About six months ago I got one of those ideas that wouldn’t go away. Instead, it continued to grow. The idea was to share what we’ve learned about camping off-grid in a micro trailer. After one year of ditching the tent and camping in the trailer, we knew we had a new obsession. Camping has been completely changed for the better. And my husband and I have a new habit of always trying to improve both our trailer and our camping routines.
We got to the point where we felt like we had information worth sharing with other families interested in doing the same thing, camping off-grid in a micro trailer and making lasting family memories. We wanted to both share the knowledge and preserve the memories. And we decided YouTube was the best place to do that.
Six months ago, we created our YouTube channel and we have been posting content every single week. We thought we’d go over what we’ve done with the channel, what we’ve learned, and how much money we’ve made with it. That way we can give you an idea if having a YouTube channel would make sense for you.
Creating a Plan for Our YouTube Channel
We knew from the beginning that we needed to have a clear plan for our channel and not create content at random. We first decided which types of videos we would be creating. We came up with three different categories.
First, we would create videos of our camping trips. These videos would have no voiceover but instead show what a trip could look like if you decide to visit that campground. These videos are meant both as family keepsakes and to give a clear idea of what that particular campsite and campground look like. For details about the location and to add extra value it was decided that each of those videos would also have a corresponding campground review blog article that discusses the good and the bad.
Next, we would create educational content. These videos would all have one specific theme and would include footage of one of us speaking. We would mix in video footage of camp trips to help illustrate our point, but the goal of these videos is to help people either with the trailer, camping off-grid, or camping with a family.
And finally, we would create content showing our camping recipes. Specifically we would focus on cooking on the Blackstone while camping. Our trailer came with a Blackstone, and we would never camp without a Blackstone now, so it felt like content that was important to include. It was also content that we were having issues finding on our own on YouTube so we thought it would be good to create it.
In addition to the YouTube channel we knew we also wanted to start a blog. Each video would have a corresponding blog article. The plan was to create the blog off of a modified version of the video transcript. Using the transcript would save us time but we knew it would need to be reviewed and altered slightly to make sense for a blog post.
And lastly, to grow our blog we planned to leverage the ClearPath Online DIY SEO Tool and follow the SEO tasks provided there to grow website traffic and help gain an audience.
Leveraging Affiliate Marketing
We knew many of our videos would highlight particular products. So we decided early on it would make sense to do some affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is when you partner with retailers and receive a personalized way to link to products so the experience is the same for the user but the retailer can identify the referrer and give a small fee for the referral without increasing the price to the user.
Affiliate marketing made sense because it was a win-win. Highlighting products without linking to the exact item is a pain. Adding the exact link is a benefit and convenience for the viewer. And if we generate sales it makes sense we would earn a small commission if it comes at no extra cost to our viewer.
Even though we do have many affiliate marketing links our number one goal is to help the viewer. So there are still times we add a link to a product even though we don’t get any monetary value from the link. Providing accurate information in a convenient format is more important than earning a small affiliate referral fee.
And we only ever recommend products we’ve used and tested. It’s not worth getting an affiliate commission for a product we haven’t tested. It’s more important to be a trustworthy source.
How Much We’ve Earned From 6 Months of Affiliate Marketing
We have signed up for two different affiliate accounts. We’re using Amazon and Battle Born. So far we’ve only made money from Amazon but that makes sense. Battle Born is where we purchased the equipment for our solar upgrade and that’s a project that takes months of research before you’re ready to commit. So I expect that to be a longer funnel.
To be honest, I added Amazon affiliate links because I thought it made sense. It seemed like a good idea since I was already recommending the products. I didn’t have any expectations so I was thrilled when it started making anything.
The first two months we made nothing. The third month we made just slightly under twenty dollars. The fourth month we made over forty dollars. And the fifth month we made one hundred and ten dollars. The sixth month hasn’t been calculated by Amazon yet.
So far I have been very happy with the income from affiliate marketing. I don’t expect this to be a steady stream of income, but anything we get is a welcome bonus.
Monetizing on YouTube
We are hoping to be able to monetize on YouTube so we can get a cut of the ads that already play on our videos. YouTube has some metrics you need to meet before you can monetize your channel. We need 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours. Right now we are at 143 subscribers and 1,654 watch hours.
So, we have a long way to go with subscribers but I’m very happy with our watch hours. I thought that would be the more difficult metric to reach. Although we are already six months in and not even halfway on either of these metrics I’m still hoping we will reach these goals within one year of posting weekly content. So that gives us six more months. They are picking up some momentum so I don’t anticipate the next six months to go at the same speed as the first, I expect us to keep growing.
As long as we keep posting weekly content our numbers should continue to climb. Since there is more content available to be consumed there are more opportunities to gain watch hours and subscribers.
Growing Our Website
Having a blog and a web presence was an important piece for us. We use the videos as our primary content and create the text based on the video transcript. This makes the project much easier to tackle so we can focus on creating high-quality videos.
We started with a completely new website. We didn’t own the domain before, we started at ground zero with absolutely no visitors. After six months we now have over 300 monthly visitors and it’s growing each month. About 80% of the traffic comes from Google search results. The rest comes from social accounts (including YouTube) and direct traffic.
The Costs Involved with Our YouTube Channel
So far the costs involved have been very minimal. We intentionally tried to start with what we have and not invest a bunch of money from the very beginning. We wanted to see if this was something we were interested in continuing with and get a better idea of the gear we needed before we started spending money.
Of course one of the most important parts of creating a YouTube channel is having a camera. All we’ve used so far is the camera built into our phones. Now, this is good and bad.
When we started my phone was actually broken. It had died for no apparent reason and a new version of the phone was about to be released. Instead of buying the current (about to be outdated) version I decided to wait. In the meantime, I borrowed a phone. While it was a nice phone (and I was grateful to have it) the camera was not as nice as my old phone. There was a moment where I told myself I couldn’t start the channel until I got my new phone.
I luckily have a husband who reminded me that was a bad mindset and I shouldn’t let something like that stop me. So I didn’t. I now have a nicer phone but the quality is still far from perfect.
What I’ve learned though is having my phone available for recording is a big reason why I’m able to make these videos. It’s convenient and I always have it. If I upgrade to a standalone camera the quality will likely improve but the content will likely decline. Anything other than my phone wouldn’t constantly be with me so it would be more difficult to capture all of the content I’d like to include.
So, my camera cost has been nothing because I use whatever phone I own as my primary camera. It is possible this would change in the future or we may add a camera such as a GoPro for extra footage. But right now this seems to be a benefit so it’s easy to capture the content that’s important to me.
Another possible cost is hosting. YouTube is free and doesn’t cost anything to host videos. But, if you start a blog as well there is a hosting cost involved. We already have a host we pay for monthly so this was not an added cost to us. But, if you need a host you can use Bluehost which is as low as five dollars per month.
(Disclosure: The Bluehost link is an affiliate link. By purchasing through that link you help support ClearPath Online at no additional cost to yourself.)
Transcripts are very helpful both to add captions to the YouTube videos and to use as content for blog articles. For the majority of the transcripts I’ve listened to the video and typed them all out myself. This route is completely free but very time consuming. Depending on the video it would sometimes take me three hours to complete a transcript. I started realizing this is a bad use of my time.
For my more recent videos I used Rev.com. They have an option to have the transcripts computer generated instead of having the work done by an actual person. This route is extremely cheap, only twenty-five cents per minute. I gave this a try and while it wasn’t perfect, it saved me several hours for each video.
I had four videos transcribed for under ten dollars using Rev. I plan to continue using their service going forward. It was money well spent for all the time I saved.
Since I edit the videos myself there isn’t a cost for an editor. I happen to already own the software I use for editing as well so that was another cost I was able to save. The software I use is called Camtasia. The software costs $300 but it is a one-time fee.
Where I did need to spend some money for editing was buying music. Camtasia did come with some music that works well for background tracks. But, once I used all of those tracks I didn’t want to repeat the same songs. I wanted a larger library. I only use music for our campground videos but if they all had the same songs it would be very boring.
So I started using Artlist for background music. It’s only $16 per month and it makes the process of finding music super simple. There are several search options that you can use to filter the results including the mood of the song and if there are vocals or just instrumental. It makes the editing process much faster when finding the right song isn’t a huge challenge.
Our Future Plans for Our YouTube Channel
We are six months into our YouTube channel and we’re having a ton of fun with it. We definitely plan to continue creating content and growing our channel.
Our primary goal for the channel is to be able to monetize it through YouTube. We also plan to grow it to the point where we can open an Amazon store which provides higher commission rates than the standard Amazon affiliate program.
And if the channel continues to grow we will use any profit it generates to upgrade our equipment. Eventually we would like to get a GoPro and start focusing on high quality video and audio.
So that’s where we are after six months of weekly YouTube content. The videos are getting easier and faster to edit. We are having a ton of fun. And we are even starting to make some money. If you’re interested in checking out our videos you can find them at RoginaRoaming.com.
We plan to do a follow up to this article in another six months. At that point we will have an entire year of weekly YouTube content. My hope is I’ll be able to tell you we have monetized with YouTube. Either way though I’ll provide an update on our progress and let you know how things are going.
Do you want to listen to this article? Here’s the podcast episode: