My Break from YouTube

What have I been up to since taking a break from YouTube, why did I take a break in the first place and how are things going to be different in the future?

In August 2018, after a little over a year of posting weekly videos to YouTube, I decided to take a break. So what have I been up to, why did I take a break and how will things be different in future?

What have I been up to?

It takes a huge amount of time to create weekly videos for YouTube. On average it takes me about 16 hours to create a 10 minute video. This breaks down as:

  • Planning and preparation – 2 hours
  • Filming on location – 4 hours (minimum)
  • Editing – 4 hours (minimum)
  • Uploading, writing titles, descriptions and tags, creating thumbnails – 2 hours
  • Responding to comments – 4 hours (minimum)

That means that for every minute of video I upload to YouTube I invest 96 minutes of my own time.

Put it another way YouTube takes up the equivalent of 2 full working days of my time every week. And that’s on top of the 9 to 5 job that pays the bills and funds my expensive hobby.

If I were to price my time at the same rate as I used to change when I was an IT contractor that would mean that each video would cost £1,000 to produce.

And that is a conservative estimate. So what have I been doing with all this extra time that I have had?

I did Nothing

Yep, that’s right, nothing.

Certainly to begin with I took a complete break. No photography, no vlogging, nothing.

I didn’t even watch any videos on YouTube. I didn’t write any articles for my website or post anything to social media.

And do you know what? It was bloody brilliant!

I had a Viral Infection

Somewhere along the line I picked up a nasty viral infection which kept me off of work for 2 weeks.

It was during this time that I started think about my return to YouTube and to catch up on all of the videos that I had missed.

To be honest as I write this, 3 weeks after I first became ill, I am still not back to 100%.

I started a second YouTube channel

What sort of idiot takes a break from YouTube by doing more YouTube?

Well to be fair this time it is a little different. I have started a channel about gardening with a mate of mine.

Tom Attwood runs a nursery in the southern Lake District with his wife. He is also a garden designer and writes for a number of magazines and newspapers on the subject of horticulture.

Tom is in charge of content, marketing and correspondence. My role is entirely behind the camera – filming, directing and editing the videos.

In comparison with my own channel each video that we produce only takes up about 4 hours of my time.

It is still early days but I have high hopes for the channel. Together we are capable of creating higher quality videos than I can on my own and it is fun to share the journey with a mate.

You can check out Tom’s channel here.

I met up with some other photographers

One of the lovely things about YouTube is the number of invitations that I get to go out and shoot with other photographers.

During my break I met up with Les Ironside and Mike Hutchinson. I had to postpone a meet with Gordon Melrose because of the aforementioned viral infection but I hope to meet him soon.

Daybreak over Ullswater – taken on a visit to Glencoyne with Mike Hutchinson who subscribes to my YouTube channel

I love meeting up with other photographers, swapping anecdotes and listening to what they have to say about my channel.

Obviously I cannot meet up with everyone who sends me an invitation and it’s always easier for me if it’s in the Lake District but I would like to do more in the future.

I met up with some other YouTube photographers

I got to spend the day hanging out with fellow YouTube photographers Tom Peters, Simon Burn and James Burns.

We had a great time photographing Rydal Water and then climbing Loughrigg Fell.

You can read about it here.

Grasmere from Loughrigg Fell – taken when hanging out with fellow YouTube photographers Tom Peters, Simon Burn and James Burns
I went to Croatia

Around this time each year my wife and I take our annual holiday.

This year we spent a wonderful few days in Vodice in Croatia.

The Croatian coastline is beautiful but difficult to photograph; I think it makes you appreciate what we have in the UK.

I wrote some blog articles

Blogging is something that I have always fancied having a go at but never really committed to.

While I haven’t been vlogging I have had more time to sit down and write and I have thoroughly enjoyed it.

Blogging gives you days and sometimes even weeks to craft your message; when vlogging on the other hand you’ve pretty much got to get it right first time.

For my first proper article I wrote about the gear that I use for photography and for video. You can read about it here.

Why did I take a break?

As I said before YouTube takes up a large amount of my free time. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining, but it is a fact.

There have been a huge number of advantages to starting a YouTube channel none more so than the exposure that I have received.

Before starting YouTube I tried many different forms of social media to showcase my work and share my passion. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, all without success.

My channel is still very small, less than 4,000 subscribers, but I still get at least 2,000 views on each video.

Week in, week out I share my passion with 2,000 people in many countries around the world including the UK, US, Australia, Germany and Canada.

I am at best an average photographer and yet through YouTube I have found an audience of like minded people who tune in every week to follow my journey.

That is incredible when you think about it. I am just an average bloke, no different to you (though statistically speaking I am likely to be taller) and yet there are people on the other side of the world who know my name and associate it above anything else with landscape photography.

It is clear to me that the large amount of time needed to build a channel on YouTube is the reason why so few people attempt it.

But if you are prepared to put the effort in, do your research and produce high quality videos on a consistent basis the rewards are huge.

And therein lies the problem.

The huge amount of effort it requires to gain even a little success on YouTube means that when you do it can be difficult to stop. Once you are on that treadmill the time that you have already invested getting established is often the very thing that is stopping you from getting off, even for just a short while.

Fellow YouTube photographer and good mate Julian Baird once described it as the “fear of missing out”.

An Uninspiring Shoot

One Saturday morning in August I found myself on the banks of Bassenthwaite Lake preparing to shoot a video about making videos for IGTV.

It wasn’t a subject that I was particularly interested in, having given it a go and finding it wasn’t for me, but as it was a hot topic I saw it as an opportunity to reach a new audience and grow my channel.

But as I prepared to start filming I found myself questioning my motives. What was I doing? Why was I trying to grow my channel? What was it all for? What was I hoping to achieve?

I couldn’t answer any of those questions. In truth I still can’t. Why was I pushing myself so hard to produce videos if I wasn’t sure of the direction I wanted to go in?

On the drive home I made the decision to quit YouTube.

Everyone wants a piece of me!

As your YouTube channel starts to grow you start to get interest from 2 groups of people:

  1. People who want to you promote their products
  2. People who want to collaborate with you

At one point I was getting 1 or 2 emails or DMs on Instagram/Twitter a day asking if I wanted to promote something or to collaborate.

At the moment I don’t want to go down that road; I have a highly engaged audience some of whom have become friends and I do not want to risk that by being seen to be ‘selling out’.

Saying ‘no’ is difficult and I am not very good at it. Constantly being forced to do something that you do not enjoy and are not very good at can be very stressful.

The Curse of Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuk is an entrepreneur, author and internet personality who has built a hugely successfully business through the promotion of his personal brand on social media. He is someone who I greatly admire.

I recently read his book ‘Crushing It’ in which he shares his strategy for building a personal brand on social media.

Gary is a very humble, down to earth guy who is not afraid of a bit of hard work. His strategy is very simple. Work your arse off.

So that is what I did and it lead to me burning myself out. Not massively but to the point where I had to take a break from what I was doing to figure out a different approach.

Dealing with Burnout

YouTube has allowed me to connect with so many people already but in one case it has helped me to reconnect.

Jenny and I were in the same class at secondary school; today we both run YouTube channels and try to help each other out as much as possible.

In the 25 years since we were at school together Jenny has qualified as a psychologist. When I mentioned that I was taking some time off from YouTube and the reasons why she offered to make a video about YouTube burnout.

Jenny has helped me to understand what led to my burnout, what to do about it and how to avoid it in future.

If you have a YouTube channel I strongly recommend that you take 30 minutes to watch Jenny’s video so that you can take the necessary steps to avoid burnout.

The Future

While I was away from YouTube it gave me the time and the space to get my thoughts in some sort of order.

I have come to realise that I make YouTube videos for the following reasons:

  • I enjoy the creative process of making videos
  • I enjoy sharing my passion for landscape photography and the Lake District with like-minded people
  • I enjoy being part of the community that exists around amateur landscape photography on YouTube

If I am being brutally honest with myself I would also admit that I enjoy the attention that comes with being on YouTube. It is very flattering when someone leaves you a nice comment about your work or to hear that you have inspired someone in some way.

I continue to counter this by constantly reminding myself I am just a middle aged fat bloke with a flash camera. That helps to keep my ego in check!

I have also come to realise that there are a couple of things that do not factor in my motivation to create YouTube videos.

  • I don’t want to be a professional photographer
  • I don’t want to make money from YouTube

The money thing is an interesting one. I can honestly say, hand on heart, that I have no interest in making money from YouTube. That may come in time but it is not my motivation at the moment.

I have made the decision to monetize my channel but that is just in case the YouTube algorithm favours videos that have ads over those that don’t.

Reflecting on what I enjoy about making videos for YouTube has helped me to see the future of my channel with a little more clarity.

Storytelling

Since starting my YouTube channel I have developed a keen interest in storytelling. I find if I am trying to make a point or get across an idea it makes for a far more compelling video if I try to tell a story.

I want my videos to be both educational and entertaining. A straight forward tutorial video might allow me to educate but the scope to entertain is limited.

Creating videos that have a story element to them is much more fun than making straight forward tutorials and as I have already discussed I have to enjoy the process of making the videos if I am going to keep it up in the long term.

Bigger Videos

I really enjoy making videos and sharing them with the world but the sort of video that I can make is limited if I restrict myself to a single day of shooting.

I have ambitions to create multi location videos that would be impossible to film in just one day. Epic films packed full of content designed to show of the Lake District at it’s very best and to inspire people to visit this unique landscape.

The drive to create weekly videos inhibits this sort of larger project and is one of the reasons why moving forward I will no longer commit to releasing a video once a week.

Write More

Taking a break from YouTube has given me the time to write a few blog posts.

I have found the process almost as enjoyable as making the videos and it affords me greater opportunity to craft my message.

While I realize that written articles do not have the wide spread appeal of video the commitment required on the part of the reader presents a greater opportunity to form a lasting relationship. I am more likely to form a deeper bond with people that also read my blog than with those that only watch my videos.

Giving myself more time to write is another reason why I can no longer commit to weekly videos.

Consume more Content

I believe that my success on YouTube is at least in part due to my willingness to engage with the people that watch my videos.

I also believe that YouTube is not a one way street. Too many YouTubers, both big and small, are guilty of not consuming enough of other peoples content.

Before my break I found I had less and less time to watch other people’s videos. If I wish to remain at the heart of the community then I have to find the time to support others.

And it’s not limited to YouTube. I also want to find the time to read other people’s blogs. If you engage on my blog posts and have a blog of your own then I want to know about it.

Strike three for weekly videos!

Same Time Next Year?

Finally I have to admit that I have enjoyed my break so much that I have decided to take one every year.

Summer is a difficult time for photographers and that certainly had an impact on me this year. It was definitely a contributing factor to my burnout.

Next year I plan to take August off. To recharge my batteries and to make sure I am in ready for autumn.

But that’s 10 months away. For now I need to dust of my vlogging camera and get back on the horse. Wish me luck.

Chris – September 2018

36 thoughts on “My Break from YouTube”

  1. Very well explained Chris. I can understand where you are coming from with this. I wish you well for the future and will look out for your blogs and Videos.

    1. Thanks Ian, it has been part of the ‘healing’ process to write a lot of this stuff down so that I can get it straight in my head and so that the path ahead is clear. Thanks for taking the time to read it.

  2. Hi Chris, It has been great working together to raise awareness of burnout and what to about it. Here we find you being very authentic and genuine, mixing in humour as you describe your journey through burnout. Thank you for this. Jenny

  3. Chris, I can tell from this post how much the YT channel means to you. I also know that you would not allow yourself to produce and post material that is not up to your high standards. You can add these to the many reasons already stated as to why no more weekly videos.

    I suspect that it is difficult for the vlogger to “skip” a regularly scheduled week of programming, but as a viewer I completely understand. I do not have any issues with vloggers who post intermittently, especially when the break is announced. Yes you have regular viewers but there are others who stumble upon videos for one reason or another and those people who are simply reviewing older content. A weekly schedule means nothing to those viewers.

    In summary, I believe you have made a very rational decision going forward. I’ll be along for the ride as long as it lasts. Now get out there and make me some more content! 😊

    1. Hi Jeff, you are right mate, it is very difficult for us to miss a week. Social media is like a drug, it can be highly addictive. Studies have shown that when we receive a like or a comment on social media we get a hit of dopamine, the chemical that the brain releases as a reward when it was us to develop new behaviours. i originally thought gaps would appear in my schedule when I was too busy to create a video but I am now starting to think that it would be healthy to force myself to take regular breaks.

  4. Hi Chris, I’m not a vlogger, nor would I ever consider being one, but you’ve explained the time and effort it takes which was way more than I’d even considered it would be. I’m a subscriber to your you tube chanel and enjoy all of your content, even if it isn’t up to your own high standards you always make me believe that I can do it – whatever you’re up to. This blog makes interesting reading, and I totally get where you are coming from, so thanks for taking the break, and coming back with this well written account of why you did so.

    I look forward now to 10 months of cracking vlogs, but seriously it’s good to see you back on you tube again- from a fellow average (slightly oder, and much balder) guy with some posh kit) to use your phraseology!

    1. Hi Mark, thank you so much for your comment, I really appreciate it. It feels wonderful to hear you say that I make you believe that you can do it too, I had never considered that my videos would have that effect on anyone. Wow. I am excited about the videos that I am planning and I hope that you enjoy them too.

  5. Well Chris from one fat bloke with camera to another very well explaned and a break every year is a fantastic idea you need to put you first.

    I will be following your Journey and appreciating the beautiful areas you bring yo us for as long as you want to produce content no matter how frequent it is I’m just pleased you are ok and willing to produce more videos keep up the superb work

    Thank you 👍🤓

    1. Hi Paul, thanks for leaving a comment on my blog, I really appreciate it. I am definitely sold on the idea of taking a break in the summer – it’s the ideal opportunity to take stock, reflect on the past and prepare ourselves for the autumn.

  6. Wow.. well your certainly a very gifted blogger haha! I can relate to all of your points mate. I feel selfish towards my gf with the amount I spend on vlogs. Youtube has given me some great friends and great experiences. I hope you’ll be back to experience them again soon mate. Look forward to your return! 😊👍🏻❤️

    1. Hi mate, I hear you buddy. I feel the guilt too sometimes but Helen is very supportive. There are so many positives to YouTube – increased exposure, making new friends, etc – but it comes with negatives as well. I guess it’s just a case of finding the balance. If you figure out how to do that you will let me know won’t you?

  7. I am so glad you are well, I was seriously concerned about you after your mountain climbing video. I fully enjoyed Jenny’s video, it was helpful in aspects of my professional and personal life. Her metaphor of a candle is spot on to so many things we become involved with in our lives. I wish you the best and I expect to follow your future endeavors as I’ve grown accustom to you style in the past year.

    1. Hi Paul, thanks for your concern. I have been very touched by the number of people who have taken the time to leave comments on my video and on this blog. It really means a great deal to know that I have your support. Jenny’s video is great. I really helped me out. Thanks again and I hope you enjoy my up and coming videos. I have a few ideas that I am quite excited about.

  8. Totally understand where you’re coming from Chris. That’s why I’m retiring early from my job.

    Since you have commenced your break, my weekends are a little emptier. Yes I watch other You Tubers but it won’t be the same.

    Hopefully you’ll submit a video every 4 – 6 weeks like Sime Booth which you have implied.

    Wishing you all the best for the future mate and I’ll keep reading your blog for inspiration.

    1. Hi Gary – your not retiring are you mate? Surely your too young for that! Like many of my pals on YouTube Simon has been very supportive. He is someone that I look up to and admire greatly. I am hoping to meet him at some point before the end of the year. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog, I really appreciate it.

  9. Hey Chris, this piece was wonderfully written. It really shows your passion to create and interact with the world. I’n glad that we have been able to connect in some small way through your vloggs.

    For me I took to watching your vlogs because here was a guy like me (you’re a bit taller) who has this creative streak and passion for photography figured out just a bit more than I have. As such as I watched you grow I grew along with you.

    I think the best part though is that you took the time to engage with your audience, especially with people like me, who like you aren’t out to be the worlds best photographer but to be the best photographer they can be. Hope that makes sense.

    I completely empathize with you on the effort that goes into making these videos. I’ve maybe made 10 attempts with my meger equipment iPhone and T3i. It takes a lot of time and then at the end I find myself not liking it. So I start over.

    I’m glad you recognized that you needed a break from YouTube, even though I missed watching your videos. Sometimes it’s good to take a step away from something you love doing as it allows one to ask those tough question and gets you back to why you started doing it in the first place.

    Take care Chris and I look forward to reading and watching more from you.

    Kevin

    1. Hi Kevin, you are right about the engagement thing. It is what I enjoy the most about YouTube. As we interact in the comments section on my videos relationships start to form but when I see your images on Instagram, what you like to shoot and the level you are at that connection becomes all the more deeper. I feel incredibly privileged at times to be in the position that I am. Thanks for all your support, it means the world to me.

  10. Hi Chris I lived in the midlands for seventeen years but that said I moved back to Cornwall some eight years ago and for me I totally agree with your sentiments and the points put forward so from me a massive “FAIR PLAY” is in order.
    Way before your break I wondered to myself how do these people fit it all in especially with jobs and family which all deserve their piece of your time.
    I didn’t really know what it takes to produce a video a week thought now I do after reading your article here.
    And talking of time when I messaged you for the first time dropping a hint that I was Cumbria bound for my holidays this year and I dropped the tiniest hint that maybe just maybe we could get together and go out for a shoot and you agreed I was completely blown away thank you so much.
    As you said during the shoot you would have never let me down even though the weather wasn’t that good but when the clouds broke right in front of us that just made the day.
    So here’s to you mate get back to enjoying the hobby and don’t get stressed out and maybe we’ll meet up again soon cheers mike.

    1. Hi Mike – what do you think of my photo from our trip to Glencoyne? Not bad is it! I feel extremely lucky that people like yourself would want to spend time out shooting with me. I look forward to doing it again some time.

      1. Hi Chris I really like the halo like effect you have produced in the bright area and the absolutely flat lake water.
        All in all an excellent image as always.
        As I prompter I will be edditing and publishing other images from out hols keep an eye out for Tarn hows,Orrest head and gunners how chat soon all the best Mike.

        1. Hi Chris don’t knock yourself back for some excellent post burnout reflection
          check out your own vlogs there are many excellent images there I’m sure you’ll be re-energised in no-time cheers Mike.

  11. Hi Chris. Good to see you back on form.
    You say people want to get in touch with you for two reasons.
    – Those who want you to promote their products.
    – Those who want to collaborate with you.
    There is a third category.
    As you know I have nothing to promote and I don’t think I have much to contribute to any collaboration. I just enjoyed your company and chatting about things of mutual interest so thank you and all the best.

    1. Hi Les, like I said I enjoyed meeting up you and Mike, it is such a privilege to be in that position. For me YouTube is all about making connections with people and it is inevitable that I am going to want to meet you. I really enjoyed our couple of shoots and look forward to doing it again some time. Or even just popping over for a coffee and a chat.

  12. Chris hi I have to be honest o have missed you and I guess I’m ad guilty as the next person and putting you under pressure to make videos. We live in an age of wanting stuff now and wanting more I think it’s like a good box set you get consumed by it wanting the next episode to begin. I think it is the same with you tube. You see something good and you want more. I’m glad you had a break well deserved take your time coming back maybe reduce the amount you put out. I’m hoping to get to the lakes in the end of October can’t wait love it there. Take care and stay well Trev

    1. Hi Trevor. When I talk about the pressure that comes form YouTube it is in the most part self inflicted. It is the pressure that I put on myself, I don’t really feel pressure from the people who watch my videos, they are generally so kind and so supportive. I hope you have a good time in the Lakes – do you have any locations that you intend to visit?

  13. A very insightful blog Chris, I admit I am impressed by “amateur” vloggers such as yourself who commit to producing content week after week for the love and enjoyment of it, and I for one enjoy watching and engaging with you. I can appreciate if becomes consuming and I know I could not do the equivalent, which leaves me feeling somewhat selfish.

    I share my work on social media and yes the drive for recognition I think starts to detract sometimes from what we started out for, enjoying photography and sharing our creativity.

    I hope you find a balance of what you enjoy photographically, creatively and are still producing and sharing content for a while yet.

    I’d happily invite you out for a shoot😁 but I fear Baku is a little far to travel! One day back and in the UK I hope I can offer the invite. From another middle aged man with a flash camera (maybe a bit shorter!), enjoy what works for you and look after yourself!

      1. Yes, for my sins I work for big oil! Azerbaijan is cool, cityscapes, mountains, mud volcanoes and my favourite, dark skies and night photography is a bug I have caught out here. Have a look on my website, lots of examples!!

        1. Alan – I work in IT but once spent some time working on the energy trading platform at BP. Absolutely hated it! I started the Monday after the Gulf of Mexico disaster:( An omen perhaps?

  14. So look at all I’ve been missing.

    I’ve been browsing your blog Chris. I’ve just started and working my way back…. an interesting journey given this post. Thanks very much for the advice via your YT channel comments. I had/have blog (not related to photography) that has been neglected. I’ll probably bring it to a close soon.

    Looking forward to engaging here as well. Rest up and see you soon. M.

    1. Hi mate, thanks for checking out my website. I am considering uploading some special content just for you guys who have found your way to my website. If you ever have any questions about vlogging please ask and if you decide to start a photography blog please let me know, I would love to read it.

  15. I’ve finally had the chance of reading to to the end of this article. I struggle as you know Chris as I have family comittments a long with a full time job. My first reaction to your announcement was that a weekly commitment was very hard to achieve. I’m sure you felt you had a duty to deliver and in the back of your mind thinking the harder
    you work, the more rewarding it will be.
    Too much pressure and this was impacting on the enjoyment. It’s a great idea to have an August break and good to hear your enjoying the blogging. Get them new hiking boots worn in as our next outing is already overdue

    1. Thanks James, it feels good to break the cycle. I know know that the world isn’t going to end if I don’t post. The new boots are being broken in, I look forward to our next adventure on the fells.

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