Jon Cesaro likes to say his interest in woodworking began the way it does for most people.
“You buy a house,” Cesaro said, “and you’re like, ‘Oh, I could build that piece of furniture cheaper.’ Then you go out and buy a saw. The next thing you know, you have a wood shop.”
Cesaro, who works as director of go-to-market for an apparel company while raising his two toddlers with his wife, Jess, never intended for his hobby to go any further than that. He built furniture for his own house, maybe a few pieces for friends and family.
That changed when the pandemic hit.
“I was furloughed from my job for five months and in order to make some money, I was selling my woodworking for the first time,” he said.
Cesaro began to see woodworking as more than just a hobby. As he looked to expand his skillset, he turned to the resource that had been his greatest teacher from the start: YouTube.
“I learned the majority of my woodworking from YouTube, whether that’s how to do basic woodworking, tool information and so on,” he said. “I saw people doing woodworking and thought, ‘I could do that.’ Eventually I looked at the YouTube videos themselves and thought, ‘Why not try that, too?”
Since starting his YouTube channel “Lincoln St. Woodworks” last January, Cesaro has racked up just under 800,000 views with more than 21,000 regular subscribers, who tune in for his informative and comedic videos about everything woodworking.
His videos stand out for their self-deprecating humor, with Cesaro making himself the butt of many a wood-working centric joke.
But it wasn’t just luck that led to his rapid growth. Cesaro spent weeks doing what he calls “channel audits” — that is, spending an exorbitant amount of time studying other woodworking channels, discerning what worked and what didn’t and finding gaps wherein he might thrive.
The very same skills he honed through his day job — value propositions, identifying market opportunities, trying to grow sales — drove his strategy on the channel.
“Just replace annual sales with annual subscribers, and that’s basically how I’m hard-wired,” he said.
For those looking to start channels of their own, Cesaro said the most important factor is building a unique brand voice — a vision for the channel.
“A lot of it boils down to what is your voice, and are you being authentic to that voice?” Cesaro said. “And I knew if I was going to create a successful channel, I had to carve out a unique voice and it had to be very authentic.”
Cesaro isn’t sure where the channel will go in the long run, but as always, he’s keeping his goals specific and reachable.
“I would love to hit 100,000 subscribers. That’s the next milestone I’m really focused on,” he said. “After that, we’ll see what happens.”