Hi! We’re Jack and Gab, we’re an American couple and we create content about our travels around the world. Most recently we were living in San Diego, California, but now, we’re technically homeless. We quit our jobs and sold all our stuff in June 2019 to travel the world full time.
We create our travel videos under the alias “Jack and Gab Explore” since it’s a travel channel so the name seemed fitting! When we first started, we were basically going in blind. We had no idea how to make videos, and we had never even been outside of the U.S. for more than a couple weeks.
Today, we’ve been on the road for over 8 months! We haven’t been back to the U.S. even once, and so far our travels have taken us all over Europe and Asia. It seems crazy to think about all the places that we’ve visited...places that we never thought we’d see in a million years. We regularly have to remind ourselves, “This is our life!”
About a year ago, we were both working long hours at corporate jobs in San Diego. We would come home from work, sit on the couch, watch TV, then go to bed and rinse and repeat the next day. It felt like life was completely passing us by. We weren’t happy, and we knew we wanted to make a change but switching jobs just didn’t seem like the answer.
We were basically living for the weekend, when we would do lots of weekend trips to areas in Southern California and Mexico. It was when we felt most happy, so we started thinking, how can we incorporate this into our lives? Is there a way that we could actually do this for a living?
That’s when we decided to create a YouTube Channel and a blog and create content about our travels. We knew that content creation was highly competitive and tough to monetize, so we made a pact that we would not quit. We really wanted to make it work.
We get our creativity going in a few different ways! For us, it’s fun to watch other YouTube channels, especially travel ones, to see where people are going and what the response is like. It’s also fun to watch other videos with a critical eye and say “Oh! That transition was really cool!” and things of that nature.
Our Google Docs folder is full of different documents with ideas, themes, and to-dos. We’ve tried other platforms like Apple Notes and Google Keep but we always come back to Docs and Sheets.
When the creativity juices aren’t flowing at an ideal level, we have three tactics that we try out:
A few months into traveling full time, we decided that it was time to invest in our content. We got a full subscription to Adobe’s Creative Suite...which was a very smart move. We use Premiere Pro to edit videos, Lightroom and Photoshop to edit pictures, and sometimes After Effects to create cool additions to videos. There are a zillion apps that we don’t use, but it’s nice to know they’re there as we expand going forward.
As far as social media goes, we learned quickly that you have to prioritize the platforms that will really move the needle for your business. For us, YouTube will always be a top priority. That’s where we publish our best content, and it’s one of the few social media platforms where you can actually make revenue directly from the platform, which is great. We also have Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, but those take a back seat to YouTube.
Before we told our friends and family that we were quitting our jobs to travel, we were really nervous. We weren’t sure how our leap of faith would be received, and it weighed on us until we finally shared the news. We actually flew home to the East Coast to tell our families in person.
Once the news was out, we felt like some weight had come off our shoulders. Then it hit us; we had one month to back up our entire apartment and cram our lives into two carry-on suitcases. That last month in San Diego was a bit of a blur since we had so much to do.
After we left to travel full-time, around the third week we had some self-doubt and wondered if we had made a mistake, but that feeling quickly passed as we continued to explore more and more incredible places.
Over time, it’s gotten easier to be in front of the camera and to know what to film. We often “divide and conquer” when getting shots since we have two cameras. It’s been a process to learn how to film, what to film, and how to edit. It all comes easier with time and lots of practice.
We’ve learned a lot along the way, but one of the things that we did right from the beginning is prioritize consistency. Your audience needs to know that you’re going to be publishing content regularly, and if you’re not, there are other creators who will. Right now, we’re publishing 3 YouTube videos a week. But to be transparent, it’s a lot of work and we’re considering scaling back to 2 as we start to work on other revenue initiatives.
The good news about content creation is that it gets easier. Rome wasn’t built overnight, and you shouldn’t expect to make Casey Neistat caliber videos in your first year of YouTubing. We think that’s why so many people give up--unrealistic expectations.
The first 1,000 subscribers for us was the HARDEST. It took forever. We felt like we weren’t making progress and almost gave up. Thank goodness we didn’t, because once we hit that first 1,000 subscribers, things skyrocketed from there.
If you want to be a content creator, do it for the love of being creative and making something that entertains or helps other people.
Don’t do it because you want to be famous or quit your day job overnight. Because that almost never happens.
Just start, and keep going. You’re not going to be perfect right away, and that’s okay. Your audience will love growing with you. And don’t be discouraged when things don’t take off overnight. It’s always hardest at first, but if you just focus on improving your content and the results will come.
We were both looking for a change in our careers, and content creation was something we were really interested in since we could choose our own hours and be our bosses. During our time in San Diego, we lived somewhat frugally which allowed us to save up enough money to take off and travel full-time and not worry about income.
We started making YouTube videos in September 2018, but we didn’t take off to travel full-time until June 2019, so we had time to hone our skills and adjust to being on camera. If we had waited to start filming until after we left it would have been way more overwhelming. The lease on our apartment ended in May, which made leaving on June 1st seem like the perfect plan.
We’ll never forget the day when we hit 1,000 YouTube subscribers. We were in Budapest, Hungary and we were SO excited. We were jumping up and down and happy dancing in our Airbnb. The downstairs neighbors probably thought there was an earthquake.
We took this picture and posted a video to YouTube thanking our subscribers showing them our happy dance and everyone loved it.
We’ve been very focused on organic growth on YouTube from the start. We do keyword research to try and optimize our video titles/tags/descriptions, but other than that, we just leave it up to the YouTube algorithm. The nice thing about YouTube is that people are always looking for new content to watch so our audience seems to be growing fairly consistently.
We also created pages on other social media platforms, like Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. Those are fun to post on, but we don’t do any advertising or anything like that.
We have yet to accept a brand deal or sponsorship. We’ve been approached by maybe 10-20 companies, but we aren’t ready to include those in our videos just yet. We want to focus on making our content as valuable to our audience as possible, so it would have to be a brand that we really endorse for us to accept a deal.