Ryan Camp

How Being A Hard Rock Singer Kickstarted My Passion For Storytelling.

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June 3, 2020

Who are you and what kind of content do you create?

Hi, my name is Ryan Camp! I am a 38 year old filmmaker and content creator from North Carolina. I currently run a full-time video production company that specializes in visual storytelling, and educational resources for other filmmakers. I started making content on the side for my YouTube channel sometime in 2017. So, I’ve been going at it for about 3 years now. I feel like I’m getting pretty close to taking the plunge and becoming a full-time content creator, but with a family to support, it can be really scary to make that transition. 

For the most part, I work alone when it comes to my YouTube channel, aside from hiring a model or actor from time to time to help me demonstrate something. However, when I’m working on a larger project or production, I will hire a small crew if I can and the budget allows for it.

Let's go down memory lane, tell us your backstory! 

I’ve had a strange journey to becoming a filmmaker and content creator. I’ve always been very interested in telling stories and filmmaking. But it wasn’t until later on in life that I knew I wanted to focus on it full-time. When I was young I would borrow my grandma’s Sony mini DV camera, and me and my friends would try to make music videos for some of our favorite songs or awful little short films. We had no idea what we were doing, but it was some of the fondest memories I have. At the time, I didn’t have any sort of editing software, so I put together a double decker VCR setup to help me cut and paste the different scenes where I needed. 

Fast forward a few years and music has completely taken over my life. I spent the majority of my teenage years and my 20’s as a vocalist for the hard rock bands Cynder/Curse Your Name. Around this time I had kind of abandoned video production, but when I realized that my band needed a high quality music video, and we couldn't afford to pay someone to direct one, I borrowed some filmmaking gear from a friend and set out to make a real music video. Around this time I invested in Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Premiere and I really found a passion for creating digital artwork and video.

The band Cynder that I was in went on to have a really successful run, we even made it onto an MTV reality show called “Battle for Ozzfest” where I was featured as a full-time cast member. One important thing to note here; is that the casting team for the reality show based part of the decision to cast us on many of the videos that I had put together for the band. They commented on how professional everything was. The fact that a professional video production took notice of my video work gave me confidence in what I was doing and helped plant the seeds for what I’m doing today.

Fast forward a few more years, and the band has kind of been put on the back burner due to everyone having families and settling down. This is when I decided to go to college and get a degree in Arts & New Media, and when I started really focusing on filmmaking and video production. It really consumed my life like a fire. I couldn’t get enough! I started watching filmmaking channels on YouTube like Film Riot, DSLR Guide, Wedding Film School, and Andyax, to try and learn as much as I could. My goal was to get enough professional gear and know-how to be able to start my own production company and make money with my camera, shooting events like wedding, music videos, or whatever else I could muster.

How do you brainstorm ideas for your content and your advice in getting the creative juice flowing?

It’s really hard to say where my ideas come from, they kind of spring up on me when I least expect them. Usually, when I’m doing things like housework or yard work, times when I’m lost in deep thought is when I get the best ideas.

I keep a white board right next to my office desk where I can write down video ideas for the channel as I get them. That way, ideas don’t get lost.

As far as YouTube video ideas go, I usually get ideas for new videos when I watch other creators. It could be a topic that I haven’t covered yet that I’d like to put my own spin on, or maybe they are using a certain technique or product that I would like to try and for myself and then share my experience with my audience.

My channel is all about taking what I learn as a filmmaker and sharing it with my audience as I go. So, not only is it a learning experience for me, but for my audience as well.

What are the tools and platform you use to help with your brand?

To create my content I use the Adobe Creative Cloud suite of software. I’m a Mac guy as well, so for things like note taking and script writing I usually just use the standard programs like Pages that are included with the Mac.

I learned to use Adobe products by just trial and error really. I bought them back before there was a subscription model and just played around with them until I figured things out on my own. I feel like I still have a long way to go before I’ve really unlocked the true potential of these programs. There is alot I still don’t know.

If I ever run into a problem, or there is something I want to try and do that I don’t know how to do, I usually turn to YouTube and try to find a good tutorial on it. This is really what led me to want to create YouTube videos. It’s such a wonderful place to learn, and I wanted to be a part of that, and try to help others the best I can.

What were your fears starting out? How did you handle it? 

When I first started out I think I had the same fears that everyone else has. I wasn't sure if I really wanted to show my face on video. I had been used to being on camera from my time on the reality show, so I think that really helped give me some experience. As you can imagine, being on an internationally aired reality show really exposed me to a TON of negative and positive criticism, and some awkward experiences (you can watch some of them by searching for Battle for Ozzfest on YouTube). I even got death threats at one time over something crazy! So that whole experience definitely made the transition to making YouTube videos a little easier.

Of course, no one is impervious to negative feedback though, and I have to admit that no matter how many positive comments I get, the few negative remarks always stick with me. I try to take what they are saying (no matter how rude) and use it as feedback to better the channel. I try to make it a point to respond to negative comments as cordially as I can. You never know; you may just turn a troll into a subscriber if you show them enough kindness.

How did you build your brand to where it is now, take us through your process.

I think when I first started creating content I had just made my YouTube channel as a place to share projects with clients that I had made video productions for. It wasn’t until I created a short film on a whim called “The Farmhouse” that it really occurred to me to start making YouTube content.

The video got so many views in such a short amount of time that it really scared me actually. I had no expectations for anything when I posted it and it just took off. Review sites were posting articles on it like it was some sort of legit production and It was just something that I did for fun one day. I think it was around that time that I decided to start making filmmaking tutorials and sharing my experience with other people.

I had people writing me in the comments asking me how I did certain things and commenting on the quality, so I thought I would try and make some tutorials on how I did some of the things.

When I first started out, I had no idea what I was doing of course! As time went on, I tried to improve with every new video I made. Whether that was buying better gear, setting up a better looking background for my talking head portions, learning how to improve my audio, or just formatting the videos better for audience retention.

This is all something I’m still doing today. With every video I post I learn from the things that work and the things that didn’t work. I look at it and see where I can improve and I’m constantly trying to improve the look and feel of my videos.

For someone who wants to get into content creation, what is your advice?

I think If I could go back and start again with the knowledge I have now, I would try to create a recognizable brand before I started posting YouTube content.

What I mean by that is to settle on a consistent brand name, color scheme, thumbnail look, have a presence on all the major social networks with the same profile name and @ name.

I think it’s also important to plan out a consistent message and goal for your channel. What is your mission statement? It took me awhile to find mine, and I think that leads to your channel trying to do too many different things at once and not really specializing in a certain niche. The more narrowly focused you are when it comes to content, I think you will see more success.

Posting consistent content across all of the social media platforms is also key to building momentum and it’s something that I still struggle with. I’m now experimenting with a content calendar that helps me keep track of when I need to post content and what kind of content I should be posting. Whether that's an instagram post with an inspirational quote for my audience or a YouTube video, it helps you stay on track and be more consistent. People like it when they know what to expect from you and when to expect it.

How did you finally commit to X platform rather than your regular day job?

At this time I’m still working full-time on my production company and posting content on YouTube part time. I would say that I post 2 videos a month on YouTube and that eats up a lot of free time. Right now, the scale hasn’t tipped in favor of me focusing on YouTube full time. I have everything in place and ready for when it does though. Right now, I have a Patreon account set up, I have affiliate marketing in place and of course YouTube ads. All of these things are generating me monthly income from my channel, but until they reach a certain point, I’ll have to keep YouTube as a side hobby.

My plan this year is actually to get to a point with my monthly expense where I can afford to switch over to production work part time and focus on YouTube full time. I think the more effort you put into YouTube the more you can make. So, hopefully it will balance out.

Tell us your best milestones in being a content creator.

So far I think my most exciting milestones were when I got my first 100 subscribers, and when I got 1 million views. Anyone who's ever tried posting on YouTube knows that getting those first 100 people to subscribe is SO tough! It can be so hard for people to give you a chance when no one else is and really get that ball rolling.

What are your marketing strategies to grow your brand?

As I mentioned before; I think that the key to marketing on YouTube is to create a consistent and recognizable brand across all of the social networks, post regularly and consistently, have a narrow focus mission statement and niche, and most importantly make content that provides value to your audience. If you do those things, and be yourself, I think that the audience will grow.

How do you handle brand deals and sponsorships? 

I actually created a brand letter that I send out to brands that I’m interested in working with, it’s basically a generic letter that tells the brand that I’m a fan of their product, what is that I do, some of my analytic numbers and how I think a relationship between us could be beneficial to both parties. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. If anything, it gets you on their radar and maybe when your numbers do reach a certain point, they will be more apt to reach out to you again.

I occasionally get brands reaching out to me though email, but you certainly don’t want to accept everything that comes your way. At first most of the deals are just going to be brands who send you a free product for you to review and not a dollar amount, and that's fine. Just be sure to research the product and the company before agreeing to anything, and make sure it's a good fit for your channel and audience.

In time, the deals will get better and more lucrative as your audience grows and you will have more control over the products or services that you are championing on your channel and it may even help you to create a sustainable monthly income.

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