Until recently, it was enough to fulfill your dream of a distant voyage. But these days it seems that enough is when you not only did it, but became popular because of it. Balancing the stresses of traveling around the world while keeping a successful, let alone financially beneficial, social media channel afloat is no easy task ... [...]
Until recently, it was enough to fulfill your dream of a distant voyage. But these days it seems that enough is when you not only did it, but became popular because of it.
Balancing the stresses of traveling around the world while keeping a successful, not to mention financially profitable, social media channel afloat is no easy task ...
Australians Elaina Karausu, 26 years old, her partner, Riley Whitelum, 36 years old, and their son Lenny, 1 year old, the team of the megapopular Youtube-channel Sailing La Vagabondewhich has reached 1.2 million subscribers so far. Well, let's find out how they spend their lives as full-time sailors, parents and vlogging superstars. (A source: Sail Magazine)
You started your journey in the Mediterranean in a 43ft monohull. How did you get to where you are now, living on the Outremer 45 catamaran?
Riley bought the first boat in Italy, the 43ft Beneteau Cyclades. He bought it with no idea how to sail. This was in 2012. He met me in 2014 and we started sailing together. We sailed around the world that started in Europe, then we crossed the Atlantic, the Caribbean Islands to the Panama Canal, the Galapagos Islands, then the Pacific Ocean to New Zealand, where we sold it. New boat, catamaran Outremer 45, we bought in 2017 in France, and started a completely new journey.
Rumor has it that Outremer is sponsoring you. Is it true that you got the boat for free?
It would be great to get a free boat, but it is not. What the shipyard really did for us was help us finance the loan. We were very lucky that they saw something in us, believed in us and so imbued with confidence in us that they helped us get a loan. We have a 10 year repayment plan for this loan.
You've been filming a YouTube video since you started your first journey. What made you pick up your camcorder?
I first filmed with Riley's camcorder. He bought it brand new and never used it. I always filmed my travels before I met Riley, and I thought what we were doing was actually pretty crazy. Go on a yacht around the world without having the slightest idea how to do it. Also, I wanted my mom to see that it wasn’t that scary. She was really worried about me and I thought the video was a good way to show her that things are not as bad as she thought. When I posted our first video, I also made it open to the public and it got a good response. It all started with this ...
You recently exceeded 1 million followers on your YouTube channel. This is a great achievement! What does this mean for you?
A million is a goal for a lot of vloggers, but to be honest, it happened slowly and organically. More than one video has given us a million followers. We were kind of prepared for this amount. The people who found us became, as it were, those followers who are with us everywhere, who comment on everything, as if they are next to us. Last year we worked very hard to get to where we are now. It was very exciting and we are proud of what we have achieved.
How has the growing popularity of your YouTube channel influenced your life?
We received more and more help every year. Now, when we arrive at a place, we are usually greeted everywhere by our followers who come to pick us up, show us around, take us to all good places, help us with restocking - and with everything that when you have no one to help on earth can be quite a daunting task. When you come to a new place by boat, you usually do not have at least a SIM card with internet, and this is quite difficult when you cannot use Google cards to get somewhere or something like that.
Are you both involved in filming, editing and scripting?
We both participate, but I do most of the editing. Riley definitely helps with filming and scripting. He is very passionate about filming, and in the end, after I have done what I planned, he comes in and makes his small edits where he feels the need to express himself a little more. While filming, I collect the story in my head. I have many stories in my head ...
How long does it take to edit one video?
It used to take me three days to video on my old laptop. I have become more efficient in recent years and have learned a few new skills. It now takes two full days, from start to finish. This is a full day job. I prefer to postpone editing until I have two full days at anchor, when I can concentrate on the 100% without being distracted. But this rarely happens.
How do you deal with privacy issues by sharing your videos?
Everything came naturally for us. We would never post something online that would embarrass us now or in the future. We have friends who also vlog and give us advice. We are very choosy about what we post on the Internet, and we are happy with which videos we decided to post and which we chose not to do.
Your little son, Lenny, is already active on social media. Apart from being shown in your videos, it also has its very popular channel in Instagram. Do you think about how this impact will affect him in the future?
I think this will become the norm, but we know what an internet presence brings. It's a lot of attention, so I think Riley and I did a good job with it. I think we are living in such an exciting time, I cannot imagine what will happen in 10 years, what opportunities Lenny will have, just from being online. I am very happy for him and we will just be there to support him. If he wants to delete all of his social media accounts, that's perfectly fine.
Viewers criticize you for your parenting choices. How do you deal with negative reviews?
Yes, they are trying to shame us as parents, it really happens. We had no idea what it would be like until we experienced it ourselves. It was really hard in the beginning, especially for Riley. There is nothing worse than feeling that you are a bad parent. We dealt with it with humor, and it helped take the edge off. Concerning Youtube, then people there may be anonymous, so they may write a ridiculous comment and not think that we will read it and how we will feel about it. It was difficult at first, but now we have passed this stage. We are used to it.
Now that you've hit over a million followers, I believe there is a lot more pressure to work with brands that could impact the direction of your content. How do you navigate these new opportunities?
Luckily we crowdfunders... This gives us the freedom to choose brands that we are comfortable working with, which are in line with our philosophy. It's just incredible because I feel like a lot of YouTubers represent brands because of the financial side, but they personally don't like them. We are very grateful Patreon and our patrons. If it doesn't match what we want, we just say no.
Does each anchorage need to be connected to wi-fi, or can you connect to the outside world without sharing it online?
In fact, we only have a lot of time for ourselves when we are not filming. We don't feel any pressure to film everything and post it online. It's kind of second nature to just grab a camera now and shoot, but it doesn't take any experience. Video is not just something that we share publicly. These are the videos we'll be watching when we're 50 and 60, and Lenny might be showing them to his kids. This is a bunch of memories for us. I used to keep magazines, before I started shooting, now videos have become my magazines.
Many content creators suffer from burnout. Do you feel tired of making videos and do you have a strategy to avoid it?
In the beginning, I definitely felt tired being tied to the Monday fast, for example, when we were walking across the Pacific, where there was no connection at all. Once we had to walk against the wind for four days to get to the place and upload our next video. The pressure continued because what we were getting from Patreon was vital. Yachting is very expensive and we really needed this money to keep going. I was stressed then, but over the years it became less and less difficult. We meditate a lot on board and play sports. Riley and I will always make time for this. There is no excuse the main thing for us is to stay happy!
Do you have any favorite YouTube channels?
Honestly, no. We don't have much time to watch YouTube, and we don't want to. We prefer to read. We read and listen to podcasts a lot.
Do you have any tips for aspiring sailors or newbie vloggers?
Start your channel with something that makes you passionate, not just to pursue a career or make money. People will notice this, and I think that if our hearts are not fully involved in it, it will not be supported by other people either. The camera takes a lot of power, so make sure you are ready to be yourself first. It's nice to get inspiration from other YouTube vloggers, but remember there is only one you. Show people who you are and how talented you are. It might sound silly and I can feel Riley shrinking behind me, but don't be afraid to shine!
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