CMM469: Entrepreneurial Content Creation Syllabus

CMM 469: Entrepreneurial Content Creation Syllabus

Course Description:

In this course we’ll explore ways to earn a living as an independent content creator making commodity video content for YouTube, Amazon and other platforms. Students will learn how to create effective product review videos, optimize those videos for search engines, and measure their performance with analytics tools.

Given that this field is so new we’re going to learn things together. While there are important concepts that you need to learn, a bulk of the work of the course will be hands-on video content creation that we will collectively evaluate and improve.

Our Mission:

  • You will learn the foundations of modern independent content creation including ethical and legal considerations.

  • You will learn how to produce content that is concise, informative, entertaining, and discoverable.

  • We will work collaboratively as a class to improve our work product by sharing feedback and ideas for improvement.


Attendance 20%

Participation 20%

Test on Concepts 10%

Your Produced Content (5) 50%

Content will be graded based on effort, applying foundational concepts that you have learned, and improvement from one piece to the next. As this is a collaborative learning process, attendance and participation are critical components of your grade.

Deadlines: We will evaluate your produced content collectively as a class. Therefore late work will not be accepted unless you have an extenuating (and documented) circumstance that prevents completion. If you anticipate a problem that will prevent you from completing your work and/or attending class you will need to notify me ahead of time so that we can appropriately plan for your absence.

Cell Phones / Computers: Your phone and other electronic devices will be silenced and put away during class unless we need it to shoot or edit video. The only screen you will be looking at is the projection screen at the front of the classroom. If you have a problem paying attention in class it will impact your participation grade.

Plagiarism : Copying work that is not your own will result in an immediate failing grade. Any scripts you write will be your own work. Any video you use will be your own video unless it is a transformative fair use and its source is properly cited in your production.

Class Communication: I will only be on campus once a week and will be communicating with you via University email and Blackboard. You must regularly check your email and blackboard account for important class announcements. Please feel free to contact me via email whenever you have questions or concerns. I will do my best to respond to you promptly.

Snow Days & Virtual: The best way to learn is in-person. You need to be in class with your peers to be successful in this course. I will not simultaneously stream the class and will not record it. However, if weather or some other extenuating circumstance prevents me from safely traveling to the University we will switch to Zoom or Google Meet at the same time our class normally meets. 


Content Creation

You will produce five pieces of video content over the course of the semester. At our first class you will choose a “vertical” to focus on and produce content on that topic.

You will not be graded on production value, so a smartphone and a simple video editing app will suffice. However you do need to ensure your scenes are well lit and your audio is clear without distracting background noise. Video length needs to be sufficient to cover the product or topic that you are covering in the video.

Your finished videos will be presented to the class where we will collectively offer feedback. You can then revise it based on that feedback and submit it to me for grading.

You may also wish to publish it on social media platforms like YouTube. While it will be helpful for our collective learning process for these videos to be made publicly available this is not a course requirement if you are uncomfortable doing so.

Course Schedule, Topics & Assignments

Schedule is subject to change so please check Blackboard regularly

Week 1: January 25, 2022:

Introduction to the class & review of the syllabus. I will show you a few examples of independent content creation and talk about how I earn a living doing this work. We will also look at and critique a few of your favorite content creators.  

Assignment: You will choose a content vertical for the semester and bring a product or item from that vertical to our next class.


Week 2: February 1, 2022:

We will discuss the ethics of independent content creation including Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines regarding proper disclosures of compensation, free product, etc. We will also do some “live reviews” of the items you chose and brought to class.

Assignment : Shoot and edit your first video review. Yes it’ll be rough but you have to start somewhere! 

Week 3: February 8, 2022

No cringing: We’ll begin by watching and critiquing your first video production! Following our critique session we will discuss optimizing video discoverability including the fine art of thumbnail creation, titling and video descriptions. For those comfortable we will get your YouTube channels established and your first video uploaded.

Assignment : Refine your first video and upload it if you choose to post it publicly.

Week 4: February 15, 2022

No net: We’ll begin with an overview of how to work with clients and meet their expectations. We’ll also dig through the vast amount of analytics data YouTube provides content creators which will form the foundation of understanding how to refine your content to meet the needs of the commoditized content marketplace. Following that we will review your first videos as a class. Then we’ll look at getting your YouTube channels set up if you choose to do so. 

DUE: Video 1 – Assignment : Shoot video 2

Week 5: February 22, 2022

All about the money: we’ll look at the various ways content can be monetized and how you can earn a living as an independent creator. Topics will include ad revenue shares, viewer revenue, affiliate marketing, and more. We will critique and evaluate your second videos.

Due: Video 2 DRAFT. Assignment : Refine videos 1 & 2 to stay caught up. . 


Week 6: March 1, 2022

Avoiding the Suits: Copyright, Fair Use, and Automated Content ID: No you can’t use Justin Bieber’s latest hit in your video if you hope to earn revenue. But the law does have carve outs for “fair use” of copyrighted material if you have an army of lawyers to defend you. 

DUE: Video 2. Assignment: Study for the quiz on all of our lecture topics to date. 

Week 7: March 8, 2022

QUIZ on our prior lecture topics. This will include copyright, fair use, ethics, FTC guidelines and analytics. After you’re all done with that we’ll discuss “tending the garden” of your online communities. How should you react to negative (or positive) feedback? 

Assignment: None – have a nice break

Week 8 : March 15, 2022



Week 9: March 22, 2022

Roll your own QVC: Live streaming is a big part of the modern content ecosystem and the latest trend is “live shopping.” Where streamers are taking the place of a live salesperson that would normally help customers at a retailer. 

Assignment: Produce your third video


Week 10: March 29, 2022

Amazon Influencer program: Amazon has a video platform that is as profitable as YouTube for many creators. We’ll look at how it works and how to get started. We’ll also critique your third video.

Due: Video 3. Assignment: Sign up for the Amazon Influencer Program if you choose to do so

Week 11: April 5, 2022

Going Long Form : We’ll look at the dark art of podcasting and try to make sense of the many hosting and platform options available. We’ll also look at how some podcasters leverage platforms like YouTube to aid in discoverability.

Assignment: Produce your fourth video


Week 12: April 12, 2022

InstaTikTokBookTwitter : Can you repurpose longer content for shorter platforms? Absolutely. We’ll look at some of what you produced and figure out ways we can upload shorter clips to other platforms to promote what you’re doing. We’ll also critique your fourth video.

Due: Video 4. Assignment: Produce your fifth video


Week 13: April 19, 2022

Looking back: For those that opted to go public we’ll take a look at your YouTube analytics and see how your content performed and what we can try to do to improve its discoverability. We’ll also critique your fifth and final video. 

Due: Video 5. Assignment: Refine your past videos if you feel you could have done better on the earlier ones

Week 14: April 26, 2022

Workshop: Need some hands-on help? Bring your footage and we’ll work together to spruce things up. This will be an open ended session to help you finalize your channels and get things put together for final grading.

Week 15: May 3, 2022

All that you know: All of us will share our reflections on the semester and what we’ve learned. We’ll also have a final workshop session to spruce up your work. All content needs to be finished by May 10 for final grading.