Over the last two years, world traveler’s Johannes Richter and Vivian Velle have made a name for themselves as Germany’s largest travel influencer couple on Instagram as @JoVi_Travel. The couple left behind a comfortable lifestyle working in law and consulting for the ever-seductive call of the digital nomad lifestyle. Together, Johannes and Vivi travel all around the world creating portraits of their travels to some of the world’s most picturesque locations.
We’ve literally given you a near-endless guide on how best to see the world this year. Since you’re going to get out there (somewhere), you might as well figure out how to make the most out of your travels, and maybe even take a stab at living that influencer life.
We spoke with Johanness and Vivi over the phone and asked for some actionable tips on how to get started working towards becoming an influencer all while telling the world your life story. We also made sure to ask them how they’ve made it two years traveling the world and working together without becoming incredibly annoyed with one another.
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If you’re someone who wants to get into the life of being an influencer, what advice would you give on how to get started?
Johannes: We started a little over two years ago. Before that, we had a regular career in banking and consulting at a law company. We just wanted to get out of our normal life. When we decided that, we just started by watching hundreds of hours of YouTube videos. We had no previous knowledge about photography and editing or social media in general.
Vivi: Yeah, we just got into it and the key for us just keep it going.
Johannes: It’s best to start getting your hands dirty as quickly as possible. I think these days, lots of people like to buy courses and get other theoretical knowledge about how to do stuff, but they never really start doing it. People can always find a reason why they’re not going to start. But, they’re still going to do all the courses cause they would like to, but they never get into it.
Vivi: Yeah. And you don’t need like a few thousand dollars in camera equipment just to take pictures. If it’s something you really want to do, just do it. You can take nice pictures with your phone and edit them later on.
What’s the public’s biggest misconception about the life of being an influencer?
Vivi: Being on a constant holiday, 365 days a year.
Johannes: Taking pictures. Especially for us, it’s quite a lot of work because we don’t have a photographer with us. We always end up doing it ourselves with a camera and a tripod, meaning we’re going back and forth from in front of and behind the camera. Taking a couple of pictures can take us a couple of hours.
Vivi: Also getting to a photo location. Like yesterday, we went to some waterfalls here and it took an hour and fifteen minutes one way.
Johannes: We always start out in a good light. Usually at sunrise, but yesterday we got up at four o’clock in the morning to be the first people out. There are people and also tourists around that jump in front of our camera. So yeah, probably the biggest misconception is that it’s easy and always fun.
If they want to get out of nine-to-five and be an influencer because they think the job is a few snaps and you make a lot of money, there is way more behind it. Then there’s working with corporations and brands. A company doesn’t say, “hey, what’s your bank account number? We’re going to transfer you the money and you do a post.” There are a lot of emails back and forth that can take weeks and months.
Vivi: It also takes a lot of travel planning. In the end, we work seven days a week. We don’t have holidays. We don’t have sick days if we’re sick. If we don’t do the work, nobody does it for us. So the workload is definitely more than we had before.
Johannes: You can never stop. Like if you stopped posting for a long period, you’re not putting anything into the algorithm. So you constantly have to upload something and that can be sometimes quite annoying if you just want to have a weekend with your family, or you just want to relax and do nothing. We are lucky that we’re doing this together. So in the worst case, if someone doesn’t feel up for it, the other one can cover.
I think that can be quite a challenge for some people also psychologically to always keep up on that pressure.
Vivi: It creates a lot of pressure and feels like Instagram messes with you.
Johannes: You’ll always compare with other influencers from your niche. Maybe they took this cool photo and maybe you think your photos are not as good.
What are some tips on keeping your sanity?
Vivi: You have to do something you love. If you say you want to make a travel account and you actually hate sleeping in hotel beds, it’s not going to work. When you do something you really love, you find your own thing. Like some people prefer to do more portrait, close up shots. Others focus on landscapes eventually. You start to create something that’s more unique, that’s more your style. And then you stop constantly comparing your pictures with other people’s work.
Johannes: Yeah. And also, I think if you just want to become an influencer because you want to leave your old job and be cool, but you don’t like to take photos and aren’t really interested in the topic …
Vivi: It will never work.
Johannes: It will never work out. Cause you have to keep up with work so much in this niche. It won’t ever take off if you don’t really love it. So you have to choose wisely about what you can do.
It’s going to kind of become your whole life. It’s not going to be just a side gig, or a couple of hours a day.
How much should an influencer realistically hope to make?
Vivi: Well, that totally depends on the niche. Like, fashion pays more.
Johannes: Especially in the first one or two years, you can expect to make pretty much nothing. Because you have to build your audience.
Vivi: Nobody will pay you for your 500 followers. In general, as I said if you’re like fashion or beauty, it’s much easier to get paid by companies because it’s easier to convince people to buy your product.
And where the influencers can make more money varies for people who are traveling. It’s more difficult because you can’t advertise something like a beauty product, it’s not going to work because it’s about traveling and about a destination.
Johannes: At least that’s how it is for Instagram. YouTube, for instance, is very different.
You can start making a living with like 100,000 followers and you can start charging rates and get a few of them per month. I mean, you’re not going to get rich. Right? But 100,000 followers is possible to make a living off. Numbers then just really go up. It’s hard to say what someone with a million followers makes. It depends, in some niches, it’s really hard to make money. There are just so many people that the market can be supersaturated.
What are some tips for building a following?
Johannes: Remember to be patient, it can take a while. It’s a huge time investment. If you want to create good content for several years and then you should try to do something unique. There are lots of repost pages on Instagram with huge followings. It’s possible to get featured by them, but they will only keep track of your content if there’s something special that’s worth reposting so that they also benefit from the post. You really have to step up the quality and improve always.
Vivi: More important than building a following, you have to create a community to interact and give them a reason to follow you. There are so many other accounts out there, why should they pick you? I think that’s very valuable to connect with people, especially in the beginning.
Johannes: Yeah, if people write us a message about anything, we don’t just send a one-liner back. If they ask a nice question we always respond with quite long messages sometimes. To build a better community, we make people feel valued that they follow us.
Traveling as a couple, how do you guys keep from getting on each other’s nerves?
Vivi: Well, it doesn’t always work that good.
Johannes: I think at the beginning that was the hardest.
Vivi: In the beginning it was the hardest. Like, we had no idea how to work the whole Instagram thing or how to take proper pictures. There was so much we had to learn. And of course, there’s a lot of pressure and then you have to do it 24/7. But, I think by now we found a kind of mode on how to work together. We split the tasks. One person takes care of collaboration. The other edits the pictures. That makes it much easier. We also kind of grew as a team, as a couple, if that makes sense.
But it’s very important every other day to have some “me time” where we’re just doing something on our own.
What is the most romantic place you’ve ever traveled to?
Vivi: We’ve just been to Cappadocia, Turkey in October, which has probably the most romantic sunrise with hundreds of hot air balloons!
They have, like, these cave hotels. They’re built inside of “fairy chimneys.” They have pretty unique stone structures there and they build a hotel inside of those stones, like caves. And then you have rooftop terraces with nice Turkish carpets and cushions. It’s pretty romantic.