YouTube vs. Vimeo for filmmakers

It’s time to answer the age-old question. Well, maybe not age-old, because we’re talking about YouTube vs Vimeo. 

We’re going to break it down for you today so you can work out which one you need to prioritise in 2020. 


In recent years the reputation of YouTube has been dragged down by a handful of YouTubers. Whether it’s Logan Paul’s insensitivity or the sheer wonder at Zoella’s fortune, it’s easy to see why.

But don’t let this fool you. 

YouTube is an amazing platform for reach, audience-building and ad revenue. 

Vimeo is a tried and trusted platform for filmmakers. It’s the go-to link to have on your CV and it’s what you’ll be asked for time and time again. 

But it’s viewers tend to be limited and growing an audience is virtually impossible. Which means if any strangers do happen to stumble on your film, they’ll just stumble onto the next film afterwards. They won’t become a fan that’s waiting to watch your next film.

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YouTube is free to use, and Vimeo has multiple tiers including free, plus, pro, business and premium. 

What’s the goal for your film?

Put everything down for a minute. Because I’ve got a serious question for you.

What do you want the film to do for you (and your career)?

A: Get feedback on your film from a community of filmmakers

B: Get attention from festivals and grow an audience

If you answered A, then Vimeo is for you.

And… you’ve guessed it, if you voted B then YouTube is gonna be your new best friend.

Read more: How to stand out in the Instagram age

Why YouTube is the indie filmmaker’s new focus

Short films have been doing exceptionally well on YouTube for a little while now. 

Building an audience and getting eyes on your film is a lot easier on YouTube than Vimeo, because YouTube automatically recommends new videos to all its users. 

I’ve discovered plenty of amazing films on YouTube while I wasn’t even trying, and that’s 25+ filmmakers that I’m now following and waiting for their new films. 

If you’re wondering why you need to build an audience, here are 3 reasons:

  1. You always have eyes on your films 
  2. You’re going to get attention from festivals, investors and producers
  3. You can start making a profit from your projects (yes, even short films)

Wondering how to make it happen? I walk you through the process one-to-one here

YouTube makes it much easier to rack up the views on your latest film, with far less time + effort on your part. Which means more time for you to work on your next project, and you’ll be able to go to your next pitch with the viewing figures in black and white. 

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Nothing gets attention + investment like the exact number of people who’ve watched your film, and let’s not even get started on the analytic breakdown of the age, gender and location of your audience. 

You’ll be able to go to a sales agent in the US with the exact numbers of your US viewership.

You can go to an investor with the treatment for your feature and the profit percentage on your previous film thanks to the ad revenue.

As easy as it is to discount YouTube, don’t discount all of the benefits you can get from it. 

In a nutshell:

  • Rack up the views on your films (which you can use for all of your future pitches)
  • Ad revenue (but don’t forget that you can’t monetise all videos, and not right away)
  • Grow your audience (they’ll be ready and waiting for all of your future films)
  • Analytics + audience breakdown (which you can use in all pitch meetings, as well as for all future release plans)

Why Vimeo is the classic option for all filmmakers

Vimeo will always be the classic option for all filmmakers. 

There’s a community of mature, experienced filmmakers that’ll leave helpful and constructive feedback on your projects. 

It’s a smaller community than YouTube users, so it’s not set up to generate audience growth, but if you’re looking for feedback on your film before it gets released then Vimeo is the best place for it. 

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A Vimeo link also looks more professional than a YouTube link. If you’ve been a filmmaker for longer than five minutes then you’ll probably have been asked for a Vimeo link multiple times, and been sent countless Vimeo links. 

Like YouTube, you also get insights into who’s watching your film on Vimeo. Both platforms can give you stats on your audience, although you do get a bit more on YouTube.

In a nutshell:

  • Get (constructive) feedback from other filmmakers
  • Create an unlisted video so you can share the film but still submit to festivals
  • Audience stats and breakdown (which can be used in all pitches + targeting)
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Which is the winner?

It depends entirely on you, and what you want to get from your films. 

Remember, it’s one thing to make a film (and accept that you’re gonna get approx. $0 from it) but there are a lot of useful things you can get back from it. 

  • Feedback from experienced filmmakers
  • Build your audience 
  • Ad revenue (eventually)
  • Audience stats and breakdown

Which platform are you focusing on in 2020? Dm me here

And as an exclusive bonus, I’m offering *heavily discounted* access to the Idea to Screenplay system for a limited time only. 

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Grab it here and start fast-forwarding your creative process in 2020, so you can actually get to making your films (and then putting them on YouTube or Vimeo, depending on your goals).


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