I am a total fan of Hank Rogers who runs the BassGeek channel on YouTube. Hank works hard to provide subscribers great content in an engaging way. Recently this year he passed 10,000 subscribers which is an impressive achievement for a fishing channel. We talk to Hank about how to grow a fishing YouTube channel.
How has the fishing been since the last time we talked?
It’s been fishing. Some days you’re king of the world and others you’re a bum. Overall, it’s been good however I’ve gotten to take some guys fishing that don’t do the offshore thing that I like so much and it’s always fun seeing people catch fish in a new way.
2017 provided a ton of highlights for me. It was a ride that’s for certain. The sudden channel growth, introducing new anglers to the sport, getting to meet some of the anglers I look up to, and introducing people to some winter smallmouth fishing with the Damiki Rig. There’s just been so much that it’s hard to believe it all happened in a single year.
So far 2018 has been a year of extreme. It’s been extremely good or extremely bad. My channel has continued to grow at an amazing pace. I had my best finish as a Co-angler in a BFL event, I’ve been able to make some big upgrades to my own boat.
However, I’ve had boat issues which has kept me off the water as much as I want to be. For me, that makes me feel like I’m not able to give the subscribers all I can. I hate to let them down.
Hearing, seeing, knowing I’ve helped someone catch more fish is what makes the highlights for me. I love that! Catching a 10lb bass couldn’t compare to that for me. So when I get messages or comments from people who share their stories of how they caught fish using techniques or gear they seen me use nothing can compare to that.
You have been crushing it on YouTube. How has it felt to have such great growth?
I started out 2017 with 1,418 subscribers. Which to me was awesome! You never know how this stuff is going to turn out. I’m just learning on the fly as I go and having fun making fishing videos. Then in 2017 it’s like things just went nuts. I gained almost 5 thousand Subscribers! That was unbelievable to me.
Now here we sit in 2018 and I’ve almost gained more than all of 2017. It’s just April. I really don’t know how to react! I never saw this coming! It’s an incredible and humbling experience. I had someone want to take a picture with me for the first time in my life at a Bass Pro Shops! I was having a rough day and it just turned it around completely. I mean how can that not make you smile.
On one hand, it’s incredible to be lucky enough to experience this. I just want to enjoy it for now and see where it leads. You never know when it will end. I really just want to savor the moment. It’s opened so many doors I never thought of from an angler stand point and a Youtube creator standpoint.
On the other hand, it’s a lot of pressure. I want to deliver good quality content. I don’t want to waste the time of all these people who subscribe and watch every week. I feel like I owe it to them to give them what they come to my channel to see. I can beat myself up a lot over videos I don’t feel are good enough. When life…or boat issues…keep me from making the videos I feel like my subscribers deserve, I feel like I’m letting a lot of people down. I always try to remember those are 10 thousand people and I owe them.
What do you consider the keys to your channel’s growth?
I think people find smaller channels because they want to learn something. I mean, that is still the number one reason people use YouTube. They are looking for something they need to know. So I try to give as much information in my videos as I can. I try to share the when, where, why, and hows of everything I’m doing in each video.
Even if it’s an unboxing of baits or equipment I buy. I don’t just say ” I bought this because it was green.” I say I picked this one up because during the Fall when the fish are chasing small shad with a green back this will match the depth, size, and color. It’s all about the details.
Too many people want to be the Googan squad but they don’t take into effect how the Googan squad became the Googan squad. Teaching people creates a relationship. It makes your videos and channel highly searchable. Peter McKinnon is a perfect example of this. He didn’t start showing real growth until his video “8 Camera Hacks in 90 SECONDS” came out. His tutorials are still by far his most viewed videos. All the Googans started out as fishing how to channels.
What have been some of your most popular videos?
The two largest and the two videos that have spurred on this growth for me is my “Humminbird Helix Best Setup and Settings” and the “How to fish a Jig – For the Beginner“. The Humminbird video was one I knew was going to do well. I’ve sat through countless click bait video’s from countless “big” name anglers and Youtubers that promised to show the settings of their graphs. NO ONE, NOT A SINGLE ONE ever did. So I wanted to make a video that would have helped me when I was searching for it. I didn’t just talk about it or show the screen, I showed tons of different cover and structure also. I wanted to make it as simple as I could for everyone.
The Jig video was the same. I had a lot of people even on other YouTube channels talk about how they never caught anything on a jig. How they always got hung up with’em which really surprised me. Heck I think I was born with one in my hand…hahaha! So I did a how to video on them for beginners and just added what I wish someone would have told me when I was learning. That was what we talked about in our last interview.
How do you pick topics for the videos?
It can be hard to find new and fresh topics. Heck almost impossible if you consider all the fishing YouTube channels and videos out there. So I just try to make videos for me about the things that are going on at the time I’m making the video. Every now and then you stumble on a great idea or a better way to present old ideas. Those are fun but not the norm. Just enjoy those when they come around.
I always prefer to make on the water videos. I just think solving that puzzle is never the same and never gets old. I can do 90 how to’s on 90 baits or techniques but sooner or later you’re going to run out of those types of videos. I can go fishing on the same lake on the same date every year for the next 10 years and something is going to be different every trip. That’s what makes this sport so great. Things are always changing and we are always learning.
If I had to pick one topic, it’s absolutely offshore structure fishing. It’s almost like I don’t have to think about it. I just know what they do or want when they are out there. I love it.
What is your posting schedule?
I post a new video every Wednesday. I just changed that from Tuesday because I may start to add a second video a week this summer on Sundays. That’s still up in the air however.
What do you recommend for others?
It really depends on what you want to get out of YouTube. If you’re really trying to build a channel and see where it takes you, I think you have to post a minimum of 1 time a week. If you’re just doing it to build a small audience and don’t want anything more than just having fun, doing it then every other week or even once a month is just fine.
The biggest tip I can give when it comes to schedule, is to stay on one. It’s so important to be consistent. I mean to the hour if you can. I try to post my video’s every Wednesday at 5pm.
I know a lot of people will tell you more is better. I agree but if quality is taking a big hit then post less and really work on your filming, editing, lighting, story telling, etc. Quality to me should be the FIRST thing you look at. Everything from your on camera presence to the echo of the room you’re in. Just know that quality takes time so it won’t happen over night. My videos are still a looooong way from where I want them to be but I’m working at it.
How do you balance life and your channel?
The balance is the most frustrating part of it all. I have expectations for the videos I make. Sometimes I have to come in under the bar I set for myself because I don’t have the time to go fishing, film, find music, edit, and post. Sometimes I have to phone one in and that sucks. I feel like I let everyone down.
I work 80 hours some weeks and have been married for 24 years with 2 kids and a granddaughter. I love fishing and I love making videos but unfortunately I don’t do this for a living so it can be tough. It takes someone like my wife that knows how much of a passion fishing and filming is for me to be able to do it. Just the fact that she holds the home front down is awesome. She makes my life much easier.
I always wonder about the avid YouTubers like yourself that the filming must interfere with the fishing. How do you handle on the water concentration and action and still make quality videos at the time?
I would be lying if I told you it didn’t interfere at times. I’ve missed some really good catches and days because I’ve struggled early and just stopped focusing on filming to focus on fishing. That being said, I classify myself as a angler who does YouTube. Not a YouTuber who does fishing videos. So I will always focus on the fishing first.
The key is to tweak your equipment out so that it’s just another part of you or your body or boat. It’s a learning process but bigger batteries, bigger sd cards, Yolo tek power sticks, on board chargers help a lot. Then you just have to take time to film B roll. A trick for us smaller YouTube guys however is to make sure you keep that B roll from the lakes you fish regularly. You can always reuse some of it next time you’re out on the same lake and you’re running short of transition material.
What kind of digital equipment are you using in 2018?
I’ve gotten by on the least amount of gear that I could for the first 2 years I’ve had my channel. Like I said I’m a one man show. I did some upgrades during the winter and I like what I’ve seen so far. My audio was the biggest problem. So I’ve bought a Go Pro Hero 5 with a Rode Mic and so far it has been a big upgrade. I still use my I-phone 7plus for a lot of my B roll or dialog parts of the video. I have a SJ 5000x that has been the work horse for the past 2 years and now is my chest camera. I don’t have a DSLR or any big camera. I hope to get a drone sometime near the end of the year. Something I’m using now and really love is the Zhiyun Smooth Q Gimbal. This has really provided me with some smooth stable shots.
For those that want to get started, what equipment do you consider the minimum?
I would say a good phone if you have one. Turn it sideways when filming. And a cheap action camera. I like the SJ5000 elite. You can get it cheap or find some good cheap used Go Pro’s. The action camera is a must due to weather. Then there is all kinds of cheap and/or free video editing software out there.
What are 5 pieces of advice overall do you have for YouTubers are new to it or working to grow their subscribers?
#1 – Make videos you want to watch. Not videos you think others want to see. That will get old really fast.
#2 – Don’t over do it at first. Start slow but on a schedule. 1 video a month or every 2 weeks but be persistent and on schedule.
#3 – Focus on quality first. YouTube is a balancing act. More uploads are better but more quality uploads is what counts. So start slow and focus on the quality of the videos first then do more of them.
#4 – Schedule and consistency is more important than amount of content. I can’t say that enough.
#5 – Information is what will bring people to your channel. Make sure those titles and tags are high traffic search terms.
What is up for 2018?
I’m going to keep working toward making better quality videos above all. Right now, I’m 2 videos into Season 2 of a FLW BFL tournament series I call Limits. It follows me as I fish a couple of the BFL Divisions. I hope to do a live stream or two with a couple BASS and FLW Pro’s from around my area. I really want to get into some in-depth sonar tweaks and how to’s and of course you’re gonna see the normal summertime swimbait action that I love. Oh and I’m going to do some giveaways because I love to give back to the 10k+ people who support me!
Thank you Hank! Will be following all of your 2018 success on YouTube.