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17 Things Entrepreneurs and Digital Creators (Like You) Can Learn from a Programmer (Like Me)

By Ravi Jayagopal | S3MediaVault

In a previous life, I was a developer. I started out as a junior programmer, became a senior one, then a systems analyst, then a software architect, then I managed teams of developers and techies, and was close to becoming part of corporate management, when I finally quit (an extremely lucrative job) and became a full-time entrepreneur. So I've been through the gauntlet, so to speak.

And in this podcast mini-series, I've taken some of the great programming practices that are used to develop software and systems, and I want to show you how you can apply them to your own business, as an entrepreneur and digital creator.

Note: I have over-simplified a lot of the programming concepts for the sake of keeping it simple, so that I don't turn this into a programmers manual :-). Let's dive right in.

Listen to this mini-series via the audio players below, or read the transcript further below the players.

17 Things Entrepreneurs and Digital Creators (Like You) Can Learn from a Programmer (Like Me)...

Members-Only Content Protection: Fact and Fiction

By Ravi Jayagopal | S3MediaVault

Members-Only Content Protection: Fact & Fiction

FICTION: "I want to make sure that NONE of my content can EVER be copied or downloaded".
FACT: Anything that you put out on the web, can be downloaded – one way or the other, directly or indirectly.

FICTION: "I want to lock down things so hard because there will be people who try to pirate my content".
FACT: People who are out to steal stuff, will steal it no matter how you hard you try to prevent it.

FICTION: "I'm afraid my paying members will download my content and upload it to illegal websites".
FACT: Paying members who value your content and your brand, AND also pay for your content, are usually not looking to rip you off by stealing your content and sharing it with their friends or family. They're paying you because they want to compensate you for the value you are providing. And sure, they might share it with a family member (child, spouse, significant other), but most of them are not going to risk uploading it to blackhat websites and save random strangers online free money at the expense of getting into legal trouble.

FACT: By trying to lock down your content too hard to protect it from the 1% of pirates, you may end up annoying the remaining 99% of your members who have absolutely no intention of ripping you off or stealing your content in any way.

Video Resolution Switcher

By Ravi Jayagopal | S3MediaVault

S3MediaVault's Video Player now offers your viewers a Video Resolution Switcher with Multi-Resolution Streaming and Automated Streaming Optimization.

S3MediaVault allows you to create streaming video in multiple resolutions. You can choose the resolutions in the Settings page - 1080p, 720p, 360p, 240p and 144p.

And when the viewer first presses Play on the video, S3MediaVault video player will automatically choose the lowest-but-best resolution for the viewer based on their internet speed.

If they're watching from a device which has slow internet speeds (like 3G, or 4G or maybe they're using a service that doesn't offer high-speed internet, offers slow speeds, or has tiered or metered access), S3MediaVault will automatically serve them the most optimized quality of video for their internet connection.

That means, your streaming videos will load quickly for them regardless of their connection speed, saving them bandwidth, as well as saving you on your AWS bandwidth bill (win/win FTW!).

Basically, this is exactly the same as what happens on YouTube: Your viewers will be able to change the resolution of the video to a higher or lower number, and the switch will happen seamlessly, without affecting their viewership experience.

Streaming Videos vs. Progressive Downloads

By Ravi Jayagopal | S3MediaVault

"Streaming": A Misused Word

Some use the word "Streaming" to describe any video that's playing in their browser.

But just because you are watching a video online, doesn't mean it is being "Streamed". Maybe true in the general meaning of the word, but not true in the technical sense. Let me explain, because it might not be of relevance to regular folks, but it is highly relevant to digital content creators.

Amazon S3 Pricing: How Expensive is it to use S3?

By Ravi Jayagopal | S3MediaVault

One question we get asked frequently, is about how expensive Amazon S3 is if you're going to use it for all of your Videos, Audio, PDF's, Docs, Zip files, and images?

The first thing to note is that Amazon S3 has two types of pricing:

1) For Storage, and
2) For Usage

If you just upload a bunch of files to S3, and those files never get downloaded (regardless of file type), then you'll be paying for just storage.

But if you embed those files in your member's area using a plugin like, and your members are watching your videos, listening to your audios, and downloading your PDF's/Docs/Zips, then you'll be paying for Storage *and* Usage.

If you're thinking about storing the files on your own website, don't (read this to see why).

The good news is that the cost of S3 is really low. And there are no fixed monthly costs. You only pay for what you use.

So unless you have hundreds of large videos and thousands of members consuming your content every day, the average S3 bill (based on what we've seen with our own account and from asking others) is going to be between $5 - $20 a month.

Amazon has a pricing calculator, but it can be a bit confusing. So here's you a rough idea. This is for Video, as that's usually the main kind of content in most online courses.

If you have...

  • 50 videos in your membership site,
  • 50 MB in size each
  • 50 members who watch each the video at least
  • 1 time
  • Bandwidth used per member = 2.5 GB
  • Rough S3 cost = $0.023 per GB 

Cost of S3 per member = 2.5 GB x $0.023 = $0.057
Roughly ~= 6 cents/member per month

Multiplied by 50 = $3 in bandwidth costs for all 50 members combined.

So your overall monthly bill would be $3/month.

Also, S3 has tiered pricing, so costs won't necessarily go up directly in proportion to increased usage.

You could use a video service like Vimeo to host your videos, but Vimeo doesn't support Audio, PDF's, Zips, Docs, Images, etc - only videos, Also, Vimeo does not offer "impossible-to-download" AES 128-bit encrypted HLS streaming like S3MediaVault can.

So if you want a single, integrated, easy-to-use solution for securing and delivering all of your premium content and media files, with maximum security for your videos, at a really low cost, then a combination of Amazon S3 and is your best option.

AWS Free Tier

AWS also offers a free tier for new users. Here's what you get for free.

Free: 12 Months
Free: 5 GB of standard storage
Free: 20,000 Get Requests
Free: 2,000 Put Requests
No monthly costs
Pay as you go