MickMake Meets: Dave Jones / EEVBlog – Part 4: Living on the edge

To celebrate my 10,842 subscriber milestone. I thought I’d interview a YouTube legend in the electrical engineering industry. This is Part 4 of that interview: Living on the edge.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jqUmHrUK2g&w=640&h=360]

Part 4 – Living on the edge

In Part 4 we look at the cost of being a YouTuber.

  • Why he would never work for “the man” again.
  • His jealousy of other YouTube channels.
  • His YouTube “salary” video – can you survive on YouTube alone?
  • Living on the edge as a YouTuber.

Transcript

Working for the “man”

Me
So where do you see yourself go in 10 years?
Dave
Probably … I’m still going to do this the wheels falls off Billy cart. I can’t see how the wheels can. I built myself into a position where even if YouTube shut down my channel I’d still find another outlet to continue doing this. So, I can’t see it ending. I’m not going to go back and work for the man. I can tell you, right, that’s one thing. If the whole YouTube thing or if I got tired of it, I’d be doing something else. Maybe producing paid online content or I’d be… have a hardware company selling stuff. I can see myself going back. I always get contract offers, like consulting role offers. I’d never go back to consulting either.
Dave
That’s just working for a different type of man. It can be worse actually. I enjoyed my cushy 09:00 to 17:00 job, I keep hanging out at work. It was like a maker space almost. You just hang out at work and you just hang out in the lab chatting, just dicking around doing stuff, because a lot of the time we didn’t have much to do. Sometimes you’ll be super busy and other times you’ll be sitting around waiting for something to come in or you wouldn’t have much to do. It was a good lifestyle. That’s how it lasted.
Me
The good old days of working. I think these days you’re working 60, 70 hours a week or something ridiculous.
Dave
Now it’s 60, 70 hours a week or whatever, yeah, wouldn’t like to count the hours. I would like to … like I’m very jealous of other channels like Brady Paran for example. You might be more familiar with him. He does all those different YouTube channels like the computer file, number file, and all those. He’s got like eight different channels and I’d love to …
Dave
Yeah, I don’t know either. It’s ridiculous. I would love to do something like that. It’s just a matter of time. I would love to branch out, I would love to have separate channels for things and making that work, through, making that pay the bills and having the time to do it is hard, although I have, from an income point of view, I probably could do that. I could start up other channels, but it’s a time thing.
Me
Yeah, that’s right, time. I saw recently that you put up a video on your salary, which is a very bold thing to be doing.
Dave
Yes, yes, it was, it was.

The YouTuber salary

Me
As an engineer, you’d be getting Australian $100,00, $150,000, but you be getting significantly less, so …
Dave
That’s just YouTube. The problem with that video is like, yeah I put up that I earned… what was it, US$42,000 or something, just for the You Tubing. People thought that’s all I earned, but if you actually watch the video, I tell you … Well I don’t tell you the whole amount, I’m not going to release my tax returns.
Dave
I earn a very good income. People think how do I survive on $40,000. I don’t. I live a very comfortable … make a very comfortable living. Just my multi-meters alone I’m selling like a $100,000 worth of multi-meters a year or something. I don’t know, I’d have to get the calculator out … right … and micro currents, just with a couple of products, when you sell a couple thousand of them at $100 each, that’s a lot of income. That’s not profit, but you know. It’s just that side of the business alone could actually sustain me.
Dave
So I do very well and people just focused on how much I earned on YouTube and thought I don’t make money anywhere else. I didn’t make that clear enough in the video. But the amount of hours I work for it, is crazy.
Me
I appreciate all that, how much effort it takes to create videos.
Dave
Back when I first started, when I went full-time with 2,000 subscribers in 2011, I had to take a contract job on the side, like a consulting job on the side to bring in an income. But you slowly build up all these other sources of income and there’s six or seven different sources of income, so it all adds up. So, it’s quite a decent amount, but I pay a lot of tax too. I’ve got a lot of expenses. It’s scary. The number of expenses I got is … and that’s the problem, it turns into a business. You do this YouTube thing for fun, that’s why I don’t have time to … I’m spending all my time doing the logistic side of things, I’m about to hire somebody new to do my packing and shipping again for me, but I set it all up. It doesn’t just magically … you can’t just hire someone and say, “Go. Go and handle it all.” You’ve got to set it all up, understand them, train them and maybe in a couple of months it will be smooth, but there’s a lot of issues with that at the moment that’s soaking up all my time, which is why I’m not releasing any videos and just reading all the comments. You might be familiar with, I’ve got the forum. I got to maintain that.

Small business workload

Me
That’s one thing I found.
Dave
And the tax side of things and just other business side of things.
Me
That’s one thing I found out, that the general vibe was that starting a small business and you had to keep track of this and this and anyone who starts off a small business will understand that it’s … you’re constantly juggling balls in the air and you just got to keep track of everything.
Dave
Are you full-time … you said when I met you at the Maker Fair, you said you were kinda doing this full-time?
Me
I was thinking of doing full-time, but I was retrenched in October from my previous employer.
Dave
That was the reason I switch to full-time, because I was retrenched.
Me
So, officially I’m actually full-time, even though the revenue I’m getting out of YouTube is …
Dave
Yeah, it’s not … I know … It’s not much. Even my income is not enough.
Me
So, what I’m doing is, picking up some part-time contracts here and there, doing some work for people and then I’ve given myself to April to see how things go and whether it’s viable. If it’s viable, I’ll continue, if it’s not I just go back to IT.

YouTuber jealousy

Dave
Right. I hope that doesn’t eventuate. It’s tough. I would actually love to be one of those YouTubers who gets a million views a day and that’s my sole source of income. It would be scary, because it’s your sole source of income, but it would free you. It means I wouldn’t have to run a side business doing kits and logistics and everything else. I wouldn’t have to worry about managing advertisers on my website and this and that. If I could just make content.
Me
But the same token, it’s almost like you’re putting all your eggs in one basket and there’s this fear that you might be actually … YouTube might change, you know, something might change like the algorithm change recently.
Dave
YouTube is guaranteed to change.
Me
Yeah, so I’d be concerned. Personally I’d be concerned-
Dave
I would be very concerned, yeah, that’s why I put effort into different sources of income. That’s why I’m putting effort into setting up my store and selling stuff and getting the logistics right and selling on Amazon and eBay, because if YouTube folds, or some reason … My channel can be shut down like that. Your channel can be shut down like that with copyright. If you have a vengeful person who wants to shut down your channel, it’s possible.
Dave
Or it changes in some way, yeah. It’s scary. That’s why I’m branching out, 100% confident that if my channel went belly up, I’d still survive. I’d still be doing this in some way, shape or form.

Thanks for all the fish

Me
Anyway, thanks very much Dave. I kept this one cold for you.
Dave
What is it? I can’t see.
Me
It’s a Strongbow. I’m actually a Coeliac so I can’t drink beer anymore, which is a real shame.
Dave
Oh right, but I don’t drink beer, so there you go.
Me
There you go, I kept this one cold for you. So, I’ll just have to drink both of them, I guess. Anyway, thanks, thanks for the interview. I hope your channel keeps going in the success that it’s seen.
Dave
Thank you very much. More to the point yours, because I’ve been in your position and it requires perseverance.
Me
There’s been many times where I thought, “I don’t want to do this anymore.”
Dave
No, but the parallels are scary. You’ve just made 10,000 subscribers and you got retrenched and you’ve given it a go kinda-sorta full-time with the part-time thing. That’s exactly the position I was in back in 2011. So, I do think you put too much work into your videos though. You got to make them more streamlined. I learned that. Because you’re talking about, “I can’t do this anymore.” It’s grinding and you have to have an efficient way to do it.
Me
That’s right.
Dave
If you put in a lot of work into every video, it can be a bit demoralizing.
Me
Anyway, cheers Dave. Thank you very much. Oh it’s gone night time already. That was quick.

Check out Part 1: The early days

Check out Part 2: YouTube fame

Check out Part 3: Makers & introverts


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