Tell us about yourself and your channel.
I’ve really been making videos and taking photos since I could first hold a camera – It’s essentially been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Cameras have driven me to a few different careers including working in advertising for a number of years but ultimately I decided to go freelance as a photographer and DP. I shoot cars, food, products, and tech for clients all over the world now. I also really love music and audio production so I still occasionally make music and produce podcasts. My channel is like me in that it’s spread across a lot of different interests… but I try to stay within a content creation niche by demonstrating products and tutorials that help folks create content for themselves and clients.
How did you get started on YouTube?
YouTube seemed like a natural extension of my client work. I saw it as an opportunity to market myself and my skills and a way to grow an audience – not only to get more business but if I make a doc or film I know I’ll have a loyal fanbase that will hopefully want to check it out… rather than starting from zero. Living in Toronto also felt like a push… in my field, there’s a lot of folks all trying to do the same thing here so YouTube was just one more place I could potentially stand out from the crowd.
What is one piece of advice you’d give to a newbie creator? And what is one piece of advice they should ignore?
Don’t create a version of yourself you think the audience wants you to be. I think a misunderstanding of YouTube and just general online creators is that it’s a talent based industry. I don’t agree with this. I think it’s a personality industry. We can all learn how to use gear and shoot the best shots but people will keep coming back to your work because of you. It’s not like it used to be where we could just let the work speak for itself and hideaway in the shadows or something. You have to be a good human… you have to have a good heart… and you have to be yourself. Audiences are really starting to see through fakery and “putting on a show” – You won’t be happy making what you make unless it’s 100% authentically you. I’m still probably only at 60%. It’s not easy.
What is your favorite video you have ever made?
Probably my podcast video. I made it at the start of the pandemic after one of my worst and longest creative ruts. I’ve really loved reading all the comments every day seeing how many people it’s helped finally make their podcast. I tried to make it as simple and easy as possible and it seems to have really resonated. It’s the closest I think I’ve come to what I want all of my videos to accomplish. Short, fun, and you learn something.
What are some tools that allow you to be more effective at your craft?
I’m all over the place when it comes to gear. Part of what I think keeps me inspired is that I tend to constantly change things up to stay fresh – a new camera often gives me a new perspective.. a new lens or microphone can provide similar results. Recently though I’ve really been loving the Lumix S5 as my main video camera and the Fuji X-E4 as my photo camera. I also have one of the new M1 Mac’s and truly that’s completely expedited my entire workflow. It’s a dream computer for me. I don’t believe gear doesn’t matter – It absolutely matters… it’s just an individual thing. I know I can make a video with any camera there’s just a certain camera I personally prefer to use because they inspire me. I also spend a lot of time on Twitter. I think it’s a really great platform to grow a hyper-dedicated community to engage with your audience.
How do you continue to educate yourself in your craft? What are some of your favorite resources for learning?
Movies. I watch at least one movie (usually 2) every day. Good movies.. bad movies… I think you can learn so much from them. I think it really helps you develop your taste which in turn will translate into your work. As you start to figure out what you like… subconsciously it factors into your work. You start shooting and working to achieve looks and stories from the stuff that you love and ultimately you create something new.
What has been your biggest tool for subscriber growth?
Targeting YouTube instead of targeting my subscribers. I try to make videos I know people are looking for – usually it starts with something I’m interested in and if I’m interested in it I feel pretty confident there’s likely quite a few people also interested in it. I’ll do some research on YouTube around the topic and see what videos already exist and find a gap that I can full or build upon. Ultimately I low-key wish I could just pause subscriber growth. Especially after I crossed 30k. It’s just a vapid metric in my opinion. All I care about is are people watching videos and are they enjoying them. Whether you stick around and subscribe is pretty low on my priority list right now.
Do you put much time into making your videos SEO friendly?
It’s always in the back of my mind – and it’s usually where I start (unless it’s a time sensitive topic like a new camera review). I think you’re doing yourself a disservice by not spending time researching what YouTube is looking for at a particular moment. People waste a lot of time making videos nobody ever wanted to see. If you want to make videos just for yourself put them on Vimeo.
Is there a trend that you are seeing emerge in 2021? What excites you about it?
Long form content. I’ve been following a watch seller’s channel for a couple months now and they do one weekly hour+ long video. It’s fascinating to me. It’s really the closest I’ve seen to reality TV on YouTube. I’ll watch the entire hour – it’s hardly even edited you’re really seeing things as they happen in real time without all the gloss and cutting that most YouTube vlog channels have. It feels so much more authentic (even though it is still curated). Media folks love to say long form is dead but if that were the case Netflix… Disney+… HBO Max etc would be gone. There’s a reason Quibi didn’t last… there’s a reason long form content is having a surge on YouTube. It’s something I’d love to explore this year somehow. Likely in the documentary space. I don’t like filming myself.
When did your channel start to ‘pay off?’ In other words, when did your channel start to make you money?
I had an epiphany recently when I was looking at my revenue. I’ve always joked that I only do YouTube so I can get a Tesla… and I could totally get a Tesla now… but now I just want to see how big I can really make it before blowing money like a real YouTuber. I have 0 interest in doing this full time and the moment any of it feels like work.. I don’t do it. I have no problem waiting weeks or months in between videos. This is just for fun for me and the money is all a bonus. I really like my “real job” and YouTube is a fun extension of what I already do every day.
Have you created sponsored content? If you have, how did you get in contact with your first sponsors?
I have – all of the companies I’ve worked with on the channel are companies I’ve invested a lot of my own money into by buying their products for years. In the early days of the channel, I bought everything I reviewed. There was no affiliation with the companies at all. Over time as videos started performing well these companies reached out to me and we’ve been able to foster some really good long term working relationships. I’ve very grateful for their support and it’s definitely contributed to my success.
Anything else you’d like to share?
There’s no such thing as a YouTube expert and be wary of anyone calling themselves that. There are some best practices… sure… but I’ve consciously tried to break every rule in the book when it comes to YouTube as I kinda see it as one big experiment…. and I think I’m doing okay. There are far too many unknowns when it comes to how audiences interact and consume media that you can only go so far in terms of what you can control. Some videos will pop off. Some will tank. It’s all part of it and it’s okay. You have to be willing to fail *a lot* or else you’ll be miserable doing this.