Updated: Aug 3
G'day all, James here with the tale of where Fixit Fingers started and what it is all about.
In 2016 the soon-to-be wife and I bought our first place together in a 1970's strata block in Chatswood, on the North Shore of Sydney in NSW, Australia. After our first AGM, I found myself as Strata Secretary and in charge of maintenance and gathering quotes for repairs as we are a self-managed block. After struggling to find a reliable and affordable handyman I decided to take it upon myself to learn the trade and invest in some tools, thus creating a small side-hustle and helping to look after our building and keeping maintenance costs down as I could DIY a lot of the easier jobs. I am a government scientist in my day job and had no experience in the field so there would be a lot of learning to do. The name came from some banter with a mate when discussing the business idea (yes my surname really is Finger) and the logo soon followed as a cheeky bit of fun.
It wasn't long before with my new tools I saw the potential for a cross-over with my dominant hobby at the time, Geocaching. As part of that hobby, you can collect little metal coins from other players called Pathtags, and I wanted a way to show them off. So I added a router to my collection and started to watch a whole bunch of woodworking videos to learn how to make a wooden wall display as I'd never done anything like this before. Like a lot of folks, I quickly found Steve Ramsey on Woodworking for Mere Mortals, and a host of Aussie Makers like Vic from DownUnder Woodworks and Dirk from Sumo's Projects. I started scabbing free wood from the side of the road, picked up a few basics like clamps and glue and got to learning.
The first two things I built were a plywood box to hold the hay bale for the guinea pigs and a dodgy workbench from some old beds. I was pretty hooked right away and was learning skills to assist the handyman business so naturally, I decided to complicate things further. Inspired by those I was learning from on YouTube, On October 2nd, 2018, I started a video blog to record my progress, more as a diary for myself than anything else.
I worked through a few projects before getting to my wall hanger display, filming poorly, talking too much, and as expected learning new skills and techniques every day both by doing and consuming huge amounts of content. It started with a 5 part series making a simple pegboard in October 2018. In January 2019 I completed my first goal of making the Australia shaped pathtag holder and to this day it is one of my favourite things I've made. Things were going pretty much as expected except for one thing. I unintentionally found a community of wonderful, helpful and generous people I never considered to be part of the process along the way. I started to interact and build a network of folks, many of whom are now good friends.
In my first year online I think I uploaded 48 videos... I am still unsure how. I also had just 72 subs 12 months in as the content I was making was really for myself and a lot of it is not very watchable. I think I averaged 30 views per upload, but I slowly learnt the craft of editing along with my woodwork and handyman skills and discovered more and more great Aussie and international makers both on YouTube and especially through Instagram. The one funny anomaly was my review of my Wagner Paint Sprayer which had clocked up 4k views for some reason... today it is approaching 100k and is STILL my best performing piece of content despite in my eyes being a very average bit of filming.
I launched the website in 2019 primarily as a way to show the building residents the work I was doing, but it has since evolved away from property maintenance to focus on my content creation... but that is a story for another time. So that is where we started. At the time of writing, April 2021, the channel was sitting at 2,800 subs and just over 400,000 views if that is any measure of growth.
It has been a busy few years for Fixit Fingers. The channel continues to grow, currently just shy of 12,000 followers and 1.5 million views. The handyman business has expanded and recently I've been taking on a lot more work of that nature and the content has been following suit. Having now managed my own building for 8 years, I have also begun offering this experience to other small buildings on the North Shore. I've become a brand ambassador for Carbatec and Kreg Australia and the workshop has seen much growth with, finally, the addition of a tablesaw. (Not just any table saw, a Sawstop CTS!). I also filmed something of an origin story video on how the business has grown. You can watch it below.