This week, I have a guest blogger: Anna from Why Video Is Great, giving you some great insights to where to host your videos. Have a read:
More and more online businesses are using videos to promote their services and deliver content. I think that’s great. Heck, I have a whole blog where I talk about why video is great.
However, using video doesn’t stop when you’ve created the video; you also need to upload it somewhere. But where? This is the question I want to explore in this article.
Why you shouldn’t self-host
Usually we’re used to uploading all of our material on our web space. Our blog articles are saved on our server just like the images we use are. Why shouldn’t we upload our videos to our own web space as well? The answer is actually pretty simple:
Video files are just too big.
This is not only an issue when it comes to the web space you are renting, self-hosting videos will also exceed your bandwidth limit pretty quickly. If you hit your limits repeatedly, this will lead to an email from your web host asking you to upgrade your plan to a (more costly!) higher bandwidth option.
Alternatively, if your bandwidth is officially “unlimited”, your web host might restrict your resources, especially if you’re using shared hosting. The result: A more sluggish website that takes longer to load – not a good user experience!
But even if you have an amazing web host and your website doesn’t slow down after you’ve uploaded your video, the file size is going to be a problem. Your visitors still will have to download a file of gigantic size to be able to view the video. Even in this era of high-speed internet connections, loading a self-hosted video will take annoyingly long for most visitors.
And what’s worse, self-hosting your videos means your visitors might run into compatibility issues. While YouTube, Vimeo and other hosters are optimized to work with all browsers and systems, there’s no guarantee your self-hosted video player is so reliable. So in the worst case your video is not even going to show up for your visitors!
Okay, I’ve established why hosting your videos yourself isn’t the best idea – but what are the alternatives?
Where to host your videos?
I don’t think I need to introduce YouTube to you. The main reasons why many people hesitate to upload their videos to YouTube are the following:
- They don’t like YouTube’s video quality.
- They don’t want their videos to be found outside of their website.
While these concerns might be valid, I wouldn’t call them deal breakers, especially since one of them can be resolved easily.
How to hide your video from the public
You don’t need to make your video public in the YouTube search engine to be able to embed it on your website. Simply unlist it to keep it hidden in the YouTube search engine.
However, keeping a video publicly available isn’t such a bad idea: Making your video public on YouTube also means that 1.3 billion people are potentially able to find your video. What a great opportunity for additional exposure!
Is YouTube’s video quality too low?
Maybe you’ve heard some people complain about YouTube’s video quality. The reason is that when you upload your video to YouTube it will compress the file, which can lead to a slight decrease in image quality.
However, it is so subtle most people aren’t able to notice the difference.
If you are a filmmaker or make luxury goods (and your video cost thousands of euros to produce), maybe YouTube isn’t the best choice for video hosting. However, if you are a regular freelancer or own a business, the quality should be absolutely sufficient.
Besides, the compression is what gives the file its small size and allows people from all over the world to watch your video. I’ve lived in a few places with pretty slow internet connections in the past year and YouTube was the only video service that was consistently able to play.
The second most popular option I see people use is Vimeo. Vimeo is the artsy rival of YouTube and is used by a lot by filmmakers and people who work very visually (designers, photographers, etc.).
The reason for that is that Vimeo’s image quality is excellent. Also, the design of the player looks slicker and less mainstream.
However, the added beauty comes at a cost: Vimeo’s videos can load pretty slowly for people with slow connections. And not every one of your potential customers might be that patient.
You will probably go with one of these two options in the end. So which one should you choose?
I’d say if your content needs to visually stun your viewers, go with Vimeo. In all other cases, go with YouTube.
I don’t want to pretend that YouTube and Vimeo are the only two options you have – but they’re certainly the best. They’re free, they offer effortless embedding, they have analytics tools and they even help you subtitle your videos if necessary.
However, there’s another popular video hosting service that’s actually specialized for businesses.
With Wistia you can embed videos into your content as if they were self-hosted. It gives you more control over the look of the player than other video hosting services, provides detailed analytics and can even be set up to capture email addresses (PIC). It is also much better protected against any kind of piracy (where someone downloads your video and uploads it to a new place for other people to watch and/or download).
However, at $99/month the lowest-tier paid plan of Wistia is overkill for most small business. While there is a free version, you will only be able to host three videos with it.
Wistia might be a good option to use for an introduction video on your homepage where you use the lead generation tools to get new email subscribers. Then you can use YouTube or Vimeo for the rest of your videos. However, like Vimeo, Wistia videos can take longer to load, which means people with slow connections might not be patient enough to watch them until the end.
Which video player do you use?
Are you already using a video player you’re happy with on your website or still have questions? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!