You have a passion for creating and distributing compelling content. You’ve built an audience that is engaged with your brand and has an appetite for your content. Now, you’re ready to take your business a step further and start monetizing your video on your website and maybe even expand to OTT apps. It’s a big exciting step forward, but it can also be daunting.

What does it really take to build a successful video business?

There’s never been a better time for smaller, independent content owners to launch a direct-to-consumer video business. There is a growing demand for specialized, niche content and audiences that are willing to pay for access. The opportunity is there for the taking, but the stakes are high. In an increasingly saturated market, what’s going to set your content and service apart from the competition?

Your content and audience are the key ingredients, but they won’t be enough to guarantee success. Some important decisions lie ahead of you, most importantly figuring out the best way to turn your content into revenue to build a profitable, sustainable business. Before you dive in head first, it’s important to ensure you have built a solid foundation that will set you up for success.

As you plan your direct-to-consumer strategy, you should consider four main pillars that make up the foundation of successful video businesses— Content, audience, ownership, and marketing.

Is your content exclusive and unique enough your audience is willing to pay?

Your content is the core of your video business and what defines your brand. It’s the reason for your brand’s existence and what attracted your audience in the first place, of course, your content is essential to your success. As you prepare to go direct-to-consumer, it’s important to be sure your audience is willing to pay for access to your content. What attributes will make your content stand out in the crowded streaming video marketplace?

Do you have exclusive rights, or is your content available elsewhere? Do you create unique original content that’s in demand by a narrowly-focused audience? How will you keep your audience engaged? Are you continually adding new content to your library? To be successful, you must know exactly what it is that sets your content apart, and have a clearly defined target audience that’s willing to pay for it.

Do you have a large, activated audience?

You don’t need a massive audience to get started. Content owners with an identifiable audience of around 200,000 people on any platform are typically a good fit for a direct-to-consumer strategy. But the size is only part of the equation, it’s equally important to think about how your audience engages with your content.

The more deeply engaged and active your audience is, the more likely they are willing to invest time and money into your service. Content owners with a narrowly-focused target audience that is actively engaged with the brand and content tend to be more successful when they launch their own service, even if they don’t have a large-scale audience. At Zype, we have found that the most successful content owners are Vertical Networks. Learn more about Vertical Networks and what makes them successful, here>>.

Pillar 3: Ownership </h2>

Do you own (rights and IP) and create premium quality content?

Depending on what type of content owner you are, you may own the rights to a library of legacy content, or you may be creating and producing your own content. Either way, you have ownership of the content you are distributing. But do you own the platform or website you use to distribute that content?

The main benefit of going direct-to-consumer is the ability to distribute your video to endpoints you own and operate. You own the IP on your website and OTT app, which allows you to have control over your revenue, content, and audience. This also means that the most basic requirement of a direct-to-consumer strategy is having a functional, user-friendly website that you own and operate.

Pillar 4: Marketing </h2>

Do you have the budget and ability to market your content and service directly to consumers?

Your ability (and willingness) to roll up your sleeves and invest, market, and promote your content is an essential component of any video businesses success. What sets your content apart? Where can you find audiences who are most likely to have an interest in your content? How will you continue to build your audience and give them a compelling reason to pay for your content?

Focus on your target audience and use your resources wisely. Leverage the audience you already have, along with tools like YouTube, social media, email and paid advertising to drive awareness around your brand, content and ultimately get them to become a paid user of your video service.

Continually building and retaining your audience base is critical to the long-term success of any video service, no matter the monetization strategy. Don’t forget that marketing takes a considerable amount of time, effort and money. It’s important you have the team and budget in place to properly execute your marketing strategy.

The foundation of success

These are the four pillars that create the foundation to build and grow a successful direct-to-consumer video business from the ground up. Before you decide how to monetize your content or what devices to launch your apps, your first step should be determining if you are ready to take the next step, or if you still have some work to do.

Every pillar plays a key role and works together, it’s important you have all four before moving forward. You may have great content and a user-friendly website—but if you don’t have the audience to support it, or the marketing budget to build your audience, you will be setting yourself for failure.

Think you’re ready?

The next step in building a successful video business is figuring out how you’re going to make money. Do you know which monetization model will best maximize your revenue? Should you use an advertising, subscription-based or a transactional model to monetize your content? We created this guide to empower you to choose the best monetization model for your business, based on your unique content and audience.