It takes hella work to become famous at anything.
However is SEEMS there’s all these overnight success YouTubers pulling in massive amounts of money, and more people want to get into that world.
Becoming a famous YouTube star is pretty much like being an A-List celebrity nowadays.
I saw more people freak out about seeing YouTuber Casey Neistat on the street at SXSW than I saw people freak out over Matthew Mcconaughey on the street!
(Side fact: I saw Casey Neistat riding his skateboard down the street, and yelled “What up Casey!” to him. He stopped to take a pic, and a huge crowd instantly crowded around super-excited to see him)!
YouTube are more intimately connected with their fans than traditional movie stars. They usually talk about their personal lives more, and often film out of their own bedrooms and houses. So if you see one of them, you know them MUCH MORE intimately than an actor who “acts” different roles, but you never get to know THEIR personality.
I love the show Seinfeld, but if I bumped into Michael Richards (who plays Kramer) on the street, I’d have no idea what to talk with him about on a personal level. I only know him as his character, not as himself.
However I bumped into Gary Vaynerchuk with a friend, and we all had a quality 40 minute conversation because it felt like we already knew him from this thousands of videos he posts:
Now I’ve also watched friends and fans of this blog try to become YouTubers, and inevitably they quit very early on.
To encourage people to keep it up, I wanted to show the sheer amount of time some of these YouTubers were posting videos, so we scraped a bunch of video stats and calculated:
- How much time it took famous YouTubers to get famous.
- How many videos they’ve posted.
- How many hours of videos they’ve posted.
- How these YouTubers make money.
- They top titles for their top videos.
We scraped data and analyzed the videos of 4 famous YouTube Channels:
- MKBHD – Marquess Brownlee
- iiSuperWoman – Lilly Singh
- Fine Brothers Entertainment
- View the full spreadsheet of raw data here.
Read on to see the findings and stats (and come up with ideas based on what you see)!
MKBHD (Marques BrownLee):
Topic: Tech gadget reviews.
Started posting on: March 29th, 2008.
Number of Videos: 862
Average Views: 596,552
Average Video Length: 7min 59sec
Average Title Length: 31 characters
Total Views: 513,630,856
Total Hours of Videos: 18hours 40min 30sec
Top 25 headlines List: [see all]
- iPhone 6 Sapphire Crystal Display!
- The iPhone 6 Model!
- iPhone 7 Unboxing: Jet Black vs Matte Black!
- iPhone 6s Impressions!
- The Truth About Beats by Dre!
- iPhone 7 Impressions: 10 New Things!
- Apple iPhone 5s Review!
- iPhone 7 with no Headphone Jack?!
- LG G Flex Self Healing Demo!
- Samsung Galaxy S7 & S7 Edge Impressions!
- Samsung Galaxy Note Edge Impressions!
- Google Glass Explorer Edition: Explained!
- The Bezel-less Smartphone: Xiaomi Mi Mix!
- Google Pixel Impressions!
- iPhone 6s Review!
- Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Review!
- Samsung Galaxy S6 Review!
- Apple iPhone 6 Review!
- Top 5 Best Headphones Under $200!
- Samsung Galaxy S5 Impressions!
- OnePlus 3 Review!
- iPhone 6 Impressions!
- Nexus 6P Review!
- Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Review!
- HTC One M8 Review!
It’s interesting to note literally ALL of his top-viewed videos have an exclamation point (!) in the title.
Graph of MKBHD video views over time:
One of the important things to notice here is that Marques Brownlee was consistently posting YouTube videos for four years before he experienced any sort of great success.
It shows the patience and dedication he put into the channel out of the sheer love of putting out videos about tech gadgets. You can see his old videos here, and most of them were not viewed very much (although now that he’s popular people go and re-watch the old videos).
iiSuperWomanii (Lilly Singh):
Topic: Funny videos.
Started posting on: December 9th, 2010.
Number of Videos: 523
Average Views per Video: 2,935,531
Average Video Length: 7min 21sec
Average Title Length: 32 characters
Total Views: 1,526,476,273
Total Hours of Videos: 16hours 2min 40sec
Top 25 headlines List: [see all]
- How Girls Get Ready…
- How To Stop Parents from Comparing Kids (ft. Miranda Sings)
- Types of Kids at School
- #LEH – IISuperwomanII & Humble The Poet (Official Video)
- The Difference Between Brown and White Girls
- How I Clean My Room
- Types of Parents
- Nicki Minaj – Anaconda | My Parents React (Ep. 6)
- Types of Teachers at School
- A Trip to Unicorn Island – Official Trailer – YouTube Red Original Movie
- Girls On Their Periods.
- 5 Things Guys Do That Girls Love (ft. D-Trix)
- The Rules of Racism (ft. Ryan Higa)
- Types of Crushes
- If My Period Was A Person ft. Connor Franta
- The Girl Code (ft. Grace Helbig, Harto, Jenna Marbles, Mamrie Hart, Miranda Sings)
- If Boys Got Their Period
- How My Parents Fell In Love (ft. Kunal Nayyar)
- If My Brain Were A Person (ft. Connor Franta)
- How My Parents See Things…
- When White People Listen to Indian Music
- Instagram Pictures | My Parents React (Ep. 4)
- Draw My Life | Superwoman
- How To Be a YouTube Star (ft. The Rock)
- Types of Commercials
Graph of iiSuperWomanii video views over time:
It’s interesting to note that Lilly Singh is on the faster-end of getting some YouTube notoriety. In about one year she started getting some reasonable traction, but it wasn’t until 2-3 years later it started exploding, with all her videos regularly getting massive amounts of views.
Topic: Science educational videos.
Started posting on: June 24th, 2010.
Number of Videos: 324
Average Views per Video: 3,320,155
Average Video Length: 10min 24 sec
Average Title Length: 32 characters
Total Views: 1,082,370,598
Total Hours of Videos: 8hours 29min 23sec
Top 25 headlines List: [see all]
- What If Everyone JUMPED At Once?
- Is Your Red The Same as My Red?
- Why Do We Kiss?
- How High Can We Build?
- This Is Not Yellow
- Guns in Space
- Travel INSIDE a Black Hole
- What Color Is A Mirror?
- What’s The Most Dangerous Place on Earth?
- Why Are Things Creepy?
- Is Earth Actually Flat?
- Will We Ever Run Out of New Music?
- Why Are Bad Words Bad?
- What If The Earth Stopped Spinning?
- What if You Were Born in Space?
- Is The 5-Second Rule True?
- What If The Sun Disappeared?
- The Banach鈥揟arski Paradox
- Spooky Coincidences?
- Moving Illusions
- What Does Human Taste Like?
- Is Anything Real?
- How Big Can a Person Get?
- Princess! NOOOO! … IMG! #32
- What Is The Speed of Dark?
Graph of Vsauce video views over time:
It took about 1 1/2 years for Vsauce to really start popping. However if you watch interviews with Michael Stevens (the presenter in all the Vsauce videos), he actually set out with the intention of becoming a big YouTube star by trying out multiple channel angles such as video game reviews and funny videos.
Eventually he stumbled upon science explanation videos which took off for him, and then dedicated the channel to just those. He basically threw spaghetti at the wall, and saw what stuck!
Fine Brothers Entertainment:
Topic: Reaction channel (people watch videos and react to them) and funny videos.
Started posting on: June 4th, 2007.
Number of Videos: 1,115
Average Views per Video: 4,158,963
Average Video Length: 7min 8sec
Average Title Length: 41
Total Views: 4,599,813,411 (holy cow)!!
Total Hours of Videos: 12hours 28min 58sec
How makes money: Movie sponsorships. TV show sponsorships. YouTube Ads. YouTube Red content. Sponsored reviews. Also has a giant reaction channel.
Top 25 headlines List: [see all]
- YouTubers React to Try to Watch This Without Laughing or Grinning
- KIDS REACT TO HARLEM SHAKE
- Teens React to Bullying (Amanda Todd)
- Kids React to Gay Marriage
- TEENS REACT TO GANGNAM STYLE
- TEENS REACT TO PEWDIEPIE!
- KIDS REACT TO NYAN CAT
- YouTubers React To Short Viral Videos
- Teens React to Nicki Minaj – Anaconda
- Teens React to Epic Rap Battles of History
- YouTubers React to Japanese Commercials (Ep #9)
- ELDERS REACT TO DUBSTEP (SKRILLEX)
- CELEBRITIES REACT TO VIRAL VIDEOS
- YouTubers React to Knife Game Song (Ep. #7)
- YouTubers React to Try to Watch This Without Laughing or Grinning #2
- YouTubers React to Viral Videos Ep. #2 (Chocolate Rain, Justin Bieber, Magibon)
- YouTubers React to Shrek is Love, Shrek is Life
- ELDERS REACT TO EMINEM
- TEENS REACT TO SLENDER MAN
- YOUTUBERS REACT TO RICKROLL (Ep. #5)
- TEENS REACT TO THRIFT SHOP (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis)
- Teens React to Dumb Ways to Die
- YouTubers React to K-pop
- YOUTUBERS REACT TO VINES (Will Sasso Lemons, EverybodySpurts, Ryan Gosling won’t eat His cereal)
- YouTubers React to Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared
The Fine Brothers kind of pioneered this brilliant (yet kind of sneaky) type of video called a “Reaction Video.” It’s basically where they show a video from the internet, and have people comment on it.
Content creators HATTTTEEE this type of video, because “reaction channels” will re-post the content with other people watching. There was a huge controversy over this.
As an outside oberver, I actually like reaction videos. You get to see the video itself, AND watch people react to it which is kind of fun! One of my personal favorites is watching Elders React to Elvis!
This Fine Brothers Channel is absolutely massive, and they also have OTHER dedicated reaction channels. They’ve definitely figured out a way to churn out massive amounts of entertaining videos using this reaction method.
All these YouTubers have 3 things in common:
1.) They have talent: They are either very funny, very interesting, or very smart. Some of the channels (like Numberphile) have hosts who are not amazingly charismatic, but are extremely intelligent.
2.) They post frequently: Almost none of these very popular channels have a large gap in posting. Most of them post several times a month. Lilly Singh (iiSuperWomanii) even has a whole separate channel where she posts 1 video per day IN ADDITION to her main channel.
3.) They started off because they loved it: It seems zero of the channels I follow started YouTube’ing because they thought they’d become big stars (8 years ago there were no “YouTube Stars” at all).
Benefits of Being a YouTube Star:
Once you make it, it seems there’s nowadays A LOT of benefits to being a famous YouTuber:
They get sponsored promotions.
They get access to cool stuff: SmarterEveryDay got access to the president, a fighter jet, and a dude that showed you can safely land a helicopter even if you cut the engine off!
They get access to cool people: Marques BrownLee (MKBHD) got an exclusive interview with Craig Federighi at an Apple event (and it’s pretty rare people get to interview Apple executives). Computerphile got an exclusive interview with billionaire trader James Simons.
They have viewerships larger than any cable channel: With the exception of major sporting events or mega-smash-hit TV shows, most cable channels never get more than 2,000,000 views on anything. Meanwhile, most of these top YouTubers get far more than that on EVERY VIDEO! Also, the cable viewership numbers are extremely flawed and not measured accurately, whereas YouTube numbers are much more reliable. iiSuperWomanii’s top 5 videos have nearly a combined 100,000,000 views (not to mention the clips of them on FB, SnapChat, and Instagram). That’s more than almost any cable channel can possibly reach.
They get to interact with (and steal) their huge audience: If you have a famous YouTube channel people loyally follow, you can point them to your other channels also: Email, Instagram, SnapChat, Facebook, Twitter etc.. Most of these famous YouTubers have enormous followings on MULTIPLE channels, not just YouTube.
They’re videos are automatically shown to their subscribers: YouTube not only hosts the videos for free, but also distributes them to users feeds AND emails them about new videos posted. The distribution is already handled instantly, unlike traditional TV where you can’t do that.
With Eyeballs, comes Advertising dollars!: If you’re routinely getting 1,000,000+ views on each of your videos, advertisers and sponsors will come-a-knockin. Dell sponsored an iiSuperWomanii video before the back-to-school rush. Headphone companies send MKBHD free schwag and products all the time.
You can get a book deal or TV show in two seconds: If you have the distribution to sell more than 10,000 books yourself, publishers will do ANYTHING to sign you. Most of the YouTube stars actually never opt to write a book or do a traditional TV show because there’s often LESS money in those than their current sponsorships!
See the Raw YouTube Stats Here:
We compiled this free spreadsheet for you. It contains 4 tabs with each channel’s:
–Scraped YouTube stats–
–Video View Counts–
Click the image above to view the spreadsheet.
File –> Make a Copy.
File –> Download As Excel.
P.S. Here are some of my personal favorite YouTube Channels:
- Computerphile – Cool computer explanations.
- Numberphile – Cool math experiments and explanations.
- iiSuperWomanii – Funny & silly vids by Lilly Singh.
- Every Elon Musk Video – Literally explains in the channel name :)
- Every Steve Jobs Video – Literally explains in the channel name :)
- Gary Vaynerchuk – Motivations, hustle, Q&A from CEO of VaynerMedia.
- SmartEveryDay – Cool sciency videos.
- MKBHD – Great tech reviews.
- Y Combinator – The Venture Fund in Silicon Valley, they get a lot of cool speakers.
- Engineer Guy – Cool explanations of engineering stuff.
- Johnross Reyes – Buddy in Austin who makes vlogs.