ScreenPrinting.com’s YouTube channel hit 100k subscribers recently. To celebrate that achievement and thank the community, we looked back on the years of YouTube videos with CEO Ryan Moor and President Brandon Schmunk. You may recognize Ryan’s face from early videos, like the “How to Screen Print” series. We asked them a few questions about the beginnings of YouTube and the role that the screen printing community has played in the making and success of the platform. Here’s what Ryan had to say.
WHAT DREW YOU TO YOUTUBE?
Have you ever tried to teach someone how to screen print over the phone? It’s not easy. As soon as we started selling kits I started making videos on how to use them. This was before YouTube: we burned them onto DVD and sent them out with the kit.
Our first video “series” was three DVDs long, took four days to film (I wore the same clothes), and looked absolutely awful. Our first form of marketing our website was strictly through pay-per-click and SEO (search engine optimization). One day I was at the back end of our site looking at our analytics and saw orders coming from a website called “YouTube.” This was in late 2005 - early 2006. I clicked the backlink and noticed someone had ripped one of our DVDs and put it on YouTube.
Mind blown. It was free advertising and way easier than sending out a DVD in the mail. At about the same time, I was approached by a videographer I had worked with on an independent movie project about doing video work for us full-time. Putting two and two together, we decided to hire him and started the ScreenPrinting.com (Ryonet) Youtube Channel.
WHAT WERE YOUR FAVORITE VIDEOS TO SHOOT?
The best videos were our first Cyber Monday videos in 2010. It was just after Cyber Monday became a thing and we went all in. We made three teaser videos in the Geico style, like “what if YOU could save up to 50% off on screen printing supplies?” or “Does spraying screen opener in your eyes really burn like unholy hell water?”
Then, Brandon helped produce a musical Cyber Monday based around Manic Monday. We shot it and got it right on the second take. It popped and made the YouTube top playlist in our category that day and helped us have a record day of sales. So fun!
WHAT GOES INTO CHOOSING CONTENT FOR A VIDEO?
Ultimately, content has to drive value and that value is most prevalent in two forms; educational and entertainable. In order to have entertainment you have to be really good. In order to educate, you just have to know what you are talking about and not be afraid to share it. Content that is short, sweet, and teaches typically does well, but I am always challenged to do both and sometimes to mix the two together.
WHO DO YOU FOLLOW ON YOUTUBE?
I actually don’t do much YouTube, but when I do I follow my kid Brody: his name is MBroadstar and he would love for you to follow him. He loves it, has been doing it for about a year and a half, and has over 15k subscribers and a few viral videos. In fact, he had a viral video before I did. I also think Lee does a great job but finds his videos on Instagram more, and then I end up on YouTube afterward.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO BE THE FACE OF AN ORGANIZATION ON YOUTUBE?
I think it's initially cool and what many business owners or entrepreneurs strive for, but it ultimately limits you because it doesn’t pass the bus test. I mean literally, if your face gets hit by a bus, there is no face of the organization.
I would recommend getting your team involved as much as possible, finding talent, and letting others shine. We have always tried to do that since the beginning, I’m just the one who could bang out videos the fastest and it worked.
Now with a new leadership team at Ryonet, I have fully stepped back from the YouTube channel and day-to-day operations of the company. I love working in the back end, seeing them grow and serve decorators with the values we created over a decade ago still at heart. The definition of success is succession.
WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR PRINTERS THAT NEED TO BE THE TALENT, PRODUCTION, AND MAIN DRIVER OF THEIR BUSINESS?
The best word of advice I have is to figure out what you are good at and create roles for the other things. The best book to read on the subject is The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It, it's a great book on how to grow and scale a business as an owner-operator.
HOW DO YOU VIEW THE SCREEN PRINTING COMMUNITY?
I’ve always said we help aspiring screen printers. For me, that means anyone who wants to learn and grow in screen printing, whether you are making a shirt on a table or printing on 15 automatic presses: if you are passionate about learning and growth those are our people.
When I got into the industry it was a very negative place, and people didn’t want to share information. Today there are thousands of screen printers making videos and being helpful, which is so awesome! The energy at tradeshows and conferences or classes I get to be a part of now is also positive and helpful. While there are a few people who like to troll Facebook, for the most part, the printers in this industry are here for each other.
WHAT PARTS OF THE COMMUNITY ARE YOU THANKFUL FOR?
Screen printers are resilient, fun, and punk rock, willing to try new things, and excited to learn. I am grateful for the craft that has been able to help us find a niche in helping them and I am so grateful for the best friends and relationships I have made throughout the years sprung from those very people.
WHAT SETS SCREEN PRINTERS APART?
With my time at MADE Lab over the past year, I have been able to help produce some big conferences and workshops. What sets screen printers apart is their openness and eagerness to connect and engage with each other. There are not a lot of egos in those spaces and it’s a ton of fun.
I've been to lots of other adjacent and totally different industry events: this industry is like a big family that likes to have a good time, work hard, and get better!
SHARE A STORY OF HOW YOU’VE POSITIVELY IMPACTED A PRINTER AND A STORY OF HOW A PRINTER POSITIVELY IMPACTED YOU
Branko Pesich: Branko took a class from Ross at our LA location a decade-plus ago. Somehow he got connected with me and started an email chain. When his shop burned down, he asked for some help. I think I sent him a used flash and some supplies. He has never forgotten that and continued to keep in touch with me throughout the years.
This summer, he hit me up looking for work. When I didn’t have any leads, he hit me back again a few weeks later. Somehow we started talking about creative direction, which led to video editing, then TikTok. I tried him out as an editor for a few projects.
He’s now my go-to editor and just turned over his 100th video this week. He works with me at MADE Lab and helps produce and edit videos for MADE, ROQ.US, Lotus Holland, Allmade, and other partners. He’s helping to build out a team of editors to expand the type and quantity of work we can do and has been a lifesaver for us this year as I would have not even gotten half of those videos done without him. Thanks, Branko, it truly comes full circle!
DO YOU HAVE ANY STORIES FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE WHERE YOUR VIDEOS HAVE STARTED SOMEONE ELSE’S BUSINESS?
There are a lot of these stories. I still get stopped in airports or at an event that isn’t even screen printing related and thanked. I always thank them right back. One of the coolest stories is probably Mel Lay, she started screen printing about ten years ago out of her home to make kids’ clothing stylish for her company SandiLake.
Her clothes were so stylish Target made knock-offs. She got onto Good Morning America, then Shark Tank. When I was finding the Allmade founders I was referred to her by someone she printed for because I wanted to have women-owned shops as part of the movement.
I called her up out of the blue and pitched Allmade to her in her shop and she said: “I learned to screen print from all your videos, of course, I and my husband will go to Haiti with you to explore making a better t-shirt.” Since then she has sold her business, repurchased it with a partner, and runs marketing full-time for the Allmade brand.
From the beginning to today, YouTube has always been a place for screen printers to learn the trade of screen printing and embrace the community. There’s no collaboration, just competition. Thanks for tuning in, and thanks to Ryan, Brandon, and Cody for having such a good time on camera.