How We Can Better Support Video Creators and Filmmakers on Medium

Mike Wilhelm
Feb 12, 2016 · 6 min read

Video is one of the most powerful tools humanity has to communicate and share ideas. Videomaker has believed this from the day we published our first issue back in 1986. Video is bigger than your camera or your phone. It’s bigger than home movies and bigger than “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

The world is a better place when more people can express themselves more effectively with video. And while we at Videomaker has successfully armed creators with the skills and knowledge to grow, we have not been as effective as we’d like in bringing attention to worthy video projects that are in dire need of viewers and funding — be them YouTube channels, documentaries or narrative films.

That changes today.

Some films and online videos need to be made for the betterment of humankind, and we want to do our part to make sure that happens.

Beginning today, Videomaker will help bring awareness to these projects through Medium and our social media channels. We will publish and share articles while allowing the authors to retain complete ownership of their work. In doing so, we are deviating from our policy of owning the intellectual property rights of of everything we publish.

Let’s be clear: these articles are unpaid and we will therefore not monetize them.

We’re doing this because it’s our mission to help video and filmmakers grow their skills and advance their careers. We aim to provide intellectual, emotional and financial support to anyone using video to express themselves. Additionally, we feel that some films and online videos need to be made for the betterment of humankind, and we want to do our part to make sure that happens.

The financial part is new for us. For now, we are fulfilling this mission by bringing publicity to fundraising efforts.

Why Medium?

Every day we’re inundated with creators and companies seeking access to our audience. For the reasons below, we simply can’t publish every story idea we receive to Videomaker.com or Videomaker Magazine.

  • Videomaker Magazine is limited to 68 pages, limiting one of our most powerful channels.
  • For legal reasons, anything we directly monetize — i.e., sell advertising around — we need to own the publication rights.
  • We have a limited editorial budget with which to buy publication rights from authors.

This means we turn away a lot of great story ideas. It’s no big deal for product manufacturers looking for a review; they can buy advertising to reach our audience. But creators need a platform as well — to build an audience or fund a film — and buying ads doesn’t make sense for them.

A Hypothetical Example of the Problem

A filmmaker approaches us because she is trying to crowdfund a documentary highlighting rural Nepalese farmers need for small business loans. The filmmaker pitches a story about the challenges of shooting in remote locations. We want her crowdfunding campaign to succeed, but because we had published a very similar article three months earlier and our editorial budget for the next two months has been spent, we pass on the pitch.

It’s our mission to help video and filmmakers grow their skills and advance their careers.

In this hypothetical example, we have failed to support this director when she needed us. As a result, she may miss her funding targets and rural farmers in Nepal suffer because her film isn’t made.

Yes, we could Tweet a link to a Kickstarter page, which would cost us effectively nothing, but it also provides little to no value to our readers. They would also be unlikely to contribute to a campaign with no context.

Medium helps solve this problem.

Thankfully Medium gives us a platform where we don’t get paid. It feels a bit weird writing that, but it really is an opportunity. Since we don’t make any money, there are no complications about how our authors on Medium are paid. Our Medium authors own their articles, and if they decide to take it elsewhere, they can do so without a dispute over who gets past and future ad revenue. This concept may not appeal to professional writers, but to anyone who needs visibility more than cash, it’s valuable.

Our Medium authors own their articles, and if they decide to take it elsewhere, they can do so without a dispute over who gets past and future ad revenue.

Despite no one getting paid, we think it’s win-win-win. Here’s why.

  • Authors gain easier access to Videomaker’s audience on Medium and social media at large, helping them fund film and video projects, build audience, and simply share ideas.
  • Videomaker fulfills its mission to support video creators.
  • Videomaker’s audience gets even more fresh content delivered to their Facebook and Twitter feeds.

What types of articles will we publish?

Before submitting a pitch, ask yourself this question: Does the article provide intellectual, emotional or financial support to someone using video to express themselves? If not, we won’t publish it.

We aim to provide intellectual, emotional and financial support to anyone using video to express themselves.

Put more bluntly, we will not publish your article if it is only about building your audience or attracting donors. It must provide value to the reader. The reader should learn something that will help them in their video making pursuits.

Medium as an Incubator for Paid Articles

A secondary benefit to accepting unpaid submissions is that Videomaker can use it as an incubator for paid work to be featured on Videomaker.com and in Videomaker Magazine. We may do this by commissioning new articles from Medium writers who are particularly skilled or buy purchasing their Medium article(s) outright.

How to Proceed

As I mentioned, we are accepting pitches starting today. The best way to get our attention is to send us a private message on Twitter or Facebook. We read them all. That said, there are a few things would-be writers should keep in mind.

  • We will still not publish every pitch.
  • If you would not write the story if unless Videomaker publishes it, simply send us your idea in outline form. This ensures you don’t waste your time writing a story we may choose not to publish.
  • If you would write the story whether or not Videomaker publishes it, feel free to send us completed work. If we choose not to publish it, you can self-publish here on Medium or court another publisher.
  • We will edit your article. One one extreme, we will fix a grammatical issue or two. On the other extreme, we will restructure the entire article and re-write paragraphs. Our goal here is to maintain Videomaker’s standards of quality and tone of voice.
  • We have a bias toward giving visibility to projects that aim to improve the world.

Generally speaking, there are very few topics related to video production and filmmaking that we will not publish. However, there are reasons we might pass on your article.

  • The project you are bringing attention to is either generic, offensive or both. Examples include “Lets Play Minecraft” or “Why America Should Deport all Minorities.”
  • The quality of writing is so poor that we would need to re-write it ourselves. That said, we occasionally have authors re-write their own work based on our feedback with great results. Please don’t let this point scare you off!
  • We have so many pitches that we simply don’t have the time to proof them all. While we aren’t spending capital on this project, we will have to put human resourced toward proofing and copy editing.
  • Your article does not share our mission of supporting creators intellectually, emotionally or financially. After all, by publishing your article, we are hopefully fulfilling our mission to you, but also fulfilling our mission to our readers through you. Your article should help them learn and grow as makers of motion pictures.

The last thing I should mention is something of a disclaimer. Occasionally we will publish articles where the author was paid and that were originally published on Videomaker.com or in Videomaker Magazine. These are typically articles that we feel are very high quality, but that didn’t reach the number of readers we feel it deserved online. In these cases, we will re-post them on Medium as a way to give them a second life.

If you have a project that could benefit from Videomaker’s reach, please reach send us your article ideas. Private messages on Twitter and Facebook are the best ways to reach us. We hope to publish your work soon!

Mike Wilhelm

Written by

Professional video geek and Editor in Chief of Videomaker and YouTuber Magazines

Videomaker

Your Guide to Creating and Publishing Great Video

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