While serving as marketing director for Cal State Fullerton’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences, alumnus Chris Salomone ’06 (business economics) launched Foureyes Furniture, a YouTube-based woodworking business that quickly grew. Last year, the 38-year-old quit his full-time job to focus squarely on his YouTube channel, which, at more than 437,000 subscribers, was rapidly becoming a lucrative income source and fulfilling venture in its own right.
Even as a student in the 2000s, Salomone (pronounced Sala-moan-ee) had skill as a craftsman, prompting him to take coursework in art as well as business. During his more than a decade of employment at Cal State Fullerton, woodworking was his side gig. But today, creating videos about how to make high-end furniture has become a bigger part of his business than making and selling the creations themselves.
“It started off as making custom furniture as a side hustle, but after four years, I hit the limit of what I could do and felt like I wasn’t enjoying it as much anymore because I was building the same things over and over,” says Salomone. “So I wanted to build more things on YouTube and make videos about it. I finished up the orders I had agreed to and tried my hand at making videos. I published my first video in March 2016. I was thinking that not many people would watch it, but that if I did a good job, it would eventually catch on, and it caught on quite a bit sooner than I had expected it to. By January 2017, I did my first brand deals, having sponsored content and sponsored videos on the channel.”
Sponsored content, wherein a video is sponsored by a brand associated with woodworking or furniture or by large well-known brands like Dollar Shave Club, SimpliSafe and Square Space, and major digital era brands such as LG, Google and HP, has been one of the most profitable aspects of Salomone’s business.
A Day in the Life of a YouTube Woodworker
Making a living off YouTube videos might sound like easy street. But Salomone stresses that it’s still hard work.
“If I’m awake, I’m probably doing something or at least thinking about it. I’m never not working,” he says. “For the most part, it’s a one man show. I just brought in a second person who also creates original projects and videos as a way to have more content on the channel.”
While no two days are quite alike and tasks vary, there are some commonalities in the rhythm of life at Foureyes.
“A typical day would involve working on designs, building things, emailing back and forth with brands to answer questions and put deals together, editing video, and doing ancillary social media tasks, such as when brands want you to support what you’ve put on YouTube and Instagram or just engaging with people generally,” he says.
While Salomone encourages other entrepreneurs to turn to YouTube as their medium for success, he cautions that it’s important to find a niche and be truly committed to your passion.
“Ask yourself, ‘what is the purpose of this?’ Is there something that is being unfulfilled right now that you can do? Is there something you can bring to this space that no one else is doing at the moment?” he says. “Also, make sure you are 100% into what you are doing and are passionate about it, because you will be thinking about it every waking hour, and if you’re not truly passionate about it, it won’t be a fun job. But if you’re really passionate about it, it will be fun.”
Finding a Niche on YouTube
When Salomone launched Foureyes, woodworking content was certainly out there, but for the most part it was much more focused on the technical aspects.
“There wasn’t a lot of emphasis on the design or the narrative of the video, and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t making more of what was already out there,” says Salomone. “I got lucky that I fell into my style very quickly. The typical video that existed before had a lot of medium shots, a person from their waist up, and music would be generic rock music. I recorded weird improvised guitar and added shots that were either super close macro shots or really faraway shots that showed more of the environment, such as the garage where I was working, and it was different enough that I happened to just strike a chord with some people.”
Part of Salomone’s education on YouTube best practices came from watching a local Southern California tech channel that put on a series called Dream Desk, involving assembling a desk, including the latest technology and then giving it away.
“I reached out to them at the time to see if there was a possibility for a collaboration, and when I visited their studios, I was impressed that it wasn’t just a dude in front of his camera or iPhone, as I had pictured, but YouTube for them was a legit and sustainable business,” he says.
Participating in NextUp, which gives budding content creators a behind-the-scenes look at YouTube for a week and insights on brand deals, also helped Salomone get off and running.
Instructional Videos: The Foureyes Frontier
During the past year, Salomone has been producing about 3.5 videos per month, but going forward, the entrepreneur hopes to scale it back to about two per month, but with each video being bigger and better than those of the past.
Among Salomone’s goals are video plans, which would give dedicated woodworkers the step-by-step details they need to make their own creations. He envisions these as a cut above the current plans that make up the bulk of the market today, which sell for about $15 to $20, and typically consist of a cut sheet, some dimensional drawings, and written steps. These, instead, would include all of that, and walk the viewer through each step of the capturing the detail of the more challenging portions of a build that just can’t realistically be included in a YouTube video.
“I would still put up a 15-minute version of the video on YouTube, but also inform viewers who are truly interested in building the piece in the video, that this longer form instruction exists,” he says.
Still, sponsorships are essential to Salomone’s business, which is why having a partner will be vital in keeping the channel active in the upcoming era of video plans.
“Most people are watching the content for entertainment or a bit of inspiration and aren’t actually looking to build it, but there are still plenty of people out there who do want to build,” he says. “I want to cater to both markets.”
Looking longer-term, Salomone envisions a future in which Foureyes Furniture is buying real estate as an investment and then fixing it up, doing high-quality videos about the transformation in the process.
“It would be a more realistic version of what you might see on HGTV,” he says. “And beyond that, I want to see what will happen in the media landscape. I think a lot will happen in the next few years, with TV dying off somewhat, and a lot of those advertising dollars switching to online marketing and content creators. I want to stay active in the realm and see what happens.”
For More Information
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