What We Discovered by Posting 30 Videos to YouTube in 30 Days

For our New Year's Resolution, Lee and I decided to attempt to post 30 new videos to our YouTube channel throughout the entire month of January. We were not only curious if we could find the drive and motivation to complete such a feat, but we also were curious what sort of traffic, advertising income, and excitement it would bring to Fstoppers.com. Here is what we found out.

As mentioned above, the goal was to release 30 videos in 30 days. We actually found out through some sophisticated calculations that there are in fact 31 days in January so we wound up posting a few extra videos total to make up for our lack of judgment. Some of these videos were planned out in advance while others were created and posted the same day. We also had a few series like Monte Isom's “Story Time” and Elia Locardi's “Photographing the World 3” behind the scenes that we released to fill in any gaps on the weekends.

Overall Channel Views

The total number of views we received in January was around 1.8 million views. In December of 2017 we received only 997,00 views, and a year to the day back in January 2017 we received 1 million views on YouTube. Our 2017 yearly average is right at around 1 million views per month. So clearly we were able to more than double our total number of video views by posting a video every single day. 

Overall Revenue 

Many people think running a successful YouTube channel means the creators are bringing in tons and tons of advertising money. In years past, the basic rule of thumb was that you would make $1,000 per 1 million views.  According to our analytic calculations, the ad revenue from YouTube came out to about $3,000. Shockingly, this was only about $600 more than we usually make on ads during any given month. By the time you factor in the time spent making these videos, paying some of the talent who appeared in the videos, and paying our staff to assist and edit these videos, all of the content we created did not return a good investment. Obviously not everything is measured in dollar signs but if we thought we could increase our channels revenue by a factor of 2-10, we were wildly mistaken.

Subscribers

Adding new subscribers to our channel was probably one of the most important and valuable analytics we were focused on. As you probably know, having more subscribers means more initial views when you launch a new video which then in turn helps each of your videos get that much needed push during launch that helps the snowball effect take place. The average number of new subscribers we get each month is about 10,000 (at least for 2017). During this 30 for 30 challenge, we gained 19,000 new subscribers. Just like our overall channel views, this number doubled from what we usually expect each month. While seeing 100 percent growth in any area seems like a huge amount of growth, it's a little more depressing when you realize we released 30 videos compared to other months when we typically release 5-10 videos per month. Making a video every single day seems to be reaching the point of diminishing returns where you are doing more work for less results.

The Good News: Fstoppers Breaks Record

All of the growth in the three variables above was kind of underwhelming to Lee and I partially because we had such high hopes for our increased productivity, and also because making 30 videos in 30 days was a lot of work. However, one thing we did not anticipate was the overall traffic Fstoppers.com would see in January. As you can imagine, January isn't the busiest time of the year for most professions and it's definitely not the peak season for a photography blog. That being said, our writing staff, editors, and photography community really came together to produce more content, comments, and interaction than ever before.

The largest day in Fstoppers history was all the way back in January of 2015. The main reason for this record breaking day was primarily due to the most popular article ever published on Fstoppers: “The Most Insane GoPro Video You Have Ever Seen.” This post received over a million page views alone and set our personal record so high that we never thought we'd break it, at least not during another January month.

Page views were not the only thing at an all-time high though. Comments on both YouTube and Fstoppers.com also hit an all-time high, and most of the comments that were submitted were much more pleasant than normal. I do not know if that had to do with our 30 for 30 videos or if everyone in just generally in a more pleasant mood these days. 

We also saw more uploads to the Fstoppers Community during January 2018. If you have not heard of the Fstoppers Community, it is a place to upload your images, have them rated by other photographers, and also a place to start your own photography groups for critiques, meetups, networking, and assisting. Activity in all of those groups were also at an all-time high.

So What Did We Learn?

It's very hard to draw any strong conclusions from the success of Fstoppers.com and our own personal challenge of making 30 videos in 30 days. Overall I feel like it was a personal success even if our videos and articles only made a splash in the total page views and visits seen on Fstoppers.com. As a working professional photographer or videographer, it's super easy to get caught up in paid work for clients and ignore your own passion projects. Having this personal 30 for 30 challenge was a nice break from the daily routine, and I found it incredibly inspiring to create new and fresh work while also trying to entertain and educate our audience. At first I was extremely overwhelmed by the idea of producing this much content but today as I write this article, I find myself wanting to continue the creative process we have perfected over the last few weeks. 

Very few of our readers will ever own or run a website like Fstoppers, and many of you probably don't have any aspirations to start a YouTube channel. However, I still think there are many important lessons to be learned by setting a challenging goal and following it through to completion. That challenge could be as simple as making a blog post to your photography website every day for a month, or challenging yourself to shoot only with a prime lens for your next few photography sessions. Maybe you need to set your commissioned work aside for a few weeks and focus solely on personal projects that you have wanted to create for your own portfolio. Maybe you want to add a new service to your business and start offering videography or video editing to your list of skills. Whatever it is that inspires you, I think it's super important to not only take time to invest in those projects but also commit to a challenge that you will have to be held accountable after a certain amount of time. It's only then that you will find out what paths lead to something worth pursuing and which paths might be best left untraveled. 

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23 Comments

Quick, why don't you do a story on this drone pilot before all the other sites follow (you can be first for once): https://thepointsguy.com/2018/02/video-drone-flies-dangerously-close-air...

Tony Northrup's picture

Awesome work to everyone involved! I'm sure ya'll are exhausted.

The vids you made will continue to get views, make money, and win subs... often for many years. Measuring just their performance within January underestimates them. Hope you guys keep the pace up!

Patrick Hall's picture

Thanks Tony, your words are great encouragement because I know you paddle the same boat :)

I would say one or two original videos per week is a reasonable pace. It was interesting to see Patrick take advantage of the snow in Charleston; Columbia got nothing!
I enjoyed the challenge video.

William Howell's picture

You guys should do like Karl Taylor, Scott Kelby and Lynda.com, I subscribe to those educational sites. The connections you have with actual professionals.
You guys could capture one of the pros doing what they do in a work day. To save time and money, loosen up on the editing, serve it up some what raw. But you keep the Fstoppers panache. You know, show them doing a commission or job from start to finish, I would subscribe to that.
And the educational videos could show the equipment that is used, you know the tiny things, the tricks of the trade. I like watching that kind of stuff. I’m one of the cable-tv cutters, I haven’t had cable tv in three years and most of the time now I watch educational stuff from all kinds of sources. So yeah I hope you do something like that, because I would purchase that.

Patrick Hall's picture

The main problem we have is we are based in Charleston with little access to big pros unless we travel to them (or they move here like Mike Kelley did). Also, our videos are much more polished than some of the other channels and we kind of like that element to it. I'm sure we could make it more raw than it is now but that might take away from the style we have created. Trust me, all options have been on our table.

William Howell's picture

Yes, that is what I would like to see, you guys going to the photographer’s studio or location and film the photographer and his or her’s team making the image. That would be very interesting and educational.

This month was the best month for Photograohy for content reader.
Great work guys and I like the openness approach with sharing data.

Spy Black's picture

You guys have been successful I think overall, and I congratulate all of you for doing the great job that you have on this site.

Jorge Cevallos's picture

You guys have a great attitude, and are reachable to your audience. That's something you don't see on most sites. Keep up your good work.

agree 100% and I might add likeable and innovative.

David Cannon's picture

Thanks for all the hard work. I check everyday and appreciate the effort and great content!

Ryan Burleson's picture

Good data and read, appreciate the insight.

David Love's picture

Trying to predict what social media will do will drive you nuts. Youtube is now screwing a lot of people but still making money off their uploads, Facebook...hi myspace, Instagram, the new going down hill Facebook reach disaster. And there is Twitter where you can tag a celeb and talk about what you ate. You guys need a Patreon if you don't have one. That puts the ball in your court and you don't have to depend on other sites not changing crap under you or how many tutorials you sell. I work with tons of cosplayers and most have quit their jobs to work on content and are doing very well.

Alex Dylikowski's picture

One thing I am surprised a bit and really curious why it is the case. You guys post a lot of content, many articles daily, but there is very little engagement. I have some theories why...but curious on your own thinking

Scott Stebner's picture

Simple, the vast majority of people are passive consumers . Comments on websites and blog posts peaked years ago, and as a whole, have steadily declined (generalization, of course and there are outliers).

Important to note that revenue always drops in January, sometimes by 50% of what our channel made the previous month. It would be an interesting exercise to also do this 6 months from now, or even in the Fall when Channel activity peaks. Also, on our channel we tried posting daily for a month, and we actually saw our major increase IN THE FOLLOWING month as all our new videos gained traction and new subscribers began interacting more. Keep it up, very helpful!

Jen C's picture

Be sure to factor in the long view -- although you hit a point of diminishing return, you'll continue to have some trickle-down views over the coming months and years, and that money will continue to come in, albeit at a slower rate.

I've been toying with starting a vlog, and your 30day experiment is inspiring. Not because money (though that'd be nice) but because, well, if you can do it, I can, too! Just need to get my butt in gear.

Great insights! Thanks for doing the challenge and posting your assessment.
Quick question: what was the process for deciding video topics? Were you looking at analytics and making videos based on what was already performing well?

Andrea Re Depaolini's picture

To me the one video a day goal was a bit too high, not because it's impossible to do but because it looked like you didn't really plan it. Some videos were... meh. I love your work and I think the new goal of 2/3 videos a week is good, also I agree that the challenge ones are the most interesting.

Matt Pluz's picture

You guys did everything right. I come from an internet marketing background, and trust me, the benefits of all this work come over a long period of time. You'll see a nice long term boost in SEO, views, engagement, etc. from all of this amazing content. Give it some time and you'll definitely see some strong ROI. Great work!!!

I tried writing for my blog every day in January. I actually found a rather substantial increase in my website's traffic. I did 1/5 of the previous year's traffic in 1 month. However, I barely get any traffic so the only place I could go was up. It was challenging at times, but I found it to be a fun exercise. I think I will cut my posts in half in the future though.

Joe Healey's picture

Damn! And I though I worked hard! lol Nice job!