Why Is Everyone Quitting YouTube?
There's been a rash of large, OG YouTube Channels calling it quits recently. Cinecom.net (2.67M), The Game Theorists (18.7M), Tom Scott (6.4M), Alberto Naska (930k), Vanessa Lau (701k), Matt D'Avella (3.78M Scaled down massively), Matti Haapoja (Quits but then releases a video soon after 1.26M), MeatCanyon (6.72M), and more...
What's going on here?
Well, I don't know the full story, but being a YouTuber myself, I can almost say, without a doubt, it's burnout and time for a new chapter in their lives.
I say this with confidence and here's why. The time investment put into making these videos does not produce the output results for beneficial return. They take a TON of WORK and time to produce, not to mention on a consistent schedule. Traveling, scripting, planning, recording many hours of footage for 15-minute videos, choosing the right music, narration, and video editing. My videos take me days to edit and sometimes weeks to make when travel is involved, All this for little to no profit. I've been at it for two years, these creators are beyond 10 years.
For me, it has significantly interrupted my personal life. I continually put things on hold that need attention, and hold off on things I enjoy doing usually because video day is just around the corner. It took me two years to finally finish my studio project and build drawers and storage for my gear. Two years...
Mind you, these are LARGE YouTube channels, making decent money from the YouTube Partner Program, collaborations, and affiliates because they deliver results. A channel my size? Not so much. The YouTube Partner Program recently changed its advertising campaign while informing us creators of the good news. The sad fact is, I've seen my revenue, the very little revenue I make, cut in half. As a result, I've begun experimenting with removing ads from my videos (to an extent - mid-roll ads) to give my viewers a better experience. I mean why not at this point, it's not like I'm losing much.
So, when large channels like these cause a tidal wave, it certainly stirs up the community of creators. By now I'm sure you're wondering... Uh Oh, what's Mark eluding to? So let me address that before continuing, I'm not quitting YouTube but I am considering a more diverse and flexible channel with variable content - all photography-related, but content that goes against the norm of... "here's what you need to be doing for your channel to succeed."
Watch Marques Brownlee share his thoughts on creators quitting. Excellent Video!
I should also mention here, that despite the many talking heads on YouTube, and the advice they give to creators, it's YouTube as a corporation, and their advertisers, that benefit the most. Although to be fair, there's a lot of value for viewers across the platform, from how-to videos to entertainment, and YouTube pays content creators more than any other platform. But there's also plenty of click-bait, and sadly the click-baiters are making good cash.
Before officially launching my YouTube Channel, I did 6 months of research. I learned that the most important thing was consistency: at least one video every week - the more the better, multiple videos per week is what you will be told. After accomplishing that goal for my first year (1 video each week), my thoughts were, ... what am I doing ... this is nuts. I have a full-time corporate job, and a full-time YouTube gig.
I then decided to move to a bi-weekly schedule that better suited "my time", and my most loyal viewers reached out to me just to let me know, that I did the right thing. Thank you I say, to all of you!
Of course, I now fill that time with much-needed admin and other tasks, hence, this newsletter and the rebirth of my blog, but unlike what I was led to believe, that my channel wouldn't grow, I doubled in subscribers in year two, compared to that of year one, and this during the switch to a bi-weekly upload schedule. You can make the argument that I may have grown 3 or 4 times the size, but my time is valuable too.
Almost every channel aimed to help content creators will mention a weekly upload schedule in order to grow. They will also offer tips and "The List of Things You Must Do" to be successful as they roll out weekly videos to gain subs and views. This of course sends many smaller creators down a rabbit hole of ambiguity, new YouTube algorithm changes, and wasted time. It can be a vicious cycle, like a dog trying to catch its tail.
Here's the ONE thing I did learn by watching so many of those videos. Just be you, Mark, create what you like, attract your tribe, and don't worry about what your videos are missing, or what I'm supposedly doing wrong.
The fact is, I want to make videos to help photographers. Offer a little entertainment, and build a community of like-minded photogs who aren't interested in fake lifestyles, or videos with over-the-top stunts to get views - you won't find me jumping out of a plane with my camera in hand just to make a video for views. If I'm going to jump out of a plane, I'll be doing it because I want that experience, then, and only then, I'll decide if I want to share it in a video.
In fact, I went on several trips last year that would have made for good content but intentionally wasn't recorded, and my Acadia series almost made that list too.
My wife sneaking some riverside footage of me enjoying leisurely time on a camping trip I didn't record. Sadly, I was probably editing a video but enjoying every second of my time regardless! 🤪
The thing is... I'm an introvert at my core, and occasionally need time alone, without setting up cameras and tripods, getting the right angles and correct lighting, flying the drones, setting up the mics, doing the drive-bys, the A-Roll, B-Roll, and on, and on. Don't get me wrong, I love this stuff, but my photography has certainly suffered as a result, and my time in nature to reflect and just be has been diminished. So I'm always thinking of work/life balance and finding harmony in between, all while trying to inspire others to get out in nature and live a better life.
The majority of the content I create is authentic, it's not intentionally dramatic like so much of today's reality TV. I don't strive to create silly stuff, or try to conjure up ideas for preposterous content, I just do it, mostly, I just press record and go!
To be fair, I've made a few scripted videos for entertainment - the wormhole "Matrix" video for the Oregon series comes to mind, but overall, I'm just sharing my experiences and giving back from things I've learned that can be helpful to other artists. If inspiration hits, and I think my viewers would find value in it, then yeah, I'll script it, absolutely, but I don't run my channel like that, that is, I don't attempt to script, or create videos for the latest trend, or whatever happens to be popular at the time. The exception being an occasional product view.
Take a channel like Adam Gibbs - Quiet Light, it's a very simple delivery, very informative, and has a serious tone to it, and he's a well respected photographer, and for good reason, but even he has silly moments - burning Gavin Hardcastle's (fotoripper) book in his wood burning stove comes to mind. I laughed my a$$ off watching that. That certainly was scripted, and I certainly found value in it, but it was original, not the latest trend.
Adam burning Gavin's book in his stove.
If you're a regular follower, you already know that I share images from my trips/videos, regardless of their quality - it is, what it is, and that's the hard truth of life. Most of the time when we go out, we don't get the opportunity to create "Portfolio" images, and again, that's the hard truth of Landscape Photography so why not tell the truth, no better yet... why not show the truth.
So, I just needed to get that off my chest and share my thoughts with you, my most loyal viewers who honestly keep me going with your comments video after video. I can't begin to tell you how much value that has for me. I'd go as far to say, that if none of you were commenting on my videos, I wouldn't be making them any longer, it's that meaningful to me,
I plan to keep creating, as long as you plan to keep watching (and commenting) - and enjoying for that matter. I may try a few videos like Adams, or even something like Mark Denny's style. I would certainly save a ton of time while still offering value.
Here's the thing, I no longer care if changing my style a little will affect my views or other channel performances (the notorious YT algorithm). I'm just going to keep creating whatever it is that inspires me to create. I want to continue enjoying this experience, not having it become a burden, and if it becomes a burden, and I eventually burnout, then what's the point? There's a good chance I'll probably miss a video or two from time to time, and I'll let you know if, or when that happens, otherwise, I feel I have something to offer to the Landscape Photography Community.
So until the next video, get your butts off the couch, or office chair, and get out there and enjoy nature. Heck, I need to take my own advice.
~ The Houdsta