An interview with the founder, host and CEO of DailyTekk.
Hey, I'm Chris. I've been called all kinds of things like a "Tech YouTuber" or "Video Creator" or "Social Media Influencer" but I'm really just a guy who loves making videos about his favorite tech products.
How did the name DailyTekk come about and what does it mean?
The original concept was to share a "daily tech find" with people but the meaning has sort of evolved over the years to fit whatever we're currently doing. Right now I'd say it's more about me sharing and talking about the tech I use as I experience it in my own daily life as opposed to creating daily content about tech.
When and why did you join YouTube?
The first upload was on April 21, 2015. Before DailyTekk was known for the YouTube channel, it was a pretty popular blog (which started way back in 2012). Eventually we transitioned to YouTube as the primary focus which made a lot of sense because I love to create things and I love sharing my work with lots of people. I thought about what I really wanted to do with my life as well and decided to dive all in. Zero regrets.
What YouTubers have influenced you or who did you start out looking up to?
Hmm. Well all the big tech channels that everyone knows and loves have paved the way for our channel and what we're doing so they definitely get a ton of credit and respect. At the same time, well, here let me tell you what a famous musician once told me. He said he didn't listen to much other music because he didn't want their ideas and sounds to influence his own creativity. He wanted to be as original as possible. That's kind of how I look at the YouTube community too. There are some seriously talented creators doing their thing but I want to have my own take and style so I try to think more about what I want to make rather than what other people are making. A lot of my inspiration comes from other sources outside of YouTube like in the art world or music world or business world.
How has the YouTube channel changed since it started?
There has been a lot of experimentation. Lots of hits and misses. Lots and lots of research (I seriously doubt any other YouTuber has spent more nights awake making spreadsheets about their niche). I think one of the most obvious things is the way my on-camera persona has really emerged over the years. I used to be much more quiet and mellow (as many YouTubers were) in the early days.
Also, when the channel was brand new I had no idea how to handle things like lighting or camera settings. Now those things are under control. It seems like just the other day I was happy to see a video get 700 views in the first 24 hours and now it’s pretty common to hit 10,000 views in 24 hours. Overall things are just more polished, we’ve figured out what people want to see us cover and the combination of those 2 things has really made the channel grow.
What's on your desk right now?
The current desk is the BDI Sequel standing desk. As of April 2018, I've got a MacBook Pro on my desk flanked by 2 iPad Pros (a 10.5" and a 12.9"). I use both my AirPods and my Bose QC35 II's throughout the day. I've got the Swinging Sticks sculpture from Iron Man 2 and the LaMetric clock there. I have the LaMetric set as a YouTube subscriber counter which is pretty motivating while I'm writing a script or editing a video since I can see new subscribers in realtime. I've also got some art that I picked up from Huckberry on the wall and a great magnetic calendar I got from MoMa (that's set to the date of the first YouTube upload). I try to keep things as uncluttered as possible with some cheap velcro cable ties I found too.
What gear do you use to make YouTube videos?
Right now the main cameras are Panasonic (the GH5 is the primary shooter). I love using the 42.5 Nocticron for hand-held slow-mo shots. The Sigma 16 shoots most of the talking head shots. There are lots of other lenses but I won't bore you. We also make use of the Sony RX100 MKV for quick b roll shots or for location shots where we don't want to bring a bigger camera (same goes for the iPhone). The Edelkrone SliderOne Pro, the DJI Mavic Air, the GorillaPod 5K Kit, the NTG 2 shotgun mic, the VideoMic Pro+, the Manfrotto carbon fiber and aluminum tripods along with the 502 fluid head are also key items. There's more but it's too much stuff to list!
How long did it take to reach your first 1,000 YouTube subscribers?
Did you always want to start a YouTube channel?
I have roots in design, but I was never passionate about being an actual designer — like as a job. I think I always wanted to be in a position where I could share my creativity with a lot of people though, so blogging and then even more so YouTube turned out to be platforms where I have been able to see lots of traction. So, no it wasn't always a dream I had, but I think I was always probably headed there. And who knows, if the audience shifts somewhere else I could definitely end up on another platform down the road...
If YouTube didn’t exist what do you think you’d be doing instead?
Well I like to create and I like to share my thoughts and ideas with other people so I’d probably gravitate toward whatever else would let me build up an audience. I’m also very entrepreneurial so I'm sure I'd have started a company of some sort.
WhaT are the best and worst things about YouTube?
Best thing: the enormous reach. Worst thing: the tidal wave of awful email pitches. Also, people you used to know wanting things from you. Also, people you don't know at all wanting things from you.
How do you deal with negative comments?
Negative comments don’t really affect me and here’s why: more often than not I feel like they’re coming from a place of jealousy. I feel like negative comments say more about the person commenting than about me so they really do roll right off without leaving much of a dent. And even then, the person making a negative comment just added another view to the video and increased the video’s engagement, so, ha.
Also, when someone thinks negatively about me or the channel I think to myself, OK then, you start a YouTube channel, you get millions of views, you put yourself out there for people to comment on... oh, you’re not going? Exactly.
What is your favorite video that you’ve uploaded?
There's so many things I could say here. I could say my first video (even though it's awful) because it got me started in the right direction. I could say whatever the last video I just published was because I love checking the stats and seeing how people respond. It's too hard to pick a favorite but one of my favorite videos was this one because it was basically an afterthought that ended up being really popular. I almost didn't make it. It was so last minute I had to write it, shoot it, edit and publish in like a day which is crazy. I didn't even have that actual in the studio (I used last year's model which looked the same) but it was definitely worth it.
What makes DailyTekk different from other channels or companies or creative teams?
Definitely the quality, the personality and the subject matter but the channel also has a super-positive, happy vibe that I think people really like because there’s so much negativity on the Internet and in the world at large so I think the channel stands out to people as something that makes them feel good.
Like you'll notice there’s never any cussing on the channel. I’m not impressed by cursing. It’s 1,000 times harder to be creative when you don’t let the expletives fly. Cursing is like a crutch or something people use to try to seem tough or cool or to make people laugh but I definitely respect people who can create content without it (Will Smith in '99, Rhett and Link for most of their career, Andy Mineo, etc.).
Another thing is focus. We’ve done so much research over the years and have tried hard to understand what people want to see from us. I think we’ve gotten really focused and the result is that we don’t just publish about anything “tech” anymore we have very specific things that we cover and it has acted like rocket fuel for the channel and growth is just skyrocketing. I think a lot of tech channels just think “covering tech” will do the trick but until that focus kicks in those channels just struggle so I’m so happy that we’ve hit out stride and I do think our focus has become a differentiator.
Ultimately I'd love to DailyTekk to be more than just a media company. I'd like for it to be a force for good in the world.
Can you share some life advice?
Alright, here is goes...
Confidence if everything. I think most people have to acquire it but once you get it it’s a game changer.
Also, quit thinking about what strangers people you barely know think about you (but you should definitely care about what those closest to you think about you). Once you do it’s freeing.
Commit to your dreams for the long haul and do the hard things to get there — as a rule people don’t like to do hard things so the people willing to do them end up winning.
Realize that no one is inherently better than you (not talking about skill, just worth). It’s all in your mind: if you think someone is better than you then they are. If you don’t then they’re not.
Use your brain to do some serious critical thinking and challenge the things you've always assumed because the truth will never mind.
In the video world there’s a saying: garbage in, garbage out. Essentially, your final product can never be good if it starts with bad input. The same thing applies to what you put into your brain (the media, news, books, music, people, etc. — everything you consume.
Talking solves almost every problem you're having with other people.
Be blunt by default and don't mince words; speak your mind and mean what you say.
Finally, actually care about other people. Especially those that have no way to repay you — it actually makes really good business sense.
Are you obsessed with Apple or what?
Uh, no. That said, if I could build my studio in the middle of Apple Park I would. Wait... does that mean I'm obsessed?
What’s the deal with Andy Mineo references appearing in so many videos?
I mean obviously I like the music but it sort of has become a running joke to put Andy Mineo references in several videos. It’s fun to see people point them out. In fact someone told Mineo about it and he swung through a left a comment.
What’s your best advice for aspiring YouTubers or content creators?
I’m convinced it can take 5 to 10 years of hard work with little to no reward for most people to succeed on YouTube today. Most people expect that if they start uploading they’ll be famous in a few months or even a year. The people who succeed here are the ones who can keep the big picture and end result in mind as motivation and who just never give up. Most people quit too early because they think they’re not getting enough traction even though that's just how it goes. They quit before they have even made enough videos to see what works and doesn’t and don’t get to the point where they can pick a winning focus. Of course being rich or famous from the get go helps haha. Money is the fastest way to get popular on the platform.
What inspires you?
Selflessness. You see it in so few places now. Everyone is basically taught to be as selfish as possible so when I see someone actually caring about someone else instead of themselves that’s what I find really inspiring. Look back through history and think about the most unselfish thing you've ever heard of. That’s inspiring. It’s hard to find good examples of selflessness today because the people who actually are don’t care about the spotlight — they just care because it’s the right thing to do and don’t shout about it on social media or tell everyone they can about it. Those people are the best.