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Andrew and I have gone back and forth about whether or not we want to build a Youtube presence. We weighed the pros and cons over the past few months and concluded that - at this time - it’s not for us.
Let’s look at the facts and examine what it means to launch a Youtube channel. We’ll use a tried and true SWOT analysis from my grad school days.
Serenade Wind SWOT
- s/v Rachel J Slocum as unique selling point
- strong balance sheet
- access to remote regions of the world
- media and entertainment contacts
- new brand in competitive marketplace
- small base of followers
- lack of experience
- growing audience due to coronavirus lockdown
- crowded market with more entrants each day
- lockdown restricts movement
- fractured viewing
- high audience turnover
When we sort through the environment, we don’t see a home-run opportunity to capitalize on at this time. Currently, the lockdown restricts everyone’s movement, negating one of our unique selling points. We don’t want to waste anyone’s time with more pretty pictures, as much as the audience likes to escape from their day-to-day stress. It seems there’s already plenty of material out there to consume.
Fallacy of Ad Revenue
Let’s look at the revenue generating opportunity and see if it’s worth it from that front. If you’re familiar with the leading sailing channels Sailing SV Delos with 574K subscribers (at the time of this writing in early August) or Sailing La Vagabonde with 1.46M subscribers, they have benefited from first mover advantage.
Also ran Youtube creators are “out of the money” and do not generate sufficient ad revenue to support their vlog activity. Enter Patreon.
Patreon and subscription revenue is prevalent because ad revenue made on Youtube or other social media does not pay off. Here are the statistics from various Youtube creators:
- The O’Kelly’s also remarked in their “Under the Sheets” podcast from April 15 their viewership and revenue statistics.
- At the time of this writing, they have 47.1K subscribers which blew up after they did a video on a catamaran conversion over one year ago (YoY growth of 32K viewers).
- From the beginning, they have created videos and shared them with the world because they consider their lifestyle a privilege and want to encourage others to do the same.
- 83% of revenue come from skippable ads… $9,517 from Jan 1-Apr 15, of which they keep 65% or $6,186.05 while Adsense keeps 35%.
- When you scale up The O’Kelly’s ~$6,000 for ~3M views to the market leaders such as Sailing La Vagabonde with 257M views, SLV is estimated to have earned ~$500,000 since their launch in 2014 based on ad revenue alone.
- Abandon Comfort generated $3,760.67 in ad revenue during their best 6 months where they grew from 5,000 to 50,000 subscribers. Ryan & Kelsey spend roughly 50 hours a week editing episodes, earning $125 per week or $2.50 per hour.
The economics just don’t make sense at this scale. Doing the work needs to be a labor of love, and for us it’s premature to say having not done any of it before.
For another estimate, check out Dreamtime Sail and their well-researched article on The Truth about Youtube Sailing, who despite the economics decided to have a video record of their sailing life in addition to a written record. If you are visually inclined, Slow Boat Sailing YT channel also attempted to summarize the economics of the top 10 best paid sailing channels in 2017.
Youtube creators have commented similar statisitcs to Abandon Comfort. Creating videos is a full time job which they layer on top of their cruising life. For us, we need to consider what are the opportunity costs of taking on this effort.
By this, we mean to take into account what are the benefits that we are missing out on by choosing to make videos. The foregone options include missing out on experiencing adventures such as:
- digging in, learning more about ourselves, growing close together
- living this challenging lifestyle
- developing new skills in self-sustainability
- learning new languages
- finding opportunities to support local communities
- establishing new climbing routes and first ascents
- exploring uncharted atolls and calettas
When you consider the return on this option to create videos at $2.50 per hour, it doesn’t take a Rhodes Scholar to conclude this is not a good ROI.
As for the Youtube creators, they have all found ways to come up with content week in and week out. Sometimes they’re good and informative. Sometimes they’re escapist, puff pieces. We enjoy all of them, and we’re skeptical we can do any better. More likely, we will do far, far worse.
How many sailing channels are there? Perhaps 800 or 900… perhaps more. A handful of sailing channels including La Vagabonde and SV Delos have the first mover advantage. In the next tier, there’s about 20 sailing channels with 50K or more subscribers.
Cranking out content each week does not benefit from economies of scale and so when you sign up for this activity, it becomes a job…a low-paying job.
Did I mention that I was retired? Did I mention wanting to climb my second mountain?
Call me crazy, but this isn’t it.
Unique Selling Point
It doesn’t take much to come up with some unique attributes to what we can provide that isn’t out there yet. These include the following USPs:
Sailing a schooner - When we first looked at buying a boat and stumbled upon s/v Rachel J Slocum, we tried to get up to speed by learning how to sail via “armchair sailing.” We scoured the internet and didn’t find many resources, so there is a niche of content we could create on sailing a schooner. The one catch? We’re no experts…
Adventure in remote parts of the world - With her forward-seeking sonar and demonstrated ability to sail to remote parts of the world, s/v Rachel J Slocum can get us anywhere we want to go. We just need to level-up our experience to be able to sail her there. Once we do, we’ll have the ability to capture unique content by virtue of the fact that no one else has access to these locations.
Climbing - Combining our favorite activities into compelling footage on sailing to remote islands and establishing new routes are one of the ideas we also have in mind.
As you can see, these ideas can materialize over time, but not in the first year of our adventure. In the meantime, we want to live life to the fullest and not be worried about recording our lives. As Red says in The Shawshank Redemption, “Get busy living or get busy dying.”
Currency of Time
The fact is Andrew and I have a lot to tackle in the next 6-12 months. We are also learning from a hard lesson in July, which led to some insane tension headaches for me. Casual comments by the dreamer (Andrew) lead to an overwhelming workload for the planner (Denise). One morning as Andrew expressed his concern over my insomnia, we hashed out what led to it. We both contributed to the situation and because of it we are now more aware of when we might trip up before it happens again.
Just as we talked about before, we are giving ourselves the gift of time. In the time and space we have over the next few years, we will take things as they come. We will focus on the present, go with the flow, and really focus on the time we have because time is the most valuable thing to us and not money.
We make a far more meaningful impact capturing our stories in words and sharing them gratis on SerenadeWind.com. Granted the audience of readers is shrinking with each generation (according to the NEA, roughly 7% decline over the past decade), but in the words of Terry Pratchett:
If you don’t turn your life into a story, you just become a part of someone else’s story.
So, to all the Youtube channels out there, SerenadeWind will not be entering the fray. Perhaps one day, when we have something interesting to share, we’ll cut some video and upload it. Until then…Via con Dios!
Thanks for reading!
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