What I’ve Learned in 12 Years on Youtube

Published on September 23, 2020 by

23 insights that I’ve learned from running a travel channel on Youtube for the past 12 years. When I started Youtube in 2008, I had no idea it would reach this level of viewership. What mistakes did I make? What did I accidentally do well and would do that same way again? Is it skill, or is it luck? Maybe a little bit of both!

1 – Learned to travel like a Youtuber
Plan out our destinations based on what we want to shoot
What topics already do well? What topics aren’t covered? If there’s already a great video on some destination there’s no reason for me to redo it.
The amount of research we do on a destination has now increased 20x.
Walk through a destination to enjoy it… take it in… then walk through again to shoot.

2 – Also have a Youtube/Life Balance

3 – Quality Consistent Content
But don’t spend forever on each video… And don’t burn out

4 – Improve a little bit with each video.

5 – It’s a long road.. theres no easy button

6 – Make content that I enjoy making and that people want to watch. Not just making videos for myself. I like my family vlogs… but you probably don’t as much.

7 – Making videos that even people who aren’t traveling want to watch … and for humans not robots
Like Worst Cheap Hotels in Las Vegas

8 – Its all about the click and click thru rate
Titles, Thumbnail, Description.
Sometimes it takes Youtube months to find an audience for my videos

9 – It’s also about “watch time” — Make videos that people want to watch to the end.
And then watch another video.. series are important

10 – Don’t get crushed if a video doesn’t do well.. Or if people hate it.
Even a video got 100 dislikes… it probably got 1000 likes.. So in general there’s more people that like it, than don’t. It seems the negative comments are the loudest… so I always appreciate your positive comments.

11 – Plan out videos beforehand.. Shoot footage thinking about how it’s all going to fit together.

12 – Keep all my scripts/notes in Google Docs
I also keep videos ideas that I think of.. And that ya’ll share with me.

13 – It’s useful to keep track of B-Roll —
that footage from 5 years ago can be useful for another video

14 – Defined Production workflow.. Editing… So I can just get to editing
I’m going to do a whole video about this

15 – Backups are key
On travel I backup my memory card multiple times a day… After getting my gear stolen once.. And a memory card fail.. Media backup is now a religion of mine.

16 – For at home shots, learned the value of a set and equipment setup that doesn’t change
Just sit down and shoot. Perhaps even batch shoot.
Have what I’m going to say prepared… so when I’m in front of the camera I can just go.
Bounce ideas off my wife to make sure I’m not crazy.

17 – Video gear is expensive
Well… good video gear is expensive. Avoid cheap crap.

18 – The only thing constant on Youtube is change.

19 – Focus on just a couple platforms

20 – Don’t compete with other Youtubers… learn from them! There’s enough story to tell for all of us. I learned this in Korea.
And get inspired by them… I was inspired to make this video by Caleb on DSLR Video Shooter who did a video about what he’s learned from 10 years on Youtube. Maybe he’s learned more… he has more subscribers 🙂

21 – Don’t lie or misrepresent

22 – Workplace drama exists in Youtube land

23 – Don’t feed the trolls


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