Lawrie's Mechanical Marvels

How 4 Exceptional Personalities Resonate with the Same Passion.

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November 23, 2020

Who are you and what kind of content do you create?

Hey there, I’m Lawrie from the YouTube channel Lawrie’s Mechanical Marvels. We create content covering my team and my love for old vehicles, including trains, steam engines, tractors, fire engines, and of course, cars. We also document our journey to maintain and restore our (mostly mine) fleet of 20+ old vehicles, as well as our adventures.

We review vehicles that interest us - things that don’t normally appear on other YouTube channels. Our series ‘Lawrie Goes Loco,’ as we take a closer look at what locomotives are like to prep and operate, remains very popular! Based in East Anglia, the team is formed of myself and the self-appointed leader, featuring in almost all the videos and doing the majority of the behind the scenes work,

Matt, the Toyota fanboy - and the most gifted mechanic of the group, who also helps out with a fair chunk of filming, presenting and editing. Trev, the lover of shod. Trev loves cars that no one else does and wants to save as many of the ‘forgotten heroes’ ordinary cars that have been pushed aside and forgotten. Trev is responsible for looking after the online side of things, such as our website and our Discord Server. Morgan the despairing one - Morgan has different tastes to the rest of us but enjoys working on vehicles and the general atmosphere of hanging out with us. 

LMM is currently what we do on the side, but the dream of being full-time content creators is getting tantalizingly close as we grow. I’m currently working as a delivery driver, Morgan works in the importing industry, and Trev and Matt are in IT. LMM is entirely different to what we do in our day to day lives, which is what a great deal of the appeal is for us! As for the name - well, we’ll cover that in the next segment. 

Let's go down memory lane, tell us your backstory! 

I’ve been a YouTuber for four years now - though not with LMM. And my beginnings start less traditionally. Five years ago, on the 21st of September, I bought Jupiter, my 1981 Dennis RS Fire Engine - there’s a story behind that too. I was still working in the film industry at the time - which is what my education is in and feeling somewhat disillusioned with it. In 2016, I met James Martin from Jayemm on Cars, and sharing the love of vehicles, we became fast friends. He, too, was disillusioned with the media industry, decided to sell up his camera kit, bought himself a Lotus Evora, and found the channel Jayemm on Cars, as asked if I’d like to help and be involved.

For the next two and a bit years, I shot almost every video on his channel, and we grew the channel from nothing to around the 40,000 subscriber mark. Adventures we shared included going to buy my second fire engine, and buying my locomotive, and moving vehicles into the storage unit now known as ‘The Shed.’ 

In the autumn of 2018, James went to America to film, leaving me to run the channel in his absence. I realized I preferred being in front of the camera, covering the kind of content that I enjoyed, and began a regular segment covering ‘my kind’ of vehicles on James’ channel. It turns out that the things I like - old Japanese sports cars, fire engines, and tractors, are not the kind of content that people who tuned in looking for the Lotus Evora and other supercars are looking for. 

This was the end for me on Jayemm on Cars, and James created the channel that would become LMM - we held a poll on his channel asking fans of my style of content what we should call it. The favorite was Lawrie’s Mechanical Marvels.

We use that name, less and less now, going by LMM as the channel has grown to be more than just me - the other guys are the more prominent part of it as I am.
Our series ‘What’s Broken Now’ started on James’ Channel, documenting the progress on working on my ever-growing fleet of vehicles. I think I had ten at that point; and I met Matt and Trev at an event run by James. They had become regulars working alongside me as part of that, and when LMM launched in January of 2019, they became roped in to being part of that. 

We knew we already had an audience - before our first video went live, we already had 500 subs coming from Jayemm on Cars, which was a fantastic start for a new channel, and since then, we’ve stayed with YouTube. During the lockdown earlier this year, we did some streaming on Twitch, but it was a way to engage with our community rather than generate an income.

There are two quotes that a great man once told me out on one of my trips to see steam engines in Poland, which have greatly affected my life’s direction.

You can always earn more money.

There is always a way to earn money. Don’t hoard it waiting for that rainy day. Spend it. Enjoy it.

No one on their deathbed has ever said, ‘I wish I worked more.’

Life is too short. Go out. Do things. Have adventures. Buy stupid things. Make mistakes. Enjoy the good times, and make more.
Buy a fire engine.

For the most part, we enjoy what we do here at LMM. We wouldn’t do it if we didn’t, and I can’t imagine trying to put this much effort into something you weren’t passionate about. 

How do you brainstorm ideas for your content and your advice in getting the creative juice flowing.

Do something you love. There’s always content to be made then. We have to schedule what we’re going out to shoot, and some videos take more planning than others, but the only thing holding us back in time and budget! 

What are the tools and platforms you use to help with your brand?

We use Photoshop for photo editing - mostly for thumbnails, and the whole team edits on Resolve, which is a fantastic bit of kit! We make sure we do social media, with FB, Instagram dropping hints about what’s coming up, and have a big following on our Discord Server, allowing us to chat with our community members. 

What were your fears starting out? How did you handle it? 

We already had an existing audience, so we knew there was a demand for content, which takes a lot of the nerves out of it. When you’re making something you know people are going to watch, it makes it a bit more real and gives you a boost to create such content! We’re fortunate in that at 30k subs. We have minimal negative comments. We get things wrong, and when pointed out in the comments, we thank them for their thoughts and try to engage with them.

I received more negative comments when I was part of Jayemm on Cars. However, most were directed at Jayemm himself. We both took the attitude that people attacking you in the comments are just jealous of what it is you’re getting to do, which makes it notably better. I suppose that’s part of it too, being part of a team. With LMM, anything negative we do get, discuss and laugh, learn anything that there is to be understood, and move on. 

How did you build your brand to where it is now, take us through your process.

The key to building a channel is consistency. Regular content is the best that you can do. Doing things by halves isn’t an option. It takes an awful amount of time and dedication. I have missed so many social events because I have had to edit a video first. YouTube comes first. We have never had enough money here at LMM. It’s all supported by our day jobs. Ideally, it would have been nice to have started with a nice big pot to go full-time to begin with, rather than trying to work two jobs at one point effectively. Having such close ties with Jayemm on Cars, he’s always been around to discuss anything we have issues with - but mostly, having effectively served an apprenticeship with him, I have a vague idea now of what we’re doing.

We also have a chat group with a selection of other YouTubers who cover some similar content, which is a glorious thing - makes us feel much more ‘authentic’ to be part of it, and is a really good place to compare notes on what is or isn’t working, and the mystery machine that is YouTube. Obviously, there would be no LMM without the rest of the team, who are my best friends. It’s a real gift to have such a supergroup of individuals around oneself - the atmosphere in The Shed when we’re working on the 30 something a strong collection of vehicles is something that I’d always dreamed of having. The commitment to the channel from them is more than I could have ever realistically expected. 

They are quite simply a fantastic group of people - an excellent mix of personalities that complement each other, with an amazing amount of enthusiasm to get stuck in, and even without the channel, I would be proud to know them. The hardest thing for all of us has been the vast impact that LMM has had on our personal lives with the amount of time it consumes. We have at least one day a week working on our projects in The Shed, then in order to continue putting out our regular content we realistically need to shoot two videos per week and then edit them together ready for release. Some videos need to be reviewed by owners, societies, or organisations before they can be released, making the need to edit more videos ahead of schedule, which then eats into our limited amounts of time.

On average, an edit takes us about 10 hours. From sitting down, logging all the footage to rendering out the finished product, it’s a huge time drain. I’d trained in media. I had experience with editing software, and how things flow together, for the rest of the team, they’ve had to start from scratch. Matt significantly has picked it up well and edits every single episode of What’s Broken Now, and a variety of our ‘adventures’. I can’t even remember the last time I sat down to watch some TV or a film and just unwind. 

Indeed, starting a channel from another successful channel has made the experience so much more rewarding. I know other content creators who have been struggling for years to just get the amount of subs we started with, in short, we were very lucky. Within six months of creating content, we became monetized, which was a huge boost - not that we got much money, but just reaching that stage felt real good. 

LMM works interestingly. The team communicates a lot through Discord, planning what we’re going to be doing, how we’re doing it, and who’s doing what. Generally I head up things, but everyone is eager to help the channel and able to spread the workload. I’m involved in almost every video in some way or another, but there is no set rhyme or reason to how we go about things, the most limiting factor is availability, we all have to work normal jobs to survive, which means we have to work filming around them or take time off.

I’ve been making videos and posting them on previous YouTube channels for years - since my teens, but it was irregular and mostly silly projects with my friends or attempts at railway filming - gala events and the like. It was only when I became part of Jayemm on Cars that I really started being part of regular content production, but even before then, I was a keen and regularly published photographer, so I suppose it’s been a decade of making media. 

Our biggest video to date is this:

As I write this, it has been viewed a quarter of a million times. It’s a daft video of starting a car that was abandoned years ago in the woodlands owned by my American Host in North Carolina. We thought it would do well - everyone loves a “will it start video”, but we had no idea that it was just go mad and launch our channel to over 15k. Being picked up and shared by Ladbible certainly was a massive help with this, and pretty excellent to deal with such a massive organization. 

For someone who wants to get into content creation, what is your advice?

Thinking back to how we could have improved things, I burnt myself out. On coming back from three weeks in the States, I realized I couldn’t keep shooting and editing a video a week on my own - which is when the rest of the team began to help. I should have paced myself more to start with, and looked for help from the team earlier too, got them editing sooner, and we should have all moved to be on the same editing platform sooner as well, which makes life so much easier. We currently have a paid subscription for our footage backup server, and will everything we shoot uploaded, it makes file and project sharing so much easier.

Things to really think about, Don’t rush. You make mistakes when you rush. Get someone else to view the final piece. They’ll catch things you’ve become blind to. Schedule in ‘You’ time. You can’t make good content if you’re burnt out. Invest in good quality equipment, especially sound. I cannot stress the importance of good sound. People will watch something with a dodgy picture, but dodgy sound? Instant turn off. Microphones and recorders are fragile and expensive but give you so much production value.   

Look after your kit. You break that, you’ve got a major problem. Spellcheck. It’s not hard. Don’t put a video up laden with spelling mistakes in the title and the description. It lowers people's opinion of you and hurts your brand. Don’t swear. It’s not big. It’s not brilliant, and it immediately takes away part of your audience. 

The single most important piece of advice that I can give you, is to do something you love. If you’re not making content on something you actually enjoy it’ll be evident in the video. You won’t want to make it. You won’t want to edit it. And people won’t want to view it. Just because something is ‘cool’ and attracts, loads of views from someone else doesn’t mean it’s something you should pursue. Good content comes from making something you enjoy and can put your own unique stamp on it.
Make something new. Something that hasn’t been done before.

We live in the 2020’s now, and YouTube has its giants, and realistically, it’s unlikely that if you choose to create the same content, you’ll ever be able to challenge them as they’ve built a dedicated fanbase. So do it differently. Put your own spin on something, give your viewers a reason to watch you. And most importantly, enjoy it, otherwise, what’s the point? 

How did you finally commit to X platform rather than your regular day job?

We wish we were at that stage - hopefully, within the next year, I’ll be able almost entirely to quit work to work on content creation. Currently, I’m working three day weeks. I would rather be low than suffering being burnt continuously out. We believe in LMM, so I’ve made the commitment to it. The rest of the team have arranged with their employers that they can take unpaid leave to work on projects. 

Tell us your best milestones in being a content creator.

We’ve been fortunate in things we’ve been able to do here at LMM. The blazer video going viral, and exceeding 100k was a pretty exciting time, but I think personally one of the greatest moments was being in a Tesco Car Park in Wales during LMMon’s - our 500 pound car challenge:

And a gentleman wandered over to us, and explained how much he enjoyed the channel. Recognized in the great outdoors. Actual real people watch what we do. The trip itself was something pretty special - a driving holiday with your best mates. 

I got flown out to the USA with Jayemm on Cars by a fan of both of our channels who wanted to meet us, which was pretty awesome, and a good chunk of the LMM drives content was a result of being out there. For me personally, being invited out to Belgium to drive the ‘Orient Express’ still feels like a bit of a dream:

That was magnificent. The greatest thing to happen, and the show of how much of a following we’ve managed to grow was the support telling me to save a Massey 40 Digger from a scrapyard that appeared in one of our videos, and then, when an appeal was launched to generate the money to save the thing. And no less than five hours after the video went live, I was able to film and release this:

And do this:

That’s pretty amazing, really. The most significant difference I’ve noticed is that I get recognized every time I visit a railway which I love. It’s great meeting people who are enjoying the channel and are excited to meet me. We have had some super sweet messages, too, from people, our videos have helped battle depression, reconnect with old friends, lost family, and gave them new friends through our discord. I think that’s actually the highlight of all of the journey so far, the knowledge that we’ve helped to bring joy into people's lives. 

What are your marketing strategies to grow your brand?

Our strategy is quite simple. Keep making good quality videos. People will come to you if you’re creating good content that people will enjoy.
With the collabs we’ve done, they’re generally with similar content creators, where we have quite a large overlap of subscribers anyway, so we’ve not seen much traction as a result - aside from the satisfaction of actually being a ‘YouTuber.’ 

As I mentioned earlier - the greatest boost for us was Ladbible picking up one of our videos and sharing it. That was pretty massive and gave us a super boost.
We tend to be pretty poor at self promotion, I always feel super awkward about it, but whenever we visit a railway or a museum, they tend to share the video as a result, which is always very much appreciated by us. 

How do you handle brand deals and sponsorships?

It’s our next big step to look at getting a long term sponsor on the channel. We’ve had little bits, like these examples:

Any offers we get are discussed at length by the LMM team, we’ve turned down several that were for things which didn’t reflect what the channel is about, or were offering returns on sale rather than payment for adverts.

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