A week ago, on 4th October, YouTuber Mr Beast, real name Jimmy Donaldson, uploaded a video that he filmed five years ago. In the video entitled “Hi Me in 5 Years”, filmed on 4th October 2015, a young Jimmy Donaldson stated “you’d better have a million subscribers”. Well, how does 44.6 million sound Jimmy? In this article, I want to take a look at how Jimmy went from a Mr Nobody to a Mr Beast and how you can too.
Get going and don’t give up
It’s fair to say that Mr Beast has had a meteoric rise on Youtube and is now one of the biggest on the platform. Known as “Youtube’s biggest philanthropist” Mr Beast has made a name for himself by giving away millions of dollars in extravagant videos that are almost guaranteed to go viral. He’s not the first to make huge scale, all-out videos but he’s doing them on a scale that no-one else is.
Of course he did not start with million dollar giveaways. indeed, when he created his channel back in 2012, aged 13, he started off as a video-game youtuber getting less than a thousand views. Uploading under the name “MrBeast6000” he struggled to gain momentum on the platform. In fact, it was a long grind for the first four years, by March 2016 he hit 20,000 subscribers but was still a very long way off making YouTube a full-time job. In his 20,000 subscriber video he admits that “I’ve been slacking off…I’m going to start being more active, I’m lazy sometimes”. While doing the video he was attempting to cut a table in half with only plastic knives, a video which he would upload in the coming weeks and gain millions of views. This shift to trying more extreme challenge-style videos, coupled with a commitment to be more active on YouTube, marked the shift in momentum for Mr Beast’s channel. By July 2016, he uploaded a 100,000 subscriber video.
The main takeaway from the early years of MrBeast’s channel is his commitment to experimenting with his videos. Most of the time people don’t find their niche straight away. When it comes to starting a Youtube channel there are countless directions in which you can take it content wise. Mr Beast realised this early on and so he did the only thing you can do – experiment. He initially started off filming videos of him playing a game called Battle Pirates before moving onto Facebook games, Call of Duty and then Minecraft. Fast forward to July 2015 and Mr Beast had only amassed 3000 subscribers. Many people would have given up by now but not Jimmy, he kept experimenting and eventually his hard work paid off.
In 2015 Mr Beast ditched gaming videos and starting experimenting with more random videos. He started doing videos such as “how much money do youtubers make?” and “my problems”. It was doing these videos that he found more success, especially his video on PewdiePie and how much money he was making on Youtube which quickly garnered over 400,000 views. Then in early 2016 came the challenge videos. We’ve already mentioned his cutting a table in half using only plastic knives, soon after he uploaded another viral video of him counting to 10,000 (it took him 3 and half hours if you’re interested).
2016 was a great year for Mr Beast. Hitting the 100,000 milestone in July was huge as it signalled to Mr Beast that he finally found his niche; extreme videos no-one else was prepared to do. His subscriber account also opened the door to sizeable brand deals which Mr Beast used to fund these videos. In fact, he’d normally funnel every cent of the brand deal into the video. This was not something most Youtubers were prepared to do. Many wanted to keep a slice of the brand deal pie for themselves but it’s this approach that allowed Mr Beast to do videos on a scale no other Youtuber was doing.
Know when you’re onto a winning idea and commit fully to it
As alluded to above, another thing you can learn from Mr Beast’s story is his commitment to his channel. Once he realised that extreme videos were what people were wanting Mr Beast threw himself into crazier and crazier challenges. I mean how many of us would really commit to spending nearly 24 hours counting to 100,000? That’s exactly what Mr Beast did in January 2017 and that’s the point. Most people just aren’t prepared to commit to their youtube channel like Mr Beast did.
Be genuine and authentic
One trap that some influencers can fall into is trying to be someone they’re not in order to get more of a following. While this can give you short term success in the long run it will come back to haunt you as eventually people will realise you’re not portraying your true self.
One of the reasons why Mr Beast is so popular is he comes across as a very nice and genuine guy who has not let his success go to his head. He has also been very open in his videos about how he funds them. In the back of his mind he may of been quite worried about revealing that the majority of the money he gives away in his videos comes from the brand deals he gets. However, by being up front and honest it strengthens his authenticity and people appreciate his honesty. It also meant he couldn’t get hurt by any bad publicity and ultimately allowed him to control the narrative. Controlling the narrative (i.e being honest and upfront so people don’t make assumptions or take your videos out of context) is really important if your videos rely on something in the background that could be interpreted badly.
Keep your content fresh
When it comes to staying at the top on YouTube keeping content fresh is key. You can’t let your channel get stagnant, either by not uploading regularly or by simply repeating the same video in different formats over and over. While Mr Beast has stuck to his huge-scale and high budget videos he has also made sure to mix things up. As well extreme videos with his friends such as ‘Last to take their hand off the Lamborghini gets it’, he has done videos giving out $10,000 dollars to random Twitch streamers, planting 20 million trees and also collab videos with other YouTubers.
Getting to the top of YouTube isn’t necessarily the hard part, it’s staying there that’s the real challenge. Videos go viral every day and you could post a video tomorrow that goes viral. Staying at the top takes guts and hard work but if you play your cards right, like Mr Beast has, you can build on the momentum of going viral and become a household name.
To end the piece, here’s a poem entitled ‘Originality’ that MrBeast uploaded to his channel in September 2015 when he had less than less than 9,000 subscribers:
You’re probably not happy with your channel.
You give excuses like he started before me, got lucky, or did some scandal.
You want to become known,
And get your videos shown.
But are you willing to put in the effort?
Stop being the sheep and become the shepherd.
Do you deserve it more than anyone else?
Seriously be real with yourself.
The cool thing about YouTube is anyone can become great.
Regardless of height, race, or weight.
But we can’t all be the best,
So how are you different from the rest?
YouTubers say all the time, ‘I deserve more recognition’
‘Why don’t my views get any attention?’
‘I grind and grind but my channel still has not shined.’
Well it’s probably because you’re not original,
is your content so good it’s irresistible?
The last thing we need is more COD commentators.
We need less norm and more innovators.
But being different is not all.
There are original channels that are small.
It takes hard work and dedication,
Creativity and motivation.
To reach your aspiration on a website full of saturation.
It won’t happen overnight,
The climb is just a constant fight.
Will this advice make you big?
This I can’t promise you.
But I do know that if you quit,
You will never know if you would have made it.