MickMake Meets: Dave Jones / EEVBlog – Part 2: YouTube fame

To celebrate my 10,842 subscriber milestone. I thought I’d interview a YouTube legend in the electrical engineering industry. In Part 2 we look at his YouTube years.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nh30EAddlQc&w=640&h=360]

Part 2: YouTube fame

In Part 2 we look at his YouTube years.

  • Sharing stuff.
  • His Podcast show – The Amp Hour.
  • How he accidentally discovered YouTube fame.
  • Embarrassing moments on YouTube.
  • His “Publish and be damned” YouTube philosphy.
  • Filming frustration.
  • His best scam whistle blowing.
  • Advice to new YouTubers.
  • His surprise at how there’s a market for everything.
  • Is YouTube untouchable?

Transcript

The accidental YouTuber

Me
So you’re now a YouTuber, so you’ve sort of left.
Dave
I’m a YouTuber yep.
Me
That sort of electronics industry, well not really behind but you sort of-
Dave
No, but-
Me
Progressed onto becoming a YouTuber.
Dave
Yeah I’m not a design engineer anymore.
Me
What made you want to become a YouTuber?
Dave
I didn’t.
Me
Oh okay.
Dave
I had no idea, as most YouTubers … Well, it’s probably a bit different these days, ’cause people know you can make millions of dollars from it [crosstalk 00:00:50]. But back when I started-
Me
Not millions of dollars.
Dave
Millions of dollars, well yeah, it’s gamers not us. And those toy and unboxing videos.
Me
Yeah.
Dave
Back then, like 2009, early days, early-ish days of YouTube, and virtually no one was making a full-time living from it, so the thought didn’t even cross your mind that it would turn into something big, and especially electronics wise, I thought maybe they’ll be 1,000 people that might want to watch me. I thought that’d be successful, you know? But yeah, it wasn’t that. It’s just that I’ve always shared my stuff, be it back in the days before the Internet, I’d get my designs published in the magazines, right? That was the way that you shared things back then, that was the only avenue that you could share stuff.
Dave
And then once the Internet came along as the world wide web, I had a website on there and I started putting my stuff on there as well. And I got fairly … I’d get a ton of … You think I get a ton of email today, I was getting that back just when I had my own website, ’cause I was up in the Google rankings and there was none of this YouTube rubbish, and I was getting a ton of email back then, just people finding my website and email me questions and ask stuff.
Dave
So I moved from the magazines, to the websites, and what’s the next avenue? I actually originally thought it was radio, podcasts.
Me
Okay.
Dave
So before I did the video blog, I thought “Hey, I’ll do a radio show.” Which turned into the Amp Hour, but the reason I didn’t do it is ’cause I thought “Nah, it’s not that exciting. Nobody wants to listen to just me talk for an hour.” So I thought “Hey, this YouTube thing looks alright. I’ll shoot a video and see what happens.” And it was awful. It was the worst thing I’ve ever done. It’s still up there, number one, ten minute limitation back then, and it was all off the cuff. I had this old crusty web cam, it was like 320 x 200, and I just turned it on and started talking, and that turned into the first video. And I uploaded it to UseNet News Group.
Me
Oh UseNet, yeah.
Dave
UseNet, yes, oz.electronics, you can find the original post probably somewhere, and I posted there and everyone said “Yeah, like it, when’s episode two?” And I went “Episode two? I don’t know, I didn’t plan that. Okay.” So I did another episode, another one, and two years later it was my full-time job. I had no … I still have no plan. If you ask me what’s my next video, I’ve got no idea. It might be one of five different things.

Publish and be damned

Me
What’s one of the episodes that you regret publishing, ’cause I know you’ve got this policy of publish and be damned, as you told me at the Maker Faire in Sydney last year.
Dave
Publish and be damned, yeah. I’ve never taken down a video, so I can’t have regretted it that much. I got into like … I don’t really regret them, but I thought that just didn’t work, like I shouldn’t have done that.
Dave
Like I got into a bit of politics back in the day, and I should have just stayed-
Me
Stayed away from it.
Dave
Off-topic rants, I shouldn’t have done off-topic rants. That just wasn’t a good direction for the channel.

His favorite episode

Me
And what was your most enjoyable video?
Dave
It’s hard to say, ’cause it’s different things. I do enjoy the ones where I go out and film stuff, but that can also be a pain in the ass, as you know, filming on location is not … It’s much easier to film in the lab, and I get frustrated quite easily, you know, when things are not going the right way, and going out and shooting stuff on location is hard, but it can be also rewarding. No individual episode stands out, I’ve made too many.
Me
It’s almost 1,000 now, isn’t it?
Dave
1100.
Me
1100.
Dave
1,000 official, or 950 official or something, and 1100 uploaded videos.

Blowing the lid on scams

Me
So out of all your episodes, you’ve blown the lid on a number of items like white van speaker scam, FTDI counterfeiting, solar roadways, free energy.
Dave
Batterizer, free energy.
Me
What’s the best one you’ve done so far?
Dave
How do you define best? Most profitable?
Me
The one that’s sort of had the most impact.
Dave
For biggest impact, you’ve got to have one that reaches the most diverse audience, I think. So that would have to be probably solar roadways, because things like the Batterizer are more technical oriented and they only appeal to technical guys like us, right? And I’ve done other ones like the Fontis self-filling water bottle, a wi-fi energy scam. I do like the Fontis water bottle one, in that I did the calculations on the back of an envelope, which not many people seem to have got. They didn’t seem to understand “why am I writing on the back of a envelope?” Like it’s a saying in engineering “Let’s just do a back of the envelope calculation.”
Me
Yeah.
Dave
So I did some and I mailed it to them. That was cool. I enjoyed that.
Dave
They’ve just admitted, I tweeted it just the other day, they just admitted that basically it doesn’t work. They’re still working on it. They’ve still got your quarter of a million bucks, or whatever.
Dave
But yeah, yeah, the biggest impact would probably be solar roadways, that reached a bigger audience. I get emails from people who don’t care about engineering or electronics, but they liked my solar roadways video.
Dave
One in the Netherlands they built one, and the results turned out exactly what the calculations would really predict. And I said “Hello. Welcome to the world of engineering.”
Dave
I’d like to do more of those, that have a wider impact. I’d like to try and reach a wider audience.

Advice to new YouTubers

Me
Okay. So for a YouTuber who’s just sort of starting out, what’s the best single piece of advice you could give them?
Dave
Consistency. You’ve got to keep producing content. There’s not a single YouTuber who’s an overnight success, like Pewdy Pie, or whatever, the biggest one out there, he spent years making videos before he was well known and became successful. Years. like it’s not months.
Dave
There are a couple of examples now, like the hydraulic press channel and other ones which kind of go viral and stuff like that, you can become successful relatively quickly, but 99.9% of the YouTube success stories are hard work.
Me
Yeah, yeah. Absolutely right. Hard work.
Dave
Making content, you know what it’s about. Day in, day out, and for years. After two years, I did it solid for two years and I only had 10,000 subscribers, which that’s a lot, right, you’ve just reached your 10,000 milestone, how long have you been doing this?
Me
Since February last year.
Dave
Congrats, see. You grew twice as quick as I did. It took me two years to reach 10,000 subscribers. So well done.
Me
Yeah, but I think these days you’ve got a lot more tools to make your content look a lot more professional.
Dave
You do, but there’s a lot more competition, though.

The untouchable YouTube

Me
True. I saw some YouTube statistics saying that every day there’s a 1,000 YouTubers reaching the 1,000 subscriber mark.
Dave
1,000 YouTubers reach 1,000 subscribers. Wow!
Me
That’s a lot.
Dave
How many, I’d love to see the entire curve of that. The entire metric.
Me
Yeah. Be nice to see those stats.
Dave
I never knew there was a market for this, I never knew it. The one thing I’ve learned is that there’s a market for everything.
Me
Yeah, that’s true.
Dave
I cannot believe it keeps growing, where are these subscribers coming from? I have no idea. I think it’s got to end somewhere, but it never does.
Me
Yeah, it’s got to end somewhere, and I keep thinking in the back of my mind, you look at some of the stats and it’s 400 hours every hour or something.
Me
Hang on. YouTube will actually take your hi def video and transcode it down to maybe 20 different formats, so your two gig video isn’t just two gigs, could be five gigs storage or something.
Dave
It’s massive, yeah yeah. And they keep your original upload, too.
Me
Do they do backups? I don’t think they’re doing backups.
Dave
It’s phenomenal, and that’s why no one can touch YouTube and nobody will, for the foreseeable future. You can’t beat their infrastructure, you can’t.
Me
Yeah.
Dave
If you had ten billion dollars and came along and go “I’m going to beat YouTube.” Good luck. It would take you five years just to build the infrastructure.
Me
Yeah, that’s right.
Dave
Let alone-
Me
The algorithms and everything else. Yeah.

Check out Part 1: The early days

Check out Part 3: Makers & introverts

Check out Part 4: Living on the edge


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