On the internet, it's always rerun time. For filmmakers, this can be really useful, because your project's success doesn't live or die by its actual air date. Your content might be a bust when you upload it but may blossom after a few months. That's why so many of our blogs and podcasts and webinars emphasize the importance of runway, "runway" being defined as how long you can stretch out the release of new content to potentially grant you and your project "liftoff," or enough support to justify continuing.
But how long should you try to extend your runway, and how long should you continue to promote a project after it'scomplete, or you're out of money? To an extent, that's up to you. For argument's sake, and the sake of giving this article a focus, let's assume a few things: 1, your project is, for all intents and purposes, complete; 2, it has not gotten you hired or gotten picked up for TV itself; 3, you want to make a career out of making more projects, and; 4, more projects can but doesn't have to include making more of your existing project.
If your goal is to build a career out of your content, generally, you do want to give yourself and your project a chance to dig out of the void that is the internet, an internet where 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. So here's what I recommend:
As soon as a series uploads its season or series finale, a timer starts, slowly counting down the viability of the show being considered topical. While your project's content may be evergreen, its very existence is only truly "newsworthy" within that first six months of finishing its run. This isn't to say that you'll never get a piece of press after that period, but your pitch will need to change from "new web series!" to "something happened to make this old web series relevant again!" More on that in Phase 2 and 3.
As far as things you should be focusing on during Phase 1 with that topicality in mind:
Your web series is no longer immediately topical as simply a piece of content that exists. But that's ok! Even if your initial runway didn't achieve liftoff, you can always reboot interest and expand your reach during this period where the show's still fresh and likely still eligible for film festivals.
When thinking about Phase 2:
We're pretty solidly out of topicality territory here, so unless you're genuinely planning on a new season, start thinking of new ways to repurpose old content.
Phase 3 ideas:
This is what I call the "incidental" phase, because unless you've seen traction from buyers or traditional television, it'sprobably time to consider what's next. However, you still have a piece of work you're proud of on the internet, so on an incidental basis, definitely continue to promote it if there's an opening! Brains, my first web series, completed its second season at the end of 2016, but every once in awhile someone online is wistful for zombie recommendations or a new press outlet premieres looking for innovative found footage/women in horror series. If I see it, I'll submit, but I'm not actively looking for those opportunities anymore. I can still monetize the work via Stareable Enrich, and I can still use the scripts and completed episodes as work samples in my portfolio, but my days of scheduling content to my Brains accounts are over.
Phase 4 isn't a despair phase, it'san opportunity phase. What can you do next that builds off your success from Phases 1-3? How can you use what you've learned, the audience you've fought for, and the connections you've made in order to create something new? There's still hope the groundwork you laid will get you somewhere later, but two years after your series is over it'stime to move on to the next amazing thing.