One of the most lucrative ways to generate passive income is by selling digital content. As you have extremely low fixed costs for digital goods, they’re a great way to generate income over time, as most of your investment is up-front in product creation. As a result, selling video courses online has become a very profitable path for eCommerce entrepreneurs. There are stories like those about 10 instructors who made a combined $1.6 million in a year selling courses on Udemy. While these results may not be typical, selling videos or digital content is a great low-risk business endeavor.
However, you may quickly run into issues and questions when trying to sell your videos with WordPress: Where do I keep the videos? How do I make sure they’re secure so that people can’t download them or share them? How do I limit access for a period of time?
You probably don’t want to host the videos on your own site, as this isn’t terribly secure, and will eat up resources if you serve videos from your own server. Instead, I’d recommend hosting your videos elsewhere and integrating them into your site. Today we’ll take a look at a new service that will allow you to host videos while providing a tight integration with your WordPress eCommerce or membership site: HostStreamSell.
HostStreamSell is a video hosting service that provides easy integration with WordPress eCommerce or membership plugins so that you can sell your videos while they remain secure and your site performance is unaffected. You’ll still be able to sell any other products throughout your shop, so your videos and products will be located in the same place.
However, it handles video access for you (i.e., available for 6 months), as well as download and streaming capabilities, when integrated with an eCommerce platform. This saves you a lot of work in terms of content restriction and makes for a seamless setup – you won’t need additional plugins just to restrict access to your videos, as HostStreamSell does it for you.
While many people selling videos from their websites are using video hosting services like Vimeo, Wistia, Amazon CloudFront, or others, these can sometimes be complicated to setup, or provide access to your videos in an insecure way, which leaves them open to being downloaded. HostStreamSell takes care of security and access to videos so you don’t have to worry about this. Their introductory blogpost provides a bit more insight:
We concluded that most videos are downloaded or shared because there ends up being an easy way to do so, and it is more opportunistic than premeditated. We went about building a platform from the ground up which would have as many layers of security as possible.
Best of all, it was fairly easy to set up and use, and gave me a lot of control over how my videos are shared with customers. You can create selling options for videos or video groups, then optionally set limits on the length of access, bandwidth caps on access, and whether downloads are allowed or just streaming.
HSS also takes care of video formatting and playback for you: subtitle support is included, and videos will play across any device, whether desktop or mobile. Most browsers are also supported.
I liked the pricing structure as well. Many video hosting services will take a percentage of your sales, but HostStreamSell simply charges a flat fee per month, depending on how much storage, bandwidth, and streaming capability you need. The services starts at $7 per month:
HostStreamSell also provides access to their REST API to allow for custom integration with your website or application for more advanced uses.
To get set up, you’ll want to sign up for a HostStreamSell account – you can try the service out for free for 30 days (no payment info needed). Once you’ve created an account, you’ll have access to your Dashboard, along with the ability to upload videos and create video groups (if needed).
The Dashboard will show you relevant data on video plays, storage available, and bandwidth usage.
You can then access the Videos area to upload videos. You simply click “Videos > Upload” to begin adding your videos.
Once you’ve uploaded a video, you’ll need to encode it before it’s ready to be sold or used. You can click the “encode” button to start this process, and can continue uploading other videos as this runs. It did take some time to encode my videos, so I’d recommend uploading them all, then allowing this to run for a bit (depends on your video size – go make a cup of coffee while you wait 🙂 ).
Once this process is finished, you can then edit your video settings, such as the name and description, as well as the thumbnail and trailer options. Trailers can be shown to customers who don’t have access to your video, so you’ll want a strong preview that will entice them to purchase.
You can also create selling options for your videos. These are pricing options that will provide specific access, such as streaming limits or download ability. If you plan to use Easy Digital Downloads to sell your videos, I’d recommend adding as many options per video as you’d like. If you plan to use WooCommerce or another membership / eCommerce plugin, I’d add one selling option per video, as only the first will carry over.
Overall, video setup is pretty easy and the video settings are very understandable. You can finish by adding titles, descriptions, and selling options to all videos. You can also add subtitles if needed.
Now your videos are ready to be grouped. Adding a video to a group signifies it’s ready to be sold and will sync it to your eCommerce or membership site when we integrate it. Videos without a group will be ignored, as it’s assumed that you’re still working on it or creating selling options.
You can create a video group under the “Video Group” menu in HostStreamSell.
You can add selling options for the group as well (pricing and streaming / download settings), and then add videos to the group. You’ll select any of your uploaded videos to be a part of this group, and you can drag and drop them into the order you’d like. This could be used to form a “course” if desired.
Now we’ll have to tie these videos to your store so that they can be sold with your eCommerce or membership plugin.
The HostStreamSell REST API can allow a developer to integrate your videos with your store as you choose, but there are a few pre-built integrations that will make this simple to implement. The best part is that video access is sold through your cart system so that all sales are accounted for in the same place. No managing payments in two different places.
There are a few different ways to integrate with your WordPress site:
- Sell video access with Easy Digital Downloads
- Sell video access with WooCommerce
- Sell video access via a membership plugin (or anything that will protect content)
Each takes only a few minutes, and there are tutorials to guide you in setup.
For any of these integrations, you’ll need your HostStreamSell API Keys, which you can get from the admin menu:
You’ll have to add this to any of the WordPress plugins mentioned to sync your store with HostStreamSell.
If you’re planning to use Easy Digital Download to sell your videos, you’re in luck. The integration between EDD and HSS is the tightest, so you can take advantage of both the multiple selling options for a video, as well as the video groups in HostStreamSell. These are great if you want to sell individual video access, as well as “bundled” access to videos (like an entire course). Any video groups will be created as bundled products in EDD.
Now on to the integration. The Easy Digital Downloads integration plugin has setup options located under Settings > HSS Admin. Here you’ll add your API key as well as any dimension settings for your videos. You can also sync your HSS videos with EDD using the “Update” button.
This will create your videos as new Easy Digital Downloads products (and change your menu name to “Videos & Downloads”).
Any single video with one price option will be imported as a simple product, while videos with multiple selling options will have multiple price options created in EDD. Any video groups will be created as an EDD bundle product. You’ll now be able to sell these videos as products in your store.
The video groups will also be created as product categories so that you can organize products even if you don’t want to sell as a bundle. If you don’t want to sell a bundle (or likewise, don’t want to sell individual videos), you can set these to a “draft” status so that they’re not re-added if you re-sync your store.
If a customer has not purchased access to a video, he or she will see a trailer for the video on the product page. Once the customer has purchased access, the rules you’ve set for the selling options will be in effect (such as streaming rate and length of access), and the customer will now automatically see the full video when returning to the product page.
Integrating WooCommerce with HSS is very similar to Easy Digital Downloads, but you won’t be able to import multiple pricing levels per video, nor can you import groups as bundles. Single videos (that are assigned to a group) will each be imported as simple products. Video groups will still be used as categories.
You can again set up the WooCommerce integration plugin under “Settings > HSS Admin” and enter API keys, then click the “Update” button to sync your store and videos. This will create products for each video:
Access will be granted the same way as EDD: customers will see a trailer of the video until they’ve purchased access. Then, when visiting the product page after purchase, they’ll see the full video instead.
You can also integrate HostStreamSell with any membership or eCommerce plugin using the using the HSS Embed plugin. With this setup, HostStreamSell with not know when a purchase has been made. Therefore, you’ll have to protect video pages yourself.
Many membership plugins already provide for this ability, as they can restrict pages or posts based on membership level, or they can restrict content via shortcodes. You can then embed your videos from HostStreamSell on your protected pages, and embed trailers on public pages to encourage new purchases.
Videos are embedded via a shortcode:
[hss-embed-video videoid="1234" version="trailer"]
Both trailers and full videos can be embedded this way to use HostStreamSell as a secure video streaming service.
HostStreamSell provides a video hosting service that’s extremely easy to set up and use. However, the real strength is in the integration with WordPress and restricting videos automatically, and I especially liked how simple the Easy Digital Downloads integration was. Once I’d uploaded videos and set pricing / access options, I had these videos integrated into my store with a few clicks over the course of a couple minutes and they’re restricted based on the rules I set in HostStreamSell.
Best of all, you’re selling these videos right within your existing store, and you can sell other products alongside off them with minimal effort. You don’t need to restrict pages that your videos are on, as HostStreamSell will take care of restriction and access length for you. You also benefit from the reporting functionality and add-ons that Easy Digital Downloads, WooCommerce, and other membership plugins provide, as all sales are tracked through your store.
You can get started with HostStreamSell for free to test-drive it for a month. From there, pricing will start at $7 per month, and you can even get a discount because you read this post 🙂 . Get 15% off for your first 3 months using this code: