Tech-centric channels are common on YouTube. But with a soothing voice, easy-to-understand explanations and a lot of persistence, JerryRigEverything has managed to carve out an impressive audience. These days, it’s the most-viewed cellphone repair channel online. Zack Nelson, the man behind the voice, has leveraged his experience to create instructional content for factories and manufacturers worldwide. With nearly eight million subscribers, Zack uses his influence to fund a passion project, Not-A-Wheelchair, to aid those with disabilities.


Subscribers: 7.8M
Uploads: 1,051
Video views: 1,731,147,531
Content type: How-to

User created: Jul 23rd, 2012

From humble beginnings filming car repairs to epic smartphone breakdowns, Zack Nelson of JerryRigEverything has turned a hobby into a prolific YouTube career. We recently spoke with Zack about how JerryRigEverything came to be, how his channel has evolved over the years and what he wants to do next.

The early days

Turning content creation into a full-time job is the goal of many YouTubers. It takes persistence and continual effort, but according to Zack, this wasn’t initially his plan.

“I first started YouTube in my college days. I was working full time and going to school full time,” Zack tells us. “I knew I didn’t want to work for anybody else. It was just kind of like — obviously going to college because that was the ‘next step,’ and what everyone should do.”

Although Zack admits he isn’t using his degree in his current career, he still values the time he spent learning in college.

“I still think that college is a great thing for a lot of people, even just because of the networking and skills you learn while you’re there. Even if [a degree] isn’t the end goal. I learned a lot while in college, though I’m not specifically using my degree.”

The spark that started it all

Zack did indeed figure out his path in college, but it came in a more roundabout fashion.

“While I was there,” he explained, “my Jeep broke down. I had a Jeep Wrangler at the time, and the [repair] shop wanted $1,000 to fix it. Obviously, I didn’t have $1,000 at the time, so I looked on YouTube and found a video of a guy who had the exact same issue. I followed his steps and fixed my Jeep for $80. [It was] amazing. This guy saved me so much money, and he did it for free. I watched a free video for it.”

The channel was BriansMobile1, and it had a major influence on Zack’s decision to start his own YouTube journey.

“I reached out to [Brian] and [asked], ‘Why do you make videos?’ He said, ‘To decrease world suck. To make the world a better place and maybe also make some money on the side. You know, pocket change; lunch money.’”

In that short conversation, Zack recognized the potential of YouTube and found that he, too, had a strong desire to decrease world suck.

“As soon as I heard that, I [thought], ‘Making the world a better place sounds pretty good to me. Making money on the internet was a new concept for me at the time. I never really considered I could make a living online,'” Zack says. “So I decided, what the heck? I do projects all the time. I’m always working with my hands, building something or fixing something. I might as well just film the stuff I’m working on and see what happens.”

Finding his niche

At the start of his YouTube journey, Zack had no background in video production. So, he had to learn as he went. As he grew as a video creator, so did his channel. He never anticipated the impact that the JerryRigEverything channel would have on his life and career.

“It was never my goal for it to be my full-time job. I never had a goal to be famous on YouTube,” Zack says. “When I first started, I was just filming projects I [was] already going to do anyway. Hopefully, I could help some people out along the way — I would buy motorcycles [to] flip them and sell them, and buy jeeps and stuff like that. So [I would] film these projects and make money on the video.”

It wasn’t until Zack branched out into cell phone repairs that his channel popularity exploded.

“I was also working at a cell phone repair shop at the time. I started [branching] out into cell phones because more people have a phone than have a Jeep or a motorcycle,” Zack explains. “[It was] a conscious decision to switch from Jeeps and motorcycles to cell phone repair. Then again, from cell phone repair to cell phone durability. Each [shift] would add a different grouping of videos to my channel, expanding my potential audience.”

This shift into cell phone repair content not only brought more viewers to his channel but also helped them fix their phones in the process.

“[I would get comments] from people like, ‘You helped me fix my wife’s phone,’ or ‘Oh, you made me look so good in front of my girlfriend because I could fix this thing!’ I love comments like that.”

Rigging it to work

After more than a decade of making content, Zack says running the JerryRigEverything channel at full capacity isn’t easy. But the positive comments he gets from viewers help keep him going.

“It’s not easy,” he says. “There’s a lot of work going on that many people don’t realize.”

On average, each cell phone-related video consists of 10 to 12 hours of work. Some of the larger projects he’s worked on, such as the indoor elevator or the electric Humvee, can take upwards of 100 hours.

The road from hobby to career is a challenging one, and Zack offers up some advice for others looking to get into content creation.

“You have to enjoy it,” Zack says. “A lot of people like the idea of being a YouTuber, but they don’t actually like the process. If you don’t enjoy the process, being a YouTuber probably isn’t for you.”

Ultimately, Zack believes that staying consistent is the most important advice any aspiring YouTuber should take.

“No one on YouTube has ever made a career out of a single video,” Zack says. “I posted probably 200 or 300 videos before I took off. I was able to quit my day job after posting about 100 videos a year for three years.”

Zack’s process

Image courtesy: Zack Nelson

From scripting to filming, Zack remains heavily involved in every video he uploads. When starting one of his phone reviews and teardown videos, he likes to find out all he can about the phone.

“As soon as I get my hands on a brand new phone, I like to see what the specs are,” Zack explains. “Then I take it over to my desk, which has a top-down camera, where I film my durability test or teardown. Having the specs in my head helps me know what I’m going to talk about.” After filming, he moves on to post-production.

“Once it’s filmed, I come back to my computer, script it out, and do the voiceover. I have a little voiceover mic that I swing over,” Zack says. “Then I send all the raw footage off to my editor, who does about 90% of it and gives it back to me. I polish it up and post it.”

In addition to having an editor, a third team member helps handle the social media for JerryRigEverything — that’s it. Even with a massive channel of eight million subscribers, Zack has been able to keep his channel to a three-person team. However, his latest endeavor involves a much larger team.

Jerry rigging for good

When JerryRigEverything reached around 30,000 subscribers, Zack was able to quit his day job. Even then, he continued to double down because he knew he could create something even bigger. In this regard, his goals for the channel have never changed. As the years went on, however, he found a new way to decrease world suck — something he fully admits wouldn’t be possible without the influence and reach YouTube has provided him.

“I’m able to utilize the money I earn from my channel and put it into something bigger than myself,” he explains with great pride. Zack is referring to Not-A-Wheelchair, a company he founded about four years ago. Their goal is to make more affordable off-road wheelchairs for people who need mobility devices.

“I started that because I met my wife,” Zack continues. His wife, Cambry Kaylor, a lifestyle influencer and former equestrian), is paralyzed from the waist down and uses a wheelchair. “We were dating,” Zack reminisces, “and I realized there were limitations to where we could go. We couldn’t go on a hike. Couldn’t cross a grassy field in a regular manual wheelchair. Off-road wheelchairs at the time cost $15,000 to $20,000. And you don’t spend that kind of money while you’re dating. So I realized if I just took two electric bikes — you know, electric bikes are a dime a dozen — I could weld them together with a seat in the center and make my own off-road wheelchair.”

Image courtesy: Zack Nelson

Since then, Zack has used the power of his platform to raise funds and continually take Not-A-Wheelchair to new levels. Offering the least expensive off-road wheelchair for those who need them, the company continues to innovate and recently launched a new rig designed specifically for kids.

Looking ahead

As Not-A-Wheelchair continues to grow, Zack insists he won’t turn away from creating videos for others to enjoy.

“I don’t know if there’ll ever be a time where I pivot away from JerryRigEverything entirely. The manufacturing and the development of these new wheelchairs is more of a passion, and I love spending my time there,” Zack says. “I love them both, but once Not-A-Wheelchair becomes self-sufficient, I probably won’t be posting as often. I could see myself going once a month or once every few weeks instead of two or three times a week. That is a pretty hard schedule to keep up with, but I really enjoy it, and I’ll probably do it forever.”