Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in content creation but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ben Carlin, one half of the Super Carlin Brothers, located in Roanoke, VA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We are J and Ben Carlin, and known as the Super Carlin Brothers on YouTube. We make fan theories about: Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Marvel! The SCB Community is comprised of fellow fandom lovers from around the globe.
Tell us about yourself
As a duo, we both had our own pathways that led us to first create the Youtube Channel. Jonathan "J" Carlin had created a channel of his own while a student at Virginia Tech called: Jonkerlin, which amassed 900 subscribers before he graduated and started his first career job. A couple of years later, he had the itch to start it back up again right when Ben was graduating from Radford University in 2012. Ben was looking for a roommate, and J was looking for a partner to take on a YouTube project with -- The two ended up living together and launching the channel that very summer: Super Carlin Brothers had been created.
It took several years and hundreds of uploads to find the formula that worked, but we eventually realized that our childhood love for our favorite movies and books wasn't something we had fully outgrown -- and to our delight, that nostalgia seemed to be shared by many others. We love getting to share our passion for our favorite fictional worlds with our audience - At times, I think we felt in our high school years that it somehow wouldn't be "cool" to wear these interests on our sleeves - So something we hoped to provide to others was a welcoming environment to come together and get lost in the stories.
I think one of our biggest motivations to show up and work hard every day is really the community we have around us. It's absolutely incredible that the people who find joy in our show also seem to bring an all-encompassing open mind toward new ideas and reflect the positivity that we try to bring to each episode. The internet isn't always known for being a friendly place -- but our little corner of it seems to be.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
It's really hard to say. There are moments that felt massively momentous at the time -- Like receiving our 1-Million Subscriber Gold Play Button is something we're massively proud of, and it holds a prominent spot in our workspace. But when we reflect back on our journey, the things that stand out are the moments when you got to meet someone who loves the channel out in the real world. We've hosted in-person events and had young kids come through who are excited to meet us, which of course, feels amazing. But possibly even more is the parents behind them who come up to us after a photo is taken and thank us for providing a safe place on the internet for their child to go. Or even occasionally, families will come through and tell us that watching the show is something they do together each week. As brothers who found themselves in business together and now as parents to families of our own, it's really just so special to know that this thing we're doing is having a real and positive impact on people.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Without a doubt, it's work-life balance. As a content creator, it's hard to find those lines where the workday ends and your life outside of it begins. We've worked really hard to try to keep these lines well defined by having a separate office where we go to work and establishing our normal business hours (M-F 9-5). We've also tried to surround ourselves with an amazing team who help us to take the ideas from our heads and turn them into a finished product.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- You're a specialist at something, and you might just not realize it. The things we love: Disney, Star Wars, Marvel, and Harry Potter -- Are things LOADS of people love. We never really thought that our knowledge base was something out of the ordinary, and it took us a while to feel like we had anything to contribute to the conversation. What's the thing you daydream about while you're doing "work" -- that's a good place to start.
- Sometimes, you don't know where you're at in your journey. I often think back to the first couple of years of the channel when we didn't generate enough to even pay the monthly internet bill from the videos we were making. If we'd given up, then we could have easily said we had given it our best shot. You might be right on the edge of your breakthrough. Have faith in yourself and be patient.
- Try things. Throw everything you've got at the wall and see what sticks. We often say that if we knew that we'd eventually craft theories about our favorite fandoms, then we'd never have called the channel: Super Carlin Brothers. It's far more likely it would've been something like "The Theory Bros," -- And that's because writing a theory wasn't even remotely on our mind when we uploaded our first piece. But each time we wrote something that speculated on pop culture, it did better. So we continued to pull that thread, and it's led us to where we are today.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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