How Marques Brownlee Stumbled Into Building A Platform Of 16 Million Subscribers After One YouTube Review

Sometimes you unknowingly walk into your purpose, which seemed to be a common theme for some on the main stage of the Samsung Galaxy Creator Collective 2023.

The multi-day event took place March 21-22, gathering diverse content creators from all over to support them along their journeys of turning their passion into profit with 40 hours of programming.

From #TeamGalaxy’s Jaden Smith and Harry Hudson speaking on maintaining your authenticity as a creator to keynote speaker Marques Brownlee, or MKBHD, sharing insight into his journey, there was something valuable for everyone to take away — whether you were an aspiring creator looking to get in the game or already established your footing.

Creators like Brownlee — who happens to be the latter — appear to make it look easy, but people may not be aware of the years he’s put in to build his platform making tech videos.

“This all started back in 2009. I was a child in high school basically, and I was saving up my precious allowance money and wanted to know what laptop should I buy with my precious $5-a-week allowance from raking leaves and taking out the trash,” Brownlee said during his keynote presentation.

He then researched and decided on an HP Pavilion dv7t. After convincing his parents with the help of a PowerPoint presentation, he purchased the laptop and wanted to share it with the world.

In today’s era, this seems normal. However, back then, Brownlee was seemingly ahead of his time.

“It felt like the natural thing to do was to flip open the laptop, turn on the webcam, and make a video about the things that I’d found so that the next kid who was going be in my shoes, buying a laptop, watching every video in existence for their precious allowance money to get their laptop would have more information to choose from,” he said.

Eventually, Brownlee got comfortable in front of the camera and realized he started to enjoy what he called his “weird hobby,” which led to creating more and more videos.

He then had his “big break” with a video tutorial of him downloading and installing Safari for Windows.

“It’s a kid in high school in his bedroom doing a video. And I had a couple dozen subscribers at the time. I went to sleep. I woke up the next day, and I think that video had like a thousand views, and that was a lot at the time on YouTube,” Brownlee said. “It was like this light bulb moment that, ‘Oh, people really care about timely, valuable information, useful information in a timely manner.’”

From there, the rest is what one would call his story.

Brownlee realized he could provide value to his audience early on that later provided something to him in return — a career.

While he did go to college at the Stevens Institute of Technology, graduating in 2015, Brownlee decided to stick with his passion.

“I was a student through most of the early years of making videos,” Brownlee told AfroTech. “I was in high school, and then I went through all four years of my undergrad degree in college, majoring in business. Then, as I graduated, I knew it would be my job. So, that’s what I jumped into.”

“When I stopped going to school, I poured all that time into making videos, and that became my job,” he added.

And it paid off. Today, as of this writing, his “weird hobby” has amassed him: 

16.8 million subscribers on YouTube

4.1 million followers on Instagram 

1.7 million followers on TikTok 

6 million followers on Twitter

He has also gained accolades, like making the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2021, interviewed notable names like the late Kobe Bryant, and snagged various brand deals with big-name companies in the tech industry.

“It’s hard to remember exactly what the first brand deal was but it was probably around 2012,” Brownlee said when asked about his first deal.  “It was literally just a few hundred bucks to go hang out and take pictures of puppies with a smartphone.”

He continued: “Now we do much more elaborate integrations and fun stuff. It’s actually gotten to the point now where we’re more interested in doing deeper collaborations like making products. And that’s actually a completely new level for us of actually being able to influence the world.”

While his most lucrative brand deal is unclear, based on the previously mentioned, one could guess it’s a far cry from his humble beginnings as a creator.




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