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Old 07-09-2013, 10:10 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Taking Ben's DVDs Open Source!?

Hey Guys,

I am starting to wonder about something....

As you know, I built my own electric motorcycle and then my own electric car. After that, I made instructional DVDs on the two subjects to teach how anyone could build their own.

That also lead me to be a presenter at some pretty major events, such as the Midwest Renewable Energy Association Fair and Mother Earth News Fairs.

I put enough time and work into these DVDs, online videos, and blogging that I really need to earn at least PART of my living working on this kind of thing.

I have sold enough of the DVDs that it paid for both the car and motorcycle (granted that they were both budget projects!) I also earn a small amount monthly from the ads on my transportation blog, 300MPG.org, and on my YouTube videos.

However, sales of the instructional DVDs have been steeply declining. I think there are two reasons for that. One is that I'm not actively building either project anymore. They are both done and work fine. When I was continuously working on them, I had a constant stream of updates that got the audience to watch, and eventually to order a DVD.
The other thing that is hurting orders is that you can simply run out and BUY a nice new off-the-shelf electric car from a dealership! It's hard to beat the power, speed, and warranty of a nice new Leaf!

My real goal is to teach as many people as possible, while being able to earn just enough money to keep doing it.

At one point I offered to GIVE AWAY free instructional DVDs to teachers, with the idea that they would use them in the classroom to maximize student exposure to some of these DIY Clean Transportation concepts. I simply asked that the teachers make a donation in ANY amount or let me know how it gets used in their classroom. Unfortunately, I shipped out quite a few DVDs (with me paying shipping and materials costs!) with minimal donations collected, or follow-up from instructors. (I did get quite a few thank-yous!)

So, hmmmmmmm.... In that case, it looked like being generous only hurt me, as I was loosing money physically making and shipping DVDs. Unfortunately, it feels like people never value anything when it's "free".

So, I guess here's what I'm wondering.... Should I put the entirety of both instructional DVDs on YouTube?
I already have about 300 videos on there, which my audience seems to dig. I have nearly 5,000 subscribers and over 2.5 million total views.
On YouTube, I can collect a little ad revenue, and if the YouTube version of the instructional DVDs is popular (which I can't help but think it would be) it might be enough ad revenue for it to be worth my effort.

I haven't really had any issues with anyone pirating my DVDs, but if ANYONE is going to pirate them, shouldn't it be me?

At the same time, I'm wondering if there is some way that I could also do a massive social media marketing campaign. One possibility would be to launch a Kickstarter. Maybe I could do a kickstarter campaign about maximizing access to information about DIY electric vehicles, taking it open source, or adding new content to the discs. I would offer the DVDs as the rewards for pledging to the campaign. I'd have to read through all the fine print on Kickstarter for what they do and don't allow and the right way to approach it.

So, what do you think? Do you have ideas?
Once again, I'm not trying to get rich off of this and I really do want to get as much good info out to as many people as possible, but if I can't earn a little money off of it, it means my projects have to stop as I'm too busy earning money to pay for rent and groceries. By the way, cash IS a limiting factor on projects like the Hybrid Pickup and repairing the flood-damaged Mitsubishi i-MIEV. Frankly, any money from any of this HAS gone right back into projects, presentations, and promoting clean energy and transportation.

Your thoughts?

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Last edited by bennelson; 07-09-2013 at 10:14 AM.. Reason: typos
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Old 07-09-2013, 10:42 AM   #2 (permalink)
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If gas prices spike up so will interest in EVs. DIY is still WAY cheaper than OEM. That being said I have no idea what the possible ad income is from youtube videos.
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Old 07-09-2013, 11:58 AM   #3 (permalink)
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How many YouTube views do you need before you start making money?

While I really like having a DVD that every few years I can re-watch, I know that is not a top priority for everyone, but I don't want to worry about the information not being there in 10 years.

Marketing seems to be a big issue too, the MREA's renewable energy fair trys to keep the education separate from the sales, but at the same time there are a lot of people who have written books or made DVD's who are there who have a lot of information to share, is the Mother Earth fair the same way?
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Old 07-09-2013, 03:17 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I have my DVDs for sale at the Mother Earth News Bookstore. They sell some. They do try to keep sales and education separate, but a little, "Hey check this out at the bookstore.." never hurts.

Me actually being there for people to hear present greatly helps with the sales. I mailed DVDs to the MREA last year (when I couldn't be there because I was in Vienna) and sold HALF last year what I did this year. I mark that up to the simple difference of me being there as a presenter or not.

If I did post all the video of the DVDs to YouTube, that still wouldn't prevent me from selling DVDs at events. Some people like owning a physical copy of a video. Others don't have good internet access. I have other materials on the DVD-ROMs, such as lots of photos of the projects, which wouldn't get posted to YouTube, just the main instructional videos would.

As for the number of views, I've been earning about $150 a month. I looked at the numbers for last year, and it came out to an average of 63,000 views per month.
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Old 07-09-2013, 03:25 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Sounds like its worth putting more videos on youtube to me.
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Old 07-09-2013, 05:56 PM   #6 (permalink)
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My .02. You need to figure out what is going to make more money for you, youtube vs dvd and Factoring in your time it takes to sell and time to make dvds. also you need to figure out how much its costing you to get customers. You have to ask yourself how much importance is making money vs informing people of the DIY EV. I don't think you should have any guilt about trying to make a good amount of money doing this.
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Old 07-09-2013, 08:10 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Insight for life View Post
You have to ask yourself how much importance is making money vs informing people of the DIY EV.
I guess that maybe what I am thinking is that this is finally at the point where keeping that content to just the DVDs isn't maximizing income, NOR getting to the most people, and that because of that, it makes the most sense to maximize exposure to the information (YouTube it) and get what I can (YouTube ad revenue)
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Old 07-09-2013, 08:23 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I would divide the DVDs into sections, and make 7-20 Youtube videos / DVD. Not as in, 30 second portions, but by topic, or section. Relevant, but still in several pieces. ESPECIALLY if you only get paid if a certain portion of the video is watched.

More views, more money. Also, this may inspire someone to purchase the full DVD.
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Old 07-09-2013, 08:54 PM   #9 (permalink)
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The electric car DVD is in a dozen chapters. I'd have each chapter be its own video.
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Old 07-09-2013, 09:09 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Any idea what you make per DVD or per month from DVD's?

I sent a friend of mine at the MREA an Email about allowing authors and other people like that to direct sell there books and DVD's without paying full price for a sales booth because 20 years ago I bought a book from Michael Hacklemen titled The New Electric Vehicles and seeing him in person changed my life, talking to people who DO THINGS is a great way to learn stuff.
So I have hopes that my little Email will make some changes, because telling someone to walk a quarter mile that way to buy your DVD... half the people never end up getting there, but if you can hand them a DVD and take money then more people will own EV DVD's.

Other option is to make some Tee Shirts... "Ask me about my build your own EV DVD's".

Another question of course is, does it make more money for you to have 9 ten min videos on Youtube or one 90min video?

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