Y Combinator Podcast #118 Marques Brownlee on Building an Audience and Other Advice for Creators

Full podcast here.

  • What would you attribute your success to? Since I do tech videos the obvious answer is tech has been interesting and important for so long. Just being in the tech space has helped a lot. 

  • The channel has its own unique style. It has a consistent voice since it’s been me for 10 years

  • Was there any particular inflection point? No. It’s just been consistent growth over a long period of time

  • I see my job as a professional user. I just have to use the product to figure out if it is actually useful. 

  • The MKBHD content evolves over time, guided by his own interests: Currently it consists of: 

    1. Reviews of smartphones.

    2. The AutoFocus series on electric vehicles.

    3. The Space Series is about how other creatives use their workspace.

    4. A podcast to talk to other creators is coming soon.

  • You need your own perspective. Don’t try to be something else that already exists because there won’t be any reason to watch it - it already exists

  • How he thinks about communicating with the audience: The shortest, most succinct way is usually the best way

  • His daily schedule: Weekdays are divided by production and post-production. Production days are filming, editing, and writing. Post-production is email, strategy, travel etc. At nights it’s practice and for Ulitmate Frisbee. [He plays for a pro team]. Weekends are all for playing Frisbee. I don’t work on weekends and I’m disconnected from the internet. 

  • How MKBHD makes money: Ads on YouTube. Affiliates for the products reviewed. Merch store/fashion brand. Advice for creators: Just have different ways of supporting the same thing. 

  • His income breakdown is roughly 50% YouTube ads, 20% sponsored ads, 10% affiliates. [This doesn’t add up to 100%. Maybe the rest is merch?]

  • More on creators making money: At a certain point you can ask dedicated viewers to support you directly. If they really like your work they won’t have a problem with that. This works best if your work isn’t common. If what you do is rare, really high effort or not something you can find somewhere else. [Another reason to embrace what makes you different.] 

  • I don’t have any long term goals. If I was forced to guess what the company looks like in 10 years I would say it would be more of a media company. It would have multiple YouTube channels, a podcast, a service to assist other channels with production.