Tapping the ‘awesome’ value of video

YouTube sensation April Wilkerson explains how video can spur hardware stores to increased profitability.
April Wilkerson promotes hands-on home improvement. Click image to watch.

April Wilkerson is a DIY woodworker from Texas. She has her own YouTube channel, Wilker Do’s, with more than 1.5 million followers. She has starred in more than 400 How-To videos, made to help people with their home projects.

Wilkerson was a headliner at the 2023 National Hardware Show’s first-ever Influencer Summit for hardware owners. [Related video: April guest stars with Tim Allen and Richard Karn.]

The message she delivered to those hardware owners was all about using technology in the form of How-To videos to help customers with projects, and in doing so grow their hardware businesses.

“Online revenue is truly awesome – much less effort and up-front expense than my brick and mortar endeavors. Having an audience is definitely a foot traffic driver. Customers love meeting the video personality face to face,” said Wilkerson.

A recognizable star of DIY building shows, she described herself as a carpenter, welder, woodworker, gardener, and sometimes a plumber or electrician.  “I’m not a master of anything, but willing to do whatever needs to be done.”

April, Tim Allen, Richard Karn
Behind the scenes photo from the recently filmed “More Power” feature on the History Channel, as April Wilkerson appears on the Tim Allen and Richard Karn Show.

Technology today is used in many ways to help hardware store owners increase efficiency. One of those ways is in producing How-To videos that help establish a hardware business as the go-to resource for projects.

She began in DIY and making videos about nine years ago “just because I couldn’t afford to hire out my home maintenance and improvement tasks,” said this maker.

“At the time, I had barely touched tools and there wasn’t much good information available on YouTube. So I started my own channel.”

Her audience quickly grew, she said, and sponsors began contacting her and she quit her job to go into content creation full time.

“All of this happened in just a few months,” said Wilkerson. “My content business caters to brands in the tools and materials space, but I also work with brands that have nothing to do with building.”

What about hardware stores? Can owners be effective at making use of videos?

April in shop
The key to an effective How-To video: “Be real, be helpful,” said Wilkerson.


Wilkerson quickly said she’s no expert in this zone, “but I do know that the How-To video is an incredibly effective marketing tool.”

Once you have people’s attention, you can grow any business, she said, “and helping people solve their problems is the best way I know to get their attention.”

Being an influencer is a great business, she said, but it’s not stable. “I know that at some point my popularity will fade. So I’m diversifying by building other businesses.”

As examples, she has a commercial wood products shop and just bought rental property. She’s also working to get an RV park and a golf simulator business off the ground.  

She’s found plenty of upside as a result of doing videos.

“When I began, I didn’t even know making videos could become a business. So finding out that it can be a fun and lucrative career was more than a pleasant surprise,” she said.

“The main challenge is just keeping up with a production schedule. It can become a grind and most creators eventually burn out,” said Wilkerson.

How-To Video tips for hardware owners

Wilkerson shared some tips for hardware store owners thinking about launching How-To videos to promote their own hardware stores.

Tech tidbit

Here’s a “Wilker Do” video about how the woodworker made a liquor cabinet, with some cool technology she put into the build. Watch the entire How-To video and notice how she provides DIY tips, blueprints and engages the viewer all along the way. Also, notice how she cleverly works in branding during the step-by-step construction, in an organic way related directly to the project. Hardware store owners get ready to take notes: There are plenty of ideas here for making How-To video technology work for your business. Now watch: Bar Cabinet With a Secret.

“Be real, be helpful,” she said. “Professional production and on-camera talent are great things, but they don’t matter half as much as providing the answers, inspiration or confidence the viewer is looking for.”

Viewers will overlook amateur production or an awkward host, she said, if they get the help they need. “Some of the most helpful videos I’ve ever seen were pretty badly done.”

Don’t waste the viewer’s time. She said, “if providing the answer takes only two minutes, that’s fine. Never add minutes, or even seconds, of useless fluff. Viewers are impatient.”

Wilkerson also advised using the soft sell.

“Your first goal is to inform and help. That builds trust. An audience that trusts will also buy. But if you make self promotion your first goal, people won’t trust you and will click off before they even consider buying something,” said the maker.

If you’re doing a How-To DIY video, she said, you really have to encourage confidence.

“Most people are afraid to try doing things themselves,” she said. “It’s great if you can be reassuring with phrases like: You might make a mistake your first time, everybody does. But all mistakes are fixable.”

This woodworker and YouTuber has seen a lot, both humorous and touching, in her years of making videos. 

“My most memorable experiences are with kids. When I make public appearances, kids often tell me the How-To videos inspired them to make something, and they show me a photo,” she said. “Even if all they did was nail two boards together, I’m so happy that my videos made them want to grab a tool.”

You and technology

How-To videos can help to better promote a hardware business. Embracing the technology isn’t hard, it just takes that first step. The YouTube maker has some advice.

“I’d start by asking what’s your competitive advantage? Then stress that. Then stress it again,” said Wilkerson. “My local hardware store has three key advantages: Convenient location, quick service and real expertise.”

When she began, her videos competed against maybe a dozen others. Now each video competes against hundreds or even thousands, she said.

“Lucky for me, my channel is established, so I can break out of the pack.”

But if you’re just starting, you’re in danger of getting buried. You need some way of standing out, she said. “The best way to do that might be to focus on local needs.”

For example, she said, grass in her county has to survive in shallow, rocky soil – and dry, hot conditions. “It took me a long time to find a seed variety that thrives here,” she said.

“A video would have been super helpful.”

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