Becoming a Full-Time Landscape Photographer: 9 Months on YouTube

Becoming a full-time landscape photographer can be difficult to navigate and there are many paths you can take. I've focused heavily on developing a YouTube channel to hopefully turn my passion into more, and in this 3rd update, I go over my progress, revenue, setbacks, and what the future holds. 

Six months ago I wrote the first installment of this series that specifically covers my thoughts on the different paths you can take to becoming a full-time landscape photographer. If you’re wondering why I chose YouTube or what your other options are I highly recommend you check out that article. Within this article, you’ll find my current stats, revenue streams, and what my future goals are.

My goals for the last 3 months were: 25,000 Subscribers, make at least one video a week, enable print sales on my website, and my long-term goal was to develop a Lightroom course. I didn’t reach any of these goals which I’ll talk about later in the article.

Stats and Progress

Stats from the first six months

First let's take a look at the stats from the first six months, without this reference it might be difficult to understand what the current stats indicate. You’ll notice the largest spike of views happened when my Lightroom calibration got suggested by YouTube. That video single-handedly propelled many of the subscribers and views the channel has gotten so far. I went into a more in-depth breakdown of how those views weigh the majority of the channel back in part two of this series

A month without any uploads

The first thing you’ll notice about the last 3 months is there’s a large gap in uploads. Not too long after my six-month update article, I left my full-time job in the hopes of putting all my effort into my channel. Simultaneously and unexpectedly my relationship also ended which certainly changed what I needed to prioritize at the time. Thus I decided one of the best things I could do was just get in the car and go make content. I left for an extended trip west and if you’re interested in the journey you can check out this article about the whole experience. While that trip was not only good for content it was also necessary for my own mental health and clarity in life. It also means there is an entire month where I didn’t post any content. Thus the data for this period won’t naturally progress like the previous installments, but sometimes life happens and you have to adapt. 

With that knowledge, you can clearly see a decrease in views when I didn't release anything for a month. Momentum matters and it’s also important to note that since being back I haven’t released any Lightroom tutorials which are typically the videos that get the most views on my channel. I’ve had a few live streams as well that generate a varying amount of views. Overall I always expected my views to slow down after the popularity of my past video subsided. Not posting for an entire month also plays an important role though of course. Many people claim that YouTube generates passive income but in my experience, if you aren’t posting content, that simply isn’t true. YouTube generally promotes active channels more and if you’re not making content you also are not increasing the chances one of your videos gets promoted by the algorithm. 

Revenue

In my previous article in this series, one of my major goals was to look for better ways to monetize my content because I was leaving my salaried position and really needed to start increasing my income. Considering the changes in my life that priority got shelved which I’ll talk about further below and keep in mind these numbers really only reflect 2 months of activity.

YouTube Revenue

YouTube generated $766 from ads specifically. Recently I enabled mid-roll ads, typically one depending on the length of the video and I’m not really sure it makes much of a difference at the moment but should have a better idea after the next period. The biggest thing pushing my revenue up this time around is YouTube memberships which got enabled the day after I published my 6-month update. This is just an extra way to support viewers who choose to do so. Those memberships have generated $206.

Next up is Amazon affiliates which earned a total of $63. These are links in each description or located on my gear page on my website that give me a small percentage of the sale if someone purchases any item on amazon through the link. I could probably put more effort into pushing these but mostly leave them available for people to check out if they want without trying to suggest them continuously.

Other sources of revenue thus far:

  • Fstoppers Articles: I earned a few hundred dollars a month from Fstoppers articles on average, keep in mind I didn’t write any articles for the same period I didn’t post any videos. This resulted in about $400.
  • Lightroom hack: I made a preset for this article that has continued to generate a little money resulting in $140

3rd place Outdoor Photographer's Contest

Technically this part doesn’t have much to do with YouTube but it certainly involves my landscape photography and revenue. During this period I placed in two different contests. I placed 2nd in the independent photographer contest netting roughly $580. I also got 3rd place for the great outdoors contest on outdoor photographer netting $215. I won’t include these in the total but I think it’s important to mention them as they are technically revenue. 

Altogether that is roughly $1575. Not necessarily an improvement from last time around but considering the circumstances I’m happy it’s relatively close to last period's revenue of $2300. If you do include the winnings from the contests it's very close but considering those are quite luck-based, I didn't think it fair to include those. 

Progress and Setbacks

My goals and priorities have changed a lot since the last video in this series. I wanted to hit 25k subs, make a video a week, find sponsorships, start a website newsletter, and find new ways to monetize. I don’t think I hit any of those marks but also don’t see not achieving those goals as any form of failure. Sometimes life crashes down on you and you have to do whatever you can to find your feet again.

I wrote a lot last time about finding ways to monetize better and while that is still in my mind it became a lot less important during this period. I stopped looking at numbers, subscribers, and monetization ideas and decided to simply focus on making content and communicating with my community. I’ve told myself that many of those things will be there when I’m ready to focus on them and ultimately the most important thing is making quality content, communicating with viewers, and not burn myself out trying to juggle too many things at once. 

Mobile home and studio all in one!

The next 3 months are completely up in the air. I’ll likely be living in my car semi full-time, possibly with a home base somewhere but I’m unsure. I need to figure out how to consistently make content while on the road. Transitioning from an office with 3 monitors to editing photos and video on a single 13-inch laptop screen is going to be a challenge. I need to figure out how I’m going to create office-style videos while on the road consistently. There’s a lot to reestablish and navigate that doesn’t include new revenue streams, updating my website, or starting large projects like a Lightroom course. Thus my goal for the next 3 months is to navigate making content on the road, converting my 4Runner to be a more permanent living situation, and continue to be as genuine to my audience as possible.

Conclusion 

I suspect I’ll find my place in this medium all over again and I hope you stay along for the journey. I’m excited about the future but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit anxious not really having a lot of grasp on what the future holds. Don’t get me wrong it’s also quite exciting but simultaneously terrifying. One thing I know for sure is this is what I want to be doing. I can’t express enough how much I appreciate your support and encouraging words throughout the process. 

If you’re out there trying something new in your life, taking the leap of faith into a new career, or simply dabbling in a new hobby. Just remember that we all go through ups and downs, feel completely lost or know exactly where we are going. What’s important is trying to find meaning in everything that happens around us. I hope the information within this article was helpful and ties together the progress I’ve made so far while also keeping in mind that we are all human. Thanks for reading and I hope to read all your lovely opinions in the comments down below!


 

Log in or register to post comments

26 Comments

Robert K Baggs's picture

This is a great article, Alex. It's both rare and difficult to find people willing to be this open and honest about making money, particularly in an industry that is infamously tricky to make a lot.

Alex Armitage's picture

Thanks a lot Robert. Means a lot coming from you :)

Timothy Roper's picture

Doing videos on converting the 4Runnder process would be a very good idea. That kind of content seems really popular right now.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

..haha nvm, I see you totally changed your comment. :P

Timothy Roper's picture

I'm working on being more positive.

Zackary Baker's picture

From this article it is clear that you are NOT trying to become a full time landscape photographer, you are trying to become a full time YouTube content creator. Your the figures you included in your total and left out need to be flipped if you are trying to be a full time landscape photographer. The only money that was made from photography was from phone competitions.

james Green's picture

I would disagree whole heartedly with your comment. A lot of the time in landscape photography one of the main ways people earn money is via teaching, organising workshops etc. It's not all just about selling prints or talking at photography clubs & whatever else Landscape photographers had to do for money before the digital age.
Creating content which provides such an experience is not any different in my books, it's just a modern take. At the core of what Alex is doing is landscape photography.

Alex Armitage's picture

I talk about this exact thing in the first article, feel free to check it out!

Jan Holler's picture

It is a hard road that you have walked. Thank you so much for this honest article. It is rare to read about a real life experience that is not a success story. I think the biggest difficulty besides creating good content is maintaining a weekly rhythm. I wish you the best of luck with that.

Alex Armitage's picture

Thanks so much Jan :)

Hector Belfort's picture

It’s very difficult Alex. I think you need some anchor income like doing Weddings , schools etc or teaching to pay for trips. You might want to be only doing landscape but for that you need to run outdoor organised trips with paying customers . You are very determined and courageous but remember you have to eat.

Alex Armitage's picture

You aren't wrong! I have enough to give this a go for a year and hope it starts to sustain itself.

Mike Ditz's picture

Give it a year if you can afford it.
Having an "anchor"? That's a good name for it but if you have the idea to do what you're doing now having an anchor will just slow you down and dilute your message..
Today's photographers should have multi income streams, but they need to be relevant to your main goal. In your case, shooting landscape, like workshops, landscape focussed plugins, Yutoobs about your adventures etcetera...

Andrew Almeida's picture

I subscribed to Alex's YouTube channel and I can honestly say he has fantastic content!

Alex Armitage's picture

Thanks so much Andrew!

Gary McIntyre's picture

Great article Alex

Alex Armitage's picture

Thanks Gary :)

Allen Cooper's picture

Didn’t see the author until the end. As I was reading this I thought it could be you, then saw the pic of the 4Runner. That solidified it. Well, that and your name at the end. Great content Alex! As always! Wish you the best of luck. And thanks for sharing.

Alex Armitage's picture

Thanks so much Allen :) I really appreciate the support.

jim hughes's picture

Absolute bottom line: it's great to leave that whole 'office' thing behind, isn't it?

Alex Armitage's picture

Indeed! I didn't even have a "bad" office life, but it's still night and day.

giorgos karampotakis's picture

pursuit your chances you live in a big market to achieve something like that

David Vivian's picture

I was going to leave a snide comment about the landscape photog posing with the telephoto lens.. then I also realized there is a whole lot of interesting stuff here. In a way I wish my life wasn't so expensive so I could try something so bold as to shed my corporate income. Best of luck in your journey, Alex!

Alex Armitage's picture

I think I shoot more with my telephoto lens than I do a wide haha. Thanks David :)

Lukas Renk's picture

One of the greatest articles I have ever read on here. I have actually watched some tutorials of yours but didnt know who you were. Greetings from germany :)

P.S. Do you do additional photo jobs to pay the bills or are these all of your earnings? What do you do to support these transitioning periods financially?

Alex Armitage's picture

Wow that is quote the high praise, thanks Lukas and greetings from... Wyoming at the moment! I have a decent amount of money saved up so that I could take this plunge for some time and see if I can make it work. Everything here is my current income - not sustainable but hopefully we can get there :)