Kent Nichols: Ground Rules for Self-Distribution Online

At last night’s Transmedia LA meetup, Kent Nichols, Partner Outreach at, shared a few very important ground rules for producers trying to self-distribute online. Kent is a videomaker and producer himself, and some of his projects include the award-winning series Ask A Ninja as well as the all-new The Guilty Crafter. specializes in serialized online content, and as Partner Outreach Kent helps producers (for free!) to identify the right set of practices to find an audience online, an more particularly, to find their critical mass.

Here are the 10 rules as outlined by Kent:

  1. Consistency and a minimum number of 20 episodes are required to find your critical mass, plus “tons” of bonus/”reward content.” You must publish your content on a regular basis to continually draw audiences back to your product. Otherwise they leave/forget about you.
  2. Have solid production dates and a solid release schedule. Try to save money by shooting as many episodes as you can in as little time as possible to save money, and make sure you have a good base number of episodes to start off with (see point 1).
  3. Be diverse – in your storytelling, in your distribution, in your marketing, etc. You don’t need millions of accidental or one-time views, you need true fans. True fans will come back for your content on an on-going basis.
  4. Use different platforms to build multiple points of engagement for your fans, e.g. video, blog, social media, etc. True fans are the ones that will spend money on your content.
  5. Your established fan base from one platform will not just migrate to another platform after you shut your content down on the original channel. So keep your original platforms, and expand your content across other channels, offering bonus material or additional rewards on these other platforms.
  6. Stick to your windows of release. Even if your content doesn’t take off on the first platform you put it on, continue releasing it on all planned platforms until your release schedule is finished. You never know when your content might suddenly take off over night, it may just be 6 months after the initial release.
  7. Keep your brand consistent across every single platform. Easy recognition is key if you want to keep an audience, and better yet, if you want to lead them from platform to platform.
  8. Don’t just focus on one social medium like YouTube but use many different ones to create multiple points of engagement between your content and your audience.
  9. Use meta-tags. SEO (search-engine optimization) is crucial, make sure that your content can actually be found online.
  10. Monetize your own distribution rights by re-releasing, e.g. Christmas specials, etc. You are now your own distributor, and you can re-release and create your own release schedules as you see fit.
After his talk, Kent responded to questions from the audience. There were too many to recite them all here, so I would like to highlight a few key points Kent made throughout the discussion:
  1. Nowadays, content is like water – it flows freely. This blurs the line between marketing and the content itself, but it is actually very useful.
  2. You don’t have to release your content on all platforms at the same time. You can take it bit by bit, but be consistent in your release schedule.
  3. Your content may at some point be picked up by a big/mainstream distributor. But it probably won’t, so don’t depend on it.
  4. Currently, there are no specific genres or stories that do better than others. The market for online series is very diverse, and many of them find a large audience. What all successful series have in common, however, is that they all run for long times, and are released on a regular basis.
  5. If you can afford it, hire experts for your audience development. Including experts on social media.