Ed Gregory: Popular YouTuber, Photographer, ex-Blue Man

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About Our Guest

Ed Gregory, founder of Photos in Color on YouTube, is a master photographer in Lightroom, Photoshop and photography tutorials. Ed is the second successful YouTube we’ve interviewed on the show (first guest was Bob from FlavCity).

With nearly 300K subscriber on Youtube, over 15 million page viewers, Ed is quite a celebrity among the people who follow his work. (A side note on how YouTubers make money: it actually has nothing to do with the number of subscribers but individual video viewership and how much of the ad someone watches. In addition, many YouTubers get paid through sponsorships and collaborations, which he will speak to as well as part of this episode!)

“I can't sit still. I can't not create. I can't not get things done.”

"Ed also runs PhotosInColor.com is a place for creative photographers, videographers and artists to come and be inspired.

His work needs little introduction, but what brought us together is Dan Cooper (my producer on the Feisworld Docuseries) and Ed’s innate ability in all things creative. Ed worked with us as the Director for the docuseries, in addition to a number of other video production engagements for Feisworld clients.

Originally from the UK, this is another successful immigrant story. Ed now lives and works from Las Vegas. He runs a beautiful, state of the art studio that is not only the home base to his popular YouTube videos, but also the destination for some serious clients of his own from photography and video production.

“I want 100% of the risk to be on my shoulders.”

The way Ed works with his clients is mesmerizing. He has a unique ability to make people feel comfortable very quickly. He told me that he starts every project with a cup of coffee or tea, and sit with the clients before the camera is turned on.

Thanks to Ed’s humor and styles as a director, I went from feeling self conscious as an on-screen talent for Feisworld Docuseries to being completely at ease. Plus I knew with Ed’s camera skills, he’ll make sure my guests and I are looking our best on camera, despite a few hours of sleep every night over the course of two weeks.

Beside Ed’s clear expertise in videography and photography, he was a serious dancer in ballet for the first 20 years of his life. He spoke to his learnings, teachers and some painful memories as a young dancer. He also worked as a Blue Man in Blue Man Group before starting his own business for Photos in Colors.

“Write it down, create a plan and just deliver it non stop. That's really what I've learned is done is better than perfect.”

 

Show Notes

Feisworld Docuseries Trailer - Directed by Ed Gregory & Dan Cooper

  • [05:00] You are excited about and for everything, is that true?

  • [06:00] Have you always had the same personality?

  • [09:00] You studied Ballet at a time where it wasn’t very common for boys. What that the case in the UK and what was your experience in that regard?

  • [13:00] How old were you when you stopped dancing Ballet? What kept you there for so many years?

  • [15:00] What were some of the main challenges you had and how did you overcome them?

  • [17:00] What happened after you left dance class, and how did that lead you to become a Blue Man, YouTuber, etc

  • [26:00] How is it like to be a Blue Man? What is so special about the show? How is the experience to be surrounded by such a diverse group of people?

  • [29:00] You are generally very warm and you make people feel very comfortable. Did your past experience with Ballet and Blue Man Group have to do with that?

  • [31:00] How did the YouTube channel start? What was your intention behind it?

  • [36:00] Who taught you photography?

  • [37:00] How many times did you bounce around until you found your niche with Lightroom?

  • [39:00] How do you come up with your product categories and names?

  • [40:00] Who is your avatar, primary audience, ideal client?

  • [42:00] What would you have done sooner, in your experience? What would be your advice to other YouTubers?

  • [44:00] What is an example of a Hero Content?

  • [46:00] How do you balance the amount of time/effort you spend on hero content vs main content?

  • [48:00] If people want to find you, how do they do that?


Favorite Quotes

I believe there's something in me that means that I can't sit still. I can't not create. I can't not get things done.

I was like, I don't want to be signed. I want to do it myself. Because if I'm signed, then I'll relax and I'll hopefully be successful. instead. I want 100% of the risk to be on my shoulders.

You have to learn the technique of things that comes from doing ballet, as a child, counterpoint, how to do an arabesque. You learn to play so that when you're performing, you can tell a story. As a Blue Man, I had to learn the technique of how to be a blue man. So when I walk on stage, I forget all of that. And I just get on with like interacting with each other.

Hero content takes just a lot of brainpower because you don't think about what you're doing. You think about how it's going to affect the audience. You've got to come at it from the opposite direction.

Write it down, create a plan and just deliver it non stop. That's really what I've learned is done is better than perfect. You've got to be doing constantly and focus more than anything on interaction with human beings.

 

Transcript of Interview with Ed Gregory.

 

You're excited about and for everything. Do you agree with that?

Ed [5:30] I would definitely agree with that. That's always what people have said to me, always how I've been. People don't like it sometimes. I've had many occasions where people think that I am just fake and putting it on. Then I would still know them like six months later, and honestly, I couldn't even count the number of times that people will sit me down and say “Hey, can I just apologize?” I'm like “What for?” And they're like “Because I thought that you were fake, but now I've known you for six months, and you’re just the same person”. But yeah, I had a very happy upbringing. I'm very privileged.

Fei Wu [6:24] In case people haven't figured out yet - you're English, I'm curious.

 

Did you grow up with anybody who was like you?

Ed [6:47] But was everything really happy and everything? You know, I've gone through some dark times in my life. I would say that I was privileged in the way that I had a very odd upbringing and not in the way that my parents were privileged and they gave me this great upbringing. I was privileged to experience that.

I stumbled into ballet when I was three, and it wasn't because my parents wanted me to do ballet, that wasn't because my family was all into dance and art and acting and anything, nothing at all: all of my family are like teachers, doctors, nurses – “normal” jobs. So I wasn't pushed into anything, but I stumbled into it when I was three. My best friend growing up, Amy, she is like six months younger than me. And, you know, little girls go to ballet class at 3-4 years. And we did everything together, so apparently, I said to my mom “I want to go to ballet”. My mom was like “Yeah, okay”. So I showed up to the Academy of dances, and they never had a boy before. So they took me in thinking that I'm going to hate this.  But I stayed there till I was 19, so for 16 years. I did classical ballet, classical tap jazz, gymnastics. And from about the age of nine, I quit every year. I was like “No can't do it” because you get bullied at school, people see you differently, all of these different things. And I was just privileged that I had a family that supported me. They paid for classes, and we did the show every year. My mom showed up backstage and was there, so everybody supported me. Everybody thought it was a bit weird, but everybody supported me.

Fei Wu [9:16] I mean, is that weird still? We're very close in age, I can remember 30 years ago in China for a little boy to be so into dancing was a little bit strange, but these days it has gotten a lot better.

Ed [9:32] Right now it is the best time to be a creative person.

I remember the first time I met another male dancer. I remember it clearly, it's another one of my dear friends, Ben, and I kind of made friends with him because I saw him dancing in the Christmas show at high school. He was a year below me.

Fei Wu [10:06] An instant best friend!

Ed [10:07] Yeah. I've been dancing for 12 years, and I would never do this in the high school show because it was a separate life for me. I was in all kind of a cool crowd in school, they all knew I did dance, but it was like this thing that I did and I didn't bring it into school.

So I went to see this kid Ben, and I was literally mind-blown. Something really changed in me. But I didn't talk to him for six months, I would always see him around the school and just watch him. Yeah, he's one of the nicest guys ever.

Then one time I got home from school and my mom just slides me the newspaper with an ad of a local amateur dramatics group, and they needed boys to be in their youth group.

Fei Wu [11:11] How old were you? A teenager?

Ed [11:13] I was like 13, something like this. And I've been having a bit of a tough time with the dance world at that point. All of those things were tough, and my mom just kind of slid it to me because I was always into the theater, but I'd never done any acting.

So I read the headline, picked up the phone and called instantly, and I was just like “I want to go do this”. And then I showed up to this youth group, and there was this guy Ben from the Christmas show. We became instant friends. And there were 12 guys or so. I was like “I found home”.

 

How did it feel to be in a boys’ theater youth group?

Ed [12:19] It was amazing. I was like “These are my people”, I finally stopped separating my performance and dance and everything. In the next two years after that, I started allowing myself to bring it in more into my day-to-day life.

My grades at dancing, they were fine. But they kind of dropped off a little bit because I was having a tough time and I kept quitting. And then I joined this group, and within a year, I was winning awards, I was getting the top results. Then I got nominated for national awards. And all of a sudden, everything went up because of confidence. I was like “I don't care”. I'd have arguments with the head of my dance school, because they're really tough on the girls and I’d disagree with her. I've had arguments in the middle of a class about this, and she would tell us all that we would fail. My dance teacher told me that I would never make it. And I just stood up and was like “I'm not here for you to crush my dreams. That's not what I'm here for, I'm here for you to teach me technique. I'll make my decisions if I'm going to be successful”. Then that happened a few times until the last time when I actually walked out of school and never returned.

Fei Wu [13:51] So you walked out of the dance class and never returned when you were 19? Wow.

 

What kept you in the dance school for so long?

Ed [14:10] Honestly I don't know. All I know is that artists are a type of person, just like mathematicians are a type of person. Like, you meet a math teacher, and they're all kind of the same. People talk about this thousands of blogs written about the CEO gene, like, the types of person that can be a leader in a certain way.

I believe that there's something in me that means that I can't sit still, I can't not create, I can't not get things done. That’s how I've always been. And it wasn't learned or taught. The reason I say that is my brother and sister: they’re so different to me. The way that we've interacted with life and what we've achieved is almost polarizing. I just have interacted with life so differently, and I genuinely believe it is because of this experience that I had of being a dancer. At a younger age, I had to break through certain things that I think a lot of other people don't hit until they're in their early 20s. Like sexuality - everyone thought I was gay. And I always had girlfriends, always. So I had to kind of open up this world of being like “I don't care what you think about me, I literally don't care if I'm gay, or straight, or male or female”. I also had that thing that most of my friends were females, so I interacted with women a very different way to all of my male peers. And throughout puberty, all of those years in dance school from being a kid to an adult, I was literally getting changed in the same room as 16 girls who were in my class.

Fei Wu [16:39] And it’s not a big deal at all! Isn't that beautiful?

Ed [16:43] It is beautiful. And that was my interaction with life. In hindsight, when you look back here, I am like “Whoa, no in my male or female friends hadn't experienced anything like that”. I didn't know I was having the experience, for me, it seemed like a normal life.

Fei Wu [17:05] I find the dancing and the upbringing stories really fascinating, and I think that in itself tells a very compelling story.

I do want to talk about your later life as well. You were a principal Blue Man Group performer, and fast forward to most recently, you're very successful YouTuber

 

What is the timeline of your later life? What happened first?

Ed [17:38] First of all, I managed to get myself into one of the top theatre schools somehow, and I was on the contemporary theatre course, which meant that we were doing all of these really weird plays. One play, I was completely naked running around a field, my parents came to see that, and I was on my head with my legs split with everything on show, and then I was downing two liters of water from a vodka bottle and vomiting it all back up on stage. I mean, I was doing some pretty heavy stuff.

Anyway, I get to the end of my course, and I'd written a small theatrical piece with my two buddies, and then we had to do our end-of-year show. So you do it and try to get an agent. So one day the head of the school calls me into the office and says “Hey, Ed, we're really worried about you”, and I'm like “Why would you?”. He says: “Well, you're about to graduate, and no agents have called up and said that they want to come in and see if they'll sign you. And I was like “Oh, yeah, I know that”. He asks: “Well, what do you mean, have you not been sending your photographs out?”, and I was like “No, I've not sent a single photo out”. I had my professional headshots done, I have 50 printed, and I still have 49 of those. The only one I don't have my parents have. I decided not to send out to a single agency because I didn't want to be signed. I wanted to do it myself. Because if I was signed, then I'd relax and be successful. Instead, I wanted 100% of the risk to be on my shoulders.

So we went and did this show, and it went really well. Then we decided to go to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and I started my first company – Next On Theater. It was a theater company, we wrote shows.

Fei Wu [19:31] At what age was that?

Ed [19:35] I guess I would have been 22 when I graduated Theatre School.

So I wrote a show while I was at the theatre school, and I managed to get a show into London, just a three-night show. Somebody came to see a performance and they took my show into London, which was cool. There're three of us and it was this full one-hour long show. Went to Edinburgh Fringe Festival, managed to sell out every single performance, got four- and five-star reviews everywhere. It was it was amazing. So we just went and had a blast of that. Then we took it on a tour around the UK and ended with a one week run in London. After that, we got a tour throughout Europe, and then we're going to end at a festival in Germany, we had all of this about to be signed off.

So we're opening in London, and when all this was happening, I got this call: “Hey, Ed, you want to go and audition for Blue Man Group?” And I was like “What's Blue Man Group? Never heard of it. No idea what it was, not really interested”. It was in the West End. And I knew about it because some people had said “Ed, you got to see Blue Man Group and it's like what you do!” because we were doing all physical theatre, I studied clowning and comedy. Then an agent calls me and says: “Hey, one of our clients is called to say that you should audition for Blue Man, can we put you up for it?”, and I was like “Yeah, sure”. Long story short - went in, became a blue man. For no reason, I should not have been able to become a blue man.

So I went in, and it was like 1000 people auditioning, I had an appointment, so I went in. We went in in groups of 20 And then this guy who's now a friend of mine, French Blue Man, comes out. And he plays this piece on drums. And I’m sitting there, never drummed in my life, never held a stick. And I'm sitting there and they say: “When it's time, you'll go play that on the drums”. And I'm like “Why am I here?” Actually, I was rehearsing for this show that I was opening in London the following week, so I'd take myself out of rehearsal to go on this casting and I was just annoyed.

So everyone starts to come to those drums and are just nailing it. I'm like “Well, I'm not gonna walk out because that's not what Ed does. I'm gonna at least have a go”. So after 10 people or so I went in. And I wish they taped it, or if they did, I wish I could see it. I held these sticks. and I just slapped this drum head, and it was so bad! However, I would be listening to the notes that they were giving people and they said: “Concentrate on trying to connect with each person in the room while you're drumming, have a moment like with each person”. So I got up there and I just gave my heart. And then at the end of the piece, it goes “pop, pop, pop”, and then your arms up. That's what Blue Man does. But I've never even seen the show, so I didn't know this. So I get to the end, and I don't know how to hold drumsticks, so as I'm playing, the drumsticks are coming out of my hand. And I got to the point where if I hit one more time, these sticks are going to fly out of my hands. So I just go and throw my hands up in the air and it was it. They didn't give me any notes. Anyway, they called me back, then I went through the next five days of auditions, and I’d go back every single day, it was basically lots of acting things.

Then came the last day, and the final round is down to seven people. And then the drums come out on stage. And I'm like “Oh, man”. They say: “Okay, Ed, can we see you first?”, and I'm like “You’ve got to be kidding me! I've been here for five days, and now you're going to bring the drum head back up?” So I go on stage. “Okay, we know you're not a drummer, but can you just do this?” So they play the thing, and I said “No”. And they tried a couple of times more, but I was like “Look, five or four days ago, I couldn't drum. I am currently in rehearsal to open my show next week. Like, I don't have time to learn to drum, and I'm pretty sure it's a skill that takes more than five days to learn. I couldn't learn to drum five days ago, I can't drum today. If you want to teach me to drum - teach me to drum, but I'm not going to make a fool out of myself”. They were like “Oh, okay”, then I sit down and I think “That was a terrible mistake. I should have at least tried anyway”.

And then they call me to say: “Okay, we're going to send you to a drum school”. So they spent six months training me to drum. That was how I got into Blue Man.

Fei Wu [25:50] That's awesome.

I think what you shared just proves that Blue man actually comes from all parts of the world and all different backgrounds, and you guys are kind of assembled together. I guess you've been in shows where you probably were meeting people for the first time other than the rehearsal. That's kind of crazy.

Ed [26:32] Blue Man has a couple of things which are completely different to any of the shows that I've done, and that is, once you're a blue man, it doesn't matter if you've been there for a month or 20 years, you have an ultimate respect as a blue man when you're in that theater with all of them. And that's really, really nice. So you enter on this thing and your opinion counts. People get it, you're a professional. So you got to get it every night. And that's the whole idea.

And that's what brings me into the next thing, which is so crucial to the success of Blue Man and why blue men seem to do it for so many years - it is peer to peer notes. That doesn't happen ever. Usually, the director gives notes and then you do your job. In Blue Man, you get trained, you go into a show, then after the show, the blue men sit around and you give each other notes. So I, as a new Blue Man, I could have been there for six months, and I can give a note to somebody that's been there for 10 years. And it's not a note like “You did it wrong”. It's more like “This happened, let's discuss it” because so much of the show is actually improvised.

So you learn the rules of a Blue Man at the beginning when you get in, but it takes years to kind of expand your character. But along the way, you have to fail, so you have to push a boundary and then you'll get a note saying “Okay, that didn't really work, why was that a decision”. That is one of the key things in Blue Man, and it keeps it really alive. Because of it, a show is like an organism and we live within it.

Fei Wu [28:37] I love that.

We met for the first time when you're shooting the workout video for the online course for the Atherton twins, and they were seeing you for the first time. And they were doing that for the first time, but you made them feel really comfortable. So I think now it all makes sense between ballet and working in Blue Man Group.

Ed [29:19] For me something that's really important is social interaction. I run a number of sub-businesses, and every single one is based on interaction. That's it. Whenever I talk to a new client, I don't talk about what we're going to do. I don't talk about the technical aspects. It doesn't matter. For me, it is that you have to learn the technique of things. That comes from doing ballet as a child: you learn the technique so that when you're performing, you can tell a story. As a Blue Man, I had to learn the technique of how to drum and the technique of how to be a blue man, so when I walk on stage, I forget all of that and I just get on with interacting with each other. When it came to the Atherton twins, photography and video work and all these technical elements that surround people, they’ve never done a video like this before. But my number one thing is, who cares? I completely make all of that stuff disappear in their head so that when we're ready to go, people just chill. And that's the number one thing for literally everything that I've always done - am I having a good time and are you having a good time? That's all I care about.

 

What was your YouTube channel Photos In Color intended for? Did you think you were going to be successful when you started?

Ed [31:11] YouTube is a beast in itself. I started my YouTube channel probably five years ago. I just saw some other people out there doing tutorials, and honestly, I didn't think that they were doing a great job. I also saw that they were finding some success. So it didn't bother me that they do it good or not good, I just thought I can do this. And also, I was just attracted to the platform. I love the idea of video storytelling, I love the idea of learning things through video. I was a consumer of YouTube, I would sit there and watch it all the time. So I figured that I'm going to give this a go.

If you go to my channel, there's some really funny stuff. The very first video I made was me sitting in the woods and I talking about what Photos In Color is going to be [laughs]. I came up with all of these ideas, and this is what this is actually an important point because I've learned a lot. I wrote down like what it was going to be, I was going to have all these competitions, I was watching all these other channels that were successful and what they were doing, I thought about the website and a blog post and how that was going to look. And I did all this research for months, and then I wrote it all down and did all this stuff. I got really excited, and then I went, made a video and nobody watched it because nobody knew who I was. It was a brand new channel.

Then I kept on, I plugged away, and then I did the interaction pieces where I'd be like “All tell me what you think about this or that” Well, I didn't have an audience, so it was completely useless, but then I started going like “Well, let me interview some photographers that are doing really well”, and then I’d review their photographs live in a video. I got a little bit of traction, but very small.

Fei Wu [33:07] And what was “very small”? Under 1000?

Ed [33:09] Yeah, I can't even remember, but I'd be getting like 32 views and that was it. That was probably my friends.

But then I started learning about titling, key-wording, sharing. I did a few things, and then I got bored. I was back with Blue Man Group and performing.

Fei Wu [33:33] And how soon did it happen?

Ed [33:38] I stopped posting like after two months or so. But it wasn't because I fell out of love with it, I just got busy in life. That's what happened.

So I would be doing all this other stuff, and then I'd go back six months later. It turned out that I got 500 subscribers and 5000 views on it because I hadn't done anything. So I was like “Oh, I should post a few” and got back into it. But at some point, I fell off again, so that was basically my story on and off and I just didn't do anything about it.

And then something changed. This was about two and a half or three years ago, I decided I was going to be leaving Blue Man. I said, “I want to quit Blue Man and I want to be a photographer and cinematographer”. I decided that because I'd found success doing it. People kept hiring me and I couldn't find enough time to do it, so I was done with the Blue Man.

Then I figured out that I need a marketing strategy, so I wrote down a two-year marketing strategy for all of my businesses. And I worked backward, so what I actually discovered was that I wanted to have a studio, and I wanted to have clients, but I also wanted to sell products online and have a site that was viewed and used a lot. So I was like ‘Okay, let me tie all of those and let me see what I can do”. This is what happened: I was like “Okay, I want a website that's going to do really well”, so I created my own stock photography website. That was the first thing that I put out there. Currently, that gets around half a million views a month. And then I've got probably 5-10 million views of my photos that became so successful, and some images were downloaded so much that news networks have written articles about the photographs because they are seeing so much on the internet. It's kind of crazy. The other thing was that I'd get my YouTube channel going again. And I decided I was going to sell presets for Lightroom. I didn't have the product yet but knew I was going to.

 

Who taught you photography?

Ed [36:23] YouTube.

Fei Wu [36:24] Okay, interesting. So you didn't leave Blue Man Group to go to some school to study

Ed [36:31] I’ve taken zero courses.

Fei Wu [36:33] And you just build a successful course for professional photographers by first learning through YouTube. I just want to pause and call that out. Continue [laughs].

Ed [36:41] Exactly. So I use YouTube to learn skills to then build an audience on YouTube and then sell those things back to that audience. That's exactly what I did. You know, that's what you do.

So I decided I was going to sell these presets. Then I decided the presets were going to live inside this program called Lightroom owned by Adobe. So I was like “Okay, I'm going to become the number one viewed lightroom tutorialist on YouTube”. That's what I just decided.

 

How many times did you bounce around before you found out that tutorials were your niche?

Ed [37:17] Well, I figured out what I wanted to sell. I was in the photography world, I was selling presets. The software is owned by Adobe, I sell a piece of code which you download, and you install it and then it works inside somebody else's program. I don't need to support it, I don't need to do anything, I literally sell a two-megabyte code that gives you thousands of different options for photo editing that I created inside this.

Fei Wu [38:14] How did you figure that out? Was it because as a photographer that was something that you desperately needed?

Ed [38:24] I built my own presets, so I would do all these edits, save them, and then I could use them across other things. So I was like “Well, if I do this, I could just sell this to other people”. There were other people doing it. What's really important is that there're a lot of people out there making presets because they're easy to make. You just move some sliders around and you save it, then you can export it and sell it. And what I decided was I'm going to make the best presets in the world.

Fei Wu [38:50] How are you coming up with the names for your presets?

Ed [39:03] What I would do is I’d mimic old film stock to make sure it all fits in perfectly, then I'd go to some contemporary ones that would feel that way.

We've got ones that are for urban, so they work really well for cityscapes, boosting the oranges and things like that, desaturating everything else to bring out all the colors and the lights in the buildings.

Then I'd go to something which would be a natural one, and that's going to be great for landscapes. It's going to pull back the contrast a little bit, but it's going to make sure your sharpness is really accurate and your color generation makes it look really great. I literally tested everything and then categorized it so that you can go in and purchase certain categories or them all together.

 

Who is your primary audience?

Ed [40:08] So as I said earlier, I made a plan for 2 years before starting. The main point was that I needed to make me synonymous with Lightroom so that if you go trying to figure out what Lightroom is, you watch my tutorials. I made a tutorial on every single slider, every single piece inside Lightroom, teaching people how to make their own presets, everything. So I built the audience, and by the time two years had gone by, at that point, I'd won a YouTube award for my tutorial series and everything, I had 200,000 subscribers, and I launched my product. And it's a premium product. People sell presets for like $5 or a lot more expensive than that, but you'll buy them once and they're supported forever, so as I update them, you get 100% of the updates. I was nervous and thought a lot about if anybody is even going to buy it. Eventually, I went online and said: “Hey, I'm launching something exciting”, and people went and bought it.

 

Do you think you could have built your audience sooner than you did? What would you recommend, from your experience?

Ed [41:45] So, you know, I have like 14 million views on YouTube. And I have not sold that many presets. I don't need to sell that many for me to make enough money off of it, so that it's not about how many followers you have, It's irrelevant. It is about the quality of those people. That's it. I know exactly who my target audience is.

Fei Wu [42:13] I want to talk a little bit more about the “do's” and the “don'ts” that you think a YouTuber should know, especially people who are still figuring things out right now.

Ed [42:26] The main thing is to create a style which you are known for. So I've got a great example, and I got rid of my style once I built my audience because I flipped it. So yeah, I do things pretty weirdly sometimes. I have strategies, and I build strategies in a way that pushes interaction, allows the audience to get involved, and then I can change it.

That's the biggest thing that I would say: don't fear change. That's what you need to do. What I did was I created a theme tune – at the beginning of each video I say “What's up guys, this is Ed from photosandcolor.com, and today we're going to learn how to do the tone curve in Lightroom”, and then this music would start, I would stand up and dance for 12 seconds. Basically, I would do all sorts of things: dancing, running. One of my favorites was the jellyfish. And before doing that I would always say “theme tune”, so people started saying “theme tune” and commenting on my dance and on how ridiculous it was. That was really great, so it became like this thing that I had that I was known for in a very small niche area. That was really great. And it kind of brought the community together because people started laughing about it and talking about it.

And then what happened was I stepped up my game. I basically was getting to the end of Lightroom, so I need to start trying to do more broad things. And it was part of my marketing plan – first, you go niche, and then, when you get the pinnacle, you have to broaden and create what we call “hero content”. That's the content which is far more reaching than your regular content, but it's still within the same sphere.

Fei Wu  44:30  What would be an example of a hero content for Photos in Color?

Ed [44:34] If I was to talk about my normal content, it would be Lightroom tutorial “How to use this”. A hero piece would be a video that I have, which is called “17 things all photographers should be able to do in under 10 seconds”. That's hero, completely in the sphere, and this is really interesting to anybody. That's hero content.

 

How do you balance the niche Lightroom tutorials and the hero content? How much of each do you do?

Ed [45:17] If you try and do everything a hero content, that's great, and you might be a massive success. Hero content takes just a lot of brainpower because you don't think about what you're doing, you think about how it's going to affect the audience. So you've got to come at it from the opposite direction. If I'm doing my tutorials, it's all about what I'm teaching, regardless of what the viewer actually thinks of it. Where is my hero content that's all about like “How is this going to rank against other YouTubers?”, “How is this going to rank on the scale of things?”, “How is this going to appear in that sidebar?”, “Is this title going to be clickable?” This is a completely different way of thinking. When I figured that all out, I just box that into a video and create the content that fits within that world. So I think about it almost the reverse.

Fei Wu [46:15] That's the problem, right? Sometimes you feel like you could do only one thing but not the other as a creator.

Ed [46:25] I disagree. It's the opposite. If you only do one thing, you put yourself at high risk. It's a little bit like the stock market: put all your stocks in one thing, and if that fails - you're done.

Five years ago, I gave away all my money, all my belongings, absolutely everything. I moved to Southeast Asia, worked for a charity for a year, and literally shut down my entire life. It's something I needed to do. By doing that, I just hit zero. I lived without electricity. For six months, I had no cell phone, I had nothing. It was incredible. And then I had enough money in my bank account to fly back to the UK. And I flew back to the UK and I had no money. At that point, I started again. And that was four or five years ago. Since then, I've been a blue man in four countries, I run a production company with a 7000 square foot studio space, I have some of the biggest clients in the world for photography and video. I have an award-winning YouTube channel, and I have a stock download site that gets millions of hits a month.

The key is not me saying like “Look at all these things”, the key’s that I did that in a short amount of time just because I get shit done. That's a thing - write it down, create a plan and just deliver it. And that's really what I've learned: done is better than perfect. But you've got to be doing constantly and focus more than anything on interaction with human beings. That's it - you get the human interaction, you have a business.

Fei Wu [48:04 If people want to follow you and find you, how do they do that?

Ed [48:07] On social media, I only use @photosincolor.

Fei Wu [48:21] Thank you so much, Ed. It's been lovely. I look forward to working with you on my documentary!