It’s not enough to shoot a film, choose background music, or edit great videos — you’ve got to find an audience and share your projects with other people.
That’s the magic of storytelling, and a big reason that people get into filmmaking.
Let’s assume that you aren’t on your way to a pitch meeting at Warner Bros. Even if that’s true, then there’s a good chance you could use (or even just wish you had) an easier way to share your videos.
Sometimes it’s enough to settle for something less glamorous (but more successful) than submitting to film festivals. And sometimes you’d just like to share a project with friends, family, or coworkers without having to host a viewing party.
Video hosting platforms exist for these reasons. These sites hold and/or distribute your videos, whether you need a client’s approval for a rough cut or want a place to show off your newest short film.
YouTube might seem like the obvious answer, and for many people it is. But YouTube’s best features — like ad revenue and livestreaming — are locked behind their Partner Program wall, and that creates a level playing field where other hosting options can compete.
If you’re exploring options and want to find the best solutions for video hosting, here’s a list of four sites you may know and three you probably don’t.
Here’s the option everyone knows. YouTube is a free platform for both viewers and content creators, and it’s one of the easiest ways to share or embed files. An extra benefit is that it’s got a direct path for people to find your videos through Google searches.
But as we already mentioned, a lot of the most convenient perks are restricted for Partners only. Not everyone can get access into the walled garden of YouTube revenue-generation, but that doesn’t mean the platform isn’t worthwhile.
If your channel gets to 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours, you’ll be eligible to become a Partner. Until then, you can upload stuff to YouTube, explore the other options on this list, or both — you aren’t limited to choosing just one.
Vimeo has become a go-to platform for filmmakers. It’s an easy place for sharing, hosting private videos, and uploading bigger files. Vimeo is also a smaller platform than YouTube, which means it’s easier to find a community of people who share your interests and passions.
Password-protected videos have made Vimeo the top choice for ad agencies and marketing teams who need to review edits in-progress. And paid memberships (which start at $7 per month) provide extra features like review/approval options, analytics, and chat panels.
Again, your Vimeo page won’t draw anywhere near the amount of casual traffic that a YouTube channel would. But sometimes that’s an easy price to pay to host your videos on a site that’s tailormade for independent filmmakers.
Think of Dailymotion like YouTube’s carefree European cousin. It can feel like a more professional version of YouTube, and at the same time, a much less professional version of YouTube.
Dailymotion moves away from the ad-centric model that plagues our YouTube binge sessions, and offers many of the quality-of-life perks you’ll find on Vimeo. It also integrates with other websites, so you can share or distribute your videos without much effort.
There can also be a “Wild West” feel to the platform when compared to YouTube. There’s no content police force, less site traffic, and less uploads, so you’ll have less competition. There’s a smaller audience base too. It’s a more popular site than Vimeo, but not nearly as filmmaker-centric.
Still, if you’re looking for ways to monetize or sell your videos, Dailymotion is a solid starting point. The site does include some ads and restricts users with a viewing limit of 2 hours per day, but it’s easy to cut those restrictions by joining Dailymotion’s Partner program.
Alright, alright, so maybe it is cheating to combine these two. But since they’re both under the Facebook umbrella (and seem to be getting blended together more and more), let’s think of them as one big “social media” platform.
Social media is a free form of publicity, whether you’re a business or an independent filmmaker. And that means features like Facebook Live, Instagram Stories, and video uploads are all easy and straightforward ways to get your content out on a platform that almost every human uses.
According to Hootsuite, there are nearly 3.5 billion active users between Facebook and Instagram. That’s a wider audience than any other video hosting platform. Although, there’s a risk that only a small percentage of those users are looking for short films, documentaries, or commercial videos.
Facebook’s video uploads can be particularly useful as a free video hosting option. You’ll get more features from the hosting-specific sites on this list, but it’s easy to share content and find paid advertising options that might actually give you a slight advantage.
Unlike the previous examples, Wistia is a program built specifically for video marketing. That might rule out your personal projects and indie filmmaking, but hear us out. Wistia is designed as an embedded player, allowing videos to look their best wherever you place them.
Embedding videos directly into a webpage has some special benefits. You’ll get to avoid ads, which can drive viewers away. There won’t be an auto-play feature or related/recommended videos to lure viewers to other channels. And you’ll get to attract people to your site.
However, Wistia won’t provide a platform for you to attract viewers. They’ll host the video content, but there isn’t a centralized hub to browse videos like Dailymotion or YouTube. Wistia is a video hosting service, not a social network.
If you decide to test out Wistia, you’ll get access to viewer analytics and free storage for up to 200 GB. Paid plans start at $25 per month, but there’s nothing wrong with combining Wistia (on your site) with one of the other platforms (for a wider reach).
While Wistia was designed for website embedding, Jetpack was designed for direct integration into the Wordpress ecosystem. The two services are combined, so if you have a Wordpress site (or are interested in making one), it just takes a few simple steps to utilize free video hosting.
And if you aren’t looking to share your videos on a personal website, you can use Jetpack just for video hosting. At first this can be a little confusing since your content will be stored on a Wordpress server. But it’ll make life easy if you work with clients who use Wordpress.
Jetpack’s Premium plan subscriptions cost $9 per month and allow “unlimited” storage. And even if you hit the 2TB mark, all you need to do is speak with a customer service rep and they can increase your limit.
As a last reminder, Jetpack is — for all intents and purposes — a Wordpress service. Even if you like the price and the storage “limit,” Jetpack might not be the best choice for you. It all depends on where your videos will end up and how you’ll use them.
This platform has carved a unique niche for itself in the filmmaking world. You may have never heard of Brightcove, but the site is an up-and-coming option for video hosting.
The service is a favorite of major businesses like Ford, BBC Worldwide, and Sony Picture Networks. As a result, Brightcove is all about integration with other platforms (like Oracle and HubSpot, among others). That makes it a great fit for ad agencies or internal marketing teams.
Brightcove has pricing plans for high-volume streamers, enterprise-level corporate groups, and marketing teams. You’ll have to reach out to a sales team for pricing, but if you’re looking for analytics and reporting in addition to hosting, Brightcove might be a worthwhile investment.
How to choose your platform
Looking to attract some eyeballs to your documentary without losing viewers to related videos? Dailymotion might be a good match. Hoping to generate some donations for your nonprofit’s 2020 trip? Jetpack can help you get that content onto your site and share it to your social media.
No matter what type of videos you make, it’s hard to read this list and not get excited about the options available. But now comes the hard part of actually making a choice and moving forward.
Thankfully, you aren’t licensing your videos to a platform and giving up ownership of the content. Each of these hosting sites has a unique list of pros and cons, and only you can weigh those factors and pick what works best for you, your business, and your filmmaking journey.
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