MrBeast: Turning Views into Money

MrBeast wearing his own merch in one his videos.

Jimmy Donaldson is a twenty-two-year-old YouTuber, better known by his handle MrBeast. While he’s achieved great success in the past few years, he’s hardly new to the YouTube scene. He started posting videos at the age of 13, and though they didn’t receive much attention at the time, he now receives millions of views per video, and has 36.6 million subscribers. Many of his old videos were gaming related (he made a lot of “Let’s play” content), or focused on the YouTube community (for example, estimating how much YouTubers like Pewdipie were worth). His recent success can be partially credited to his understanding of how to go viral and how to monetize views and capitalize on people watching his content.

MrBeast has truly mastered the art of virality over the past few years. From his thumbnails, to his titles, to his editing style, he understands how to grab people’s attention, and keep them watching, at least for 10 minutes.** His most famous videos are his crazy (or expensive) “stunt” videos, his challenge videos where his friends (and sometimes viewers) compete in games for prizes and money, and his philanthropic giveaway videos, usually to strangers!

Gaining a Following

One of MrBeast’s best ideas, in my opinion, to increase his popularity was to donate large amounts of money to live Twitch streamers and other YouTubers. He made several of these videos early on (including donating to famous content creators such as Ninja, Tfue and Pewdipie), and they were a huge hit. The streamer’s reactions were always priceless and made for great content. On top of that, he was getting his name out there in the same way companies use MrBeast to get there name out there. Along with giving money to other content creators, he also made several videos in support of Pewdipie’s race against TSeries to 100 million subscribers (including buying “Sub to Pewdipie” billboards, advertisements, and waving a Pewdipie banner at the SuperBowl). This not only got Pewdipie’s attention, but the attention of everyone who either cared about Pewdipie or TSeries at the time, greatly adding to MrBeast’s sub count.

MrBeast’s Cycle of Investment

In order to make money off his YouTube views, he is very careful about making sure his videos are “ad-friendly,” meaning he avoids swears, talking about guns, explosions, or violence, and discussing politics or controversial topics. To continue funding his videos, he uses ad revenue from previous videos, along with brand deals that he’s made throughout his YouTube career. Oftentimes, he’ll plug the brand in the middle of the video. He’s teamed up with companies such as Honey and has also done plugs for mobile games such as Raid: Shadow Legends.

The beauty of MrBeast’s videos is that they all pay for themselves. He’ll give away or spend tens of thousands of dollars in a single video and still receive a massive return, mostly due to views. While selling his own branded merch certainly adds to his revenue, most of the money he makes comes from ads played before, or plugs he does during his videos. This self-sufficient cycle of investment (as long as the video goes viral, there will be money for the next viral video) has allowed him to donate insane amounts of money to organizations (such as the Arbor Day Foundation, with which he founded #TeamTrees and raised over 20 million dollars), homeless shelters and food banks, homeless people he meets on the street, college students, members of his community, his friends and family, and most recently, those suffering from economic consequences of coronavirus. The best part is, his subscribers don’t even have to spend money for him to make money. Their attention is worth enough to the companies trying to sell them things.

MrBeast is an inspiring young man for so many kids who love YouTube and want to be YouTubers when they grow up (which is about 1/3 of kids aged 8-12 according to a survey conducted by Lego). He makes family-friendly content with a large group of his friends, gives huge amounts of money away to complete strangers, and continues to funnel the money he makes back into his channel so that he can help more people. When so many people on the internet are selfish, money hungry and trying to scam you, or have an agenda to push, it’s extremely refreshing to have a content creator like MrBeast who show’s the incredible things a person can do when they make it big, while still having a ton of fun.

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