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Last Updated: Monday, 29 May 2006, 06:29 GMT 07:29 UK
How to make the net work for you
By Mark Ward
Technology Correspondent, BBC News website

Film director Stanley Kubrick, BBC
It can be hard for film makers to get their work widely seen
Sometimes it seems that the net is all take and no give, especially when it comes to your hard-earned cash.

You pay good money for your computer, for net access, for domains you own and places to host them. If you play an online game regularly or have a busy blog, you might pay for that too.

To make matters worse, others make money from your browsing habits and e-mail conversations which are used to generate adverts you might find interesting.

Sometimes the websites you use are bought for huge sums of money that are never shared with the community which made that site ripe for acquisition in the first place.

Show time

The net does offer ways to offset the cost of using it by making a little money on the side, but it can involve either a lot of luck or a lot of work.

Luck is the hardest one to court but help could be at hand if you have a video to showcase thanks to Revver.

Founded by movie and grassroots film veteran Steven Starr the site aims to be a showcase for video creators and will share any cash generated by adverts tagged on the end of any uploaded clips.

The Revver site, like rivals YouTube and many others, aims to exploit the word-of-mouth effect by making it easy to upload video and get it passed around among the net's ever-growing audience.

John Kerry (left) and George Bush, AP
The JibJab US election parody cost its maker a lot to put online
"I'm deeply aware of how hard it is for creators to get their content seen by professional distribution operators," Mr Starr told the BBC News website.

Among other things he wants the Revver site to become a forum for novice film makers to give them an audience for their creations that they would struggle to reach.

"I believe we are going to see really interesting creativity coming from very disparate places," he said.

Adverts are tagged on to the end of every clip and any money made is shared with the creator. Creators can also choose what type of advertising they want to run after their movie. For instance, some may not want to take cash from tobacco firms.

Using advertising to fund distribution of a film can make a huge difference, said Mr Starr citing the example of the hugely popular animated parody of Woody Guthrie's "This Land" that lampooned George Bush and presidential hopeful John Kerry.

The short film was downloaded millions of times and cartoon creator JibJab was reportedly landed with a bandwidth bill of more than $100,000. Via Revver that loss could have been turned into a big profit, said Mr Starr.

Lucky break

Many big community sites, such as MySpace, have a thriving economy attached to them of people that know the system inside out. They make money selling little software utilities they have created to automate common tasks.

Digital camera, AFP/Getty
Paul Mutton's site has proved popular with many amateur snappers
Others produce guides to help people customise the blog space they get when they sign up for MySpace and many money from the adverts shown on the website hosting the information.

For many who maintain a blog or their own website, adverts served on their pages can be a very easy way to generate a little cash. One of the easiest ways to do this is by signing up to Google's AdSense program.

This analyses what you are writing about on your site and serves up small ads that are relevant to that subject. When people click on those adverts you get a share of what was paid to Google to place the ad.

A lot of people have signed up for AdSense. But Google has a policy of not saying what the average return is from it but a website has to be very popular to generate a reasonable return.

Only a lucky few websites win a big enough audience to generate the ad clicks and it can often be hard to work out why some sites are popular.

Amateur photographer Paul Mutton set up a site that offers downloadable, printable blueprints for paper lens hoods for a variety of digital and SLR cameras. Lens hoods might seem a bit esoteric but interest in the site has grown virally said Mr Mutton after he told some friends about it on net chat channels.

"Before I knew it, word had spread worldwide across hundreds of internet photography forums and aggregation sites like del.icio.us and metafilter," he said.

Although unwilling to say how much he is making from the site, he said that in the first two months of its operation he had made enough money to pay for the spare time he spent putting it together and to cover his bandwidth costs.

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