Finding right partners key to web series success: Jill Johnson

The Yoga Town producer says using social media and building partnerships with local companies can help boost a project's audience, leading to monetization opportunities.

Yoga Town producer Jill Johnson likens creating a successful web series to knowing how to plan a party: in the same way that ending a party before it naturally dies down will bring people back to the next one, keeping webisodes short will keep online audiences happy and coming back for more, she says.

“TV watchers are fickle, but online audiences are even more so,” she tells Playback.

“One of the reasons why I’ve made each episode [of Yoga Town] two or two -and-a-half minutes long is because the attention span of individuals is so short that I wanted to make sure I was maximizing the potential for them to watch the whole episode, as opposed to jumping to something else,” she adds, explaining that good content won’t always keep viewers watching.

The web series, about the trials of a financially struggling yoga studio facing competition from a rival studio, has been financed primarily by venture capital from art patrons in Johnson’s business circle.

Johnson, however, is looking to monetize the series through ad revenue.

“What we’re looking to do is garnish as many views as possible so we can monetize the site itself,” she says.

“We’re very open to anybody who’s interested in advertising on the site, and have come up with a strategy around that, which is based on an anticipated number of hits that the show will generate,” she adds.

Yoga Town

She has also used product placements from show partners, including the companies Saky Sacks and Toe Sox, as well as opened up a store on the Yoga Town website where viewers can purchase show-related merchandise.

To reach this point, Johnson relied heavily on social media exposure, including using Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, and suggests that getting established bloggers to talk about a web series can help grow an audience exponentially.

She also recommends that web content producers go outside of their comfort zone to find partners who are willing to support the show, as she has by partnering with the well-known Vancouver-based restaurant Vij’s, which will appear in future episodes of the series.

Of course, knowing Sarah McLachlan (who will also appear in a future episode) doesn’t hurt, but at the end of the day, Johnson says success comes down to finding every way possible to maximize your audience.

“That’s what you have that advertisers are looking for,” she says.

“And know who your target demographic is, so that when people are approaching you, you know exactly who’s watching your show, which is pretty important when it comes to advertising,” she explains.

Yoga Town also received an added boost from Women in Film and Television at the Banff World Media Festival in June, where she was selected to pitch Yoga Town as a TV idea.

According to Johnson, the pitch attracted the interest of a production company, which she couldn’t name at the time of publication.