Passion Project - The Kiwi carpenter building houses and an online audience

  • 25/06/2021
  • Sponsored by - Dell

When Scott Brown first started his YouTube channel in 2018, it felt like the only people watching the videos he posted were his mum and his girlfriend. Now, he has more than 270,000 subscribers and gets recognised when he drives around town.

Despite his growing success though, the YouTube channel - Scott Brown Carpentry - remains a side-hustle for Brown, something to fit in around his day job working the tools.

Brown is this month's Dell Passion Project recipient. Dell and The Project are recognising passionate people who turn their side-hustles into full time gigs, while maintaining a day job. He will receive a Dell XPS laptop. 

Born in Scotland, Brown moved to New Zealand when he was 18 months old and ended up getting into building because it was what his dad did and he was encouraged to "get a trade".

It was only after doing an apprenticeship and starting his own building company that Brown decided to combine his carpentry work with his other passion - making videos.

"Before I started building I was a skateboarder and I used to get cameras and film myself doing that and then do little primitive edits of it and I've always kept a camera around since then," he says.

When he first started his YouTube channel, Brown gave himself the goal of making 100 videos in a year, an aim he ended up surpassing.

And though in hindsight he found success online pretty quickly, at the time it didn't feel like that.

"For six months nothing was happening and then I had a couple of videos that just sort of got some attention and then it sort of snowballed," he says. 

"I got to 10,000 subscribers within a month, and then by the end of that same year we're at 25,000."

He now has around 270,000 subscribers, and though his YouTube income isn't yet enough to live on, it has meant his partner Jess has been able to give up her day job and join the company full time.

"I'd love to live off YouTube money alone but it's not quite there yet," he says.

Passion Project - The Kiwi carpenter building houses and an online audience

As well as giving him an extra income, the videos also bring in work to his Auckland-based construction company, which specialises in renovations.

"Pretty much all the jobs that I've got in the last year, almost two years now, have been through the channel," says Brown. 

"Jess and I own the business together, and the YouTube channel's actually allowed that. Before, she would be working full time and then come home and we'd both be doing business stuff. But now that we're doing the YouTube channel and the building business she's able to work full time with us. That makes it way more manageable and we've been able to take on bigger projects because of it."

The channel has also had another surprising benefit for him - it's made him somewhat of a celebrity in his niche world, with people often recognising him as he drives around town, something he says is a "strange thing".

"I'm sort of getting used to it, which is weird.

"I'll be driving down the road and people will be tooting at me - it's hard case," he says.

Another thing he has had to get used to is the fact that many people who employ him now act as if they have met before.

"You meet them and they kind of talk to you like they know you already - that sort of initial developing of a relationship with a customer has already happened by the time I work you develop a relationship before you even meet. It's an unusual thing."

Brown says most of his viewers are building apprentices and people working on their own DIY projects who stumble across his videos looking for practical tips.

"I've made over 300 videos so there's good chance I've touched on a lot of the topics that people are going to search - how to knock down a wall, how to line a wall, how to put a roof up - so they find me that way then they end up going down a rabbit hole. People will write comments like 'Hey man, I came here to look for how to hang a door and that door hasn't been hung but I've watched 100 videos'."

Although Brown does the filming while he's on site - making sure to subtract any time with the camera from his invoices - he does the editing at night, which can add some long hours to his already lengthy work week on the tools.

"If I'm doing one video a week that will be about six hours of editing in one night, if I'm doing two then that's 12 hours of editing a week."

For anyone else thinking of creating a YouTube channel, Brown says his advice is to "make something that you would enjoy watching".

"There's a good chance you'll enjoy making it if it's something you enjoy watching," he says.

"I made my videos for a two-year-ago version of myself - what would a younger me want to watch and learn about?"

Although Brown says he's pretty happy with the current balance between his building and YouTubing, his long-term goal is to grow the channel enough to give him the freedom to pick only the most interesting projects to work on - such as building a skatepark or a passive home for him and Jess.

This article is brought to you by Dell.