With the success of Sailing La Vagabond, it seems every sailor these days has a YouTube channel to share their adventure; so does that mean you should start a sailing YouTube channel too?
The growth and popularity of YouTube – facts & figures
Let’s look at some statistics. Stay with me here; I want to give you a sense of the size and popularity of YouTube and where sailing sits in terms of content popularity. Numbers of viewer and subscribers are essential if you want to earn an income from your channel.
In 2019, YouTube has reported:
- A global reach of over 1.9 Billion logged-in users who visit the platform every month.
- Every day, people watch over a billion hours of video, generating billions of views.
- The number of channels earning six figures per year on YouTube grew more than 40% y/y, and those channels earning five figures per year on grew more than 50% y/y. However, the actual number of these high income channels is unclear, and it appears their profitability is variable.
Why do people watch YouTube?
An American survey found that most viewers go to YouTube to:
- Learn how to do something
- Be entertained
- Decide what to buy (e.g. product reviews)
Be mindful of the reasons why people watch YouTube when developing your video content.
Can you earn an income from YouTube?
As I mentioned earlier, earning an income depends on viewers and subscribers. Any new channel has enormous competition, so be prepared to offer a point of difference. In 2018, there were over 23 million YouTube channels, and sailing channels represent a tiny percentage of these channels. The most subscribed YouTube channel in 2019 is DewPiePie, a game-centric channel with 91.7M subscribers. This controversial creator has a reported net worth of US30-50M. Compare this with the very popular Sailing La Vagabond with just over 1M subscribers, and you get a sense of proportion of popularity of sailing versus other topics (like gaming) on YouTube.
Suffice to say that many of the more established and popular channels have a range of income streams; such as Patreon, paid partnerships, affiliate/referral links, and merchandise such as T-shirt and books. The popularity and visibility of sailing YouTube creators help to promote these other income streams.
Most Popular Sailing Channels on YouTube (Jul 2018)
|YouTube Channel||Number of YouTube |
|Number of Patreon*|
|Sailing La Vagabond||1,021,843||3,293|
|Gone with the Wynns||251,763||1,113|
Starting your own YouTube Channel – things to consider
If you are thinking about starting your own YouTube channel, there are a few things you may want to consider when starting.
Why do you want to create a sailing YouTube channel?
Do you want to:
- Earn an income
- Create a personal vlog to document your travels
- Develop a creative project for yourself
- Have family and friends to follow your adventures?
If you’re clear about your objective, you can manage the time and effort you put into the project, together with expectations of the outcome.
You’ll need camera equipment.
Your reasons for making YouTube videos will determine the investment you make in camera equipment. The higher the quality of video end-product, the more investment needed in gear. For example, Gone with the Wynns, will use underwater cameras, SLRs, a drone and GoPros. Having said that, depending on your project goals, you can simply use a smartphone too.
You’ll need a computer and editing software.
If you’re not familiar with editing software, you’ll need to invest time (and money) in software. Learning to edit a movie can take time, especially during the learning curve. Again, you can do much of this on a smartphone too.
Be prepared to spend time filming and capturing moments and events.
Decide how to balance your time between enjoying the journey and living the experience and capturing those moments on film, because that will determine how much time you spend making movies.
Sex and sensation sell.
Sadly, many of the more popular channels resort to bikinis and “near disaster” stories and titles as “clickbait”. So, decide what’s comfortable for you in balancing getting viewers to look at your videos versus developing quality content.
YouTube has its own algorithm, determining what channels it prefers to promote.
Like other social media platforms, these algorithms affect how videos are featured and rewarded. These algorithms will change periodically and are outside of your control. So, If you intend is to build an audience, be familiar with how YouTube operates and work on regularly making and promoting your videos. You may consider using a variety of media channels rather than rely on one option; for example, using Facebook, Instagram, or a newsletter list to further develop your audience.
My YouTube Channel and how I use it
When we started sailing in Europe, I had every intention of capturing our adventure on film, edit and upload to YouTube. I wanted to capture out big adventure on film. I quickly decided I didn’t want to spend the majority of time filming because the experience for me was more important than seeing everything through the lens of a camera.
However, I do have a channel for Wild Heart Gypsy Spirit, but I like to create mini-movies to add to a blog story rather than be the story itself.
So, should you start a sailing YouTube channel?
Of course, you should, if you want to. Just understand why you are doing it and how much time and money you want to invest in doing so.
Being clear about your objective will put your expectations and efforts into perspective when creating your own sailing YouTube Channel.
6 Replies to “Should you start a sailing YouTube channel?”
Very good post. We have a YouTube Channel primarily to capture memories. Video is not my strong suit but Captain Fabio is pretty good at it.
Thank Lisa. I love the creativity and challenge of making a video but for our first season in the Med, I just wanted to immerse myself in the experience, rather than attempting to capture everything on film. It is something I’ll go back to as part of storytelling though.
I’ll look for your channel 😉
Nice article Suellen.
I reckon the benchmark popular you tube channels drift quickly into “reality tv” status to keep ratings.
Pretty scenery and photogenic casting.
We used to have photo albums and only bore our family and friends with them .
I like yours cause you think.
That won’t get you 1000000 views but your followers will be inspired.
Thanks for the kind words and encouragement Ross. I think the lack of depth and content from some videos comes from the pressure to frequently upload a video to feed YouTube and Patreon. Pretty scenery and photogenic casting of course helps. I have noticed a shift in some sailing channels; SV Delos (who have been at this a long time) are now producing longer form content and a video style that they actually want to make. They do have a pretty established following though which helps.
Good post and although I do have a YouTub channel, I don’t do much with it really.
I’m not into the “reality”, which seems to be the track that Sailing La Vagabond has taken, but as you say, it sells. 😉
I hear you. That style clearly has a huge audience and I applaud them for what they have built, I just have to look at it as “entertainment”.