This is part five of an ongoing series where we will come to know more about the men of influencer marketing.
Social media influencers specialize in a variety of areas. From fitness to fashion and from families to food, influencers share their perspectives on a variety of topics with their followers. However, most of those voices are female. I was shocked to learn that the men of influencer marketing represent just a fraction of all influencers online.
I decided to dig in to learn more about the men of influencer marketing. I’ve had many fun conversations with some of these men and have even joked with my colleagues about creating “The Men of Influencer Marketing” calendar.
Timothy Dahl is the DIY editor at Popular Mechanics. He’s also just one of the men of influencer marketing focusing on DIY projects where he often incorporates his family into his content. Timothy was kind enough to connect with me on Friday, October 19 to help me learn more about what he does. The following is a snapshot of our conversation:
Good afternoon, Timothy. You’re the DIY editor at Popular Mechanics, did that start after you became a social media influencer or was that where you kicked things off?
“No, that came after. So, if I want to take it way back, I had a job at “This Old House.” I was working on their online team. From there I launched a couple of my own sites like Charles and Hudson and Built by Kids. That helped raise my profile enough that other folks started to reach out to me, including Popular Mechanics.”
When you go back to ‘This Old House’ where you started off, how did that get started and how did that lead to you becoming a social media influencer?
“‘This Old House’ started in the early 2000’s when social media was really just coming on and at that point it was more about blogging and building your voice that way. For me, I cut my teeth with ‘This Old House’ and it helped me out with the right tools to see what people are searching for and what people are reading. That’s when I started my own sites and, on the social side, I feel like influencers and bloggers jumped into that before the big brands did and got a good hold, which has worked out.”
You are the founder of Charles and Hudson, Built for Kids and Tool Crave. What can you tell me about each of these brands?
“Charles and Hudson is the first one I started in 2005. I had the opportunity when ‘This Old House’ was not taking into account all of the submissions that different home bloggers were sending in so I made Charles and Hudson to show these builds. There was a lot out there but nowhere to just check it all out so that’s how Charles and Hudson started, then it just rolled into things other than DIY.
Built by Kids started seven years ago when we found out we were going to be parents and we learned that crafting isn’t really our thing. My wife and I are really into DIY and we’re really into tools. We wanted to introduce our child to more than just tablets and iPads. That’s how Built by Kids started.
Tool Crave is just another extension of that. It’s really focused on tools and people’s obsession with tools. It’s more so a peek inside some of the more popular makers and builders out there and what tools they actually use.”
I’ve seen your Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages. Is that where most of your focus is or do you use other social channels too?
“Those channels are where I really focus. I’ve done some work on Pinterest and I definitely use YouTube as well. I have a channel on there for Charles and Hudson and my wife and I recently created a new YouTube channel called The Dahl House. We bought a house last year, and we had the opportunity to do a lot of the things that we haven’t been able to do while renting for the last ten years. The episodes are based around different projects around the house.”
It’s clear that your family is really involved in what you do. How did you get to that point, or did you always know that your family was going to be a part of your content?
“Not really, not until we knew that we were going to parents. My wife started out in fashion so we had our own things but it just made sense because it’s really what our lives are about now. They’re young right now, but you know, we have a pool and a lot of different things that they are growing into around the house so it’s fun to build step stools for them and our oldest son is now passing that on to his younger brother.”
How fun! How old are your kids?
“They are 7 and 6 months old.”
Congratulations, those are fun ages! Across all of your channels and the different platforms you use, how are you building your following?
“To be honest, it’s tough! You have to really dive in. I look into analytics a lot and see what’s popular. I look into demographics, and who’s reading what. All of these different platforms have very different audiences and I want to share content that is best for them, from what they are searching for and what interests them. It’s not just about selling a product, it’s really about telling a story and on the social side there are a lot of different ways to do that.”
Is there a community of DIY influencers where you connect?
”This community has changed a lot since I started doing this. It has obviously grown a lot and people are seeing it as an opportunity to do a lot of different things. I feel it is a collaborative community. A lot of DIY YouTuber’s are collaborating and doing podcasts and sharing different projects. I’m in a couple different, private groups and we share feedback and tips and ways to improve as well as cross -promotion. I’m definitely very collaborative and there’s always enough people to work with and you can kind of find your tribe.”
Tell me about a campaign that really inspired you.
“Most recently I would say my work with Craftsman. What’s interesting about Craftsman is they’ve been around for a long time and they are one of the most iconic American brands but they’ve hit a bit of a rough patch lately because of their tie to a major brick and mortar store that is struggling. Also, in the 2000’s the quality hadn’t been as good as it had been about 50-60 years ago. They obviously rebranded, and partnered with Lowes and came out with a whole new line up of tools, power tools and garage storage. It was fun to work with a brand that everyone has had some kind of touch-point with throughout their life.”
Where do you draw your inspiration?
“It depends on what is happening in my life at the time. If I’m writing a piece, is it because I am dealing with a crisis after my water heater broke? Then I may get inspired while fixing that and see that there are better alternatives to this big water tank, like a tankless water heater. On the DIY side, that’s where maybe some inspiration comes too, because we have projects here at our house that there are a lot of ways to tackle. What’s inspiring is kind of finding the one that works best for our family that from a design perspective works great and what fits our budget.”
What advice would you give someone who is considering becoming an influencer that you wish you had known when you started?
“If you are thinking about doing this, don’t think about just being an influencer. Think about just sharing things that you really like. The monetization and all the other things will come later. It’s really just about creating your voice, sticking with it and seeing if it resonates with your audience. If you have something interesting, then people will really respond.”
Is there anything more I should know that I didn’t think to ask?
“This work is something that when you’re in it, you’re in it because you love it so much and because you’re having a fun time doing it. It’s hard to go wrong doing something like that. Some people are in it for the wrong reasons and they try it for a bit but then they are out after a few months. You’re able to really create the kind of life you want to live and its fun!”