If you are a regular YouTube viewer, then there’s no way you haven’t heard of MrBeast, the second most subscribed individual YouTube channel. If you take all YouTube channels, including channels owned by both corporates and individuals, MrBeast is the fifth most subscribed channel. One video on the channel has an average of 60 million views, and the total number of views on his channel exceeds the population of the world. It’s said that MrBeast earns around $3 – 5 million just from his ad revenue. Of course, this is not counting sponsorships or brand deals. Everyone’s waiting with bated breath for him to become the first YouTube billionaire.
But did you know that MrBeast had no income at all in his first year? In fact, it took him a decade to reach the position he is in today, and this journey took a lot of hard work, patience, and failures. In this case study, we will analyze MrBeast’s success story and explore how he became so rich and popular on YouTube, while focusing on his success factors.
MrBeast’s Journey from Zero to Hundred Million Subscribers
MrBeast is Jimmy Donaldson, and as of 2022, he is only 24 years old. He comes from a pretty humble background. He grew up in a small town in North Carolina, along with his single mother and brother. Back then, his mom served in the military, and they always moved around from one state to the next.
As a kid, Jimmy was an introvert, but he was very passionate about the things that interested him. He was never interested in academics, but he loved baseball and building Legos. But his first love was YouTube, which took the internet by storm in 2005.
One day, Jimmy saw one of the YouTubers he followed quitting his job to become a full-time YouTuber. That was when Jimmy understood that he could earn money through YouTube. The first challenge he faced was that others around him, including his family and friends, did not understand this. But one of his friends was willing to help him to achieve his dream, and together they created a YouTube channel on February 2012, when they were just 14 years old. In fact, Jimmy’s first subscriber was his friend. They had no fancy equipment or technical know-how. But driven by passion, they kept creating different kinds of videos: they recorded themselves playing video games and uploaded them to the channel, made reaction videos commenting on other people gaming or guessing other YouTubers’ income, etc.
Challenges MrBeast Faced in Early Days
The first challenge Jimmy faced was convincing everyone around him that being a YouTuber was a legit job. Jimmy’s mom had no idea about YouTube and what his son was doing on it. Like most conservative parents, she wanted him to do his studies well and find a good job. She convinced Jimmy to enroll in college and pursue his higher studies. She even threatened to kick him out of home if he didn’t go to college. Jimmy did accept her words, but even on the way to college, he kept on creating videos.
After a few weeks, he dropped out of college and was even ready to move out of his home. His mom was shocked but later realized that Jimmy’s YouTube career must have some potential for him to be so insistent about it.
The second challenge he faced was the lack of equipment. His first videos were created from a borrowed mike on his brother’s old laptop. He only started buying expensive equipment when his YouTube channel began to earn money.
Jimmy knew nothing when he started his channel, but as the videos gained more and more views, he and his friends started researching and learning more and more about videos and YouTube. For example, how to edit a video, how to find ideas for videos, how to make a video viral, how to make a video trending, what kind of videos become viral, the qualities of a good video, how to create a good thumbnail, how thumbnails affect video views, camera angles in videos, etc. They studied even the smallest details in videos throughout the whole day. Then the next morning, they would get on a video call and discuss these findings, sharing info with each other. Within a few months, they learned knowledge one person could gather over many years.
With this newfound knowledge, they experimented with different types of videos. They made sure that all of these videos were entertaining as well as unique. This research and self-study helped MrBeast to gain millions of subscribers, and the total views on his channel exceed the world’s population.
MrBeast’s Rise to Success
In 2015 and 2016, Jimmy slowly began to gain popularity with his “worst intros” videos, which poked fun at various YouTube video introductions. In 2017, Jimmy broke the internet with his first viral video of himself counting from 1 to 100,000. It took him more than 40 hours to achieve this feat, and even after editing, this video was about 24 hours long, making it one of the longest YouTube videos ever produced.
Based on this video’s success, he focused more on unusual stunts like reading every word in a dictionary in one sitting, filling a pool with ramen noodles and sitting in it for 24 hours, spinning a fidget spinner for 24 hours straight, watching paint dry for an hour, turning a backyard into a ballpit, and saying Pewdiepie 100,000 times non-stop. MrBeast even managed to turn one of his videos into the most-liked (non-music video) on YouTube just by using the title “Make This Video The Most Liked Video On YouTube.”
On 8th June 2019, his YouTube channel reached 20 million subscribers, and this achievement took him seven years, three months, and 20 days.
Once he got his first brand sponsorship for $10,000, he donated the whole amount to a homeless man he met on the street, recorded a video of this incident, and uploaded it on the channel. This was the first step in MrBeast’s philanthropist journey. He later made many more popular videos with such simple altruistic ideas at an extravagant scale. Here are a few examples:
• Tipping pizza delivery guys $10,000
• Ordering water then tipping $30,000
• Tipping uber drivers $10,000
• Giving $100,000 to a homeless person
• Giving a homeless man a home
• Buying all the groceries in a supermarket and distributing them among people
• Opening a car dealership and giving out cars for free
• Opening a restaurant that gave free food to people
When he was close to reaching 20 million subscribers, he got the idea to plant 20 million plants. A friend from NASA suggested collecting donations from viewers – $1 for 1 tree. The goal was to raise $20 million and grow 20 million trees. This fundraising campaign was called #TeamTrees and he estimated it would take at least 2 months to raise this amount. Many other YouTubers started promoting this campaign on their channels, and the project reached many people all over the world. Elon Musk also donated 1 M to the campaign. Finally, Jimmy was able to raise 20M within 1 short month.
MrBeast says the joy and happiness he sees in people’s faces when he does these stunts made him addicted to this kind of content. His role models were people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Elon Musk, who wanted to change the world and help people instead of piling money. He realized that helping people made him happy, and it was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. Today, MrBeast is known as “YouTube’s biggest philanthropist.”
In addition to his main mrbeast6000 channel he also runs five other YouTube channels. These are Beast Reacts, MrBeast Gaming, MrBeast Shorts, MrBeast 2, and a philanthropy channel. In total, these channels have over 186 million combined subscribers.
MrBeast Business Model
Jimmy uploads one video and then uses the income from that video to create the next video, and so forth. He considers sponsorships as a third party that helps to move this cycle forward. In other words, he created an investment loop – the more he earns, the more he invests in his next video.
As his channel grew, getting him millions of subscribers, he also hired some of his friends to create content. Currently, MrBeast has a separate channel known as MrBeast Philanthropy, dedicated to helping people. MrBeast believes his help is an effective and scalable model for uplifting people’s lives.
In addition to his YouTube channels, MrBeast has also started a number of other ventures. These include MrBeast Burger restaurant chain and Feastables chocolate bars. He also has an online merch store where his fans can buy branded T-shirts, stickers, face masks, posters, and more. All these initiatives helps him to successfully monetize the audience he has built over the years. As a smart business person it is very important to diversify your income portfolio.
Lessons Content Creators Can Learn from MrBeast
1. Follow your passion
For most people, finding their passion takes years and years, but MrBeast was lucky enough to recognize his passion from a young age. MrBeast wanted to start a YouTube channel and be a YouTuber – but he had no idea how to do it, nor did he have any fancy equipment or money to spend on it. But he didn’t let any of these obstacles get in his way and kept on creating YouTube video content. So the main lesson you can learn from MrBeast’s success is following your passion and never giving up.
2. Identify your success factor
What do you think is MrBeast’s success factor? Doing unusual things in an emotional and entertaining way. In fact, his videos are full of simple but absurd things. For example, spending 24 hours in a desert, giving ridiculously large sums of money to complete strangers.
Jimmy once said that negative content is easy to trend in social media, while positive content that is interesting is somewhat difficult to trend, and positive content that is both interesting and entertaining is the most difficult to trend. But he and his team have been able to achieve this feat and become ultra-successful on YouTube.
3. Identify trends as soon as possible
Did you know that people who realize the potential of new inventions are more likely to be successful? For example, small companies who realized the value of the internet early on are now major companies in the global market. One reason behind MrBeast’s success is his long history on YouTube. MrBeast started a YouTube channel when YouTube was just trending. When you start something when it’s starting to trend, there are only a few on it, and you become unforgettable.
4. Hunt for the Formula
Most people want to be successful, but they have no idea how to do it or what they should do. MrBeast, too was like this at first. He started YouTubing for fun and had no idea how to be successful. He researched and experimented with different types of content, trends, and videos over the years and identified the formula that was successful for him. If you want to be successful in content creation, you have to study the platform and identify a success formula.
5. Be Unique
MrBeast does entertaining videos, like millions of other YouTubers, but in his own way. His videos are different and unique. He uses the income from one video to create the next video, creating a huge impact on society. This is what makes him different from other content creators. If you are a content creator, identify what makes you unique from other creators on the platform, and focus on bringing out this difference in your content.
6. Diversify income portfolio
YouTube growth is not linear. If you have good content, content that trends, there can be exponential growth. This is extremely clear in MrBeast’s success story. Once there is considerable channel growth it is important to venture into smart monetization techniques like getting into sponsorships and building up businesses. This helps to diversify portfolio from typical Google Adsense earnings as the main source of income from a YouTube channel.
Now that you have read this article from beginning to end, you will have a good idea about what makes MrBeast different from other YouTubers and what makes him so popular. There are many lessons new content creators can learn from Jimmy Donaldson – Following one’s passion, not easily giving up, experimenting with different types of content, and identifying one’s success formula being one of the most important lessons.
If you enjoyed this article then you may also like to read our case study about TikTok.