This is a question I encounter very often.
If you’re a part of any Facebook Group, you’re going to get a whole slew of answers of where you should host your videos.
But the answer is not so simple and I cringe every time I see people just chime in with the one they’re using WITHOUT understanding the person originally posting the question.
Read on for why it’s many get this wrong.
Why Not Upload My Online Course Videos to WordPress?
This is a common question. Why not upload your course videos directly through your WordPress site?
Here’s why you shouldn’t do this:
- No matter what kind of hosting you have, there is a limit to how much storage (i.e. your files, images, videos, etc) and bandwidth your web hosting will allow. It is a relatively finite resource. Pay for more storage you say? Well, you could do that but that gets very expensive when done through a web host.
If you believe you’re on a low-cost shared hosting plan that offers “unlimited” everything, well, you’d be very mistaken and you’re better reading the fine print from your web host.
- Storing and serving your course videos from your WordPress site potentially hogs a LOT of resources on your web server. In most cases, with just a slight uptick in traffic, it will bring your entire web server down – due to the overload on the server.
- Your customers will experience very slow and sluggish performance with playing your videos. Bad experience = potential refunds and unhappy customers.
So, What’s the Best Practice for Hosting Your Online Course Videos?
Best practice is to store AND serve your online course videos via either:
- a dedicated video hosting service OR
- a content delivery network (CDN)
Let’s look deeper at these two options.
Hosting and Delivering Your Online Course Videos via a Dedicated Video Hosting Service
This is usually an easy way to offload the headaches of dealing with video hosting (especially, encoding videos properly)…BUT, it’s not as straightforward as many treat it as – especially for paying customers needing access to your online course videos.
Examples of commonly used video hosting services include Vimeo, Wistia and to a lesser extent Youtube (in a course video hosting context).
Before making any suggestion, I would think about WHERE your customers are viewing your videos from.
- Are the majority of your customers based in North America and/or Western Europe?
- Do you have customers in Africa, Asia and/or Middle-East?
Where your customers are based plays a HUGE part in where and how you host your online course videos.
Reason being, many countries have banned access to many well-known video hosting services including Youtube, Vimeo, Wistia, etc.
So, if you’re using ANY of these services and you have customers outside of North America and Western Europe, then they are unlikely able to access your videos (without the use of VPN’s).
I won’t talk too much about the individual video hosting services here since I’ve already done a deep dive on video hosting services here (opens in new tab/window).
Hosting and Delivery Your Online Course Videos via Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Using a CDN to store (host) and deliver your videos usually involves a little more work but offers you more control and in many cases lower costs.
You need to ensure you process and encode your videos to be optimally streamed online. While you can do this easily with free software such as Handbrake, it does add an extra step.
This is the advantage of using video hosting services (such as Vimeo), because they handle the processing and encoding for you.
Common mistake with CDN’s…
When you hear CDN, typically you’ll think of Amazon Cloud Services first. Since, so many plugins and tools work with Amazon’s Cloud Services, it makes sense.
…it’s not always the best choice.
I’ve seen many people upload, store/host their videos on Amazon’s S3 cloud storage service. That’s fine, BUT, the S3 cloud storage service is NOT built for distributing and delivering video efficiently.
In order to distribute, stream and deliver your videos efficiently (e.g. provide a fast & pleasant viewing experience), you also need to add Amazon’s Cloudfront service which replicates your videos across servers in various geographic locations to provide a better viewing experience for your audience who are located in different geographies.
While Amazon’s Cloud Services pricing is pretty competitive, it can start to add up now.
It’s why I moved away from Amazon’s Cloud Services as my main CDN provider (I still use them as a backup but they are not my main CDN).
For video delivery (both for promotional/marketing purposes AND for my paid online course videos), I currently prefer to use a combination of the Presto Player video player plugin (for WordPress) AND Bunny.net for my CDN.
You can read why I chose Presto Player here.
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