There are plenty of photographer who have started a YouTube channel. Ever since the coronavirus had us all locked inside, it seems that even more creatives have turned to YouTube. They share their knowledge, create all kinds of content, and try to make a living (or at least some additional income) out of it. But this journey is far from being easy. In this video, Sean Tucker shares some of his valuable insights after four years on the platform. It will be useful for all of you who have just started or think of staring a YouTube channel.
The mistake many people make when starting a YouTube channel is that they see it as a shortcut to fame and wealth. But that can’t be further from reality. There’s a handful of people who make a fortune from YouTube, and there are millions of channels out there.
People have unrealistic, unreasonable expectations when they’re staring out. This is probably why a vast majority of new YouTube channels get abandoned within only a few weeks! So, before you start, set a realistic goal – you probably won’t buy a yacht and a mansion from YouTube money.
Sean says that he had a very slow growth over his first year on YouTube. It’s likely that you will too, and there’s likely an algorithmic reason for it. YouTube wants to see if you’re gonna stick around and post regularly and consistently before it starts suggesting your videos to users
In the video, Sean quotes “1000 True Fans,” an interesting article by Kevin Kelly:
“To be a successful creator you don’t need millions. You don’t need millions of dollars or millions of customers, millions of clients or millions of fans. To make a living as a craftsperson, photographer, musician, designer, author, animator, app maker, entrepreneur, or inventor you need only thousands of true fans.”
Remember that even the big number of followers doesn’t reflect the number of people who truly follow what you do. And don’t get disappointed – that’s perfectly normal and perfectly fine. But within those thousands or even millions of followers, it’s still important to have your 1,000 true fans.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that more followers don’t necessarily mean more recognition and more gigs, at least not as a photographer. Think about it: who watches photography-related videos? Photographers. And who are the last people who need to hire a photographer? You got it – other photographers. But don’t get discouraged. From Sean’s example, he gets asked to do some consulting and training work. People don’t hire him as a photographer, but they do hire him as a teacher.
Finally, remember that YouTube following is “downward recognition.” In other words, your followers are people who learn from you, so you likely won’t see photographers that you look up to among them.
Making a living from YouTube
Now we get to the financial part of the whole story. As I mentioned, you most likely won’t earn millions from YouTube, but you could make a decent living or some side money at least. However, Sean advises you to diversify your income streams. For the first 2 years, he made only 100 pounds a month. It’s a nice side revenue, but it’s definitely not enough to make a living.
When your channel is eligible for monetization, you can turn ads on. This way, YouTube is more likely to promote your work. However, you get to decide which ads to turn on. Try to balance between getting ad revenue and getting the message to your followers without too many distractions.
Remember that you can’t rely on ad revenue only, as things change all the time due to algorithmic changes that you can’t control. You can have sponsors on your channel in addition to ads; you can give workshops and talks; or you can also allow donations via Patreon.
Something very important to keep in mind is this: decide what your channel is about and what you want to do before you start, and have your channel revolve around it. Make your own decisions, but don’t let your message get diluted. Put the message first, be genuine and honest and focus on that. This is how you’ll create a unique channel, stand out from the crowd and get your true fans. And if you’re true to yourself, you’ll likely get even more than those 1,000 true fans.
[YouTube: Straight Talk for People thinking of Starting a Channel | Sean Tucker]