We’ve now decided that the timing is right for us to launch Patreon- and this is why.
First and foremost, if you don’t know what Patreon is, then you might want to read about it here. Trust me, the rest of this post will make a lot more sense!
For those of you who have been following us for some time, you might remember this post from last year. In it, I write about how we had decided not to go ahead with Patreon for the time being. Our rationale was twofold. At the time we had yet to decide on our future sailing plans and we therefore felt that launching Patreon would be unfair to our Patrons (what if they signed up expecting us to sail the Pacific, and instead we decided to go live onboard in the Bahamas?). The second reason was simple: despite YouTube having changed their advertising rules around that time, we were still earning a small income from that platform, which we assumed would grow along with out channel.
We started our YouTube channel in January 2017. Our reasons were simple: we wanted a creative outlet, we wanted a project, and we wanted to document our adventures so that when we finally stop sailing one day because we’re old and crippled, we’ll be able to look back on our lives at sea and relive our experiences.
We decided on a couple of important milestones to keep us motivated: at 10,000 subscribers we would monetise our content; at 20,000 subscribers we would launch Patreon. We wanted to establish ourselves and our content before thinking of earning revenue from it; we figured this would keep our videos authentic and would ensure we were staying true to ourselves.
We were lucky enough to hit 20,000 subscribers only 6 months after starting our channel. We really hadn’t expected that at all, but we were thrilled that people were enjoying our content. And we were more determined than ever to continue to improve the quality of our videos (I think we can all agree that our production has improved drastically over the past 18 months!). However, this milestone of 20k came at a time where several other things were happening.
First and foremost, Nick and I were at a crossroads. We had reached our initial goal of sailing from the UK to the Caribbean and then up to the east coast of the USA. However, we couldn’t agree on a way forward. I wanted to continue sailing westwards and reach Australia. However, Nick wasn’t convinced that we had the right boat for a circumnavigation (there’s no turning around once you go through the Panama canal; you either keep going until you’re back home, or you sell the boat). And, without a clear path forward, we were both lacking motivation to do anything. We even floated the idea of storing the boat for a while and trying some other form of adventure (hello #vanlife!). But that didn’t feel like the right thing to do either. We were at home on the water in our boat; we just didn’t know which bit of water we wanted to take her to. In short, we were paralysed with indecision. I’m sure you all know the feeling. Therefore, launching Patreon at that time was clearly the wrong thing to do. We wanted to look after our Patrons and give them good value for money; how could we do that when we didn’t even know what our sailing plans were?
The other event that happened around this time was that YouTube changed its policies, so we were now getting demonetised for some of our content. However, we had hope that if we obeyed by YouTube’s new guidelines of eliminating ‘offensive’ material from our videos- such as swearing- we would still be able to earn money from the platform. We also hoped that the bots that automatically demonetise videos would soon ‘learn’ what was and wasn’t truly offensive material, and we would start to get demonetised less frequently. The app we use to help with marketing our videos, TubeBuddy, also created a feature called ‘Demonetisation Warnings’ which gives you a heads up if your content is likely to be flagged or not before you even hit the Publish button. We reasonably thought that as we continued to grow our channel and YouTube sorted out their teething problems, that we’d see our income grow over time.
That hasn’t happened.
This time last year we had just over 20,000 subscribers. At the time of writing, we now have just over 40,000. So, double. However, we are earning half- half– of what we were earning this time last year through YouTube. And the amount of work we’re putting into our channel has quadrupled.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
What a difference a break makes
We spent Christmas on the boat last year, with the plan that we’d ‘head south’ in the New Year. We still didn’t know exactly what that meant- were we going to the Bahamas? Cuba? Panama? Virgin Islands?- but we felt that being stationary wasn’t good for us. We were lacking motivation, but we figured once we got moving, inspiration would strike and all would fall into place.
However, we never got to that point. After much soul-searching and difficult conversations, we decided to take a break from the boat. I wanted to go back to Australia and Nick wanted to dedicate some time to his other hobby, surfing, as well as see his family in London. So we went our separate ways for three months, which is a bloody long time to be apart from both your partner and your home, and hoped that the future would become clearer with space and distance.
And it did.
During one of our daily phone calls, Nick said to me that he thought the most sensible thing to do was to sail the boat back to Europe. We couldn’t make that crossing until May, which gave us a bit of time to kill in the meantime, so Nick opted to go back to the boat early, invite a friend to crew for him, and head to the Bahamas until it was late enough in the year to sail to Europe. I was at the point where I was ready to agree to a plan- any plan!- so he got my full support. And finally, we had some direction.
You know how you just know when you’ve made the right decision? It was like a weight had been lifted off our shoulders. Suddenly, it seemed obvious: of course we were spending a few months in the Bahamas before sailing to Europe! How could we have even entertained other options? This was by far the best decision for us, for lots of reasons, but mainly because it just felt right. For the first time in months, we were both truly excited about the next sailing season. And we haven’t looked back since.
And now, Patreon
After over 1000 words, I can finally move onto the actual reason for this post: Patreon.
To say we’re full of excitement and enthusiasm for our chosen cruising ground is an understatement. And we’re more committed to our YouTube channel than ever. It’s not a project anymore; it’s a huge part of our lives and (potentially) an income earner. It’s our job, and one that we love. Documenting our adventures and providing entertainment and inspiration for our viewers is indescribably rewarding. We’re now planning one, two, three years ahead and are beyond excited for what’s to come in the future! It’s going to be pretty awesome, and now that we have a clear path forward, we have decided now is the right time to launch Ruby Rose on another platform: Patreon.
YouTube have made it almost impossible for creators to earn money using their platform. Unless you’re in the elite few that have a significant number of followers- like, hundreds of thousands and upwards- earning any meaningful amount is not possible. (Read this post from fellow YouTubers Sailing Kittiwake for a breakdown of their earnings, and why Patreon works so well for them.) I’m acutely aware that we’re living an enviable lifestyle and as such have little reason to complain that we’re not getting paid well enough from one of the world’s biggest companies. So I’ll make this brief: we have invested a lot of money into cameras, laptops, software and a lot of other equipment (bought a tripod last week; it cost us £180. That’s the least of it…), and so far we’ve not earned any of that money back. All the revenue we make from YouTube goes into ongoing costs: power generation, internet, subscriptions to services such as TubeBuddy and Epidemic Sound, marketing, etc. All the other YouTubers I talk to are up against the same problem.
Patreon will allow us to recuperate some of our initial investment- maybe, in time, all of it- as well as allow us to continue to invest in our channel. It’s really that simple.
Why should I become a Patron?
First of all, you don’t have to. In fact, the vast majority of our followers won’t become Patrons, and that’s totally cool. We really appreciate the support we get from our followers and that will never change!
All of our videos will continue to be published on YouTube, so if Patreon isn’t your thing, it’s all good: you can support us just by watching our videos, leaving comments and telling your friends about our channel. This type of engagement really helps our channel to grow, so thankyou in advance!
We truly want to provide good value for money for our Patrons while still keeping our YouTube videos free for everyone. With that in mind, we’ve come up with some pretty sweet perks for our Patrons! Benefits include, but aren’t limited to, additional content and updates, access to our Yellowbrick tracker, name on the credits of our videos, and early access to our YouTube videos. Oh, and that’s just the first tier. Other tiers offer Live Chats, deleted scenes & blooper reels, polls, behind-the-scenes access, some really cool merchandise- including exclusive Patron-only gear- and priority in responding to correspondence, as well as a whole lot more. The top tier even offers one-to-one Skype sessions so we can answer all your questions and declare our thanks and love for you! Sound good? We thought so too.
Interested in becoming a Patron? Click here!
Thanks for taking the time to read this, and I hope this answers any questions you may have about why we’ve made this decision.
Nick & Terysa