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The Business of Influence with MKBHD

Excellent interview by Nilay Patel of YouTuber Marques Brownlee, aka MKBHD:

I still edit 99 percent of everything. I have the motion graphics artist and cinematographer, Vinh and Brandon, who will just go in on eight hours of editing for the first seven seconds of the intros and fun stuff like that. But I’m 99 percent of the edit, I’m writing everything, and I think at the end of the day, it’s still my face and it’s still my presentation of my ideas. Andrew is sort of a co-producer and assistant. We share the vision of how the thing grows and what we want to make. But I really say “we” because I just like to give credit to the people who’ve made it possible.

When the pandemic started, it felt like a throwback where it was just me making things again. I gave everyone the chance to get home and stay safe. And I realized, this is kind of how it started and it’s really hard to make the stuff you want to make this way. It’s a team process and I like to give credit for that.

Including some interesting tidbits about the business of being primarily a content creator on YouTube:

So, YouTube ads is the primary, fundamental way that YouTubers make money. You upload a video, there’s ads somewhere on it or in it, and the YouTuber gets paid for the placement of those ads because they brought the eyeballs to the video.

The deeper understanding of that is, there’s different types of ads. There’s the ads that are built into YouTube through the AdSense program. That’s one version of it. You don’t really get to control those ads, but you can still have banner ads, you can have pre-rolls, mid-roll video ads, things like that. And there’s a whole ecosystem there where you try to find a balancing act between how many ads do you place? Do you put mid-rolls in your videos or not?

But then there’s also the integrations that you do control, which can be inside the videos. Sometimes it’s a pre-roll, you say “this video is sponsored by…” You have an integrated section inside of a video or a post-roll. You get control over that, which is often very beneficial because that’s way better targeting for the company who’s trying to talk to somebody. And then there’s all kinds of other alternate ways that YouTube channels make money. For example, we have a merch store.