I think vlogging is one of the most important things you can do to make you stand out in travel blogging. There are a lot of people dabbling, me included, but compared to the amount of travel bloggers there aren’t many travel vlogger stars out there. And if you’re looking for British travel vloggers the pool of potential is even smaller.
Quick. Get your Ant n Dec on. There’s a definite gap in the market.
Me and my YouTube
I’ve made a few videos. I’ve given it a go. I’ve put the two below that I refer to in this article on Saint Lucia St James Bay Hotel review and my 9 Weirdest Things to Do in Tokyo. Have a watch, see what you think.
I’ve also made a video of the Frozen Parade at Disneyland Tokyo, the Snow Monkeys of Nagano, and Snorkelling at Caye Caulker Marine Reserve. Might be easier to just check out my YouTube channel if you want to see more.
Things I need to make a video
- An injection of enthusiasm and inspiration.
- Time – for both of these videos I was in the destination at least a week.
- An idea.
- Somewhere that really takes my interest. I was planning on doing a video a week from my Asia trip but it all fell apart when I just wasn’t that enamoured with Taiwan.
- More practice.
As more of an enthusiast on the subject, rather than an expert, I thought we’d have a look at what the successful travel vloggers are doing around the web. If you’re thinking of making your first foray into travel vlogging, it’s worth studying a few other vloggers for inspiration (not imitation).
As you’ll see from the range of bloggers I’ve listed below, some go for a super ‘professional’ look where it’s all edited and beautifully put together while others opt for the more ‘vlogger’ look with one arm selfies and just basically filming what they’re doing with their camera on their shoulder.
I’ve divided them into ‘travel vloggers’ and ‘travel bloggers who make videos’ for ease.
Fun for Louis
I bumped into Louis in a bar in Waterloo. I’m a little ashamed to say I was totally starstruck and mumbled some words to him revealing I knew who he was and loved his work. We hung out a week later after I’d got over my sudden speech impediment and I found he was such a cool guy. He genuinely loves his 1 million+ subscribers and seemed amazed by his success. He makes a video every day, usually around 10 minutes long, or even longer. His vlogs are very ‘vlog’. There’s not as much slick editing as the others and this seems to make him more relatable to fans. He literally vlogs about anything, from worldwide adventures to hanging out at his mate’s house in Surrey.
Jane’s videos are cool because her most popular ones are all about what she knows – what it’s like to be Scottish, and what it’s like to live in Scotland. She’s amassed thousands of views on her Scottish swear words video without even leaving her room.
Travel bloggers who make videos
As We Travel
Sofia and Nathan from As We Travel are like TV presenters. Their YouTube shows are always well researched and they like to give some history on what they’re doing to educate their viewers. One of the things, I think, that makes them stand out in the vlogosphere is that they’re not over the top in the presenting style. They’re just straight to the point showing you how it is where they are. They use photos when they don’t have the footage, and although they’re professional they’re still relatable with their relaxed style.
The Blonde Abroad
I really like Kiersten’s videos at The Blonde Abroad. She mixes things up a bit with vlogs, travel guides and general travel tips and videos about her personal style too. She uses a few different techniques with some pieces to camera and others with a voiceover and music. She knows how to choose her tunes for the best impact too.
The thing I like best about Booker is that he tells a story. He’s been doing it for years and if you look back on his videos it’s hard to believe he started doing it so young. His voice is perfect for the chilled out vibe to his videos and he interviews and hangs out with some really interesting people. He’s the opposite of all the OTT enthusiastic YouTubers, and is genuinely interested in other people and telling their stories too. I love this one with the surf guide in Nicaragua, not just because I’m becoming obsessed with Nicaragua but because getting a guide wasn’t his usual style but he ended up learning so much and having an amazing experience he wouldn’t have otherwise. You can see him changing over the course of the film.
What to vlog about?
Take a look at my What to Write About and How article and just change the ‘write’ for vlog. Vlog about your trips, your preparation, your return, your thought and feelings and even that of your family, including your cat. As you start to vlog more it’s worth looking at your YouTube analytics to work out how long people are watching your stuff for and what they actually really want to know. Then you can start to vlog tactically, if it’s views your after. If you’re just doing it for fun then there’s no need to worry about that. Take a look at How to Be a Successful (V)Blogger to read more about setting your personal measures of success and ignoring other people’s.
Top vlogging tips
From what I’ve seen from the successful travel vloggers around the internet, and successful vloggers in general, I’ve come up with a list of vlogging tips to follow.
- Don’t give up when you’re not an overnight success.
- Vlog regularly to get used to it. This way you’ll get to know your style, your opinion and the kind of messages you want to pass on.
- Watch others and note what you like and what you don’t.
- Make engaging videos that provoke a reaction from your audience so that they interact and come back for more.
- Promote your video using the social media checklist I wrote up.
- Name, tag and categorise your video properly for the best search results.
- Be something. Funny, positive, silly, entertaining, energetic – don’t just sit there.
- The quality doesn’t have to be perfect, but it has to be decent enough to not hurt the viewers’ eyes or brain.
- If you’re planning on ‘vlogging’ use YouTube. Vimeo is for more polished travel videos – leave it to the professionals.
- YouTube is also the biggest search engine in the world – you need to be on it.
- Show your personality.
- Play with lengths of videos and see what works. Shorter may be best at first until you have the audience and reputation for people to stick around. If you can keep their attention for 10 minutes, a la Fun for Louis, you’ve made it.
More vlogging tips
Work out how you can be different. Watch the travel vloggers I suggest and then think about what you can do to break the mould they’ve created. Do something different.
Keep it real. You need to be aspirational without being alienating. You also need to be yourself of you’ll be found out a few videos down the line. To be honest I find a lot of vloggers annoying – too OTT for me to buy into their enthusiasm, but it obviously works for them. Don’t fake it though, if it doesn’t come naturally to you.
Keep it simple. Don’t try to cover too much in a video. My first video I made where I really tried, the Saint Lucia one, was just a hotel review. I did a lot of activities in Saint Lucia but I knew if I tried to do a guide to Saint Lucia, or similar, I’d end up getting overwhelmed as a week wasn’t long enough to cover all that and make the video. But it was definitely long enough to have an opinion on the hotel and upload that to YouTube instead.
Don’t wait until you have the right equipment. Before I came away I was all like ‘ah I want a better video camera’. Then I had a reality check and decided I should learn to use the ones I have first, before I start with that. And with the grand total of three videos made so far this trip I’m glad I didn’t splurge the cash. There was no need. The two videos I’ve made that I keep referring to were done on my iPhone and a Canon point and shoot. Anybody with some sort of camera and a laptop for editing can make it in the movie business. On YouTube anyway.
Don’t be afraid to go wrong. Things happen in real life that can get in the way – a bird flying into shot, someone coming up behind you, your forgetting what you’re talking about – these all make you seem more real to your viewer. Keep it in. People love a reality show these days so give your audience what they want and be real.
Just do it. Don’t sit around worrying about whether it will work or not. Or whether people will like you, or whether you’ve got the skills, or anything like that, just go for it.
Be passionate. You don’t have to be super, major, mega excited about everything you have to say but you also need to sound just a little more excited that normal about it. I seem to have a problem with this one. I can’t feign enthusiasm so the only way to get around that is to genuinely be excited about what I have to say.
You will hate your first few videos. I can definitely vouch for this one. My YouTube channel kind of makes me cringe but it’s better than nothing. The more you do them, the more you learn, the better you’ll be. I’m on my way!
Be like a virtual friend. The thing about all the successful vloggers you hear about is that they are willing to share every part of their life. It goes back to being personal and letting people see the real you, not just the Instagram version of you. People will like you more once they know you warts and all.
Make a video with a theme. There are so many travel videos with an ongoing theme that make it viral. Choose something to do in each place and make sure you set up all your equipment the same so you can edit the lot together when you return. As you can see from the videos below – just walking through different places and taking a photo a day with a growing beard has amassed millions of views.
The Longest Way
Go on, get started
All you need is a little introduction, some shots, a story and some royalty free music. You don’t even have to do a voiceover if you don’t want to. It doesn’t have to be complicated. You can just film yourself talking to camera if you like.
I hope this has all given you some starter tips, or rejuvenated your interest in travel vlogging. It’s definitely inspired me to do more. In fact, as an experiment and to have some fun with vlogging I’m filming my whole two-week trip in the Philippines day by day.
I’m still a little unsure and shy though so I’m keeping them just for my friends right now. As a loyal reader, of course you’re my friend too – sign up to one of my emails and I’ll send you the passwords to watch the vlogs on my blog.
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