Uscreen helps creators and entrepreneurs create video on demand businesses. We help you brand, package and sell your videos from one easy-to-use dashboard to give you total control. From branding and marketing to subscription models and content management, we do our utmost to make running a video business as simple as possible. And that’s great, but…
What if Uscreen isn’t for you? What do you do then?
We completely understand Uscreen isn’t for everyone.
If you’re a budget-conscious content creator looking to bootstrap your business, you might feel better putting together free tools and services that will make do for now.
If you’re an entrepreneur looking to build a profitable online platform, you may want the freedom to pick and choose the services you use to run your business.
Whatever your reason not to use Uscreen, we want you to know we’re completely okay with it – and we want to support you anyway.
Which is why we’ve put this article together.
We’ve researched the best way for you to create a bootleg Uscreen platform from scratch. Meaning you can run your VOD platform however you want using independent tools.
In fact, we’ve made an entire step-by-step tutorial showing you how to do it, and even recommended the tools you should use instead of ours.
So, if you want to create a video on demand platform from scratch, you’ve come to the right place.
Your Bootleg Shopping List
To create your platform you’ll need to invest in some tools and services.
Below we’ve laid out all of the tools you’ll need, with some specific recommendations and their costs, to give you an idea of what you’re looking for. We’ve tried to focus on affordability without sacrificing performance.
Basically, the best tool at the best price for the best service.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Domain Name: This is the “address” of your website online. You can do this in combination with your web hosting (see below).
- Web Hosting: This is to get your website online. Siteground’s WordPress Hosting is our go-to for this. (Price: $7.95 to $23.95 per month)
- Content Management System: This is a tool to display and manage the content on your website. WordPress is best for simplicity, design and video hosting. (Price: Free)
- Website Theme: This is the design and layout of your website. This can be done without a designer by using premium themes from ThemeForest. (Price: $60 to $120)
- Email Capture Software: This allows you to capture the emails of potential customers who come to your site and opt-in to your mailing list. Sumo offers a varied set of tools for this. (Price: Starting at $30 per month)
- Email Management Software: This will allow you to contact your customers directly, send out newsletters and promote your videos. Aweber is a great tool for business to consumer markets like video on demand. (Price: Starting at $19 per month)
- Video hosting: This is a place to upload and store your videos so they can be streamed to your customers. Vimeo is the leading service for this if you want to run a paid platform. (Price: $5 to $59.99 per month)
- Payment Processing: This will allow you to accept payments for your videos. You’ll need Stripe and Paypal for this. (Price: 2.9% + 30 cents fees)
- Membership Management Platform: This is a platform that allows you to keep all of your paying members in one place, and ensure only they have access to your videos. Memberpress is a simple WordPress plugin for this. (Price: $119 per year)
- Analytics: This is to see your website’s traffic and conversions. You can set this up by using Google Analytics and Monster Insight’s WordPress Plugin. (Price: $39 per year)
- Subscription Analytics: This helps you see the data of the people who are subscribed to your platform. Baremetrics helps you do this. (Prices: $50 to $500 per month)
- Security: This is a plugin that ensures your data, and the data of your customers, is completely protected. WordFence is the most popular tool for this. ($8.50 per month)
- Custom Development and Maintenance: All of these tools and plugins will need to be custom managed and maintained. You can find a freelance developer on Freelancer or UpWork. (Price: $50 to $150+ per hour, plus retainers)
As you go through this article we’ll show you where and when you need to implement these tools, so you don’t need to rush out and buy all of these right away.
However what we will say is this: you do need all of these tools to create a successful bootleg Uscreen platform. This is the bare-minimum.
Pro Tip: Hire A Developer
Before you start, we highly recommend you invest in the services of a developer. Why?
Because a bootleg Uscreen has a lot of moving parts that require maintenance, updates and a high level of coding knowledge.
For example, we suggest using WordPress as your content management system. It makes the entire process of creating a video on demand platform much easier. By using plugins and add-ons you can create a fully functioning platform.
But this requires lots of independent tools to communicate with each other – billing, content management system, paywalls and so on – which all require essential updates for security purposes.
These updates can cause parts of your site to break. Or, even worse, website downtime. This can cost some websites up to $500 per day!
There are also trickier aspects to your site, like installing a digital management service, where you really need the support of an industry professional.
Although it may be a costly investment per month, you should definitely have a developer on hand, through a monthly retainer, to help with the technical side of your business. It’ll save you lots of lost sales, time and angry refund emails further down the line.
You can use platforms like Freelancer or UpWork to find a developer, starting from $50 per hour at the bottom end, to $150+ at the top end. They will also often require a retainer of a few hours a month.
Part One: Build Your Platform’s Foundation
The first part of the process is to build your platform’s foundation.
Like building a house, these foundations will serve as the framework the rest of your VOD (video on demand) platform. All of your plugins, tools and services will connect to this, so it’s important to get it right.
Domain Name, Web Hosting and Content Management System
Buying a domain name and web hosting allows you to reserve your website’s space on the internet. This is where your customers can find you and buy your VOD products. Luckily, you can buy your name and hosting at the same time through most hosting services.
You might already have a website for your business, but you should consider building your VOD website as an external one. You can link to it from your website, but it allows you to choose a more tailored hosting package and design. Plus, if your site goes down, your customers won’t lose access to their videos.
We recommend SiteGround’s WordPress Hosting for this. They have quick site speeds at affordable rates, and they allow you to set up WordPress as your content management system. Why is that important?
Because WordPress allows you to customise your website, publish content and install plugins with ease. For this bootleg Uscreen to work, you’re going to need a lot of the features WordPress provides.
To set all of this up, you’ll be looking at between $7.95 and $23.95 per month, depending on the amount of space you’ll need to upload your videos. We’d recommend starting with the Grow Big package, and upgrading or downgrading from there.
When you build a VOD platform, you have to take security very seriously. You need your and your customer’s information to be secure.
The simplest way to do this is to get an SSL certificate for your website. You can do this by buying an HTTPS domain from your provider. Simply put, this is a layer of encryption that secures your site when sensitive data is transmitted to or from your website.
Google has openly said they prefer websites with HTTPS domains and SSL certificates. So, it’s worth investing in before you’ve created your site.
You can also make use of a tool like WordFence which is a total-security plugin for WordPress. They secure your site from end to end and have systems in place to prevent lots of different types of security breach. Prices start at $8.50 per month.
Your videos should ideally be hosted using a video hosting platform and then displayed on your website. This ensures you have the best speed and quality for your videos without adding extra strain to your site.
Simply put, you can have more people streaming your VOD content at the same time without it affecting the quality of your videos.
If you want to sell videos online, Vimeo is the best option for this.
You have a lot of control over who sees your videos, how people interact with them, and you can sell your videos without infringing on their terms and conditions. Their player also integrates seamlessly into WordPress websites and themes.
Their packages start at $5 per month and work their way up to $59.99 depending on how many videos you’ll need to stream.
Digital Rights Management
You also need to ensure your video content is protected. You don’t want anybody to be able to take your content and use it on their feeds, or worse, sell it for themselves.
To add this protection you’ll need a Digital Rights Management (DRM) service. It ensures you retain all of the rights to what you create. And, this isn’t provided by services like Vimeo. So, you’ll need to do this third party.
Services like Google Widevine DRM are a great choice for this. But, it can be costly. Depending on the number of videos you have, you could be looking at $1000-$3000 or more each month based on the level of security you want and the number of devices, etc. And you’ll need a developer to help you install this (more on that in the next section).
Website And Subscription Analytics
Data can make or break your SVOD business. So you need to be able to track and interpret what the people who come to your website are doing, and how you can improve on what you’re doing.
To do this, there are two types of analytics you’re going to need.
The first type is website analytics. This will allow you to track the source of your traffic and how people interact with your site when they get there. Things like, what pages did they view, how long they stayed, and how well they convert into customers.
You can set up Google Analytics for free. But if you want to accurately track everything in real-time on your website, you’ll need the MonsterInsights plugin that starts at $39 per year.
The second type is your subscription (or customer) analytics. This allows you to view how your paying customers are using your services, track your income and see the improvements you need to make to your services.
Baremetrics is our go-to tool here. They provide comprehensive data starting at $50 per month and reaching up to $500 per month, depending on the size of your business.
Part Two: Design Your VOD Platform
With your foundations in place it’s time to start designing your VOD platform.
Think of this as the user experience part of the process. You’re going to design and build all of the parts of your site that your customers will come into contact with, or will see through your marketing efforts.
Design Your Website
WordPress allows you to install a pre-created design onto your website called a template. This is something a designer has created and uploaded to a website like Themeforest.
You can edit lots of features of this design, like the logos, images and layouts, but you have to stick to the coding framework the designer created. It can save you a lot of money on having a unique website designed.
There are a few boxes your theme will have to check for it to be sufficient for a VOD platform:
- Video focused: It should be geared towards displaying and categorizing your videos clearly on your site.
- Mobile responsive: You’ll need a mobile-friendly (also called responsive) theme that adapts to tablets and mobile phones. You’ll also need the help of a developer to test and ensure your videos display correctly.
- Static landing pages: Creating pages on your site for people to opt-in to your mailing list, or purchase your products, is a must.
- Blogs: You should be able to actively add blog posts as part of your marketing, or for bonus customer content.
- SEO Ready: Your theme should allow the pages not behind your paywall to be submitted to Google and not cause any SEO issues.
For a comprehensive video-focused theme that provides all of this you’d be looking to pay anywhere between $60 and $120+ for this, excluding developers fees.
Disclaimers And Privacy Documents
If you’re going to sell or promote any products on your website, you’ll need to add legal disclaimers and privacy documents to your website.
You can either contact a lawyer to help you draw these up, or you can use an editable plugin like WP Legal Pages which will add those pages for you for free.
Part Three: Set Up Your Payment Systems
Now your site is ready for people to view you need to prepare yourself to accept payments and launch your products. After all, we’re all here to sell videos online, right?
Before you start accepting payments, you’ll need to set up a platform where you can manage and handle the amounts that are coming to your site.
To do this successfully, and be able to accept payments from all over the world, you’ll need to set up a PayPal account and a Stripe account.
PayPal charge 2.9% + 30 cents per sale. You’ll also be subject to their currency exchange rates which change daily. Customers will also be required to have PayPal as a service in their country.
Stripe also charges 2.9% + 30 cents per sale, but you have the option to upgrade to an enterprise account to reduce these fees. Stripe can accept worldwide payments with a larger number of cards.
Your VOD service will be running as a Subscription VOD service, which means you’ll need to set up recurring payments for people to watch your videos.
You can do this with the WordPress plugin, MemberPress. They help you to create end-to-end membership packages for WordPress, and we highly recommend you use them for your bootlegged Uscreen.
They integrate with the payment options you set up in the last section to take payments every month. They also allow users to upgrade or cancel their memberships from their dashboard, too.
The basic package for MemberPress retails at $119 per year.
Part Four: Market Your Site
By now your site will be up, running and ready to take payments. Now it’s time to spread the word!
Different businesses require different marketing strategies – something we’re conscious of here at Uscreen – so the recommendations below can be mixed and matched depending on what you feel is right for you.
Email is a must-have for any VOD business.
It’s the only way to directly contact people who have opted in to learn more about your business. There will be a mix of people who have bought your services, and people who are just waiting for the right email to convert them into a customer.
To do email marketing you’ll need to be able to capture email addresses on your website, and an email platform to store them all.
To capture emails, I recommend using a tool like Sumo. Their plugin works with any WordPress theme and comes with a full suite of email capture tools, such as opt-in forms and pop-ups. Their pricing starts at $30 per month for small websites.
To manage the emails you capture, you’ll need a service like Aweber. They allow you to send mass emails to your list and track open rates, unsubscribes and how many people click through to your content. Aweber starts at $20 per month.
Coupons And Promotions
Coupons allow you to create promotional periods for your products. Customers can enter a coupon code and receive a discount or upgraded version of your product.
MemberPress offers this at all levels of their packages if you’re using their software. If not, you’ll need to find a third-party membership software that does provide this, like Gumroad.
Blogging And Social Media
You’ll also need to explore blogging and social media for your website.
Having a blog allows you to generate organic traffic by sharing it on social media, or through your articles that appear in search engines. It’s also a great way to re-engage your current audience with fresh, new, extra content.
There You Have It, Your Own Bootleg Uscreen…
If you follow all of these steps and use all of the tools and services provided, you’ll have a basic Uscreen service ready for you to use, and build a VOD platform on.
It is possible to create and there are sites out there using similar systems to promote and sell their businesses.
If you feel you’re able to manage and handle all of these moving parts, and you feel that Uscreen isn’t an option for you, then this might just be the perfect solution.
But let’s crunch the numbers and see if it’s worth it.
…But Is It Worth The Cost?
If you were to price all of the services in this article together at a “bootstrappers” level, a “mid-range” level and a “top tier” level, you’d end up with the following numbers:
- Bootstrapper: $1,338.45 initial investment. That’s with a minimum of $280.45 in monthly payments. (Minus payment fees.)
- Mid Range: $2,730.80 initial investment. That’s with a minimum $802.40 of monthly payments. (Minus payment fees.)
- Top Tier: $4,081.45 initial investment. That’s with a minimum of $1,213.50 of monthly payments. (Minus payment fees.)
The above costs do not include any costs for building your own ott mobile & tv apps, they are for web only.
You’ll also have to work with a dozen different tools and dashboards just to run things. All while getting stung for fees on the money you do make and having no support to help you with any problems you do encounter.
Depending on how you value your time per hour, you could even add extra money to those numbers from your time-invested.
So, not only will you be paying over the odds, you’ll be spending a lot of time trying to manage your platform that could be spent making, marketing and selling your videos.
Which is a hard decision to justify when you look at Uscreen’s prices for a higher level of service:
Straight forward pricing
As the price of a Uscreen package increases you also get many more options. Like creating OTT television apps, which could generate monthly costs into the tens of thousands of dollars if you were to do this for yourself. (You can see how costly that can be in this article.)
Uscreen, then, helps you to get more for your money and leaves you more time to do what you care about – creating videos.
Find out more and take a tour of the Uscreen platform by clicking the link here.