So when should you give your content away for free?
I say never.
When you are first starting out and you are trying to get noticed one strategy might be to place your content everywhere you can but in that instance you aren't really giving your content away for free, you are using your content for marketing promotion. Another strategy might be to create promos for your videos and post the promos everywhere and keep your videos on your own site.
If you have sponsored content that is baked in, like what we've done with French Maid TV (for GoDaddy.com, iLike.com, Barterbee.com and Tubes), your sponsor may want you to place it everywhere you can and in that case you are not giving it away for free your sponsor is paying you to super distribute it.
After you are a successful online producer and your online videos are being viewed millions of times a month you don't need to give your videos away. Advertisers will place ads next to your videos and video portals like Revver.com and Blip.tv will share advertising revenue with you. Maybe you can sell your own ads on your own site or a copy of your online videos on DVD or a high res version of your viral videos as a download.
But what if you get a call or an email from a website or mobile aggregator who just "LOVES" your show? What if they tell you how smart you are and how clever and funny your videos are, should you give them your videos?
Well, if they have a rev share and they have advertisers and they have other content creators that have already been paid money that you have spoken with, then seriously consider putting your videos on their site.
If they don't have a rev share or they don't yet have advertisers or they won't let you talk to any other content producers who are making money with them and they are not willing to pay you a licensing fee...
DO NOT GIVE THEM YOUR VIDEOS!!!
These guys are calling you because they have two problems:
1. They don't have enough good content
2. They don't have advertisers
They need your content to get advertisers and if you have emotionally compelling content that you give them people will watch it, you won't get paid and they might, I say "might" get an advertiser out of it. When and if they do get an advertiser they will be tired of your content and feature something new on the front page of their site.
Keep your content on your own site unless you are getting something for putting it on someone else's site.
Video and mobile sites are paying their employees to help them find advertisers and if they are using you and your content they should be paying you as well.
So if the emails and calls start coming for your wonderful funny online videos that they "LOVE" don't give your content away, ask them if they have a rev share. Ask them if they have advertisers. Ask them if they have other producers who have already been paid. If they can't give you any of that ask them if they would be willing to pay you a licensing fee. Depending on how popular your videos are you might ask for $500 a month you might ask for $5000 a month. Maybe just ask them if they are willing to pay something and then start negotiating from there.
What do you have to lose?