Podcast 40: How a Basketball Player Built a Huge YouTube Fan Base and a Growing Business with Dre Baldwin
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Recently Perrin and I were able to sit down and interview Dre Baldwin of DreAllDay.com. I'm excited to bring this interview to you today, because well, its different!
Dre is not your typical niche site builder or affiliate marketer (like almost all of my previous guests). Dre is actually a professional basketball player!
I'll let you read or listen to his entire story below, but he worked his way from basically not playing much in high school to eventually playing professionally overseas quite a bit.
However, the moment he decided to put one of his highlight VHS tapes from a training camp onto YouTube changed everything for him. People started to find his videos and he continued to add more, until eventually he decided to start adding daily basketball tips and training videos. (Here's his YouTube channel).
His audience has grown tremendously, and he's been able to build a significant business out of his fan following, brand, and marketing skills. I think there are quite a few takeaways for others looking to build an audience and increase the reach of their own brand. One of those lessons is consistency – producing great content on a regular basis is a big reason for Dre's success.
I also want to highlight Dre's Kickstarter campaign right here. His fans want to see a one-on-one game with Dre, so lets help them make it happen.
Perrin and I really enjoyed interviewing Dre, and I hope you enjoy listening to the podcast as well!
Dre Baldwin Interview
The full audio interview is below; however, I went through and typed out the major questions of the interview along with Dre's answers:
What is Your Background and What Led you to becoming an Entrepreneur?
Dre Baldwin is from Philadelphia, PA and has always been involved in sports. He tried playing baseball, football, and other sports. But basketball was the easiest to pick-up because you didn't need much equipment and you could practice by yourself.
He realized that if he kept practicing, even just by himself, he could get better by himself.
By 9th grade, he decided that basketball was his sport. Unfortunately he got cut on the first day of tryouts. He went back to try out for the high school basketball in 10th and 11th grade, but he got cut during tryouts again.
Finally, he made the team his senior year in high school; but only averaged a couple of points a game.
The he walked on to a Penn State branch school and then got recruited to Penn State Altune. He played there for a couple of years, but got kicked off the team as a senior.
He played intramural basketball as a senior and they won the championship! He decided he wanted to continue pursuing basketball, but wasn't getting any bites from NBA teams.
Finally, he decided to drive to Florida for a basketball exposure camp in 2005. He played extremely well at the camp and got great reviews from scouts. But even better is that he got a lot of great video footage from that camp.
He took that VHS tape and starting sending teams copies, and he got an agent. In 2005, he got a call from a team and signed his first basketball contract to play in Lithuania. He ended up playing in 8 different countries.
He came back and worked as a overnight restocker in a grocery store.
This entire time, he still had that original VHS tape from his first basketball camp in Orlando. He decided he need to keep that VHS tape in a safe place. He discovered Youtube, and decided to just put the video on youtube as a backup; just so he wouldn't lose the footage.
He didn't expect anyone else to watch the video on Youtube.
However, people DID watch the video and started leaving comments for him to show additional basketball drills. He then started having his girlfriend video tape his practicing and being in the gym. He would upload the videos to Youtube and people loved them! He got more and more feedback and people asking for more basketball tips.
He wasn't very ambitious about posting videos at first, they would sit around his house for months before he would post them.
After he saw a few of his early videos start gaining traction, he decided that he would start posting DAILY video. He would post basketball tips. He figured that after 30 days he wouldn't have any other daily videos to post, that he would run out of ideas.
That was in October 2009. However, its now July 2014 and he has been posting daily videos all along the way. So, for 5 years he's been able to build up a huge library of Youtube videos and has built up a big audience.
His Youtube channel is: https://www.youtube.com/user/dreupt
He has over 87k subscribers (at the time of this post).
He gets between 15k to 40k video views per day. It just depends on the Youtube algorithm changes.
Why have you been so successful on Youtube?
Dre's brand has become a daily basketball guy. He's built his brand on consistency with basketball and videos.
What other Marketing and Strategies have you Used to build your brand?
Sometimes you have to sell yourself. Be willing to reach out and connect with other influencers in your market.
How did you tactically reach out for your YouTube Videos?
NBA.com had a contest for best user basketball videos. He would submit some of his crazy videos each week, and sometimes he would make it to the top videos page on NBA.com. The brought a lot of exposure to his Youtube channel.
One of his videos reached the top 5 NBA.com videos of the year.
What doors has this opened up for you? (Have your subscribers translated into a real business?)
He realized that alot of people started asking about the motivation. People wanted to know how to mentally stay motivated. Dre started making a mental motivation video once per week. People responded enthusiastically, and he has grown this side of his business.
So, he's now pursuing getting his public speaking career started.
He's also written 3 books. You can see those books here: http://dreallday.me/
Outside of speaking and books, he is also involved in modeling, selling merchandise, and other ventures.
Is it worth it to diversify, and which of your ventures has been the most profitable?
He enjoys all the different avenues that he's involved with. So, he sees no reason to focus on just one area of his business.
Would you recommend that others diversify rather than focus on just one business?
You need to look at things on a case by case basis, and how do people view you and your skills.
Dre knows he in the top 1% of all basketball players, but you have to be in the top 1% of the top 1% to be a Kobe Bryant or Lebron James. So, you need to look at what you really can be that great at.
If you enjoy doing it…then do it!
Can you give us an idea of the type of monetary success that you've had?
Youtube income fluctuates depending on the algorithm. So, some months are much higher than others. Some months he makes $1,000 and other months he makes $3-4,000.
The books bring in close to $1,000 a month or so. He hasn't had any major successes in books, but he's still hoping for that big hit as an author.
What is your future with basketball?
Right now he is 32 years old, so he's closer to quitting basketball than when he started. He's not sure how much longer he will play, could be a few years.
It all depends on how he feels, its not about age. The games don't wear you down, its the practices. When Dre gets tired of all the practices, then he'll be done. When it feels like a drag and a job; then he'll be done with basketball.
Where do you hope to take your business in the future?
When he's not in the gym every day, and he's able to commit his hours to other places; he'll focus on speaking, writing, training, and other brand building activities.
Where can people follow along with Dre?
Just Google Dre Baldwin, and you'll find everything he does!
Also, check out Dre's Kickstarter Campaign Right Here!
He will be traveling to Austin, TX to play “Smallville” in a one-on-one game.
The campaigns runs until Aug. 17th.
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