Not many 17-year-olds run their own successful website, but Gavin Doyle is not your ordinary 17-year-old. He not only has his own site, but he makes thousands of dollars a month running it.
Doyle is the San Francisco-based founder and head writer at the website Disney Dose where he covers content to "educate the Disney enthusiast." The website has over 2,500 Twitter followers, nearly 6,000 Facebook fans, and a weekly newsletter that over 6,000 people subscribe to.
Doyle may be young, but his knowledge of the Disney empire is vast. He started his website three years ago and began interviewing famous Mouseketeers on his podcast, including Joe Rohde, the Disney Imagineer and lead designer behind Disney's Animal Kingdom, and Terri Hardin, an artist and puppeteer who helped design Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain.
All of this and he's only in high school.
"It's really balancing two lives," he told me over the phone.
As the treasurer of the student council and member of the crew team, Doyle often has to be into school as early as 5:30 a.m. and doesn't leave until 4 p.m.
"Then I get home, do all my homework, and spend 45 minutes to an hour on the website," he said.
Doyle said he doesn't mind the extra work since Disney is his passion. Since age 4, he's been fascinated by the Disney corporation and its theme parks. When he wanted to start his own business nearly 10 years later, it was a no-brainer that it would have to be Disney-related. Doyle instantly realized he wanted to help people plan their Disneyland vacations and share the company's history.
"I have always been so passionate about [Disney]," he told me, adding that he would devour books and websites with Disney facts. "But there wasn't enough stuff out there to keep me learning, so another reason I started Disney Dose was to give me the opportunity to interview celebrities — at least, in the Disney community."
Doyle typically posts to Disney Dose about once every week — plus any other breaking Disney-related news — has a new podcast every three weeks to a month, and tries to be active on Facebook, where he has upward of 60,000 people seeing a post.
Courtesy of Gavin DoyleAnd it's not just a hobby — Doyle can make more in a month than some grown-ups. Thanks to a well-placed ad for a Disneyland tickets-affiliate sales site, in July Disney Dose had its highest month yet, with Doyle making "around $7,000 or $8,000."
He's also getting revenue from a book he wrote: "Disneyland Secrets: A Grand Tour of Disneyland's Hidden Details." Doyle realized that he knew so many Disney facts that he could easily write a book — so he did. The book currently has 4.7 stars on Amazon and 15% of the profits go to the Make a Wish Foundation.
"I would block out two to three hours on Sunday mornings and just sit down and organize stories that I collected from interviews, organize information from other books, and write chapters between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. on a Sunday morning," he told Tech Insider on how he managed to find the time to write the book. "Then I would start on homework in the afternoon."
Some readers might be wondering how Doyle was able to publish a book with Disney not only in the title but in the content without getting sued by the company — a major force behind modern copyright law.
"I have never received a cease-and-desist letter," Doyle told Tech Insider. "The general rule of thumb in the community is that they don't crack down on sites sharing information, but if we were selling a product with copyrighted material, then that would be a different story. The book is all gathered information and doesn't break any copyright rules."
Doyle's parents are supportive of their son's entrepreneurial spirit — his mom even edits his posts before they go up on the website — but Doyle admits that sometimes they ask him if he should be practicing for the SAT or filling out college applications instead of working on the website.
As for college, the 17-year-old is tight-lipped on where he wants to go to school — "I don't want to jinx it" — but he knows exactly what he wants to do when he grows up.
"The end goal is to switch over and work for the Disney company someday," he said. "If I'm dreaming big, getting into the leadership of the company. I can't say, 'I want to be the CEO of the Disney company,' but that would definitely be the dream position."