In this guide
  1. The 8 best paid & free video hosting platforms for creators in 2021
  2. How to vlog: Your simple guide to getting started
  3. How to edit videos: The tools, process, and details you need to get started today
  4. How to look (and feel) good on camera: 8 steps to success
  5. If you’re not tracking these 10 online video metrics, you should be
  6. 5 ways to create raving fans with video customer support
  7. What’s your video marketing strategy? Don’t make another video without one
  8. Here’s the exact video equipment you need, based on your budget
  9. The 3-step formula to grow your email list with YouTube traffic
  10. How to rank YouTube videos

Experience this issue your way.

Download this issue of Tradecraft as a PDF to read and reference at your own pace.

Download PDF

Issue #14

The 8 best paid & free video hosting platforms for creators in 2021

Content Marketing Video
20 min read
In this Article

The days of being camera shy are over.

You can’t scroll through your social media feeds or browse search results without seeing a collection of videos. From fast-cut TikToks to in-depth YouTube videos, videos are a huge part of content consumption in 2021.

While podcasts and blog posts aren’t obsolete, it’s a good time to start paying attention to video and how it could help you grow your audience as a creator. The thought of creating videos is probably already on your mind, but the problem lies in the question, where do you start?

With social platforms and video hosting platforms both sprouting faster than a house plant in Spring, it’s difficult to figure out which platform is best for you:

  • Should you choose the simplest platform when you’re starting?
  • Will choosing a simple platform today lead to inconvenience in the future?
  • Is hosting worth paying for?

Let’s take a closer look at what goes into choosing the right video platform for you.

Connect with your audience

Share what you love to connect with your followers and grow your business with a free ConvertKit account.

Create a free ConvertKit account

What goes into choosing the right video platform?

The best video hosting platform depends heavily on why you need video, along with your creative strengths. For example, chefs like Daniella Malfitano looking to make impromptu videos of their recipes will thrive on TikTok. But, a coach like XayLi Barclay hosting in-depth trainings designed to turn watchers into email subscribers can use Vimeo to capture email addresses.

To figure out the best platform for you, answer these four questions before deciding on one of the platforms below:

best video hosting platforms

#1: What are you using your videos for?

Creators use videos for different purposes. While a podcaster might use video alongside audio-only podcasts, a vlogger’s entire content creation process involves video.

You can use videos to educate your audience, promote your products and services, or interview others in your field. There are also creators who use video to create exclusive content for their subscribers or share special shows and events. Video can either be part of your marketing strategy or the product of your creations.

Figure out what your videos will be used for so you can nail down what type of videos to create next.

#2: What videos does your audience like to watch?

Different audiences gravitate towards specific types of videos. Depending on your audience, you can create different videos to catch their attention and grow your audience. Or, you can create exclusive videos specifically to share with your email list or social followers. The key is knowing what videos your audience likes to watch.

For example, a dance teacher can create short-form, fun TikToks of choreographed dances. With dance being a huge part of TikTok, they’ll know that these videos are well suited for the platform. An online educator, like CrashCourse, can make long-form YouTube videos that explain topics like The Cold War, World War II, and ancient civilizations.

best video hosting platforms
CrashCourse creates educational YouTube videos. Image via CrashCourse on YouTube.

Your audience’s preferences should dictate the video platform you choose and its format. If
you’re not sure which videos to create, take a look at what similar creators are doing that’s working well. Ideate on how you can put your own spin on it to make your videos unique to you.

#3: What features do you need, and what features can you live without?

Video platforms have varying features and different creators often need one feature over another. For example, YouTube has a popular feature—its ability to share your videos with its visitors. As the second largest search platform globally, with Google being the first, this is a great feature.

Some creators don’t need distribution. Your audience might be on another social platform, like Instagram, and what you need is to turn your social audience into email subscribers. In this case, growing on YouTube won’t be the answer to this problem (you’ll just grow an audience on another social platform!). Instead, a platform like Wistia that can auto-stop your video to ask viewers to subscribe to your email list might work best for you.

Knowing what you’ll use your videos for, what type of videos your audience wants to see, and what features you can’t live without will help you find the best video platform in your budget (without wasting unnecessary money!).

#4: What is your video budget?

Luckily, you can get started making videos with little to no budget. While video production is important, some of the most popular video creators and YouTubers started with basic tools and still created high-quality, entertaining content. Budget should never hold you back from creating videos.

Depending on the types of videos you’ll be creating, you can determine how much you can afford. For example, if you’re brand new to creating videos and are still growing your audience—you don’t need the video platform with all the bells and whistles. You just need the platform that will help you get off the ground.

For established creators looking to take their video to the next level, paid options can often give a better viewer experience. For example, on Vimeo, your audience won’t have to watch ads to enjoy your videos. You can consider paying the monthly Vimeo subscription to give your audience an ad-free experience.

With an understanding of what videos you’ll be creating, it’s time to find the right platform for you.

The best video platforms to host your video content

Search for “video hosting platforms” on Google, and you’ll no doubt find a plethora of options—but which ones are best for you? To save you the headache of trying every platform yourself, we’ve put together this list specifically for creators. We’ll give you a rundown of each hosting platform, which creators should use it, and which shouldn’t. That way, you can spend more time on your videos than having to comb through the website pages of each platform.

video hosting comparisons

Let’s start with the most popular platform, YouTube.

YouTube

YouTube logo

YouTube is a giant in the video hosting space. As the world’s second-largest search platform, the YouTube machine handles more than 500 hours of video uploaded every minute.

best video hosting platforms
YouTubers creators, like Ryan, can make money from Adsense. Image via Ryan’s World on YouTube.

What makes YouTube so attractive to creators comes down to its 3 key features:

  1. It’s free. You don’t have to pay to upload videos to YouTube regardless of how many GBs of video you add to your profile.
  2. They’ll pay you. Google Adsense pays creators a portion of the money made on ads played before, during, and after videos. Some creators have been able to make lucrative livings off of their Adsense money.
  3. They’ll show your video to like-minded users. Suppose a user watches a video on creating their first sourdough starter. In that case, YouTube will happily recommend your video on baking your first sourdough loaf (much more goes into the YouTube algorithm, but at its simplest, this is how it works).

Which creators should use YouTube?

These three reasons make YouTube a great option for brand new creators. If you’re running on a small budget, have ad-friendly content, and want to grow your audience—YouTube can help you do that.

With that said, it’s still going to take a lot of work. You’ll have to learn how to create clickable thumbnails, learn copywriting for your titles, and understand how to tag your videos for maximum exposure. Learning how to promote your YouTube videos will be really beneficial. You can avoid the YouTube learning curve by uploading private videos only your audience has access to (through the link you share with them). In this case, you won’t be relying on YouTube to distribute your content or pay you, but you’ll just be using their platform simply for their hosting.

Which creators shouldn’t use YouTube?

An established creator who isn’t looking to grow their audience and instead wants to create videos their current audience will watch—doesn’t need YouTube. In fact, YouTube can be a massive distraction for their audience.

When you share a video on YouTube, either privately or publicly, your viewers are going to see ads and tons of video recommendations while watching your video. If you’re an established creator who:

  • Has a monthly budget for a video platform;
  • Won’t be relying on Google Adsense to make income; and
  • Doesn’t need YouTube to help your grow your audience

… we suggest using a less distracting video platform (like one of the two options below).

Vimeo

best video hosting platforms

If you’re thinking YouTube isn’t the best option for you, but something slightly more mature would be—that’s where Vimeo comes in.

Vimeo is a more exclusive version of YouTube. Unlike YouTube, you won’t be able to upload to Vimeo without paying a monthly subscription. This changes who posts on the platform, garnering an audience of more established video creators who really love the videography process.

best video hosting platforms
Vimeo supports live streaming and can show you stats from each stream. Image via Vimeo.

Vimeo’s pricing starts at $7/month for 5GB/week and bumps up to $20/month for 200GB/week. Depending on how many videos you’ll be posting, you can upgrade to their Business plan for $50/month to remove the weekly limit. For $70/month, you can also get unlimited live streaming.

Vimeo is a great option for creators because:

  1. Its ad-free model makes it a less distracting experience than YouTube. Without ads, viewers won’t get interrupted in the middle of your podcast episode or song creating a better experience for your audience.
  2. Vimeo Business members can add an email capture form to their videos to ask viewers to subscribe. You always want to own your audience and the best way to do that is to turn your biggest fans into email subscribers.
  3. Vimeo integrates with Patreon. If you want to start a membership program for your videos you can use Vimeo alongside Patreon to create exclusive, member-only videos that are only shared with your fans.

Which creators should use Vimeo?

Vimeo is the video hosting platform option that best suits creators who want to create an ad-free experience for their audience and aren’t in need of massive distribution from their video hosting platform. Vimeo’s options for adding email capture forms and integrating with Patreon also make it a great option for established creators or creators who don’t need algorithms to help their content get an extra push.

Vimeo also has its own community of creators who you can interact with, learn from, and potentially turn into your fans as well. In comparison to YouTube, their platform is much more creator-focused and driven.

Which creators shouldn’t use Vimeo?

Creators who are tight on their budget don’t need Vimeo. You can save your money and spend it on the necessary video equipment instead. If you upload videos to YouTube while you’re first starting out, you can always add those videos to your Vimeo profile when you’re able to use the platform. You’re never stuck to the video hosting platform you initially choose.

If you do have the budget for Vimeo, but you’re to make money from ad dollars, Vimeo isn’t the right platform for you. Without an ad model, you won’t be able to make money from videos like you can on YouTube. On Vimeo, you’ll have to rely on external income to make money from your videos (by selling products, tickets, exclusive content, etc.).

Wistia

If Vimeo feels like it’s *almost* there, but you want something with a little more oomph—we suggest taking a look at Wistia.

Wistia is a video hosting platform that has a few more features than Vimeo. Like Vimeo, there aren’t ads on the platform so you won’t be able to make money from an ad platform. Unlike YouTube though, you still get to create that distraction-free experience for your audience.

best video hosting platforms
Wistia has email capture forms and an auto-stop feature that helps turn viewers into subscribers. Image via Wistia.

Wistia does have a free option, but only allows you to upload 3 free videos or podcast episodes. You’ll also have the Wistia branding on your videos, if you stick with the free option. After their free plan, you can choose between their Pro plan ($99/month) which allows you to upload 10 free videos or their Advanced plan which offers 100 free videos.

Which creators should use Wistia?

Wistia is the best option for video creators who don’t intend to upload video after video. With a limit on how many videos each profile can upload (with a maximum of 100), creators who don’t need to consistently create new videos are an ideal fit for Wistia. With their feature to add chapters to your videos, musicians can show their audience what songs they’re playing, comedy shows can highlight which comedian is taking the stage and when, and educational videos can break their content up into digestible segments.

Wistia’s other feature for auto-stopping videos and asking viewers to click on the prompt (for example, your email form) can drive more subscribers than Vimeo and YouTube. Creators can add an email form to their videos and send their viewers to a video landing page to convert them into email subscribers. These features make Wistia a great option for established creators who want to share their videos with a built audience and want to create an organized, high-quality experience.

Which creators shouldn’t use Wistia?

Wistia isn’t necessary for brand new creators or creators who know they’ll be uploading 100+ videos in the near future (we see you daily vloggers!). If you plan to upload lots of videos in your future, a platform like Vimeo or YouTube is a better option.

Wistia also isn’t for creators who want their video hosting platform to help them grow their audience without having to understand video marketing. Wistia offers more robust marketing features like SEO and the ability to create ads for your videos, but this will be a time-consuming learning curve that isn’t necessary for brand new creators. You can always come back to this platform down the line when you’re ready for it.

YouTube, Vimeo, and Wistia are three options for hosting platforms for creators in 2021. It’s a great time to be a creator because platforms are making it easier than ever to get your music, podcast, shows, and more to new audiences. Check out the next platforms if you know you want to share your videos and grow your audience with the help of social media.

Social media video platforms for maximum shareability

Social media apps are built on algorithms for maximum shareability. The goal of each social app is to keep its users on the platform for as long as possible and that’s a big help for creators. As social apps learn what content you create, they’ll be able to distribute it to a like-minded audience and help your creativity get seen.

Here’s a quick overview of the different types of videos available on each platform.

Facebook Live

Alongside posting videos directly to Facebook, creators can also go Live on the platform. When you’re live, your audience will be able to tune in real-time to your comedy show, your band’s practice, or listen to you record your podcast.

With Facebook Lives, you can engage your audience while you’re recording and use that Live video as an in-feed video as well. This makes creating lots of video content easy, as you reuse your Live videos as videos that can exist forever on your feed.

best video hosting platforms
Dena Blizzard has a daily comedy show on Facebook Live that she calls One Funny Morning. Image via Dena Blizzard on Facebook.

Comedian Dena Blizzard used daily Facebook Lives to grow her audience on the platform in 2020. She told Facebook, “It wasn’t until the world stopped that Facebook Live really clicked for me. But my goal wasn't to learn how to make money from this. My goal was to hear someone talk about normal life because I couldn’t watch the news anymore. When I couldn’t find that, I realized there was a need, so I started going live every morning, Monday to Saturday, with my daily show called ‘One Funny Morning’”.

Instagram Live, Stories, and IGTV

On Instagram, you can create Lives, Instagram Stories, and IGTVs. Lives can go for an hour (and be reposted to your feed), Stories are 15-seconds and can be taken back-to-back, and IGTVs can be 1 hour and show up on your profile under your IGTV tab.

Instagram Lives are a great choice for creators who want to have their audience in one place and be able to create different types of Instagram content.

best video hosting platforms
Magan Ward uses Instagram to promote her email marketing business. Image via @themaganward on Instagram.

Email marketing expert Magan Ward uses Instagram to teach her audience about email marketing and entrepreneurship. Her Instagram videos promote her email marketing business that helps entrepreneurs create a conversion focused email marketing strategy. She also uses her Instagram to talk about her upcoming events and speaking engagements.

Twitter videos and Fleets

Twitter has a friendly algorithm that helps your in-feed video get seen by a like-minded audience. They’ve also introduced Fleets, which are similar to Instagram Stories and can be used to promote your Twitter videos, products, and newsletter.

This makes Twitter videos a great option for users who want to grow their audience alongside telling stories and creating tweets that support their videos. According to Twitter, users are three times more likely to engage with a tweet that includes a visual asset, like a video, which can help your following on the platform grow.

best video hosting platforms
Stephen Scott teaches leading with presence through daily Twitter videos. Image via Stephen Scott on Twitter.

Stephen Scott uses his Twitter videos to inspire people to “unmute themselves.” He creates personal development videos that focus on meditation, being present, and having the confidence to look and feel good on camera. Each video is accompanied by a tweet that explains what to expect from his 2 minute (or less) long videos.

TikTok

TikTok is a great option for brand new creators who want to create visual content and are ready to grow their audience, fast. The TikTok algorithm has gone viral itself, with creators commending the ability to grow quickly on the platform thanks to their famous For You Page that acts as an endless scroll of new creators to discover. TikTok also has a creator fund that pays its creators based on views.

best video hosting platforms
Kirstie Taylor has grown her TikTok audience to over 124,000 followers by focusing on her niche of dating and relationships. Image via Kirstie Taylor on TikTok.

Dating and relationship writer and author Kirstie Taylor grew her TikTok audience to over 124,000 followers. Alongside creating educational videos based on her blog articles, she also uses TikTok to promote her articles published to Medium and her book.

Snapchat

Snapchat has focused a lot of its efforts on their user’s homepage, creating more discoverability for their creators. When a Snapchat user opens their homepage, they can scroll through different creator’s videos to see what they like. The more they like their videos, the higher on their homepage that creator will show up.

Snapchat is currently paying creators, so it’s a great option for people who know their content has a solid chance of going viral. Unfortunately, this isn’t a great platform for niche creators because you’ll have to rely on Snapchat to build your audience for you (and won’t be able to find people interested in your videos on your own).

best video hosting platforms
Evan Alberto posts magic tricks on his Snapchat and has been able to use Spotlight to earn a living. Image via Evan Alberto and CNBC.

With Spotlight, Snapchat’s creator fund, creators like magician Evan Alberto have been able to monetize their Snapchat videos. Evan has been able to grow his audience thanks to Snapchat showing his videos to users on their homepage. Evan told CNBC, “as of March 18 he’s made around $900,000 from his videos, where he does magic tricks, challenges and “basically anything that fits sort of a game show hype.”’

Choosing the right video hosting platform feels like you’re choosing the digital headquarters for your creative business. Focus on one or two platforms maximum as you first start out so you can create a posting schedule and publish consistently. This will help you build your relationship with your audience so you’re able to grow your fanbase. Once you’ve established your routine, you can expand to other platforms based on your needs.

You don’t need the latest and greatest

You don’t need to have Oscar-level video production to be successful. The best video hosting site for you is the one that can help you share your videos and grow your audience with the smallest learning curve while staying within your budget. Focusing on your creations is what you’re good at and what will grow your audience.

With this round-up of video hosting sites and social media platforms for maximum shareability, you can figure out what works for you right now. You can also bookmark this article to come back to after your audience has grown and you’re ready to take the next step in your video creation.

We’re always here to remind you that regardless of the platform you choose, ensuring you own your audience is the most important part in creating a long-term career as a creator. Video shouldn’t be your only way to promote your newest creations. Use ConvertKit to set up a free landing page to turn your video viewers into subscribers so you can let them know about your latest song releases, podcast episodes, articles, and more.

Connect with your audience

Share what you love to connect with your followers and grow your business with a free ConvertKit account.

Create a free ConvertKit account

Eva Gutierrez

Eva Gutierrez is a freelance content writer specializing in writing for companies with marketing-related products, like education platforms and SaaS. She writes articles and newsletters that build and nurture relationships with her clients' leads while showcasing their expertise and leadership in their industry. You can find her tweeting about writing tips, marketing strategies, and the psychology behind buying at @TheEvaGutierrez.

The future belongs to creators

ConvertKit helps creators like you take their projects from idea to reality. It's never been easier to build an audience and grow a business. And you can do it all for free.

Launch your next project