“It’s easy to give up. My first payment from YouTube was £2.14”
James Robinson is a graduate of the PGA Training Programme. Since qualifying as a PGA Professional in 2013, James explains how he has built up a very different way of life as a golf professional by becoming a YouTuber.
Three years ago, Yorkshire’s James Robinson was making a living giving lessons. Based at Huddersfield Golf Club, better known as Fixby, Robinson was working under head Professional Alex Keighley. That was when he decided to try something different in a bid to draw more people in for lessons and boost his profile.
Robinson began a YouTube channel which has now become his way of life. He hasn’t gone a day without posting some new content for a thousand days. He has almost 180,000 subscribers and many of his videos are watched over 100,000 times.
What made you start your YouTube channel?
I wanted to get myself out there to get more lessons which worked quite well. Then it took over and became its own viable entity within probably a year. The lessons took a bit of a back seat and my business became more online. It’s very enjoyable to run your own thing and it’s really good fun.
How comfortable were you on video in the early days?
My first video speaks volumes and I still revisit it as it’s terrible, I keep it on there for a bit of a laugh. Maybe the first 100 were pretty poor and you definitely get better and more comfortable as you do it more. Looking back I was staring at the camera with a glazed expression and you forget what you’re talking about – it could get quite frustrating but I managed to battle through that.
How would you describe your style?
I will write everything down as I’ve forgotten more ideas than I’ve actually filmed. I don’t script anything, I have a sheet of bullet points that I need to hit and I will try and talk as though I’m talking to a mate. I shoot it all myself, you learn to get better and to get more shots to help make the editing easier. Even on Christmas Day I got something out, and that keeps me busy but it also gives me a bit of structure. There was a point where I would play around with different cameras and I tried to get it more polished but it wasn’t me and it was taking more time.
What works in terms of getting maximum eyeballs on a video?
It used to be product reviews but I’m not sure it is any more. Rick Shiels and Mark Crossfield started that massively and I’ve tried to put my personality on it. I work a lot with close friends and the relatable content gets more eyeballs – I did one at Alwoodley where I duffed three shots on the 18th hole, I’ve no idea why, and people will enjoy that. The mid-to-high handicap stuff, working with friends, is very popular. If I’ve enjoyed filming it then people will enjoy watching it.
What advice would you give an aspiring YouTuber?
Not to give up. There are loads of times when I’ve thought that it was going nowhere. My first payment from YouTube was £2.14 and it’s easy to give up early on with the time that goes into it. Set out long-term goals and don’t look for short-term gain. Even when I started I didn’t think it would be a full-time job, I planned to match the money from the pro shop with YouTube and then that’s when I would go full-time. That way I wasn’t putting all my eggs in one basket and there was less pressure to grow it. Since the pandemic I haven’t got back into teaching. I’m an AimPoint instructor as well. We do short-game clinics and that’s enjoyable so I’d like to do more teaching in 2022 as I enjoy it. People presume that during the pandemic more people were at home watching YouTube but really they were at home and getting frustrated that they weren’t playing so they weren’t watching. The market dropped off so the money dropped off but it gave me more scope to be a bit more inventive.
What does the future hold for YouTubers?
Some people think that YouTube is a bit of a fad and that it will disappear. It’s the second biggest search engine behind Google and it’s owned by Google so it’s hard to see it going anywhere. It’s funny because my dad will always remind me that he always used to have to drag me to golf and I hated it until I was 12 but, as soon as I beat him, that’s all I ever wanted to do and I love what I’m doing now.