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 possibly make YouTube a successful side hustle, the struggle is real when trying to get any traction in the genre of photography.
Don’t worry, I'm not just speaking as a viewer or spectator here, I have put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, figuratively speaking of course, into my own YouTube channel. So let’s dive in and chat about what I’ve found works, what doesn’t, and what is standing between you and gaining those subscribers. Oh and no, it’s not the algorithm.
1. You Aren’t Showing Up on Your Own Channel
So if you are really trying to build an audience on YouTube then you need to get in front of the camera. Your fellow photographers are flooded daily with hundreds of images, so the chance that your photography on its own is going to stand out, no matter how great, is kind of slim.
Forming a connection by explaining why you took certain photos, what went wrong, and describing the experience is a strategy proven to build an invested audience. Giving your viewers something to relate to, 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 rapport with you as a photographer and a person. Photographers are people too, remember that next time you hit record for your next video.
2. Leaving Your Audience in the Lurch
Sure, having a little break is fine, maybe you don’t meet every upload deadline you set for yourself ambitiously when you make your plans for the month, but dropping off for longer than that will likely 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 wasn’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 uploads and also aid in holding you accountable to the dates you have set. This will have a snowball effect, let me explain. The more you upload the more videos you have to make, so the more times you are filming, talking to the camera, editing, and putting your work out there. This all leads to honing your skills as a content creator and will naturally help you to find your flow and develop a style at the same time. Did someone say multitasking?
3. You Are Making Content That Already Exists
So by this, I don’t mean that we should all stop taking landscape photos, shooting abandoned buildings, or snapping a person walking over a pedestrian crossing. I just mean look around, or rather, scroll around and have a look at what's already out there, the operative word being "already". How can you put your own spin on the latest camera release, the best lens for portraits, the hugely popular photo walk style of video, or better yet come up with something brand spanking new!
This is easier said than done and requires some planning and creative thinking, but you're a creative right? So it shouldn’t be that hard.
It’s kind of like in business how they talk about your unique selling point. What is it that you have to offer that no one else has? This can be intimidating and kind of lead you to having an existential crisis. So just remember, you are most certainly unique and it doesn’t have to be something wildly different, it can be just a small difference. Enough to set your channel aside from all the other people sharing their photography online.
Personality goes a long way, and so does clever editing, professional footage, or maybe you are like me and you have a really loud laugh that showcases in almost every video. Maybe you live somewhere really unusual and different? The options are endless and so are you and your unique approach to photography!
4. Neglecting Your Community
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 aren’t saying thank you, being present, and letting your viewers know you appreciate them watching and interacting, then stop reading and go do that right now. But come 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 every platform where I share my photography. Don’t stop at this though, reach out to other creators and photographers you admire and let them know or ask them for their advice. I am a big believer in putting yourself out there, the worst that can happen is someone doesn’t respond, it’s kind of the same as if you just 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 awesome friends too.
5. You Are Waiting for 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 aesthetically pleasing and we often work hard to craft our vision or make a model or client look, well, perfect. This is great, but also can be an issue when you step into the world of YouTube photography.
Wearing so many hats with audio, video and lighting, learning editing software, making thumbnails, finding music, and speaking on 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 likely doing it all on your own. Being perfect at all of those ten things straight away is really unrealistic, so give yourself a damn break and work on them incrementally over time.
This tip is working in tandem with tip number two so nicely. So don’t let your perfectionism get in the way of you uploading something, it’s most likely more noticeable to you than anyone else. Try and remind yourself that the sacrifice for things not being exactly perfect is way less of a consequence than getting behind on your upload schedule and losing momentum completely.
My advice would be to go back and watch all the big names in photography’s first few videos. I guarantee it will ease your mind and give you a huge confidence boost and push to keep creating!
Those are my pearls of wisdom and I hope they offer some guidance. We have seen the genre of photography, particularly film photography grow in the last few years, especially in any sort of video-sharing platform. If you are someone who is dedicated and willing to put the effort in, then sharing your photography on YouTube could really open doors for you, be a creative side hustle or a way to add some video work to your portfolio.
If you are thinking “who the hell is Lucy Lumen?” then check out my analog photography channel here and get some inspiration for your next upload.