GEORGETOWN — What started as an educational character for youth pastor and Georgetown-native Shawn Goins' church students is now a business venture with thousands of young fans.
Handyman Hal, Goins' YouTube persona, has amassed more than 6,000 subscribers in the past year for his videos teaching children how to build and fix things.
Goins, a construction worker, also works at The Refuge in Murrells Inlet, and originally created Handyman Hal as a way to teach the children he worked with a spiritual lesson. Jason Wheeler, a freelance media producer, was helping the church with its video and media ventures when he saw Handyman Hal, and said he instantly saw how entertaining Goins was to children.
Goins and Wheeler became a two-man team, with Goins doing the Handyman Hal character and Wheeler filming, designing the animations, and editing clips. When the duo first began in April 2020, they were just doing simple videos in their backyards because of COVID-19 — like how to build a swing set and lemonade stand.
The channel really began to take off with a video in July 2020 where Goins "fixed" Coastal Car Wash in Pawleys Island, Wheeler said. By February 2021, Wheeler said it had more than 100,000 views, and now has 357,000 views. Their most recent video, posted June 9, already had 24,000 views by 2 p.m. June 10.
During the summer, Wheeler said, he hopes to post at least one video a week on the channel because children will be out of school and have more time to watch. Video ideas mostly come from Wheeler, Goins said, but as the channel has grown, more local businesses have reached out to them for a feature on the channel.
Goins said he never expected the channel to grow like it has, and that he even has had parents reach out to him about selling merchandise and coming to events like birthday parties. Both of those things, and more, are in the works as extensions to the channel, Goins said, and he said he'd eventually like to make the channel he and Wheeler's full-time jobs.
Making money off YouTube is no easy feat, Wheeler said, between understanding YouTube's algorithm and the fact that it is illegal to directly advertise to children. The two have had to get creative, so their advertisements are usually geared toward the parent who is listening in on their child watching Handyman Hal, Wheeler said.
Wheeler has also submitted an application for the channel to be on the YouTube Kids app, which he said would significantly increase their views and chances at ad revenue, but he said they have yet to hear a response on their application.
While the views and attention are great, Goins said, what keeps him going is that he is able to combine his two passions: working with his hands and impacting youth in a positive way.
Going forward, the duo hopes to make the channel a full-time business with large scale shows with events. Being able to give back to the children's community not only in South Carolina, but also around the world, is the best part of being Handyman Hal.
"I love molding and shaping (kids), seeing them grow and mature in the right way," Goins said. "That's my heart, and this is an avenue where I'm actually able to do that."