Getting views on YouTube isn’t easy, especially now in 2022. With so many of us hoping to get more eyes on our work and eventually make YouTube a successful side hustle, the struggle is real when trying to to get traction in the photography genre.
Don’t worry, I’m not just speaking as a viewer or viewer here, I put a lot of blood, sweat and tears, figuratively speaking of course, into my own YouTube channel. So let’s dive in and discuss what I’ve found works, what doesn’t, and what stands between you and getting those subscribers. Oh and no, it’s not the algorithm.
1. You don’t show up on your own channel
So if you’re really trying to build an audience on YouTube, you need to get in front of the camera. Your fellow photographers are inundated with hundreds of images daily, so the chance of your photography standing out on its own, however great, is pretty slim.
Building a connection by explaining why you took certain photos, what went wrong, and describing the experience is a proven strategy for building an engaged audience. Giving your viewers something to understand, something to ponder, or even disagree with will generate a more engaging experience for your audience.
Finding a reason for people to stick around in addition to your photos will build a relationship with you as a photographer and a person. Photographers are people too, remember that the next time you record your next video.
2. Leave your audience embarrassed
Sure having a little break is fine, maybe you miss every upload deadline you ambitiously set for yourself when making your plans for the month, but giving up longer than that will probably hurt your channel and its growth. Consistency really is key and this isn’t new advice, but it’s advice you need to hear.
YouTube is literally a machine and you are only as good as your last upload. I wish it weren’t so ruthless, I don’t make the rules and sadly neither do you.
Scheduling and planning will be your best friend when it comes to frequent downloads and will also help you keep yourself accountable for the dates you set. This will have a snowball effect, let me explain. The more you upload, the more videos you need to make, so the more you film, talk to the camera, edit, and put your work online. All of this leads to honing your skills as a content creator and will naturally help you find your flow and develop a style at the same time. Did someone say multitasking?
3. You create content that already exists
So, by that, I don’t mean that we should all stop taking pictures of landscapes, photographing abandoned buildings, or photographing a person walking on a crosswalk. I just mean look around, or rather scroll and take a look at what’s already out there, the key word being “already”. How can you put your own spin on the latest version of the camera, the best lens for portraits, the hugely popular photo walk video style, or better yet, come up with something brand new!
It’s easier said than done and it takes some planning and creative thinking, but you’re a creative, aren’t you? So it shouldn’t be that difficult.
It’s a bit like in business how they talk about your unique selling point. What do you have to offer that no one else has? It can be intimidating and lead you to some kind of existential crisis. So remember, you are definitely unique and it doesn’t have to be anything very different, it can be just a little difference. What sets your channel apart from all the other people sharing their photography online.
Personality goes a long way, as does clever editing, professional footage, or maybe you’re like me and have a really loud laugh that comes through in almost every video. Maybe you live somewhere really unusual and different? The options are endless, just like you and your unique approach to photography!
The photography community is pretty amazing and people want to connect with each other. The comments section is an obvious place to start and if you’re not saying thank you, not being there and not letting your viewers know you appreciate them by watching and interacting with them, then stop reading and do it. right away. But check back for the rest of the tips!
I respond to as many comments as my fingers and time allow and I try to do the same on all the platforms where I share my photographs. But don’t stop there, reach out to other designers and photographers you admire and let them know or ask for their advice. I strongly believe in putting yourself forward, the worst that can happen is someone not responding, it’s kind of the same as if you don’t do anything. So mingle and chat with the people around you who are where you want to be and you will most likely learn something and make some great friends too.
5. You expect perfection
I have a theory that being a photographer and a perfectionist are intrinsically linked. Many of us are detail oriented people who like things to look good and we often work hard to craft our vision or make a model or client look perfect. That’s great, but it can also be a problem when you enter the world of YouTube photography.
Wearing so many hats with audio, video and lighting, learning editing software, making thumbnails, finding music and talking to the camera. It’s honestly like ten jobs in one! If you think about a professional production, they have a whole team of dedicated people just for each of those roles and you’re probably doing it on your own. To be perfect in all of these ten things right away is really unrealistic, so give yourself a fucking break and gradually work on them over time.
This tip works so well in tandem with tip number two. So don’t let your perfectionism stop you from downloading something, it’s probably more noticeable to you than anyone else. Try to remember that the sacrifice for things to not be exactly perfect is far less than falling behind your download schedule and completely losing momentum.
My advice would be to go back and watch all the big names in early photography videos. I guarantee it will ease your mind and give you a huge boost of confidence and push you to keep creating!
These are my pearls of wisdom and I hope they offer some guidance. We have seen the genre of photography, especially film photography, grow in recent years, especially on all video sharing platforms. If you’re a dedicated person willing to put in the effort, sharing your photography on YouTube could really open doors for you, be a creative pursuit, or a way to add video work to your portfolio.
If you’re thinking “who the hell is Lucy Lumen?” so check out my analog photography channel here and get inspired for your next upload.