Back in college, I was part of a conversation with a group of people. One of the girls in the group played roller derby competitively and somehow we got on that topic. Knowing very little about it, I said something like: Is that where you just skate around in a circle and shove people out of the way?
While the girl's face (appropriately) expressed a bit of annoyance, another guy in the group said to me: Never describe something the with the word "just." He went on, yes, roller derby involves skating around a circle, and involves some shoving. But there's a lot more to it than that. It's a sport that requires a ton of strategy, stamina, and physical strength.
He was right. My comment was ignorant and insulting. I didn't mean it that way but "just" is a powerful word in this context. To this day, that's some of the best advice I've ever received. Never describe something using "just."
What does this have to do with a travel vlog?
People see travel blogs and vlogs and think that the vast majority of peoples' time is mostly just spent experiencing incredible adventures and might involve an hour of work each day.
The truth is, well ... that couldn't be further from the truth.
It might be the case for a handful of people who have such an enormous following that they get daily offers to be flown to Dubai in first class, test-drive Lamborghinis, and soar through the skies using a winged jetpack. These vloggers not only get these experiences for free, they're very-well-paid to do so.
These few people can afford a full-time staff to do all of the boring stuff for them. But even then, managing a staff is a lot of work in itself.
Let's not forget, this didn't fall into their lap. You can bet they made a lot of sacrifices and worked their tail off for years to get where they're at.
What's it like for us normal folk?
Most travel vloggers earn little to nothing from their work and never will. They have enough savings or a career that allows remote work. They choose to spend their time and money traveling around and sharing some of their experiences.
I'd estimate that only the top 1% earn a full-time income. Of that 1%, most portray it as the perfect life - as if every day consists of sitting on a beach, sipping a margarita, and watching the gorgeous sunsets. They don't do this because they're trying to deceive people, they do this because that's what their viewers want to see.
I'm here to tell you it's not like that.
If you want to be a part of that 1% who earns a living doing this, every day is going to be non-stop work from the time you wake up until the time you go to sleep.
You'll pull your hair out trying to appease YouTube's algorithms. You'll spend hours and hours every day editing videos, making sure you're keeping the audience's attention throughout. You'll study your retention rates and figure out what makes viewers click out of your videos as well as what makes them stick around. You'll be reading and learning every single day to figure out how to get your videos to rank higher. Every day will be non-stop work. At least for a while.
What goes into shooting a video?
Before making a video, you'll brainstorm some topics and do keyword research to make sure there's enough demand for it. You better also make sure there's not too much competition, otherwise, ranking for those search terms will be a struggle.
Next, is shooting the video. This is the fun part, right?
Shooting the video is the most fun part but it can easily suck the fun out of an otherwise enjoyable activity. Am I facing the right way? How's the lighting? What do I picture the video being like? In what order should I capture the footage? What do I need to say? What will my audience care about? What will keep people engaged?
As you're shooting your footage, you'll be answering dozens of questions like this to try to get the best possible footage. If you don't do these things, you're going to end up with a subpar video or give yourself an editing nightmare.
You want to have fun while making your videos, otherwise, your dissatisfaction is going to be apparent in the final product. However, if your entire focus is on having fun, your video isn't going to be representative of the experience.
You can still have very enjoyable experiences but it is difficult to find this balance.
Editing a video "The boring part"
Without knowing what goes into video editing, the average person thinks we can get an hour of footage and turn it into a great 10-minute video in a few hours.
Let's take the video we're currently working on as an example. We went on the Herradura Express, which involved a 2-hour train ride, a tour, lunch, tequila tasting, a mariachi/dancing show, and a 1.5-hour train ride back. The total experience was 9.5 hours.
From that 9.5 hours, we got 1 hour and 26 minutes of footage.
To turn this 1.5 hours of footage into an interesting 15-minute video, it looks like it's going to take about 20 hours of editing.
You just need to edit the video but once you get that out of the way, the rest is easy.
If only. It seems like this is what most people think. But after the editing is done, our work is only just beginning.
What more needs to be done?
- Optimize the video (takes about 45 minutes)
- Upload the video (takes about an hour but is totally dependent on internet speeds)
- Do tag research to ensure low competition and high search volume tags
- Write a YouTube description for SEO purposes
- Think of some comments that will help get engagement
- Reply to comments for a few hours to get more engagement
- Create backlinks to high-authority websites
- Transcribe the audio for subtitles (takes a couple of hours)
- Reply to emails, facebook messages, Instagram messages, Patreon messages, etc.
- Share on social media channels
- Run A/B tests to determine the best titles, thumbnails, and tags
- Study analytics to figure out what we're doing right and where we can improve
Doing all of these things, every single day is what has allowed us to grow to more than 10,000 YouTube subscribers in a little over 4 months. It has been stressful and it's been a tremendous amount of work, but at the same time, we've learned a lot and are happy with the progress.
How do we balance work with life?
Work/life balance is a struggle, to say the least. We've been trying to figure out how to appease the YouTube algorithms while at the same time enjoy our everyday lives. The conclusion that we've come to is that we need to make fewer, but longer videos.
We were putting a lot of stress on ourselves to release a video every single day. So instead of doing that, we're going to try to put out a video approximately every other day.
We think that putting out fewer videos will allow our audience to get the quality, useful content that they're looking for, while at the same time, it will give us the balance that we need in life.
We'll continue looking forward to the day when we have a large enough audience to outsource the boring and time-consuming work. But until then, we'll have to continue with the grind.
Please, "just" don't
Anytime you're describing or asking about something without having personal experience with it, never say it's just this or just that. Any time something seems easy, you can bet your bottom dollar that there's a lot more to it.
Hopefully, this gives you a little bit more insight into what it's like being a travel vlogger.
We get to visit a lot of new places and have so many wonderful experiences. But the truth is, most of our days are spent in front of a computer. We've had some people tell us that they want to do exactly what we're doing - For those of you who feel like this, we hope this post shows you some of the other sides of the story.