The History of Blimey Cow
Written by Josh Taylor
Before Blimey Cow
Before Jordan and I made videos, we used to write a lot of songs. In 2003 and 2004, it was our main creative outlet. We recorded two albums in our bedroom, titled 33 Reasons Why I’ll Never Be Popular and An Hour of Your Life Wasted. Here is one of the songs we did, if you’re curious!
Even though we enjoyed making music, we always talked about wanting to make videos. The problem was, videos were hard to distribute in 2004. It’s weird to think about now, but back then, there was no YouTube. So when we made videos, we were mostly just making them for ourselves.
Here is the first of those videos. It’s called “The Boot,” and co-stars a couple of our good friends Ethan and Eric. It’s a scary story about a mysterious stranger who shows up at a pool hall and wants to challenge the undisputed champion… The Boot. We made this video in the winter of 2004.
Because writing goofy music was still our primary creative outlet, the four of us decided start a band called The Boot, to go along with the movie we had just made. Here is our first music video (and also the first video I ever edited with actual editing software!)
Making music that made our friends laugh was still a lot of fun, but Jordan and I were quickly realizing that we enjoyed making videos a lot more. We still had the same problem as before, though… there was nowhere to post videos.
By the fall of 2005, I was 17 and Jordan was 14. We were still having a lot of fun making and editing videos with our friend, but still had no place to broadcast them.
Finally, one night, I came across a website called Google Video that allowed users to upload their very own videos. This felt like the dawn of a new era! I was ecstatic. I quickly got Jordan and our sister Amy on board with starting our own “video production” group, and we decided on the name Blimey Cow.
Why “Blimey Cow”? We have no idea.
Here is the very first video we ever released on the internet, entitled “Piano Notes.”
Over the next several months, we released videos every other week or so. We were just kids with a home video camera and lot of enthusiasm, and we were having a blast. As the months went on, we settled into a “mockumentary” style of videos, very much influenced by our favorite show at the time The Office. We ended up with a loose storyline for our show that stretched over many episodes (and several years).
Here is the first episode of what became Brother Brother Time, entitled “The Walk.”
Nobody except our closest friends was watching back then, but we didn’t care. We were having the time of our lives.
A Messy New Show
In June of 2006, Google Video was on its way out and YouTube was on its way in, so we moved all of our content to the latter website. It was also around this time that we started thinking about a different kind of show we could make, in addition to our mockumentary-style videos.
That month, we launched our second show called Jordan’s Messyges. The show revolved around Jordan sitting in front of his computer and responding to viewer emails, offering advice and wisdom to those in need. Except the advice is usually terrible. This show has changed very little in the decade-plus that we have been making it.
Here is the first episode of Jordan’s Messyges, entitled “Toes, Girlfriends, Bands.”
And Then We Grew Up
In the fall of 2006, I started college. Having been homeschooled my whole life, college was a bit of an adjustment. The biggest change was that I now had a lot less control over my schedule, and thus a lot less time to make videos.
We continued making videos for the next year or so, but things definitely slowed down as my workload increased and as I began spending my time crushing on this girl named Kelli, whom I had met a couple of years previous.
We still loved making videos, but our priorities were changing. Weeks would pass without a video, and then weeks turned into months. It was around this time that we started joking that “Blimey Cow is over.”
Blimey Cow Is Over
In 2008, we wrapped up the main Brother Brother Time storyline that we had started several years prior, and that was that. Jordan was starting college soon, and Kelli and I had decided to start dating.
We released eight videos that year. In 2009, we released two. In 2010, just one.
Blimey Cow slowed to a crawl, but life kept moving. I got married, Jordan went to college, and I guess we all just figured it was over. Except for one thing…
On My Own
I still wanted to make videos. No matter how busy I got or how much my priorities shifted, that itch never went away. The truth was… I missed Blimey Cow. I missed making videos with my siblings. The problem was, Jordan and Amy were both busy with school. I was on my own.
But I was undeterred. At the end of 2010, Kelli and I used the money from our wedding, and put it toward a Canon 7D, the camera with which we shot Messy Mondays until 2017.
Here is the first episode of Healthy Kid Freak Out, a show Kelli and I put together.
That show was fun to put together, but I missed making things with Jordan. So, in the summer when Jordan and Amy were out of school, we worked on some stuff, including this video called “Pudding Cookies.”
We also started a series called Everybody Hates Batman. To be honest, I’m not sure why we started making so many videos where Jordan played an angry version of Batman, but we did, regardless.
Here is one of the Everybody Hates Batman videos we made in 2011, entitled “Batman vs. The Imposter.”
Making videos once again with my siblings just felt right. I realized even more how much I had missed it, and I was also sad because I knew school was about to start back up. I needed a plan.
That’s when I had an idea.
A Video Every Monday
“What if we started a weekly show? What if we committed to doing it every single week, just to see what would happen?” I was basically pleading with my little brother, but he seemed very skeptical.
“I don’t know, Josh. School is about to start back up, and I’m transferring, so that’s going to be crazy.” Jordan didn’t want to budge, but I kept asking until he could see how important it was to me. He finally agreed, and Messy Mondays was born.
We originally envisioned Messy Mondays as a relaunch of our show Jordan’s Messyges. Jordan would still answer emails and give advice, but the new title would better convey that the show was weekly. We had no idea how lighting worked, so we tacked up a black sheet and called it our set.
Here is the very first episode of Messy Mondays from August 29, 2011, entitled “New School Year.”
The show very quickly evolved into something we didn’t really expect. We stopped answering viewer questions, and we stopped giving away shirts. We started actually covering topics. Some videos from that time were called “The Three Types of Church,” “Why I Hate Going to the Movies,” and “Ten Ways to Get a Girl to Like You.”
We kept it up throughout that fall, and suddenly we found that people outside of our immediate group of friends were watching our YouTube channel. People we didn’t know were finding our videos and subscribing. In the six years we had been doing Blimey Cow, that had never happened. We were onto something!
We kept at it every single Monday and headed into 2012 with confidence. We were finally making videos again, we had a small (but growing) audience, and we were having a blast. In our minds, it couldn’t get any better.
But we were wrong.
The Year of the Homeschool Video
In January 2012, we released a video called “Seven Lies about Homeschoolers,” and it blew up our channel.
Tens of thousands of new subscribers poured in, and hundred of thousands of views. We had officially “gone viral,” and our five month backlog of Messy Mondays videos had solidified that many of our new viewers were going to stick around.
It isn’t an overstatement to say that our lives changed overnight. We suddenly had a huge audience of enthusiastic viewers who seemed really receptive to our style and opinions. It was overwhelming, but in a good way.
I had long ago resigned myself to the fact that our videos were niche and wouldn’t ever be appealing to a big audience. I was okay with that, because we were making stuff that I enjoyed. Now, my entire perspective had to shift. Was there really an audience for the kind of videos we were making? Or did we need to shift gears?
We Kept Moving Forward
We all agreed it was best just to keep doing what we were doing, instead of trying to change our style to appeal to a wider audience. The funny thing was, the weirder we got, the more people seemed to resonate with what we were doing.
Our audience kept growing, and we kept moving forward. Blimey Cow had become something way bigger than we had ever imagined it would be. What would happen next?
My First Love
Growing up, and long before I ever picked up camera, I would sit in my room for hours with a stack of CDs and pretend I was a DJ on the radio. That love for audio never really left me, and as 2012, the year of The Homeschool Video drew to a close, I found myself itching to start a podcast.
We didn’t have any audio equipment though, so in the spring of 2013, we decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign for a Blimey Cow Podcast. We priced out the gear we wanted and decided to ask for $1,700. We figured if we raised the money, then that meant the interest was there for a podcast, and if we didn’t raise the money, well, we would just forget about it. But then two crazy things happened that made us realize our audience was larger than we thought…
Our Kickstarter campaign ended up raising ten times the amount we had asked for. We were floored, and the message was received loud and clear– our audience wanted to help us make more content. It was the first time we understood that our viewers were willing to support us financially, and we were speechless!
The second crazy thing that happened was on the day that we launched the first episode of the podcast. We knew our audience was excited to hear the show, but we had no idea there were so many people ready to download the show on day one that it would propel the podcast to number one overall on the iTunes Podcast Charts.
The First Steps to Full Time
The response to the show was so huge that we actually received an email from Libsyn, the company that was hosting our podcast, asking if we would be willing to sell advertisement on the podcast. We were ecstatic! This would be the first revenue we would receive for Blimey Cow, aside from Google AdSense and crowd funding.
A short time later, I got another email from Libsyn asking if we wanted to be put in touch with the YouTube division of the advertising company they worked with. Again, we were ecstatic, and also very gracious, because this was a connection that didn’t benefit Libsyn in the least. They liked us and just wanted to help.
I didn’t know it then, but this was the first step to living my dream.
Never Work a Day in Your Life
That fall, Audible became a sponsor of Messy Mondays. Once I understood the process of picking up sponsors for a YouTube show, I began cold calling companies I liked and asking if they were interested. Most said no, but all it takes is one yes– and I ended up getting more than one “yes!”
Suddenly, Blimey Cow was making money– enough money that I could quit my job, and Jordan didn’t have to go find one after graduating.
We also took a leap of faith and launched a Patreon campaign in 2015. We have a very steady, loyal group of patrons on there now that support us every month. Sponsorships come and go, but our patrons help ensure that we don’t have to go find extra work during months when sponsorships are sparse.
Our patrons also help us justify spending (way) too much time working on projects like Brother Brother Time Season 2– a show that didn’t get us many new viewers, but was a lot of fun for the loyal folks who have stuck with us through the years!
Making money doing something we love has been such a rewarding experience, but honestly our favorite thing about this 10+ year journey has nothing at all to do with money. Our favorite thing about this crazy journey is...
The person who has actually taken the time to read this entire thing. You’re our favorite thing about doing Blimey Cow. The community (or Cowmoonity as you’re called) of people who enjoy what we do has literally changed our entire lives, and the devotion and dedication you show us each and every week keeps us going. Blimey Cow is so much more than we ever expected or anticipated, and we are grateful every day for the people who make it possible for us to spend the majority of our time working on things we love. Hopefully, because of wonderful people like you, this “Complete History of Blimey Cow” is far from completed. We love you.