We’re Maja and An, a couple from Slovenia (a tiny country in Europe) who turned the hobby of traveling the world into a full-time business. Our YouTube channel and our company are based in California.
When the world is not struggling with pandemics, you’ll be most likely to run into us in one of the world’s biggest cities.
Hungry Passport offers short and concise travel tips for the world’s top destinations, mostly cities. We are currently present on YT, we have a website with travel articles, other social media, and we also sell our own travel guides on Gumroad.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Hungry Passport was a team of five – Maja and An plus three remote workers based around the world. Now, until the situation improves, we’re back to doing most of our work by ourselves.
We started with vlogs in 2017 as a hobby. We’re both business majors and had no training in video production of any kind. We loved making our vlogs, but the views were, well, not great.
We tried to post content every week. And there was a week when we had no vlogging materials ready, so we tried to make a Top 10 Hong Kong video instead, just for the fun of it. We never imagined that it was something people would watch. There must be like a million other better videos on what to do in Hong Kong.
Much to our surprise, we suddenly started getting a lot of views. So we said there must be something we’re doing right – let’s explore that. Next, we went to London and Barcelona -- and made Top 10s. That video performed great too. We started earning, so we also started thinking of this as a business project.
Our videos are very difficult to make. I guess that’s part of what makes them stand out. We spend weeks researching the destination and try to make it as simple for the viewers as possible. We ask ourselves, “what would I want to know if I’m traveling to the place.” Then comes editing, several days, and sometimes weeks just for one video. In our experience, great content and quality are rewarded on YT.
We both love YT. When we started vlogging, we were inspired by Casey Neistat (like everyone else, haha), we love the new economy made possible with the internet. We feel like citizens of the world and that’s why we love the openness that platforms such as YT provide.
And the fact that you have a chance to become successful no matter your background. To quote Casey, “Everyone has the same upload button.”
Our best inspiration is the travel itself. Even when we’re preparing for the trip, it’s an inspiration. And when we return, we have so many great memories, and that serves as the best source for creativity when we edit our footage.
When we plan our videos, we always start by asking what is the info that we would need/want to hear about the city we’re traveling to.
We have a weekly schedule of tasks, and when we make a video, both of us work on specific tasks. After so many videos, we know how long a particular task should take us.
Example of our Top 10:
We travel to the destination we cover. We record our videos on DJI Osmo Pocket. Great quality for a great price, the picture is stabilized. That’s how we get most of our footage. And then we supplement that with stock footage that we buy – if necessary. We also add Google Earth Studio footage for great clear 3D visualization.
When we return from the destination, we edit our videos on Premiere Pro/AE and record audio on a condenser mic in Audition.
We were struggling with vlogs for almost one year. We never considered it as a potential business back then. When we started making our first Hungry Passport videos – Top 10s – we already had the boost of that initial Hong Kong, London, and Barcelona Top 10. So we were not really afraid at that point. We had nothing to lose because we were not really full-time creators yet.
However, there is a lot of work, and sometimes it feels like you’re going nowhere. We are a search-based channel, so our videos take some time to pick up. So that’s a bit annoying. We’ve learned to be really patient with all such tasks.
When you start on YT, getting 100 subscribers is the most difficult. It took us six months of vlogging to reach that. And then the next one is 1,000. If you’ve made it to 1,000, that’s already a lot. Most people don’t achieve that and give up along the way. It’s a test of persistence in a way.
After we discovered what content to make or what content has most views, we populated our travel channel with travel tips videos. We had minimal funds. We basically invested the majority of what we earned back into the business, hired a team, and started exploring what other ways we can make money.
So at one point we decided to start making travel guides that you can download to your phone and make extra money that way. We always brainstorm new ideas, on a weekly basis, usually while walking in nature.
There will be a lot of work and a lot of trial and error before you make it. But if that is something you like, go for it, and you’ll make it. And in the end, it’s worth it.
Do something you love but be ready to compromise on the content. We started with vlogs only to realize we were really born to make travel tips. You have to make something that people will search for and like – or you won’t be able to grow.
Check what is out there and do it better. Study their style and recreate what you like too. Always have the viewers in mind.
Don’t reinvent the wheel. There’s tons of fantastic (mostly free) resources out there. Tim Schmoyer is one such example of inspiration. If you just invest your time and watch their videos, you can learn a lot and avoid the most common mistakes. Never stop learning because things can change fast in the YT world.
Trust in yourself, and don’t listen to people who tell you that you can’t do it. There will be times when nothing’s right, and you’ll want to quit, but don’t. It’s getting through these difficult times that really makes you succeed.
After we realized that one video equals X amount of money, the math is simple. Before that, we had a graphic design and event planning business.
Our advice is not to go full-time before you know how much you can make per video and have some data to back that.
The most significant milestone for us was when we actually started earning and figured out we can actually turn it into a full-time business. We’ve just crossed 100K subscribers, and it’s great to get the silver play button, but since we are a resource channel, we get a relatively small number of subscribers relative to our views and watch time.
Because we are a search-based channel, people go directly to YT or Google to find us. That’s why we don’t really advertise outside YT. So far, our videos are the best source, for instance, for selling our pdf guides, etc.
We try to be active on other platforms outside YT and post consistently. We don’t do collabs at this point, as it would take too much time. But that’s our channel, your situation could be ideal for collabs.
We only work with brands that fit our niche. We don’t want to create a negative experience for our viewers by showcasing products that are not related to what we cover. So we say no to the majority of potential sponsors. We only work with sponsors we respect and love their products/services too.
We use Social Bluebook to determine our values, and we don’t consider deals where we would be paid much less than that value.