By Andrew Poulsen, Content Engineer, Sonnhalter
With the stress and anxiety of the COVID-19 pandemic constantly looming, finding silver linings throughout this situation isn’t always easy. But with millions stuck at home with their phones acting as their main source of entertainment and social interaction, influencers and content creators in the trades have been able to use this time as an opportunity to expand their audiences, connect and engage with their online communities and use their platforms to spread messages of positivity and encouragement.
One of these content creators is Dustin Henson, owner of Rustic Customs Woodshop. Based out of Texas, Dustin primarily makes custom wood projects for customers, such as barn doors, dining room tables and built-in shelving units. On Instagram, Dustin is a very active voice in the woodworking and DIY communities, where he shares his projects and woodworking tips to his more than 13,000 Instagram followers.
Sonnhalter spoke with Dustin to learn more about how the pandemic has affected his personal and professional life, the nature of the content he creates and some of the positives he has experienced while staying home with his wife and kids.
Sonnhalter: What were some of the initial changes you noticed in your personal and professional life when the pandemic started?
Dustin Henson: In my personal life, I think it’s obvious. It’s been nice spending time with the family, but I think being stuck in the house has us ready to strangle each other. [laughs] Professionally, I was already booked two or three months ahead of time, so it hadn’t slowed down my business yet. I just don’t have as many new projects coming in. Probably about 90% of my stuff is barn doors or custom-built furniture for houses, where I have to go out and visit the homes to measure for those projects, so that’s been put on hold.
Did you notice any significant changes in engagement or follower growth on social media?
On the social media side, I have noticed that people are a lot more engaged, because they’re stuck in the house with nothing to do. There’s been a lot more live activity on Instagram. Everyone’s doing tons of stories, so it’s definitely been good for social media engagement.
Has the quarantine inspired you to be more active in your Instagram communities?
Yeah, it has definitely changed my content. My stories are now more focused on things going on in and around my shop, as opposed to going out and doing stuff in public. I did a short video just telling everybody to stay positive, support your friends and support your local business as much as you can. We’ll all get through this together. I think that’s the attitude most people have. Maybe we are all apart right now, but we’re all apart together, if that makes sense. That gives us a sense of camaraderie and everyone is just trying to stay positive.
Are there any new trends you’ve noticed on Instagram since all this started?
Yeah, I think it’s really cool that content creators out there that do a lot of sewing and things like that have started making masks. That’s been super cool to see how everybody is switching gears and doing what they can to help out. That’s been inspirational. My wife works in healthcare. She’s an RN, so it’s been great to see people supporting healthcare providers and first responders.
Have there been any unexpected silver linings during this difficult time?
Both my sons are older. One is 21 and the other 19. They both live at home and are attending college online. I’ve been trying for years to get them in the woodshop but they just don’t have much interest in it. However, I think they’ve finally got bored enough that I’ve been able to talk them into getting into the shop and messing around with woodworking and building things. My son built a shelf for his room that he really needed. That’s been super cool. It’s great to do this now, because I don’t know if I would’ve been able to do this had we not all been stuck in the house.
Moving forward, how do you envision yourself using your platform?
I’m more focused on just my overall content creation. I have a series of posts that are just tips for other woodworkers. I’m looking to do more stuff like that to help the beginner woodworker that doesn’t know the difference between a table and a band saw and showing them how to use different tools and different tricks for using them in the shop. My plan moving forward is also to get my YouTube channel going and do more of the tips and how-to videos and showcase a lot of the brands I’m working with.
To learn more about Dustin’s work, follow him on Instagram (@RCWoodshop) or visit www.rusticcustomswoodshop.com.
To read more of the series or more about the effects of COVID-19 in the B2T industry: