Manitoba truck driver Josh Giesbrecht shares his life on the road with 50,000 YouTube subscribers who watch as he motors through North America. He offers a windshield view of where he travels, how he parks, pumps fuel, performs quick repairs, waits at loading docks, and enjoys the scenery. They laugh along as the 27-year old turns the camera around and mugs for the audience as he converses with his two companions, a German Shepherd named Sergeant and a Rottweiler who goes by Diesel. He tells them, along with viewers, about his love life, why he enjoys driving and why some regulations just don't make any sense.
As you watch his videos, you are struck immediately by how innately funny he is and how talking to himself, the dogs and the audience also helps to keep tedium at bay during long runs. Giesbrecht comes from a truck driving family and owns his truck which he leases to a company in Manitoba.
We talked to Josh about his huge success on the internet, why he began his vlog (video log) and what he hopes it will mean for drivers who watch him along with tens of thousands non-drivers.
Why did you start the vlog?
I started it in 2011, mostly just to show friends and family back home what I do on a day-to-day basis. Most of them had no idea what a trucker did. When I first started, it was just for fun, just to have a hobby. It kept me busy on the road and out of trouble. Now it's evolved into a part time job on the side.
Do you know how funny you are?
Thank you. I'm a little more quiet and reserved in person, but when I get around friends that I know well I like to be the joker in the group. I get a sense of fulfillment and happiness making other people laugh and feel happy.
I'm just natural funny, I think. I like to see the positive side of everything. You talk to some truckers on the road and they're so many who hate their job, hate their lives, they're so unhappy, and I like to find something positive to talk about every day, turn it into something funny, and just enjoy life. Life's too short. Why waste it being grumpy all the time?
Why is your vlog so popular, and not just with truckers?
I have no idea.
Oh, come on. You must.
Well, I was one of the very first ones to start a trucking vlog. It started off just about trucking, and I was consistent. That's the biggest thing: consistency. I have my vlogs up at a certain time every day, at least I try, and it's every day, so it's like a continuing story. If you watch one day, then you skip a day and then you watch the next day, it doesn't really make sense. You have to go back and watch the day before so you understand what I'm doing and where I am. I think it's my nature to suck people in and get them addicted to watching my personality rather than watching my job, because one day when I'm not driving a truck anymore, I still want them to enjoy doing my videos. So, I think my personality has a lot to do with it.
It's your personality that makes this work?
I'm hoping so. It's hard for me to say. Watching my own videos, I don't want to say that it's just my personality. Maybe it has to do with trucking that gets a lot of people in, and I may lose part of my audience if I exclude that from my life, but I think I might gain a whole new group to replace that.
You're not going to be a trucker forever?
When I was young, I always knew that I would be a trucker, and I'll never be 100 percent away from it. My channel will still have trucking content on it, but I might be actually driving the truck less. Like, when I have a family, let's say, I'm not going to be on the road for three weeks at a time. But the vlog is going to keep going.
Have you done a test run by vlogging outside of your truck?
I took a trip to California in my pickup truck. It had nothing to do with trucking, and that was my test run of what I want to do in the future. I wanted to see how my audience would react to that. I actually got way more views on those videos than any of my trucking videos.
How do you promote your vlog?
I do very little promotion. I think they sort of promote themselves. If you go to Google or YouTube and you type in trucking, trucker, truck, my videos all pop up and fill the entire feed. It's hard to escape it right now just because of the amount of content that I have. That's the biggest promotion – lots of content. I also attend YouTube events like VidCon. It's a video conference that's in L.A. every year. I go to a vlogger fair in Seattle, which is the gathering of vloggers like me from all different walks of life and from around the world. Recently I've had a lot of media exposure. I was on TV news in Manitoba, and the national radio [CBC] just did an interview with me. I've been in Esquire and Popular Mechanics.
Is there a bigger message that you would like to convey through your vlog?
I don't consider myself an issue leader. I don't want people coming to learn from me. There are so many other drivers out there with YouTube channels who are much more experienced than me. I'd rather send people to them to learn tips and tricks of the trade. I'd rather entertain people and just show them my life. I'm a truck driver, and this is what I do every day, give them entertainment, make them laugh.
I like to think my vlog might be encouragement for more young people to get into the industry. We have an aging driver demographic and many will be retiring in the next decade. I don't want to drive forever either, but we need to get a whole lot more young drivers on the road. Hopefully, if they see me on the road having a good time then it might encourage them to go check it out, too. You can make good money on the road.