What started as a way for one Hoover couple to stay connected soon went viral.
Cullen and Katie wanted to keep friends and family updated when they moved to Florida for a year for Katie’s internship. So, they decided to start posting video blogs (known as vlogs) to YouTube.
With no video editing or YouTube experience, they challenged themselves to post a video each day for the year they were gone to their new channel: Youtube.com/user/bamachick1101.
“We let people see what we were doing,” Katie says. “We were preserving memories.”
Their videos ranged from silly conversations to shopping trips. “We try to live every day and make people smile or laugh,” Cullen says.
When Katie’s internship ended and they moved back to Hoover, they decided to keep posting daily vlogs. “We wanted to get more serious about it,” she says. “We had gained a following and formed true friendships through the year.”
So they continued to create the videos, in addition to working full-time jobs. But after Cullen was let go from jobs because of downsizing, he decided to focus on their videos.
“That’s when it turned into something serious,” he says. “It was make-or-break. The desk job will always be there if I need to go back.”
He gave himself six months to see if he could make it just working on their YouTube channel, and that was more than a year ago.
Now, they have more than 100,000 subscribers on YouTube, more than 100,000 followers on Instagram and more than 40,000 followers on Twitter (@Culligan27 and @Katiepie7). “We didn’t realize it would turn into this,” Katie says.
But Cullen isn’t the only one getting in on the fun. Katie recently quit her job, as well, to spend more time with family and also to launch her new YouTube channel: KatieOnTheFlipSide. She’ll post videos on parenting, baby updates and more “mom stuff,” they say.
Their videos have also expanded with the addition of their daughter, Macey Gaines, who is seven months old. Katie actually found out she was pregnant with her a week after the 2014 snowstorm – which left her stuck trying to get home for 13 hours. They posted videos throughout the pregnancy, from doctor’s visits to their ride to the hospital.
But the journey to baby wasn’t an easy one.
Before Macey Gaines, the couple experienced two miscarriages. With a video channel that’s normally fun and lighthearted, they debated posting about them.
“We struggled with whether we should share that or not. We thought about just saying we were sick and not posting a video the day after the first miscarriage,” Cullen says. “But after we decided to talk about it, we started hearing about other people who had been through the same thing.”
With the hard times came the good, and now followers can see their cute bundle of joy in videos every day.
“Everything was part of God’s ultimate plan to get us to where we are now,” Katie says. “We have a happy miracle baby.”
The pair has also been hesitant to post videos featuring family members. When Cullen’s father was diagnosed with lung cancer, Cullen shared his thoughts in his vlog – but he didn’t video his father. “I was weary about sharing him,” Cullen says.
But after talking with his father, he realized it actually might be a good thing to include him in the videos. “He really opened up,” Cullen says. “He wanted to have his own characters to keep his mind off of the cancer. It’s been a blessing in disguise.”
Sadly, his father passed away in late March (after the original interview). But, he left behind plenty of memories and laughs through his vlogs that the family can watch for years to come.
And one day, Macey Gaines will be able to look back at the videos and see her grandfather, parents and even herself.
“She’s been online every day since she was born,” Cullen says. “She lights up and stops doing what she’s doing when she sees the camera.”
In addition to videos, the family also took funny photos in front of Target next to the round, red balls. The idea came about after Cullen posted videos of him walking through Target singing a jingle he created about the balls.
When the song caught on, Cullen decided to take daily photos for a year (ending April 6) with the balls – actually called bollards – and created #TargetBalling. His photos soon went viral online, and he started incorporating creative props, costumes and family members. Target even featured him on their website. “I think my creative side got the best of me,” Cullen says.
From creative photos to goofy videos, the couple has come a long way since posting videos for just their friends and family – and they aren’t slowing down any time soon.
“We’ve been doing it for almost four years, which feels like a long time,” Katie says. “But, it’s really just the beginning. There’s more to come, and we’re going to document and share that as we go along. Join us on our crazy journey.”
[This article originally appeared in the May issue of Hoover’s Magazine. Pick up your free copy at one of these locations.]