Robin Knox-John­ston on sail­ing; how to be­come a YouTube star

A good sail­ing vlog might be all you need to hop on the fast track to YouTube star­dom

SAIL - - Contents - By Shaun Bock­mas­ter and Ju­lia Lewczuk

So you wanna be a sail­ing video star, and sail around the world funded by peo­ple liv­ing vi­car­i­ously through your ex­pe­ri­ences? All things are pos­si­ble... In the five years we have been mak­ing sail­ing videos—vlogs—we have watched the in­dus­try change dra­mat­i­cally. What was once shaky handy­cam footage with poor au­dio has evolved into videos that ri­val Hol­ly­wood pro­duc­tions. Sail­ing vlogs are no longer just some­thing cre­ators do in their free time, but have be­come sources of in­come sig­nif­i­cant enough to fund ad­ven­tures around the world. Where did this change come from? One word...Pa­treon. A crowd­fund­ing web­site de­signed for artists that reg­u­larly re­lease free con­tent, Pa­treon has com­pletely revo­lu­tion­ized the sail­ing vlog in­dus­try by al­low­ing cre­ators to make money from their pro­duc­tions; Pa­treon has given the mo­ti­va­tion and means for im­prove­ment. The in­dus­try now at­tracts bet­ter film-mak­ing tal­ent and as a re­sult, the qual­ity of sail­ing videos on YouTube have sky­rock­eted.


Many peo­ple as­sume—in­cor­rectly—that mak­ing videos is an easy way to fund their sail­ing ad­ven­tures—just film your­self do­ing things on your boat, throw it up on YouTube, and the Pa­treon money comes flow­ing in. This, how­ever, is not the case. Mak­ing videos takes a good amount of time and pa­tience. Boat projects take sig­nif­i­cantly longer, what with hav­ing to move and po­si­tion the cam­era for each nut

and bolt that you turn. Some of the ex­pe­ri­ence of sail­ing is lost, as you con­stantly have your cam­era in front of your face any time some­thing ex­cit­ing is hap­pen­ing. If it’s suc­cess­ful, though, a sail­ing vlog is a great way to earn in­come and fi­nance your cruis­ing lifestyle. If you want to earn those Pa­treon bucks, then you must sat­isfy the sin­gle most im­por­tant fac­tor—mak­ing qual­ity videos. The num­ber one in­gre­di­ent in pro­duc­ing qual­ity con­tent is that you ac­tu­ally en­joy do­ing it.

WHAT MAKES A GOOD VLOG? So you have de­cided to start your own sail­ing vlog. What ac­tu­ally makes a vlog good? Ev­ery­one has dif­fer­ent opin­ions on what is good, but the best met­rics for mea­sur­ing per­for­mance are sub­scribers and Pa­treon pledges. Peo­ple who click “subscribe” and those do­nat­ing to your cause are say­ing they liked what they saw and want to see more.


1. Start with your phone. You ( most likely) al­ready have one. Most phones nowa­days have cam­eras that ri­val low- end DSLRs. Ev­ery­thing is au­to­mated and sim­ple; you don’t need any spe­cial knowl­edge to use them. While sail­ing, hik­ing, or do­ing any on- the- go ad­ven­ture stuff, you need to have quick ac­cess to a cam­era, and your phone is per­fect for this. It fits nicely in your pocket, has great bat­tery life, and is al­ways on and ready to go. You don’t want a huge DSLR to lug around. Don’t for­get, you want to en­joy what you are do­ing! 2. In­vest in sound. New vlog­gers tend to over­in­vest in video and un­der-in­vest in sound; they have great look­ing films that are ruined by medi­ocre sound qual­ity. You know what has re­ally good sound? Phones. Cell phone mi­cro­phones are specif­i­cally de­signed to pick up voices. If you want to up your au­dio game a lit­tle, in­vest in a good shot­gun mi­cro­phone with wind­screen, like the Rode VideoMic ME, which mounts di­rectly on your phone. 3. Use the light. The beauty of sail­ing vlogs is that you rarely have to worry about light­ing. Most of your film­mak­ing will oc­cur out­side, and the sun pro­vides per­fect light­ing. Putting the sun be­hind you will separate the sub­ject from the back­ground which will pro­duce a pleas­ing im­age. When film­ing in­doors and faced with a sin­gle source of light ( i. e a port­light), put that port­light be­hind the cam­era so it lights up your face. Rookie film­mak­ers will of­ten put a win­dow be­hind them as it is un­com­fort­able to look at but then you will end up with a dark shadow cast over your face. 4. Use qual­ity mu­sic. This was a tough one when we first started vlog­ging as there sim­ply wasn’t the kind of li­brary of qual­ity roy­al­tyfree mu­sic as is so eas­ily found to­day. Start by search­ing YouTube for copy­right-free mu­sic and find a genre that fits your style. 5. Start with sim­ple soft­ware. iMovie and Win­dows Movie Maker come free with your com­puter, are sim­ple to use and au­to­mate much of the post-pro­duc­tion process. You can up­grade to more com­plex soft­ware in the fu­ture, but for now, keep it sim­ple. 6. Per­son­al­ize your style. Pick a film style that suits you and stick with it. Keep it con­sis­tent. Pick one thing that will re­main con­sis­tent through­out your videos, some­thing your au­di­ence can ex­pect and look for­ward to. 7. En­ergy. You need to be en­er­getic in your videos. Lethargy is bor­ing. If you are not the en­er­getic type, then fake it. Slam a cof­fee be­fore you film. What­ever it takes. 8. Mo­tion. Al­ways be mov­ing. It’s a film, not a ra­dio show. Al­ways be do­ing some­thing, any­thing, while speak­ing to the cam­era. Avoid the talk­ing head effect. 9. Keep each scene short. We live by the phi­los­o­phy of ten. Never let a scene run longer than ten sec­onds. This in­cludes your in­tro. Long in­tros lose their au­di­ence be­fore the video has even started. 10. Change cam­era an­gles. Avoid long drawnout shots from the same an­gle. Break up long pieces of di­a­logue with fre­quent cam­era an­gle changes. 11. Tell a good story. Think big pic­ture and small pic­ture. You need an over­all grand story for your chan­nel and a mini story for each episode, with its own in­tro­duc­tion and con­clu­sion. The good thing about a sail­ing vlog, is that it has a nat­u­ral story pro­gres­sion to it; you never have to worry about com­ing up with new con­tent. 12. Don’t dwell on the bor­ing stuff. Boat work is an es­sen­tial part of cruis­ing, but you don’t want it to dom­i­nate your videos. Use ex­cit­ing mu­sic and cam­era an­gle changes to spice it up. Ev­ery­thing is more ex­cit­ing in a mon­tage. (Re­mem­ber all those fix’em up mon­tages from the ‘80s?) 13. Use en­tic­ing thumb­nails. Next to pro­duc­tion qual­ity, the thumb­nail is the sec­ond-most im­por­tant as­pect of your video. Your thumb­nail should be bright and clear on what is be­ing de­picted. Re­mem­ber the three B’s: Biki­nis, Beaches and Boats. The more of these in your thumb­nail, the more likely peo­ple are to click your video. Avoid over­do­ing it though, as you don’t want to build a rep­u­ta­tion as a click­bait chan­nel and lose the re­spect of the sail­ing com­mu­nity. 14. Rel­e­vant ti­tle and de­scrip­tion. YouTube doesn’t know you are a sail­ing chan­nel, so be sure to have the word sail in your ti­tle and de­scrip­tion as of­ten as pos­si­ble. This way YouTube will know to suggest your videos to those that watch a lot of sail­ing vlogs. 15. Keep it fun! If you are not hav­ing fun mak­ing it, then peo­ple are not go­ing to have fun watch­ing it. s Shaun and Ju­lia are about to set off on their next ad­ven­ture on their Tar­tan 37, head­ing south for the Ba­hamas. You can fol­low “Shaun and Ju­lia Sail­ing” on YouTube and Face­book.

Clock­wise from top left: YouTube chan­nels like S/V De­los, Sail­ing La Vagabonde and Havewind­will­travel show all sides of the sail­ing lifestyle

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