If you follow me on Facebook, you know that I regularly share Nas Daily videos. I love his positivity and unique approach at sharing human interest stories from around the globe.
Aside from personally enjoying his work, there is a lot to learn from Nas about travel vlogging and storytelling. It takes a mastery of both to be able to do so in 60 seconds – not to mention EVERY &$%#ing DAY!
As I'm growing my own video channels on Facebook and YouTube (please Like / Subscribe if you haven't already), I'm attempting to learn from the best – and that includes Nuseir Yassin. So here are 21 things I learned about travel vlogging and life from Nas Daily.
#1 You've got to start somewhere.
It's easy for us new vloggers to compare ourselves on Day 1 to someone like Nas Daily on Day 671. But never forget that they too started somewhere. It's fun to scroll back to the original videos of some of my favorite vloggers and see how their original work differs from what I'm seeing today. For example, here's Nas on Day 2: Stuck in Cairo Airport
Versus Nas on Day 669: IT'S ALWAYS SUMMER HERE!
Both great videos – but a noticeable difference in production quality. You could've made the first video on your cell phone! (Which he might have.)
#2 It only takes about 154 words to fill 60 seconds so choose them wisely.
I'm very guilty of attempting to make a short video that ends up over 4 minutes long. And after a few attempts at making a one minute video, I realized that I was trying to say too much in a limited space. Nas has mastered the ability to tell a BIG story in a SHORT amount of time, and I was curious how many words he was using in each video to do that… so I counted.
I took a random 20 sample set of his most recent videos (from 2018) and counted the words. These stats DO NOT include the words in the title of the video but DO include his catch phrase, “That's 1 minute. See you tomorrow!” at the end of each video. And here's what I found:
Number of Words: 127 : 154 : 113 : 155 : 170 : 159 : 182 : 130 : 148 : 136 : 157 : 150 : 146 : 178 : 143 : 150 : 181 : 173 : 158 : 173
That comes out to an average of 154 words per video. So if you want to tell a story in 60 seconds like Nas, you'll want to hover around 154 words with at least 110-130 words and no more than 170 – 180. This isn't an exact science and I'm no mathematician, but it should give you an idea of about how many words to use in your script if trying to write a 60 second video.
#3 It's okay to pivot after you've discovered what's right for you.
At the beginning of his journey, his Facebook page name was Nas Videos, but on Day 30: Introducing Nas Daily! – he discovered a name that better reflected what he was doing. So he made the switch and never looked back.
When I started Travel is Life in Dec 2015, it began as a t-shirt company but I had much bigger aspirations. All I knew was that I wanted to build a travel business that I loved thinking about and working on every day. Since then I've allowed myself to pivot when necessary, and I'll continue to do so until I get it right.
#4 Shit doesn't always work out the way you want it to.
One of my favorite Yiddish proverbs is, “Make plans. God laughs.” And no-one understands that more than a traveler, as learned by Nas on Day 34: When Plans Fall Through.
In my own limited experience with making travel videos, I've had the audio not come out on interviews, I've attempted to collaborate on videos with people who didn't follow through, I've had plans to visit places that got rained out, and other times I simply ran out of time and couldn't deliver an idea.
But on the flip side of that coin, one of my favorite videos that I've done so far called The Most Beautiful Stone House in the World was completely unplanned. My friends Chris and Kim and I were leaving lunch and Chris said, “I know a great place to take you nearby.”
When we arrived at this beautiful home, I was completely caught off guard, but I pulled out my phone and started recording – and the rest is history. For every one thing that doesn't work out, something else great will.
#5 Work with the tools you've got.
Every travel vlogger wants a drone, a better camera, a stabilizer, and a unidirectional microphone. (Okay, well that's my wishlist.) But I don't let the lack of that equipment stop me from producing video content, and neither should you. Let's not forget Nas on Day 44: THEY TOOK MY DRONE! when the government of Nepal took away his drone for 6 days until they came back from Annapurna. He still put out some amazing videos over the next week.
Or there was Day 120: GoPro Fell In The Sea when Nas was filming a time lapse video in Greece and dropped his GoPro (without the case) into the sea.
Work with the tools you've got, which for me right now is a cell phone and a laptop. Besides, as Nas learned in Day 122: What I Travel With – the equipment you start with is definitely going to change overtime anyway – for better or worse.
#6 You're lucky to have a little Jew in you (ladies).
I remember recently on Day 646: FOUND OUT I'M JEWISH! when Nas discovered through a DNA test that he's about 1% European Jewish. Which I say, good for him! And if he can accomplish all that he has and only be 1% Jewish, imagine what I can do at 100%!
Now, before anyone gets too upset at me for making jokes like this, just know that I'm (mostly) kidding around. But even if you do get mad at me, that's okay too, because…
#7 Not everyone is going to like you.
People love Nas's videos because the content is positive, but after a while, some people started hating. People in Serbia hated him for his Kosovo videos. Israeli's hated him for his Palestine videos, and in return, Palestinians hated him for his Israel videos. But as he says on Day 508: PEOPLE HATE ME, “If 100% of the people love you and what you're doing, then you're doing it wrong.”
And as he learned in Day 664: Jews vs Arabs, you can't change everyone's mind. All you can do is continue to be yourself and spread your own positive message.
You've got to have thick skin to produce content on the Internet. Have you ever been hated or discriminated against? I have. I've been protested and demonstrated against.
Well, come to think of it actually, I may be confusing my life with Eminem's, but I've been producing content online for 21 years and have definitely had my fair share of hate. Videos just bring out a new medium to hate me on. But that's okay, not everyone is going to like me. (Although I hope YOU do.)
#8 Sometimes you'll be lonely and depressed.
Traveling the world is awesome, right? I certainly love it, but there are times when I'm lonely. Starting over in a new city every few months and not knowing a soul takes a combination of willingness and patience. But if you ever find yourself lonely in a new city, or lonely in life in general, remember what Nas says in Day 649: i was lonely... “you're not lonely, you just haven't found your people yet.”
#9 It's okay to want better even if your life is good.
Do you ever feel guilty for wanting a better life (or at least a different one)? Is it possible to simultaneously want MORE while appreciating what you HAVE? Is a GOOD life GOOD ENOUGH?
At some point, you may have been complaining about your life to a friend or family member who in response told you that you should be appreciative of what you've got. And while that's true, I also feel that it's possible to have both APPRECIATION and DESIRE in your life at the same time. And as Nas teaches in Day 564: MY FIRST TEDx TALK!, you too can take your life from GOOD to GREAT!
#10 People are more interesting than places.
As a traveler it's easy to get caught up in the idea of making videos about the places you visit, and don't get me wrong, some of those videos are very educational / beautiful / interesting. But what I learned from Nas about being a travel blogger are that PEOPLE tell much more interesting stories than PLACES. Some of my favorite Nas videos were about the people he's met and the stories they shared including Day 650: SHE HAS 800 CATS!
And Day 640: HE HAS TWO WIVES.
And let's not forget Day 587: HE STOLE YOUR WALLET! (This one can make you cry!)
#11 One minute of video doesn't equal 60 seconds of footage
When I made my first video about Té De Coca in Colombia, my first thought when I got home from shooting the video was, “$&*#! I don't have enough footage!” Lesson learned that day: You can never have too much footage. (Later I learned that NOT to be true – there is an ideal amount.)
The reason I wanted MORE footage is because in order to keep viewers interested in the video, I needed to have multiple clips that cut or transitioned every few seconds. A video with multiple scenes keeps your attention a lot better than 60 seconds of someone talking into a camera. But how many clips are TOO MANY clips? In a 60 second video, what's the ideal amount of transitions?
To find out, I took those same 20 videos from my sample set earlier and counted how many different clips were used, or rather, how many times the video transitioned from one clip to another. And what I found was that each of Nas's one minute videos contained an average of 17 clips per video, with the lower end of that range being 13 and the higher end being 23. Sometimes the clips transitioned rapidly, less than a second each, and other times they lasted up to 6-10 seconds. Again this isn't an exact science and each video will be different. That's just to give you an idea of how many different cuts occur over the course of a 60 second video to help you plan how much footage you need.
#12 Facebook is a better platform for travel videos than YouTube.
Nas isn't shy about the fact that he's not a fan of YouTube. He says in Day 369: WHY I HATE YOUTUBE that, “On YouTube, you're not real. On Facebook you are, and we can talk.” He also mentions that his friend's video got 30,000 views on YouTube and 200,000,000 views on Facebook. That's a big difference! And so far in my limited experience, I can relate to those stats. At the time of writing this, my most popular video Where Do All The Flowers Come From? has over 27,000 views on Facebook and only 123 views on YouTube.
On day Day 219: Why I Don't Use YouTube, he also says, “When you're on top of the Himalayas with 2 kb/s upload speed, you kinda gotta choose one platform, and I choose Facebook.” And I can agree with that 100% as well. Aside from the time it takes to upload videos, it also takes time to write and format the descriptions and prep the videos for each different platform.
At the moment, I'm doing both Facebook and YouTube because I'm a big advocate of TESTING. Just because someone else had certain results doesn't mean that you'll get the same ones. However, even after only two months of putting out videos, the difference in my views on Facebook versus YouTube is staggering. YouTube has been great to me in the past for tutorial videos because they show up in search when people are looking to learn how to do something. But Facebook has been a better platform for telling stories.
#13 Keep your font size small on the titles of your video thumbnails
You'll notice that on Nas's video thumbnails that the font size on his titles are relatively small. But that's just on the thumbnail/cover photo. Once the video starts, you'll see that the title of the video quickly appears HUGE across the screen.
And the reason for this is that Facebook hates text in videos. They have a rule for using videos as ads that says, “Video thumbnail images that consist of more than 20% text may experience reduced delivery.”
Now granted that rule only applies to video advertisements and you can do whatever you'd like with your own videos that aren't being boosted, but their preference against text in videos applies either way. You'll get more exposure for your videos if your text does not exceed 20%.
However, keep in mind that this rule only applies to the video thumbnail and not the actual video. Facebook can either automatically generate a thumbnail for your videos or you can upload your own image – which I always do and Nas always does. Their 20% text guideline is determined by the video thumbnail, so feel free to use big font sizes within the actual video and just make sure that your thumbnail image adheres to their rules so that your videos receive the best reach possible.
#14 Your energy is contagious. Love what you do more than anyone else.
It's hard to choose just one Nas Daily video to showcase his intense energy and genuine love for what he does, but if I had to choose, check out Day 616: I'M A MILLIONAIRE! because it's a great example of just how RICH Nas is, which hasn't been a result of chasing the $$$$$.
#15 The world is very transparent now so we might as well be clear along with it and let our light shine through.
I believe that transparency equals authenticity, but it's easy to get caught up in the idea of crafting your message or building your brand (or other marketing buzzwords) and lose what makes you yourself.
You've probably heard the famous Oscar Wilde quote, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” – but that's easier said than done sometimes, especially when there's video involved. But as Nas says on Day 388: I Have $150,000, “I would like to build something big. And I would like to build it all together.” And whether you're building a vlog, a business, a career, or a project of immense importance to you, it's best to be transparent about your intentions.
#16 Titles should be short (around 3-4 words) and invoke curiosity as to what comes next… but without being clickbaity.
I hate clickbait titles. Out of principle I don't click on them because I don't respect the practice. I think Nas does a great job with his video titles. They're accurate, concise, and give you just enough information about the subject matter to get you interested, but not so much that you don't need to watch the video. Let me give you a few examples:
- Day 48: The Hardest Job in the World!
- Day 73: They're Building The Future!
- Day 194: When It Rains It Pours
- Day 221: His Job Is Better Than Yours
- Day 224: My Last Video…
- Day 311: He Made $1,000,000 Traveling
Those are fantastic titles – they are quick to read and capture your attention. As you can probably tell from my blog and my videos, I'm not the most concise person. I also have a background in SEO which means I instinctively write “long tail titles”, so this one's a challenge for me – but I hope to improve my video titles over time.
#17 Not all videos will be as interesting as others.
I've set the bar high for my videos. If I tackle something new, I want to be the best, which is why I study and learn from the best. My goal is that each video I put out is better than the last one. But so far that hasn't happened. I've had a few swings and misses. My video on Comuna 13 got 13k views and my next video on Colombian New Years Traditions got 11k views, and I thought I was on a roll. “It can only go up from here,” I thought.. but I thought wrong. For my next video, I experimented with my first episode of How Much Does It Cost? – an international game show where I take you to different places around the world to shop, eat, and drink, and your job is to guess how much it costs. And this video got a grand total of… 1100 views! Swing and a miss.
The lesson to learn from Nas's 676+ videos in almost two years is that not all videos will be as interesting as others. It's okay to experiment and see what works and what doesn't. Otherwise how would you know? It's not your last video that defines you, it's your next one.
#18 At first it might feel like you're talking to no-one. Your community will grow over time.
This is a challenge for most people and I'm no exception. You put your heart and soul into a video, you go ham for like 2 weeks or longer putting out your best work and making amazing videos, and you only get a handful of views and likes. “WHERE IS EVERYONE ON FACEBOOK TODAY??” you ask yourself.
Always remember.. Rome wasn't built in a day – or whatever cliche quote you need to inspire yourself to keep on keeping on. If you look back at Nas's channel, some of his original videos to this day only have 15k views, and I'm sure he didn't get all those views within days of publishing them.
Can you imagine where he'd be if he quit after a month because it wasn't working? The 2.6 million views that Day 668: SAFEST PLACE IN THE WORLD?! recently got within a week of publishing probably felt like a distant dream on Day 10: I MADE IT TO 10 DAYS!, but it's a marathon not a sprint.
#19 You'll never have it all quite figured out… even after 200 million views
As Nas says on Day 484: I FILMED NOTHING!, “I have no idea what we're doing.” Don't expect to have it all figured out ahead of time or at any point in the future. Plan what you can, adapt to what you can't, and take each day as it comes.
#20 Don't do what you hate.
This has actually been a rule of mine since Day 1 of Travel is Life. It's the reason why I've never had 6 obtrusive banner ads in a 1000 word blog post or why I don't have 20 popups that bombard you as soon as you enter the site. BECAUSE I HATE THOSE THINGS!
There are certain marketing tactics I could employ on this site that would significantly boost my traffic and revenue, but I don't do those things because I hate them. And you know, the golden rule… Do unto others.
And I learned on Day 366: HOW I MAKE MONEY. that Nas has a similar philosophy.
#21 How To Be A Travel Vlogger
Meanwhile, I've spent 3000 words and shared 23 videos to teach you what Nas can in just two minutes. Here's Day 381: How I Make Videos and Day 489: How To Vlog.
#22 Hey Nas, what'd I miss?
Before publishing this article, I sent a sneak peak to Nas to review. First I wanted to make sure that he was okay with me publishing an article specifically about him. Secondly, I wanted to ask him the questions, “What'd I miss? What's a lesson you can teach us about vlogging or life that I haven't mentioned? And here's what he wrote back:
Wow this is amazing!
Bro I'm humbled you put so much effort into what I create. Thank you!!
I learned a thing or two from this!
I’d say what you missed is day 275. Check it out. It’s one of my favorite videos and it's certainly relevant to anyone that hopes to create.
Happy that Nas Daily has reached this point, but one thing to note is that you're never there. I've never quite reached my final destination, despite the millions of views 🙂
Hope this helps and catch you on Facebook!
Thanks for being here, wherever you are in the world.
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