Episode 9: Where to Host Your Videos

Video is becoming a more important part of content and marketing. So, we’re going to answer an question that more and more people need to answer: where is the best place to host my videos? Listen to the episode.

Show Notes


Hey everybody and happy new year! Welcome to Creator Toolkit, the podcast about building stuff on the web. I’m Joe Casabona and today we’re going to talk about video hosting.

Video is becoming a more important part of content and marketing. According to a recent episode of The Science of Social Media, 76% of businesses have said video helped them increase sales. On top of that, if you’re working on an online course or other educational content, video is super important. Most people prefer to watch a video than read 3000 words explaining something.

So that’s why you should do more videos. But…

Why get a video host at all?

If you self-host your website, you might be wondering why you’d want to get a video host at all. You have your own server where you can upload videos, and modern browsers can support embedded videos with a nice player.

The problem is your web host isn’t optimized for serving up videos, so while it might technically work, it won’t work well. You will also run into upload limits, slow (or no) buffering, and limited customization for the videos without adding your own code. But you’re still going to miss a bunch of functionality, like playbacks, closed captioning, selecting video quality, and more.

Video Libraries

Now, you certainly can use some video javascript library to get a bunch of missing functionality. 2 popular ones are jplayer and video.js. But that doesn’t alleviate the biggest problem: your host may serve up your videos slower than users would like (especially on cellular networks). So what do you do? Much like what we discussed in Episode 5 with audio hosts, there are services completely dedicated to hosting video.

In my opinion, there are several good options: YouTube, Wistia, and Vimeo. In my opinion, Vimeo is the best.

Services That Include Video Hosting

Before we go any further, I should mention that if you’re using a platform like Teachable or Udemy, they are going to include video hosting. But this is pretty specific to online courses, and here I want to speak more generally. Whether you want to do more video content for your blog, create marketing videos for projects, or self-host your own online course, a video host is important.

Option 1: YouTube

YouTube has basically become synonymous with videos. It’s the number one source for consuming video content, the second most popular website behind its owner, Google, and is even considered an incredibly common search engine.

YouTube is great for building your brand and a following, as long as you’re putting out good, consistent content. And since you can embed YouTube videos anywhere, it’s a great way to supplement blog posts, landing pages, and podcasts. YouTube also has great live streaming tools, so you can hope on live with your viewers and demonstrate something, answer questions, and interact. Once the live stream is done, the video will automatically become part of your channel (if that’s what you want).

YouTube also lets you enable ads on your videos so, depending on how popular your videos get, you can make a little money. Don’t count on that as a reliable source of income early on though.

The big drawback of YouTube is that while it has some privacy settings, there’s no real way to lock down your content. It’s kind of assumed that if you’re putting content on YouTube, it’s available to the public. Sure there are the “unlisted” and “private” settings. But there’s not a “show only to these users” setting or “only allow this to be embedded on my website” setting. For that, we need to look at other tools.

Option 2: Wistia

Admittedly, I haven’t used Wistia as much as the other options here. It’s a popular, but expensive video hosting platform. But it’s expensive for a reason. Wistia probably gives you the most control to customize your player. It’s also one of the only players that allows you to directly engage with users, with a call to action right in the video.

The analytics also look more in-depth than that of YouTube or Vimeo. Finally, Wistia is the only platform I know of that lets you A/B Test videos, which is a pretty fantastic feature if you’re trying to optimize for conversions.

That said, these features come at a steep price. While there is a free plan, it comes branded and you get a 3 video limit. Not great if you’re looking to grow your video content.

The pricing starts at $99/month for 10 videos and 25 cents / video / month after that. That’s quite a hefty price tag, especially if you’re not looking for the marketing features.

Built for Different Purposes

And indeed, YouTube and Wistia served 2 completely different markets. YouTube is for people who are creating content, and Wistia is for marketers who want to increase engagement and direct sales with video content.

I think there is one option that is a nice hybrid of both, and it’s my favorite service: Vimeo

Option 3: Vimeo

Vimeo is great for a bunch of reasons. It’s free and has a YouTube-like directory that’s good for discovery. But it also has premium features like customizing the video player and even branding it, locking down videos to specific domains, and collaboration tools for teams. The organization tools are very good as well.

The price is right for Vimeo too. It’s free to upload videos a-la YouTube, and then plans start at $7/month for some of the features we discussed like privacy controls and customizing. I pay for Vimeo Pro, which is $20/month, and it gives me enough space and control for what I need.

The plans go up to $75/mo, which include unlimited live streaming and a ton of storage. If you’re looking for video hosting and webinar software, that’s actually not a bad deal.

As far as use cases go, I think Vimeo is perfect if you want to have nice looking video content without ads or related videos – the player is not as ubiquitous or intrusive as YouTubes, so Vimeo embeds look nicer on your own website, in my opinion.

But beyond that, if you want to host your own online course or private videos on your website, Vimeo lets you do that with ease. I think they are bar-none, the best option for that.

What I Use

I actually use a combination of YouTube and Vimeo. I host all of my courses and “professional” videos on Vimeo and any public content on YouTube. There’s no denying that YouTube is the best for growth and discoverability. If I want to embed a video on my own site, something I’ll even upload it to both place.

I’ll also upload sample lessons to both places. Doesn’t hurt to cover your bases!

Where Will You Host?

So that it’s for this episode. There are countless options for video hosting, but here we looked at the most popular ones. Which YouTube, Wistia, and Vimeo all have they niches, I think overall Vimeo is the best option if you want professional video hosting.

For a link to that and all the show notes, go to creatortoolkit.com/009/. If you liked this episode be sure to leave a rating and review in apple podcasts. And if you have any questions or want me to put together a specific toolkit, email me, joe@casabona.org or follow me on Twitter, jcasabona.

My question for you is: What do you plan to use for your videos? Are there tools you use I didn’t mention here? Let me know on Twitter, @jcasabona, or via email, joe@casabona.org

Thanks so much for listening, and until next time, get out there and build something.

Originally published on Creator Toolkit

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