ABFF Day 3: Building Your Web Series

Top tips on how to take your web show to the next level

(Image: ABFF)
(Image: ABFF)

Attendees at the American Black Film Festival packed the New York Hilton Hotel grand ballroom for the How to Create and Monetize a Successful Web Series panel. Numa Perrier and Dennis Dortch, creators of Blackandsexy.tv; Andrea Lewis, creator of “Black Actress,” and Smokey Fontaine, founder of Interactive One, Hello Beautiful and a+ creative studio, shared their personal journeys as well as their top tips on monetizing your content online.

When it comes to taking your web show to the next level, this panel of trailblazing pioneers agreed–authenticity, consistency and shareability are key. Just in case you missed it, here are the top 10 takeaways from the session.

On getting started – “With web content, there is no formula for success, so you should really focus on what your story is. Then figure out the right format to deliver your content.”

  • Have a vision for your project. When getting started you must have a vision of the very end. Start by asking yourself, What’s the story? What am I trying to convey?
  • Create shareable content. If your content is not shareable, it’s not going to work because people like to watch webisodes they can share.
  • Use your own voice and be vulnerable. The online market is saturated, so being authentic and consistent is what brings people closer to you. And this approach will help cut through the clutter online.
  • Interact with your audience. Even if you have only a few followers, engage with your audience by responding to comments. Remember, comments are currency too.
  • Build a great team. Have a group of people around you who can help execute the vision. Launching a successful web series is about how well you promote your work. If you hate promoting your work, find someone to help you.
  • Use your own resources. For content creators, the barriers to entry are low online and the method of distribution is free. You have way more resources than you think you have. For example, you can borrow someone’s camera or use someone’s home in which to film.
  • Don’t recreate television for the web. A lot of people make the mistake of trying to remake TV for the web. But the web is very different from TV. You have to provide viewers with content that’s fresh and not currently offered online or on TV. Stay committed to learning what’s new in the online world.
  • Create branded content. We live in a media age where we can filter out advertising. People don’t want to be sold to. So create relateable characters and content that matches with the brand’s core values.

On monetizing your web series – “Going from good to great takes a lot of work. Don’t try to monetize something too fast. Before you ask for the cash, make sure you have a quality webisode.”

  • Use crowdfunding platforms such as Indigo and Kickstarter to raise money for your web series. Both BlackandSexy.tv and “Black Actress” found success with crowd funding.
  • Get a sponsorship deal for an episode or the entire series. But take note– when it comes to working with advertisers, make sure you don’t pollute your creativity to meet their needs.
  • Implement a subscription-based service for your web series. After BlackandSexy.tv launched their initial crowd funding campaign, they found great success with a pay-per-view model.

For complete coverage of the 2015 American Black Film Festival, visit www.blackenterprise.com/tag/abffor follow along on social media using #ABFF2015.

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