Growing a YouTube Photography Channel: Confessions and Tips


At the beginning of this year, I set myself a target. Monetise my YouTube channel. Back in the day, my channel, like many others, was monetised. Then Google changed the rules. Overnight millions of smaller channels, many of whom produced excellent content, had a small but significant income stream cut off.

My own channel has been growing slowly and steadily but was still a long way short of the new monetisation criteria. So, I decided to invest exactly one year of my time into returning the channel to monetisation.

I am now just over three months into that project and, I believe, on course to achieve my target. Today I want to share what I have learned so far and talk about the challenges ahead. Before we go too far, let's talk about what you need to achieve in order to be monetised.

Screenshot of Jason Row Photography YouTube channel
A good looking home page can help your metrics

What Are The YouTube Targets?

As of April 2024, there are two main levels of monetisation that YouTube photographers can aim for. The first enables you to create a membership tier, offering exclusive content to your members, Supers, a form of high-level engagement with your best subscribers, and the ability to add a shop button.

This first level requires 1000 subscribers, 3000 public watch hours per annum or 3 million Shorts views.

The second and perhaps most financially rewarding level is the Watch Ads level. Here a proposition of the advertising revenue that YT generates from ads on your videos will go back to you.

To achieve this you need 1000 subs, 4000 public watch hours, or 10 million Shorts views.

How’s This Going For Me?

Looking at my analytics over the last three months, the effort I have put into growing the channel is definitely paying off. The number of views is 22.8k, up 190% over the previous 90 days. The watch hours is 1.2k up 225% – remember view hours are very important. Lastly, the number of new subscribers is up by 157, a 180% increase.

Extrapolating the watch hours shows that I am on target to hit the 4k by the end of the year, if I am consistent. It’s that consistency that is the key to unlocking the Youtube algorithm.

Screenshot of Youtube Analytics for Jason Row Photography
Definite growth since the beginning of the year

Why My Channel Is Growing And Yours Can Too

The first and perhaps most important thing is consistently uploading good content. YouTube really promotes your videos if you upload frequently and more importantly regularly. I aim to release one full video and one short every week. The short is generally, but not always, a teaser for the full video.

The other vital thing to do is keep on brand. If you are a photographer, produce videos about photography. You can talk about different genres, styles, and techniques but if you wander off to different subjects you will get penalized. I was, and to a certain extent, still am guilty of that. I sometimes post travel vlogs from the photography shoots that I do, and they get barely any views. Travel vlogs are not what my audience are here to see, they want to see photography.

Devote time to growing the channel. If you don’t have that time then it’s probably not worth the effort. At the beginning of the year, I devoted one full day per week to YouTube photography videos. However, it became apparent that if I wanted to do videos with higher production values then I would need a minimum of two days per week.

Screenshot of the Youtube dashboard for Jason Row Photography
The YouTube Analytics Dashboard is a very useful tool

Don’t Try To Produce A Cinematic Epic Every Week

I only produce a full, to camera – on location video once every two to three weeks. The other weeks are more in the studio, editing tutorials or photographer’s guides using my stock video and stills collections.

Going out and shooting whilst filming yourself takes a lot of preparation, reasonable weather, and some luck. Not only do you need to film yourself talking to the camera, but also you need to shoot B-roll to connect your various scenes. You need a script or script outline, trying to remember everything you want to say without this can be very hard, especially if you are new to it.

Because of this, I produced quicker, nonepic videos to fill the weeks. Editing videos are generally very easy to put together but also popular. Try to film a segment to camera before going into the editing screencast. Viewers respond much better if they see who is giving the advice.

Also, use your own voice, these AI, synthetic voices although getting better are not only obvious but also lack any warmth.

Don’t get disheartened if a video only gets a few views. Most of my photographer’s city guides get very low views at first but build and build over the years. Consistent, frequent uploads will still trigger the YouTube algorithm, getting people to watch even your older videos.

Screenshot from a Youtube video by Jason Row Photography

The Most Important Elements To Get Right

As a photographer, you know how important the visuals are. Don’t film yourself in a scruffy shed with hacksaws behind, have a room with nice lighting and some of your prints on the wall behind. Show the world you are a photographer.

Also, don’t disregard the importance of sound. Not only the quality of your voice recordings but also some good incidental music to add to B-roll or even discreetly under your voice-over.

Good production values both in video and sound will mean your subscribers will return and others will like your video content.

Youtube Thumbnails from Jason Row Photography

Thumbnails are vital. Consider having yourself partly in the thumbnail, preferably with a camera. If not, make sure the thumb is vibrant and relevant to the subject. There is no exact science to thumbnails but if you find a video is not going as well as you hoped, then changing the thumb can make a major difference.

My best video this year so far has 6000+ views in 2 1/2 months

Don’t be afraid to use slightly clickbaity titles. You want to draw viewers to your video, however, if using clickbait, make sure the title is still very relevant to the subject. You will not be penalized for that.

Don’t be afraid to change your video titles if you feel it’s not working. Like with thumbnails, it's about attracting the audience to your video and keeping them watching it.

My YouTube journey so far this year has been generally positive. Winter in North East England has played havoc with shooting schedules but also taught me to have a backup plan and to be able to adapt video ideas to indoor shooting. Having a good collection of stock B-roll video is very useful but you can also sign up with a stock agency to obtain not only video but music and even foley sounds if you want to add an extra dimension to your productions.

Come the end of 2024, I will report back with an update but if you have any questions on how to grow your Youtube photography channel, feel free to ask in the comments below.

About Author

Jason has more than 35 years of experience as a professional photographer, videographer and stock shooter. You can get to know him better here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *