YouTube Q & A with photographer Craig Boehman.
Q & A
Why did you start a new YouTube channel?
But why YouTube, and why now? Don't you already have another channel? On YouTube you can monetize your content after you obtain 1,000 followers AND after they watch thousands of hours worth of video within a rolling year. That should actually be a reason to not be involved with YouTube at all - it used to be, not very long ago, one could make revenue off a single post. Not so, anymore. YouTube thought it was too easy for people to share in the ad revenue and had to make it difficult for creators. Yes. I do have another channel. But it contains a lot of personal stuff that I don't want to mix in with my photography-related content. Any why now? Because Covid-19 has forced me to re-think everything. I'm likely in the same boat as many millions of freelancers out there now. If you can't earn your living with a bulk of your money coming from online sources, then you'll probably go out of business. YouTube is just another revenue stream. And in 2020, you better have a few dozen of them or you're going to find yourself up Shit Creek without a paddle.
So you say it's a photography-related channel?
All photography-related. Could be places I travel to when I'm taking pictures. Gear reviews. Photoshop tutorials. Webinars. All that and more. Look, I'm not a video guy. I have no interest in filming my personal life per se and sharing it with the world. I've dabbled in it but I'm just not the right kind of personality for that. Again, the Covid-19 pandemic is forcing me out of my shell a little bit here. Strangely, I'm comfortable with the idea of it now. Are you going to get in front of the camera?
I'm sure I will. Nobody wants to watch a YouTube video without the creator. That's my opinion. If you're hiding behind the camera, you better be putting out earth-shaking content. Or no one is going to care.
What do you have on the channel now?
My old stuff. Clips dating from 2019 back to 2017 or so. It's a mess, to be honest. No discernible format. No rhyme or reason. Just snippets of places I've visited in Mumbai and Kolkata. But to be fair, they are some of my favorite places in each city. And I plan on returning to many of them as soon as the pandemic blows over.
What's the game plan then?
For starters, finish uploading all my old stuff. That may take some time if I want to space it out so as to not flood the few subscribers I have amassed so far (17 as of this writing).
After this, I do want to start venturing out during non-lockdown hours and photograph and shoot video in my neighborhood and wherever else I can sneak into. In Mumbai, everything feels very arbitrary as far as the lockdown rules. No one pays heed to the national curfew hours, but then early on you had cops busting heads within minutes of the curfew being announced. Anyway, that's bullshit for another conversation. Over beer. I also need to figure out a format for my channel. Am I going to be one of those idiots who walk around with a selfie-stick? I think I can answer that one now and say, no. But how will I get in front of the camera when I'm on my own? Good question. It's details like that I need to sort out in advance before I start making content. As of now, I don't know what the format will be. And by content, I mean videos which are completely in-step with what I do and what I'm about. I don't want to be putting out there a fake persona who's worried about what people think. I don't want to worry about facing backlash for saying the wrong things. And I'm not going to. If I do this - and I already told you I am - it will be my way or the highway. And the highway is my old friend. So I'm not worried about being someone else in order to gain followers, likes, and video watch time. People will see the real me, for better or for worse. The important part is that I follow my own path.
How will you juggle growing a YouTube channel (which won't likely make a single penny for the foreseeable future) with your actual work? Day by day. I have to take it seriously and put the time in along with everything else I'm doing. Goes back to the format question. I need to figure out how many videos I'll be putting out every month. How often, video length, etc. I need to be planning all this as I go about the rest of my daily life. No doubt, it will require a little research. I may study a few of the YouTube greats for pointers, but I think I'll look to some of the lesser-known guys and girls too. Because it's more than likely that I won't ever reach 1 million followers. Maybe not even 100K or even 10K. In fact, maybe I'll fail completely and this will be the last thing you read about me talking about a YouTube channel. My point is, I need to put in the work and figure it out. I need to put together a plan. You don't have a plan? No. You don't have a plan for a new YouTube channel that you're pushing out to your audience? What audience? Show me the hoards beyond my initial 17 followers who are going to be criticizing me for diving in, head-first? There isn't anybody to let down. Nobody gives a shit one way or the other if I fail. Except for me. I want to make something of it. And I think I will. Who do you think your audience will be? Two-percent friends and people I know. But right now that's probably sitting at 100%. But we're talking maybe a year down the road, right? So 2% friends and people I know, and 98% travel and photography enthusiasts.
You seem certain of this. You have to know your audience. I do know what that is, believe it or not. I'm basing this squarely off my clients I've had for my workshops here in Mumbai. They all have two main things in common, probably among a host of other smaller interests. Travel and photography are the shared passions. That's what they do. That's how they spend their money and their time. And I love these things too. If you're going to ask about purpose beyond the money -
- Yeah, so what is your purpose? - It would be to promote travel and photography. How to take pictures on the road. How to shoot street photography. How to interact with strangers, even when you don't speak their languages. There's a lot of trickle-down-benefits from traveling and taking pictures of strangers. It builds a valuable skillset, in my opinion. What is that skillset? Getting along with strangers. Sharing cultures. Sharing food and drink. Sharing space. Empathy. Establishing diplomatic relations on behalf of fellow travelers and photographers. No joke. And photographing everything in between in effective and meaningful ways. Then there are personal benefits, which are naturally different takeaways for each one of us who take on such adventures. I'm sure I'm leaving a lot out. Someone can remind me in the comments.
Sounds lofty. So what you're telling me is, besides getting into YouTube for the potential revenue stream, you seem to think you have something to offer your audience? I do. I have written testimonials to that fact. But this isn't about proving a thing to anyone, as I alluded to already. The people who travel and shoot photography know the value and importance in what they do. They don't need me telling them "that's good, that's not good, here's what I think". They're too smart for that. Their "proof" is literally in their pictures and in their personal lives.
You want these fellow travelers and photographers as your audience? I do. And I want the beginners too. I want those who have never traveled outside of their own countries before. I want those who've never held up a real camera before. I want those who've never done either but want to. I want to show them what's outside my door here in Mumbai and to encourage them to step outside their own and discover the places no one else goes to or talks about. I call such places the Fringelands. I'm writing a book on that too, by the way.
It's going to be called The Fringelands? What's that about? Let's stay on point. YouTube. Right.
Plenty of time for all of that. When? Yes. When is a legitimate question, but also, where? Here on my new YouTube channel. All will be revealed.