While Vimeo’s smaller footprint might not lend itself to the kind of mass exposure attainable through YouTube, the trade-off could be a more engaged audience and a more fitting home for your videos.
Founded around the same time, both Vimeo and YouTube were created to provide homes for videos and viewers—yet their specific targets, demographics, and offerings are quite different.
There’s no excessive clutter on Vimeo, which has become one of the brand’s key trademarks. The videos display front and center with very little distraction. Everything looks clean, sleek, and polished, and there are no ads to be found anywhere—not on the videos and not anywhere else on the site. Considering reports that YouTube viewers skip 70% of video ads, Vimeo’s ad-free experience can be a major boon for ad-weary audiences.
Beyond mere aesthetics, Vimeo’s community is also famously supportive of quality projects; rather than breeding dislikes, the video commentary is designed to facilitate actual dialogue with creators—which has led to several success stories. For example, one of Vimeo’s first “original series,” High Maintenance, was recently picked up by HBO after its smashing debut online. Says series co-creator Katja Blichfeld, “Reaction from viewers has been mostly positive with this paywall situation, because we’re fortunate enough that a lot of our fan base is also clued into the story behind the making of our show, and they’re invested not only in what they’re watching but also in the story that’s behind it.”
Vimeo revolves around high-quality original content, its bread and butter. You won’t find teens playing video games, pirated copies of hit television shows, or vloggers discussing the latest viral videos on the platform. What you will find are thought provoking (and often yet-to-go-mainstream) films, professional music videos, and epic nature scenes captured by true professionals. That isn’t to say you can’t find the same on YouTube, but you might have to look harder—especially considering Vimeo curates an ongoing stream of Staff Picks to help identify the best of the best among uploads.
Monetization in an Ad-free Zone
Compared to other online distribution platforms, Vimeo is also perhaps the most creator-friendly. However, without ads to distract (and draw profits from) audiences, their monetization comes with a price. Basic accounts are free, but if you want added perks, you can upgrade to a Vimeo Plus account ($59.95 annually), adding additional storage, better analytics, and increased upload limits. You also gain access to Vimeo’s Tip Jar service, which allows users to donate money to fuel their favorite creators. Still, the top tier of services is reserved for Vimeo Pro memberships ($199 annually), which allow customization to your video landing page along with a trailer, artwork, and bonus features. Rather than relying on “tips,” this also unlocks the option to rent or sell your videos at a price you set yourself, keeping 90% of the revenue.
Is Vimeo the Right Platform for You?
If you want a platform to showcase your creative works, appeal to the artistic community, or sell a content-driven video, you might call Vimeo “home sweet home.” Don’t expect to hit Bieber numbers in terms of views, but without the carrot of ad revenue, you won’t need to. Monetizing on Vimeo comes at manageable annual costs, and it’s comforting to know that the service is kept afloat by creators paying for memberships and not large advertising companies. Building a niche fan base can be much simpler than on YouTube, where you’re competing with millions of other videos from every possible genre; in the land where content is king, high-quality work will always rise to the top.
Adam Gillikin writes about self-distribution, filmmaking career paths, and stock footage for VideoBlocks.