23-year old Jimmy Donaldson is the GOAT at YouTube earnings and up there with the big guns pulling millions of views per video. Popularly known as MrBeast (also his channel’s name), he’s currently the highest-paid YouTube creator – no surprise considering that he’s up there with the best creators as one of the channels with the most subscribers.
Donaldson runs a 50-man company that manages six YouTube channels, including Beast Reacts and his most successful followed channel MrBeast with over 90 million subscribers. Other creators like Dude Perfect, David Dobrik, and Morgz also seem to create similar content types, but none can pull in as many views and earnings as he has done over the past few years.
Considering Donaldson’s impressive stats on the platform, does it mean he’s got the keys to YouTube’s algorithm? Well, let’s find out.
Donaldson’s secret to a successful YouTube channel
Jimmy Donaldson, aka MrBeast, launched his first channel in 2012. At first, he explored many options, trying to find the best video contents that promote virality. In an interview with fellow YouTuber CoffeeZilla, he admits to trying out multiple niches like live streaming, funny video compilation uploads, and even YouTube drama.
However, his success came in 2018, when he got into the stunt philanthropy niche. His videos “Hit The Target, Win $300,000” and “I Gave People $1000,000 But ONLY 1 Minute To Spend It!” collectively pulled over 180 million views.
In the interview with CoffeeZilla, he explains the strategies he implements to produce viral content on YouTube. One of the notable statements; “We spend half a million to a million dollars a video. Normal people spend $1,000 or $10,000.”
Aside from spending vast sums of money creating his videos, he also speaks about the extensive periods his team spends on brainstorming sessions and hours put into filming.
“Sometimes we’re filming for three or four days, like 10 hours a day, while most creators film for a couple of hours a day. By doing all of those things, it distinctively sets us apart.” Said Donaldson.
When asked about the YouTube algorithm, Donaldson explains it in a unique way far from what’s expected by upcoming YouTubers and the general public.
“Every time you think of the word ‘algorithm,’ replace it with ‘audience.’ The algorithm didn’t like my video? No, it’s the audience.” Said Donaldson.
Donaldson’s methods for viewership retention
Responding to questions from CoffeZilla, he explains how he manages to capture audiences, ensuring that they stay and become subscribers.
MrBeast doesn’t only emphasize the importance of click-through rate (the number of clicks a video receives) but also the vital role played by viewer retention. You ideally want to have titles and thumbnails that viewers can’t resist.
“The thumbnails and titles are the first parts of the video seen by your audience. You want it to be something that keeps them on your channel.” Said Donaldson, “You want to use titles and thumbnails that provoke a user to watch multiple videos on a stretch even if they’re new to the channel.”
Another key element to his successful videos is the use of ‘Jenga Storytelling,’ where the viewer is shown a quick peek of the ending, getting them eager to watch the entire video.
Finally, he talks about the editing for the final content, emphasizing using multiple cameras for capturing different angles and removing the dull moments in the videos. He also recommends getting opinions from family and friends on a recorded video to spot some parts that may have eluded you during editing.
When the hunger for creativity gets flawed
When CoffeeZilla asked Donaldson, aka “MrBeast,” how long it would take him to rank up 1 million subscribers on a new channel without funding, he replied, “Three to four months.” For most, this sounds like an unrealistic timespan, and you have to be extra good to get half that number within that short period.
Donaldson already has it all figured out. He furthermore talks about his primary strategy to achieving this will be doing zero-cost challenges like walking across America.
Despite having this immense success in the creative world, you’d typically think all love him. Unfortunately, Donaldson has been the center of several controversies over the last few years.
An article published in NY Times highlights the thoughts of a couple of his former employees. At the same time, most considered him a “perfectionist” who made “unreasonable demands,” spearheading a workspace that encouraged bullying and hostility.
According to Mr. Turner, who was his editor says, “I was not to be credited for anything I did. “I’d ask for credit; he’d credit someone else.”
Also, Nate Anderson, a former worker for Donaldson, says, “Nothing ever worked for him,” Mr. Anderson said. “He always wanted it a certain way.” He also went on to upload a video on his channel titled “The reason I left…” – a video that unfortunately wasn’t warmly welcomed by fans of MrBeast.
Despite all the controversies, MrBeast is yet to directly respond to the claims from this former employee relating to their working conditions. Akash Rathod, a fan of MrBeast says, “There needs to be more from Mr. Beast on the issues his fans are causing. It’s not enough to make positive videos.”Maintaining stardom that size requires more than uploading uplifting videos. Jimmy Donaldson runs a 50-man company, he has a net worth that ranks among the top 100 celebrities in the world, and earns the same kind of money as Vin Diesel, Billie Eilish, and Lewis Hamilton – he has to be doing something right.
Feature image credit: MrBeast 2018 (cropped) by Leon Lush. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0