From her humble beginnings as a technophile seeking to jailbreak her phone, the YouTube influencer known as TechMeOut has established an enviable platform for sharing her savvy with an audience of nearly 400,000 followers to date. Covering everything from the latest Android and iOS apps to must-have smart home gadgets, she breaks down the details with a laid-back, conversational approach.
As part of our celebration of Women's History month, we welcome her trademark mix of practical insights and relatable tips in the conversation below. Read on to learn how she transformed her brand from a hobby into a career, carving an impressive niche as a woman of color in a male-dominated field. And, most important, remember her motto to stay relentless with your message, no matter what.
Where are you based? North Carolina
Please list your most important social feeds/networks:
Jill Waterman: How long have you been creating content, and what first inspired you to start making and posting YouTube videos?
TechMeOut: I’ve been creating content on YouTube for ten years. In 2012, I started modifying the software on my phone and went to YouTube for help to understand the process. In doing so, I saw a few things I liked about how the information was relayed, and things I wished were different. So, I decided to address those things I would like to see changed by starting my own channel. I wanted to share my perspective on technology in a way that spoke to your average consumer.
What is your educational background, both photo/video/tech and other studies, and how have you applied these studies to your current business?
I have a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, and a Master of Arts in instructional technology with a specialization in the corporate sector. While in undergrad, I wanted to be a family therapist or marriage counselor. As I studied for my master’s degree in general psychology, I found myself wanting to pursue something more in line with my hobbies and passions and stumbled across instructional technology. I felt it would allow me to be creative, teach about technology, and possibly use some of my photography skills. What I learned in pursuit of those degrees is transferable to what I do today. Psychology helps me study the mind, and instructional technology helps me better identify the learner, or rather my audience, to relay information about technology. I’ve never studied photography or videography professionally. I taught myself how to use the camera and how to edit via trial and error, along with a ton of YouTube videos, lol. I also used other online resources.
Did you have a role model or someone who inspired your vision early on, and what’s the most important thing you learned from them?
My father was into photography and videography. He always had a camera at every event—lol—my friends still remember him to this day for it. Unfortunately, he has since passed away, but I always think of him and how he would feel if he saw me sharing his same passions. I find comfort in knowing he would be proud, especially seeing where I am today. My parents and my family inspire me. I learned from them to never give up, stay strong, keep God first, and to go after what I want in life.
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned about creating content for YouTube since you started?
I learned to be patient with the process and enjoy my journey. The path I’m on is not the exact same as the next person. It's best not to cross compare, just keep my blinders on, and stay focused. Everything will come in time—until then, stay relentless and manifest!
Your YouTube channel includes 12 different playlists. Is there one particular playlist that’s most popular with viewers, or do you have one type of video that’s your favorite to create?
I would say it’s my Tech Product Reviews playlist, and my What’s on my iPhone or Android videos. My audience really enjoys getting to know what apps I’m using, or what setup I have on my phone. I’m always customizing my home screen, and I love when I can create a unique look to enjoy and share.
Your videos have a very strong emphasis on mobile phones and the related technology, covering Android and iOS operating systems. Do you have a preference between the two, or do you find each to be best suited to different tasks?
I find each to be best suited for different tasks—and different moods. My Android phone allows me freedom to be as creative as I like. I love switching up my home screen and having access to widgets that provide me information I need on the fly. The split screen is a bonus, as well, because it lets me get more work done at once. I feel I reach a level of productivity using my Android that my iPhone just doesn’t offer. I do enjoy the ecosystem of other Apple devices and services surrounding my iPhone. With iOS 14 I’m able to customize my iPhone more than I ever have, but not to the same extent as my Android. The fluidity of how my Apple devices connect and speak to each other is priceless though. Plus, I text more than I talk on the phone, and I like the native experience I get with that in using iMessage.
While on the subject of phones, what was the first mobile phone you ever owned and how did it change your life?
Wow… my first mobile phone was a flip phone. I honestly can’t even remember the model. I do remember my first smart phone though! It was an HTC Touch Pro. That was my first experience with a touch-screen phone, and it was a rough transition at that time, lol.
What is your current favorite phone, and why?
This is a tough one… I’d say my Apple iPhone 13 Pro. I used to be adamant about getting the Max version of the phone but after trying the Pro model, I realized it suited my needs in a better form factor. I still have a great camera, great battery life, and all the other things I enjoyed on the Max. However, the Pro model is much easier to pocket and hold with one hand. I’m also deep in that Apple eco system, and I have a lot of Apple-based devices that work together. It helps with being efficient, due to the way they communicate with each other.
What is your current go-to camera setup for creating content?
I generally grab my Sony A7III with a Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM lens. I like to use my Sennheiser AVX Wireless lav mic for audio and a SmallHD 501 to monitor myself. I’ll mount this on my Manfrotto MT055XPRO3 tripod with 502HD Fluid Head, or use a SWITCHPOD handheld stabilized tripod if I’m vlogging.
How about audio? What’s your favorite mic and associated gear for capturing clean audio?
I honestly use my Sennheiser AVX lav mic for pretty much all of my videos. I’ll switch to my RØDE VideoMicro shotgun mic or my Sony ECM-B1M when I’m vlogging.
What’s your primary go-to gear for supplemental lighting in your videos, and how often do you use artificial lighting?
I like to use natural light mixed with artificial lighting. I enjoy filming in front of my window, with maybe an additional light to help, if necessary. My go-to lighting equipment is my Aputure Light Storm C120D and Fotodiox Pro Flapjack. When I need an accent light for a pop of color in the background, I will generally use my Philips HueGO portable smart light.
You have a very unique logo, was this done by a designer or did you design it yourself? Please tell us how you arrived at the concept.
I had a designer create my logo. We went through a few concepts before we landed on this one. I came up with the idea of using an eye as my logo that has TMO as the pupil… as if to say, “You’re looking at Techmeout.” The current intro to my videos also starts off with an eye that has a regular pupil and then it blinks and turns into my logo to represent you’re watching Techmeout.
You use the word Relentless as a motto for your brand. At what point in your journey did you come up with this motto, and what does it mean to you?
I came up with this a few years back during my YouTube journey, when speaking to others about my experience. I learned you will have your moments and not all of them are great, but through it all you have to stay relentless. Even if the odds seem stacked against you, keep pushing! This motto helps me focus on what I need to do to get where I want, not just on YouTube, but in life.
What’s the most successful vehicle you’ve used for promoting your brand to date?
I’ve kind of taken a referral approach. I don’t personally pay for ads to promote my brand. I let it grow organically, so to speak. I didn’t tell a lot of my friends, family, or even previous co-workers about my YouTube channel. At some point they found it on their own, either through word of mouth or because they searched for something and my video popped up.
Tell us about your experiences in being a woman of color working in tech. What kinds of hurdles have you faced in the tech industry?
When I first started my channel, I was hit with a few derogatory comments, from racial slurs to being cursed at. I even heard stereotypes about what I should be doing instead of technology. However, thankfully, what did outweigh this was positive feedback, so I tried to focus on that. Being a woman of color working in tech has been interesting. I don’t see a lot of “me” at events… attending the event as press or media. Sometimes I’ve felt like a unicorn in the room, lol. There were times where it was hard for people to find me on YouTube—this could have been caused by the content I was covering, my video title, or my approach. It’s hard to say. In the past I sometimes covered less popular items because I was not always in a position to afford or receive hands-on time with newer, more popular devices. That was challenging at times, and I had to get creative to combat it.
Based on your own experiences, what advice would you offer other young women who dream of being a tech influencer or otherwise pursuing a career in tech?
I would tell them to do it, and not be swayed by anyone who may tell them they can’t, or who may not understand their vision. They should embrace their differences, and even flaunt them, and not be uncomfortable if they are the minority in the room. I would tell others to stay relentless in their pursuit and be the best at whatever they choose to be.
Your YouTube videos are known for being down to earth, authentic, and easy to understand. What are the most important aspects of maintaining this kind of presentation style?
I really like talking to my audience in a way that feels more like a conversation, versus a presentation. I want my viewers to feel like they are sitting in front of me listening and talking to me about technology. I try to think about how to break things down in a way that most people would understand. I like to focus on the experience of a product, versus the technical aspects. These are things that I also value when I watch content, and it’s what I want to share with my audience in return.
How tightly scripted are your videos and what goes into your pre-production process? Do you have any advice for aspiring YouTubers in terms of screen presence?
I tend to write bullet points of information using Microsoft OneNote. I like to make key notes of things I want to remember to say on camera, but not a line by line script. This helps me stay on track and ensures that I cover everything. For aspiring YouTubers, I would say try to loosen up and relax before you press Record. Look at the camera as a person, versus a machine. It can be tough when you press that Record button for the first time and you want the perfect take. I personally used to be so focused on how I was speaking that my personality didn’t show as much. I learned to loosen up and speak to the camera as I would a friend. Sometimes I even laugh at my own mistakes while filming or talk to the camera as though it's a friend when these things happen.
What are your primary sources for the latest tech news? Do you have a preferred time of day or day(s) of the week for this kind of research?
I tend to check out an app called Feedly for tech news, Twitter and, sometimes, Instagram. Currently, I don’t have a preferred time of day, or day of the week that I like to do this kind of research. I just generally check throughout the week at any given time.
Generally speaking, how much time do you spend trying out an item before featuring it in a product review?
It varies based on the product, but I aim for at least 24 hours. I prefer to take a few days, to get better acclimated with the product. However, sometimes I’ll do an unboxing, where my first experience with the phone is on-camera at that very moment. Or, I will unbox a phone off-camera and do a video 24- or 48-hours later, in which I disclose the time frame spent with the device.
Tell us about your post-production workflow. Generally speaking, how long does it take you to assemble your footage and post a final video?
I generally take anywhere from three hours on up. I ramble and mess up a lot on camera, lol, so it’s typically a lot of footage to shift through. I’m also a perfectionist, which impacts my editing turnaround. Phone reviews, camera comparisons between phones, and my vlogs tend to take the most time. My app reviews, and what’s on my phone videos take less time.
You have a series called Tech Tea where you invite a friend to try out a piece of tech for the first time. What has the response to these episodes been like, and have these collaborations provided you with any valuable insights for your content creation as a whole?
I love making Tech Tea videos! My audience has enjoyed them, and they find them entertaining yet educational. I really enjoy connecting with another creator and getting their perspective on the device. Sometimes they point out or consider things relevant to the average consumer that I hadn’t thought of before. Which, in turn, also helps with my future content, to better address those things within my reviews. When I’ve done these videos, the shoot is always fun and filled with laughter. Getting these videos discovered on YouTube has been a little bit more of a challenge. I’m still sorting out how to make them more searchable. I’ve been diving deeper into my analytics to better understand different variables to improve this. It's also taught me more about things the average consumer cares about, and how they process information about technology.
Do you have any upcoming projects or future plans on the horizon that you’d like to tell us about?
At the end of the month, I’ll be releasing a Monthly Favorites video where I discuss my favorite items, both tech and non-tech related. You can check out the previous episode here. I’ll also be releasing another iPhone Tips and Tricks video in the next few weeks, where I share cool things you can do with your iPhone. And given the growing selection of available smart home speakers, I’ll be doing a Smart Home Speaker Battle to look at how a few popular brands stack up against each other!
What’s your favorite tech gadget? Please tell us about it in the Comments section, below.
Great to hear from you h1melanie, and to learn of your enthusiasm for Techmeout... Thanks for reading the Explora blog, we have a lot more educational and inspiring content at your fingertips!
So dope! So pumped to see getting her flowers for her amazing content, candor and voice on the YouTube platform 💯
Hey Diana, thanks for taking the time to post a shout out about our Q&A with TechMeOut! We really enjoyed doing a deep dive into her YouTube videos, and hope others will benefit from her treasure trove of tech tips too! Thanks again for writing in, as well as for reading the Explora blog!