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.
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.
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.