Even if he hit the lottery and won a few million dollars, Tom says he still wouldn’t quit making travel videos.
It’s fun. It gets him outside. And it helps him really “see” a destination in a way you just don’t when you’re traveling as a typical tourist.
While “videography” may sound intimidating as a profession, selling travel videos and exchanging them for amazing trips is something you can do with your smartphone. Tom Reissmann earns as much as $90,000 a year doing this just nine months out of the year.
Today, he has nice cameras and audio recording equipment… but, as he reveals in my interview below, he’s using his cell phone more and more to create videos and there’s a way to start that includes just the gear you have…
See how much he makes per project, and watch one of his finished videos, below… you’ll see how fun it looks… and how approachable it truly is!
Lori: How did you decide to become a travel videographer?
Tom: It’s a story of unrequited love, actually. I was working for a travel company in Britain, and the honeymoon packages were the most popular. I really wanted to go on these trips myself but, they were incredibly expensive, and I wasn’t getting married anytime soon.
Also, I was secretly in love with a girl who I kept mysteriously bumping into during my travels. I thought I could I win her over by inviting her to accompany me on an exciting job—helping me film safaris for the travel website.
So, I suggested to my boss that we could create videos for all the tour companies we worked with and, surprisingly, he agreed. A couple of months later, I was climbing Kilimanjaro and filming lions and leopards in Tanzania and Kenya.
The woman in question didn’t join me… but I’ve been a travel videographer ever since, so I should really thank her for inspiring me to follow my passion.
Lori: What made you decide to start teaching others to shoot travel videos?
Tom: Once I started filming in Africa, I was meeting people who had spent thousands of pounds to be there. They kept asking me how much I had paid for my trip. I didn’t want to lie, so I told them it was for free… and on top of that, I was getting paid to film there.
Of course, they asked me how I managed to get this job.
I should mention that, at that time, I didn’t have much experience—I was really just a tourist with a small camcorder and a tripod and very rudimentary knowledge of videography. So it was a legitimate question.
My answer was that I had, quite literally, just created the job for myself. And that gave me the idea to write a little course to show other people how to do the same.
Lori: How much do you earn per video now?
Tom: It really depends on the client and the amount of effort I have to put into it, but generally around $2,000 to $4,000. In some cases, I’ve been paid up to $7,000, but that covered a total of five U.S. states… and I was filming over the course of two months. Here’s how that video turned out.
(And here’s how I earned $28,000 in one trip–if you count in the fabulous perks.)
Lori: Today, you’re an experienced videographer with very expensive equipment. How does someone with no experience and pretty basic equipment break into the market?
Tom: First of all, I started off with a very basic Handycam. It didn’t even have HD, and it was worth about $500. It makes me laugh to see those old videos, in the now-extinct TV format of 4:3, with the black bars on the right and left. But they sold vacations and some might still do so.
But the most important thing that has happened in the last 15 years is the emergence of the smartphone. You can now film in HD on your cell phone. Just remember to turn the phone sideways instead of vertical.
Lori: What’s your favorite experience as a travel videographer?
Tom: One of my favorite experiences is riding in a helicopter. And I recently got to do that again in British Columbia. There’s just something magical about it—the ability to hover and the large, open 180-degree view. It’s way cooler than sitting in an airplane. So, if anyone wants me to film from a helicopter some more, then please do get in touch!
Lori: Would you still do your job, even if you were a multi-millionaire?
Tom: Yes, I absolutely would. I might be more selective in my projects, but I would certainly still do travel videography because I love what I do, and it allows me to see some pretty amazing places. It also allows me to capture the magic and the beauty of our planet and our shared human experience.
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can fund your travels and make an extra income with photography, travel writing, blogging, and more in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel. Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Five Fun Ways To Get Paid To Travel: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]