Easy Ways for Creators To Make A Subscription Service
So you’re a creator or a distributor with films, series, or other content ready to share with the world. Maybe you already have an audience for your work and want to grow that audience further. We’ve already covered how to build your own custom SVOD or try to get past the golden gates and see your work on an enterprise SVOD service. Any of these paths can be smart moves for creators who want to monetize their content and reward loyal fans (while finding more) by earning revenue that finances future work. Even before COVID-19, the industry saw massive changes -- the pandemic only accelerated this shift toward more creator-friendly platforms where artists maintain control and ownership of their work. After all, as a creator, your fans are your fans… and not just fans of a monolithic enterprise SVOD service like Netflix (no shade here).
You should see a fair revenue split from passionate audiences. And the movement toward more independent, creator-centric art and content available through OTT (i.e., cord-cutting) has touched more than filmmakers. You can be a podcaster, influencer, YouTuber… or anyone utilizing video content in some form, and there’s opportunity for you because it’s very relatable to want to keep upfront costs down and try to nurture an audience, ideally with some easy ways to get started--and/or possibly building a subscription video service. Time is also money, as the saying goes, so we saved you some of the former and did our homework to present some platform options to consider when in the cost-saving mindset.
However, it has to be noted that you tend to get what you pay for… in life and SVOD. “Free” can be a tricky label thrown out there to get attention, so read the fine print and remember that a free lunch can be great...or it can trap you in a three hour timeshare condo sales pitch in Cancun.
Free/Easy Services to Consider
We’ll start with the big name on the list. As a platform making moves, Patreon is an industry leader and one of the best ways for independent artists to control their own work.
Patreon educates creators through their “Patreon University” (Patreon U) about how to earn support from fans, but it is through donations… hence their name, derived from “patrons”. Creators can bill patrons on a monthly or per-creation basis.
But here are the issues with a revenue structure built on donations: you’ve poured blood and sweat into creating meaningful content that an audience finds value in, but donations can be seen as cheapening that content because it projects an impression of lesser value. Picture the struggling singer-songwriter in a coffee shop-- that vibe feels devaluing. Why aren’t bigger media companies on Patreon? For this very reason. They don’t ask for donations. They provide valuable content that people happily exchange money to watch.
And so do you. Create your content and find ways to exchange it for what it's worth.
Also, Patreon frankly isn’t great for video content -- they don’t actually host videos themselves, but instead require creators to upload content to a separate hosting site before even posting. This third-party necessity can (and does) reduce the cinematic quality and experience for an audience. Then, once that video is posted, creator work is released in a feed instead of a catalogue, remaining unlisted and undiscoverable. For more on this service and how it stacks up to Special.tv, read here.
Another option for independent creators, Locals does offer the ability to create a subscription model for your fans. Though for creators with high quality content, the video player doesn’t offer a cinematic experience. Creator work is also released in a linear feed that limits video accessibility and discoverability.
Plus, it’s worth noting for those who would rather stay out of defining themselves and their work politically that the majority of the creators on Locals voice a right wing ideology. And anything perceived as partisan can turn off viewers instead of attracting them, so even if you are okay with this atmosphere, remember that this approach limits your overall audience reach and conversions to subscribers of your content. Less of an audience isn’t what most creators want.
The best comparison for OnlyFans is actually Instagram, in terms of its user experience and because their hosted content is primarily short-form. And Instagram, apart from its short reels, isn’t really a video platform. For long-form and press-play content creators, this specific type of setup might be a non-starter. But for filmmakers and storytellers and anyone else operating in long-form, the platform isn’t right for your work.
Plus, there’s the little fact that OnlyFans is primarily known as an adult / pornography app and if you didn’t know that… well, now you know.
Our process and creator experience is built as an enterprise platform-- only with more open access and optimized for subscriber engagement, conversion, and retention. That means you, as a creator or distributor, get the best of both. We built our platform with the cinematic video creator in mind. Nope, this doesn’t mean you need to be a filmmaker to put your work on Special.tv. Instead, if you’re someone who wants their video content to be housed in a cinematic way (in other words: the highest quality form possible), we’re a great option.
We all pay for, and not donate to, the content that we really want. Unlike Patreon, we chose a revenue model of subscriptions--not donations--because (1) we know how important that recurring revenue is; and (2) we believe meaningful content has value. As a result, your work can stand on its own, and you should be paid what you deserve for that. (Still not sure of the difference between these two? Check out a deep dive here).
Where Special.tv Wins
Maybe you’re a media company or a distributor looking to maximize subscriptions? At Special.tv, we want you to succeed, and here’s how we can get you there.
Our advantages are your advantages:
- Strategy, Promotion, and Marketing
Our team helps you through the entire process -- from branding your channel, strategizing a launch, and growing your audience-- with an eye toward SVOD launch best-practices.
- Real SVOD Streaming Service
Special.tv is a streaming service, whereas platforms like Patreon don’t do video or are limited to hyper-niche porny content like OnlyFans.
- Team Support
We offer real live human technical support, subscriber support, and release ongoing app updates regularly. Once a whitelabeled app is distributed, it’s crucial to update and keep features current while also fixing bugs. All this technical work can be a heavy lift for creators and is a full time job in and of itself. Special.tv does all of this and more for you, so you can focus on what you do best: creating content and putting it in front of your audience.
- Network Effects
On Special.tv, your subscription channel lives uniquely within a growing platform of creators and subscribers -- each valuing meaningful and authentic experiences where creators are compensated fairly, and viewers enjoy premium content and community on-demand and ad-free. As Special.tv continues to grow its built-in audience across diverse creators, genres, and audiences, creators benefit from this growing audience and discoverability by new fans exploring entertainment and education for the whole household. This way, you not only have a home for your current audience, but are also enabled to grow your audience. And once your channel is live, it’s easy for consumers to subscribe -- subscribers curate their own library with a single account and credit card, so they can subscribe directly to your channel and content they love with a simple click.
- No Ads, No Algorithms
At Special.tv, you’re not competing against a sea of content, playing the ad game or fighting algorithms--but rather authentically delivering your audience the content that they love most. This way, you can monetize your content based on its true value, and your audience can experience a premium viewing experience directly with you and without the noise.
TIme always seems to be of the essence, and at Special.tv, we want the majority of your time to be spent creating meaningful content, rather than managing a headache of a platform. Some things you don’t worry about because they get done for you: app releases, an operating system, design, technical overhead of managing teams, automatic notifications to subscribers, and the integrations of analytics tools. The net-net here is more time for you to create.
We don’t sneak in any fees for upstart/ onboarding, a monthly account, hosting, or a per subscriber, per app, or per API call--none of that nickel-and-diming. Special.tv’s incentives are aligned with yours: we only make money when you do, via a 10% cut of revenue, that we use to keep your channel live and ready for an audience's eyes! The 10% we take benefits your channel through our supporting structure.
We Believe In Special.tv and Think You Will Too
So, there you have it. What’s the best fit for you and your work?
Call it swagger or confidence or earned wisdom, but we believe down to our bone marrow that if you scour the SVOD landscape, Special.tv comes out on top. Yet we also want you to keep an open mind and continue to research your options. This post is only a start and we hope that it helps you continue to learn until you’re ready to make a decision.
Because when you do, we’ll be here and excited to work with you.