations to Wordpress and Thesis that will let us do that, discussing whether to hire a designer (and how to get best value from them), and talking about how to tweak and develop your site so that it looks like it was professionally designed.

This article’s going to be going into a bit more depth than the other articles, and will be a bit more hands-on - however, it should still be skimmable.

How To Choose A Design

I’ve already written an article about this, which I’d heartily recommend reading if you get a chance. In summary, using lessons from the porn industry (which spends a lot of time and money figuring out the best way to design a site to attract visitors), I’d recommend a site with a trailer for either the entire show or the latest episode (depending on if your show is serialised) prominently visible when you arrive on the site, other episodes below that using pictures rather than text to “sell” them, a strong call to action next to the trailer at the top inviting your visitors to either subscribe or watch the full episode, a compelling description of the episode below that, and not much else on the front page.

Common tropes for a web series I wouldn’t recommend would include:

  • News page as the front page. New visitors can’t easily use your news, which is often full of production updates and similar things, to figure out what your show is about, and it means you’re not showcasing your best content up front.

  • Full episode on the front page Full episodes don’t contain the very best bits of your show, right up front. Sell your visitors on watching your show.

  • No textual information on the show. With no info on what they’re about to watch, many viewers won’t even click on your trailer, or won’t stay long. It’s all about persuasion.

  • No easy access to a subscription medium (email or RSS dedicated to the show). Twitter is great, but unless your twitter feed is very, very focussed, you’re risking losing readers who don’t like your other, non “new episode” twitters. Also, there’s a lot of noise on that channel. Go with a subscription medium, ideally push (email) and keep it clear of anything except episode updates.

For the rest of this article, I’m going to be working to produce something on the Divine Bitches mold (see the article above). So, we’ll be looking at a single column layout with a navigation menu below the logo, a teaser trailer below that, and then other episodes below that. If you don’t have a strong idea of what you want to do with your website design, I’d recommend that as a good basic approach.

Here’s the site that I set up as a test for this article: http://kamikazecookery.nfshost.com/ . It’s far from perfect yet, but it’s a good basic starting point, about where I’d expect to get to after the basic design setup I discuss below. I’ll discuss what you’d do to improve it in “So How Do I Make It Slicker?”, below.

Do You Need To Hire A Designer?

Do you need to hire a designer? Is that the only way to get a really great design?

Well, it depends on how great you want to go. A top designer will be able to produce something far nicer - and far more functional - than you’d be able to manage. People like the guys from Men With Pens (I’ve not worked with them, but I hear they have a fantastic rep) will create you an incredible design - but you’ll pay for it. Men With Pens’ design options start from $5k. Other equally good designers are a bit cheaper, but realistically you won’t come out with much change from $2k.

Now, don’t get me wrong - if you can possibly afford that, go for it. (I’m seriously considering hiring someone of that sort of status for Guerilla Showrunner right now - although it may come down to a choice between that and a new mocap suit for Strange Company). It’ll make you look a hell of a lot more credible, it will actually boost views, subscribers and business in general - Dave Navarro says his business nearly doubled after he forked out for a really slick design - and it’ll make your crew feel great into the bargain.

If you can’t - it’s worth checking out outsourcing sites, but you’ll have to put the time in to find a designer with a style that you really like. 99 Designs and Elance.com are both worth looking at. However, even here, you’ll pay more than you’d expect for a really awesome design, probably in the $1k range.

So surely it’s worth looking for some hungry student or dubious third-world outsourcer? No, not really. If you’re a reasonably visual person and you’re willing to put some time in, you’ll do a better job of coming up with a design that suits your website from the building blocks of Thesis and Wordpress than J. Random Designer will. I’ve tried hiring people on price for visual work a few times, and it’s rarely a good idea.

Sometimes, if you really search, and you know what you want, you can find a great designer who’s just starting out, and get a bargain. But it’s far from guaranteed. Overall, if you can’t pay at least reasonably well, well, and you have some or any skill, you’re better doing it yourself.

How To Customise Wordpress To Meet Your Needs

This is where Thesis, the custom theme I recommended in the last article, really starts to shine. You could use a free Wordpress theme if you like, but you’ll end up having to heavily customise it at the code level, and some features will be tricky to implement - I believe! I’ve never tried it, and I’d have to learn quite a bit about Wordpress theme design before I did.

In general, about 80% of the tweaks we need to make can be done within Thesis’ main interface. A few of the more cunning bits will need to use custom CSS and in one case custom code, through Thesis’ “custom” section.

However, don’t be too scared by this - in 90% of the cases below, I found out what I needed to do to tweak my design by Googling “Thesis” and whatever customisation I wanted, like “Nav menu below logo”, and then simply followed the instructions that Google threw at me!

Initial Thesis Tweaks

First up, don’t forget to set your site’s title under “Site Options -> Home Page SEO”. Make sure that any keywords that people might use to find your site (“Scientific Cookery”, “Geek cooking” and similar combinations in Kamikaze Cookery’s case) are in your header, but don’t make it sound unnatural. I went for “Kamikaze Cookery - Geeks cook. With Science.”. Fill out the Meta Description too - that’s what people will see in search results for your main site.

Now, under Design Options, there are a few tweaks we need to make. Set your Columns first. Single-column layouts seem to be becoming the standard for web series, and are what the Divine Bitches site uses - in general, I’d recommend them because they present the viewer with the least visual clutter and allow you to draw the eye as easily as possible.

Width should be around 900px these days, although you can change it if you have a specific reason to.

Under “Features and Teasers”, set the number of Features to either 1 or 2 - 1 if you’re running a show where people can jump in at any point, 2 if your show is arced or there might be other reasons you’d prefer a new viewer to start at a specific episode.

The “Features” are the episodes that we’ll have showcased at the top of the page, with a trailer and a description. If we’ve got two features, we’re going to showcase two episodes on the front page - the first or best entry episode, and also the latest one, thus ensuring that both returning and new visitors can easily find what they’re looking for.

Under “Posts”, set “Display Post Excerpts”. That allows us to show a teaser for a video on the front page and the actual video on a seperate page.

Set “Feature Box” to “Do Not Use Feature Box” - it’s not a feature we need.

That’s about all we need to do for now.

Populating your show

Now, we need some content before we can start customising. Use your show’s existing episodes if you already have them - otherwise, just grab some random YouTube videos in approximately the format you expect to show (Widescreen if you’re widescreen, roughly the same style or content, etc). Obviously, you’ll have to replace those with real content before you go live, but you can use random videos to make sure your design works.

You’ll also need some** thumbnail images** from the episodes - grab them from the videos using the image editor of your choice (Pause video, Print Screen, and crop out the image).

And you’ll need at least one** trailer** for the show - either use one you’ve got already or grab a random video, either one of yours or a completely random one. You should probably cut a trailer anyway if you haven’t got one!

Now, here’s where it gets a bit tricky. You’ll want the main body of your post to JUST contain the video you’re wanting to show - use the YouTube (or whatever site you’re hosting your vids on) embed code for now, with the width set to 40 px less than the width of your site, although later on you can substitute tracking code to let you get detailed stats from your videos at a later date (or now if you feel ambitious).

IN the “Excerpt” box further down the Wordpress page, add the following code:

<div>EMBED CODE<div style="float: right; padding-left: 10px; width: 380px"><h2><a href="LINK TO POST">View full episode</a></h2> <b>EPISODE TITLE</b> Length: EPISODE LENGTH EPISODE DESCRIPTION</div></div>

Replace EPISODE TITLE, EPISODE LENGTH and EPISODE DESCRIPTION with the specific elements of your episode, of course. LINK TO POST should be replaced with the link to the current post - get it from the top of the Wordpress post page. EMBED CODE should be the embed code or tracking code for your trailer for the episode (or series), set to about 480 width if you’re using a 900 page width.

Finally, upload your thumbnail image using the upload tools at the top of the Wordpress Post page. Copy the address for the Medium size image (it’ll be obvious when you do it), and paste that into “Thumbnail Image”, about half-way down.

Repeat this process for every episode you have, or for 3 or 4 sample episodes if you’re just using test footage for now.

Once you’ve done that, take a look at your front page - it’ll look a bit of a mess, but the site will be starting to come together.

Tweaking The Design

This is where things start to get a bit personal. At this point, you’ll want to start playing around with and tweaking the various design options in Thesis and generally trying to make your site look as nice as possible.

Here are some suggestions for things I did to make my test site look nicer, and some tricks to make Thesis do things that aren’t initially obvious.

  • Fix Your Excerpts Initially, the most obvious thing about your page will be the ugly, ugly videos below the main one, cluttering up the page. Fortunately, this is easy to fix. Go to the Custom File Editor, and at the bottom of Custom.css, add .custom .format_teaser .excerpt {display : none} Now, go to Design Options -> Teaser Display Options, and uncheck everything except “Post Excerpt” and “Post Title”. You can drag-and-drop those two to change the order they’re in. Reload the page, and you’ll just have lovely, lovely thumbnails.

  • Add a logo. Pretty easy, this one - resize or otherwise edit your logo (you could add whitespace using Photoshop or another editing package to make it the same width as your page if you don’t want it centered) to the width of your site, then upload it through Thesis’ “Header Image” function. Now change Design Options -> Header to not show your site title or tagline as text.

  • Add a nice border This is a nifty effect - in Design Options -> Fonts, Colors and More -> Body (And Content Area), select “Add a cool shadow effect to your layout”. Does exactly what it says!

  • Put the navigation menu below the header image For a site design like this, you’ll almost always want the menu below the logo as a way to break the page up a bit (unless you’ve included a break in the logo image itself). There’s no menu option to do this in Thesis, but it’s simple to do with custom code.Go to “Custom File Editor”, and select “Custom_Functions.php”. You’ll be presented with a text document - where it says “add your code here”, or words to that effect, add remove_action('thesis_hook_before_header', 'thesis_nav_menu'); add_action('thesis_hook_after_header', 'thesis_nav_menu'); That’s it - your menu will now be below your logo.

  • Hide unnecessary bits on featured posts You don’t need or want to show “Author”, number of comments (unless it’s huge), date, or various other things on your post. Go to Design Options -> Byline and uncheck all the options you don’t want - I’ve unchecked them all. Then go to Tagging, and deselect “Show Tags on Index and Archive Pages”.

  • Make your menu bar a solid colour I wanted a solid block of colour for my menu bar. Fortunately, this is really easy - in Custom.css in the Custom File Editor, simply add .custom .menu {background-color: rgb(255, 102, 0)}

So, after all that, you should have something a bit like http://kamikazecookery.nfshost.com/ - not super-slick, but certainly usable.

So How Do I Make It Slicker?

After you’ve done all that and fiddled about for a while, you’ve probably got something that looks clean and acceptable, but certainly not as slick as the Divine Bitches site or anything like it.

Unless you have some serious hidden talent, you’re never going to get to the level of the slickest of the slick - after all, the top sites on the Internet are designed by people who spend their lives doing very little but obsessing on website design. I know a few of those guys, and they’re better than I’m ever going to be.

However, you don’t need to be in that top 0.1%, and as I discussed above, you probably can’t afford to be either. If you’re not in a situation where you can drop a couple of thousand bucks on your website, you can make a remarkably pretty and functional site up yourself just by taking the design you already have - which is already probably better than most non-professional efforts - and spending a day or so tweaking.

Here are a few tips for improving your design by yourself:

  • Get LOTS of feedback, and not just feedback from people you know. Certainly, ask for critiques and things you could do better from your friends, and from Facebook friends, and so on - but also put it out there in the harsh light of day. Ask for a crit on Web Series Network, or on IndieTalk, or on the forums for the tools you use. Find web design forums and - HUMBLY - ask for suggestions. Maybe even post somewhere like Hacker News or Reddit and ask for feedback there - it’ll be pretty harsh, but there are some very smart people out there, and often you only need one tip - “Reduce the font size”, “Put a gradient on the background” - to massively improve your site.

  • Play around Particularly if you’re new to webdesign, don’t be afraid to play. It’s reasonably hard to break your site permanently - try different colour schemes. Try changing border sizes. Mess around.

  • Read Books My number one tip for most things - read a book. Find a book on web design and read it. You’ll probably find half a dozen ideas - try them as you go. This is a great way to build up a skill too - although it ain’t fast. This is a good, free place to start.

  • Add some shots from the show One great way to spruce up a website is to use some graphics - and you’ve already got a great source of graphics in your show! Try using them as spacers - use a line of tiny thumbnails from the show - as background images - blurred a bit and spread out - or even use graphical elements from your titles for edges and corners. It’s amazing what you can do with a bit of time with Photoshop and some great images from the show.

  • Pay a great designer to do as much as you can afford You’re better off getting something from a great designer than everything from a below-average one. Find the designer you’d really like to have design your site - look at their portfolio and past work - and then ask them if they’d be willing to give you some suggestions for improving your site design, or a full critique, or even an image-based mockup you could work from. Negotiate! See what they can do for you.

I’ve never hired a designer for any of my series’ sites. At the end of the day, even if your site isn’t perfect or beautiful, if it lets people find your series and watch it, it’s doing the job you need it to do.

Next Week: Stress-Testing, Continuous Improvement, and More

Well, the good news is, if you’ve followed through that, you’re basically done! You’ve got a site, it’s perfectly capable of serving your series up to your audience, and it looks at least reasonably appealing and professional.

There are a few more things that you can and probably should do. Next week we’ll have the final, slightly shorter part of the series, where I discuss checking if your site can handle all the traffic it might suddenly get - including anything up to a mention on a site like Digg or Reddit - and how to improve things if it can’t. I’ll also discuss continuous improvement, testing, and how to keep making your site steadily better as your series grows.

But for now - you’ve got a site, or at least you know enough to make one. Woohoo!

What to do next:

_If you had any trouble with any parts of this article, or if you’ve got questions or suggestions on designing your series’ website, post them in the Comments below! _

_And if you felt you got some value out of this article, please hit the Retweet button below to share it with more people it could help! _

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The Complete Guide To Setting Up Your Webseries Webpage, Part 2

Other parts of this series : The Complete Guide to Setting Up Your Webseries Webpage

Welcome back, one and all! In the last part of this monster guide to putting together a Web series Webpage, we ran through the building blocks of your site - what it needs to do, what you don’t need to do, and the basic engines and host for your site.

You could build a Web series site perfectly happily just using the resources from Part 1. But in Part 2, we’ll look at all the stuff you need to polish your site up and make it shine - make it pretty, make it usable, make it immune to traffic surges, and make it easily findable by people and search engines alike.

Wordpress Plugins - what you need and what you don’t

The beauty of Wordpress is its extensibility. You can find a plugin to do almost anything with the ‘press.

The disadvantage of that extensibility is that it’s very easy to try to do everything. And plugins aren’t free. Each one loads a bit of extra code into Wordpress, usually slowing it down at least a bit - sometimes a lot.

So if you’re not careful, loading a million plugins into the Press can leave you with a site that loads so slowly you can cook a meal before you view the front page.

Any time you add a new plugin, it’s worth reloading the page a bunch of times, or using some benchmarking software if you have it, to check that the site still runs fast enough for you. Some plugins are MUCH worse than others, and will slow your site to a crawl.

However, some plugins are just essential. In my opinion, you definitely need:

HyperCache. By default, Wordpress rebuilds each page as visitors view them and serves them up when it’s finished. That’s fine if you’ve only got a few people viewing the spike, but as soon as, say, your Web series hits the front page of Reddit, the strain of having to repeatedly rebuild the same pages will take your website down faster than being an non-Caucasian guy carrying electronics in the London Underground. A caching plugin means that Wordpress doesn’t have to do all that work - instead, the first time Wordpress builds a page, it saves that page and then serves it up to all subsequent visitors who load the same page. This test showed that HyperCache, the best of the bunch, speeded a Wordpress site up by more than 10 times.

Google Sitemap Generator. You want the Big G to be able to index all your pages as fast and efficiently as possible. A lot of that is taken care of with the Thesis theme, below, but one thing Thesis doesn’t do is generate a sitemap - a complete list of every page on your site, all nicely indexed for Google to pick up and run with. Hence, this plugin. It’s very simple, it’ll automatically let Google (and Bing, if you care) know about your series, and it improves your chance of random people finding your page.

Include HTML. You need this plugin for one very specific reason - if you don’t have it, it’s very hard to use the YouTube -> Google Analytics hack I talked about a couple of weeks ago. Since being able to get precise details on how far through your videos fans are watching is, quite frankly, the best thing since we stopped having to use Actual Film, you want this, you want it bad, and you want it now.

Tweetmeme button. There’s no shortage of argument as to what the best social media plugins to use with Wordpress are - some people will advocate great big things that allow you to share on any of 45 different social media sites, whilst others, like me, would prefer to suggest a simple one or two choices. I’m currently recommending Tweetmeme because it’s used by some very smart, plugged-in people, and because a good bit of research in everything from restaurant design to cognitive theory suggests that the more choices you give your viewer, the less likely they actually are to take an action. Hence, give them 40 social media sites, they’ll bookmark you on none of them. Give them one (or perhaps two if you can find a decent Facebook plugin - personally I haven’t yet) choice, and you’ll get more results.

That’s it!

A few plugins you DON’T need

SEO plugin All-In-One SEO is the big dog here. If you’re using the Thesis theme, which I recommend (below), all your Search Engine Optimisation is already done for you, and you don’t need this (frankly rather clunky) plugin. If you decide to roll your own theme or use a free one, you probably will need this plugin, though.

YouTube plugin There are a number of plugins out there perporting to make your YouTube embedding easier in Wordpress. I don’t recommend them because a) it’s not like it’s hard to begin with (Copy, Paste, Done), and b) if you use them you can’t use the YouTube->Analytics stuff.

And some that are up to you

Related Posts plugin or other blogging-specific plugins Top Tags, Related Posts, and similar things tend to get recommended in any article on Wordpress plugins. For a Web series, I’d skip them - Related Posts doesn’t make much sense for a drama series, and you’re likely not going to be tagging extensively. If you’re producing a non-drama info series, they might be of more use - however, be aware that Relateed Posts plugins in particular can be a bit heavy on the server (although they do give a nice SEO boost).

Most Popular Post plugin Again, depends on the series you’re making. If you’re doing something that can be watched non-sequentially, you might well get some utility out of a plugin that allows you to display your most popular episodes - research indicates it can boost the chances of a viewer staying around on your page. I’ve only just tested one of these myself, but currently it appears that Popularity Contest is pretty good.

Contact form. There are two reasons I don’t use a contact form on this or any site. One, I just like email - I prefer it as a user to those very anonymous contact forms that you always suspect just get routed straight to the circular filing cabinet (ie the bin). And two, believe it or not, there appear not to be any good contact form plugins for Wordpress that don’t cost the earth. I might want a contact form, but I’m not paying $39 for one.

What To Do With These Plugins

Installing plugins in Wordpress is pretty easy. Download the plugin (normally as a .zip file), unzip it, and then, when the time comes to upload onto your server, upload each plugin’s directory into /wp_content/plugins.

Then activate them through the Wordpress control panel.

Theme: Thesis

As you may have realised by now, I’m not a big fan of spending money where I don’t have to. However, I AM a big fan of spending money where I do have to.

You’ve set up the functionality of your site, or most of it, by now, but you’ll soon see that the default Wordpress design is kinda ugly and not well suited to a web series. Hence, you’ll need to customise the look of Wordpress - and the way to do that is through a “theme”.

Go have a Google on “Wordpress Theme”. There are a LOT of them. There are even thousands of free ones.

So why the hell am I advising you to buy not just a Wordpress theme, but one that’s decidedly not cheap ($87)?

Because it will save you a LOOOOOT of pain and hassle.

Thesis is, for starters, extremely customisable, and 95% of the customisation is through menus and drop-down lists. Most other Wordpress themes require you to edit CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), usually with no documentation, to achieve the look you want, and often aren’t very flexible or easy to use whilst you’re doing so. I’m very proficient with CSS and HTML - I’ve been designing websites since long before the former existed - and I still prefer using Thesis, because having the customisation options cuts hours at a time off my development.

There’s also a very active user community for the theme, meaning that answers to obscure questions are a quick Google away - again, as opposed to J Random Free Theme, where you might well be the only person using it seriously.

And it’s highly optimised for speed (notice this blog’s kinda fast?) and Search Engine Optimisation, meaning you don’t have to learn anything much about that particularly arcane playground.

So - you’ll need to buy Thesis. Once you’ve got it, you’ll need to unzip it and upload it to the wp_content/themes directory of your website. From there, you can select it from the Wordpress Themes panel - and when you do, you’ll find you have an absolute ton of options to choose from, a place to upload your logo, lots of ways to change how the site operates, and so on.

I’m going to recommend some design and operation settings in the third part of this series, but they’re just suggestions. You can design however you feel will best achieve your goals for the site.

Domain Name

You’re probably wondering why I haven’t talked about a domain name yet.

You can buy yourself a domain at pretty much any time during this process, via whichever host you’ve chosen. Once you’ve bought it, it will take a couple of days to become available for use, so earlier is better. Personally, because domains are so cheap (approx $10 for 2 years) I tend to purchase a domain as soon as I think of a project, well before I get to actually creating it - the Guerilla Showrunner domain, for example, was sitting around for 2 years before I started writing here.

I’d still recommend a .com domain if you possibly can. Other TLDs (Top Level Domains - .com, .net, .co.uk, etc) are available, but your audience will assume you’re a .com unless you make a really big point otherwise - and that’ll lose you viewers if you’ve actually chosen a .tv or similar.

Unless you’re doing something very complicated yourself, setting your domain up to point to your website will be very simple, and will be handled by your web host. It’s worth noting that both Dreamhost and NFS.net (see Part 1) will also provide you a temporary domain to work on the site even if you don’t have a domain name yet - so you can easily get your site set up and happy before buying a domain.

You’ll also want email for your domain name - [email protected], etc. Now, you can run an “email server” on the same machine as your website, but - and I speak from experience here, having done it for many years - that way lies a pain in the ass so royal I think it’s having a wedding in London this month.

If your website goes down and you’re hosting email on that machine, you can’t get your email. Yes, your WEBSITE crashing means your email stops working. This Is Not Good.

Worse, any email anyone sends you will bounce. You’ll be panicking and running around from the moment it drops - or worse, from when you realise it’s been down for six hours and you’ve lost the mail from your sponsors you had to reply to NOWNOWNOW.

Instead, I’d recommend setting up a free account on Google Apps and running your domain’s email through that. It’s very user-friendly, and it’s extremely reliable. Even better than that, its reliability is totally out of your hands, so you don’t have to worry about it at all. I’ve been running all my domains this way for years, and I’m very happy with the results.

Google Analytics

You need to know what’s happening with your website. It’s as simple as that. You need to know how many people are coming to see your show, from where, when, why, and how much of it they’re watching.

For that, you need to sign up to Google Analytics. There are other analytics programs out there, but Google’s one is free, very usable, and stable as hell.

Once you’ve signed up, it’ll give you simple instructions to add your first domain. Thesis already has a dedicated section in its setup for analytics, so simply take the code that Google provides and paste it in there. And you’re done.

I’d also recommend you set up YouTube analytics, as I discussed a while ago - but we’ll talk more about this in the next installment.

Putting it all together

So you’ve downloaded, bought, or otherwise aquired all that lot - how do you get it going?

Here’s a quick runthrough. I don’t have the space to go into massive detail, but hopefully this should get you started.

  1. Sign up for webhosting. Get the domain name of your choice at the same time.

  2. Create your first site on your webhost, using your host’s control panel (should be fairly self-explanatory)

  3. If needed, request a MySQL (database) process to be started for your site (Sounds a bit yikes, but don’t worry - your host’s control panel will have options for this if needed)

  4. Create a new database for your Wordpress install through your host’s control panel - call it whatever you like.

  5. Create a user for that database. Write the database name, username and password down.

  6. Download an SFTP program (WinSCP for Windows, Cyberduck for Mac.

  7. Use the username, password and host provided by your webhosts to log into your site via SFTP, and upload everything in the Wordpress .zip file to the root directory.

  8. Get a cup of tea.

  9. Upload everything from the Thesis .zip into the wp_content/themes directory, and everything from all your plugin .zips to the wp_content/plugins directory.

  10. Using a Web browser, go to the temporary web address for your site, or the permanent one if it’s available.

  11. Follow the instructions onscreen! If it tells you to change permissions, you can do that by navigating to the file or folder in your SFTP program, right-clicking on the file or folder, and selecting “Permissions”

  12. Log into your new Wordpress installation!

  13. Go to the “Plugins” directory, activate all the plugins, and check their settings pages through the “settings” panel. Make sure they’re all listed as working - if there’s no big red box saying “It’s all gone wrong!” in their settings page, they’re working. Again, change permissions if you need to.

  14. Go to “Appearance”, select “Themes”, and select the Thesis theme.

  15. Sign up to Analytics, get the code, and install it in the “Stat and Tracking Scripts” box in the Thesis theme.

And you’re all set, and ready to start customising your new website! (You’ll add in the mailing list once you start doing this!)

In the third part of this series: Designing your site. Do you need to hire a designer? Logos, integrating your mailing list, achieving your goals, and custom code to make Thesis do what you need.

**What I’d like you to do now: if you found this article useful, please click the retweet button below to share it with others. And let me know if you have any additional Website tips or have had any problems in the comments below! **

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The complete guide to setting up your web series’ webpage, Part 1

Other parts of this series : The Complete Guide to Setting Up Your Webseries Webpage

I’ve seen a fair number of people on Web Series Chat on Twitter and elsewhere asking about setting up a website for your web series - how to do it, what to use, what hosts are good, and so on.

I’ve been making websites - mostly for Web series - for 16 years now. There are a lot of choices and options out there, but if you choose the right ones, 2011 is about the best year yet to quickly set up something powerful, flexible and usable that major corporations would have killed for back in 2002.

So, here we go with a complete guide to setting up a site for a web series as quickly and painlessly as possible. I’ll go through the software and hardware you need to make it work, talk about a couple of common customisations, let you know what you need and don’t need, and discuss the goals of the entire thing in the first place!

Oh, one thing. I said that the site would be quick and painless - I didn’t mention cost. From my experience, you’re far better NOT trying to minimise your costs below a certain level. You can produce a surprisingly sophisticated website for a sum which a lot of people would consider ridiculously small, but there comes a point where trying to make your site for free will really hurt in the long term. I’ve tried both ways.

Goals for a site

So what does your site need to do?

One of the things that makes almost any website, and particularly a show site, tricky to design is that it’s actually for two audiences: returning viewers who want to find the new content quickly, and new visitors who want to find out what the show’s about.

I’ve written about taking cues for web design from other industries before, so I’m not going to go into the design of the thing here to any great degree. However, one of the most common mistakes that even experienced Web businesses make is to start designing before you’ve figured out what your design’s supposed to do.

So - what you need your design to do is two-fold. For new visitors, it needs to:

  • Tell them what the show is and why they might want to watch it - either with words or pictures. Importantly, you’re not aiming to sell the show to everyone here - instead, you want your target market to find out that this is the show for them as fast and convincingly as possible. If a visitor isn’t in the target market, you don’t really care about their reaction.

  • Direct them to watch the show in the order that will make the best sense, with as little effort and confusion on their part as possible. That might be most recent episode first, or it might be first episode first, or it might not matter.

  • If they enjoyed your show, persuade them to sign up to some form of subscription or other ongoing contact with your show as effectively as possible.

Meanwhile, for existing visitors, it needs to:

  • Promote your new content so that they can easily find it

  • Allow them to navigate through old content easily and logically.

Your website PROBABLY (but not definitely) also needs to:

  • Help and encourage viewers to share your content and tell their friends, enemies, and Facebook readers about it.

  • Make it easy and fun for your viewers to interact with you and each other, comment on the show, and generally become more involved.

  • Make the site easily visible to search engines so that they can drive new traffic to your show.

(Probably? Yes. You can run a show that doesn’t do these things - but that’s a subject for another article.)

So, now we know what we need to do, we can design a site appropriately!

What you don’t need for your site

The Web development world has really matured over the last few years, and a lot of things that used to be the case if you wanted a sophisticated website no longer are.

In particular, blogging platforms and CMS (Content Management Systems) have advanced leaps and bounds. That means that there’s one huge thing that you absolutely don’t need any more to set a site up from scratch:

You don’t need a programmer

I coded the CMS for every series I’ve worked on, from Matrix 4x1 through BloodSpell through to Kamikaze Cookery. Nowadays, unless I was doing something very specific, I wouldn’t bother.

The Wordpress blogging engine has advanced until it dominates the Internet and provides a solid platform to build 90% of content-centered websites on. There are thousands of plugins to do almost anything you want (and remove some of its more well-known limitations) and highly customisable “themes” that means the amount of HTML and CSS you need to write is minimal.

You still need to be comfortable with computers - your aged relative who tries to use a mouse as a foot pedal still couldn’t do the site setup for you - but you no longer need to be a coder, really, to set up your Web presence.

(Death Knight Love Story’s website is hand-coded rather than using Wordpress. I’m doing something very specific with that site and whilst I theoretically could use a CMS like Wordpress, I have some rather specific and unusual requirements for the site.

If you have the skills to write code or design a website in a very non-standard way, it’s still useful. However, if you’re not setting up with the realistic expectation of tens of millions of visitors, you don’t need to do the kind of hard-coding I’m doing there.)

Other things you don’t need:

  • You don’t need a super-expensive hosting package. It won’t hurt, but the cheapest web hosting setup from a reputable host should be able to handle a pretty solid amount of traffic, enough to cope with a mention in a major news outlet or similar.

  • You don’t need “one-click” Wordpress installation. Various hosting providers offer it, and I initially assumed you’d need it when I researched this article, but in actual fact the Wordpress installation is simple enough that anyone can do it on virtually any platform.

  • You don’t need to install a lot of WordPress plugins. In fact, I’d heartily recommend you avoid doing so. Wordpress plugins can easily make a site much, much slower to load - I can’t count the number of times I’ve traced a speed problem on a WP site to a single rogue plugin calling something huge from an overstretched remote address. In particular, I’d suggest you avoid the Facebook Like plugin unless you really have to - it kinda sucks.

  • You don’t need to be able to use Linux. The Web hosts I recommend will all be running your webspace on Linux, rather than Windows or Mac OS X, and that might sound pretty scary. However, unless you want to get into the nitty-gritty of server administration, you can rely on your webhost for pretty much anything Linuxey - indeed, a lot of hosts would prefer you did. (Sometimes my long-suffering webhosts, the astonishingly cool Bytemark would probably prefer I did too, but hey, they foolishly sold me a dedicated server…)

What you need for your site

For the installation I’m going to suggest, you need a Web server, a mailing list server, an installation of Wordpress, a bunch of plugins to fix problems, and that’s about it.

Engine: Wordpress: The old-school approach to a website was to code everything up in raw HTML - the markup language of the Web. Sites designed like that were difficult to update, and didn’t offer any kind of interaction - even commenting. From our “goals” point of view, a raw HTML site requires a lot of work to fulfil any of them.

That’s why these days most sites are built on a coded Content Management System, or CMS. Using a CMS, you can add whatever you like - text blogs, videos, etc - and the server will convert that into HTML for other web users to view. If you change something, it’ll change it across all pages. And, of course, it means that other people can add content too - like comments!

There are a lot of CMSes out there, and they all have their rabid fans, but realistically for a non-technical setup, and one that isn’t going to take too much time, Wordpress is by far your best alternative. It’s sensationally easy to get going - they tout a “5-minute installation”, and in terms of hands-on time, it’s probably less - even for a non-technical user. You download the Wordpress program, use SFTP to send it to your host (sounds complicated, but it’s basically drag-and-drop like moving files in Explorer or Finder), use your web host’s interface to set up a database (again, sounds scary, but all you’ll have to do is choose a name, username and password for the database and it’ll be done automatically), fill in the fields you just chose on another web form, change a couple of “permissions” via SFTP (by clicking some clickyboxes) and bam - working Wordpress.

Wordpress is also very customisable, and even better, has an awful lot of people doing the customisation for you. It’s been developed for 5 or 6 years in a real-world, big-companies-and-sites-actually-using-it environment, so its design is very well-focussed on what you’ll actually want and need, and it’s very simple to use. It’s also free and Open-Source, which is a bloody good start.

Wordpress is intended as a blogging platform, but a blogging platform has most of the same features you’ll need for your web series. It’s focussed toward getting people to subscribe, having an easily navigable archive of content, and allowing people to interact with you after viewing your content - in other words, it meets most of our goals out of the box. You’ll be embedding video rather than writing text, but other than that, what you’re doing as a Web Series creator is almost exactly what it’s designed for.

Other CMSes like Drupal are harder to configure and have less available options. They’re powerful and they have their fans, but all else being equal, avoid.

Of course, as a final option, you could create the site from scratch using pure HTML (web markup) or write your own CMS. Even if you have the skills to do this, I wouldn’t advise it. I’ve done both and I’d advise you to avoid both unless you have a very specific reason you want to do that. Pure HTML sites are a pain to update and have limited interactivity, and it’ll take a LONG time to code something with the same level of functionality as Wordpress - I know, I’ve tried.

Subscription Engine: Mailchimp or Feedburner As per our goals, you’ll want something to alert your viewers when a new episode comes out, and you want as many as possible of them to subscribe to it. There are basically two options here: either RSS or an email list.

In “Get Crazed Stalkers”, I advise you to use an email list if at all possible. That’s because nearly a decade of research suggests that the response rate to email is far, far, far higher than it is to an RSS feed, Twitter, Facebook, or anything else. Email is a “push” medium - your reminder about the latest episode turns up in your viewers’ inbox without them having to take any action, as opposed to RSS, where they’ll have to remember to check their reader and actually click on your feed, or even worse Twitter, where you’re chancing they’ll see your message before it gets buried by some crap from Charlie Sheen or Stephen Fry’s latest news about his sandwich.

Don’t get me wrong - you should probably use Twitter too. But for notifying your loyal followers that Something Awesome This Way Comes (your new episode), you probably want to use an email list.

I’ve tried a few different email list providers, and the one I’m most impressed with is Mailchimp - it’s free for lists of under 2,000 people (which will include yours, in all probability), it’s very powerful, it tries very hard to be user-friendly (arguably a bit too hard - I get fed up with their design interface - but there’s loads of help available too) and it handles all the gubbins of getting double-opt-ins and so on without you having to faff around with it.

If you’re not comfortable with an email list or think that your audience would prefer RSS (or are just feeling a bit lazy), you’ll want to run your RSS feed through Feedburner. It’s a startup that was bought by Google, and aims to give you some kind of data and intelligence on how your feed’s doing. Most simply and notably, it’ll tell you roughly how many people are subscribed to your feed, and also it will tell Google Analytics how many of them clicked on your latest episode. Analytics and the ability to tell what’s actually happening are vital - grab it.

Hosting Provider - Dreamhost or NearlyFreeSpeech.net Oh, god, the eternal “where should we host this?” question. Sadly, it appears from some reading around that whilst I personally haven’t had any hosting problems in years (the years I’ve been with my current host - Not A Coincidence), the endless hassles of bad, absent, permanently down or clueless webhosting are still very much with us.

Fortunately, there are some superb hosts out there. The very best of the best aren’t really accessible to anyone without hardcore knowledge - much as I’d like to recommend Bytemark, Slicehost, or even Amazon EC2, they’re overkill for a web series and not usable if you’re not competent with Linux server administration. (If you ARE - Bytemark in the UK or Slicehost in the US, done, that’s it, move along.)

The collective brains of Reddit and Hacker News, two of the most knowledgable and largest communities on the ‘net, mention a lot of lower-end hosts, but two names keep cropping up: Dreamhost and NearlyFreeSpeech.net. I’ve also used both, and I can attest that they’re excellent.

NearlyFreeSpeech.net are, as the name suggests, also very very cheap. They charge $.03 per day for basic services like a database and Web availability, and beyond that only charge for bandwidth and disk space used. $1 gets you 100 Mb storage space a month, which is probably a lot more than you’ll need. Meanwhile, bandwidth costs a dollar per gigabyte used. To give you an idea of how far that goes - the BloodSpell site serves up about 100k of data for each page view. Assuming two page views per visitor and 5,000 visitors per month (approximately 1k per episode if you’re releasing weekly), that’d mean you would end up paying… $1 per month for bandwidth. Ten times as much and you’ll pay $10 per month.

Obviously, if you have a large traffic spike, you’ll pay a bit more - but there are very few sites on the internet, speaking from personal experience, that will drive more than 20k visitors to your site, meaning an additional $4 charge or so.

NearlyFreeSpeech have an excellent reputation in almost all other areas. They have been around for nearly a decade, and have a large and loyal following. They’re unusually stable for a shared hosting service - you’ll probably not see much downtime if any. And everything they offer is extremely technically solid.

Their only downside is that they’re not the friendliest of outfits. They pitch themselves at the slightly more expert user, and there are quite a few reports of unfriendly customer service, particularly to somewhat less technically-inclined customers. As one user online said, “if their support tells you what is wrong and you don’t understand what they are saying, it is up to you to go research what the terminology means and do your level best to figure it out”.

If you’re looking for great customer service or you’re worried that your bandwidth bills will mount up, you might want to consider Dreamhost instead.

Like NFS.net, Dreamhost have been around for forever and a week. I used them back in 2006 and they weren’t newbies then. Their selling feature has long been a promise of “unlimited” bandwidth - which, I’d have to say, was in my experience fairly accurate. I was using them to host video files, and probably transferred terabytes of data from them - without a peep of complaint. A lot of web hosts claim unlimited bandwidth but don’t deliver - Dreamhost will, in all likelihood, provide you with more bandwidth than you can use.

They also pride themselves on user-friendliness, and are very well-set-up to assist less technically able users. I’ve personally had excellent technical support interactions with them, including a billing dispute that they refunded without any problems. They also operate a number of “one-click install” systems - I’ve not tried them, and as mentioned above, you don’t need them, but the ease-of-use of installing Wordpress with a single click is a pretty cool feature.

Downsides? Well, they’re not super-cheap, at around $10 per month. And a lot of users complain about downtime or occasional slow service with their services - I’ve seen a few problems in that direction myself. You’re unlikely to see days of outage, but the occasional couple of hours is a possibility - they certainly have a worse reputation for stability than NearlyFreeSpeech.

It’s also worth noting that there are a lot of negative reviews of them on some websites. Reading between the lines, and looking at the fact that they’re mostly complaining about their sites being taken down, I strongly suspect that many of these disputes were due to the complainers using seriously dubious “black-hat” search engine optimisation techniques, spamming, or other stuff that any host is likely to clamp down on.

In summary - if you’re likely to start small and you’re willing to learn and research a bit, choose NearlyFreeSpeech.net. If you’re wanting to go a bit bigger or want a bit more hand-holding, choose DreamHost.

And if the downsides of both of those are too much, read this thread on Hacker News (although ignore the mentions of app hosts like Linode and Heroku) or this one on Reddit for other options.

_In Part 2, Next Week: Domain Names, Wordpress plugins and themes (and which ones you DON’T need, too), analytics, logos, designs and how to actually install all this stuff! _

**What I’d like you to do now: if you found this article useful, please click the retweet button below to share it with others. And let me know if you have any additional Website tips - or problems -  in the comments below! **

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13 non-webseries blog posts that’ll give you a new perspective on your show!

It’s easy to get tunnel vision on the Web. You make Web series, you read the forums for your chosen form of video (live action, Machinima, whatever), you read Web Series Network, you check the Twitters for #webserieschat…

And that’s about it.

No kidding, there’s a hell of a lot of useful information on the indiefilm/webseries/etc blogospheres. But particularly for a new medium like the web series, a lot of the most valuable info I’ve found over the past 13 or so years has come from sites in other fields - whether they’re internet marketing, aimed at people running pro blogs or making webapps, there are a lot of people out there trying to solve some of the same problems that hit us.

Here are four completely non-visual-media blogs that I would recommend you pretty much consume from start to end - and I guarantee you’ll come out with a whole bunch of new perspectives.

Tim Ferriss’ Blog

I’m a big fan of the Four Hour Work Week (if you haven’t picked a copy up, you should), and author Tim Ferriss’s blog is more of the same - supremely well-thought-out, unconventional writing on how to achieve unbelievable stuff using unusual methods.

Only some of the blog is relevant to web series (although it’s all interesting), but when it is, it’s absolute gold dust.

Start off with 12 lessons from marketing “The Four Hour Body”” (Tim’s new book) - this is hardcore information on how Mr Ferriss pushed his latest book straight into the NYT bestsellers list on a pretty small budget, including bits on getting hordes of positive reviews, how to use a blog to launch a product without pissing readers off, negotiation, and more.

If you’re up for something seriously in-depth after that, his lengthy talk about how he pushed his first book, “The Four Hour Work Week” is just brilliant, although you’ll need an hour or so to digest it.

His profile on Tucker Max, the bestselling self-published author/raconteur, is another really interesting read, including a whole bunch of tips from Tucker Max on how he managed to get so successful. Lots of very hard-edged, sensible advice on pushing low-budget, self-published work - exactly the sort of stuff we need as web series creators. (I particularly like his tips on “free” - what to keep free, when and how.)

Finally, Tim’s tips on how to get into national media are very unconventional - forget all the “just have a great story” stuff that gets peddled a lot - and really interesting. I haven’t tried them (yet - will be doing soon) but they work for him, they sound very plausible, and they’re a good long way from the norm.

You can find Tim’s blog at http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog - all his blogging categories are accessible from the right-hand-side menu. I’d recommend checking out “Marketing” to start with.

Ittybiz

Naomi Dunford’s the sweary, slightly disorganised, terrifyingly honest marketing guru for thousands of small business owners, many of whom are or were scared stiff of the whole “marketing” thing. Her blog’s on hiatus right now, but it’s pretty much worth reading through from the start for great tips on everything from productivity to sex shop-inspired marketing tips. No, really.

Talking of which, one of the most relevant Ittybiz posts is entitled “How to sell a sex chair”. Naomi looks at all the aspects of a particularly well-designed website selling extremely expensive sex furniture, and uses it to give general lessons about marketing stuff which doesn’t have hard-edged benefits - very useful for web series creators.

If I was only allowed to recommend one IttyBiz post, though, it’d be “When You Feel Like A Raging Failure”. Great, honest writing from someone who is more successful than most of us can hope to be - but still feels like a failure sometimes. If you haven’t had a day like that with your webseries yet, I’m sorry to say that you will, eventually. When you do, read this post.

Finally, “How To Pull An All-Nighter” is fantastic practical advice for something that pretty much all of us webseries guys and girls are going to end up doing at some point.

The complete IttyBiz archive is here: http://ittybiz.com/archive/. I’d recommend hitting “expand all” and just start browsing.

Andrew Chen

Andrew Chen’s a hardcore geek webapp biz guy. His posts tend to be very, very detailed, numbers-oriented, with graphs and a lot of jargon - but they’re extremely deep and contain some fantastic original thinking that’ll change the way you think about your marketing.

Start off with the classic, “What’s your viral loop?”. If you’ve ever uttered the phrase “viral marketing” in connection with your series, you need to read this - it’ll change the way you think forever.

Is Your Website a leaky bucket?” is a really great piece for webseries people. Whilst he’s talking about analytics as applied to webapp development, all the stuff he’s talking about - user retention, how to understand if you’re losing people - is just as relevant for a web series. Analytics are powerful and vital - learn how to use them now.

FInally, if you’re planning to monetise through advertising, “5 factors that determine your advertising CPM rates” is a very, very useful read if you’d like to make more money as opposed to, say, less.

Andrew’s list of essays is here: http://andrewchenblog.com/list-of-essays/ . I’d suggest browsing by category - the titles might sound a bit confusing but there’s a hell of a lot of good stuff in there.

Peter Bregman

I’ve only discovered Peter Bregman recently - he’s a serious MBA/big-business type, writing in the Harvard Business Review. Nonetheless, he’s got some really great stuff for anyone in any multi-person project, including a web series, mostly focussing on productivity and people management.

The Best Way To Use The Last 5 Minutes Of Your Day” was the post that got me reading him. It’s a damn simple suggestion, a superb idea, and one I’ve implemented (when I remember, I must admit) myself. However, the blog post of his that really got me cheering was “Why The Best Solutions Are Always Temporary” - just read it, particularly if you’re ever afflicted with indecision or “must think about this more”-itis.

Lastly, “A Practical Plan For When You’re Overwhelmed” does, as we say in the UK, exactly what it says on the tin. It’s not the only way of coping, but it’s a bloody good way.

You can find all Peter’s writing at http://blogs.hbr.org/bregman/

**If you found this post useful, what I’d like you to do now is hit the “retweet” button, below, to share this post with other people!

Thanks!

And finally, if there’s a non-film/webseries site you know of that you’ve found useful, please leave a comment and let other web series creators know about it!**

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A Modest Proposal: Make an awesome web series. Then get people to pay for it.

Let’s start by talking about something that isn’t a web series.

I’ve been writing ebooks recently.

Not for Guerilla Showrunner, but on other subjects entirely, after a long day rereading the Four Hour Work Week. And during the course of writing them, I pitched the idea of said ebooks to a variety of people who knew something about the topic I was writing on.

I rolled up to a few forums, and asked a few questions, mentioning that I was writing an ebook on the subject. And lo, I was thoroughly roasted, and not in a good way.

“No-one will ever even think of buying a book like that.” “You’re wasting your time.” Etcetera.

Well, I’d already written the damn book by that point, so, what the hell. I put it up for sale anyway, fired some Google Adwords at it, and waited for my Hollywood-style maverick success.

And lo and behold, for about $100 in adwords, I sold…

Dick all.

So I gave up, right? After all, lots of knowledgable people had just told me it wouldn’t sell, I’d tried to sell it, and they were right.

No. And this is going to be important later.

Instead, I wandered off, bought another couple of books on copywriting, read them, thought a bit, read an online course, said (no, literally, my girlfriend will attest I actually said this out loud) “I’m a moron!”, rewrote the sales page, and put it up again.

And proceeded to sell a book at more than $25 almost every day from then on, on a tiny adword budget. It did well enough, in fact, that after I finish writing this post I’m off to put the final touches on the next edition, then look into where to best deploy a four-figure ad budget for it.

Cash. We want it, most of us ain’t got it.

So, what am I trying to say to you?

Well, clearly I’m trying to say I’m awesome. No, wait, that’s the text of my old Craiglist ad. Easy to get confused.

What I’m saying is this: everyone’s trying to find a way to monetise their web series, drama specifically. And everyone’s struggling, because we all “know” the way to do that is with massive traffic and ads, sponsorship or merchandise, and getting that sort of massive traffic is… tricky.

For something like YouTube say that you’ll be lucky to get much above a $2 CPM, which translated out of advertising jargon means that you’re looking at earning two dollars a month per thousand views your series gets. In other words, if you release an episode every week, and that episode gets a million views, you’ll get $4k per month, tops.

Not exactly millionaire territory.

(And there are other problems with ad-supported too, like the fact that your viewers aren’t the people you actually care about pleasing. But I digress.)

We spend a lot of time talking about other ways to get around this problem - sponsorship, merchandising, etc. And yes, those can offer additional revenue streams, but they still need MASSIVE traffic to work at all.

And then, every so often, some newbie suggests selling a series as pay-per-view, and he gets laughed down.

After all, we all know that you can’t make a PPV web series work.

Hmm.

Are we sure we can’t sell a series?

How do we know that, exactly?

Have you tried to make a Pay-Per-View series work?

More to the point, have you tried to make it work twice? Because I believe a few people have tried it once, and it didn’t work - but that does not an absolute proof make, just like my failure to sell an ebook the first time round did not, in fact, prove the forum detractors right that it wasn’t saleable.

The definition of business is pretty simple: you create some value for other people, and you take some of that value in the process. We’re creating value, right? (If not, we’ve got bigger problems). Then the next step is usually to, you know, charge for it.

Maybe it’s worth considering that perhaps the reason not all PPV web series succeed isn’t because the idea’s fundementally flawed, but just because it requires some skill to execute? Like, maybe some of the products weren’t right, or the sales approach was wrong, or there were too many barriers to entry or unanswered questions? (If people are interested, I can write more about any and all of these.)

But everything else is free!

There are lots of theoretical arguments against PPV series.

**“Networks produce much better stuff - and viewers are used to getting that for free!” **

Well, yeah, network TV is free. (Except for HBO, who seem to be doing quite nicely charging. )

There are plenty of free ebooks, too, and websites, on the same topic as my ebook. You know, the one that sells quite nicely.

There are a whole load of free project management applications, but 37 Signals do OK selling their not-even-slightly-free project management app. (To quote their founder, “You know how our business works? We [dramatic pause] … charge money! I know, it’s revolutionary! It’s amazing!“).

You already know about the very, very successful Kink.com if you’re a regular reader - and I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there’s quite a lot of free porn out there competing for that dollar.

“No-one will pay for online video”. Well, there are plenty of people making video and selling it online. Like Kink.com, again.

“But that’s porn. It’s different.”

There’s tons of free videos about sales, but Dave Navarro’s still doing OK charging $97 for a bunch of videos of him talking about sales over a mindmap. (I’ve bought some of them. One of them was the thing that provoked my “I’m a moron” speech.)

There’s lots of advice for free on making a great short film - like all of Raindance - but Chris Jones’s video course is doing very well, thank you.

“But drama is still different. People won’t pay for that.”

Oh, yeah, and there’s people selling drama online. Chris Jones, again, is selling a decent bunch of copies of his short film Gone Fishing every month, with absolutely no advertising - I’m personally pretty sure he could sell a LOT more with some clever advertising, but that’s by the by. And Crystal Chappell’s “Venice: The Series” is a fully PPV web series, and appears to be trundling along nicely.

Maybe the question “Why would anyone buy this series when all those other series are available for free?” isn’t a checkmate argument, but just a question you need a good answer for. “Because this one is awesome, and you’ll get great value from it” is a good answer.

A Modest Proposal

I know, it’s pretty scary to imagine not putting your web series out there for free. You might not get any viewers. You might not get any sales.

But let’s face it, it’s not like we’ve already got a solid business model that will reliably work for most series right now.

And the numbers look pretty appealing. Let’s assume we get a 1% conversion rate from the people who would have watched for free to the people who pay. (This is pretty conservative - when I’m writing sales pages, I’d certainly want higher than 1% conversions). So that’s 10 people for every 1000.

Now, let’s assume a conservative figure for your membership. Chris’s film sells for $3 approximately, so let’s say $3 pm for your viewers. (That’s far too low, IMO, but hey.).

Now, take a web series that’s getting, say, 10k viewers (perfectly achievable for most). In Youtube figures, that’s going to be earning a princely $20 per month. Assuming 1% conversions, your 1k series is instead looking at $300 per month. You’re still not rich, but that’s the sort of number that looks like it could become a business.

100k viewers (equivalent) is $3000 a month. And by the time you’ve got the same level of success, approximately, as the million-viewer series, you’re looking at $30k coming in every month (from 10,000 subscribers) - now that actually is a serious business.

Essentially, if the modest proposal of charging works, you’re looking at increasing your return on investment in the series by 10x at least.

So yeah.

I’ve got a great idea for how to monetize your web series - or mine.

Charge money.

I know.

It’s amazing.

**I know a lot of people are going to have some strong opinions here, think I’m full of shit, or I’ve missed something obvious. Maybe I did, maybe I am.

I’ve got a whole lot of supplementary info and ideas that didn’t fit into this post - so argue back in the comments. Let me know what I’ve gotten wrong - or right. Let’s have a proper discussion here!**

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Interview: Burnie Burns of Red vs Blue on viral video, business models and more.

I’m pretty excited about our first interview here at Guerilla Showrunner. Red vs Blue, after all, is one of the five or six real Web Series hits in the history of the medium, right up there with Dr Horrible, The Guild, and LonelyGirl.

Burnie Burns was one of the founders of the show, and subsequently the founder of Rooster Teeth, one of very few successful professional Machinima production companies. It was great to have a chat with him about his thoughts on Web showrunning, the “viral” phenomenon, and even if Red vs Blue could happen in 2011 at all…

Tips for new showrunners

Hugh: So, to start off… If you could give a new Web showrunner 3 tips, what would they be?

Burnie: Make at least 3-4 episodes of a new project before releasing the first one. If you find you have a hit on your hands, you will need the extra production buffer to ramp up while still putting out episodes. If you don’t have any new content ready one there is a demand to see more, you will lose people back into the ether.

Hugh: Huh - interesting! So, do you advise breaking from your intended production schedule if you have a hit and releasing the next episode or episodes whilst the iron is hot? That’s a really interesting idea - I must admit I’ve always worked on “stick to the schedule”.

Burnie: I think consistency is key. I come from the perspective of a “once per week” show, but daily or monthly schedules apply. You want people to know when they can get it. I try to think of it as “staying out of the audience’s way” – you don’t want to make it any harder than necessary to find the show.

Also, if you are making episodic content, you have to be comfortable with the fact that your series will have individually less view per episode than the “one hit” video of the day. Your brilliantly written, superbly acted piece just will not compete with the kitten wearing the hula skirt. Learn to live with it; series production is a long haul, it’s not intended for short term gains.

Can video still go viral?

Hugh: One canard I’ve heard repeatedly is that “viral is over. You can’t go viral any more”. Given RvB was one of the most viral things ever, would you say that’s true? Could RvB happen now, and if so how?

Burnie: I won’t say RvB could not happen today, but I will say that I personally would not know how to make it happen today. Viral might indeed be dead. The internet has changed so much since 2002, the term viral simply might not apply to the current framework.

Back then, people were isolated on the web. The way information moved was from person to person – like a virus.

Now, everyone has joined major networks like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. This shift is an incredible leap forward in connectivity, but it brings a terrible amount of noise with it.

People are bombarded with so much content now, it becomes nearly impossible to sift through it. Actually it’s literally impossible. According to YouTube’s fact sheet, there’s twenty four hours of video uploaded every minute. There’s no way you could process it all.

The tolerance for content is dropping as well. A narrative takes time to develop, but people are not willing to invest more than three minutes in online content.

You have to hit hard and fast.

Business models and how to use them

_Hugh: Since you’re one of the few pro web series creators out there, everyone’s going to want to know - what’s the Rooster Teeth business model? Are you supported by indie work, or is your main revenue stream production work for other companies? (been there…) _

Burnie: For five years we survived solely on t-shirt sales and DVDs – I called it the Homestar Runner Economic Model.

For the past few years, we have mixed in advertising and professional production contracts as well. We employ thirteen full time employees.

_Hugh: You also have a “supporter” or “subscriber” program, right? _

Burnie: Yes, we have a subscriber model with early windowed releases. We treat that much like a digital DVD product. The Sponsors get higher quality and bonus features that you would associate with a DVD.

Hugh: Do you think other Machinima or web show creators could use the same model?

Burnie; I think the best bet for a new machinima project would be to produce it in hopes of forging a partnership with the developer. Too many times, I see very talented people producing excellent content, building a solid audience and then when it’s time to figure out how to support the project, the developer never picks up the phone when the producer calls for approval. It guess that it’s easier to say nothing than to say no.

It’s the IP owner’s prerogative of course, but it’s sad when honest people have to fold up shop because the don’t want to take liberties, but the dev never wants to supply a solid yes or no. They linger in limbo until they just give up and shut down.

How their content production has changed

_Hugh: What have the big improvements been between how you produced content when you started out, and now? And what’s still kicking your ass? _

Burnie: We have expanded our content offering. For a long, long time it was just machinima. Now we have animation projects, machinima projects, live action and traditional development projects that we don’t put on the web.

The thing that always kicks our ass is getting too invested in a video that just doesn’t hit. I think we’re very good about trying new things and developing ideas that resonate with the audience, but there’s always a few videos that we love a lot more than the audience does.

It’s even more frustrating when a few videos within a series will have lower views than all the other episodes around it. It almost feels like a large chunk of people have somehow skipped an episode or two. Sometimes you just have to shrug.

Hugh: I’ve seen the same thing. What do you think causes those sudden drop-offs? I’ve been thinking a lot about metrics lately, and about user retention and such things - I’d guess that either there’s an external issue or some kind of subtle design flaw in the episode - or the one before it.

Burnie: I think it’s just natural fatigue. I consider myself a South Park fan, but I won’t pretend that I’ve watched every episode. The same applies to The Simpsons. I watch it when I can.

Hugh: Well, I think that’s about all we have time for! Thanks very much for the interview!

What do you think? Is viral outdated? Should you break release schedules? And do you have any idea why episodes sometimes randomly drop in views? Let us know below!

_Guerilla Showrunner is the only blog on the ‘net (that I know of) that’s 100% about the art, craft and business of running Web series. We’ve got more interviews with top Web Series creators coming up, as well as loads of info articles on monetising your show, creating your web presence, and every other aspect of Web showrunning.Subscribe now to make sure you don’t miss those articles when they appear! _

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Yes, you want Crazed Stalkers

OK, tomorrow, after a lot of hard testing, I’m going to show you how to do something I thought was impossible: plug your embedded YouTube vids directly into Google Analytics so you can track not only how often they’re viewed, but also if people finish viewing them, when they pause or leave, when they fast-forward and rewind, and more.

It’s VERY cool, and I know I’m going to spend a significant amount of time over the next while to get those metrics into every video I embed anywhere.

(I’m also going to suggest some things you can do with those metrics that turn them from damn cool into REALLY damn cool. For example, I reckon they’re about the best trailer-testing tool ever.)

In the meantime, though, I thought I’d do something I haven’t done for a while, and say this: if you’re into making web series, and you want dedicated fans, you should really sign up for the free Guerilla Showrunner “Get Crazed Stalkers” course.

I spent about 3 weeks making it - it’s half an hour of solid info about how to move from having casual viewers of your content to having dedicated fans who will follow your shows and even seek out new shows based purely on your involvement in them. I cover:

  • things you can do in the next 10 minutes to significantly increase your show’s stickiness,

  • What the best way to tell people about your next episode is, and why

  • How to design an episode from the ground up to be fascinating, not just interesting

  • Why you need to be a drug pusher (and how that’s less sleazy than it sounds)

  • How to cement your fanbase by saying what you think, not what you think would be prudent.

People who have signed up for the course have universally been impressed - Sean Heimbuch, for example, said “I found it to be very insightful and you brought up many things I had never really thought of before.” - which is nice!

Why’s it free? Honestly, because I wanted to practise creating courses before I did it for money, and I knew it was a subject a lot of people struggle with!

Anyway, enough selling. It’s great.

Sign up with this here form thing:

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Upcoming on Guerilla Showrunner…

Hey, everyone!

After the exciting weekend (front page of Hacker News! Top 1000 Trending URLS on Twitter! Lots of awesome comments from awesome people!) I figured that everyone might want to know - what’s next?

Well, there’s no more pornography for a while, although it’ll be back. Promise.

This week I’m currently preparing an awesomely geeky article on Google Analytics and how to use it, specifically for web shows - this won’t be basic “Analytics can show you how many people visit your site” stuff, this will be hardcore and very, very specific - how to track clicks to locations outside your website, what metrics you should be completely ignoring, how to use Referring Sites to create a viral loop effect. Stuff like that. I think that it’ll be a lot of use to everyone, and particularly to people who’ve already got the Analytics going but want to make more use of them.

Next week I’ll be doing the first Guerilla Showrunner interview, with** Burnie Burns of “Red vs Blue” **fame. Red vs Blue is one of the most successful Web shows ever, right up there with Lonelygirl and The Guild, and I’m talking with him about how their model has changed over the years, how they make money, and whether “going viral” is even possible any more.

And after that, I’m looking to do a serious Money article. It’s the elephant in the room these days for web shows - almost no-one’s directly talking about how to make shows that make a living - indeed, I’ve seen something of a backlash against the very idea - and yet everyone’s thinking about it. I’ve made more than a bit of cash out of this gig in my time, and I’ll be talking about how I did it, and how various models from around the Web imply you could do it better. I might even talk about porn again.

In the more distant future, there will be more interviews - Clint Hackleman of Myndflame’s already in (for those who don’t know the name, he’s produced several of the most successful World of Warcraft Machinima series, and when we say successful, we mean 7-figure viewing figures), and I’m talking to or trying to get in contact with a lot of other cool people. (Yep, including some of the Kink.com guys). And of course I’ll be writing more specific, useful advice - and feel free to ask for anything that you want to see. Currently, sound design, editing, and some ranting about the “Minimum Effective Dose” for a web series are all in the offing.

Looking forward to chatting with you all over the next weeks, months and years!

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Why a good porn site makes our web show pages look like amateurish crap

Porn sites are web shows. Every week they upload video which people pay a lot of money for. The standard argument is “yes, but that’s porn. It’s different.”. But is it?

What if we took the attitude that successful porn sites are just web show producers, like us, but they’re doing it much better (at least as far as monetising goes)? What can we learn?

I like porn, and I’m interested in the model (and the models. Badum, shhhh! I’ll be here all week, try the veal, etc.). I’m not sure there’s anything different at the core between how porn works and how other forms of visual entertainment work. In all cases, we’re selling something that makes people feel a way they want to feel.

It’s just that a) porn sites have a much clearer idea what experience they’re selling, and b) they’re bloody good at it.

Don’t believe me? Well, then, let’s go look at their websites - and see how, frankly, they kick our collective ass.

(Er, yeah. This is probably going to be NSFW. Just in case that wasn’t obvious. Quite apart from the subject matter, I’m going to be using fairly descriptive language.)

Our Porn Site For Today: Divine Bitches

Divine Bitches is a female domination/bondage site run by Kink.com, one of the more successful, professional, and ethical porn companies around. it’s got high production values, a dedicated team, and a larger narrative component to its films than many sites do.

I’m featuring them partially because they’re very, very good at what they do, and partially because I know they treat their performers ethically and well, which is not something that I know about a lot of mainstream porn companies.

I heartily recommend you have a good look at the site - I’m going to be focussing particularly on the front page after you click through the warning page.

If you’re not familiar with this particular subculture you’re likely to find it a bit eye-opening!

However, this is really state-of-the-art stuff from a showrunning point of view - I found that a bit of time studying how they worked was incredibly useful, and rather humbling.

Straight To The Point

What’s the first thing you see on the front page? About a quarter of the screen devoted to a big, high-quality widescreen piece of video, along with direct links to join the site and view the entire thing. You don’t have to click off the page, you don’t have to search around - it’s right there, in your face.

Divine Bitches is immediately and obviously viewer-focussed in a way that web series creators almost never remember to be. The front page is all about what people might want - most likely, they want the most recent chunk of femdom porn available. But they might also want to browse for something that really turns them on - hence the other shows below. They might well want to know what they’re getting - so there’s a detailed mini-description beside the video. And of course having seen the teaser they’ll want to buy the whole thing - so there’s a nice big buy button, positioned in the place that eye-tracking studies show will be the most obvious.

Let’s compare that to, say, my design for Kamikaze Cookery - and bear in mind that I spent a lot of time thinking about usability on this design!

We’ve got the latest show up front and center - but it’s a click away! There’s no images there either - nothing visual to sell this visual medium. The other shows are all hidden away behind the “episodes” tag. There’s no additional helpful info like Divine Bitches has - no runtime, no star rating from viewers.

It’s much, much less immediately friendly and viewable. And consider this - porn sites probably have much more motivated viewers coming to them than we do. After all, by the time a viewer lands on Divine Bitches’ homepage for the first time, his or her genitalia will be demanding immediate, significant action in the “seeing some hot femdom action” department. The best KKC can hope for is mild curiosity as to whether the British guy’s going to singe his bits off.

And yet the porn guys still kick our asses on the “immediate usability” front. Could you change your show’s site to use some of these lessons? Stick video front-and-center? Make sure there’s all the info a viewer might need right there?

Constantly selling the viewer on the show

“But we don’t need to sell to our viewers - we’re not charging for episodes!”. Sure you do. You might not be charging money, but you’re asking people to exchange some of their time for the experience of watching your stuff. You need to persuade them that’s worth doing.

And Divine Bitches is all over that like paint-on latex. For starters, the site’s absolutely covered in beautifully-shot images - something that the KKC site (to use it as my standard example) isn’t. Nor is my BloodSpell site, nor many other web show sites. You would have thought that the idea of using great images from our shows to sell them would occur to us - we’re a visual medium, after all. But we never do. Again, asses kicked by porn.

But it gets better than that. Not only are the Bitches using lovely images, each of those lovely images is of something that the viewer really wants to see more of. Every single one of their header images is targeted specifically at their most popular kinks: two girls playing with a chastity-belted cock (yeah, that’s a modern chastity device), man being spanked by woman, man being forced to give oral sex. That header image alone does a whole lot of selling. (As a side note, also - each image has at least one face, usually female, in it. These guys REALLY understand the appeal here - it’s not about the sex per se, it’s about the fantasy and experience.)

Each of the images for any episode are large, well-balanced, easily understandable, and show some activity that the audience is going to want to see more of. Comparing with Kamikaze Cookery, we’ve got about a 50% success rate (and again, I was really consciously trying to select selling images) - the Fife Diet image is awful, but the Perfect Steak image is pretty good. Notably, that was one of our most popular episodes.

Beyond that, the site’s text is using every sales technique in the book - not overplaying it to the point of putting people off, but effectively. The info panel at the side of the main video has two separate calls to action - “Join Divine Bitches” and “Read the description, comments, and ratings” - both phrased as commands. Their title text sells the show, too - “Men humiliated in kinky femdom bondage” - mixing between an emotive description of the content and some nice search engine optimised terms.

Again, how could you improve your site with these ideas? Do you use images in your header or sprinkled across your site? (I didn’t). Do those images each sell a key component of your show? (For example, on Kamikaze Cookery - “Presenters with exaggerated “argh, it’s gone humorously wrong” expressions”, “beautiful food next to something sciencey”, “obviously funny thing happening”.)

Are you using enough calls to action? Do you even know where you want your viewers to go from your front page, and are you directing them there? Is there unnecessary text that isn’t selling and that you could remove?

Teasers! OMG, THIS is how you use trailers

I’ll be honest here - researching this site and how it works has really made me feel like a noob.

Trailers. No-one in web shows really seems to know exactly what we should do with a trailer. We often make ‘em and kinda try to use ‘em as promo material, but we don’t really know what we’re doing with them a lot of the time. I know the BloodSpell trailer has languished unloved on Vimeo for ages. Indeed, I had on my “blog post ideas” list a post entitled “Just skip the trailer”.

I, it would appear, am a moron.

Divine Bitches has video right up front. And here’s the thing. It’s a trailer. They may call it a teaser, but it’s blatantly a trailer. Watch it - look at the form, look at the intercutting. It’s a movie-style trailer, one for each porn film they make.

Now, of course, you may say that they have to have a teaser up there - after all, they’re planning on asking you to spend money on the whole thing, so they can’t whack that up there, even if they wanted to.

But that’s not it. There are a lot of things they could do - and other porn sites have done - that would be a lot less work. They could just show the first five minutes, or a random five minutes. For subscribers, they could just have the full film up there - but if you’re a subscriber, you still get a teaser. Why?

Because a trailer is deliberately designed to show you all the stuff you will experience if you invest the time to watch the full thing - straight away, without any waiting.. Divine Bitches movies start pretty slowly, and even when they get going they’re not going to be full-on “best bits” - so the trailer’s designed to, in two minutes, show you rather than tell you exactly why you should watch the episode.

Now. We’re web show people. We have random people coming from The Internet to our front pages. And the thing we want them to do, more than anything, is watch our show.

WHY does every web show site on the entire Internets not have, front and center on their index page, a trailer showing them all the most awesome bits from our current episode or the show at large? It’s the ultimate sales tool. It’s the ultimate technique for converting casual interest into “OK, I’m going to watch this entire thing now”.

It’s just brilliant. We have a tendency to forget that we shouldn’t stop selling people on our show when they arrive at our page - indeed, even when they’re hardcore devoted fans, we still need to keep telling them why it’s cool. But the first-time casual viewer? Why is the very first thing they see, anywhere, anywhen, not a teaser trailer for our show?

Like I said, I feel like a moron.

That’s not all we can learn from porn sites, by a long way - just a few initial lessons. There’s loads more stuff, to do with their shooting, what they spend money on and don’t, on their marketing and advertising, even their editing. I’ll write about them another time.

What did you think? Anything else we can learn that I missed?

_For more eye-opening porn sites - no, wait - for more tips on making Web shows from the laterallest-thinkingest places imaginable, subscribe to Guerilla Showrunner now! And if you want to know what to do with your viewers once you’ve porned them into your site, sign up to Get Crazed Stalkers and learn how to turn viewers into hardcore fans. _

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The Five Stages of Editing: Denial, Anger, Bargaining…

(With apologies to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross)

Denial

_Editing the series - let’s say three weeks? Nah, two week - Ok, Bob, one and a half weeks. That should be, like, 3 days to review all the footage, 2 days to do a rough assembly of the episodes, and maybe another 3 days to polish. No worries.

Although I guess we should ask Frank, since he edited the last one. Frank? Frank? What’s with the rocking backward and forward and sobbing?

Must be an artistic thing._

It’ll be trivial. No need to cancel your plans. You can just do it in your spare time. And grab whatever tools you’ve got to hand. It’s a small project. Windows Moviemaker will be fine.

Editing is one of those tasks like programming that takes far longer than you think it will - even if you have already taken this rule into account. Or to put it another way, editing your project will take about as long as it takes NASA to design, build, launch, lose, write about and redesign a satellite - or at least it’ll feel like it..

See all those silly little optimisation things? All those bits and pieces that you think are great for full-time feature film editor types, but you don’t need to use? Use them. Set up your custom window layout. Organise your project properly, directory structures and all. Find the absolute best way to capture and convert footage. Delete anything you’re not going to need AS SOON AS you know. And if you’ve got any full-on time vampires eating your productivity, stake them sooner rather than later.

Anger

_”[Censored]ing Final Cut Pro just [Censored] crashed out on me! A-[Censored]-gain!

I’m going to find the guy who programmed this piece of [Censored] and [Censored] his [Censored] up a [Censored][Censored][Censored] rolling doughnut!” _

Editing is a lovely job, guaranteed to promote a Zen-like calm in anyone who persues it.

Like fuck it is.

Any editing package complex enough to be worth using is also complex enough you don’t know everything it does, all its hotkeys, or precisely why the fucking screen just went solid fucking white a-fucking-gain.

It’s also complex enough and probably old enough that parts of its codebase are only understood by one man who has since left the company that designed it, travelled the world, had a spiritual awakening and now refers to himself as “Lord High Bathtub of the Shamrock Tribe.”.

That’s theoretically not a problem until one of the aforementioned parts of the codebase descides it doesn’t like the cut of your gib. Or the sequence of cuts in your edit.

(Final Cut users, I say to you “Try deleting the prefs file again.”)

Believe it or not, the raging fury you’re currently experiencing might be useful if you need to tear a sabertooth tiger in half with your teeth, but it ain’t going to help you untangle the horrible 27-layer sequence your editing package just deleted half of.

If you’re feeling the editing fury, it’s time to go for a walk. No matter how much a deadline is looming, you’ll solve the problem better after five minutes of stomping around and kicking dustbins.

On a related note, “SAVE AS” a new filename at least once a day. Autosave is great, but I’ve seen editing packages quietly corrupt every autosave - and manual save - for a few hours before they finally gave up the ghost. If you’ve been saving as the same filename for months, and that just got corrupted… Don’t go there.

Bargaining

“Oh, god, I’ve still got 15 hours of interview footage to go. Screw this. I’ll clear one more tape, then I’m locking the edit suite door and watching porn.”

Editing anything significant, particularly if it’s documentary-ish, is a major slog. Do whatever you have to to keep yourself motivated. And yes, I do mean (almost) anything. Just make sure you’ve got Kleenex.

It’s worth starting before you think you have to. Every time you complete a section, give yourself a little reward.

OK, that now sounds totally disgusting, but I just meant a bar of chocolate or something. The brain learns remarkably fast what activities will get it dopamine-producing stuff, and it pushes you toward them. Start celebrating small victories early, and you’ll get into a good pattern.

Don’t let yourself go edit-blind, either. Editing, particularly intense, timing-sensitive stuff is one of those tasks where you can keep going nominally doing work for a good hour after your brain’s knocked off.

Don’t keep slogging away unless you really love coming back in the morning, watching the stuff you finished last thing last night, realising you’re going to have to redo all of it because it’s blatant shit, and then attempting to batter yourself unconcious with a boom mic.

Depression

_“I suck. My editing sucks. My workstation sucks. My hard drive’s on USB2. That sucks. My previews suck. My cat’s watching this. Even my cat thinks my film sucks. It’s going to tell other cats, and then they’re going to tell dogs and fieldmice and antelope, and then the entire animal kingdom is going to crowd in here for the sole purpose of seeing how much everything about this project heinously, brutally sucks.

I need a hug. “_

You’ve really hit rock bottom. Everything sucks. You can’t get the damn film to look right. Your computer’s wheezing like it smokes 40 a day. And your fight scene looks like it was shot by a drunken chimpanzee and edited by the drunken chimp’s brother, and the bastard can’t even colour-correct.

Good stuff.

There are two options here. Either you’re too close to the darn thing, or there’s actually something seriously wrong with your project. Either way, believe it or not, this is probably good news.

Get the fuck out of your editing suite, now. Go chill. Have a beer. Have a sleep. Have a three-month trip round Thailand. Whatever. Get some distance.

When you come back, you’ll have one of three reactions.

Number one: “WTF? This is awesome!”. The stuff you polish tends to get better, even if you’re polishing it because you think it’s the biggest pile of shit since the last time YouTube had a “viral media sensation”. If you spent hours trying to get the Sodding Thing To Work, there’s a good chance you, in fact, succeeded, but didn’t notice.

Number two: “OMG. I r teh noob.”. For non-gamers, this loosely translates as “Oh. I appear to have inadvertantly transformed myself into a total, complete and utter ignoramus. Whoops.” You look at it, you recognise not only that it’s shit, but why. Fix it, dude.

Number three: “Oh, dear. This indeed sucks more balls than a malfunctioning Roomba in a marble factory.”. It happens to all of us. Polish it up as best you can and release, or junk the entire thing. But before you do either, might be worth having someone else look at it, in case you’re having a bit of an attack of Salinger.

Acceptance

“Render, upload, announce, drink, vomit, pass out.”

No piece of art is ever finished, only abandoned.

Real Artists Ship.

Finish the damn thing already. I want to see it.

For more advice on making, finishing, and getting through the process of making Web shows, subscribe to Guerilla Showrunner. Seriously, you’ll love it. Next week, we’re talking about porn.

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