Alicia interviews Erin of Roam Generation PR about becoming a sailing influencer. Listen to hear the key skills required and how long and hard the journey is to become the next SV Delos. Erin sailed with her family and that is how she started her PR business, so she has first hand knowledge of the path to start a business while sailing. Her client list is amazing including Delos, Ruby Rose, and many other super famous stars.
We really enjoyed making and listening to this interview and hope you will too. Find out more or get in contact with Erin on her website (www.RoamGeneration.com ).
Hello, and welcome back to CatamaranSite. Today, we’re joined by Erin Carey, founder and director of Roam Generation PR, a PR agency dedicated to travel, leisure, and luxury brands. Our objective today is to take a dive into the sailing influencer world, one that Erin is particularly familiar with, and we’ll be exploring Erin’s own experience on board, where the idea of Roam Generation PR was born, I believe. We’ll be asking Erin’s advice and recommendations for anyone looking to become a part of the sailing influencer community, or should I say #boatlife? So without further ado, Erin, would you please tell us about yourself and give us a deeper insight into what you do at Roam Generation PR?
Thank you so much for having me, Alicia. Yes, like you said, I am the founder and director of Roam Generation PR. It all came about while I was living on my boat with my family. We own a Moody 47. About five years ago, we were sailing through the Caribbean, and I was feeling a little bit…not bored because I was in Paradise, but I wanted to use my brain. I had taken a year off work, and the first year was amazing. But come the second year, I was just feeling like I wanted a bit more of a challenge.
So I started wrapping my brain about what I could do to help people, the people that we’re meeting along the way. An example of those kind of people were SV Delos. They were one of the first people that we met out there sailing. I knew that I wanted to work with them, and similar people who had an amazing story to share, but I wasn’t sure how to go about that. I started my hand at writing, and I was writing articles about these cool people, and places, and things that I was experiencing. Then that just organically grew into doing PR for people that I was meeting, and SV Delos became a client. Actually, my very first client.
From there, my company has just grown to really cater to a whole range of clients in the travel, and lifestyle, and adventure space. That naturally, has also included quite a number of sailing influencers, and Youtubers, and marine companies, and now, bigger travel businesses. From day one, we have been all about sharing the amazing stories of the people that we’re meeting. Because we were living the lifestyle that we represent, it has made it much easier for me, and now my team, to be able to share stories. We are able to write with such feeling, I suppose, and with real world experience, because we understand boats, and we understand what it’s like to live on one, hence the #boatlife kind of thing. If you type that into the internet, basically, the majority of articles that come up have been, not written by me personally, but kind of instigated by me.
For PR, the main part of what we do is media relations, and that means that I have pitched these stories to journalists, and they’ve then written about my clients. A lot of the people that are in the #boatlife articles have been, or are clients of ours. It’s been a wild ride, met some awesome, amazing people, and have grown my business beyond what I ever dreamed possible. I absolutely love what I do, so I’m very lucky.
Would you be able to give us an example please, of one of your clients and their sailing influence and success story?
We’ll start with SV Delos. When I first started working with SV Delos, they were like rock stars to us. We used to watch them, every video that they released, we would watch, my husband and I, in the leadup to becoming cruisers. If someone had said to me, who are your idols? It wouldn’t have been a movie star, it would have been people like SV Delos. To then work for them, it was a real pinch me moment! After a while, it became normal. They are just lovely people, exactly how they are on their videos.
There’s a YouTube channel called Exploring Alternatives, and I haven’t checked recently, but I think they have around 1.5 million subscribers. At the time, SV Delos had around 350,000 subscribers, so this was a little while ago.
Anyway, it was kind of the right time, right place. I had arranged a collaboration between Exploring Alternatives and SV Delos, whereby they were going to film their boat, and just make an article about the boat that they live on. Then, it just happened to be released right at the start of the pandemic, when everyone was locked up at home, and bored, and looking for a way to escape. As Fidel’s video went live, and then it happened to go viral. I think it was viewed around 14 million times, which ended up with SV Delos getting hundreds of thousands of new subscribers, like within that month. Really exciting result for a PR person to have someone go viral, it doesn’t happen very often. That’s one example.
Not so long ago, I worked with Ryan and Sophie Sailing as well. They were interviewed by a journalist at Business Insider, and she loved their stories so much that she went on to then write three separate articles about them. Those three articles were then picked up by Yahoo.com into three more articles, which was then picked up by MSN.com, and then the Daily Mail jumped on board and also wrote a couple of articles about them. In one month, we were able to get 16 pieces of coverage (Forbes, Success.com, CNBC, etc) which reached an audience of 4.94 billion people.
That’s the power of PR. Certainly, that doesn’t happen every month, but there’s just a couple of examples of amazing things that we can achieve through PR and what really sets PR apart and above advertising and marketing.
For a catamaran owner who is looking to embark on their own journey as a sailing influencer? How would you recommend that they begin?
I think an important thing to ask yourself is, why are you doing this? Are you doing this to make money? Are you doing this whether you want to become famous? I’m not sure either of those things are going to really catapult you into the right direction.
If it’s one thing I noticed from the clients that I’ve worked with, is that they all genuinely are doing it because they love it, and they mostly started out just by filming for family and friends. It was always going to be a creative escape, a bit of fun.
I know that things have changed, and a lot of cruisers embark on a journey hoping that their YouTube channel will sustain them. That puts a lot of pressure on the lifestyle. I’ve lived on a boat. I can say from experience, I’ve worked full time on a boat while cruising. It’s hard work, and if you were short on money, and you relied on this to fund your cruising, then it’s going to be difficult, and that’s going to come across in your videos, because you’re going to be a little bit desperate.
There are other ways. I can’t kind of stress this enough, you don’t just have to rely on on YouTube to fund your trip. I personally started out in writing, and was quite successful, and I’m not a writer. So don’t think, “Yeah, but I’m not a writer.” I wasn’t a writer either, and I was able to make enough money to sustain our trip through writing. There are plenty of sailing magazines, that always after people contributing articles and thought leadership kind of pieces, and everything, so there’s that avenue. There’s virtual assistance, there’s honestly a ton of things, there’s podcast editing.
First of all, my advice is to really think about what you want to do. The ways you can make money, what you’re good at, what you enjoy. Ask friends for their advice. What are people always coming to and asking about. Maybe there’s something in there that you can create a business from. If it is in being an influencer, then really think about what is your point of difference. What sets you apart, what are you good at, and what do you like, if you can find that magic recipe. Because if you don’t love what you’re doing, it’s going to be super hard to sustain. You have to be a little bit obsessed, really, to succeed, because it requires that level of dedication. And then, it’s just going to be not giving up. If you don’t quit, then you will succeed. It just really depends how long that will take. But it’s a pretty long journey, from what I have witnessed. I haven’t kept a YouTube channel, personally. I have only done the PR for people that have. So, happy to be told otherwise. From what I’ve observed, that’s what I can offer.
If it’s not really your passion to do that, you’re not being authentic. Let’s say that somebody that’s watching this interview right now thinks, “No, it is my passion, I want to embark on this journey, and the influencer lifestyle, I think is for me. I want to give it a shot.” There are so many fantastic influencers out there. Particularly, talking specifically about catamaran influencers. We have, just to name a few: La Vagabond, they’re now having a trimaran built, but they were on a catamaran beforehand, Gone With the Wynns, and Sailing Zatara.
There are a ton. Everyone seems to be moving to a catamaran. If they’re not on a cat now, they’re building one, or they’re buying one.
What can they learn from the great influencers that are already out there, that already have a significant following, and that already have achieved success? So to speak.
First of all, in general, the most successful YouTubers have been doing it for a long time, so don’t think that it’s overnight success, like Gone With the Wynns. I remember watching them before we even embarked on our trip, and we’ve been gone and we were out there for four years, and we’re back. So it’s been probably seven years for them. It’s probably twelve years for SV Delos. Ruby Rose have been out there for years. All these people have been doing it for a long time. Zatara has just finished a seven year circumnavigation, they have been consistently and persistently uploading videos the whole time.
That’s two of the keys, be persistent, and be consistent. Be determined, have grit, don’t give up. They’re the key elements to any business, really. I think what I can attribute some of my success to, because I always say, “Look, I’m not like the sharpest tool in the shed.” I don’t think I’m the most intelligent, or the most of anything, really, but I am consistent, and persistent, and determined. If you can get those three things nutted out, then you’ll be successful.
The other thing is that they’re all unapologetically themselves. Like I said, I’ve worked with SV Delos for almost two years. They are exactly like they are in their videos. Kit from Zatara, he’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but he’s being himself. The Wynns, they’re quirky and different, but they’re the same in every video. I think people want that, they need to know that you’re being yourself. So try. As hard as it might be, to not be acting or performing on video, to just be yourself, that’s important.
There are obviously a lot of things that you can do PR-wise, marketing-wise, promotional-wise. Which I can give some quick tips for, I suppose. Come up with reasons why people want to know about you. Don’t just think that because you think they should know about you that they actually care. Really dig deep into understanding, what do you offer, what are you offering, what value do you bring, who are you serving. Don’t try and serve everybody. If your target audience are retirees, and that’s who you’re speaking to, then don’t try and also impress the 20 year-olds. They’re not going to get it like your target audience do. Don’t try and please everybody.
Another important thing is, to really speak to your audience, and include them, and respond to them, and serve them. I know with SV Delos, they’re very all about their tribe, and that is not an act, that is genuine.
If you’re coming from a place of service, and from wanting to generally help others, I feel like you’ll be more successful. If you can put out content that is useful to other people, then great! If you can do good while also being successful, that’s another great thing. If you’re sailing around the world, but you’re also helping people on the way, that’s always going to be awesome. Obviously, don’t just help people with the likes and the views, but be genuine. There are a ton of things you can do.
I guess my advice would be to really nail those main things. Think about what your purpose is, why you’re out there to begin with, who your target audience is, what sets you apart. Then once you really understand yourself and what you’re doing, then just be unapologetically yourself in each and every video. Bring value to the people that you’re serving, and then on top of all of those things, once you’ve got really great content.
I mean, this day and age, you need to be a great editor. You need to have really good content, you need great sound and video equipment. There’s really not an excuse for not having that now, unfortunately. We’ve moved above and beyond the whole point-and-shoot kind of camera. Perhaps, pay for an editor, pay for someone to help you get all that happening.
There’s a lot, it’s a hugely saturated market, it’s going to be hard to cut through the noise, because there are so many sailing YouTubers these days. But try and think what hasn’t been done, try and be different, try and think outside the box. We have a lot of general sailing influencers. Maybe you can do something a little bit different. What that is will depend on what you’re passionate about, and what you can come up with.
Every influencer really does have their own thing, and that ties into the authenticity that you’ve also spoken about. You said being genuine, everything has to come from a genuine place. So whether it’s Delos and their tribe, or whether it’s the Vagabond and their lifestyle as parents on board. I mean that there’s so many, whether it’s Catalpa who left with five thousand dollars.
It was like a cement (ferro) boat which would scare most people but they did it. It quite a bit of distance and they managed to get the funds together for a bigger boat, they’re like Aussie battlers that just didn’t give up.
What is a realistic goal for success in terms of monthly income for a sailing influencer?
My opinion is, if someone else can do it, why can’t you? That has been from the get-go, because we weren’t sailors, when we watched a documentary one night, about Laura Dekker, the youngest girl to ever sail around the world. Our motto became “If she can do it, why can’t we?”
Then we found out that other families were out here doing it, and then it all snowballed from there. That’s what really kept me going. They figured it out, so I’ll be able to figure it out. The same has kind of been with my business all along. It’s like, “Well, other people are working and making enough money to survive while cruising, why can’t I?”
Think about it that way. Look, there are no guarantees that you’re going to succeed, or that you’re going to be as popular as the Vagabond or Delos. But I’m all about myself, and believing in yourself, and manifesting and putting it out there to the universe. It’s not because I’m woo-woo, and never really was, but I’ve experienced it, so that’s what makes me think that way now. I would never have dreamed that my husband I would have bought a boat, and lived on a boat, and sail halfway around the world. That was never on our radar, and never something I thought we could achieve. I would have secondly never have dreamed that I would run a successful company. I am so open to just going, “What the hell. If they can do it, so can I.”
Set your sights high, don’t limit yourself. I fully believe with YouTube, and Patreon, and sponsorship deals, and whatever else you can wrangle up to get the money coming in. There are little ways, little things you can do for passive income, while also doing YouTube. I do believe that you can make enough to sustain your journey. It’s going to be hard, and I think there are probably easier ways that you can make the money and still cruise, if cruising is your ultimate goal. Don’t limit yourself to doing YouTube, but if YouTube is your ultimate goal, then go for it, but don’t expect that it’s going to make enough money straight away, to be able to cruise.
Catalpa have been battling away at this for years, I think they’re up to the seven year mark as well. I think now, maybe they’re not making enough money to survive, and get this new boat. So many other cruisers have been similar. Nanji, they have also been at it for years, finally got enough to get the next boat. I would start early, start before you’ve even left.
I think what’s worked for me is that that I’m like a dog with a bone, so I don’t give up, and I’m always looking for new ways to to reach someone, or to get something. I don’t take no for an answer. That’s how I think you’ve got to be, so always have that. I don’t know if hustle culture, it’s not necessarily regarded as a good thing, but in my line of work, you do have to be hustling and trying to have ten fingers in ten pies. I think that’s probably how it’s going to be if you want to be successful as an influencer as well.
You’ve got to build those relationships if you want to get sponsored. You need to not only have a loyal and dedicated following, but you need to also build relationships. Put the time in, pound the pavement. It’s not going to take just one email to a sail company, and you’re going to get a brand new sail. It is going to take time. So start as soon as you can, be genuine, build those relationships, reach out, make connections, network.
There’s a lot you can do, but just have realistic expectations at the same time. But don’t let your expectations limit you, because you put it out there that you truly and honestly believe that you’re going to be a successful sailing Youtuber, then I have no doubt that you will become one.
There’s a lot of people in this space. It’s been filling up in the influencer space over the last ten years or so, has it become more easier or harder over the last ten years to break through into the the influencer space?
I think, for obvious reasons, it may seem harder, because there are so many people now. I know when I first started working in this space, there were around 800. I don’t know the official count now, but I know we got up to 2000 or more, so that’s going to make it harder.
But there’s also a lot more education around this topic now. There’s a lot more understanding, there’s a ton of forces that you can do, there’s a lot of learning that can be found online, there are a lot of people you can ask. I’m a big believer in just putting yourself out there, and asking people for help if you need it. Approaching, introducing, networking, I’ve been amazed where that can get me, I think that that’s really helpful.
I also think with the things that we can do with PR, and the other ways that we can get your name out there, there are certainly the possibilities of reaching a big audience. But it is a saturated market, so you do need to kind of think, I guess. That comes back at the start, what sets you apart, why are you doing it, who are you trying to reach, who you’re trying to serve. If you can have all of those things really clear, then there’s no reason why you can’t still be as successful as anyone before you, because people still want to watch this content.
It’s clearly still a very popular subject, and I don’t think you need to be deterred by the number of people. You just probably need to be a little bit smarter, and work a little bit harder.
Where are the biggest opportunities to build a following at the moment? You’ve picked up a little bit about Patreon. Obviously, the social spaces and YouTube, of course.
Yes, I mean TikTok is still very popular, and a lot of people have had a little bit of success there. I’m actually not sure how many sailing YouTubers are on TikTok, so that could leave a bit of room for some growth in there.
Facebook is still popular among my age group and older. Now that I’m a geriatric millennial or whatever they’re calling us. There’s certainly that is still popular among the older people. My kids have assured me that definitely no young people are on there anymore.
Instagram is still really popular. I don’t think I’ve got anything to share that’s really rocket science, or new information here. I’m not aware of any new kind of platforms, although there possibly could be. I think this is where the majority of the sailors are hanging out, cruisers and those that are interested in this lifestyle.
Other places where they are also hanging out would be sailing magazines, so there’s nothing stopping you from pitching a sailing magazine. You don’t have to be a writer to reach out. If you’ve got a good story idea, then reach out to the editor and share your idea. There’s nothing saying that you can’t produce a great article. You could help get someone you could pay, like a content writer who might be able to help you if you’ve got a really good idea for a story, and reach out to podcast interviews and promote themselves if they wanted to as well.
I think that that’s a really good selection of options. Perhaps some that people don’t always think about. We think more more frequently about the social media.
Yeah there are a ton of sailing podcasts out there, and they interview regular people like you or I, so reach out to them. Their email addresses are usually pretty easily found on their websites. Then put together a bit of a pitch. A pitch is usually a two or three paragraph email just summarizing who you are, what you can speak about, why their audience would be interested in hearing from you.
Then you’re just hacking your own PR, you’re basically doing similar to what we would be doing, but you’re doing it yourself. It is time consuming, and you will need to follow up. So don’t get discouraged if you don’t hear back on the first email. We even send up to three emails every time we pitch somebody. But if you’re persistent, just keep trying to reach different people, eventually you should get some responses, and all of those little things add up.
They not only help with increasing your brand brand awareness, but the authority of your brand. It improves the SEO, improves your Google ranking, so there’s all these benefits to doing that. Certainly, if you don’t have the budget for a PR agency, which the little cruisers won’t at the start, then just try and do it yourself.
But for somebody who does need your help and wants to get in contact with you to help them with their PR, as they embark on their sailing influencer adventure, how can people find out more about you, and get in contact with you, if they wish to do so?
Of course. My company is called Roam Generation. My email is email@example.com. You can find our website at www.roamgeneration.com. We’re just @roamgeneration on all of the socials. So Roam Generation, R-O-A-M. That was the name of our boat, and I love the word “Roam,” so naturally it had to become part of my company.
Fantastic! We’ll be sure to put the the links in the transcript below, so that people can access those easily and quickly. I’m really grateful for our conversation today, Erin. I found it really insightful. I think you’ve given up a lot of incredible information for people looking to take a dive into the sailing influencer world. I think it’ll be very beneficial for them to watch this interview, and really learn from you and your experience.
Thank you, it was my pleasure, and it was so lovely speaking to you.
Thank you and you too! Hopefully we’ll be able to catch up another time in the future.
I hope so, on a catamaran hopefully!
That would be phenomenal! It’s the family dream here too, so it’s not unlikely!