YouTuber Markian Benhamou takes to the spotlight with an important message

By Anirudh Kannan

The YouTube sensation speaks to YP cadet Anirudh Kannan about the challenges of fame

By Anirudh Kannan |

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Markian Benhamou takes his message to the internet - and to the streets.

Markian Benhamou, a 17-year-old student at Kellett School, has a message for you: "Life is more fun when you smile and make people happy. Get out of your comfort zone and try something new: you will learn a lot."

This is his mission statement, and he's trying to spread it through his YouTube channel, "Markian".

The message he advocates rings loud and clear to his dedicated and dynamic fan base, and, as he enters his second year of being a YouTuber, he seems on the way to becoming a national phenomenon.

For such a young person, Markian has amassed a wealth of wisdom thanks to his experience as an entrepreneur. Surprisingly, it was only a year ago that Markian made his first foray into the world of digital media.

"I started making YouTube videos a year ago after I came up with the idea of Subscriber Club," he said. "Subscriber Club is a website where subscribers can interact with their favourite YouTubers."

However, like all entrepreneurs worth their salt, he had to change his approach when he realised there wasn't an audience for his first business idea.

"My first content was about the business of YouTube, but I quickly changed the theme as I realised there wasn't much potential in that field."

He also experienced the problem that all up-and-coming YouTubers face: "There is so much competition on YouTube, so the only way to stand out is to be known for something original."

He finally did find a niche, and urges YouTube hopefuls to do the same.

"I'm known as the nice guy who makes people smile. I do a series called Smile Talk which consists of funny 'small talk' public interactions to make people smile. I am also one of the few foreign YouTubers living in Hong Kong," said Markian, pointing out some of the things that make his brand unique.

He's made the most of his time in Hong Kong, linking up with various local YouTubers to create bilingual and multicultural videos. These get more views than most of his other videos, and earn hundreds of positive comments as well.

His channel shows him as both a fun-loving, energetic adolescent, as well as a member of Generation Z who truly cares about the future. Markian says that he tries to convey "a bit of both", explaining that while most of his videos aim to make people smile, he also uses his popularity and growing fan base to share helpful messages and spur positive change.

For example, his video Teenager's Earth Day 2015 documented the efforts of teens around the world as they attempted to come up with creative solutions to common environmental problems.

Despite his sunny outlook, Markian finds being a YouTuber a tough job. So what's the hardest part? "Being consistent with video uploads. I've posted two videos every week since I've started and it has been a tough job considering everything else I have to do."

Now entering Year 13 at Kellett, he'll have to work harder than ever to maintain this consistency. It's already been a busy year for Markian. He's collaborated with other YouTubers, held a meet-up, and went to the annual VidCon, held in southern California in the US and attended by thousands of fellow YouTubers.

It's because of this hard work that Markian has become a famous face in his own right, with more than 22,000 subscribers and 700,000 views. And this growing popularity is starting to pay off financially: the average YouTuber earns US$1.50 per 1,000 views, so Markian's already earned slightly more than US$1,000.

There's also been some unexpected and exciting side-effects: "People recognise me on the streets. Or when I did the meet-up in Hong Kong: I never expected 40 people to show up!"

He has great support from his fans, other Hong Kong-based YouTubers (such as Carlos Douh), and his network of worldwide YouTuber friends, many of whom are featured in the VidCon videos on his channel.

The charming teenager owes his success to a lot of trial and error, saying he's gained a lot from it.

"I've learned the importance of creativity and confidence to attract an audience and make good-quality videos."