Today we’d like to introduce you to David Hoffmann.
David, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
In 2003 my brother-in-law invited me to visit his home in Asturias, Spain. I spent five weeks traveling around the region. I also had the opportunity to take a week to visit my cousins in Italy for the very first time. That summer changed me forever!
Since then, I began to take advantage of every opportunity—every summer vacation, spring break, Christmas break—to travel to visit family and friends. This was the start of my love for solo travel.
During the summer of 2007, I spent 100 days traveling around Europe, hopping from destination to destination. Once I returned home, I decided that I wanted to create a life that centered around travel. I was entering my senior year at the University of Miami and had the idea to create video content that would show people the world through my experiences.
I created a business plan, built a website, raised money, and hired a camera operator, a sound guy, and an editor. I launched David’s Been Here in April of 2008. I spent the next two years traveling non-stop and ended up with 500 episodes of my web show. The problem was, the industry was too new.. YouTube was too new, and opportunities for making ad revenue and getting sponsorship were few and far between.
It wasn’t until 2018 that I started seeing a significant amount of growth on my YouTube channel. By that time, I had switched over from hosting-style to vlogging-style and had started being more myself on-camera and injecting my own creative flavor (as opposed to hosting). My first India vlog series, which I dropped early that year, took on a life of its own as more and more people found it. I just cracked 400,000 subscribers, but it took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get there.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I ran out of money in 2010, just two years after I started my company. It wasn’t easy. It forced me to re-think everything about my company and my purpose. During that time, I had to stop traveling for over a year while I tried to figure out how to make money in an industry that was still very young and a mere shadow of what it is today. There was no influencer industry 9 years ago. That’s something relatively new. To bring in revenue, I created David’s Been Here travel products that I sold on Amazon. I also published e-book travel guides and sold stock footage.
Fast forward to 2017, when I started studying all the prominent YouTube vloggers. I realized I could now do it completely alone. I didn’t need a cameraman, a sound guy, or an editor anymore. I bought a camera and started travel vlogging the way it’s supposed to be done, which is documenting your own real experiences. My old episodes weren’t bad, just not as personal or “real.” I had to get comfortable being myself in front of a camera and learn not to care what people thought of me (my grammar, my “Miami accent,” my relaxed style, etc).
It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to achieve. My ultimate goal is to be the #1 source in independent travel.
We’d love to hear more about your work.
David’s Been Here is a source of information. I like to showcase off-the-beaten-path destinations via articles, videos, and photos. We write in-depth travel- and food guides that are based on my experiences and observations. We also interview travelers who inspire me so my readers can learn about other travel content creators they may want to check out.
On my YouTube channel, I show my viewers what it’s like to experience the places I visit. My goal is to make my viewers feel like they’re there with me. I want to spark their curiosity and interest in traveling to these destinations. I want to show them that if I can do it, they can do it as well. It’s amazing how many people would rather watch videos on a place rather than read a guidebook.
What sets me apart is that I go deep into each destination I visit. I usually like to spend two weeks traveling around the country and visiting places most people don’t think to go. I do the big cities, but then I also visit the smaller towns and villages that don’t get as much attention. Day tripping is the BEST!
I like to showcase the culture, food, people, and local attractions to give my viewers a real sense of what these destinations are like. Showcasing local culture and dishes that are specific to the people in that region of the world are two of my favorite things to do. I want to know what they drink, so I try their alcohol. I also do my best to shine a light on the destination’s history to show what the people have gone through to get to where they are today.
Another thing that sets me apart is that I film more than most YouTubers. I shoot two to three videos per day when I travel, which can translate to anywhere between 30 and 50 finished videos about any given country, depending on how long I’m there. I release a new video every single day, which means a lot of my time at home is spent editing. It’s hard, but it’s the best way to grow your audience and keep your viewers engaged.
I almost always travel alone. I make connections with locals through my social media, which is how I find a lot of hidden gems that don’t make top 10 lists. I also always get a local guide, either a fan or someone through a tour company I partner with.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
For me, success is not defined by the money or material goods I earn but rather the things I experience and the lives I touch along the way. When someone contacts me and tells me that an article on my website or a video I made inspired them to travel somewhere, it makes me happier than I can put into words. When someone writes me and asks me what they should do or eat when they go somewhere I’ve been, it means they trust me enough to point them in the right direction. To me, that’s worth more than any money I can make. And it’s something I don’t take for granted. I want to change people’s ideas about different nations and show them there’s so much out there to aspire to see.
My ultimate goal is to be the #1 name in independent travel. Traveling changes you to the core. It forces you to open your mind to new ideas and new possibilities, and it puts you in positions where you have to adapt. That’s why everyone should travel as much as they can, as often as they can. The more you travel, the more you change inside. It really is the best investment you’ll ever make in yourself.
- Website: http://davidsbeenhere.com/
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/davidsbeenhere/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/davidsbeenhere1
- Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/davidsbeenhere