What Do I Need to Start a Great Loop YouTube Channel?

Start Your Great Loop YouTube Channel

Written by The Crew

Rev writes all the posts as "The Crew" at What Yacht To Do. It's just part of the First Mate duties. That list just keeps growing...

March 2, 2021

The reason that our tag line for What Yacht To Do is “Learning As We Go” is because we knew very little about cruising in a yacht when we left the dock on our Great Loop adventure.

Along with that, we knew very little about having a YouTube channel.

But we wanted to do it anyway.

So, we learned how to do it as we went along.

Step 1: Deciding to Have a YouTube Channel

This is a big decision.

Sam did NOT want to have a YouTube channel.

I told him that I was going to do it whether he wanted to or not.

Somehow, he changed his mind.

The reason I wanted to start this channel was to let our friends and family know that we were ok. I actually thought that we were going to be gone for an entire year while we away from home and on the Great Loop.

Silly now, I know, since we went home six, that’s right, six times!

One trip back, I remember telling my neighbor how good it was to see him but he said, well, I “see” you all the time! That comment really took me by surprise. I hadn’t thought about it that way before. But that is exactly why we first started our channel.

The second reason we started our channel came from going to the AGLCA 2019 Spring Rendezvous in Norfolk, Virginia, one week before we left to start our Great Loop journey.

We didn’t know just how much we DIDN’T KNOW until after we attended the seminars and all the presentations. Oh boy. What have we gotten ourselves into?

So, I told Sam, we are starting this channel anyway, let’s turn it into an educational channel, to show others who are interested in doing the Loop, everything we are “learning as we go.” See, there it is again.

That’s how the What Yacht To Do YouTube channel was born.

An additional benefit and third reason, that we hadn’t considered is our legacy.

We don’t pay to put our YouTube videos up so they will be there long after we are gone.

If our family wants to see us anytime, now or in the future, all they have to do is go to YouTube and there we are frozen in time. A time when we are biting off more than we can chew. Facing our fears and overcoming this challenge.

You have to ask yourself, why do YOU want to start a YouTube channel?

Keep your WHY in front of you because it will be important in the future when you want to throw your hands in the air and quit.

Step 2: Set Up Your Channel

This blog post is not a step-by-step, how-to, instructional post on setting up your YouTube channel.

There are tons of videos on YouTube to teach you how if you like to do things on your own.

Or you could have your kids and/or grandkids set it up for you to help give you a head start.

It doesn’t matter who sets it up just as long as you get it set up.

Step 3: Select Your Resources

We get asked a lot what resources we use for our YouTube channel so I’m going to discuss all of them here. Just know that we are partners with a few of the companies below as well as Amazon Affiliates so if you decide to purchase, we get a small advertising commission with no additional cost to you.

Try to make the process of recording, editing and uploading as easy for you as possible.


I use my cell phone to take pictures and videos while we are traveling.

Yes, that’s right.

My trusty phone.

I would like to purchase a better camera and equipment which is why we are Amazon Affiliates, have monetized our YouTube channel and started a merch store.

I’m saving up.

If I were going to buy a real camera, I’ve got my eye on Canon and Nikon.

So, I have been shopping here for Nikons and here for Canons.

I have asked others who have a lot of experience with cameras and they say to try and get as many features as possible but producing good/great pictures are up to you and your skill level.


I’m overwhelmed already!

By the way, if you have any expertise with cameras, please comment below and let me know your preference.

But for now and all the way around the loop the first time, I use my cell phone to record.

Other Cameras

I knew that I wanted some type of camera that I could attach to my head/neck/chest to take action videos going through memorable places and have my hands free.

I used an action, hands-free camera to record our Peterborough Lift Lock, Kirkfield Lift Lock and Big Chute adventures in Canada.

I landed on a DK for $50. I couldn’t find that brand anymore but this AKASO is exactly like it for the same price along with great reviews.

If you get a camera like this, you have to also get accessories to position your camera for the best travel shots. I got these.

On my birthday, when we were on the loop, Sam bought me a GoPro Hero 8. You can get one here or opt for a newer version by searching here. It’s voice-activated so I just have to tell it to start/stop recording. So cool.

The good news is that all the accessories that I bought for my knock off GoPro fit the actual GoPro.

I also added the GoPro Mod so I could put it on my head and be heard because it has a microphone. Although, the GoPro is NOT waterproof anymore when you put it in the mod. You can get yours here.

You will definitely need extra batteries regardless of which GoPro/Other camera you choose. I got these and they work for both cameras above. You can get them here.


To record your videos, you will need to plug in an external microphone to capture the best audio. I chose this one with a dead cat (the fuzzy attachment) to reduce wind noise.

It’s a boat. There’s almost ALWAYS wind noise. Get yours here.

The strange thing is that it doesn’t come with the necessary cord to plug it into your camera/cell phone. So, you will need to pick up this cable.


I also have a variety of tripods.

I mostly use this Joby when we are underway. I like it because it has a mount on top that fits the Rode microphone that I use. You can get it here.

We also use a stand up tripod. It’s for the shots you see when we start and end our videos.

I couldn’t find the brand that we have but this one is just like it. Actually, it’s nicer. You can get one here.

Editing Software

There are many editing software choices out there. You may have a free app with your phone or iPad. I use Camtasia from Tech Smith on my laptop. The reason I chose it is because I used it for work and was already familiar with it.

Remember try to find a solution that is easy for you.

Storing Your Videos

Videos need a lot of data on a camera and a computer.

The file sizes can max out your laptop storage in a hurry.

I use an external hard drive to keep all my files on and use them from there. You can get yours here.

I also back up all my videos on iDrive and you can also right here by using our referral link.

It gives us peace of mind to know the files are backed up and not on the boat.

Step 4: YouTube Extras

Here are a couple of extras to consider.

Custom Thumbnails

When uploading your video to YouTube, you will be shown a section that says “Thumbnails” where YouTube randomly selects a few shots from your video to give viewers an idea of what your video is about and let’s them decide if they want to click and watch.

If you don’t like any of the snapshots that are selected, you can make your own thumbnail and upload.

When we first started our channel, we let YouTube pick because we weren’t really marketing to anyone and didn’t care who watched it outside of our friends and family.

Later, when we noticed that people we didn’t know were watching, we decided to make the thumbnails look a little better.

I use PicMonkey to make our Thumbnails.

Before PicMonkey (YouTube selected this):

After PicMonkey:

Big difference.

I got the basic plan for less than $50 per year.

For us, it is worth it.

Sign up here using our referral link if you are interested.

You may have another way that you can make graphics.

Ask around or search online to help find free graphics software.


We had our YouTube channel for about 8 months before I found out about HandBreak.

This is free, open-source software that takes a large file size and reduces it without losing much of the quality.

It will make uploading your videos faster.

I loaded it on my laptop and use it before loading each video on YouTube.

Get it here.

Here’s How to Use It: Open HandBreak and drag the saved (from the editing software) video to it. Under Summary – Format, I select Web Optimized and Align A/V Start. I “Browse” and select where I want to save the new video. Then, click Start Encode.

That’s it.

Step 5: Go Ahead and Start It

You will never be ready.

But the day will come when it’s time to make your first video and put it up on YouTube.

You may be embarrased.

You may be nervous.

You may feel intimidated.

Trust me.

We were all of those things.

We started with an Introduction Video.

The truth is, it took us at least two hours to record a one-minute clip.

Oh boy.

It was awful.

The lighting was bad.

The audio questionable.

But we put it out anyway.

While we were recording, by the end of that two hours somehow I had shifted my body and my V-neck t-shirt exposed more of me than I was comfortable with.

This was supposed to be a family show after all!

What was I going to do?!?

I did not want to flash my loved ones!

I fixed it with the magic of technology.

Now, you know why there is a banner at the bottom of our very first video.

Let’s keep that our little secret, OK?

Also, if you need some encouragement, just watch it here and you will gain confidence immediately that you can do a YouTube channel!

What helped me be more comfortable was looking into the camera and knowing that my mom was looking back. My sister would be excited about seeing us. Our friends would watch us and know that we were ok and doing it.

I just talked to them as I normally would. The difference is I was looking into a camera verses looking at them directly. The audience was the same, the setup was different.

As you record, talk to your family.

Talk to your best friend.

Talk to your neighbors.

Soon you will feel comfortable being on camera.

Just don’t wear a V-neck t-shirt and you’ll be fine.

Read More

I wrote a chapter in the Ladies on the Loop book about encouraging you to start a YouTube channel during your Great Loop Journey.

There certainly weren’t enough channels on the subject when we started so the more the better!

You can read Chapter 32 (page 210 in the book but 211 if reading online) to get a better idea.

Ladies on the Loop

Listen More

For even more information, watch our podcast interview with Kim Russo, Director of America’s Great Loopers Cruisers Association on this topic.

Your Turn

Well, what do you say?

Are you ready to start your YouTube channel to document an incredibly memorable journey?

I hope so.

We’ll see you out there!

Start YOUR Planning Today

Great Loop Online Courses

Great Loop Planning Starter Kit

How to Lock on the Great Loop

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  1. Rev, all of the above is why I started watching your channel along with the frequency of your video. I’m familiar with the Upper Mississippi River, but wanted to see what the other rivers, ICW and ocean had in store. Being that you two were new to boating, I expected to learn what I didn’t know through you…might be cheaper for me that way :). Turns out I did learn along your way (along with some entertainment in between). Your quick responses to emailed questions is fantastic!
    The headsets you guys recommended are the best thing I’ve bought for the boat since the gps, not to mention saving me some money on oil spectro analysis.

    It’s a long winter up her in MN. I’m glad you guys take the time to put out the videos for your family, newbies and interested in looping to look forward to and see!

    Don’t stop!!

    • Wow, Brian! I’m overwhelmed. Thanks so much for the kind comment and I am so glad that Sam and I were able to help you. I know that we have learned a lot and am so glad to hear that we passed some of that knowledge on to you. Many thanks.

  2. Wow, what an incredible amount of gear and expertise go into your posts. We are waiting to hear about the continuation of your adventures along America’s Great Loop.

  3. I tried to email you directly at crew@whatyachttodo.com but would not go through? Would appreciate hearing what kind of wifi connection you have and scanner/printer. Thank you. Love your videos.

    • Hi Helen! We get tons of email everyday at that address so I’m not sure what happened. Anyway, I typically use the wifi at marinas when possible or I go to a nearby place where I can use their wifi (library, coffee house, etc.) I also have a Verizon Jet Pack that I can use as a hot spot as well as our cell phones and iPad when needed. You can find our printer by going to Resources on the menu above and look under Our Favorites. Thanks for watching!


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