Travel Vloggers and Travel Business – How to use online video

I had a fascinating conversation with a mate’s son recently. He is 11 years old, a tween, and a big user of social media and youtube in particular. He told me of his favourite youtube travel channels, and in the process, opened my eyes to a whole next generation of travel vloggers. These Millennials grew up with computers and the internet, they understand social media better than anyone. And it is a joy to see that the dream to travel the world making money from video is now well and truly a career path.

I found a unique tool recently called the ‘Youtube Money Calculator‘ and thought it would be interesting to work out roughly what the top youtube travel channels actually earn from youtube ad revenue. To do this I set a medium cpm of $1.90 – $2.00 USD. Of course cpm’s will be higher at particular times of year, but if anything data shows cpm rates are not increasing. I used an average for the travel industry in the last 30 days.


So let’s first look at the new crop of travel vloggers, who are really killing it with the tween and under 25 demographic:

Views for the Last 30 Days: 4,600,440 ( +7.01% )
$292.60 – $308.00
$8,778.00 – $9,240.00
$105,336.00 – $110,880.00

Views for the Last 30 Days: 2,939,019 ( -23.65% )
$186.20 – $196.00
$5,586.00 – $5,880.00
$67,032.00 – $70,560.00

Views for the Last 30 Days: 2,257,551 ( +20.15% )
$143.45 – $151.00
$4,303.50 – $4,530.00
$51,642.00 – $54,360.00

Views for the Last 30 Days: 1,423,158 ( +1.94% )
$90.25 – $95.00
$2,707.50 – $2,850.00
$32,490.00 – $34,200.00

Views for the Last 30 Days: 184,775 ( +18.90% )
$11.40 – $12.00
$342.00 – $360.00
$4,104.00 – $4,320.00

But what about travel channels for an older demographic, how are they fairing?

Views for the Last 30 Days: 1,103,991 ( +29.55% )
$70.30 – $74.00
$2,109.00 – $2,220.00
$25,308.00 – $26,640.00

Views for the Last 30 Days: 990,186 ( +45.28% )
$62.70 – $66.00
$1,881.00 – $1,980.00
$22,572.00 – $23,760.00

Views for the Last 30 Days: 846,021 ( -1.74% )
$53.20 – $56.00
$1,596.00 – $1,680.00
$19,152.00 – $20,160.00

Views for the Last 30 Days: 535,842 ( +96.14% )
$34.20 – $36.00
$1,026.00 – $1,080.00
$12,312.00 – $12,960.00

Views for the Last 30 Days: 46,634 ( +61.30% )
$2.95 – $3.11
$88.63 – $93.30
$1,063.62 – $1,119.60

So by looking at these figures we can see, that only the very top echelon of travel channels on youtube, are making any reasonable coin. For the others, it’s a hell of lot of work, for very little reward, when you also consider straight off the bat, google takes a hefty 45% cut!

The current top travel channel on youtube is funforlouis. His videos are positive, aspirational, daily and collaborative. He is very clever in that everywhere he goes, he collaborates with other top youtubers, thus getting introduced to their subscribers and vice versa.

From a production point of view I find his work fascinating. He uses small point and shoot cameras, which means he can pretty much shoot anywhere without attracting too much attention and he gets the soundtracks to his videos by approaching musicians on soundcloud and asking them to provide their tracks gratis. And if you watch a lot of the other travel vloggers videos e.g. Ben Brown, you’ll see they all have a fairly similar formula – longish videos that capture their daily life, driving, meals, coffee and adventures. It’s all rather safe, happy, never controversial and not surprisingly advertiser friendly. How to set up a successful youtube travel channel

For someone who originally found ‘vlogging’ quite confronting, I’m amused by how easily the next wave take to talking to a camera, particularly when they ‘cockblock’ each other with duelling cameras capturing the same scene. Many of my generation (X) still find vlogging anodyne. Interesting that Vice should write such an article, given their previous held ‘new kids on the block’ status and recent rumours of lowly pay rates for their own ‘stars’. I suppose at least they do attempt to cover contentious world issues, even if it is with a sensationalist ‘American’ viewpoint!

Getting back to my mate’s son, these channels show him that he too can circumvent traditional media employment avenues, which are pretty much drying up anyway, and with a camera, a positive attitude and a strong work ethic, explore the world! And the channels that are doing the best are the ones that sell this dream, showing viewers a lifestyle they too can aspire to!

Ray William Johnson was one of the first youtube channels to have success using formulaic video. I find it fascinating, and maybe a bit disheartening as a filmmaker, to realize producing the same video format again and again seems to work on youtube. Viewers seem to appreciate knowing exactly what they are getting, like a trip to McDonald’s!

But, as the figures above show, most travel vloggers really aren’t ‘living the dream’ and need to find other revenue avenues to survive on the road! Collaborations with travel business can provide this additional income and is a win/win situation for both parties. But what do business need to consider when preparing an online video marketing campaign?

Travel Business and Travel Vloggers – Perfect Match?

A travel brand or business looking at using travel video vloggers to help market their wares really need to first determine their own demographic. There is no point for example, for a luxury cruise company, to team with a travel vlogger, whose main demographic is 11 year old boys!

“JacksGap attracts teenage girls in particular, with 88% of subscribers in this demographic.”

I think it is also important, despite the popularity of branded content, to make it very clear of any arrangements one has with travel vloggers. Recently biscuit brand Oreo learnt this the hard way, being rapped over the knuckles by the UK advertising watchdog.

If a travel vlogger features your product or business on their channel for payment, I don’t think a business has any right telling them how to do it! They know their viewers and would have the best idea what works. If a business or marketing manager has an idea for what they want done, a better option may be to get a video produced and set up their own channel.

Other options, doing video in-house

I recently helped initiate such a set up for Yealands Family Wines (New Zealands Wine Producer of the Year, 2014) They decided to branch into producing videos after hearing a talk from a California social media expert who stated a business must now operate like they are running their own magazine, keeping customers up to date with the latest products and happenings. Yealands decided to produce weekly videos, featuring their staff, talking about their wines, sustainability program and upcoming events. They found the videos provided another arrow to their social media quiver.

Yealands were never aiming for a viral video hit! They wanted to produce a lot of content, showing viewers who they were and how they did things differently. Many of the videos like the one featured, have a long shelf life, whereas others, such as yearly tasting notes, can be updated fairly easily.

I think this is a clever way to run a video campaign, to not just put your eggs all in one basket, but to produce numerous videos.

So whether you decide to go it alone, hiring a videographer to produce videos for you, or use one of the current crop of travel vloggers, a lot can be learnt from the successful travel channels;
post regularly, stick to a formula, collaborate with others e.g. related businesses, be cheerful and keep it fun!

Caribbean Luxury Hotel Comedy Spoof

“Looking for that special place for your Caribbean getaway
Try the Henry Berrisford, Livingston
The last word in luxury
ocean front views
a refreshing dip maybe
we are an art hotel, and each room features it own paintings
security has recently been enhanced
and you love our body hugging posteurpedic beds
the perfect place to meet some locals
our showers feature the latest in alpine massage technology
and each room is fitted with a cooling device that defies gravity
so come on, check it out baby
wander the grounds, feel free to explore
you’ll never know what you’ll find
get social at our singles lounge
or visit our happening cocktail bar
failed marriage, bankrupt or just plain depressed
Henry Berrisford is the place for you
we understand your misery, baby”

The Hotel Henry Berrisford, Livingston, Guatemala is currently undergoing renovations and I am it’s only guest.

The grand old dame is looking rather glum and I thought I’d have a bit of fun by making a comedy spoof promotional video.

Please note I did not get bedbugs at the Henry Berrisford. Those bites on my feet were from sand flies. The baby I found in the room was the cleaners and was just having a little nap while she cleaned.

I’m sure once renovations are complete, this majestic old Hotel will be returned to it’s former glory.

Social Media Popularity vs Producing content for niches with passion

After ten months on the road I’ve taken a well earned break to catch up on some editing. Well, the plan was to catch up on some editing, what I’ve actually found myself indulging in one of my favourite pastimes…research. I’ve finally had time to watch online videos, read books, study successful people and companies.

One author I’ve been reading quite a bit of is Malcolm Gladwell. He seems to be very clever at defining the Zeitgeist of our times by bringing together studies and statistics across various fields from psychology to epidemiology. I’ve also been studying marketing techniques and social media with the end aim of using my findings to continue making independent media for the travel and tourism industry.

So in this article, I wish to tie all this research together and discuss various ways in which independent media can use different advertising models and platforms to produce content.

To quote Numantra’s Why Social Media Doesn’t Work (and What You Can Do About It) “Advertising is a lot harder today then it ever was before. According to Planet Feedback’s “Consumer Trust in Advertising” report, fewer than half the people surveyed trust print ads or television commercials. Hardly a third of them trust what they hear on the radio. It’s even worse for direct mail and outdoor advertising. What’s the number one trusted source of advertising? Word of mouth!
That’s a huge game changer. Before, advertisers had to convince consumers to buy their product. Now, advertisers have to convince consumers to convince other consumers to buy their product. That is a much harder proposition. Imagine you had to sell your car but you couldn’t sell it directly to the buyer. Instead, you had to convince everyone to sell your car to their friends for you.”

So it is understandable that big corporations desire and require popularity on social networking sites. And let’s be honest, from twitter to Facebook, youtube to website rankings, money can buy popularity. Views, likes, subscribers, weblinks, all these things can be paid for. Which leads to a very important lesson for both media creators and advertiser, Never trust the numbers, trust the engagement!
And even with regard to the engagement, who is commenting, who is the audience? e.g. It always surprises me when reading travel blogs that a majority of comments come from other travel blog writers.

But maybe, as stated by Malcolm Gladwell in his book ‘Outliers’, success, whether in social media, or elsewhere, has always been a questionable measurement.

Why an advertising model for travel and tourism media production?

There are other models that I will mention, but given that I’m specifically working in the travel and tourism industry, I don’t think they are sustainable given the huge amount of free information available online.

Crowdfunding – Sites like Kickstarter have lead to the creation of many one off programs, but may not be suitable for long term media creation

Subscriber or DVD sales – I don’t really see anyone doing subscriber based media successfully, it just doesn’t seem to stick, even for Murdoch!

Media creators producing dvd’s or downloads on niche topics have managed to sustain audiences. But with regard to the travel and tourism industry, as mentioned, there is so much free marketing material available, promoting countries, regions, towns, trying to sell dvd’s or downloads would only garner a small audience, unless, once again, making content on niche travel like pilgrimage

Video Platforms and Types of Advertising

Given that the above study by Numantra states word of mouth is the best form of advertising, does it make sense to bombard people with ads such as is done on youtube? Is there a better way?

The other big player in online video is vimeo, of which I wasn’t a fan in the past because there seemed to be a divide between the ‘filmmakers’ of vimeo and the vloggers of youtube which I saw as quite pretentious. Personally I think anyone can make a ‘film’ which is nothing more than a series of lovely pictures set to music, getting an audience is an entirely different skill set!

But on my recent visit to vimeo I was surprised. I did some searches for areas of my interests and found who through video how-to’s, short films, rants and interviews are creating a new platform for independent surf culture. Now they also got started with a kickstarter campaign and are continuing content production via sponsors and an online shop selling surf related products. All with minimal advertising, six second pre-roll ads at the start and mention of sponsors at the end. Five supporter companies who service the surf industry provide funding to keep Korduroy creating content.


When a production company does what Korduroy tv has done, and targets a particular niche, you can be assured all there audience surf or at least are interested in surfing. So keeping the advertising low-key is probably a wise move, as what you are really doing is providing a platform for like minds to enjoy their hobby, funded by business that survive from that hobby. Such a formula, if done well, would lead to organic sharing amongst the community, thus guaranteeing it’s success. The huge views of a youtube viral video….no! A highly targeted dedicated audience established over time with ongoing content, yes! Which one has longevity and audience loyalty?

So how can this example be used in the travel and tourism industry?

The travel and tourism industry is huge. Last year it contributed US$1,850 billion to global GDP and employs over 99 million people.

All types of niches can be developed from grey nomads to fishing. This is pretty easy to deduct, a little bit harder is how to get paid to make this content?

I think the most important thing is to not make content for advertisers! Sounds a little counterproductive, but the reality is, people hate ads, and a lot of those who watch online video do so because they want to escape the bombardment of the crap they find on tv. This is also the reason most travel programs are staid and uninspiring, they are basically platforms for destination marketing.

One production company that has realised this is Vice. They brand themselves as edgy, underground and independent and produce content popular with the 18-29 demographic.

The fact they are backed by youtube and CNN to the tune of millions of dollars doesn’t seem to undermine their street cred, yet! I like vice’s travel videos, but in the same breath, I would not call them independent. Being able to hand out wads of cash to locals wherever you go is not my idea of independent travel. This poor bugger is independent, trying to visit every country in the world without flying. But, the reality of who is paying the tab isn’t so important if you are producing content people want to watch.

Branded Content

And this is where the branded content advertising model can be used by independent producers to feature travel related content. Branded content, where the marketing is not “heavy handed” and is “almost a bi-product” is the most effective form of marketing according to a October 2010 report by the CMO Council.
Featuring items or locations in content people want to watch has already been adopted by television and I think it will be the way of the future for online travel content.

Tipping Point

To use another Malcolm Gladwell term, I think social media has reached a tipping point. When you can no longer trust what has climbed to the top of the pile on social media sites, you have to wonder how long it will take for people to pack up shop and find other places to play.

Youtube for example has become too big and too American-centric. Even this ‘titty’ video got more fews on vimeo than youtube, and youtube has always been about tits and cats! (After one month – 25,787 hits on Vimeo and 1,804 hits on YouTube.)

The epicentre of top youtube creators is Los Angeles and most of the recent ‘original channels’ funding stayed within the USA. The individual creator community that made the youtube vibe have been pushed to the edge of the mega city by large production studios (e.g. vice) and their pre-fabricated instant stars. I can understand why youtube has to make the move towards more professional content, but you would think providing support to already established partners would be more sensible than bringing in outside production companies!

My prediction is little villages (alternative websites) will be established around the edges, feeding niche communities with content made from within these communities. They may still use youtube, or for that matter vimeo, but they won’t be relying on ad revenue from youtube, in the same way travel bloggers don’t rely on ad revenue from google. The clever operators will be making their own ad deals, dealing directly with the industries that service their niches. And clever advertisers will see through the hype of the huge views of viral videos, and understand sustainable communities of passionate individuals means more than short term popularity.

So to sum up, what does this mean for content creators; Produce work you are passionate about and develop your own community destination (websites) and your own advertising deals with companies that service that community. And ensure they understand that understated advertising methods are the only methods that will work.

How to make Business Profile Videos – Youtube Playlist

Mark Shea of is currently traveling the world, producing travel videos and exploring ways to make money while on the road. With the help of a local Malaysian Video Producer, Raj Singh, he will devise a system that any video producer, anywhere in the world, can use to make money doing videos to promote business.

The Apocalyptic Equatorial Visions of Dr. Overlander Esq.

Do subliminal messages work?
What do you feel after watching this 18 sec assault on your senses?
Featuring all the imagery tricks of advertising; sex, war, death and beauty.
Dr. Overlander lets loose from his secret bunker in the tropics, sending you 1 frame messages of Christmas cheer and good will.
Music – Careful with the Axe, Eugene – Pink Floyd

Artist’s Statement:

I’m 11 days upriver now, the God-fearing missionaries don’t even hit this part of Borneo. It’s too wild, autonomous regions, they believe in the old ways, jungle superstitions, ghosts and the need for blood sacrifice.

I’m the only white man, a giant among the pigmy people of the forest. They think I am a shaman and I play up to the role, killing chickens in their ceremonies, with much hooplah and pizzazz.

But like Cortez the Killer, I know it wont last, I know soon they will tire of me and my extravagant fake show, soon they will stop bringing me their daughters and finest rice wine.

And I’m ready for this day, for I know in my video ‘The Apocalyptic Equatorial Visions of Dr. Overlander’ I have achieved my life’s work, I have reached the pinnacle.

I have finally mastered the art of manipulating the minds of innocent viewers, with the subliminal methods used by such past puppet masters of propaganda, as Leni Riefenstahl and Walt Disney.

In a mere 18 seconds I have managed to make a film that will permeate your very being. It will be locked away in your subconscious, until one of the many ‘triggers’ ignites the change. Once watched, even just once, you will never be the same.

It will start as an uneasiness, a realisation that something isn’t right in the world. Slowly, slowly, it will lead to small changes.

But in the end, like with Orwell, I have only provided the signposts, it is up to you to decide with what you do with this new found realisation.

Business Profile Videos, How to make

Mark Shea of is currently traveling the world, producing travel videos and exploring ways to make money while on the road. With the help of a local Malaysian Video Producer, Raj Singh, he will devise a system that any video producer, anywhere in the world, can use to make money doing videos to promote business.

Online Travel Video Production and Advertising Opportunity in Australia

Youtube is the 500 pound Gorilla of online video. So it makes sense that it is also the place to put videos about your tourism business or region. As youtube is owned by google, there is the added bonus that youtube videos rank very highly in google search.

My time on youtube has taught me some valuable lessons with regard to what people like. By monitoring each video’s ratings, comments, views and the amount of times it has been added to a viewers favorites, I can assess exactly what format and type of story, within the ‘Meet a Local’ concept works. Youtube insight also provides viewer demographics such as sex, age, location.

I believe online video is now the new free to air tv, and that opportunities exist for business like never before. If you place an ad on television, it may well be viewed by 100,000 people, but of that 100,000, how many are actually interested in your product, 5%, 10%? With a niche youtube channel like mine, which features travel videos, I can be fairly certain, everyone who CHOOSES to watch or subscribe to my videos are interested in travel, and my videos are viewed globally.

So an exciting opportunity exists for a travel related company to promote their business or region with online video. This could include getting other local tourism operators to become involved and share the cost.

Teaming up with allows you to promote your business or region, on an already established, successful highly visible travel video channel which has spent the last year, adapting it’s programming to suit the online 3-5 minute format. This means your video will automatically place well in google search due to number of views and rankings.

Anyway, enough talk, Contact me for more information or give me a call on