The online gold rush today is in video, and if you’re looking to cash in it’s time to get started. Over the last year, YouTube has spent $100 million to help kickstart the careers of its content partners. Twitch.tv, a streaming video site that spun-off from Justin.tv to let video gamers stream live feeds and interact with fans just raised $15 million to build up its site and services which already reach an estimated 20 million monthly viewers. Mobile video app Socialcam recently sold to Autodesk for $60 million, which should help it reach the ever expanding audience of people who want to create and watch videos on their iPhones or Android devices.

This money isn’t just for the companies hosting these videos—by running ads or seeking sponsorships, video producers are able to monetize their videos on these various platforms. Even Vimeo long known as a great place to share cutting-edge videos in HD but also as a place without intrusive ads—is now allowing its content producers to accept tips on their videos.

With the myriad ways available to make money in online video, it’s no surprise then that even big media companies are finally starting to see the value. One recent trend is that they are rolling out an online first content strategy. Last year, comedian Louis CK made a million dollars in 12 days selling a $5 comedy special straight to his fans. A week ago, Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly and Daily Show host Jon Stewart brought their “Rumble 2012” event straight to the Internet in a $4.95 package that let you stream the event from your computer live, and then download it again later.

If major brands already see the value in going online first, then what are you waiting for? By developing an online first strategy for video content today, you can get ahead of the curve and make your play for the money that’s out there. Web video may have major players, but in a lot of ways it’s still in its infancy. There are plenty of opportunities for video creators to make a splash with a great web series in 2012.

With mobile video apps, content creation can be as simple as pulling out your smartphone and hitting record. Earlier this year, I launched a web video show in 48 hours. Today my channel has a million and a half subscribers. I did nothing fancier than using my iPhone to make the videos, doing some quick editing, and pushing these videos out to social media channels. No matter what your brand or businesses, there’s probably room for you to do the same online with nothing more than a smartphone.

Have you made your move in the online video space yet? If so, what problems are you facing building an audience for your content? If not, what’s been holding you back? Feel free to ask me questions in the comments below, and I’ll see what I can do to help you take your video strategy to the next level!

 

Mario Armstrong, Digital Lifestyle Expert, is an Emmy Award winning, tech commentator for the TODAY show and CNN, and the host of a tech talk radio show on SiriusXM. An entrepreneur by nature, Mario made his passion his career by quitting his day job and founding Mario Armstrong Media. Follow Mario at @MarioArmstrong. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.