Monday, November 23, 2009

How to make $$$$ off the internet

Yes, I admit it. I read WRITTEN BY. It’s the WGA’s bi-monthly magazine. Every writer I’ve ever worked for or with has been on the cover at one time or another. I’m the only Guild member I know who hasn’t been featured. So I produced AfterMASH. I didn’t kill anybody, okay?!

Still, I always find interesting articles and columns. There’s the obligatory profile of the “hot” writer who is so pompous and insufferable you just know in five years he’ll be the night manager at Sizzlers.

There are nifty features on which writers sold books, which writers contributed to the Guild Foundation, and which writers are now dead.

Usually every month there’s a different theme. Comedy, procedurals – I haven’t seen an issue devoted to TV Westerns in awhile. Maybe that’s next month.

But for October/November the theme is the internet – what opportunities are available for writers, how might we make money off it it, etc.? Very timely and useful stuff.

Obviously no one has yet to REALLY figure out how to profit from cyberspace. But there are ways to make a buck here and there.

For us bloggers and webmasters, there is the option of attaching ads to your site. So far I’ve resisted. It doesn’t seem worth junking up my blog for the eleven dollars a month I would probably make. Plus I would want to personally endorse every product I advertise and who knows if those penis enlargement crèmes really work?

Another suggestion was to sell merchandise. There are sites that make that very easy. But who’s going to buy Ken Levine T-shirts and coffee mugs?

The bulk of the issue was centered on videos and webisodes. When done right (i.e. your name is Joss Whedon) they can lead to tangible success. But finding the right platform can be problematic.

Still, the prospect of having complete freedom when creating content is very intoxicating. Imagine a world with no restrictions on content and no network executives trying to turn your vision into GARY UNMARRIED.

The trouble comes though when you say, “Oh shit! The rent is due.” You can just put your mini-masterpieces on YouTube and hope they’ll catch on and someone from ABC discovers it. You and ten billion other Spielbergs with rented HD cameras. No, you need a little help.

Networks and studios – finally seeing the handwriting on the wall (which suspiciously looks like Jay Leno’s signature), have flocked to the net in search of portals to show and sell their wares. One article details a writer who hooked up with a studio with a mass market website for a project. He had complete freedom, could stretch the envelope as far as he wanted.

Except…

The webisodes all had to be five minutes, self-contained. And they had to be structured in such a way so that they could also be assembled into thirty-minute programs for selling to networks. And they might even be stretched to an hour or a full-length movie. (Before you think this is a groundbreaking concept, Crusader Rabbit was doing it in 1949.)

So this writer set about writing these webisodes. First he was told to write 74 five-minute episodes. Then it was changed to 50 four-minute episodes. As he was slogging through that, word came down to instead do 44 four-minute episodes.

Excuse me but, uh… isn’t this like doing a network show but worse? Aren’t there even more restrictions?

Is there really that much difference between a three-minute show and a four-minute show? Yeah, I guess with a three-minute show you don’t have time for a B-story like you would in a four-minute episode.

With new mediums comes new ways to pillage and ultimately new forms of insanity. I’d love to do webisodes someday. Love to really be able to experiment and have fun. But I think I’d rather fund them and launch them myself. Yeah, I might not make the money I would have had I attached myself to a studio. But who needs that deal with the devil? Besides, I’m starting to think Ken Levine T-shirts could just be a huge seller.

So why the picture of Natalie Wood? As longtime readers of this blog know, if I can't find an appropriate image for my story I just post a Natalie Wood photo instead.

23 comments:

Aaron Barnhart said...

Three cheers for Jay Ward and Crusader Rabbit!

Paul said...

As someone who does online webisodes, I can honestly say the chances of a development exec viewing your five minute episodes and offering a pilot are about the same as James Cameron's car breaking down outside your house and him "discovering" you when he knocks on your front door to use the toilet.

However, modern technology IS truly amazing in that for the first time in history, any average joe can easily film and edit a 22-minute HD-quality episode that looks just as good as a network TV show, and send that pilot around to agents and managers. That's how the "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" guys got their show, and there's no doubt that showing you understand how to execute a finished product will increase your chances tenfold.

ryanpaige said...

I respect the Wood.

Alan Coil said...

Those enlargement creams really do work...for a few minutes, anyway.

Tim W. said...

I will take one tube of Penis enlarging creme and one large Ken Levine t-shirt please.

I'm going to try and impress my wife on our anniversary.

William said...

I'm not sure that no one knows how to make money off the internet. A few years ago maybe, but companies like Google and Blizzard are making a killing off of ads and games respectively. And it is not just big companies---there are now a good number of webcomic artists out there supported entirely by merchandising. Even the old media companies are getting a clue with stuff like Hulu.

Tom Quigley said...

Natalie Wood.... What a gorgeous creature.... Makes me want to start singing "Maria"....

wv: bonebra -- what Calista Flockhart goes into the lingerie department to buy...

MattA said...

Re Natalie Wood: I thought you were just being nice. Thanks anyway. Just stunning.

stayathomeactress said...

I generously applied the penis enlargement cream to my breasts. Why? Because I don't have a penis and I love trying stuff.
Ken, I endorse the cream. It worked!
As Alan Coil pointed out....for a few mintes, anyway.
Long enough for me to book a guest stint on Gary Unmarried.

Rory L. Aronsky said...

But who’s going to buy Ken Levine T-shirts and coffee mugs?

I'll take a Ken Levine t-shirt, a Ken Levine coffee mug, and a tube of Ken Levine's Penis Enlargement Cream, please.

John Leader said...

Techron is actually a pretty effective penis enlargement product.
All the Corvette owners know about it.

Troy said...

Ken said: The trouble comes though when you say, “Oh shit! The rent is due.”

Exactly.

My favorite case in point: Felicia Day. A young actress who got fed up with sporadic auditions and minor TV roles and decided to create her own vehicle via cyberspace, "THE GUILD", one of the most watched web series on the net, which has turned Ms. Day into an internet darling.

The point?

She still pays her rent with money earned from sporadic TV roles...

...which haven't increased appreciably, even given her iconic internet status.

She's quite Net Savvy, and very near the top of the heap right now in internet video...

...and can barely afford to pay her skeleton crew.

Freedom, yes.

Money, no.

Troy

emily said...

Be careful with that cream...applied incorrectly, it can also enlarge your hands.

RockstarFrigginAwesome said...

"Yeah, I guess with a three-minute show you don’t have time for a B-story like you would in a four-minute episode." -KL

Very funny. Thanks for this oh-so-timely post.

I love how writers are being told to evolve into micro-budget producers, when they *should* just be being told to tweet what their super crotchety cussy parents say. Maybe in the next article, next to the cream ad.

J.J. said...

It's always been my philosophy to never use my own money to produce anything and that includes internet "content." I'm a whore for hire and I like it that way. Even if I die in poverty.

Sarah Palin said...

All of these "webisodes" for fame and fortune reminds me of all those Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland "...let's put on a show." movies. And where did it get them? 8 marriages and a career turn as a prop for those Garden State Life commercials for Mickey and a life of booze and drugs and an early death (not to mention burdening the rest of us with Liza) for Judy...

So, becareful with your "career."

Kirk Jusko said...

Don't bother with the Ad Box. I'd like to get rid of mine, but, I don't see a check until I made a least $100, and tightwad that I am, I don't wnat to forfeit the four dollars I've already earned.

So, in another 20 years...

WV: squad--a small group of people. Hey, that's actually a word!

Dr. Leo Marvin said...

Come up with a penis-enlarging t-shirt and you'll never have to work again.

YEKIMI said...

I confused the penis enlargement creme with my toothpaste one day....for a few hours I had the world's biggest smile.

blogward said...

Very interesting. And easy on the eye.
Is the plan to string webisodes together with ad breaks inbetween? Can't wait (not). Do the US have shows like the UK's Fast Show (a half-hour of short, unrelated gags, except most of them run through the series - like Laugh-In used to be)? You could break them up into webisodes. Surely this is being done.
And is Rupert Wurdoch's plan to charge for news - Microsoft are BRIBING companies to put news content exclusively on Bing - the last hurrah of a dying tyrant? And who needs penis enlargement cream when you have a KL T-Shirt?

WV: emoual = adjective of emo, eg 'You're so emoual".

blogward said...

Don't know why I typed "Wurdoch". But I like it.

Ron Rettig said...

Crusader Rabbit! I loved Crusader Rabbit, Beanie and Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent and Rocky & Friends. Did you know merchandising was alive back then and there were actually some "Beanie" restaurants in L A area in the early '50s?

Mark said...

Hi Ken-

Put a photo of Paula Marshall on your Ken Levine t-shirt and I'll buy a dozen.

Really!

Mark