Staci Perry – a knitting instructor from Austin, Texas – might not sound like the most typical new media entrepreneur. But she has used her instructional videos on YouTube to attract 10,000 subscribers, who have viewed her content more than three million times. Not only that, but the videos act as a spur to promote sales of the $8 knitting patterns that she sells via her website VeryPink.com.
“The videos are an instrumental part of my business”, Perry told the Austin Business Journal. “The idea is to give and give – and take a very little. Eventually, the take will be substantial, and that’s how I am making a living off this.
Her technique is simple. She makes videos explaining technical tips and tricks for knitters. She has evolved camera technique that allows views to see her from both the front, and a larger view looking down at the work in hand. These packages are then embedded into the frequently updated page on the VeryPink website. Some viewers come to the site direct, others find Perry’s content by searching YouTube.
She is one of a burgeoning new world of content producers whose main route to market is via video channels. Daisy Whitney is another. Four years ago she started producing NewMediaMinute, a personal, online newscast covering the internet video business. Each edition typically featured an industry expert talking about an aspect of their business as part of a short package for which Whitney provided a studio-shot intro and outro.
Whitney’s success has been such that she now has paying jobs working as a new media correspondent for several outlets, including TV Week, Media Post and several others, as well as securing a book deal with Little Brown to publish her fiction. As a result she says that she has produced her last NewMediaMinute.
Some think that even this kind of success is just the tip on the iceberg. Cisco Systems estimates that 90% of web traffic will be driven by video by the end of 2013. The reason for this, they argue, is because video is so easy to syndicate. Printed words appear on just one site – from a single location, video can be embedded in dozens, or hundreds of locations, including social media sites, such as Facebook. Video also more immediate than the printed word, is easier to differentiate from the written word and works better on mobile devices.
Perry and Witney’s trajectories show two of the uses to which this potential can be put – one, direct sales, the other the creation of a media brand that allowed Witney’s career to develop in new ways. Other video entrepreneurs have gone further and created entire web-based television programs. Jesse Draper’s Valley Girl Show, for example, comes in fifteen minute packages and generally features entrepreneurs, mostly from the new media, being interviewed by Draper in her ditzy ‘valley girl’ persona.
Now into its fourth season, the Valley Girl Show is shot on a mobile studio that Draper and business partner Jonathan Polenz transport in a U Haul trailer. Initial funding for the project came from an acting job that Draper had on childrens’ tv and while Valley Girl is reported not to have made any real money yet, Draper says that it pays for itself with advertising, merchandise and related websites.
Whether it will facilitate her ultimate ambition to take her idea to regular tv remains to be seen, but for a Californian actress in her mid-20s, she has already made quite a splash. She has also demonstrated that as the costs of entry to video program making have tumbled, it becomes ever more possible for anyone to be famous for fifteen minutes – even if Perry, Whitney and Draper’s experience suggests, that the acquisition of such celebrity still requires a good deal of hard work.