Travel

TREAD the globe

How We Made Travelling a Full-Time Career and Named YouTube's Creator on the Rise.

Travel
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March 7, 2021

Who are you and what kind of content do you create?

We are Chris & Marianne Fisher, a middle-aged couple from the UK. We have been travelling full-time since May 2018. We are always on the move and so home for us is very much where we are at the time.  

We primarily make content for YouTube and release two videos a week. We aim to create entertaining content that shares our adventures, unusual places, local foods, and life on the road.  When we started, we set ourselves the challenge of visiting every country in the world before we die. Not an easy challenge, and at the moment, it is not possible to travel to some countries, but the aim for us was to push us to go to places that we would never have considered going to before. 



We see ourselves as adventure travellers and depending on the destinations we will travel either in our old campervan called Trudy or by backpacking. Last year we spent five months backpacking through Central America.


In January of this year, we set off from the UK in an attempt to drive our campervan around the world.  As we write this, we are currently in Trudy parked up in Western Turkey. Hopefully, we inspire people to live life to the fullest and step out of their comfort zones. Maybe they are encouraged to go to a country they never thought of going to, maybe have a complete lifestyle change, as we did, or perhaps they just feel inspired to pick up a camera themselves for the first time. 


When we decided to travel full-time, we wanted to film and document our travels mainly for our memories and so that our families could see what we got up to.  I (Chris) started watching other travel channels to see how they filmed and what they showed. I bought a GoPro, and six months before we officially started, I filmed a family holiday to Borneo and Malaysia.  It was a steep learning curve trying to learn to talk to the camera, film, and edit.  When we look back now, we laugh at how we sounded but love them because not only did we make great memories, but we also can see how we have progressed and grown as creators over the years. 


We make vlogumentary style videos and aim to make the viewer feel like they get some value from the videos, whether it be information about a destination, seeing new or unusual places, or just getting a hefty dose of feel good. We wanted to come up with a name for our travels, and we had many long discussions between ourselves, friends, and family.  If you’re going to create your brand, make sure it will last the test of time.  Using specifics can create a problem when you keep your content going more extended or evolves. 

Wandering in your 30’s or Africa adventures may seem like a good idea, but what happens when you decide to travel past your 30’s or film outside Africa. It may seem obvious, but when you think you have found the name, you may not realise your direction might grow, and as you continue, you might outgrow your channel name.  It must have taken us about two months to come up with the name TREAD the Globe.



Let's go down memory lane, tell us your backstory! 

After 30 years of hard work in various sectors, we had achieved most things we aimed for.  We both had good jobs, we had a lovely house, we’d paid the mortgage off, and we had three children who had all grown up, left home, and are starting their life journeys.

  

Like everyone, we would save hard all year for those three weeks of adventure.  We’ve always loved travel and liked to travel to the most adventurous destinations we could.  Borneo was a favourite, and after a long day driving, we ended up having a conversation with a young couple who asked us where we were going after that destination.  Of course, we answered ‘back to work.’  They, on the other hand, were planning a year or so back-packing around Asia.  We questioned how we with good jobs could only travel three weeks a year on the return flight home, and a young couple could travel for years?  It all seemed backward to us.


We had always planned to try and retire early, but you never think you have enough money.  We had some life-changing events, we lost a few friends of similar ages, and then Marianne’s best friends had kidney failure.  Chris had a stressful job and suffered from high blood pressure.  Who’s to say we would make it to retirement.


These events caused us to make some big decisions. Marianne decided to donate one of her kidneys to her best friend (who is thankfully doing fine now), and we worked out that if we sold all our possessions, we could afford a campervan.   And by renting out our house, we should just about be able to make full-time travel sustainable.  So that is what we did!  And in May 2018, we started.



Creating content was one of our sons’ ideas. He was planning to head over to Australia for a year and wanted to see what we got up to.  We started making content six months before we officially began to TREAD the Globe on a family holiday to Borneo. It wasn’t easy, but we were proud of our content at the time - when we look back now, we realise it isn’t as good as we thought, but that is progress and all part of the journey.


It’s great to watch other channels for inspiration. If they can do it, why can’t you?  We looked at videos and thought about how the film or edit helped us with new ideas and encouraged us to develop new filming skills. 


The three main travel / vanlife channels who were a big inspiration to us are Kara and Nate (travel), Lost Le Blanc (travel), and the Indie Projects (van life and alternative living).  When we started following them, they were not as big as they are today, but we still follow their content, and they are still a big inspiration to see how they have grown and developed.

How do you brainstorm ideas for your content and your advice in getting the creative juice flowing.

As we travel full time, finding content is usually relatively easy for us as we vlog about our daily life on the road.  We spend time researching exciting places on and off the tourist trail and sharing them on our videos. Sometimes, we face some challenges, such as when we spent 95 days in a car park in Istanbul due to the Covid 19 pandemic.  We did manage to produce two videos still a week and did live chats, Q&A’s and life in the car park.  It was harder than usual for sure.



We are continually trying to improve our filming and editing skills, and it’s essential to take some time to stop and assess what you are doing and how you can improve it. When you are busy with life, filming, and editing, it is easy to end up on the repetitive wheel, but by taking the time to stop and be critical of what you are doing, that’s how you will start to see growth. 


 As Einstien said,

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.


How true is that! We make time to watch other channels that inspire us and take notes of what you like or different camera angles and filming techniques - that’s how we learn.  If you don’t know how to do something we want, then we research and learn.  There will be a video on Youtube somewhere teaching you how to do it.  We also look out for videos that have done better than average.  It may be on our channel, or it may be on someone else's.  And we ask ourselves, why has it done well? Is it a trending topic, a great thumbnail, or a good title?  They were famous for a reason, and this will help you come up with ideas.


Of course, listening to your subscribers and followers is essential. After all, you are making your content for them. You may see trends in the comments, which may help you develop future content ideas.  


What are the tools and platforms you use to help with your brand?

We produce and share regular content on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Neither of us has experience in photography, filming, or editing. Everything we do has been self-taught.  We have mainly learnt our skills by watching videos on YouTube. It takes time and patience, but there are videos on literally everything. It just takes time to find a content creator that you like, enjoy, and connect with.


The majority of people edit their video content with Adobe or Final Cut Pro. However, we edit our videos with ‘Filmora 9’. Initially, we chose Filmora because it looked more simple to learn and was more cost-effective. They also give you free upgrades.  The standard package does everything we need it to do. They have got a professional version which we may upgrade to in the future.


Having the right choice of music is essential for your editing and creating the right atmosphere, but you have to be very careful about copyright claims.  We decided from early on to get a paid subscription to make sure that copyrights were not an issue and chose to go with Epidemic Sound. For around £10 a month, you get a massive selection of tracks, and they add new content weekly.  


We use Canva for producing graphics, it’s straightforward to use, and there are lots of tutorials on YouTube. We’ve used it to make our thumbnails, social media headers, t-shirt designs, postcards, etc. We even designed our new logo on it.  We chose to pay for the Pro version, as it allows you to remove backgrounds and has different designs available to use.  This gives you a lot more creative flexibility.


For those of you that create content for YouTube, we use a service called Tube Buddy to make it all a bit easier.   There are many different things on there, but we mainly use it to save time doing bulk updates on existing video descriptions, card templates, and keyword research.  There are lots of tutorials and reviews on YouTube, and it’s worth checking them out.

What were your fears starting out? How did you handle it? 

We always say, “don’t regret what you regret what you don’t do!”. It was both a scary and exciting time planning to change our lifestyle completely. Primarily it was about living and making the most of life, but would it be sustainable, or would we be back in full-time jobs in a year?   We had to try, as we knew we would regret it if we didn’t.


We wanted to produce content to capture our memories and hopefully generate a little income to help make our dream of full-time travel sustainable. Creating content for the first time is not easy, and the prospect of people watching you and criticising you can be a bit nerve-racking. The hardest part is to start and publish your first video or post.


We now get hundreds of comments and messages a day, and we are pleased to say that 99.9 % of them are positive.  We don’t mind constructive criticism, after all, that’s how you learn, and when we started, we had quite a bit!  ‘The music is too loud’ or ‘The wind noise interferes with the music’ etc.  Take it with good intention, thank people for taking the time to give feedback, and learn from it.   


Unfortunately, you will get some nasty, horrible comments, everyone does, and for some reason, they stick in your mind more than the positive ones but don’t take any of them personally. If they target us personally, are rude, or racist, we just delete them and block the user from the channel.  Don’t worry about it. Just remember it is your channel, and if someone crosses the line, you have the right and the power to block them and then move on. Our advice is just to start, go for it! What have you got to lose?


How did you build your brand to where it is now, take us through your process.

When we first started, we wanted to design a logo for TREAD the Globe. It is tough when you first start, as you don’t know who you are and which direction your channel will go in. You think you do, but we guarantee that the direction and content will evolve.


After spending a long time coming up with the name TREAD the Globe, we wanted to produce a logo that suited our name and who we were.  You can design your own or get a designer to come up with ideas for you.  We used an online site called 99 designs - It’s an excellent service, you submit what you want, and lots of different designers send you their ideas and designs.  You then go through correcting and tweaking them with the designer before choosing the winning one.



After forcing your 23 friends and family members to subscribe to your channel, it felt like an eternity to get to 100 subscribers.  The first 100 subscribers are probably the hardest.  We created our channel in July 2017 and didn’t start producing regular content until May 2018, when we officially set off on our full-time travels.  We had two videos a week, and In August 2018, we achieved our first 1,000 subscribers.


Fast forward to January 2020, and we set off on our around the world drive with 9,000 subscribers.  As we write this, we have 38,600.  We have found that YouTube views and subscribers come in waves.  You will have consistent views, and then all of a sudden, when you don’t expect it, you suddenly get a lot of views. The views drop off a couple of weeks later, but your baseline views have gone up a step. It’s interesting how it works.


We recently did a video on having a Turkish Breakfast, and it unexpectedly became our most viewed video with over 220,000 views.


We still produce two videos a week and now achieve an average of around 20k views a video. You may find that as you evolve, your channel art and branding need to grow with you. What you once thought was terrific will eventually look outdated. We recently created a new logo and channel art that we believe reflects us better.



For someone who wants to get into content creation, what is your advice?

Our biggest tip is just to start.  If you want to be a content creator, you have to make and put out content.  It will never feel like the perfect time to start, but it won’t come if you wait for the right time.  Don’t wait for the new camera or until you’ve learned a new skill. Just start.    


For those creators who have already started but are struggling, be patient.  There are rare cases when the first video goes viral, but the chance it happens is very slim. It takes a good couple of years to get profitable growth. 


It’s about getting that click. You can have the best video, but if people don’t click on it, no one will know, and YouTube won’t promote it. This is why the thumbnail and title are the two most important things.  Don’t just take a still from the video footage and hope for the best. There are a few excellent channels on YouTube to help you try to perfect these. Check out Derral Eves and Nick Nimmin.


How did you finally commit to X platform rather than your regular day job?

The hard part for us was planning to completely change our lifestyle and give up all the possessions we had worked so hard to accumulate. Once we had fully committed to selling everything and renting out our house, there was no going back, and with the house rental giving us our base income, it was already just about sustainable.  We were very motivated to produce content as that would make sure we didn’t have to return to an empty house one day in the future.

Tell us your best milestones in being a content creator.

Other than the first 1,000 subscribers, we have achieved a few milestones and ones we won’t ever forget. When we set off our local BBC created a short clip of our plans for their Facebook page, it had over 1.3 million views. Unfortunately, it was their channel, not ours, but it shows the potential and popularity of what we did. Earlier this year, we were awarded YouTube’s Creator on the Rise.

We have now achieved more than 3.5 million views - we can’t believe so many people watch and enjoy our content. This year we also got our first paid sponsorship integration on our videos.



What are your marketing strategies to grow your brand?

Growing a channel and social media platform is not easy, and it takes time. Here are a few ways we did it:

  • Make content with added value. For us, it’s information, inspirational, and entertaining.
  • Review your channel art, make sure it clearly shows who you are, don’t be afraid to rebrand as you grow - we just did!
  • Commit and be consistent. We post every Wednesday and Sunday. Your followers will be waiting for the next release.
  • Engage with your followers. If they make an effort to leave comments or a message, make sure you message them back. It will get to the time when you can’t keep up but at least indicate you have read their comment by giving it a heart!
  • Listen to your followers' feedback.
  • Network, watch other channels, and leave comments. It supports other creators and helps get your channel name known too.
  • We once read ‘fake it until you make it,’ and I would agree with that. Sell yourself to brands or newspapers, or magazines.  We have been on the TV and in newspapers numerous times, but it didn’t just happen. Tell them about what you are doing.
  • Once you build an online relationship with other channels, do some kind of collaboration.  We have done a few now, featuring other channels on ours and filming clips for different channels.  It’s the right way of getting your brand known and gaining more followers.


Here’s a collaboration we did for our channel:


How do you handle brand deals and sponsorships? 

We now receive offers almost daily from companies asking us to review products or pay to promote their company.  We need to stay true to who we are, and we turn down 99.9% of them.  We only want to promote products and services that we know, use, and believe in.  Our followers don’t want our channel to turn into a sales channel, which would be damaging for us.  They need to trust what we say rather than think - oh no, another sales pitch!


The first time we were contacted by a company that we know and use, they asked us how much we would charge for a 60 second clip, and we had absolutely no idea.  After researching, we tried the free version of Social Blue Book, which gave us a valuation of $400. As it was the first time the company had worked with us, we settled on $200.   The following month they booked one clip a month for three months at $400 a clip.    They can always say it is too much starting high, but Social Blue Book is a good way of getting an idea of your worth.

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