Marques Brownlee shares how podcasting can help creators succeed in today’s creator economy
Over the last decade, podcasting has rapidly evolved beyond just being an audio-only format on YouTube. Listeners can connect more personally with podcasters on the platform in ways they haven't done before. And most podcasting creators also benefit, as video offers more ways to generate revenue than audio.
Recently, I sat down with one of our most popular multi-format creators, Marques Brownlee, to learn more about his experiences in podcasting on YouTube. Marques’ original MKBHD channel has over 15 million subscribers on YouTube, growing humbly from the first video he made in high school about a laptop he bought. Today, he’s turned that video into a growing business that includes the WVFRM Podcast — co-hosted with Andrew Manganelli — an original content series, and a popular line of merchandise.
He shared how podcasting is delivering more opportunities, empowering him and other creators to thrive in the creator economy.
YouTube has a discoverability advantage. There are people independently searching for topics or guests that stumble across my podcast. That doesn’t happen on other platforms.” Marques Brownlee
Robert: You’re an incredibly successful video creator on YouTube. What made you and Andrew decide to start the Waveform podcast? And tell us why you decided to start a video podcast - what does video bring to your podcast?
Marques: The main MKBHD channel is polished for clarity. But Andrew and I have a lot of other thoughts that don’t necessarily fit into the video packaging. For us, the podcast is the right place to get into those things.
As for what the video format brings to the table, there’s an additional dimension of personality when you have a video component. There are nuggets of information that we can give that wouldn’t be available with audio only.
Robert: What does YouTube offer that perhaps other podcasting platforms/services do not? And do you feel like YouTube can be a meaningful place for you to build a sustainable business for your podcasts, relative to other platforms?
Marques: YouTube has a discoverability advantage. There are people independently searching for topics or guests that stumble across my podcast. That doesn’t happen on other platforms. We’ve really loved that.
There are also more analytics and control with YouTube - you get much more granular metrics for advertisers. And you can’t forget about the comments section - that’s the main way I interact with fans on the podcast and on the main channel and get their perspectives. And a lot of the tools to monetize content are already there on YouTube.
YouTube makes a lot of sense for things like search and discovery and audience overlap ... there are opportunities to build on each other.” Marques Brownlee
Robert: Like video ads, Channel memberships, Super Chat, Commerce, and so on.
Marques: Right. Plus, YouTube makes a lot of sense for things like search and discovery and audience overlap. Let’s say you’re watching basketball highlights and then you see a podcast with that player. That’s the biggest advantage for YouTube — there are opportunities to build on each other.
And there are lots of different use cases for YouTube — full-screen on a TV, windowed on a laptop, embedded on a website or even in the background over bluetooth speakers while driving. Does YouTube have plans to evolve the podcast playback experience separate from any other normal YouTube video?
Robert: We hear from users that they expect podcasts to accompany them throughout their day, whether they're at home, at work, or on the go. We're not there yet, but we're working hard to ensure we support key podcast journeys across multiple devices and experiences so we're available in all the places and moments in which users need us.
Marques: What defines a podcast on YouTube? I know there are plenty of 45-minute plus normal videos. There are also plenty of sub-20 minute videos of people with headphones on speaking into microphones. There are lots of gray areas in between. What do you consider a podcast?
This is what I love about YouTube and about creators in particular. Together, we're constantly innovating and redefining traditional formats and experiences.” Robert Kyncl
Robert: This is what I love about YouTube and about creators in particular. Together, we're constantly innovating and redefining traditional formats and experiences. For me, a podcast is a podcast if the creator calls it so - I don't think it's YouTube's role to define what is and isn't a podcast. I think that's resulting in the innovation we just talked about, and there are examples everywhere: we have video podcasts, live-streams, clips, highlights...
Marques: What’s your favorite or most unusual usage of the YouTube platform and its tools for podcasting that you’ve seen so far?