Yesterday I posted a Facebook link to a vlog entry by Shaytards in which he and his family announce that they are out of debt. They are making that coveted call to Dave Ramsey to scream loud and proud, “We’re debt free!”

That’s a pretty amazing accomplishment by itself, but what makes it really extraordinary is how this guy did it. He went from being a contractor in the granite countertop business making $45-50K per year to being a vlogger making mid-six-figures.

Whutzitwhozat?

You might remember that I have proclaimed this the “Year of the Maker"(YOM). I bet you thought I only meant tinkering together little bits of hardware and technology, right? Throw in some gears and leather, maybe a little bit of wood and steel? FAR TOO LIMITING.

Being a maker means being a “creator.” And that category can be nice and comfortably broad. For example, I consider it to include not only physical doohickimabobs, but also intellectual property like books, movies, and music. It also includes blogs and video logs (or “vlogs”).

So, whether Shaytards wants the title or not, he’s now officially a Maker. You’re welcome.

Vlogging is an interesting phenomenon. Thanks to YouTube (and, to a lesser degree, sites like Vimeo or LiveLeaks or a few million others), reaching an audience directly, through video, is easier than at any other time in history. You can literally wake up at 8 a.m., sit in front of a camera (say, your phone’s built-in cam?), talk for two or three minutes, and post it online. Then you gently roll back into bed and sleep until noon, when you get up and check your analytics to see how much money you’re rolling in.

Thanks to Google, creating a profit-generating business is as easy as buying a video camera and having a winning personality. Oh, and an Internet connection.

Guys like Phil DeFranco (sxephil on YouTube) not only do this every day, but also turn it into a media empire. DeFranco has spun outward from his quirky, sometimes self deprecating but always funny rants and takes on current events and into celebrity interviews, movie reviews, and more.

Similarly, Natalie Tran (communitychannel on YouTube) has created a quirky and damned amusing show that features her along side … herself. One of her standby bits is to start off with some observation or pet peeve (“You know what I think is weird? People who ask questions but then figure out the answer for themselves and then just leave”) and then create a scene in which she plays all of the characters. This is done through some pretty convincing split-screen technique. It also helps that she’s a very good character actor.

These are two of my favorite examples, but they’re hardly the end-all of the list. Charlie McDonnel (charlieissocoollike), for example,  is a young talent from England who is more entertaining to watch than most of the BBC programming I’ve seen. He’s funny and quirky, and clever as hell. He’s also in his early 20s (though he looks quite a bit younger), and already landing gigs like shooting official behind-the-scenes videos on the set of “Doctor Who.”

The vlogbrothers, John and Hank Green, are a couple of amped up geeks with actual, no-foolin’, interesting opinions on everything from literature to conjoined twins. They tag-team their vlog, trading off days and addressing each other instead of the audience. It’s different — a bit like sitting in on a private conversation between to uber-smart geek siblings. Come to think of it … it’s exactly that. I need to work on my interpretation of “literal.”

All of these vloggers have hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of followers. They all produce their own shows, and they all started right where you are. Sitting at a computer, showing an interest in something. They became makers when they first turned on the camera and then uploaded the result to YouTube.

Now … monetizing their makery … that’s quite an accomplishment.

What I love about their stories, though, is the fact that they have crafted for themselves a niche in a new market. They have created something powerful and world changing. And they did it with just the resources they had at their disposal.

Good on all of them. It makes me want to try it myself, which I think is also a Maker’s accomplishment. We’re like vampires that way. We recruit from those we have in our thrall.

If you would like to start your own vlog, let me know. Fire off some questions, and I’ll see if I can get you some answers. I’m working on nailing down some interviews with a few of these folks, and you’d make my life that much easier if you did all the work of question writing for me. I’m empowering myself through laziness.

Seriously … send me any questions and I’ll will find you and me some answers.

 

Until then, keep on Making.

 Wow .. that’s the lamest sign off ever.


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Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
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