Simple Ways to Sell A Movie Online

Here are some tips for DIY DISTRIBUTION from MakeUseOf and Documentary Cameras

1. Uscreen

Attempting to corner the market in amateur video sales, Unscreen has a polished website that prompts you to upload anything and set your own price. Video content can be sold as subscriptions, one-time payment, rentals, or simply made available for free.

However, Uscreen is not ideal for all types of content. You should be producing educational content, fitness videos, entertainment, corporate training, or material for membership sites if you expect to do well with this platform.
With support for Dropbox syncs and uploading via FTP, videos, images and audio can be uploaded to Uscreen and customized with logos and other branding before launching. Uscreen offers everything from hosting and marketing tools to payment and content delivery. If you think your video content will be suitable for this platform, sign up today!

2. Vimeo

Another option is Vimeo, which has launched an on-demand platform. Offering Vimeo PRO subscribers 90 percent of the revenue and the option to make videos available to rent or buy, the $14 monthly subscription also features a risk-free 30-day trial. You can try it out without having to commit!

Streaming and downloading to a wide range of popular devices and platforms is available, and you can set your own price. There’s also statistics for your videos, so you can see just how popular they are.
A fascinating selection of movies are already available from Vimeo PRO, so why not add your own work to the list?

3. Amazon

You might have considered CreateSpace for books or CDs. But did you know Amazon’s service could be used to sell and distribute video content? Indeed, two options are available:

Amazon Video Direct

For a digital-only option, Amazon Video Direct is also available. This basically means that your productions will be ready to buy or stream on Amazon Video — Fire TV, phones, tablets, anything capable of accessing Amazon’s worldwide video streaming service!

Full performance metrics are available, while royalties can be earned via revenue share, purchases, subscriptions, ad impressions… or even a combination of all four.
Getting your video on Amazon Video Direct is easier than dealing with Netflix. As far as Netflix is concerned, you’ll need to attract the attention of their acquisitions team.

4. iTunes

Apple’s popular media supermarket is a good location to make money from your videos. However, “user-generated” content (i.e. amateur material made with a smartphone or webcam) is not accepted. Instead, you need to be producing top quality material — movies or documentaries — and teaming up with an approved “aggregator”.

These Apple partners are numerous so you should be able to find one to work with. For a fee, they will prepare your video for listing on iTunes, enabling you to sell it.

More Places You Can Make Money From Your Videos

So far we’ve looked purely at the sites that are focused on maximizing profits from your videos. However, there are several other websites you can use to make money.


Perhaps the most obvious option, building a successful YouTube channel full of videos can work to your advantage. While it might be tempting to simply monetize everything and wait for the coins to roll in, other tactics also work. For instance, you can use YouTube to showcase some of your videos and prompt people to buy them via the services above.


If using Apple’s iTunes Partners isn’t ideal for you, it’s still possible to leverage iTunes’ massive audience. To do this, you’ll need to create a video podcast, with its own RSS feed. Via the iTunes app, create a new podcast, using the RSS feed. While you won’t be making money directly with this approach, it can be used to highlight your content on other services.

Your Website or Blog

Of course, you’ll need a massive audience to make big bucks, but there is no reason why you cannot use a self-hosted platform to showcase your work. From this stage, you might opt to use one of the five services above to sell your wares, or a digital distribution and delivery service linked to your site.
home video dslr vlog
Image Credit: Olena Yakobchuk via Shutterstock
If you’re running a WordPress blog, plugins are available that add this functionality. In short, it enables a fan of your work to pay via PayPal (or an alternative) or credit card and have the video ready to download to their PC or tablet.

Social Networks

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all provide tools for uploading videos. You can use these to share clips of your full features, and build a buzz around your projects. Share some behind-the-scenes clips, or even live stream a highlight.


You’re a movie maker, and you want to make money. Let’s be honest, you’re hitting the level of a professional, so it’s time to build your profile. What better way than a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA)? There are two options here: find a suitable channel (/r/moviemaking for instance) and contact the moderators to propose it. Otherwise, you could also use the /r/AMA channel and simply post your AMA there.
Before you do this, however, make sure you are familiar with how Reddit works. Also, have a day blocked out for the AMA. AMAs are read by people around the world, with questions flying in from around the globe. Make sure you have the time to reply to their questions!

Here are some of our favorite resources for selling a film online:

  • Gumroad – Set your own price and sell your film online. Gumroad works with either streaming or downloads and can do rentals as well. No annual fee, you only pay a tiny percentage of each sale. Quite cost effective for low budget documentary filmmakers and you can even bundle deleted scenes with your work. Integrates with your own website.
  • Square Merchant – Online and in-person credit card processing for your films, whether you’re selling DVDs online or at events, even comes with a free credit card reader that plugs into your iPhone or Android device. No annual fee and a much smoother checkout experience than PayPal. Integrates with your own website.
  • VHX – VHX is an online streaming distribution platform that allows you to upload your films and sell them to your audience without having to create a complicated website or deal with any of the tech stuff. VHX is especially great for episodic content because it can manage branded subscription services, not just one-off films. You can set your own prices, offer rentals and purchases and even build coupon codes. You can get started and sell for free, but once you’ve uploaded more than 10 hours of content you will need to begin paying.
  • Vimeo Pro – Once you pay a subscription fee of about $20/month (or a discounted flat rate for the year), a subscription to Vimeo Pro gives you tools to sell your films. You can set your own prices and upload art according to their specifications to create beautiful-looking sales pages with trailers, synopses, stills, and more. Note that unlike some other platforms with Vimeo Pro you’ll need to pay a monthly fee whether or not you actually make any sales. On the flip side, however, you also get access to expanded Vimeo video hosting features like advanced branding of color-schemes of the video embeds on your website, expanded analytics, and more.
  • YouTube – If you really and truly want to get as many eyeballs for your film as possible, nothing beats putting it up for free on YouTube, which allows you to monetize it through ads (or if you meet the eligibility requirements, you can offer it as paid content on YouTube). But even if you want to sell your movie through a more traditional route, putting a great film trailer up on YouTube with a link to purchase the film is a must.
Selling a streaming or downloadable version of your film online can be a great way to get the film out there for next to nothing and also get some buzz for yourself as a filmmaker. We also recommend collecting the email addresses of your buyers (which Square and Gumroad allow you to do– but Amazon does not) so you can let them know when your next film is out.

Extra tips for how to sell your film online

Here are some additional tips to consider, regardless of what platform you choose to sell your films online with.
Upload your trailer to YouTube – Whether or not you’re hosting the film on YouTube, it’s worth uploading the trailer there and tagging it with lots of related tags and giving it a nice, long keyword-rich synopsis in the description area. You should also include a link in the description to where people can purchase/stream the full film. It’s also worth including a URL in the video itself as text on screen in case someone is watching it on a platform where they can’t see the description while they’re watching (like on a cell phone in full-screen mode or embedded in another website). Uploading your trailer to YouTube will make it much more findable.
Market your film to an email list – As you’re making your movie, keep a running list of email addresses from people who are interested in it that you interact with along the way. Send these people (along with crowd-funders or friends) regular updates on your progress as you go through the process. By the time your film is ready to be released online via streaming platforms, you may already have a built-in audience. On your website, you can also include an email signup list for people who come across your film’s website and are interested in watching it once it’s finished. Make sure you also capture people’s first names in addition to their email addresses (but don’t make the signup form too long or complicated because fewer people will fill it out!).
Make the option to purchase your film easy to find on your website(s) – If you have an official film website, make sure it’s easy to find the page where people can buy the film. This means ideally putting it in the menu/navigation and also sprinkling links to it throughout the website on all sorts of other pages where it’s relevant. If you have other websites, like a professional website as a director, consider putting links to buy the film there too. Generally speaking, the more links there are to that purchase page, the better.

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