How Free is your “Free” Video Hosting?

Imagine building your dream home. Maybe it takes months or even years. There’s a good chance it involved a lot of resources including time and money. All your friends know where you live and where to find you. Things are as peachy as peachy could be.

Chances are you would never, in your right mind, build an actual house on a piece of land you didn’t somehow have control over. What if you were offered that land for free, but with the catch that things could change, and you could be booted off the property without notice? What if it also stipulated the actual landowners could put anything they wanted next to you, even if you didn’t agree with it or it competed directly with your own interests? This is similar to the position you are in when you sign up to post videos on YouTube or almost any other video sharing site.

So how do we fix this conundrum?

Lucky for you, it’s not as complicated as it may seem. If you want to gain a whole lot more control over the disposition of the videos you choose to upload, there is a simple answer.

Host your own videos.

Your site. Your videos. Your control.

Truth is, you may have to pay for Web hosting and that’s something you’ll have to weigh against your own opinions as to how free is “free.” And, of course, you will have to agree and adhere to the web hosting companies own terms of service regarding what files you can store on their serves.

One thing that doesn’t change is that you will still have to do your own marketing to get viewers and constantly provide good content. However, bringing viewers to your own site — one that is full of good content, like videos — creates potential for a stronger connection between creator and fan. Your ability to build a sense of community around your content on your own branded site is one of the undeniable strengths to having a place on the Internet that is wholly your own.

In addition, one of the best ways to mitigate concerns about internet discoverability is to become the owner of your own site and not just another participant in someone else’s. On some video sharing sites, most videos and channels look alike at first blush — almost like how people on the ground look like ants when viewed up high from the top floor of a skyscraper — which can make it harder to stand out from the crowd.

On your own site, you can custom-tailor the first impression you want people to have to help ensure your site is memorable. Savvy creatives use sticky branding tricks like employing unique sites with .tv domains to make it instantly clear their site has video.

All this aside, the most important reason for staking your own claim on the net with your branded site could be the fact that your competition isn’t. What are you currently doing to set yourself apart from those who are competing for the same views and eyeballs as you are? Distancing yourself from the pack is often a factor of being better branded. No matter what you may think now, the more successful you become at your Web video enterprise, the more you will come to realize that in order to be taken seriously your brand will have to exist on the Internet as something other than the name on the right side of the slash that comes after someone else’s domain name.

And every day you wait to establish yourself, is another day you’ll have to play catch up against your competition.

I’m not here to make you believe that YouTube and other video-sharing sites are bad. That’s not the case at all. These are great places to find entertainment, but that’s not to say that there aren’t risks that you’d be better off knowing. Being informed is much better than being blindsided.

And being branded is better than being left wondering why you aren’t as far along as you want to be. Sure the internet is full of shifting sand, and uncertainty. Nobody can guarantee your success, but you can definitely sleep better at night when you know that the hand on the steering wheel belongs to you.