When you think of the top tech YouTubers, Marques Brownlee (AKA MKBHD) has to be high on everyone’s list. Not only has Brownlee found success on YouTube, but he’s also translated that success into real-world influence in the tech industry. His tech review channel is regarded as the best of the best, raking in over a million views a day and he is regarded as one of the most influential voices on YouTube.
For many YouTubers, success can be obtained practically overnight. They have a breakout moment they can point to — a moment where their channel took off. However, for Marques Brownlee, his success doesn’t happen overnight. It’s been a long, steady climb to where he is today.
Marques Brownlee pioneered tech reviews on YouTube
Brownlee first uploaded to his channel way back in January 2009. It’s quite humbling to compare his first video to his setup now. He was without his insane 8K RED sensors with optics of the finest glass-material and an 18-core hyper-threaded iMac Pro where he edits his videos. At this point, it was just Brownlee, his laptop camera that shot video up to only 480p, and the Windows Media Center remote—which was up for review. Regardless, from this short 2-minute video, his channel would go on to set the standard for tech reviews on YouTube.
YouTube in 2009 had a huge content gap for tech reviews. The only other channel out there besides Brownlee that was doing tech reviews was NCIX Tech Tips. There was a huge opportunity for Brownlee to make a name for himself as being one of the only tech review channels on YouTube. At the same time, the smartphone market, a huge staple for Brownlee, was just about to blow up. There were two huge opportunities that Brownlee was able to use to make a name for himself.
Since the beginning, Marques Brownlee’s work ethic has been unmatched
Marques Brownlee is often asked when was the turning point for his channel. He can’t point to a specific moment in his channel’s life where you can clearly see it take off. It’s always been a slow, but steady climb:
“I get asked that a lot about can I point to a certain video or date or month or something like what happened to go from like nothing to where it is now. Because from to this day, I look back and it’s mainly … you can look at charts even. It’s just an upwards slope from 0 videos to a thousand videos,” says Brownlee.
While having the advantage of pioneering a completely new genre on YouTube, being the only channel doing something doesn’t automatically lead to success, nor does it sustain the channel’s influence as long as Brownlee’s been on YouTube.
The reason he is still as influential as he is is that he is always looking to push his videos to the limit to show the extremes of what the best technology can do. It’s easy for many YouTuber’s as popular and successful as Brownlee to stop pushing as hard to create better content because they feel they’ve already made it. Brownlee, however, clearly cares about his craft. He always wants to improve his video reviews to make them as close to real-life as possible. He uses the best gear he can and puts in the hours to ensure the production value of his videos is the best it can be.
“I’m still on that quest of production. I know my videos can be better. Like there’s still always a gap between a great YouTube video and a movie,” he says. “Everyone can tell a YouTube video from a movie and everything. But ideally that seamless like production where I can tell the story, I want to show what I want to show, and not have any barriers in the way as far as production, that would be ideal … that’s my biggest challenge … if you look at this video on your screen, you’ll feel the closest to actually holding it in real life … that’s the goal.”
If there’s one word that could sum up his channel, it would be consistency. Every video Brownlee uploads follows a consistent style in aesthetic. He works hard to maintain that quality of work with every upload. When you click on one of his videos, you know what to expect because he’s tied his name with consistent quality. He also uploads frequently, allowing people to really know what to expect and see how dedicated he is to his channel and reviews.
Taking a unique approach to tech reviews
Unlike many other tech channels, Marques Brownlee takes a unique approach to his videos. He doesn’t just review the specs of a gadget and walk through of the features. Instead, Brownlee is the kind of reviewer who will take the piece of hardware apart. He will then take a look at it from all angles and give his unfiltered, honest opinion. It’s clear in every video, he holds a true interest in what he’s reviewing. If he didn’t have his YouTube channel, you believe he would be looking into these products regardless. That blunt honesty is sometimes hard to come by from someone at his caliber. He is honest and straight to the point. His audience loves him for that. He doesn’t clickbait. He doesn’t take many sponsors. His audience knows what they’re watching is honestly him, not a paid advertisement.
Brownlee takes a unique approach to every video he makes. When you watch one of his videos, you aren’t just watching a tech review. He uses the language of filmmaking to leave a lasting impression on his viewers. He is always trying to put his own spin on things. This results in an experience that is unique to his channel.
Naturally inclined to do the things he loves
Marques Brownlee is not just passionate about his work. He is naturally inclined to the tech he reviews. He naturally gravitates towards technology. He’s able to review a countless number of phones year after year with almost the same specs because he is naturally interested in the technology that goes into them. It was never about success or fame for Brownlee. It’s always been about the quest for knowledge and sharing that knowledge with people. Success and fame are just bonuses.
Image courtesy: Marques Brownlee