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 favorite travel channels, and in the process, opened my eyes to the whole next generation of travel vloggers. These millennials grew up with the internet, and they understand social media better than anyone. It is a joy to see that the dream of traveling the world while making money from videos 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 the year, but 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 killing it with the tween and under 25 demographic:
Views for the Last 30 days: 4,600,440 (+7.01%)
Estimated daily earnings: $292.60 — $308.00
Estimated monthly earnings: $8,778.00 — $9,240.00
Estimated yearly projection: $105,336.00 — $110,880.00
Views for the Last 30 days: 2,939,019 (-23.65%)
Estimated daily earnings: $186.20 — $196.00
Estimated monthly earnings: $5,586.00 — $5,880.00
Estimated yearly projection: $67,032.00 — $70,560.00
Views for the Last 30 days: 2,257,551 (+20.15%)
Estimated daily earnings: $143.45 — $151.00
Estimated monthly earnings: $4,303.50 — $4,530.00
Estimated yearly projection: $51,642.00 — $54,360.00
Views for the Last 30 days: 1,423,158 (+1.94%)
Estimated daily earnings: $90.25 — $95.00
Estimated monthly earnings: $2,707.50 — $2,850.00
Estimated yearly projection: $32,490.00 — $34,200.00
Views for the Last 30 days: 184,775 (+18.90%)
Estimated daily earnings: $11.40 — $12.00
Estimated monthly earnings: $342.00 — $360.00
Estimated yearly projection: $4,104.00 — $4,320.00
What about travel channels for an older demographic, how are they fairing?
Views for the Last 30 days: 1,103,991 (+29.55%)
Estimated daily earnings: $70.30 — $74.00
Estimated monthly earnings: $2,109.00 — $2,220.00
Estimated yearly projection: $25,308.00 — $26,640.00
Views for the Last 30 days: 990,186 (+45.28%)
Estimated daily earnings: $62.70 — $66.00
Estimated monthly earnings: $1,881.00 — $1,980.00
Estimated yearly projection: $22,572.00 — $23,760.00
Views for the Last 30 days: 846,021 (-1.74%)
Estimated daily earnings: $53.20 — $56.00
Estimated monthly earnings: $1,596.00 — $1,680.00
Estimated yearly projection: $19,152.00 — $20,160.00
Views for the Last 30 days: 535,842 (+96.14%)
Estimated daily earnings: $34.20 — $36.00
Estimated monthly earnings: $1,026.00 — $1,080.00
Estimated yearly projection: $12,312.00 — $12,960.00
Views for the Last 30 days: 46,634 (+61.30%)
Estimated daily earnings: $2.95 — $3.11
Estimated monthly earnings: $88.63 — $93.30
Estimated yearly projection: $1,063.62 — $1,119.60
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 a lot of work for a small reward — especially when you take into account that 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 (Ben Brown’s, for example), 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.
Getting back to my mate’s son. These channels show him that he too can circumvent traditional media employment avenues, 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.
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!
In fact, if you look at the audience of Top 10 Travel Influencers on YouTube, a large majority have most of their audience under 19 years old! This would suggest that for most travel business, particularly those targeting wealthy older lifestylers, searching for influencers outside the current crop of popular channels is necessary, given YouTube’s skewing towards younger audiences.
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 Zealand’s 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 as if 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.
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.
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, be cheerful, and keep it fun!