Wednesday, 26 November 2014

All my TV shows, FREE for everyone.

It’s no secret that making great TV shows about overland exploring is why I was put on this Earth. Well, at least I think so.

This month I posted a video about a really great 4x4, that had lots of accessories attached to it. It was built as an example of what can be done by this company. But once the video was put up on YouTube, they weren’t happy. They felt it was a negative reflection on them that the vehicle was now so seriously overweight and that its C of G was so high, it was unpleasant and unsafe to drive.

From my point of view, there are two ways of looking at it.

Firstly, the vehicle is a showcase of what can be done. “Look at us. We can do a lot of really cool stuff.” In truth, the equipment was not designed all to be fitted to the same vehicle. There is no surprise that it’s so heavy. As a showcase, it looks stunning, but the beauty is skin deep.
The other way of looking at it is, if an experienced accessory maker does that for themselves, then why wouldn’t they do it for a customer? And they wouldn’t. They know that it is overweight. Hence their valid concern that it could be construed the wrong way.

This begs the question, should they have done it at all? Surely it would have been better to build the ‘perfect’ vehicle, and get everything right. In this example, they lost site of the package in an effort to show off its bits, and it sends mixed messages. It is actually an excellent example of how too much gear can ruin a vehicle. And this is the message I was trying to get across in the video.

I acquiesced and removed the video and replaced it with my comments about the vehicle’s weight issues removed. I did this because it was paid advertorial. I am ashamed to announce that it is the very first time in over 200 4x4 videos and TV shows that I have done this.

I commented about the weight because weight issues are important when designing an overland truck. And I wanted to share my experiences. Because that’s what I do. But in this case, I couldn’t.

My shows have to be financed. They are not overly expensive to produce because I do most of the work myself, but they are not cheap either, largely because of the distance required to shoot them.

Since I made my first series in 2005, motor and accessory manufacturers have sponsored my shows. But, as an unbreakable rule, I will not have my work ‘passed’ before it goes on air. As a result, I have struggled to find backers and been blacklisted my more than two motor manufacturers because they were truly put out by a negative comment. These include Land Rover the first Discovery-2 and its appalling traction-control that digs great holes in the ground to get grip. And the Ford Ranger V6 auto of 2006, which remains the worst 4x4 I’ve ever driven. These scars take a long time to heal, even though in both cases I have reviewed their later models without any significant criticism because they no longer deserved it.

As a result, it has become more and more difficult to get sponsorship. This is despite my audience growing like never before, due largely to my YouTube channel. In July this year, it was averaging 1,2 million views a year. Not high in a global sense, but exceptional when it comes to niche interest videos. Today, the average exceeds 2,1 million views a year – that’s 6000 a day. The growth is phenomenal. This is part because I’m now attached to a top multi-channel network to promote the shows, and the regular stream of videos I’ve been creating.

This growth begs a question. If I uploaded all my shows (an additional 76 full-length episodes), not currently on YouTube, what would happen? YouTube ad revenue is so small that it doesn’t really count. It would just about pay to insure my 4x4. But there are two other significant outcomes that may results.

The channel gets so big that manufacturers come to me and ask me (not visa-versa) to use their vehicles. And then I can set the terms. The secondly is Patreon.

Crowd funding is now commonplace and known as much for its failures as its spectacular successes. Patreon is a crowd funding system that will permit me to release all my previous work for all to see – for free – and leverage a small amount from the most eager viewers. This will enable me to produce more, better, and more exciting videos.

We released our Patreon campaign last Monday at 5pm. By 6pm the nest day we had achieved our first modest goal of $100 per video. This means that another 26 shows will be released on YouTube over the next six or so months. The amazing thing is, this cost so far is being shared by only 29 people as many have chosen to pay way more than $1 for a video. They are evidence of the magic of this system in that they have decided the value of the content for themselves. Also, the beauty is that even those who don’t want to pony up anything, still get to see the shows.

Our next goal is $500 dollars. Then it goes from $1000 and the way up to $12000. To find out what is promised when that milestone is reached, you will have to click here.

So, if you enjoy the 4x4 shows I produce, please get involved, even in the smallest way. Every contribution, no matter how small, makes a world of difference.

Or watch the video to find out more: