One Year On – Have I Kept my Promises?

After a break in 2018 I made a number of promises to myself about how things would be different in the future. As I return from my summer break a year later I look back to see if I kept those promises.

One year on - time to reflect on the promises I made myself this time last year

This time last year I had to take a break from photography and from YouTube because of burn out. I returned refreshed and determined that things were going to be different.

But were they? Did I stick to my plans or were my best intentions cast aside as soon as I picked up my camera again?

Before we start you can read about my break in 2018 here.

The End of Weekly Videos

A contributing factor to my burn out was the pressure that I placed on myself to produce weekly content.

I promised myself that I would no longer be a slave to the schedule.

For the last year I have tried to release a video each week. However, I am no longer concerned if I miss the odd week here or there.

There were still a few occasions when I had to force myself to go out to shoot. On those occasions I feel that the quality of my videos and my photography suffered.

If I am not feeling it I just can’t force it.

Storytelling

Last summer I decided that I would focus on videos that told a story.

I stopped producing tutorial style videos in favour of documenting my experiences, sharing the highs and lows that we all endure.

Be it the saga of my broken lens, my efforts to create a location guide for the Lake District or the luxury of a whole week dedicated to photography.

As a result the growth of my channel has slowed. However, I am much happier with the videos that I am producing. And they are a lot more fun to shoot!

Moving forward I will continue to share my ‘journey’ as a photographer in this way.

Bigger Films

After my break last year I returned even more ambitious than ever. I wanted to create bigger films. Epic productions shot across multiple locations over over the course of many days.

In reality that was never going to happen.

The amount of planning and organisation to pull this off was simply too great. Inevitably I reverted to filming each video in a single morning.

I have not given up on the idea of creating bigger productions. I want my films to be packed full of content and to tick along at a steady pace.

If I am going to achieve this I am going to have to somehow find the time to plan my videos properly.

Write More

It was clear to me at the time that if I was going to concentrate on storytelling there would be subjects that I wouldn’t be able to cover in sufficient depth in my videos.

I resolved that I would have to start writing more in order to address these subjects.

This all started well with my Lake District location guide. These articles helped to improve my Google ranking for the search term ‘Lake District landscape photography‘.

However, apart from that my blog articles have been sporadic at best.

I enjoy writing but I lack the discipline of a successful writer. Writing comes a poor 4th behind my photography, videos and interaction on social media.

If I am going to fulfil my desire to write more it is going to have to become part of my daily routine.

With that in mind I am considering writing an online diary sharing my experiences and exploring certain subjects in greater depth than in my videos.

Consume More Content

Last year I vowed that I would dedicate more time to consuming other people’s content. I would make more of an effort to watch videos and read blog articles.

This is probably the area where I have failed to the greatest extent.

Again this is mostly a time thing. I am so focused on producing my own content that I find that I have little time for anything else.

There are so many people vlogging now that I struggle to keep up. With so much content available I have had to become very selective about what I watch.

I have even missed out on content from some of my closest mates on YouTube. Mali Davies, Tom Peters, Simon Burn, Sam Bose, Oddbjørn Austevik, Jamie Overland and even Gareth Danks!

This just isn’t acceptable and cannot continue.

I might not be able to watch everything but I can at least support my mates.


On reflection I have been reasonably true to the promises that I made to myself last year.

As with everything in life I have been too ambitious with the goals that I set for myself. However, one year on those ambitions have changed very little.

Perhaps I’ll be more successful this year.

19 thoughts on “One Year On – Have I Kept my Promises?”

  1. It’s good to have a plan and set targets but you don’t have to do it for a living so it shouldn’t rule your life. Have fun and do what you want, it’s your blog and channel and you can do what you like. If people like it that’s fine, if they don’t it’s their loss. Having fun is the important bit and the plan and targets should be set with that in mind.

    1. Hi Les, thanks so much for the comment, it is great as always to hear from you. You are right about fun, that is the most important bit. I remember the last time we went out to shoot ‘fun’ was the only thing on offer! 🙂

  2. An interesting read mate, I think it’s good the way you write everything down, as I feel it helps one see clearly and formulate a plan when everything is in black and white. I can relate to all the points you cover. Not feeling pressure to upload is the biggest one, as pressure kills the fun of the whole thing. Also being true to what you want to create, and not chasing views I think is better long term. I think you’ve figured out a superb formula now for your vlogs. As for supporting mates, I’m proud to be included in that group. I too have little time for YouTube and social media, and very rarely watch the larger channels, but try to watch what my core group of about a dozen or so vlogging tog mates create.

    1. Hi Simon, writing everything down really does help me to make sense of everything and order my thoughts. I didn’t realise I felt the way that I did about a couple of things here until I actually started to right. I am pleased that you think I have some sort of formula 🙂 I take that from someone who’s talent for video I greatly admire. Anyway, I shall certainly being trying to support my mates a bit more in future.

  3. I think you’ve achieved more than you realise in the last few years Chris. You joined YouTube, or specifically Landscape Photography on YouTube while it was still finding its position in the YouTube creator space. As a self proclaimed ‘hobbyist’ you were never trying to do anything other than share your own experiences while out with the camera in the wonderful landscape you have on your doorstep. Through those experiences and your own unique style of presenting you almost created a benchmark for others to follow. Your biggest achievement however in my opinion, was the community that you and others helped create which has now grown (and splintered off!) to where it is today. The community was about having fun, enjoying yourself, making friends and getting together more and I for one love this element of what we do. Whatever you do moving forwards, whether on YouTube or on Blogs, needs to be at your pace and your agenda and your audience and certainly your mates will continue to support.

    1. Hi Jamie, thanks for your kind words. I am proud of the community that has grown up around amateur landscape photography on YouTube and it is great to see lots of my mates getting together and sharing the passion for photography and video. I do think however that I need to make more effort in support those that have supported me in the past. So that is what I plan to do…

  4. A very honest and genuine post– two hallmarks of the Chris Sale brand. I remember well following your trials last summer knowing that you were approaching burnout at times. I’m so pleased that you have found a better balance since then. I have commented many times that as a viewer, I don’t find that a regular schedule for uploads is much of a factor in my enjoyment or loyalty in following a particular channel. The truth is, there IS so much content out there that I sometimes feel “pressure” to watch as soon as I receive a notification and I often don’t really have time to do so. I rarely watch the big channels anymore but I make a point to watch and interact with my favourites–many of whom you mention in your post.

    Make no mistake Chris, you’ve had a successful year and I have no doubt the future is bright. Keep up the great work mate.

    1. Thanks mate and thanks as usual for your support and kind words. I have long thought that the relationship between video creator is a 2 way street, requiring commitment from both parties. I hope to reward that commitment in my viewers by producing the best quality content that I can. As for the future, who knows what that holds. 😉

  5. I am fairly new to watching you and have always liked your sincerity and delivery’s which reflect you as a person, genuine and honest, I have started having a go and don’t care what people think, like you do it as I enjoy it hopefully ending up as good as you and others I watch, please continue as you give so much to us that are no where as good as you, don’t burn yourself out for it as it’s a hobby after all, take care and thank for all what you have done, enjoy it.

    1. Hi Trevor, I think you are right, the most important thing is to enjoy yourself. When I first started I was inclined to produce videos that I thought would attract views. However, after a while it became obvious that I much preferred to document my journey and share my knowledge as I went along. Congratulations on starting your own channel, I wish you great success. I will try and look in to see how you are getting on. In the meantime if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask.

  6. Really great read Chris. I can completely relate with the struggles of balancing the need to put out material on social media etc. whilst still trying to focus on the photography. My photography/video making definitely suffered when trying to get videos out weekly and it was really useful to take a step back and work out what was really important in the bigger picture. Since removing the pressure of weekly youtube videos from myself I’ve started to enjoy the times that I do go out much more. I’m really struggling to find time to watch everyone else’s work as well now though, I’m trying to make a conscious effort to set more time aside to do this when I can, but it feels awful when you start getting behind on the watch list. The upside is that it is a sign that people are producing some really great content that I really want to watch! Thanks for the mention by the way! Sam.

    1. Hi Sam, I have been thinking a lot about sharing stuff on social media recently. Up to this point I have had a bit of a scatter gun approach, guilty of posting without giving it much thought. Moving forward I want to reduce the amount that I am sharing and do everything that I can to increase the quality and value across all platforms. I also want to make more time to watch other people on YouTube so I have decided to compile a list of my closest buddies and make an effort to watch them religiously. Will you be on the list? Well, you will just have to wait and see! 🙂

  7. Chris
    As others have commented, there are always going to be competing priorities, and if photography is a hobby it has to take 3rd place behind family and paid employment. You do a grand job and have a good community following as a result.
    I have a mantra, if it stops being fun, stop doing it, unless you absolutely have no choice. We here much about work life balance but less about work, hobby life balance. It can all get too much if it is not enjoyable.
    One of the reasons I stop watching some YouTube content, and Twitter posts, is when the content creator starts using the content as public therapy. I don’t enjoy that so choose to spend my time on things I do enjoy.
    Stay true, stay honest and have fun Chris.

    1. Hi Steve, thanks so much for making the time to leave a comment, I greatly appreciate it. I hear you on the public therapy thing. I fear that in future I may end up falling into that trap. What I want more than anything is for my videos and blog posts to be authentic, to share my experiences both good and bad. Inevitably there are times when I will be struggling and that will come out in my videos. If it starts getting too much please promise that you will let me know. That would be really helpful.

  8. Chris
    sharing photo troubles and frustrations is one thing, doing some kind of Freudian session on the sofa is another ball game. Having seen some of the comments that ‘open and honest’ folk get on some social media platforms, it is the LAST place I would be going to share deep personal feelings!
    Cheers

    1. Ah, I see what you mean Steve. No, I can’t see me going down that route, who’d want to watch it anyway? I do try to be open and honest, what we in the biz call authenticity (ooo, get me!) and that does leave you open to people on social media who just want to put you down. I think you have to have a pretty thick skin at times but after a while it just becomes like water off a duck’s back.

  9. Chris

    Nice read. I would shy away from the “epic video productions”. Your 5-10 minute videos are just the right duration to be consumable without losing interest. If you were to make them 20-30 minutes long, I am sure some would lose interest part way through. Short and sweet. As you said yourself, you don’t have time to watch everyone else’s vlogs so don’t go and increase yours into Hollywood epics. If anything, you’ll quickly tire of the effort in editing.

    Saying that. I’ll counter that with a popular phrase you will be well aware of ….. “it might just be me being stupid, but…”.

    1. I think you are right Rich but that isn’t quite what I mean. I think the sweet spot in my genre on YouTube is somewhere between 8 and 18 minutes. I aim for around 10 mins at the moment and no one has ever complained that they are too long, though I have had comments that people would like them to be a bit longer. Personally when a video gets over 15 minutes it starts to put me off; you know me well enough to know about my short attention span! When I talk about epic videos I mean grand productions. Videos shot at multiple locations across multiple days. These may end up being 15 minutes long but I would be very reluctant to go above that. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, I really appreciate it.

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