We need to share something
our time off the boat is often times an opportunity to look back at what we've achieved personally as well as what we are doing (semi)professionally, online, on STLT. We have always built a buffer of footage, as cruising time often allows to capture more video in a week than what we publish. Our personal aspiration is to create the best videos possible with the footage we captured, and tell you guys about our experiences and learnings along the way. The videos of Sailing Channels are often considered vlogs, as they capture whats happening in the moment, bringing the viewer along to join the real life adventure, in real time. Ideally these vlogs are published as they happen, there is diminishing value when time passes. Think about your viewing habit. Do you consider a vlog that was published a year ago valuable content? The same seems to apply to publishing a vlog with footage that has been filmed a longer time ago than last week. Maybe you see where I am going with this.
This is a new phenomenon that came with the rise of social media, and we understand that. We are part of that industry. And we feel the same when watching vlogs with real heroes that live in the real world, today, where you can feel the video touches some current issues: When you see no single vlog happening outside, you know it’s 2020. When you see people wearing masks in stores, you know it’s 2021. When you watch something that is published today, in 2022, and you see indications that it is 2020 in video time, the perceived entertainment value decreases. When you’re talking about content in the category “vlog”. The pressing issues of our culture today are a part of what makes the video log watch-worthy.
Previously, people who made video and worked in broadcasting did not have any obligations to minimise time between filming and finished product, other than internal deadlines and project restrictions. What I’m saying is that the time-to-market wasn’t an issue on the consuming side of things, where an audience feels like they’re watching the news of yesteryear.
Think about how Distant Shores worked back in the days. It took a long time from Cruising, to going back home, hiding in the editing room creating the story, to producing and publishing a season of Distant Shores. What they produced was simply a good show, unbound of time.
Coming back to online media in 2022. Making content that looses value over time forces us to stay up to date, up to real time, and technically have a production schedule and turnover of just a few days. We need to make an adventure happen, film it, publish it, in the same week - if we want to win in the category “sailing vlogs”. While this was hard before, it is impossible to do with a skeleton crew (small team, just the two of us) as a young family. The sailing families that succeed have reached a success threshold of being able to hire extra crew (onboard as well as in the editing room) and building a financially stable, well-oiled business around the channel, before they had their babies. They then kept scaling their social media income to be able to afford the crew and create better stories because of the free time they get, from having the crew. It’s an upward spiral. More time, bigger crew, more freedom, more adventure, better videos, more reach, more money, for better videos. We have not managed to scale STLT into this kind of YouTube Business, where we can live well, financially sound, hiring crew to scale. And if we look around us, our sized channels, our quality of content, let’s just say “smaller sailing channels that have a baby” - they publish a video usually once a month, or take breaks, just as we do. And it’s killing the channels. In terms of the state of social media in 2022, this is just not enough content to win. Also, this is a once in a lifetime era that we do not let pass by. Taking time off for family is a sacrifice, one that most if not every parent wants to be able to make. And we are able to sacrifice, because our families are happy to see us and want to offer us that sacred time in their homes (because we don’t have a land home). This means that online, on our content distribution platform YouTube, we become more irrelevant by the week, for the platform itself as well as the viewer: While we don’t offer new videos, YouTube viewers are still using the platform and discover different channels and different types of content, so the YouTube home screen changes into showing the type of videos or creators that they consumed recently. When we finally publish a new video, we are not visible to our regular subscriber base anymore. The algorithm looks at the last time a viewer watched one of our videos (a month ago) and determines that the viewer “moved on” from STLT, as there are more videos of people who recently uploaded - and keep uploading, giving 120% to grow their social media presence. That is just the reality of a social media creator. Consistency is the baseline necessity of social media success.
We need you to understand that what we want to create on STLT is not a vlog. For the algorithm, as well as for viewing pleasure, we need to create evergreen content. Videos that are fun to watch whenever you decide to watch, today just as much as a year from now. That means, we need to adjust our content strategy. We already create this kind of video once in a while when we publish what we call “intentional videos”, where we choose a topic and script it. We throw in some vlog-elements, but the story and information is driven by talking heads segments - that is us talking to you about deliberate things, for example conveying what its like to sail with a partner, or how to get your partner into sailing, or how a wind vane works, or what it is like to sail a certain cruising ground. Those videos generally didn’t do super well in their first week, where vlog content has most value, but it seemed to be catching up after a while, and it gains traction, for example the “8 reasons to sail Greece” video from 2020 or the “LITTLE THINGS make a big difference” where we talk about boat gadgets that make our lives comfortable. There is no timely connection to real life events, no “news”-factor. This type of video is truly the definition of evergreen. Informative, Inspiring, and entertaining. In this kind of video, we are (hopefully) delivering value right the second you watch it, if you know us or if you don’t, it doesn’t matter.
With vlogs: The value increases the more you know us, the value increases the more recent the footage was filmed. Ergo: if you don’t know us and the video is online for a few months, it is perceived worthless. YouTube will not show this content to any new person on their home screen.
I think it’s become obvious what kind of content we need to create on the channel, if we want to be able to keep doing this. We need to adjust to the platform, and create content that serves the realities of the platform. Type of content that can survive the test of time, that is a bit more forgiving when not published at least weekly. Social Media has no middle performers and it’s very obvious what needs to be done if you want a video to succeed on YouTube. For you guys, that means you will see more STLT videos that begin with “How to travel X” or “the best way to experience Y”. That might mean that some of you will enjoy the format less, although we will let our personalities shine through no matter what content we produce. It’s technically a different FRAMING of the same content - because we filmed what we filmed, that hasn’t changed.
At the same time, we need to feed a family. We need to build a business and income streams next to YouTube, work as freelancers (or get a 9 to 5). This takes even more time out of our schedule to editing sailing videos. But we are not able to scale this channel, we have negative growth for every video we post, it is not enough to set aside money for our children or a mortgage. Many successful channels make money doing client work, and this is something we lean into as well. We recently produced a video for a company. We are taking the skills we learned doing weekly videos for 3 years and combine them with our client management- and project management expertise. Our goal is to build a video agency, offering preproduction, shoot, and postproduction services. Another project we are working on is Liveaboard Academy. We have 24/7 experience of living on a boat and are able to share a lot of information. This will become a membership program with high price tiers, as it will offer tremendous amount of informational video content for those who actually decided to make that dream a reality. To be able to demand a high price tag, this program require a lot of attention and time.
We are juggling a lot of loose ends and try to make sense of what we have built, and offer the right product, a valuable video, or great freelance services to the right people at the right time. We are looking for windows of opportunity and there is a lot going on behind the currently visible product - a 20 minute sailing video once in a while.
The Patreon support, the people who really, genuinely, actively support this channel, and like our personalities and journey, are the reason that we made it this far in the first place. It is the bread and butter income that allows us to keep creating sailing lifestyle videos.
But we have noticed quite a churn in our patrons and fewer patrons signing up to fill the gap. And maybe some more of you are on the edge of stopping their pledges due to not posting lately, or taking too much time to finally make the videos about the Caribbean, or simply because you’ve moved on. We know nothing lasts forever, but we do want to set expectations and give context to what we publish online. We can not keep doing the same thing over and over and expect different results, we need to diversify and adapt: Different kinds of videos, work next to STLT. If the weekly uploads and the feeling of feeling connected on the regular is the driving force behind your pledge, we understand that we’re not delivering to what you signed up for. Our compromise is the pledge per creation and the possibility to direct messaging, for liveaboard advice or just a casual chat.
To be completely honest with you, it is a very stressful, intense, and at the same time interesting time for us. A time with issues and tasks and challenges that are not what STLT is about. Therefore, you won’t see any of this in our usual video content. But we owe especially you guys, our email subscribers also our patrons a glimpse into our lives. You signed up to the emails to hear more about STLT and some of you even support us financially by supporting the sailing videos that are meant to show 90% of our lives. Currently, that turned into 10% as we need to lay the foundation of our grown up lives.
We will return to the boat in a few months for another intense season in the Caribbean. Sailing, cruising, filming, having fun and creating stories, while thinking about where we see ourselves in 5 years. On a 36 foot monohull? In the meantime we work on more videos for you guys, lots of stories on the hard drives.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and for being invested as a patron. It means the world to us that we were and still are able to live on Blue to show you this life through our lens.
Talk to you soon, Alex, with Mandy & Levi