Globetrotter is one of the weekly segments in the TV travel guide Check-in. Here, video blogger Steve Hänisch will be showing his travel videos from around the world.
Today Chile, tomorrow Lapland: Steve Hänisch lives what most people only dream. He’s backpacked his way through 42 countries so far, getting to know the people and seeing the most beautiful sights. He chronicles his impressions in a blog in the form of short videos he shoots himself wherever possible. In the past few years, he’s become established professionally as a video blogger, taking assignments from international marketing firms and writing travel guides. Now Steve Hänisch has a regular slot on Check-In.
Steve, what appealed to you about working for DW’s new magazine Check-in?
Steve Hänisch: What appealed to me was the dynamic, interactive format. Another aspect is that now I can take along even more travel buffs on my tours.
Why exactly did you get started blogging?
It all started with a trip to Chile six years ago. I wanted to visit a very good friend who was living there at the time. I stayed for three weeks and toured the country. As a way of sharing the journey with friends and family, I started a blog and chronicled my experiences daily.
Why do you like to work with videos so much?
They give me the feeling that I can bring my viewers in much closer – they can see it with their own eyes. And I can convey my experiences, impressions and feelings much better. It’s a lot easier if I report on things immediately, while I’m still there, instead of writing about them after the fact, when they’ve already become a memory.
What’s the daily life of a blogger like? Is there such a thing?
Basically, it’s a job like any other – with the difference that your office and working conditions are constantly changing. When I’m traveling, I try to take the time to get to know the people and places really well. And once I’m back in Germany, I sit in an office quite normally, edit the content and organize my next trips. I generally spend about half the year on the road and the other half in my office in Hamburg.
Why do you think people use your blog?
I can put across my impressions on a more personal level than the big magazines and travel guides do. Many people can identify with my traveling style, so they become regular viewers or readers. Many come looking for tips like you’d get from other travelers at a hostel - very honest and straightforward tips. When I recommend lodging, for example, I don’t mention the beautiful view from the balcony - I point out the modest breakfast buffet or the slow WiFi (and to many people, that’s more important than breakfast!)
Do you get a lot of feedback?
I get messages daily. I might turn questions that come up regularly into articles. For instance, many users wanted to know what it’s like to travel through South America as a woman. So I looked around for a woman guest reporter who had spent a lot of time there, and she wrote about her personal experiences in my blog.
Have you gotten to where you’re able to live from blogging?
That must be the most frequent question people ask me. Yes, in combination with my video production, I’m able to live from blogging now. But it took me three years to get to this point. And I had to invest lots of money. At first, I kept the blog more as a hobby project and saved up the capital from what I made at my old office job to set up on my own.
What makes you so successful?
Now I’m getting 130,000 users per month. I’m sure one selling point is that I blog in German and English, so I reach more people. On top of that come the social media Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube that I post to while on my travels. And because of that greater exposure, I get inquiries from people who’d like to work together with me.
How much do you yourself determine the content of your posts?
I regularly turn down requests if I either don’t have enough say in the content or if the places or activities don’t agree with me. I don’t turn out the classical infomercials – I put trips together that suit for me and my readers best. A good example is the official marketing video I made for Bulgaria. When I got that request, I spontaneously decided to move to the capital Sofia for a while, so I could really get to know the country well. I ended up staying for six months and traveling around the whole country, collecting impressions and producing many other videos along with the actual assignment. That’s shows very well how I can combine my lifestyle with earning money.
What was one of your finest moments on the road?
That was a few weeks ago, when I was hitchhiking through Chile. One rainy afternoon, I’d been standing with my traveling companion on the side of the road in La Junta for seven hours, and none of the cars would pick us up. But suddenly, a dump truck stopped. The driver’s cab was already packed with hitchhikers though, so the driver pointed at the truck bed. After a moment’s hesitation, we climbed up and saw that seven other people were already sitting in there and having a little party. We listened to music, drank wine and had lots of fun, even though at the same time, it was one of the most uncomfortable rides I’d ever had.
What countries have you got on your wish list?
Right at the top are Japan, Colombia and New Zealand.
Do you want to keep on blogging forever?
A clever person once said, ‘Find a job you really love, and you’ll never again have to work a day in your life.’ I think I’ve found that exact job as well as just the right balance between going on the road and being at home. The frequency and tempo of my travels may change over the years, but I’m sure the desire to see new things and share them with the rest of the world won’t fade any time soon. The world is beautiful, and life is short. So I’m trying to make the best of my time here and get to know the tremendous diversity of our planet.