In today’s world of DIY television, there is a never-ending supply of entertainment, thanks to one major media network: HGTV.

While Netflix and BBC have started getting in on this market with their shows on home tours and home renovation projects, the real contender for HGTV is online. Youtube and a handful of bloggers are entering the fray, riding on the coattails of the behemoth’s success.

However, all of this copy-cat television creation leaves room for true innovation. There is a subset of people who don’t just want to watch a TV show about flipping houses, and they want to do it. And, without anyone to guide them, they find themselves spending hours floundering about with wasted time and product.

It is for this market that Zachary Drumm hopes to begin bridging the gap. While not a tradesman himself, he’s done quite a bit of work in both the Automotive and the Carpentery worlds.

This exposure has uniquely prepared Drumm by connecting him with many highly talented but under-appreciated artisans. They are excellent at explaining techniques, but they lack the technical skills to get that training onto video and out to an audience.

One night while tinkering on his car while procrastinating on studying for his college mid-terms, Zachary had an idea: what if he could help connect these artisans with leaners and hand these skills off.

“Book learning is so boring,” he explains. “What if I could create a community where people could come, see training that excites them, follow along with their attempts, and ask real-time questions. It would be a virtual apprenticeship.”

Lost Arts

Right now, technology is growing at a fast pace and taking over many of the hands-on jobs that used to be performed by just about anyone.

Furthermore, many of these skills were passed on from generation to generation.

From churning butter to wiring houses, the knowledge was often preserved generationally with grandparents teaching their grandchildren.

With the advent of today’s technology, we are permanently losing the knowledge on how to perform these jobs. There is an opportunity to record these skills and preserve them for posterity.

Funding An Online Vision

The webinar material, camera equipment, and labor costs for hiring these craftsmen all adds up quickly. Not to mention, a community needs, well, people in it. And to get people in your community, you need to advertise. Which, sadly, takes even more capital.

After pitching the idea to several artisans, Zachary kept getting encouragement, but no financial backing. He finally decided to find a way to bootstrap his vision.

After saving up a few hundred dollars, he launched ToolTally, a blog that focuses on reviewing tools and providing basic, DIY steps.

ToolTally

Over the course of a year, the blog has grown slowly to 300 users a day. This steady stream of traffic is already providing an excellent stream of traffic for Drumm to begin trying out some of his new ideas.

“Finding good material for the email list has been a big challenge,” Drumm acknowledges. “Once we launch the Youtube channel, it’s going to be a lot easier to send out regular email content.”

In the meantime, he’s finding a way to help people who sign up. “Right now, I’m sending out a lot of surveys and using the site’s chat box to answer questions. This is giving me a lot of creative ideas for future articles and videos.”

Riding The Coattails

For now, ToolTally is still very much at the mercy of the major internet companies. Organic traffic from Google, Facebook, and Pinterest are driving the bulk of visitors to the blog.

The articles that go live are mostly created based on queries that are asked in email or chat, or that are commonly asked online.

“I dream of the day when people are dying to get home from work so they can create ideas to post to the blog and share with others, ”  Drumm muses. “One day, we’ll be part online university, part TV show, part forum, and part Instructables.”

In the meantime, Drumm can expect several years of writing boring product review articles and fielding requests from his users. Big dreams take time, and Drumm is ready to invest the time this one needs.

Does he ever think his brand will be as big as HGTV? Drumm just shrugs “I really want to focus on the guy or gal who is holding a tool in their hand and their smartphone in the other. It’s a much smaller market.”

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