He created a 102K subscriber photography channel earning $13K/mo

Mar 26 2024
Case Studies

Mike Chudley is the creator behind a 100K+ subscriber YouTube channel focused on street photography, gear and tech reviews. He’s been on YouTube for 6+ years and makes up to $13K/month from digital products, sponsorships as well as AdSense.

Key Takeaways

  • The sooner you start, the better. Mike started by making Call of Duty videos, then BMX/skateboarding videos and only years later did he transition to photography videos. But he just kept on creating videos and learnt a lot along the way.
  • Take inspiration from your favourite creators/content. Find out what you really like/want to see more of (in terms of content) and see if you can make it happen. For Mike, he took inspiration from Thrasher magazine in his early days.
  • Making your first 50-100 videos is the most important part in the beginning. Beginners need to learn through trial and error themselves. Theory will only get you so far. Strive to make one video per week.
  • Mike earns $2.5-13K per month from AdSense, digital products and sponsorships. Sponsorships are the highest-paying (depending on how much work you put into making them happen), digital products are the most stable while AdSense is the most unstable. 

Why did you start your YouTube channel?

Around the age of 12-13, I started making Call of Duty videos in my bedroom. Then when I was 15, I started skateboarding and riding BMX with my friends. I created a channel for that since I already knew how to edit a little bit. 

After a couple of years of making skateboarding videos, my friends and I slowly stopped and I was getting more and more into photography. 

Years later, in 2019, I thought about restarting that (now inactive) channel again. This time, I wanted it to be about photography since I was spending all my spare time outside of photo/video work taking photos in the city. 

I started to fall in love with street photography

How did you get started?

I started making videos properly when we filmed all the BMX and skateboarding stuff when I was a teenager. 

In the skateboard and BMX industry, creating videos is a big part of the culture. I grew up watching videos and DVDs from professionals and I just took inspiration from how they filmed and edited things.

From a photography perspective, I was always very inspired by the Thrasher magazine covers.

We started filming stuff at the skate park, then moved on the streets, travelling around the country and even made a few trips to Barcelona to make videos.

My first camera was a Canon 550D (with a Samyang 8mm fish-eye lens) and I had that for almost 3 years.

How & when did you get to 10, 100, 1000 subscribers (etc) and to where you are currently?  

Back when I was making skateboard & BMX videos, I grew the channel to 20,000 subscribers. It took about a year to get 1,000 subscribers then another 2-3 years to reach 20,000 subscribers. 

The first 1-10,000 subscribers is always the hardest. You’re shouting into the abyss with no regular viewers. It can be discouraging but as long as you truly enjoy making the content then you will persist.

A few of my videos did well (got 100K+ views) in the early days which helped growth. But I wasn't doing anything intentional with the format, titles or thumbnails. We just filmed raw, authentic stuff. Nothing too polished and I think the viewers found it more relatable.

My only strategy at the time was to post twice a week consistently. I did that for about 3 years in a row without fail!

Being consistent is still the most important aspect for me. If I stop for even 2-3 weeks, it's harder to get the ball rolling again I find.

Then I stopped for about 4 years and in 2019 I started uploading photography videos on my channel (after I removed all my old BMX content).

I recently achieved 100,000 subscribers 5 years after reaching 20,000 subscribers. and grew the 20,000 subscribers into 100,000 which I recently achieved.

I've mainly focused on making videos I enjoy rather than thinking 'What does YouTube want?'

I'm really interested in street photography so, in recent years, I've just wanted to share my experience and hope others enjoy that too.

I would be lying if I said I didn't think about views at all. I noticed a few years ago that gear/tech videos would bring in views consistently so I mix a few of those into the content strategy too.

Gear & review videos bring in new subscribers who might not have discovered my channel before.

How much money are you making (and how)?

AdSense fluctuates and depends on my viewership at the time while selling digital products is relatively consistent (in terms of income). Going forward, I want to work more on selling digital products/services.

I sell digital products on my website. These include Adobe Lightroom presets (from £5-15) and a street photography book with 50 of my favourite photographs (for £40) among other things. I’ll be releasing a London Street Photography Guide soon.

Sponsorships pay the most depending on how much I promote them. They’re my biggest income source (depending on who I’m working with).

I never go searching for brand deals. I let them come to me. You’re in a more comfortable position to negotiate if they want you first.

What are three key lessons you’ve learned from your journey?

🪜 Consistency is the most important thing. While consistency doesn’t guarantee success, you can guarantee you won’t succeed without it. Ideally, you should be posting once a week when starting out (and at least once a month).

In the beginning, just making your first 50-100 videos is the most important part. Beginners need to learn through trial and error themselves. Theory will only get people so far. 

I’m thankful for those BMX videos I made for years as they were basically my first 10,000 hours of practice.

ğŸŽ® You must thoroughly enjoy the content you create. Your audience will subscribe because your passion will shine through the screen. Your joy will ensure you keep making content even when your motivation is low and views are down.

📚 Never stop learning. Keep developing your creative skills and your knowledge of the YouTube platform. Listen to podcasts, meet with other creatives and stay curious! Personally, my favourite podcast is Modern Wisdom and a fantastic YouTube channel to keep up-to-date with is Colin and Samir.

Where can we find out more about you? And is there anything else you’d like to add?

If you’re interested in cameras and photography, check out my YouTube channel. I also have an Instagram, a newsletter and a website.

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