If you go to the Florida Panhandle you will find a lot of things, including white sand beaches, emerald green water, rolling pine and hardwood hills and lots of clear, sandy bottomed rivers. Well that’s what the internet told me. I’ve never been but one person who could show me around if I did go is Hank Hamilton of Hamiltonville Farm. Hank has been documenting what he gets up to on his small hobby farm in rural North-West Florida on his YouTube channel Hamiltonville Farm along with his wife Gina. The channel has gained quite a bit of traction this year and now boasts over 63,000 subscribers. I reached out to Hank who kindly gave me his time to give me an insight into life on the farm and how this niche YouTube channel has managed to rack up millions of video views.
With his rich southern twang sounding through my laptop speakers the interview starts with Hank telling me a bit about the farm; “it’s a 75 acre farm in the panhandle of Florida, just south of Alabama. We don’t farm for commerce, we farm for a hobby. We plant and grow our own vegetables as well raise chickens. We’ve got about 40 to 50 acres of hard woods which we use to hunt on such as turkey, deer and hog hunting. The other 25 to 35 acres are what we garden with. On there we have our raised garden beds and also allow the chickens to roam on it at certain times of the year”.
You might think that Hank and Gina buying the land would also be the start of their YouTube channel. However, creating a YouTube channel wasn’t something that instantly came to mind when they started to develop the land and property. In fact, the YouTube channel was born out of the chaos that ensued in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in October 2018. At that point Hank and Gina had mainly been using the land for hunting and recreation. Then disaster struck in the form of the category five hurricane. Hank describes how it “pretty much decimated our region leaving us without power for nine days. After that, we decided we should use the property for more than just hunting.” To help clean up the property Hank bought a tractor and in the spur of the moment decided to film a short video showing his first outing in it. He sent it to a few friends who suggested he upload it to YouTube. Upload it to YouTube he did and within 3 days he’d amassed 150 subscribers, “I was shocked” admits Hank who then decided he’d keep going.
Since that first video Hank, along with the help of his wife Gina, have uploaded several videos showcasing life on their farm. They have racked up quite a following with their ‘Will it start’ video series proving effectively popular. Their video ‘WILL IT START? FORGOTTEN GALION T400 Road Grader’ now up to 1.7 million views. When I asked Hank what inspired the series he said he actually got the idea from tractor channels that he enjoys watching. Hank says “I was looking on YouTube for what videos were popular for our niche. I’m a self confessed tractor guy and came across Bruce Wilson and Marty T who were doing ‘would it start’ style videos and saw that their channels were exploding. I decided I would give it a go to with some of the abandoned vehicles on our land.”. The decision proved to be a very good one as the YouTube algorithm picked up them up and have helped spread them far and wide. It also led to them being featured in the ‘creator on the rise’ section of YouTube which Hank said resulted in them gaining around three thousand subscribers over-night.
Of course the YouTube algorithm can only help so much. Ultimately, the big challenge that faced Hank and Gina once their channel started gaining traction was retaining viewers and converting them into fans. Seemingly, this is something that they have managed to do pretty well. At the start of the year they aimed to get 25,000 subscribers but with 62,000 already Hank says that “100,000 is now looking realistic for this year”.
I asked Hank what he felt it was about what they were doing that was fuelling their views and growth. He says it’s a mixture of things which set him apart from other creators in his niche. “So Gina is my camera person and if you watch a lot of creators on YouTube right now they’re the ‘selfie stick’ or tripod type vloggers. On our channel, since I have Gina, she can give a lot of different angles and perspectives to our videos. It means our videos look different to other creators in our niche who often favour static tripods. You get a different viewer experience when the footage comes from a person rather than a tripod. I also have focused on working on my editing skills, looking at other creators as well as TV shows for inspiration. I noticed that they often favoured short clips four to six seconds long that keep things moving and fast paced. I try to emulate that style on our videos so that we hold viewers’ attention.”
So far their hard work definitely seems to be paying off. They now boast over 6 million video views across the channel and have officially partnered with Branson Tractors. Whilst Hank is delighted with their growth he’d still like their viewing figures to be higher. “In order for me to get more views I think I may look at doing more videos. We currently put out two but I might try three. I don’t want to be a vlogger per say so it’s a question of whether we can create enough good content.”
This touches on something else that Hank does that he believes in vital if you want to grow on Youtube – analyse your content. Hank says that he checks in on their YouTube analytics daily. He goes deeper than just views, analysing how long people viewed for and looking at when they left to see if there were any clues for how he could improve his content. It’s this microscopic approach to analytics that has allowed him to tailor the content so well to their viewers and keep them coming back for more.
Whatever Hank and Gina are doing it’s safe to say it’s going well and their momentum is showing no signs of stopping. When I asked Hank what his goals are for the channel moving forward he had this to say: “I have goals for the channel, I think 100,000 subscribers is definitely within our grasp this year. But subs is a vanity number, ultimately I want views. I also would like to try out new forms of content. As of March this year we officially became a flower farm and so are trying to incorporate content around that. Most of our stuff revolves around the tractor but we’re currently looking at how we can pepper in stuff in the garden and also our home conversion. What we’re doing with our barn home does well on Instagram but not so great on YouTube but we’re trying to figure out if there’s a way we can bring it into our videos.”
There’s definitely a lot aspiring YouTubers can learn from HamiltonvilleFarm and especially Hank’s attitude towards the channel. Hank understands the importance of utilising YouTube analytics and focusing on providing the best value to their viewers. I think that if they keep on going the way they’re going they will continue to grow and it will be exciting to see how things progress. I would definitely recommend checking out their Hamiltonville Farm channel and also giving their Instagram a follow.