00:05:37 - Adam's background in sales
00:08:13 - Starting to build with chicken coups
00:08:45 - Origins of Lazy Guy DIY
00:10:01 - Starting a blog
00:12:20 - DIY Bloggers
00:13:25 - Taking the blog seriously
00:16:35 - Working with Brands
00:21:53 - The Builders Challenge
00:26:25 -Time spent on Lazy Guy DIY
00:28:29 - An Agency for Makers
00:33:25 - How NOT to pitch a company
00:38:19 - The power of Pinterest
00:42:01 - Favorite people to follow
00:46:21 - Where to find Adam
00:47:41 - Make or Break Shop Update
Brandon: When did you switch the blog to more than just a hobby, I’m gonna put stuff up because I’m building a chicken coop?
Adam: I was “People are paying attention to this for the website,” when I launched it. And it wasn’t as many. It was the first builders’ challenge, which was the online contest, I entered it and built something and did pretty well for it. And the community really embraced it.
Adam: And, that kinda turned my eye to “You know this woodworking thing is kinda the way to go.” And then that definitely made me take the step to pay couple hundred bucks to go to that conference. To me, my website is my priority.
Adam: I can knock out post in a matter of minutes. And, there’s not a lot of long form, posting from me so there’s tutorials, there’s videos and stuff, but there wasn’t anybody at the time telling a story quite as much in the woodworking and the DIY community. And people related to that regardless of whether they were woodworkers 'cause they just went to see a story, which is the feedback I got. And I was “Okay, this is my outlet that I’ve been looking for.”
Brandon: So when did you start the website then?
Adam: It was March 2016.
Brandon: Did you know you wanted it to be a full out business then too?
Adam: Yeah,I was fairly strategic about it, and had looked at a lot of different sites and what I wanted to do in a new … I still have full-time job actually, on top of all everything else that I do. But I knew that I needed an outlet and I knew that it was going to be a potential to a good revenue stream.
Adam: So, I made some choices and, and invested in myself for it. And, it’s paid off so far.
Adam: That was the big thing is that, we had a new family starting to grow. We just had a daughter and I was at the desk job, it’s kinda office space, just wasn’t gonna cut it.
Adam: And I knew that this was gonna be the next hustle to get stuff moving.
Brandon: So what’s your full-time job now?
Adam: So I’m actually a project manager for a mortgage company in a bank. And I’ve been there for over 10 years. And, I do Excel sheets, I do efficiency analysis. I work contracts also, with vendors. So a lot of things actually apply over there, but it is dull as can be.
Adam: So, and I joke that it, it fuels my sarcasm for my website and everything else.
Brandon: [laughs] yeah.
Adam: Because I’ve been off of work, and I try to write something, it just doesn’t come, but if I’ve been at work and it’s so boring and so slow, I mean, I can pop out posts that.
Brandon: That’s funny that drives the personality. Especially, through writing, or really through anything that people connect to the personality even more than maybe the project.
Brandon: On the brand side of things, so what did that look ? You were working some with Ryobi, then were you just cold out-reaching “Hey, I work with RYOBI, would you guys be interested?” What were you kinda of thinking about at that point?
Adam: I had obviously come back from Haven and I was “Everybody’s gonna work with me.” Because I had my call with RYOBI, and they were “Yeah, we want to send you some tools and check this out.” And I was “Well, this was easy.” And so, I just started cold-calling. That’s with my sales background, made a big difference with that. And, if anybody says, “No,” It doesn’t really get me down on it, but I kinda went in with the plan. These Wall Control Pegboards behind me, it was the first brand that I ever reached out to.
Brandon: Oh cool.
Adam: And, again with no followers, and I just said, "Hey, I’ve got this shop that I’m gonna convert. I came back from Haven, and I had a terrible, mushy pegboard in my shop and any of the tools that I bought had fallen off the wall.
Adam: And I looked it up and I was “There’s gotta be a metal pegboard company,” and I found them. They’re in Atlanta. and I reached out, and I actually did a thing in Sketch-Up that mocked up the whole thing. And I was “I’d love to put all these tools on my channel and everything,” and they were “Well, we aren’t really gonna work with any influencers” and then they they agreed to it. And now, I’m actually employed by them also, and it’s been a great relationship with them. I get to test out things. I run their social media for them. And run their ambassador team.
Adam: It’s a family-owned company, he and I talk every day [laughs] and it’s all because of just basically a cold-call that I did just looking for something on the internet, sent an email. And then, just started talking to him.
Brandon: Sso you said you did the cold-call, and initially they said no, and now you’re semi-employed by them. Did you just keep coming back, "Hey here’s a different idea. Or do you have any tips for folks if they do do cold-calls and they get that no?
Adam: Yeah, I mean, the first thing was I did not ask for money. And one of the big things, and you’re gonna hear it from people all the time who say go out and grab money and do this, but honestly, you should be going out and grabbing a relationship.
Adam: And that’s something I learned from working with brokers, when I was in the mortgage business before, was quick wins get you nowhere. And it’s always play for the long term and make these relationships. And then he and I just chatted about stuff. I just said, “Hey, look, this is what I really want to do. I think it’ll look good. I know I don’t have a big channel right now, but I know it’s gonna get some play on, on RYOBI’s website, so I think there’s good opportunity here.” And I try to add value that I didn’t have.
Adam: But anybody anywhere else basically, and I was “You know what? You can have my videos, you can post those, embed those on your website.” And just really try to make that first connection. And then he and I just kept talking after I had my first stuff up. They didn’t have social media at the time other than Facebook. They, didn’t have Instagram. And then, it was two years later, so, I’d gotten a few products and kept in the conversation every few months. But hthey asked me to come visit him and said, “Hey we want you to run, our social media. I know you’ve talked about the importance of having an Instagram presence, at the time, we just can’t dedicate to it.” So they hired me on to run their social media from there.
Brandon: That’s cool. I love the fact that you mentioned that one of the things that you could use was the fact that this is gonna be exposed through RYOBI, I guess through the blog posting you were doing-
Adam: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
Brandon: 'Cause I hear a lot of people talk about, maybe they’ll reach out to a bigger media outlet and say, “Hey if I get these folks to agree, can I publish this?” So almost leveraging other folks network. I never even thought about it on the tool partnership side of things, that’s super smart.
Adam: So I actually have content contributors to my website now. And, these two guys, they have smaller channels and smaller websites, and I met them at different conferences, and I their style. And I told them, “Absolutely leverage my website-
Adam: “…'cause you’re gonna be putting your stuff on here.”” I can talk to them or whatnot, as long as there’s no conflicts. And they’re using it now to get deals as well.I mean, there’s so many different ways that you can approach brands. And, I was talking to a guy a few weeks ago, and he says, “It doesn’t matter what your following count is if you have good quality content,” because basically you can sell that content to brands also.
Adam: … and work with them that way. , videos, photos, whatever else, and that’s still cheaper than having them hire a crew.
Brandon: So, I want to hit the ambassador side of things.
Adam: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
Brandon: Especially since you have been one and then you run the program for Wall Control. What do people get wrong when they’re thinking about “Oh I want to be a brand ambassador for this company. And let me just get free tools.”
Adam: Actually I see there’s a couple other brands that I work with as well, so I get to see quite a bit of stuff. But Wall Control is the one that I am transparent on that, that I run that account.
Brandon: Okay, cool.
Adam: I mean, don’t do your pitch through Instagram. I mean, no one wants to read that and that’s not the decision-maker usually that’s getting that pitch. And you do a book, and you can tell where they’re copy and pasted a lot of times.
Adam: You’re just wasting your energy. You always want to get an email address and then kick that off and if you can have calls, do that. But that’s always the biggest issue is that initial contact is really bad sometimes. people will throw in cuss words, and threaten you with, "If you don’t give me free product-
Brandon: Oh really?
Adam: Oh god yeah.
Brandon: That’s crazy.
Adam: It’s terrible.
Adam: yeah, “If you don’t give me free product, I will tell people not to use this. And I have so much exposure,” and they have 500 followers or something that.
Adam: Just because you see so many people getting free stuff, there’s this sense of entitlement these days with influencers.
Adam: And you need to earn it. And that’s not just by followers, but we mentioned before, there’s other ways to kinda grow that equity with brands. And that’s a better way to go about it.
Adam: Especially longterm with everybody. And the I laugh sometimes with just some of the things that I see.
Adam: Before people knew that I was running the Wall Control account, some people would send messages. And I would slide over to my DM and I would be “Hey, just so you know, I saw this. I’m gonna delete it. I’m gonna coach you for this.”
Adam: “And we’re gonna try again here.” I mean you only get one chance to make a first impression.
Adam: And, a lot of people flop.
Brandon: So on the Wall Control side of things, how many inbound requests does a company that size, are they getting hundreds a week? Or, what’s that kinda look like from there?
Adam: It’s not that many. It ebbs and flows. But, I’m trying to think how many ambassadors we have right now. We probably have about 30 ambassadors, but we’ll get, I mean we’ll get 10-20 requests a week. And there’s a lot of interesting stuff out there too. Wall Control, it’s one of those products… it really appealed to me to organize, because it can be in kitchens-
Adam: It can be, in ships. The eastern fleet in the Navy, has them all in their, in their battleships-
Brandon: Good Lord [laughs] that’s cool.
Adam: Because it stays on, it doesn’t rust or anything.
Brandon: Right. Right.
Adam: And you see a lot of military guys come out and love it. And so then they’ll have it for their guns and stuff. And, it’s one of those things where it’s … we get a lot of crafters that use stuff.
Adam: So it’s a very unique because a lot of people from a lot of different areas are interested in it and reaching out. So it’s not just the woodworkers. And I know we push a lot of woodworker stuff, 'cause, I mean, they’re, they’re Instagram savvy, compared to some of the other ones. And a lot of the other groups don’t think about posting things, shop photos, or, or pegboards, or anything like that. I have had, with some other brands that are approaching me to run their social media, I take a look at it, and you need to have a brand that you can build a community around. Some that I’ve looked at coulda easily just said, “Hey, yeah, pay me let’s do this. We’ll try to get your following,” but, it was gonna be very difficult to try to grow interest in, in some of their products.
Adam: It has to be one of those things that people were gonna relate to and have community around, and Wall Control’s definitely one of those things.
Brandon: That’s cool.
Adam: And I’ve loved it. I mean, small family-
Adam: … that owns it all. So, it’s cool. I love it.
Brandon: That’s fun. So, the last thing I wanted to ask you about was, earlier you had mentioned the DIY, Haven type folks have been around, and they’ve been doing it for longer, and so in many ways, they’re several years ahead of maybe the woodworking/maker community. For folks that are wanting to do this as a business now, and they’re in that community, what do they need to be thinking about, where does it make sense to focus on?
Adam: You mentioned Pinterest before. Pinterest is a huge referral for me and I don’t want to have all my eggs in one basket, but, you see a lot of people, from our community, woodworking community, that just start throwing up pins, and they’re like: “Oh, it looks like this,” and whatever else. And, and I still talk to a lot of people within the decor community, and I was like “Well this isn’t working for me. What’s, what’s wrong?” And they’re like “Well, the biggest issue is that your, your pins are manly.” You have a masculine-looking site, and it’s intimidating. The biggest user of Pinterest is women. And they don’t want to pin stuff that’s masculine a lot of times regardless of how it looks. And they’re like, “You have all dark colors. You have these dark backgrounds and stuff.” And they’re like “Redo your pins.” And that was the first step with it. And then the other thing is, that, you just have to be conscious of what people are looking for on there. Scrap wood projects are huge.
Adam: Shop projects people still find those, but gifts, DIY gifts, those type of things take off. I made a wooden cake knife, just on a whim, and it started getting millions of hits on Pinterest.
Brandon: That’s crazy.
Adam: Because it was just the right timing for holiday, for people to make gifts. And it’s still one of my best website referrals. And it was just a random junk project that I did. I was like, “I’m gonna make a wooden cake knife. Let’s just go for it, film it and put it up there.”
Adam: When I change how I create photos for my pins too. I used kind of a light-box with some melamine and what not and just made it really pretty and bright, and man, it just took off. So long story short, Pinterest, pay attention to Pinterest, because, I mean, whether it’s YouTube, or your website, or even social media, you can drive so much traffic from Pinterest.
Brandon: Yeah. Last year I was like “I want to build up Instagram and then,” and with all the changes and everything I’m like “This stuff goes so quick, is there a way to have more permanent referrals?” … I need the website but then, getting into the Pinterest. You can you put something up, it can go viral and also you can recycle the content and all kinds of crazy stuff.
Adam: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
Brandon: It’s, really neat.
Adam: And that’s what you kinda mentioned also with the website too. And that’s what I tell people all the time, and that’s my biggest advice whenever I’m talking about it. Is you have to have a website.
Adam: 'Cause there’s so many people that are just single social media platform, whether it’s Instagram or whatnot, but when you’re looking for a brand they want to have that jumping off page. And YouTube allows you to do that, to have your links-
Adam: But Instagram, or don’t get me started on TikTok, because I don’t even use it.
Adam: I refuse to at this point. And I’m gonna refuse to until I have to.
Adam: Instagram your post is done within 24 to 36 hours. The value isn’t there for the brands to work with you. So if you have a website, regardless of what your monthly traffic is, they can link to it, it’s always searchable, you never know when it’s gonna pop off. YouTube videos are crazy these days, where you’ll get nothing for a year, and then all of a sudden they just come out of nowhere, and I have a couple where it’s like this is a terrible video from a year ago, why are people paying attention to this now? But it’s evergreen, and it’s all linked, it’s got affiliates, and if you don’t have that mainstay, you’re really shorting yourself when it comes to working with brands.