VidCon 2011: ‘You Can’t Just Post and Pray’

VidCon concluded its Thursday events with a panel on the tensions between remaining independent while making money from online content

Representatives from agencies backing up-and-coming web talent spoke on a panel discussing the give and take of earning solid revenue and staying independent for VidCon’s final Thursday panel.

In a markedly more sobering and realistic panel than the ones delivered by YouTube stars previously in the day, the panel agreed on a “you can’t post and pray” outlook for making money creating online media content.

“There’s a saying that content is king,” said Dan Weinstein, head of digital at The Collective, “But marketing is queen and she runs the household.”

Also read: VidCon 2011: 5 Steps to Make It Big on YouTube

Margaret Healy, Strategic Partnerships Manager for YouTube, admitted that it is hard to rise above the clutter, and warned the audience not to trade away their independence too quickly.

Weinstein echoed the sentiment, but sees his agency as independent enough, at least in the Hollywood sense. He shared his work with YouTube star Lucas Cruikshank, whose character “Fred Figglehorn,” whom Cruikshank would play in his videos, became so popular that he was offered a movie deal with Nickelodeon in 2009.

The Collective was able to license the property to Nickelodeon, as opposed to the other route, as Weinstein sees it, to sell Nickelodeon all the intellectual property for the character.

Now, Weinstein explained, Cruikshank retains ownership of his character, and the 15-year-old is a major partner in a valuable movie franchise.

For those looking to work with an agency, panel members discussed the types of YouTube accounts they look for in potential partnerships.

“We want to make sure they have a balance of reach and scale,” said Weinstein continued. “Is there a community there? Are people engaged? Are they commenting?”

Panelists also discussed the merits of a strong niche audience as opposed to a general subscriber volume. “If I want to reach sneaker fanatics, I’ll pay more to reach a smaller, more engaged audience” said Mike Hudack, co-founder of online media domain blip.tv.

“If you have 10,000 loyal people, it’s worth more than 100,000 viewers who only watch you for 15 seconds,” added Healy. “You need to own your audience and connect with them.”

Panel moderator Liz Miller of “Attack of the Show” gave an example of failing, when she only accepted positive comments upon her channel’s launch, resulting in one positive comment with 20,000 “dislikes” tacked on to it.

Weinstein continued that success is up to the user, “but being able to sustain yourself and make a business out of what you love to do… nothing’s better.”