Jordan Poste and Jenna Cock are two Canadian expats who, feeling stagnant, decided to quit their jobs, sell their houses and move to – New Zealand.
Settled in Wellington at the end of 2013, they wasted no time in starting to explore the country, filming their experiences and posting them to YouTube to share with friends and family in a series called ‘Living A Kiwi Life’.
A year later and with an audience of over 7,000 across their social media channels and 37,000+ views on their website and YouTube channel per month the couple have a loyal and enthusiastic fan base. They’ve received world attention for some of their videos – a GoPro video of Rere rock slides boasts almost 230k views and was also picked up by US TV programme Right this Minute. Locally the NZ Herald has included a video of the pair on its website.
Living a Kiwi Life was recently rebranded as ‘Stoked for Saturday’ and has partnered with local operators and tourism boards to showcase local activities.
Viewfinder talked to Jenna and Jordan about their web series.
Do you travel most weekends? And when do you find time to edit videos and update your website and social media?
We usually try to schedule our travel around long weekends and holidays to maximise our vacation time. With our website starting to take off and the expectation we place on our content increasing, it’s becoming more challenging fitting in filming, editing, blogging and fun! Overall though we usually spend our weeknights working on our videos and the weekends when the weather isn’t cooperating.
What are your day jobs currently?
We both work in downtown Wellington. I (Jordan) am a Business Solutions Manager at a retirement village developer and Jenna works as a Project Manager in the Digital team at a large bank.
“Branding is often the difference between someone following you and not following you.”
Can you tell us about the name change from Living a Kiwi Life to Stoked for Saturday?
When we first started our blog and web series, it was initially just a fun way for us to share our adventures ‘Living a Kiwi Life’ with family and friends back home. We didn’t anticipate how much we would enjoy sharing our stories and were amazed when people all over the world started finding our site. Although we still plan to share our ‘Living a Kiwi Life’ stories and publish videos under that series, we felt it was best to change our name to something that represented us as a whole – as opposed to what we were doing in the moment.
So we started on the path of searching for the right name that would represent who we are and leave all doors open for possibilities in the future. We have always been energetic people who love exploring the outdoors and being active. However, we are also very driven in the pursuit of our careers. While the typical 9am-5pm time slot is devoted to our jobs, our evenings, weekends and holidays are spent on anything we want. With our new found appreciation for taking advantage of every spare moment, we realised every week we were ‘Stoked for Saturday’ because it meant we were able to get out and explore more of our beautiful backyard!
Although ‘Saturday’ isn’t meant to be literal – it represents a day of the week most people can relate to as ‘their day’ to do what they love outside of work. Whether it’s your evenings, weekends or holidays, we want to inspire people to use those 130 days a year to get out and do whatever makes you happy.
How did the partnerships with tourism companies come about?
As we began to gain more exposure, our audience grew and we were gaining the attention of organisations like DOC, NZ Herald and Stuff. We started to see there was potential here for us to partner with local organisations to help showcase their activities through our blog, videos and social media channels. We have licensed stock footage to some large organisations and make additional advertising revenue from YouTube. For anyone looking to make money this way the important thing to understand is that it takes a lot of time to both build an audience and get your content noticed by those that will pay for it. It’s a lot like any start-up business, the payback is not immediate.
What cameras and editing software do you use?
Our primary camera is a Canon 5D Mark iii which is used in combination with a Glidecam HD-2000 most of the time. We also have multiple generations of GoPros which is sometimes paired with our DJI phantom 2 drone. We use different software including Sony Vegas, Premiere Pro and GoPro studio. We have yet to settle on a single platform so it is currently a little messy.
Have you had any film / editing training?
No formal film training per say. I (Jordan) signed up for an online film school a little over a year ago but never made it further than the introductory lesson because the majority of my time is spent editing the footage I already have. Most of the techniques used are through observing other filmmakers and coming up with ideas myself. The style and quality of our videos has improved steadily as I’ve learned more about film and editing – mainly through trial, error and a lot of Googling.
What’s the biggest challenge filming your adventures and producing the videos?
The biggest challenge is to make sure the filming doesn’t ruin the adventure. It’s easy to get caught up trying to get the perfect shot at the expense of enjoying the activity. We try to manage this by allocating a little extra time in all our activities for filming and taking pictures so we don’t feel too rushed or pressured.
You’re getting a huge following – what is the some of the feedback you’re getting? And how are people discovering you?
We often get lovely emails from fans telling them how our story has inspired them to either move to somewhere they’ve always dreamed of going or just to get out and explore more of their own backyard. A lot of people find our videos through YouTube searches and others come through our website and blog. However the majority of our views are from playlists which speaks to directing viewers to a playlist where they will watch more than just one video (and likely subscribe). This is the primary strength of a web series vs. a series of non-related videos on YouTube. The downside is that a web series isn’t as shareable on social media as a stand-alone video.
“It takes a lot of time to both build an audience and get your content noticed by those that will pay for it.”
Do you have any advice for other video makers/ web series creators?
It’s important to think ahead before putting anything out there. What vision do you have for the web series or video? If it’s a series, don’t rush to get the first episode out, have several finished and complete before putting it out there. This allows you to align the branding, viewer retention strategy and future video plans before publishing anything. We went through an evolution with our Living a Kiwi Life web series which saw the intro and outro and style change significantly over the evolution of the web series. It’s critical to get that first episode in the series perfect because it’s often the second video a viewer will watch before they determine if they’ll subscribe on YouTube. We filmed the first episode on the fly with poor lighting before we knew how to correct it in post. To this day it bothers us to watch the first episode of our web series.
What’s next for Stoked for Saturday?
Our Living a Kiwi Life series is going strong with 39 episodes and counting but we also have several other web series in the works that should start being published in the next six months.
A final word on branding.
Branding is often the difference between someone following you and not following you. It’s incredibly important to pick a name that represents you and your material well. It should also be relatable to your target audience. It took us a very long time to determine that ‘Stoked for Saturday’ was the brand we wanted and just as long to come up with the design and messaging behind it. It’s so important to get this right because it can become a nightmare to alter your social media accounts if you decide you want to change later on. YouTube in particular is very difficult to change and remains the one social media channel we haven’t been able to completely align with our branding.