Sarah Funk is a YouTube genius who has had incredible success with her travel channel, which is all about her hometown of New York City. We chat about how she went from being broke, living with her parents, and running a not-so-successful travel blog to developing multiple, lucrative income streams, and gaining more than 14 million views and 140k thousand subscribers in less than 3 years.
This episode is great if you want to learn some really practical YouTube tips and strategies which can be applied to pretty much any travel business. Not only does she earn money as a travel content creator on YouTube, but she also has used YouTube to build a successful tour business in New York as well as a vacation planning service, in addition to many other travel-related income streams.
She also shares tips for business owners who are just starting out and reveals the exact steps she took to earn MORE money through virtual tours than she would have normally with in-person tours during the pandemic.
Niching down on YouTube
Sarah’s most important piece of advice for anyone just starting their business? “Come up with a very clear brand image.”
She started gaining serious traction on YouTube once she finally niche down and created content specifically for people traveling to New York. “It took me literally three years of constantly changing directions and being super confusing before I focused on one niche,” Sarah remembers. “If I had just focused on one niche from the start, then it would have blown up much faster.”
Building multiple income streams
Through her YouTube channel, Sarah has built several different income streams including:
- Ad revenue
- Tour sales
- Affiliate revenue
- Travel hosting
- Show hosting
- Online courses
When asked which income streams she’d recommend first, she suggests, “setting up the ad revenue and the affiliate revenue first, and then move on to the more complicated stuff, which would be sponsorships, products and services.”
Her strategy for making big money with virtual tours
As soon as the New York City lockdown was announced in March last year, Sarah took all her tours on live stream. “All these people that can’t come to New York, they still they’re bored, they’re stuck at home, and this is the next best thing to like traveling,” she recalls.
The tours were free to watch, but most people would tip. With 800 viewers on each livestream, Sarah would earn a minimum of $800 per 1 hour tour even if everyone only tipped $1.
Unlike other tour businesses that hesitated to put their content online, Sarah never worried about revealing her route or deterring potential guests from taking a tour with her in the future. “No, one’s going to want to go on a virtual tour versus an in-person tour. So even if they join your virtual tour, they’re still gonna be more interested in going on your live tour, then doing a virtual tour,” she laughs.
Advice for travel business owners today
“I think like a lot of tour companies don’t innovate fast enough. It’s really hard right now. I totally feel their pain, but, you can’t hold onto the old ways when things are changing so fast. You have to be flexible and these environments,” she says.
More from this episode
Want to know which income streams earn her the most passive income? What is the ideal length for a YouTube video? What are her top tips for going viral? Tune in to learn more from Sarah Funk!