Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Kevin Cook, a China-based travel vlogger and YouTuber. Videos from his Monkey Abroad channel focusing on street foods and cultures across Asia regularly rack up views in the tens of thousands. If you want to break into travel vlogging, we suggest you pay attention to what he has to say. If you just wanna see some street-level videos from different corners of China, scroll down for some highlights from Kevin’s reel.
Travel vlogging seems like the ultimate dream job for the uninitiated, but it’s insanely competitive for those who’ve just entered the game. With so many vloggers clamoring for the spotlight, you’ve not only got to consistently produce top-notch content, but you also have to truly distinguish yourself from the masses.
Planning to start your own travel vlog? Here are five reasons why you’ll probably fail:
1. You’re shy
You not only need to be comfortable talking in front of a camera, you also need to be comfortable with other people watching you talk in front of a camera.
What I notice all too often is that fledgling video bloggers will record themselves in the comfort of their own home. When you’re talking about your topic, keep in mind that the setting of your video is as important as your message.
If you’re talking about life in Bali, then show Bali; don’t record the video in your hotel room. If you have no choice but to record your video at home, then at least overlay a ton of voiceover images or video to show the audience what you’re talking about. A stranger can only stare at your face for so long before they become bored.
2. You don’t enjoy editing
If you loathe the editing process, then vlogging is going to be a nightmare. It’s tedious, it’s not glorious, and if you do it right, no one will even notice that you did it. But if you take the time to practice and improve this indispensable skill, you’ll learn to love editing.
You could have the most intelligent and original message to convey, but unless your video is properly edited, a chunk of your initial audience is going to be turned off. Think of editing like painting. Gathering the paint, brushes and easel is akin to going out and gathering some footage. Once you’ve got the footage, it’s entirely up to you how you arrange it on the canvas.
3. You’re making content for your friends
Don’t make videos for your friends and family; these people already know and trust you. Instead, make your videos assuming that it will be the first content of yours that a stranger will watch. Based on this one video, would they subscribe? Keep this question in mind when making every single video.
Every time you upload a video, ask yourself: What’s in it for the audience? If you expect your loyal following to grow beyond your mom and best friends, you need to curate your videos to attract a broader audience. Cut out the personal jokes, intimate behind-the-scenes footage, and anything that doesn’t benefit Joe Viewer. You’re not a celebrity, and no one cares about your personal life. Yet.
4. You’re impatient
You’ve spent countless hours filming, editing, and uploading your video content, but your audience isn’t growing. Now’s the time the throw in the towel, right? Wrong.
There are thousands of other talented video creators just like you, and they’re all struggling with the same hurdles. YouTube and other video platforms are already saturated enough with travel vlogs, vacation video compilations, and the same “Top 10” content you’ve seen a hundred times.
If you truly believe that your ideas are original and compelling, then you won’t give up, and your presence will grow. Success will come to those who stay focused and patient.
5. You aren’t leveraging social media
Your videos aren’t going to share themselves, so you need to build your presence on other platforms to cross-promote your content.
You’ve likely already got a following on your personal social media accounts, so use this to your advantage. Create a Facebook page and encourage your friends to follow it and share your content with their friends. If it’s quality content, they will be happy to share it.
But it’s important not to wear yourself out. Having two strong social media platforms is better than having five weak ones, so I suggest focusing on building two or three platforms to maximize your potential reach.
If you’ve read this entire list and you’re still chomping at the bit to get your travel vlog up and running, then there’s hope for you. It’s an absurd amount of work, and at times you’ll doubt whether it’s worth it, but if you’re one of the few who can handle the awkward moments, the criticism, the countless hours of editing, and all of the ups and downs of vlogging, then you might just be dedicated enough to succeed.