Marques Brownlee, the man who achieved the YouTube dream everyone else wished they could bring to reality for themselves.
14.3 million subscribers later, and Marques is the biggest tech reviewing YouTuber on the planet.
For 13 years, Marques Brownlee has produced content on YouTube, 1.37k videos since starting his digital career.
Marques has a unique yet simple way of marketing himself on YouTube, specializing in reviewing the latest phones and gadgets in the business.
This clean and simple content creation makes for easy-to-watch content that still appeals to those interested in high-quality filmmaking.
Marques Brownlee does it all. He reviews phones, laptops, smartwatches, and other gadgets.
1. Marques Brownlee Films With The Most Advanced Equipment On YouTube
Discussing gear can be a complex conversation that we both know can be difficult to wrap your head around. A basic overview will be given to understand the level of technology Marques uses to film his content.
Marques breaks down his lenses into a few categories:
- Wide-angle lens:
Perfect for revealing the entire scene of what you are shooting. Many content creators use these to have more space to edit with, allowing for jump cuts and animating text onto the screen.
- Medium telephoto lens:
These lenses can make the subject of a video appear closer than they appear. This works well for shooting subjects at a distance; this is done by having a longer focal length.
- Macro lens:
When it comes to filming a subject up close and personal, look no further than a macro lens. This is because they are the best at getting as close as possible to smaller objects, such as looking at a particular part of a phone or gadget.
Combining a set of these three lenses is what he calls “fundamentals” when shooting content. This allows you to have everything from close range to long range while capturing maximum detail.
His current camera he uses for shooting pictures is the Canon EOS R.
With 30.3MP, this camera is a heavyweight for shooting still shots for social media or taking pictures for thumbnails. However, essentially Marques goes completely overkill for his thumbnail quality. The dimensions for a high-quality thumbnail are 1280×720, which is way below the power of the EOS R.
This points back to what content creation is all about for Marques. It’s about shooting the highest quality content in the business.
As for his main video cameras, they change all the time as he purchases more updated versions. However, he is a massive fan of the RED camera series.
He also uses a point of view set up when looking at the hardware he’s reviewing.
Another aspect of gear that often gets overlooked in content creation is having the best audio possible. Marques goes to great length to ensure his voice sounds crystal clear on YouTube.
Marques’ first and only fundamental when it comes to audio is to have the microphone as close to the subject as possible.
Marques uses a shotgun mic in particular and has it as close as possible to him without protruding into the scene.
Lighting is also crucial; Marques always has his lighting in front of him with his primary studio light off to the side slightly to highlight that side of his face.
2. Marques Brownlee Is A Master At YouTube Video Editing
Marques splits his footage up into “A-roll” and “B-roll.” A-roll being the primary footage of him talking in front of the camera, and the B-roll being everything else you see when he’s not talking to the camera.
As a content creator, Marques utilities clean and smooth video editing tactics. For example, he makes use of zooms which are done in video editing software.
There are two main effects he achieves with the zoom he uses. The first is to emphasize a point he is making simply.
And the second is to zoom while panning slightly to the left to allow room for text while emphasizing the point even more with the text.
You’ll notice that Marques spends a lot of time in front of the camera just simply talking. Many other content creators may break up their monologues and with editing effects and transitions like Dan Lok, for example.
You wouldn’t expect his content to hold your attention so well, but the saying “less is more” certainly applies to Marques.
The zoom effect, which is used instead of a jump cut, adds to the smoothness of the operation. However, it’s also used rather sparingly and feels like a DSLR camera’s lens is being rotated for a gradual zoom effect.
Compared to jump cuts that the rest of the internet is used to seeing, the zoom is quite noticeable and overt. It’s different and appears to be unique to Marques and his content.
The font he chooses as well is loud, clear, and slanted. It often appears with the zoom effect, which pans slightly left or right to allow room for the text to come into focus.
Marques also hosts extremely professional interviews. When he interviews his guests, they aren’t some trash zoom meeting that looks super laggy.
He goes to the effort to have high-quality recordings of both parties on either side. For example, when he interviewed Mark Zuckerberg, Brownlee and Zuckerberg had pristine quality on their webcams.
Here’s the thing though, neither of them is using webcams to record. They only use it to talk to each other. So realistically, there would be some form of a massive DSLR camera or another high-definition video camera set up beforehand on both sides for the interview.
3. Marques Brownlee Finds Innovative Ways To Grow His YouTube Channel
Marques always gets asked, “Who is your biggest inspiration for your videos and work?”
His biggest inspiration has been studying Apple’s videography, especially their commercials and launch event videos. When you watch his content and compare it to how Apple presents its videography, you can see many similarities.
As a YouTuber, you must find something that inspires you and implement it in your content. Do not copy the creator, instead take bits and pieces of their style and mix it with your personality.
Authenticity and uniqueness are what drives new viewers to your channel.
If you compete with a particular niche within YouTube (niches are small markets with specific audiences and specialized offerings), try to become the creator that does something new that everyone else isn’t doing. Viewers don’t want to watch carbon copy creators producing similar content.
Marques needs to solve problems that most average creators don’t have. He keeps himself updated with the latest tech news, creates content, attracts more viewers, manages brand deals, and finds new ways to improve his presentation skills with technology, especially by studying companies like Apple and replicating it with the MKBHD style.
Marques does not have a massive team managing his channel as Apple does. With only five team members managing his channel, the MKBHD channel needs to be quick on its feet to ensure that videos get released at the right time.
On the other hand, Apple has the time, money, and resources to create marketing content for the products and services they release. So how is it possible for Marques and his team to replicate Apple’s superior team? They fill a void that Apple cannot compete with.
(Note: Don’t look at the biggest tech companies and try to become like them. You will burn yourself out and give up on your dreams to become a successful businessman. These tech giants have devoted years, taken insane risks, and entered markets at the right time to become successful. Marques himself admitted that he would probably never be like Apple, and neither should you. Instead, take small nuggets of their strategies and implement them within your content.)
MKBHD releases content targeted towards a smaller audience looking for quick tech reviews, especially before purchasing new technology. Although Apple could technically create their own review channel on YouTube, everyone would prefer to watch a consumer’s perspective (someone like Marques) instead of the producer’s perspective (Apple.)
Marques faces competition every year within the YouTube tech space. Although Marques most likely views his competitors as partners that he would prefer to collaborate with, he most certainly tries to keep his #1 spot as the most trusted tech reviewer on YouTube.
He keeps this #1 spot by figuring out new ways to create review videos, whether that’s through purchasing new equipment, trying out new edits, reviewing new technology, presenting his information differently, and most importantly, creating content with a quickness.
With new technology coming out every month, Marques and his team need to create content as soon as possible before competing channels review it first. Although Marques is a borderline perfectionist, he knows that releasing content quickly and consistently is more important than making it perfect.
As you start your YouTube journey, stop trying to create perfect videos before you release them! You will make mistakes the first time you create a video. However, as you continue building, you will continually get better and develop new skills that you didn’t have in the past.
Marques said in an interview with Y Combinator, “A new phone just came out, go. You don’t get to sit on this for a while. You form the best thing you can, and if it’s 95% it’s done. That’s better than 99% there and still working on it.”
If you look back to when Marques Brownlee started his channel when he was in high school and compare it to today, the differences are astonishing. Marques went from an immature high school student filming at his parent’s house to a professional content creator with the best gadgets, brand deals, celebrity collaborations, and 14 million subscribers!
The advantage Marques has that most other tech reviewers don’t have is the obsession to innovate quickly while making mistakes along the way constantly.
Look at your YouTube channel as a journey that will have hundreds of mistakes and hundreds of successful moments along the way. Your channel will take years to perfect if you take it seriously. However, if you accept that you will suck along the way and continue striving for success, you will kill it on YouTube!
4. Marques Brownlee Knows That Content Quality Matters More Than Expensive Equipment
If you watch Marques’s videos, you will notice how straightforward his content is. The white backgrounds, modern aesthetics, simple fonts, minimal animations, perfect lighting, state-of-the-art technology, and clean transitions.
Marques knows how to deliver artistically engaging content to his audience.
You might be asking yourself, do I need to invest all of my money in equipment that will give me the crispiest quality? No, you don’t, and Marques would also agree after he told Peter Mckinnon the reason why he cares so much about his quality.
He explained to Peter that there is no point in creating high-quality content. If he wanted to, he could shoot everything with a DSLR, and his videos would have the same effect as the videos with the most expensive equipment.
Marques told Peter that he uses the most impressive camera gear to attract the 1% audience that cares about his quality. These people tend to be the loyal fans, YouTubers, content creators, and the big brands that reach out to him.
The point of the matter is to explain that creators like Marques agree that expensive equipment doesn’t do much. The content is what drives you to the top of YouTube.
You probably will not have diehard fans, YouTubers, or massive companies obsessing over your videos as a beginner.
If you play the YouTube game correctly, you will have the ability to purchase fancy equipment down the road, but you should never obsess over equipment, especially when starting.
However, there is one key aspect you can control without having to spend ungodly amounts of money. This skill will require you to invest some time practicing to learn the best tricks, but it will help boost your channel to the next level once you understand it.
You need to learn how to create eye-catching and aesthetically pleasing thumbnails and titles.
You will suck at creating thumbnails at first, but it’s okay. With time you will gradually improve and reach the point where you will quickly have the ability to catch viewers’ attention and click on the video (high click-through rates.)
If you want to start learning how to begin creating thumbnails, we recommend you use Photoshop and Lightroom or Canva (Canva works well and is super easy to use, but it’s minimal with its features.) We recommend Photoshop and Lightroom more because of the unlimited features it has.
If you’re going to use Adobe’s software, learn the basics first and gradually move up to more complex features. For example, you don’t need to be an expert to create good thumbnails on Photoshop and Lightroom.
Check out PiXemperfect on YouTube if you want to start learning how to use Photoshop and Lightroom. He breaks everything so simply that even a 3rd grader can understand it.
Once you learn how to use either Photoshop and Lightroom or Canva, thumbnails will become a piece of cake to design.
In Marques’s MKBHD Gear Tour video, he quickly mentioned that he freestyles thumbnails as he shoots the videos with his team. So if he sees something that looks cool, he’ll grab a snapshot with his camera and make it the video’s thumbnail with a few edits with Photoshop.
It’s okay to come up with thumbnail ideas on the fly.
Thumbnails and titles are super important, but you don’t need to be spending days or weeks planning them out. You should be able to come up with a thumbnail idea and design it within 1 hour.
After you consistently create thumbnails for your channel, you will come up with thumbnail ideas quickly. It’s a learnable skill that doesn’t require you to master graphic design.
Let’s check out Marques’s thumbnails and rip open his strategy.
In Marques’ Skillshare course, he explained that YouTube rewards quality over quantity. As a creator, you should focus on creating the best content versus the most content. If you put a half-assed effort into your videos, thumbnails, and titles, you will most likely get mediocre results.
When designing thumbnails and titles, you will have two buckets of people, according to Marques. Those who watch your videos through the sub box and those who scan your videos through the search.
(We would also like to add that Marques most likely gets most of his views from browse and the suggested feeds, not just the search and subscriber feeds.)
You need to create thumbnails that can be seen from far away distances. The best way to do this is by zooming out with your editing software to determine if you can see the text, object, or face.
If you can see the thumbnail when it’s zoomed out, the chances are that the viewers will see it on their phones. (Most YouTube users use their phones to watch videos. So make sure to create thumbnails that phone users can see!)
Another critical aspect of every thumbnail design is an eye-catching title. YouTube users will always direct their attention to the thumbnail first, then read the tile.
Marques knows this fact and creates titles that complement the thumbnails.
To make sure the titles are readable to the viewer, he makes them straightforward, punchy, and has a bit of emotion. If you look at his videos, you will notice that his titles are super short.
Try to keep your titles as short as possible. We recommend you check out the thumbsup.tv tool to see what your thumbnail looks like throughout 3 different screens (Mobile, Computer, and TV.) Make sure that the titles don’t get cut off.
Here’s a fact that fascinated us as we were watching Marcus’s skillshare course. Marcus mentioned that when creating titles that get clicks, you need to use Betteridge’s law of headlines.
It states that “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”
Try to avoid titles with questions that are too obvious. For example, if you type a title that says, “is …. too good to be true?” The subject you are talking about probably isn’t too good to be true, and the user will not click on the video (Therefore, the question you asked in the title will be answered with a “no” by your viewers.)
Question Marks are great ways to bait your viewer into watching the video but remember not to make the bait obvious.
Instead, you can do what Marques does with his thumbnails, which is not to get worried about giving away too much and think about how you can use your thumbnail and title to present what’s behind the title and thumbnail.
Marques Brownlee excels at producing aesthetically pleasing content by going out of his way to use the most updated and high-tech gear on the market at all times. In addition, he presents his videos in a very streamlined manner with a relaxed personality making his content easy to watch.
As a true veteran in the game of YouTube, he has been around for years and first started when YouTube was first created.
The videography that goes into his video is rather complex, with robotic arms, high-end cameras, and other crazy gadgets to film content. Whereas the video editing afterward isn’t very intensive. Only cuts, zoom, text, and B-roll are the primary tools in Marques’ arsenal.
Marques has created the perfect storm for success on YouTube. With a blend of providing value and aesthetics, it’s easy to see why his content has taken him so far on the platform.
If you had the opportunity to create content when YouTube was in its early development stages, do you think you would make it and have millions of subscribers like Marques?