With the rise of YouTube, and its now established presence as a well-loved entertainment platform, the presence and power of influencers has grown to exciting heights. Not only has YouTube resulted in a whole new genre of entertainment within itself, it’s also dramatically changed the face of advertising, with influencer marketing now being a major way for businesses to promote their products.
From beauty gurus showcasing their favourite skin care products to techies discussing the evolution of smartphones, there is seemingly a channel for everyone. With so much choice and diversity in content, YouTube is a platform that caters to most people’s interests, which has resulted in some channels having audiences in the millions.
Of these is Arun Maini (Mrwhosetheboss), the UK’s most subscribed to tech influencer with a whopping 3.26 million subscribers. Arun’s channel consists of highly informative and in-depth tech reviews, advice on various different gadget brands, and fascinating commentaries on such topics as “What you didn’t know about Google” and “Why Foldable Phones will Fail…Then Succeed”.
TechRound recently spoke with Arun about his experience with YouTube, and his journey in becoming the most followed tech influencer in the country.
What inspired you to upload your first YouTube video?
“I remember having a tough time at school, and at the age of 14 my brother bought me my first Android Phone. It wasn’t remarkable, but I instantly fell in love with this piece of technology. I learned to customise it, hack it, overclock it – everything that you could do to make a smartphone perform and look better – I became the go-to in my peer group.”
“It was around this point, when I decided that I wanted to share this knowledge further, and YouTube seemed like the place to be – I never uploaded my first video with any intention of making a second, let alone YouTube becoming my career, but I’m incredibly thankful that I did push myself out of my comfort zone.”
When did you decide to start uploading more content and build up your channel?
“The first few years were very intermittent. I didn’t have the money or contacts to be able to always test the latest and greatest tech, so I would resort to reviewing products I already owned, or could borrow from others. This changed in August 2015. I made a video – a tutorial – explaining how people could turn their smartphones into hologram generators, and, at a time when my channel was averaging 3-5 thousand views per video, this one hit 300,000 overnight, and went on to hit a million, then 5 million and soon enough, 20 million.”
“My emails were full of companies wanting to interview me, people wanting to develop this idea further, and I’d never in my life felt such an incredible rush. The channel grew too, of course, from 35,000 subscribers to 70,000 in a week, but the more important take-away from this was me realising the potential of the world I had just entered.”
How did you find the process of starting up a YouTube channel, and what were the major challenges you faced along the way?
“Starting was actually the easy part. Any YouTube channel in its beginnings is inevitably nothing more than a hobby, so I would make videos with no expectation, whenever I had spare time. As I started to invest more time though, and the channel grew, the pressure mounted.”
“All of a sudden I had an audience, and should I ever take too long of a break from the platform, there was a constant fear of drifting into irrelevance. So some of the most difficult times have come when trying to juggle my two lives – my creative life, and the other half of me that was still determined to achieve the highest possible grades throughout school and university. Add to that the want to have a healthy social life and be involved with my university and it became a heavy load to carry.”
“Because YouTube is not something you can do half-heartedly, I sometimes felt like I was literally living two lives, and every hour spent in one would directly take out of time spent in the other.”
How have you overcome these challenges?
“Compromise. The only way I could possibly fit in everything I wanted to, was to make compromises. I would wake up 2 hours earlier in the mornings, to head to the park and get the footage I would need for the edit later that evening. I would go on nights out, but would regularly just drink water, so I could still work efficiently the next day. In the end, all stars aligned and I managed to walk out of university with the First-Class Honours that I went there for, alongside having grown my channel from 9,000 subscribers to about 300,000 – this is something I’ll always be grateful for.”
You’re now the UK’s most subscribed to tech influencer, has this been a gradual process or was there a certain point when things really started to take off?
“After graduating university, in 2017, having turned down my job offer at PWC, I decided to just run with it. I felt like all of a sudden a weight had been lifted from my shoulders and that I no longer had to juggle. My entire energy went into creating the YouTube channel I’d been wanting to make for years, and I relished it.”
“It took time for things to pick up, but from this point onwards, the acceleration began. I was uploading more, and improving faster than ever – I’d never felt both more determined, and more able to make this channel something great.”
What are your future plans for the channel? Is there anything coming up in 2020?
“Scale. I’m lucky in that I’ve grown enough of a channel to be able to make content on a larger scale, and this is the short-term future strategy.”
“For example, instead of unboxing one smartphone in a video, I might unbox ten, and instead of giving away 2 smartphones, I might give 20. This makes your content effectively more competitive, in this market for people’s attention, and helps larger channels to reinforce their growth.”
“I try to make every video better than the last, and so I also want to, by the end of the year, be able to look back at videos I’m making now, and cringe – that’s always a sign I’m moving forward, not just in numbers, but as a person.”
What advice would you give for anyone wanting to pursue a career in YouTube?
“Expect nothing. The more I spent time on YouTube the more I realise it is a pace where dreams can come true, but it is also a graveyard.”
“Only 2% of channels reach over 10,000 subscribers, and you’d really need at least 100,000 to make any kind of career out of it. It’s becoming increasingly competitive every day, and for anyone coming in now, my honest advice would be to approach it as a hobby. Hope that it grows, and really try to make it grow, but don’t expect it to, and be careful not to shut other doors to pursue YouTube, because there’s so much here that’s just not under your control.”