Ask an Expert | Brent Gentling
Coronavirus Updates from Brent of BYOTools
Brent Gentling, the man behind the BYOT YouTube channel that focuses on DIY home improvement projects, discusses how he is adjusting amidst recent developments from COVID-19. We discuss how he’s grown his online presence throughout the years, potential positives from the pandemic, and his hope for the future of his business and the industry as a whole.
Doug Mockett: First of all, what inspired you to start a YouTube channel and how do you go about finding new projects and ideas for creating content?
Brent Gentling: I bought a house in 2010 and it was truly the “ugly duckling” on the block. Within the first three months of owning the house, I gutted the bathrooms, the kitchen, the deck, all the plumbing and started the remodeling process. I have a construction background and went to college for Construction Management, but I certainly didn’t know all of the steps needed to remodel a house from start to finish. I started watching A LOT of YouTube videos from electrical, plumbing, flooring, windows and so on. I found YouTube to be an extremely valuable resource when it came to remodeling my house. However, at a certain point after searching the internet for hours for a project, I FINALLY realized that I was searching for a video that seemingly didn’t exist. I was looking for a video that showed how to renovate a yard from START to FINISH from the journey of a weed jungle to grass and all the steps in-between. I said to my then girlfriend, now wife, Hillary, “Maybe I should make a YouTube video since I can’t find one out there”. I felt that it would be good karma since I received an abundance of help from YouTubers throughout my home renovation process and if the video could help at least one person, then it would be worth it.
That video was not the first YouTube video I produced, but it was the one that got the proverbial “ball rolling” on my YouTube journey. As for finding new projects and ideas, I take on quite a few house projects on my own house. There are particular projects that every home owner should know, which is why I'm happy to help others learn the process of doing so because everything about my house needed an upgrade to say the least :) However, I have started to get more into woodworking and epoxy. I never really did much with wood in the past, other than framing walls, but I wanted to build my own dining room table. So I did and I made a video about it. To this day it is one of my favorite projects I have ever done on my channel and luckily for me it is also one of the most popular with over 1.7 million views between the two videos I did. I'm getting more creative with wood and furniture building. My wife just asked for a handrail recently so I made a handrail "BYOT Style" with solid walnut and motion sensor LED's. Luckily I'll never run out of woodworking projects since it is such a versatile material and one that I truly enjoy working with.
DM: As you're approaching 10 million views and counting, what role do you think technology is playing in bringing builders together and how is that changing the industry?
BG: I personally find working with your hands extremely important, not only on a physical level but mentally as well. There are plenty of people out there that don't want to build with their hands and would prefer someone else take care of their home remodeling projects. However, on the other side of the coin are the individuals that want to build, fix, create with their hands and technology has made it very easy to do so. Everything I learned involving construction before 2010 was either taught to me by hands-on teaching or from a construction book. In more recent times, online videos (specifically on YouTube) have made it extremely easy to learn how to properly build something. Think of the old adage; "A picture is worth a thousand words". If that is true, what is a video worth? This has completely transformed the world, which is why you see the DIY mindset growing and strengthening exponentially.
DM: Now that many people are stuck at home in quarantine due to COVID-19 lock-downs (with more time to watch life hack videos and home improvement ideas), what sorts of building projects do you expect will gain popularity?
BG: Luckily for me, I find myself in a perfect niche industry since my views have increased 65% within the last month. Between people stuck at home, wanting to take on their own home improvement projects, and the weather getting nicer, my exterior home improvement projects are doing very well. How to Build a Deck, How to Grow Grass and How to Build a Fence are all top performers on my channel right now. I love seeing people that are not afraid to take on these larger scale projects because these are the ones that you can save you a lot of money doing it yourself, while also increasing the value of your home significantly. I take great pride in producing DIY friendly videos that truly show the entire process from start to finish helping others on their own projects. The proof is in the pudding; "You built up my confidence so much that now I think I can tackle my front lawn." - Ruben Duran
DM: What sort of impact do you expect this experience will have on your particular business, and how do you plan to use this unique time and circumstance to pivot and grow going forward?
BG: I'm a very positive person at heart and know that life will always throw you curveballs. The past month has been quite a curveball, but I truly feel grateful for the position that I am in because I'm able to work from home. Not many people in the trades can say that. I'm a father to be, with a baby girl due in August. I still wake up at 5:30am every M-F and get to work answering emails, YouTube comments, contacting new brands, video editing, building/remodeling, and everything in between. The most important thing to me right now is that I can provide for my family and in the future, if my daughter asks me what it was like living during this time in history, I can tell her that I worked even harder than before. Nothing in life is guaranteed and as this pandemic has proven to the world, life can drastically change overnight. I want to make sure grit and determination are instilled into my daughter at a young age and the only way to do that in my opinion, is to make sure she sees firsthand how hard her mother and father work to provide a good life for her.
DM: Have you noticed any trends or 'hacks' for work from home (WFH) work spaces as people are forced to reconfigure their homes into a makeshift office, or even possible long-term or permanent work spaces? Do you expect to see a rise in demand for this type of (or similar) content?
BG: My main advice is to make a dedicated workspace. It can be a room you turn into an office, but if you don't have extra rooms then set up a desk elsewhere, or use one section of your dining room table. Having a dedicated space that is used only during work time is important for a successful mindset. I know the couch is more comfortable and more inviting than a desk, but I find that I am much more productive at my desk because I know it's work time :) As for a rise in demand for this type of content, I'll tell you a funny story. My good friend Leah from See Jane Drill is also a fellow YouTuber who did a video a couple years ago on how to install a bidet on your existing toilet. The video is called "How to transform your toilet into a bidet in less than 30 mins." Well that video has seen 200K - 300K views over the last month because of the toilet paper shortage at some stores here is the US. I also recently did a video on a DIY Home Gym out of black iron piping. The video is surging and I'm hoping it continues to do well since everyone is looking for home workout ideas.
DM: What’s next for BYOTools?
BG: I would just like to encourage others to build and create. It doesn't matter whether it is a small or big project. Every week I try to push myself to learn a new skill or try something that I haven't in the past. Not only are you physically building/creating something, but you’re also building yourself up. The more tools you have in the proverbial "toolbox of life" the easier it is to be a problem solver for what life throws at you. As for BYOTools, who knows what’s next? I've been a full-time YouTuber for less than a year and it hasn't been an easy transition. I am passionate about helping others learn how to build and create and I've grown more as a person in the last 7 months then I have in the last 5 years. I'm so grateful for the love and support throughout this YouTube journey and I can't wait to see what the next coming year will bring.
DM: Where would you like people to go to find you and view your videos and other content?
BG: You can find me on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or TikTok using the handle @BYOTools. My website is BYOTOOLS.ME. If you would like to help support the channel, please watch and share one of my videos if you like it. That is the best way to help the channel grow naturally. I've been on YouTube just over 4 years now and I think it took me about a year to get 100 subscribers. Now I average over 100 subscribers each day. I am extremely grateful for all of the love and support I have received over the years. I feel as long as I continue to produce high-quality videos that help others build and create then the channel will continue to be a success. Thank you all for believing in my work because it keeps me inspired to give back and help as many people as I can.
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