Vlogging is a practical business idea for digital nomads who want to travel the world, make videos and make a living out of it.
For some this could be the ideal nomadic career. Some of the best travel vloggers are already doing it.
As with any other business, there’s a learning curve and a certain amount of effort you need to put in, especially when you start out, but there are also plenty of courses, services and other resources that will help you along the way.
Why is vlogging a great business idea for digital nomads?
Video content is immensely popular. You probably know that if you’ve spent any time online in recent years.
YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, which is why it’s the go-to platform for most vloggers.
As a digital nomad, vlogging for money has some clear benefits:
- Each video you create can generate income for you over time (more on how vloggers make money below).
- You can make video content from anywhere with a good internet connection.
- You’ll develop skills, like video editing, that will allow you to get high-paying freelance jobs.
- While creating good videos can be time consuming, in time you’ll be able to outsource some tasks and have more free time to travel.
Vlogging may not be the easiest way to make money, so don’t go into it just for the money. There are other ways for digital nomads to make money, such as ecommerce, that may suit you better.
However, a lot like blogging or podcasting, it’s a great way to make money out of something you enjoy.
If you choose a topic for your channel in an area you love, you’ll enjoy making videos and you’ll be able to stay consistent uploading new materials over time.
That’s why you want to put a lot of thought into the choice of niche for your channel.
You can make videos about your travels or about being a digital nomad, but you can also create content about other topics that you have a passion for and know a lot about.
How do vloggers make money?
YouTubers who have over 1,000 subscribers and more than 4,000 valid public watch hours in the last 12 months can apply to join the YouTube Partner Program.
This means, in a nutshell, YouTube will display ads in your videos and you’ll get a cut of the ad revenue.
Growing your channel to 1000 subscribers might seem like a challenge at first, but many others have done it, so there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. We’ll talk more about how to promote your channel later in this guide.
As your channel grows, you can earn more from ads, and even reach a full time income, but it will take time.
Until your channel is big enough, you want to create additional sources of income, like the ones below.
YouTubers get paid to promote products and services on their channel. There are different ways to collaborate with brands. Use marketplaces for influencers to find those opportunities.
Many YouTubers add affiliate links to the products and services they use and recommend in the description below the video.
Direct support from viewers
Loyal subscribers can choose to support you through platforms like Patreon, Buy Me a Coffee or Ko-fi.
The skills you learn as a vlogger are the same skills other aspiring video creators need. For example, you can earn money freelancing as a video editor for other vloggers or for businesses who hire freelancers.
Your channel will help you establish your expertise on a topic or a number of topics. This can lead to speaking engagement opportunities at conferences or you can start running corporate workshops.
How much money can you make as a vlogger?
Ad revenue varies by niche. Some vloggers publish their income reports. That’s the best way to figure out how much YouTube pays creators in your niche.
Here’s an example from a YouTuber I follow, who explains which videos performed best for him:
How to become a vlogger
Pick a niche for your YouTube channel
The aim of your YouTube channel, if you treat vlogging as a business, is to create value for your viewers.
Many people turn to YouTube for tutorials, so teaching is a very popular route to take when you decide on content for your channel.
Make sure you pick a niche that you can produce a lot of content in, because you want to be able to publish videos on a regular basis.
Some examples of broad niches include:
- Personal finance
You want to niche down further though, as most of the broad niches are already saturated.
For example, if I’m into music and want to start a music channel I’d make it specifically about, say, saxophone tutorials for jazz musicians, rather than music tutorials in general.
Also, pick a niche that has products or services that you can review in your videos. This will open up more earning opportunities for you.
Get inspired by other vloggers
Start with browsing YouTube, which is something I’m guessing you do anyway, but do it with the intention of finding the videos that
(a) Are very successful in terms of views; and
(b) Resonate with you most.
Add them to a playlist so you can find them again easily.
Figure out what it is about those videos that sets them apart from the millions of other videos available out there.
Ask yourself questions like:
- What do I like about this video? It could be the vlogger’s attitude, the cool editing, the actual value you got from the content and so on.
- What made me watch this video to the end rather than skip to a different one once?
- Is there something I didn’t like about the video? For example , the content may be fascinating, but the sound quality may be poor.
This fun exercise will help you learn from the experience of other video creators.
Take notes of the things you noticed and you’ll have a much better idea of what makes a video successful.
Get your vlogging gear
You don’t have to spend too much money on gear when you start out. Essentially, you need a camera and a microphone (and depending on where you shoot, artificial lighting as well).
You can start out using your phone’s camera and decide later on if you want to upgrade.
A good microphone is crucial, because people won’t watch your videos through to the end if they can’t hear you clearly.
Your phone’s mic may not be good enough for voice recording. That’s why many YouTubers use a lapel mic. It’s compact and lightweight, so it’s great for digital nomads who need to travel light.
One of the best places to get specific advice and gear reviews is, of course, YouTube or IGTV.
Video editing skills are essential for vloggers. You can teach yourself to use popular video editing software, such as:
There may be a steep learning curve for an absolute beginner at video editing. Don’t let that discourage you. Take the time to learn how to use the software and bear in mind that you will improve as you get more practice.
Alternatively, you can outsource your video editing tasks. This has some major benefits:
- Video editing is time consuming! Work out how much your time is worth and decide whether it’s best spent on other things rather than editing tasks.
- It’s affordable. You can find video editing services for under $50.
- Your videos will look more attractive when edited by a professional.
- If you have a tight publishing schedule, getting help will save you quite a bit of stress.
- Some YouTubers prefer to outsource their video editing simply because they don’t find it enjoyable.
To grow your channel in order to make money from ads, you want to invest in effective promotion. Even after your channel grows, you will still need to promote each and every video.
A lot of work goes into creating great videos, but without viewers and subscribers that hard work might go to waste.
Promoting your YouTube channel is one of the ongoing tasks that creators need to pay a lot of attention to.
There are various ways to promote your channel:
A YouTube channel can grow organically, by using SEO correctly. This includes, for instance:
- Creating titles that contain the keywords you want to target, while being engaging enough to get people to click through.
- Including the keywords in the video description.
- Selecting the right categories and tags to help users find your videos.
- Learning to read and understand YouTube Analytics.
YouTube SEO is a learnable skill, but there is a learning curve you’re going to have to face.
If you want to focus on the creative sides of vlogging and not so much on the marketing tasks, you can have those tasks done for you.
There are some very affordable services in this area, like this one, offered by professional YouTube SEO experts.
Every YouTube channel needs its own visual branding
Take a look at any successful YouTuber and see how the graphic elements are consistent throughout their channel and how their thumbnails are carefully designed to make you click through to the video.
There are certain things that you can edit yourself quite easily, especially your channel layout. Watch this video for a quick explanation:
You can design your own graphics or hire a designer to take care of all the graphic elements you need for your channel.
Either way, your aim is to make sure your channel has the right look to attract subscribers and viewers.
There are graphic designers with a specialty in social media, who can create result-driven images that fit current trends.
These are the graphic elements that need special attention for effective YouTube promotion:
Video thumbnails: The thumbnail is the image people see when they browse YouTube and before they click on a video.
You can design thumbnails yourself or have them designed for you.
When designing a thumbnail, always bear in mind that viewers’ attention span is short. The video thumbnail is your best way to grab it. A screenshot from the video isn’t enough; you want the best image with a catchy title on the thumbnail itself.
The thumbnail is also important for social media promotion. When you share your video links on Facebook or Twitter for example, it’s that great thumbnail design that will get people to click through.
Your logo and header – These are important for your branding and for how authoritative you seem to your audience, so having them designed professionally can increase your chances of getting more subscribers. You can have these designed for you for a one-off affordable price.
Video intros and outros – These will make your channel stand out by differentiating your videos from other videos on the same topic. Consistent intros and outros will also give viewers a sense of familiarity with you and your channel. Again there are many affordable services to help you with great looking intros and outros.
More YouTube promotion tips
- Add links to your other videos in the description, if they’re related, and tell your viewers to check the description for those links.
- Use subtitles and captions to reach a wider audience.
- Create a series of videos on a topic, organised in a playlist for easy viewing or binging. This will give viewers another incentive to subscribe to your channel.
- Collaborations with other YouTubers is a win-win, as you both get exposure to each other’s subscribers.