Of course, the Internet is not the only live streaming option. Its simplicity lives at one end of the spectrum, while the complexity of utilizing a content delivery network (CDN) service, to provide multiple live streams to millions, for a commercial real-time event, for example, resides at the other. Somewhere between the two are opportunities for videographers to live stream event video as a potentially profitable business service.
As with any business effort, great ideas won’t work unless you do. Being able to live stream video for income is a great idea. Knowing what’s needed, being able to determine what’s expected or wanted by the client and what’s possible vs. what isn’t are key ingredients to establishing a successful live video streaming business.
Dan Rayburn, Streaming Media dot com writes: “The media [or you] needs to focus on the business, not the technology. Without a business model behind it, the technology is useless if content owners can’t cover their costs of using or deploying it
The quote is valid and valuable as we delve deeper into the possibilities of live streaming on the Internet as a service because if you’re going to provide this as part of your video business you will need to make a profit — or at least generate an income to cover your costs. Depending on the number of viewers you reach you may even be able to generate advertising revenue.
I just want to keep it small.
Chances are, if you’re actively involved in video production, you already have what you need: video camera, laptop and an Internet connection. There are other hardware, software and service issues that may arise, but depending on a few variables, you can achieve live streaming capabilities with the above items.
One of those variables is finding a broadcast software/hardware solution that fits your pocketbook. A definitive list of solutions is beyond the scope of this article, but a good start would be Ustream. It's free, basic, ad supported and comes with 10GB of video storage, with unlimited storage available for a fee. BitGravity is another option, although fees apply, with several levels of pricing and capacity available. Costs for this service can be extreme. Though often simpler to implement, if you’re only doing one event a month, a fee-based service may not result in enough income to warrant monthly subscription costs that can run north of $1,000.
Whenever possible you will want a hardwired connection rather than wireless. Although wireless service is much better in many places than it once was, the likelihood of achieving less than desirable results is higher with wireless than with Ethernet. If you charge for your service, you must be confident of your ability to deliver a quality live stream.
Now that you have an idea of the hardware, software and services you may need to make it happen, let’s look at the opportunities for income from the client and/or advertising revenue, as well as other possible income streams.
What about ad partnerships?
Depending on your interpretation of making serious money, you’ll need to come up with a plan that results in a heavy live stream environment with lots of video being viewed or develop ongoing live stream programming that appeals to a mass audience.
Essentially, by signing up with any number of live stream video sites and allowing advertising to be shown with your production you can generate advertising revenue.
YouTube, of course, comes to mind. The Google-owned monster video sharing site offers opportunities to earn income with ad-supported video but is also aggressively pushing into the live streaming partnership environment.
According to Videomaker staffer Mike Wilhelm, sites like JustinTV, Ustream and Twitch, a live gaming site video environment, all offer opportunities to earn money on a cost per thousand (CPM) basis.
Directly Soliciting Sponsorships
A quick Google search of the myriad live stream video sponsorships being offered will give you an idea of the potential for this service.
Once you've geared up to provide live stream services, you can charge businesses for advertising on your live presentation site and keep the advertising revenue for yourself. You might provide live streaming services for a local bridal fair event for example. Charge the event organization itself for the service, as well as the participating vendors to display their ads at intervals during the production. The possibilities are endless.
Working Affiliate Opportunities
Wilhelm says, “If you can get your viewers to take action, you can profit from affiliate deals.” He uses Amazon for example, noting that “you can take a percentage of every purchase that your viewers make after clicking a specific link,” on your video site.
In addition to Amazon, Wilhelm said, other types of affiliate programs include signing up for offers or filling out surveys.
Streaming Video Provider offers an extensive affiliate program allowing video production companies “to benefit from the booming Internet video industry.” The site’s program allows affiliates to earn a commission on all purchases made by users they refer.
As an affiliate for NeuLion, a premium sports and entertainment broadcaster offering video content to consumers worldwide, you could earn income through referrals from your live stream video operations.
Again, a search for “live stream video affiliate programs” will deliver a boatload of possibilities for your own live streaming video business.
Go with Pay-per-view.
Pay-per-view might seem outside the scope of live stream video services but there are ways to make it happen. In addition to its affiliate program, Streaming Video Provider also offers pay-per-view services that help you set up your own.
Videomaker offers an excellent example of pay-per-view opportunities by setting up a series of video on demand (VOD) releases, at various prices, for those wanting to learn more. Kris Simmons of 6 Strong Media noted on a Videomaker Forum thread that he set up a WordPress site to promote video content. In his forum response, Simmons offers that he uses Web Marketing Magic to process video orders through his Paypal gateway.
When Paypal recognizes the payment, Simmons said, an automatic e-mail response is sent to the customer with instructions on how to access the video product.
Sell branded merchandise for income.
Mike Wilhelm notes that videographers who are successful in building a solid viewer base for their live stream video site, products or services might further monetize their business by offering branded t-shirts, caps, mugs and other consumer/fan base products.
Would you work for tips?
There’s another way to generate revenue from live stream video, especially if you are developing your own programming, as opposed to providing live streaming services for individual clients. But don’t let this concept, used extensively by independent software developers, turn you off to the potential for income from client events either.
Taking off from the will work for food concept and donations accepted, often noted on blog sites, software developer sites and even indy book publishing sites, is the idea that you can solicit tips and donations from your viewers and loyal website visitors.
“Remind them,” says Wilhelm, “that you’re offering no-cost (or low-cost), possibly ad-free live stream video content (and other video content), but you need financial support to make it happen.”
It can be as simple as setting up a Paypal account, then providing viewers a donation button so they can send you cash. If nothing more, you’ll at least be able to maintain your live stream video site at no, or a significantly reduced, out-of-pocket expense.
You can make this happen.
With a plethora of free and for fee live stream programs to pick from there’s a good chance you’ll find the software you need to enable your live video streaming business now. Your business can focus primarily on services for single, private event clients such as weddings or funerals where out-of-state guests cannot attend. Or, you can establish your own live stream video event or webcast programming offering advertising and more to generate revenue.
Set up the technical stuff today and take a test drive. Try any home or local project by yourself, with friends or an associate. Make a plan. Make sure you can work with what you have or can budget for what you need to take it to the max if that’s what you want.
The important thing is to give the technical side of live stream video a go, then develop your business plan to focus on income from fees, donations or advertising revenue. Take it as far as you want but remember, great ideas won’t work unless you do.
Earl Chessher is a veteran career journalist, independent video producer and author of video marketing and production books.
Sidebar: Where do I want to go with this?
Do what Bill Mecca, Videomaker Forums participant has done: develop your own video programming, establish a website, create branding, offer items for sale and be consistent with quality information that brings visitors back or compels them to sign up. Mecca features Video QuickTips — Tips and Techniques for Better Video and has developed a good following.
Another enterprising video producer is Jay Michael Long, a contributing writer for Videomaker. Long offers quality video content and video links. He produces live streaming programming and sells branded merchandise and DVDs as well. He has a donate button on his general video blog, In the Viewfinder, putting the will work for tips principle to good use.
Here are a few good sites to get you started on the road to a live stream video business earning income and generating advertising revenue:
Oh, if you really want to keep things seriously simple, with a minimum investment to get started in live stream video production, check out the SONY Bloggie Live pocket camera, $250.