So you want to start a YouTube channel and don’t know where to begin? The good news is we have spent the past while learning the YouTube ropes we have had some successes and most importantly some failures!
We are sharing all of our experiences and learnings with you, so that you can skip the guessing game and be ready to take on YouTube with some of the best travel vlogging tips we can give!
We are Reti & Bianca, a couple from New Zealand who quit our jobs and sold everything so that we could spend an entire year adventuring around the globe. Leading up to our travels we spent hours watching our favourite YouTube travel channels.
At the time we didn’t have a TV in our home, so YouTube binge sessions were a big part of our evening routine. Watching fellow travellers exploring remote locations and discovering new and unique cultures help provide a sense of travel confidence for us.
As creatives and professionals we knew we would need a project to help keep us stimulated while travelling, so feeling inspired by our favourite YouTubers, we decided to buy a Gopro and document our travels.
We were very green starting out and to be honest we were mainly filming to let our family back home know that we were safe and having a great time.
But one year of travel vlogging has taught us some key lessons about what it takes to create and maintain a YouTube channel. So, we are going to share all our learnings with you, to give you the head start we never had!
Check out one of our early travel vlogs below…an oldie but a goodie.
YouTube is Hard
YouTube is hard. Firstly, it’s awesome that you are serious about starting a YouTube channel, but we need to be honest and upfront. Starting a YouTube channel is not for everyone and before you set out on your YouTube journey you must be prepared to put in a lot of hard work.
The amount of time and work you will put into your channel for what can at first seem like little reward, is what makes it so difficult.
Every YouTube channel has its own unique story of growth. Some YouTubers might get a plug from the right influencer or have a viral video that will help catapult their channel quickly, but for the majority of youtube channels the reality is a slow buildup to success.
Many popular travel YouTubers can be posting under the radar for many months even years before their channels blow up. One of our favourite travel vloggers Indigo Traveller posted up to 60 videos before be reaching 1000 subscribers…now he has over 440,000 subs!
Not only can it take time for your channel to gain traction, it also takes a lot of time and energy creating your content. Creating video content can be super time consuming and involves the planning of ideas as well as the filming, sorting and editing of footage.
That’s just the video creation, the other work involved in promoting and branding your channel as well community engagement can take just as long. So, if you have read up to this point and still want to start a YouTube channel we commend you! You can now move onto the rest of the learning….more tips below!
YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world after Google…and guess what…. Youtube is owned by Google! This means YouTube is here to stay and pretty much owns the internet! By uploading your content to YouTube, your video can rank on Google search as well as YouTube search.
This is extremely powerful when it comes to the potential reach that YouTube can provide your videos. Not to mention YouTube gives you access to over 30 million daily visitors…..mind is blown!
It’s also important to mention that when people visit YouTube, they are going with the specific intent to watch videos. What this means is that your viewer is already primed for a video watching experience.
They likely already have time to sit and watch, compared to other platforms such as Facebook where users pop on for a moment to check what their friend are up to while waiting for the bus, for example.
Do Not Compare Yourself on Youtube
One thing that we knew we had to stop doing was comparing ourselves to other YouTubers. Before we became travel vloggers we would spend hours watching our favourite travel channels. But after starting our own channel this really didn’t do us any good at all.
We started comparing our channel to others wondering what we were doing wrong, why were they so successful and we were not? Watching our favourite YouTubers became more discouraging than enjoyable.
Comparing yourself to others on YouTube can damage your motivation…it did for us….and can often times lead to copying others, leaving your authenticity in the dust. Your brand and your authenticity is your unique identifier, don’t leave it in the dust! (more on authenticity later in this article)
Your subscribers have subscribed to YOUR channel, not the channel you are comparing yourself with. So, stop comparing yourself to others…it will only drive you mad!
Gear We Use for Travel Vlogging
Camera: Our camera become our extra arm, where-ever we were one of us was always holding the camera. As travel vloggers it is super important to us that our gear is durable, compact and easy to use.
We are hiking and adventuring around the world, the last thing we need is a fancy camera to get stolen, broken or lost! So we just stick to the trusty Gopro! Gopros are everything we need in a travel camera…they are small, very durable, easy to use, waterproof and produce high quality video.
We could easily upgrade our camera, but every time we think about it we get turned off at the fact that it will not be good to travel with.
It’s great having a tiny camera that doesn’t seem so obvious and obnoxious when your filming, especially if your wanting to film the people around you and capture the true essence of a place. A big fancy camera can oftentimes intimidate people or kill the vibe.
We have dropped our Gopro a few to many times…ops! But this thing never seems to brake! Our Gopro has survived over a year of rough off-beat travel through a few monsoons, a Holi festival many dusty roads and hikes across the Himalayas.
Not only are these cameras durable and tiny, they also have great film capabilities. Gopro has awesome settings for slow mo and time lapse and you can even shoot in 4K resolution. These are the reasons why it would be hard to convince us on any other camera.
The main let down for Gopro is the low light capacity, so filming at night will always result in grainy footage, but it’s a pay-off we are willing to make.
We have used the Gopro Hero5 in the past and have just recently purchased the Gopro Hero 7 which we are excited about trying due to is gimbal like stabilisation. You can compare Gopro prices and read the reviews online >>>link to Amazon.
Mount: For our mount, we use a Photopro UFO Flexible tripod which can be attached to literally anything, great for extra creativity while on the go. It also doubles as a selfie stick, great for vlogging and easy to use while travelling.
Storage: SD cards and external hard-drives are like gold for travel vloggers. Finding space to store your footage becomes a challenge if your filming everyday like we did….after 1 year of travelling and filming everyday we ended up with 3 hard-drives full of footage!
Although Segate is a trusted brand we actually had lots of trouble with both our 1TB Segate hard-drives and we lost quite a bit of footage because of it. For our 3rd hard-drive we decided to try another brand called Western Digital and we have had no issues so can definitely recommend it, we have this particular model.
We purchased cheap SD cards to begin with and regretted it almost straight away. It wasn’t long until the cheap SD cards began to fail. They would regularly malfunction while filming and we would lose great footage, so we recently invested in a high quality SD card(this particular one), they are expensive but well worth it for ease of capture and reliability. Looks like it is on sale 64% on Amazon, we paid double the price for this in the shop!
And thats pretty much all we used. We did take a small lapel mic with us but never used it, it wasn’t convenient for us and the type of intrepid travel we do. For us while travelling simple and easy was best….the simpler the better!
Quality & Quantity While Travel Vlogging
Creating quality content is the key to YouTube success. But what is quality content and how do you create it? Learning what defines quality content can take time and learning how to create it can take even longer. In short, quality content is creating videos that your viewers want to watch!
Quality is king with YouTube, but quantity is also important. Finding the right balance between producing quality content in high quantities is super important.
Although we have to admit we do not upload nearly enough ourselves, regular uploads not only encourages your viewers to keep coming back to find new and exciting content, it also tells YouTube your channel is current and active.
The more videos you post the more views, reach and potential income your channel can collect. But there is no point in uploading hundreds of mediocre videos that have no impact, which is why quality is also crucial for your channel. But what makes a quality video? Keep reading for our tops tips!
If you are going to start a YouTube channel, make sure you choose a niche or topic that you are passionate about. If you don’t, you are in danger of giving up quickly and creating content that lacks enthusiasm and authenticity.
With all the hard work that goes into growing a YouTube channel, choosing a topic that gets you excited will help keep you motivated. Your passion for the topic will also shine through in your videos and it will also transfer to your viewers, true authentic passion is infectious.
If you choose a topic you are passionate about, it is also more likely you have the skills, ideas, thoughts and tips to share with your audience, making it far easier to create valuable content and come up with great video ideas.
Niche for Your Travel Vlog
It’s essential that your channel has a niche or theme. If your channel promotes content that is confused and not consistent you will lose subscribers fast.
Lets say your first video is a cooking tutorial that teaches people how to make homemade pasta, you will likely gain a bunch of subscribers who are interested in learning more about cooking. If you then go and upload a video about your day surfing you will likely lose those initial subscribers because the content is no longer relevant to them.
Having a niche can have a huge impact on the success of your YouTube channel. Striking the right balance between finding a niche with a passionate following and not being oversaturated can make a big difference when it comes to growing your channel faster.
Picking an overdone topic such as ‘makeup tutorials’ can make it hard to stand in the crowded space of makeup channels, you will be competing with thousands of already established channels and yours is likely to get lost in the sea of makeup tutorials.
However, you can narrow down your niche to a sub-niche such as ‘makeup reviews for sensitive skin.’ The sub-niche approach allows you to have a more targeted audience and build a strong passionate and loyal community.
In the travel niche there are so many sub niches that you could explore. Family travel, off the beaten path travel, choosing a particular city or country, street food, hotel reviews, luxury travel, beach reviews, waterfall finding, budget travel etc etc….
Authenticity in Your Travel Vlogs
Who would’ve thought that being true to yourself was a key ingredient to youtube success? Authenticity is like a golden ticket for travel vloggers and YouTubers. The concept seems easy and simple. However, letting the true you shine can be harder than you expect, especially when you are glaring into a camera lens.
So what is being authentic and why do viewers respond well to it? Vlogging in an authentic way involves letting your true thoughts, feelings and reactions flow naturally. Talk to the camera like you are talking to your sibling or your best friend.
Be present with your true emotions in the moment…basically be as natural as you can. This can be really hard when you are just starting out in the world of travel vlogging, but as you get more and more use to the camera it will come more naturally to you.
Don’t worry too much about what you are saying while you are recording, let your words flow with ease, you can always edit it later to remove certain parts of the clip. We find the true moments of emotion that we capture are the most engaging content pieces.
It is also important to note that we are all human, and most viewers like to know that you are human too, so don’t try and be perfect. You will create a much stronger connection with your audience if you are relatable.
You are unique. We are sure you have heard this many times before, but it does ring true when it comes to travel vlogging. Your individuality is what’s going to set you apart from other YouTubers. If you try to copy your favourite vloggers, you will most likely fail. Your viewers are smart and intuitive and they can sense fake, so it’s best just to – do you!
For us, being authentic travel vloggers meant not setting up any scenes and just capturing the adventures as they happened naturally. When we were vlogging we also imagined that we were talking to our family back home which is a super easy way to ease into feeling natural in front of thee camera.
Tips for Authenticity:
Pretend the camera is one of your close friends or family members
Talk about things that generally interest you
Don’t try and copy other YouTubers
Be relatable, not perfect
Let your words flow with ease, don’t over think
Include a Story in Your Travel Vlogs
If you want to up your vlogging game, you need to have an engaging story. Storytelling is a very important ingredient for your YouTube content and can help engage your audience. By story, we mean including a beginning, middle and end. Show real moments and interactions with people that viewers can connect with.
A simple montage of travel footage with background music may work in some cases, but a lot of the time videos that have interesting storylines do much better. Building a story into your content will help get more emotive reactions and will keep viewers engaged and connected to your videos.
A good story will increase the likelihood of viewers watching your video to the end which will in-turn increase your YouTube rankings. Here is an easy way to breakdown how a story can be segmented to help you connect with more viewers on YouTube.
Hook/Beginning: Introduce your video, set the tone and capture the viewer’s attention with intrigue. Approximately 20% of the people who start your video will leave after the first 10 seconds, so your intro better be good!
Heart/Middle: What’s happening, how do you feel? Make viewers feel part of what’s happening as if they are experiencing it with you.
Home/End: What is the resolution, how does your ending tie your story together.
Cut the Fluff Out of Your Travel Vlogs
While telling a story is important, it’s also important not to ramble and bore your audience. Conveying your message in a concise and compelling way can be very effective in retaining your audience for longer. Rambling will result in your viewers dropping off and moving onto more interesting content. So if you want to do well on YouTube, don’t be a bore!
Although we say don’t ramble, try not to think about this too much when filming. Sometimes while filming you’re on a roll, you’re talking with passion and you might ramble a bit. The good news is, unnecessary rambling or fluff can be cut out of your final edit. It’s all in the editing.
It’s called ‘Jump Cuts’, this is how we get the balance of being natural on camera and not boring our audience. Jump cuts are an editing technique where you can cut out sections of a shot to remove certain phrases, words or sentences to help refine your messaging.
It’s also a great tool for removing “uhs” and “ums.” If you you can learn how to cut out what’s not important and get your point across in 1 minute rather then 5, then you are winning!
Cutting the fluff should also be considered when deciding what stories or sections are included in your vlog. Just because you filmed it doesn’t mean it needs to be in the final video.
There were times we left out entire sections or activities that we filmed because it didn’t add much interest or value to the final product. Cutting down your videos and editing sections can be a difficult creative process, but if you can edit effectively and keep your messaging concise it will definitely pay off!
Are you repeating yourself? Are you saying the same thing twice but just in a different way, if so you can probably cut it!
Is this adding value? Is this part of the video interesting or adding value? If not, cut it!
Music for Your Travel Vlogs
One way to stand out on youtube is to use music in an interesting way. Too many times we watch travel vlogs and their music is all the same regurgitated sound. So choose a new interesting genre, use sound effects and edit your vlogs to the music.
Reti is actually a musician and music producer so he taylor makes our music to provide mood, energy and a sense of culture and adventure. Many times he will sample the sounds he hears while travelling and turns them into music for our channel. So if you have talent for music, creating your own beats is definitely a way to be different on YouTube.
If not there are plenty of places to find unique music….Soundcloud is one great source. You can also download any of our tracks and use them in your own project as well. So if you are after something a bit different then check out our royalty free music library here. We add new songs each month so the library of adventure tunes will continue to grow.
Connect With Your Audience
Many of us will focus on the numbers when we are starting out on YouTube, but we can easily forget that those numbers represent people. Your people, your audience. Thinking about your subscribers as the human beings is important and connecting with those human beings is one of the most important things you can do on YouTube.
Connecting with your audience can translate to your viewers feeling like they are part of your journey rather than just observing it. Inviting your viewers into your world and making them feel apart of something creates an immediate connection.
Everyone wants to belong and find a like minded group of people. You can give this sense of belonging to your viewers by creating a community on YouTube. Building a strong community on YouTube is a sure way to foster highly engaged and loyal superfans, the ones who will be sharing your content far and wide.
Tips for connecting with your audience and building a community on YouTube:
Talk to your audience not at them: It’s so important that you remember your audience is there, talk to them, pretend they are inside the camera (they kinda are). Have a conversation with them, mention them, ask them questions.
Name them: Giving your subscribers a name is a very impactful community builder. We call our subscribers Native’s and it’s our way of creating a club like feeling for our channel. We all want to feel like we belong and naming your audience is one way of giving this sense of belonging to your channel community.
Make them feel special: Everyone wants to feel special and your viewers are no different. The people who comment on your videos are very enthusiastic so show them some love and respond to their comments.
We actually try to respond to every single comment on our channel. It’s important not just to respond with a simple thanks, or an emoji, instead ask them a meaningful question and get a conversation going. This not only makes your viewers feel special, it also helps increase your engagement on your videos, in-turn boosting reach on YouTube.
Language: Includingspecial words or lingo is a powerful way to make your viewers feel like they are insiders. This again taps into the concept of creating a club like community for your channel.
For us we use a few native Maori words and some NZ slang and people who watch our videos often get to know these words and their meanings. Some even comment to us in Te Reo Maori (the New Zealand Native tongue)
YouTube Community Tab
YouTube has a community setting where you can post images, comments and polls. At this stage, most channels with over 1000 subscribers will be granted access to the YouTube community tab. This features allows creators to build and foster their community by connecting with them directly in other ways rather than just posting videos.
It’s a great tool to empower and engage with your youtube community. It’s also a great way to ask your subscribers want they want to see more of on your tube channel which can be invaluable information to help you tweak your content and grow a successful viewer focused channel.
Engaging with the YouTube community tab allows you to build greater intimacy with your audience and as a bi-product viewers you may notice viewers will become more loyal to you, your brand and your content.
Posts on the community tab can also appear in their subscribers feeds, making it a great tool to remind your subscribers about your channel. So if you’re not using the community tab, get started and take advantage of this valuable tool that can help you foster your YouTube community.
Lead with Awesome in Your Travel Vlogs
With online video its so important to captivate your viewers in the first 15-20seconds of your content. This means getting straight into the video, no boring interludes or introductions, just jump right in!
For travel vloggers it’s a great idea to start with action. Rather than sitting on your bed in your hotel room, start the video with you walking through the middle of a bustling marketplace or taking an exciting boat ride.
Also, make sure your intro is directly reflecting what is in your thumbnail and title, if your viewers sense click bait, they will move on straight away.
So if you thumbnail says Shopping in Marrakech, then your first few seconds should reassure the view that yes this video definitely is about shopping in Marrakesh. If the viewer doesn’t find what they are looking for in the first few seconds, it is highly likely they will move on very quickly.
Visual Interest in Your Travel Vlogs
Once you have captured your audience, now the trick is to keep them watching. There are some great editing techniques you can use to turn a boring video into something interesting and watchable.
Including elements for visual interest is super important. Cutaways, meaningful b-roll, crop-ins, animations and switching between different angles and shots are all great ways to create visual interest in the editing stage.
To sum it up, finding ways to give your viewers variety and dynamics will help keep them watching your video for longer. As we know the longer people watch your videos the more YouTube will trust your content.
Longer view times helps prove to YouTube that your content is what the viewers want to see. If your analytics shows your content is watchable, you will notice YouTube will actively promote your videos through suggested videos, which can boost your views in a big way.
Consistency Across Your Youtube Channel
With the masses of vloggers all posting content on YouTube, consistency is one way you can really set your channel apart from the rest. Consistency relates to 4 main elements on your channel:
How often you post: Producing consistent content regularly is key….But what is consistent? Is it once per day, once per week or once per month? To be honest once per day would be great, but thats not always achievable. You need to decide what is realistic for your schedule and lifestyle. What ever you decide the most important things is too be consistent with your uploading schedule, so that viewers know when to come back to your channel. You might even want to announce your posting scheduled on your channel art “new videos the 1st of every month!” for example
The type of content you post: It’s helpful to keep the messaging on your channel within your niche & theme. We post intrepid adventure travel vlogs with an editing style that people have come to recognise and love….So we stick to this formula, we wouldnt go and post a luxury hotel review tomorrow!
The Branding: Keeping your brand and imagery consistent is important for building brand recognition. Channel art, logos & thumbnails should all be unified under one brand image. You will find more super helpful tips on thumbnails in the next tip.
Keeping these elements consistent will help you build trust with your viewers and overtime your subscribers will know what to expect from your channel and will come back to find more.
Clear messaging and consistent predictable interaction is what will help keep and grow your subscriber following on YouTube, rather than a channel that seems confused.
Consistency also helps position yourself as an authority in your niche, people like to follow and trust authorities.
Effective Thumbnails for YouTube
Custom thumbnails are super important for your channels conversion rates. But what makes an a clickable thumbnail? The following tips will help you up your thumbnail game.
Keep your thumbnails consistent. Wether the border or the text is consistent, something in your thumbnails needs to be easily identifiable. This will help keep people watching your videos….For example if someone is watching one of your video’s and YouTube shows another one of your vlogs as a suggested video, your thumbnails will help the viewer easily identify this video if from your channel…increasing the chances of them binge watching your content.
Images of people are more effective than anything else. So simply put….make sure your thumbnails feature pictures of people! Preferably the people who feature in the vlog.
Keep in mind when vlogging to capture a photograph with your thumbnail in mind. But don’t worry too much if you don’t have a photo for every video, you can always take a screen grab from your content and turn this into your thumbnail, like the holi thumbail above.
Be careful with positioning the text in your thumbnails. For example placing text in the bottom right hand corner is a bad idea….why? It will get blocked/covered by the video timer on Youtube.
You can use free and user friendly design tools to create professional looking thumbnails, we use Canva!
So there you have it, our top tips for beginner travel vloggers. The main point we would like to drive home is that succeeding on YouTube is a marathon not a sprint. If you put in the time and hard work and follow these tips your chances of success will be much greater!
If you have any other questions about travel vlogging then let us know in the comments section below, we love hearing from you…..Happy travel vlogging!
Cheers, Native Travellers INTREPID & OFF THE BEATEN PATH TRAVEL STORIES, GUIDES, TIPS & HACKS
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