I was watching a video with MrBeast (who has 94,000,000 YouTube subscribers) and MKBHD (who has 15,000,000 YouTube subscribers) and they were talking about success on YouTube and how MrBeast approaches it.
About halfway through the video MrBeast laid out his entire strategy in one sentence.
This is me paraphrasing:
"For a long time I chased subscribers and views and all of those metrics, but it really boils down to this. Everything will come if you make the best videos possible. So, my goal is to make the best YouTube videos I possibly can."
That is the dude's entire focus - making better videos. How can he make better videos? Whatever the answer, he invests in that.
That is ridiculously simple and obviously effective.
Here is why MrBeast’s strategy works so well...
In the world of YouTube, there is one key metric that tells you everything you need to know about video quality - average % viewed. That tells you how much of the video people watch before they drop off. The best possible would be 100% - every single person who sees the video watches all of the video. The worst would be 0% - nobody watches any of the video at all.
Average % viewed is one of the best lenses into what is really working in a video. Did it connect to the audience? Did the video ramble on for too long in the intro? Is there a hook? That metric can tell tell you a lot of that (or at least point you in the right direction).
In short, is your video boring or awesome? Does anyone want to watch?
The other key metric in YouTube is thumbnail click through rate - is your thumbnail worth clicking? Does the video look interesting enough to even start watching? If nobody clicks, the video gets no views!
Between average percentage viewed and thumbnail CTR, someone can probably predict the success of a YouTube channel. If a channel has over 50% view percentage and something like 10% thumbnail CTR, it will win the YouTube algorithm over time.
In short... quality thumbnail + quality video = YouTube success
Based on what I've heard and read elsewhere regarding MrBeast, that is what he means when he said he focuses on making the best videos possible.
Why should I care if I’m not making videos?
Now, why does that matter to all of you programmers reading this? You probably don't want to hear about YouTube stats. Where am I going with this?
Well, our field has a pretty similar deal. If you want to find your way up the ladder of success as a programmer - focus on making the best software you possibly can.
There are a million different ways to do this. Improve your code quality, write more and better tests, improve the software user experience, get your team to work together more effectively. Seriously, there are so many different ways you can improve the software you create.
But it always comes back to making the best software you possibly can. The programmers who focus on making better software tend to win over time.
How To Measure Software Quality
Now how do you measure making better software? I'm sure there are lots of different ways to get there. I'm personally a fan of looking at a combination of quantity or impact of code shipped vs. quality or defects in code shipped.
So, sometimes that could be as simple as comparing stories/tasks/features that made it out to production against the amount of bugs or incidents generated over some period of time. Other times I might look at impact of a specific project in terms of overall benefit to process or product quality.
In general, it boils down to the question of - "Am I getting better at this?" and the answer to that question rarely requires numbers to figure out. As people, we tend to have a good instinct about what direction we are heading in terms of the quality of our craft if we are honest with ourselves.
Are you getting better at this?
Is the code you write today better than it was a year ago? Hopefully your answer is yes.
Is your software better than it was a month ago? Hopefully your answer is yes.
You don't need fancy metrics to figure that stuff out at all. It usually boils down to being honest with yourself. Every single one of us (myself included), has massive areas we can improve in. That is a tremendous opportunity!
The trick is to reframe and reset your perspective to see the opportunity for what it is. As long as you are willing to improve there is no limit to your opportunity in this lifetime. That is a powerful mindset to acquire. You don't have to always be the best. You don't have to have all the answers.
You only need to purposely improve your performance.
For MrBeast, that means making the best videos he possibly can. For us programmers, that means making the best software we possibly can. And for anyone else reading this, I’m sure there is an area of your life you can improve too.
The trick is you keep seeking out new ways to get better all the time. You never stop.
That's MrBeast’s "secret".
P.S. Thanks for reading and here is another great video where MrBeast is talking to Joe Rogan on what it took to succeed on YouTube