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Fancy Footage Club

Our small design firm wanted to build an in-house product that met an industry need. The growing popularity of video in web banners and app screens aligned well with our film background. Fancy Footage Club provided top-quality, ready-to-use video for use in the next-generation of websites, apps, and software.


role.

Co-Founder

Business Manager

Video and UX Lead

duration.

15 months | 2014-2016

actions.

Research

Roadmap

Identity

Product Design

Motion Graphics

Video Production

Social Media Management

Web Development

goals.

Launch and maintain a successful product.

Generate new work for designer firm and partner videographers.

Maintain Time for Client Work

Reach Sustainability and Profitability

results.

Successfully Addressed Need

5,000+ Weekly Downloads

Top of Product Hunt

Failed to Become Profitable

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contact.

or if you’re in for the long read, simply scroll.

 why video.

a side hustle designed to scale.

The website focused design agency founded by my business partner Andrew Nater and I was always meant to both serve clients, and to support the incubation of in-house projects and products. We had learned from pursuing earlier product ideas that we needed an idea that could scale slowly. We didn’t have time for outside investment and needed to leave space for the client work that paid the bills.

Meanwhile, video was a white-hot design trend, appearing in web banners, advertising, and on app home screens to add visual interest to otherwise stagnant designs. Quality video content, however, was hard to come by - videography is a difficult skill to master and the masters are expensive to hire. There were few reliable, affordable, video resources available and none in the marketplace that were purpose built for interface design.

Additionally, videographers have a large barrier to showcasing their talents. Vimeo and YouTube demand more structured storytelling and drawing attention to work online is always a challenge when focusing on improving your craft.


Crafting the approach

Confirming the hypothesis, and testing viability

To move confidently from the spark of an idea into roadmapping a product, we:

  1. Laid out a business model Canvas

  2. Assessed market interest

  3. Preformed a competitive analysis

  4. Ensured we had the resources to regularly acquire footage

  5. Developed a roadmap that wouldn’t require more than 40 hours a month from each of us

We first beat up the idea by creating a business model canvas. Using this lean startup template we identified our customer segments, Value Propositions, Channels, Customer Relationships, Revenue Streams, Key Resources, Key Activities, Key Partnerships, and Cost Structure.

Our market analysis revealed a robust and competitive space in stock footage, but that new sites were regularly finding success so the demand existed for more players. What’s more, we found that boutique, purpose-made, stock websites existed in photo, audio, and design assets, but few existed in stock video, and no current video site was addressing the specific needs of interface designers.

Next, I combed through my own collection of footage for potential clips, and reached out to dozens of videographers I knew from working in film. I found 20+ clips in my library and created an email list of 8+ videographers interested the project.

Finally, we developed a roadmap that would allow us to dedicate enough time to client work to keep the lights on while moving this video website towards an MVP and eventually profitability:

  1. Email newsletter with ready-to-upload looping video

  2. Subscription footage website with full archive of video from newsletter

  3. Facilitate connections between artists and products with video needs and take commission


Identity

Our vision for a friendly, bespoke stock-footage resource

We were confident enough to move forward, but the best way to really test the appetite for our service was to get in into user’s hands. Since our MVP was an email and a landing page, we just needed a simple identity to get started:

  1. a well articulated purpose

  2. a brand voice/personality

  3. a name

  4. a color scheme

  5. a logo

Purpose:
The world would be a better place if any video you can dream up can be brought to life.

Personality:
FFC is Bryce:
This person is clearly aware of trends and is put together, but they’re more focused on the cool stuff their friends are doing than how they look or what they’re current hobby is. They always know the perfect person to connect you with and have great advice/tools to make your work better.

Adjectives:
friendly, approachable, helpful, cool, attractive, attentive, sexy, present, dapper, stylish, smart, aware, artistic, perisian, doesn’t look like they just got off set

Brand Voice:

Message
Looping video from a bunch of artists.

Not Like This
Free to download short-form video content from a curated selection of skilled video artists

Or This
Free to download short-form video content from a curated selection of skilled video artists

We talk like This
cinema-quality footage for creative projects of every size

Name:
Fancy Footage Club: Fun, memorable, alliterative, domains and social handles available

Logo and Color:
The look is meant to evoke a darkroom or cinema, with the footage reel as the burst of light from the projector, or the lightbulb of a fresh idea.


Email Newsletter

Welcome to Fancy Footage Club

With our Identity nailed down, my business partner Andrew set to building our landing page with a simple CTA: signup for newsletter. Meanwhile, I put out our first footage request to our curated list of videographers. We made two fatal mistakes at this phase:

  1. We decided that we would collect raw footage to edit and optimize ourselves. We built Fancy Footage Club to feature talented video artists to a budding market of designers in need of video for their projects. We knew we had to appeal to the designers by removing the friction involved in putting a video into an app or website - so all the footage is pre-packaged and optimized for those use cases. This allowed us to ensure quality and consistency of the loops, but it took valuable time.

  2. We wanted to pay artists. It was the right thing to do, but we had decided on a roadmap that would take months before it would bring in any revenue, and our design agencies’ bank account was not bottomless

Unaware that those missteps would come back to haunt us, I drew up contracts and edited the first five clips. We launched with a simple landing page and newsletter. We had 5000+ emails collected and had reached the #2 spot on product hunt before our first collection went out the door.

We launched an Instagram and Vimeo to highlight our footage collection and give users a place the could see the footage in action, instead of as a thumbnail in an email.

We had plenty of time to get that first collection right, but we had set ourselves up with a promise to our users: Every month we will add 5 videos to our collection with new video artists 


Into the browser

All our footage in one place

Over the next few months, the open rate for our emails was over 50%. We cut down on the time it took to edit footage by creating templates to make the footage loop based on whether it had cuts, was abstract, or had one central motion. We developed an automated process for optimizing the footage and creating versions that worked for all the browsers. We released documentation on how best to embed our footage on a website. Our subscriber list continued to grow and we looked to our next major release: a subscription service that gave users access to the archive.

The site was built with the footage as the focus. One of the main limitations of sharing video in email was that users couldn’t play the footage until they had downloaded it. We wanted the footage on the site to be big and bold, and to highlight the responsiveness of our collections. We decided that we didn’t need tons of copy, and full-page video playback was a must. we designed desktop first since the playback experience on mobile would be little better than the email. We opted for a tiled layout with the stills we had pulled for the emails, and then a shelf on the left hand side with all the footage options that could be minimized to view the video in it’s full glory.

We planned to launch the paywalled archive at month 4 with 20 videos available for download. Leading up to that launch, we put a survey out in our newsletter, asking users how much they would pay to access the archive, the answer was a resounded: nada. That scared us and we quickly pivoted to include advertising and the option for users to donate to the site.


Iterative Improvements

Getting Better All the Time

With adverting and donation revenue trickling in, we used an agile development approach to launch our next few updates. Each focused on alienating key pain points:

  1. FAQ

  2. Artist Portal

  3. Improved Viewer

The FAQ section allowed us to spend less time answering questions and more time on the core product. It also acted as a central repository for all the tips, tricks, and rules we had shared it our newsletters about how to make the most our of your footage.

The artist portal gave users who had been using the site, and might want to contribute to a collection the option to submit. We requested the footage be pre-looped, laid out perimeters, and highlighted that we paid. This mitigated some of the time I spend reaching out to artists for new clips that I would then edit myself.

We knew from launch that our viewer experience could be improved. It was too intrusive and left too much of the screen real-estate unused. We kept our full-screen video previews, but moved the information and options into four shelves at the top, bottom, left, and right of the screen. These shelves would auto-expand and auto-hide on hover. We still wanted to users to be able to quickly move back and forth between videos and one of the drawbacks to moving the options to the far reaches of the screen was that a user would have to move their curser much farther to accomplish various goals. To mitigate that problem we added keyboard shortcuts for next video, previous video, download, and home. 


The death of FFC

No revenue means no product

At around the 10 month mark we had exhausted my video connections and library and the quality of videos submitted through the artist portal wasn’t up at the same level as the footage we had collected, edited, and/or shot ourselves. Meanwhile, the site wasn’t generating enough revenue to cover even half of our artist payments month-to-month. We had exciting features still in our roadmap, but our plans went further than our finances.

Our audience never wavered, the demand was there, but we were giving away something that cost us money for free. We decided that if we were struggling at the 10 month mark, we should keep posting footage until our 1 year birthday, and then close it down.

You can view our internal post-motem and farewell email to the right. 


lessons learned.

takeaways

In many ways we met our objectives. We successful carved out a niche in a crowded market by identifying an unmet need. In 12 months, our monthly newsletter has grown to over 8000 designers, developers, marketers, and entrepreneurs. Our site was listed on over 30 resource collections across the web and our footage had been used industry leaders like Spotify and dozens of small companies and blogs. We had facilitated connections between some of our artists and new paid work, we had grown a social media following, and fostered a vibrant user base.

We had incubated a product within our design agency and seen it through a full year of ups and downs. Fancy Footage Club was our first product at this scale, but it was not our last, and I still regularly tap the insights and lessons from running this two-man-show product.

Fancy Footage Club is still hosted at FancyFootage.com. We had to move the domain a few times and move the zip folders for the footage onto Dropbox to mitigate sever costs. We still get thousands of visitors a week.Les

want to read another? Next up:

 

Alumni Day Online

A fancy build for fancy peeps

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© Kevin Halladay-Glynn 2019. No images or copy from this site should not be shared outside the context of this portfolio. You can share this website, my resume, and contact information all you want though.