By Caroline Tanner
WASHINGTON, DC — A content marketer for a D.C.-based tech company by day, Columbia Heights resident David Budimir, 26, has been producing “vlogs,” or video blogs, since he was a 12-year-old at Williamsburg Middle School in Arlington, Va.
“The first video he made was a promotional video that played at the beginning of our daily student news program,” said Alex Druy, 25, a consultant for the federal government and Budimir’s sixth-grade locker partner. “It was a re-make of the American [version of the] television show, “The Office,” and featured students running around doing banal things at school.”
Budimir was on to something, with a passion for video that predated social networking sites such as Facebook and YouTube. In addition to being the most popular digital site for sharing video content exclusively, YouTube is also the second-largest social networking site, behind Facebook. According to Pew, 63 percent of adult web users use YouTube.
Although YouTube has 1.5 billion users and can generate significant income for some, Budimir continues to vlog just for the sake of vlogging. Simply put, it’s fun for him.
Scroll through Budimir’s eponymous YouTube channel and you will find a wide range of videos that highlight his life experiences, beginning with his 10-month move to Thailand in 2015.
“I like video because it’s a combination of every medium,” said Budimir, who made his first video in sixth grade. “It’s writing, photography and audio production all in one, which to me suggests that the best creators have a versatile skill set.”
After graduating from Temple University in 2013 with a degree in advertising, Budimir worked for two years in social media marketing at Philadelphia-based Curalate, which at the time was an early stage internet marketing company.
“I wanted to feel like I was a part of what was happening on YouTube,” said Budimir. “I wanted to join the party.” –David Budimir
In March 2015, Budimir quit his job at Curalate and moved to Thailand, where he connected with a community of digital nomads.
“I went somewhere I knew I could spend a lot of time and was affordable,” said Budimir. “After four years [at Curalate], two of which were as an intern, my role had become more operational than creative, making it a good time to leave.”
While in Thailand, Budimir started a blog for superhero movies and TV shows called theRazor. He wrote one article daily, including short stories about the cast of Marvel’s Netflix series “Jessica Jones” and casting rumors for the character of Kamala Khan in the “Ms. Marvel” series.
He also joined the Marvel Studio subreddit community to engage with fellow Marvel fans, which he called a “grassroots way” of getting people to visit his website.
While his blog did not go viral, his digital conversations suggested that his content resonated with viewers. His Twitter account, @dbudimir, grew from zero to 1,500 followers in one month.
In addition to his blog, Budimir challenged himself to do a vlog daily for three straight weeks. His most popular vlog explored haggling while traveling in Thailand and has been viewed more than 1,000 times.
“I wanted to feel like I was a part of what was happening on YouTube,” said Budimir. “I wanted to join the party.”
In January 2016, after nearly a year in Asia including some time in Vietnam, Budimir ran out of money and returned to his hometown of Arlington, an affluent suburb of Washington. He began working in downtown D.C. at Social Tables, a tech company that creates software for event planning.
He creates content for the company’s YouTube page, a natural for him as he produces explainer videos targeted for event planners.
The demands of the job caused Budimir to take a year-long hiatus from his own vlogging. Now he still works at Social Tables and vlogs semi-regularly, primarily about things that him and his friends are up to. One of his favorite vlogs to date featured him and a group of three friends as they hiked Old Rag Mountain. It is the longest hike in the state of Virginia and part of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah National Park.
Another vlog captures his December 2016 trip to Budapest, as part of a two-week European tour with eight of his friends from Arlington.
“This trip was the first time I saw him documenting a long period of time and the whole process that goes into it,” said Brady, 26, an assistant commercial property manager who has known Budimir since kindergarten at Jamestown Elementary School.
“Budimir balanced having a great time on the trip with being the person who documents it,” said Brady. “He lives for it.”
The documentation effort is what leads Budimir to continue producing content, and the memories are what Budimir hopes his family and friends will continue to look at for years to come.
“We find ourselves watching videos that David has made about stuff that’s really fresh in our minds,” said Druy. “We are all still close friends and living in the same area, and what we get out of these videos is only going to intensify as time goes on and we potentially end up in different geographical areas.”
“[Vlogging] is a fast way of becoming a part of someone’s life, while inviting someone into your life as well.” –David Budimir
Currently, Budimir lives in the northwest D.C. neighborhood of Columbia Heights, along with his two roommates Druy and Brady. Their house has become the “place where everyone congregates before we go out and drink beer,” said Budimir, a reputation he doesn’t plan to change anytime soon.
“I feel a lot more balanced this year,” he said. “For the first time, when the clock hits 6 p.m., I usually think I got everything done that I needed to that day.”
Professionally, he is striving to find a way to get five days’ work done in the office while only being there for four, giving him one day to devote entirely to vlogging. He also hopes to go back to Thailand at some point.
In the meantime, his friends gladly continue to participate as his subjects, both in videos on his YouTube channel and photographs on his Instagram.
“[Being the one who takes the video] is a fast way of becoming a part of someone’s life, while inviting someone into your life as well,” said Budimir.
To his friends, he will continue to say, “Come over and let’s make a video.”