I can’t do what I do without all of you watching and interacting with my content. And of course if I don’t produce the content then you wouldn’t be watching it. So it’s like we’re a team. You and I. You being a part of this team has allowed me to evolve my woodworking hobby into a full-time career that I’m not only proud of but also continuously excited to expand and grow going forward. So for that I say THANK YOU! Lets take a look back at 2016, shall we?
First thing that comes to mind…my workbench
The first thing I think of with woodworking in 2016 is my workbench. A workbench is sometimes seen as the “right of passage” for woodworkers as it’s a foundation tool that entire shops, workflows, or tool selection can be based upon. Since starting woodworking again in 2011 I knew I wanted to build a workbench but never put forth the effort to either buy or build one. The timing just wasn’t right and I didn’t have a set shop location for the future. As I neared the end of 2015 I set aside some time to design and get the workbench complete and started 2016 off with the workbench build. The design I went with was simple but utilized traditional, strong joinery.
What I didn’t anticipate happening was how much the workbench opened my eyes to hand tool woodworking. Having a solid surface that doesn’t wiggle when you plane a board or flop around as you chop with a mallet and chisel is a game changer. As the year progressed I found myself incorporating more hand tools into my workflow not as a way to “become one with the wood” or because “that’s how true craftsman work” but rather because I found more and more situations where a well tuned hand tool was actually the best tool for the task.
I did a lot of collaborations with other online content creators in 2016.
- Nick Ferry spent about a week at my place and we made a tape drawer organizer, a large paper roll holder for my assembly table, a cabinet for my front porch, and a dart board cabinet for the shop.
- Matt Lane spent a few days at my place and we made an intro to spraying HVLP finishes video, a mobile lathe cart, easy lathe tool holders, and a tool wall to go behind my workbench.
- I met Shawn Stone at Woodworking In America 2015 and since became pretty good friends. He lives relatively close to me so we did a few collaboration projects as well. In 2016 we shot a quick cell phone shop tour video of his shop, made an air cleaner for his shop, when Matt was in town we all made a shop stool at Shawn’s shop, and we installed a nice leg vise on his workbench. Shawn also hooked me up with a really nice slab of hickory to make the legs for my hickory dining table and benches. While in his shop I noticed an old Stanley #5 sitting high on one of his shelves just waiting for a new life so I talked him into letting me restore it for him. The restoration turned out pretty well.
- My good friend Jeff Ferguson stayed a week at my place as a mini vacation. We turned quite a bit on the lathe and made an Asian inspired coat rack.
- April Wilkerson and I made a trip to Wisconsin for a week to shoot some stuff in Nick Ferry’s shop. While we were up there April ended up with a mortise and tenon video for her channel, Nick ended up with a curly ambrosia maple end table video for his channel, and I had a video making a shop table from a single sheet of plywood and another video making a $16 twin screw vise for that shop table. To cap off that trip we challenged ourselves to each make a clock on the last day. You can see my clock in this video, April’s clock in this video, and Nick’s clock in this video.
- I made a few trips to Jackson, Mississippi, to hang out with my good friend Wayne Brown. He’s got a great business background so it’s really nice to talk business and bounce ideas off of him. While at his place I helped him re-arrange his shop and we shot a nice shop tour video. I also showed him how to flatten his workbench top and made a video while I was at it.
- While in Michigan visiting family I swung by Tyler G’s shop for a day. We shot a cell phone shop tour video and started in on a really nice flag display case.
I traveled a lot in 2016. More so than any other year I can remember. I hope to do a lot less of it in 2017 though. Traveling is a really great way to derail momentum and alter schedules.
- In April I rode with Shawn Stone to The Woodworking Shows in Atlanta.
- In May I drove to Michigan to take my dad to see Guns N Roses at Ford Field. That was a BLAST!
- In June I drove to Green Bay, Wisconsin, to collaborate with April Wilkerson and Nick Ferry.
- In July I drove to Destin, Florida, to enjoy a few days away from everything with my wife and some friends.
- In September I drove to Cincinnati, Ohio for Woodworking In America 2016.
- Then I left Cincinnati and drove to Michigan for my sister’s wedding.
- In December I rode with Shawn Stone and Jason Barlow to City Hardwoods in Birmingham, Alabama.
The Woodworking Podcast
Nick Ferry, April Wilkerson, and myself started The Woodworking Podcast in early 2016. It started out as a bi-weekly recording that transitioned into a weekly recording. We still occasionally miss a week here and there due to scheduling conflicts but are really enjoying the progress so far. We try to release late on Thursdays or early on Fridays. If you haven’t already, be sure to check it out!
- My most viewed video from 2016 was my workbench.
- My YouTube channel gained 141,920 subscribers in 2016.
- My YouTube channel received 214,402 likes and 3,740 dislikes on all videos in 2016.
- Between both the Jay Bates and Jay Bates 2 YouTube channels I uploaded a total of 117 videos in 2016.
- According to Google Analytics, this website had 5,447,155 page views in 2016.
- As of New Years Eve (while I’m writing this) this website has a total of 677 posts and 13,763 comments.
- I started this website 1,390 days ago so that means I’ve averaged one post every 2.05 days since starting this website. Keep in mind that’s just an average. I’ve had a couple week or more stretches of no content.
My Personal Top 5 Favorite Projects of 2016
The Business Side of Jays Custom Creations
As you may or may not know, Jays Custom Creations is my full-time business. I’m not a “woodworker” by profession but rather a “content creator.” I create videos, articles, and plans for my website for a living. The subject of which is woodworking. This often raises the question of “How do you make money?” Basically, it’s marketing. Advertisements on the YouTube video platform, advertisements on this website, affiliate links with Amazon, an occasional sale of shirts or stickers, and plan sales are how I am able to provide for my family and call this my full-time job.
A lot of people have the misconception that anyone who uploads videos to YouTube is getting rich from sponsorships or paid promotions. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In 2016 I did not have a single paid sponsorship agreement with any company. I’ve had a few free products sent my way in 2016 but that doesn’t help pay the bills. 100% of my 2016 income has been from the content that I created and not from any kind of promotional situation. I’m not opposed to or think less of those who do accept sponsorship situations though. As I’m reading this over I think that this paragraph might come across as arrogant, cocky, or defensive. I hope that it doesn’t. I mainly brought it up as a way of being transparent with you and also show that sponsorships aren’t the only way to grow an online business.
So looking forward to 2017 and how to proceed…. As with any business, the objective is to make a profit and continuously grow the business. As I look back on 2016 I’ve noticed that creating content that is best described as “entertainment for YouTube” has helped my business the least amount and creating content that aligns more with “information and products” has helped my business the most. So does that mean a drastic change for my content in 2017? Probably not. But I really doubt I’ll be sticking to a weekly release schedule for much longer. Instead, I’d like to focus on more of the information and instruction side of how my content is presented.
On a personal note, I had nose surgery on December 29th and am currently a little loopy from pain pills while writing this article. I’m recovering fine but I think the surgery will keep me out of the shop for at least the first week of 2017. So I’m not sure when I’ll publish something next but until then, have a great start to your 2017 and Happy New Year!