First things first – I don’t consider my YouTube channel to be small.

Nearly 100,000 subscribers and around 800,000 monthly views is monstrous for someone who started his channel in 2020 and who genuinely thought it would take ten years for anything meaningful to happen.

But in today’s money, that is a relatively small channel. That’s how huge the creator economy is these days, and it’s also why you might be surprised by how much it costs to run, maintain, and grow such a business.

My intention today isn’t to put you off starting your own YouTube channel. The costs I’m about to reveal are the result of far more than a side hustle, hobby, or experiment; I started Mark Ellis Reviews nearly three years ago as a business, and it has been my full-time endeavour since last February.

If you want to become a successful content creator and solopreneur, you’ll need to approach your YouTube channel with the same mindset. As you’re about to find out, you’ll need to budget properly, too!

The tools of the trade

The good news is that you don’t really need anything more than a smartphone to start a YouTube channel in 2023. You can create videos on such a device from start to finish; shooting, editing, and uploading no longer require a laptop.

That isn’t ambitious enough for me, though. Right from the start, I wanted Mark Ellis Reviews to be a thriving, growing, exciting business in which to work. As you might guess, that increases the weight of one’s tool belt somewhat.

I had a number of unfair advantages when I started my YouTube channel. Having spent several years as a freelance videographer, I had most of the visual tools required to shoot great-looking videos. As a reviewer of predominantly Apple products, I had the computer hardware constantly on tap, too.

That still isn’t enough for an ambitious YouTube brand, though. Over the last twelve months, I’ve added significantly to my overheads with studio space, software, additional studio tools, and review units.

The impact on my budget has been sobering.

How much it cost to run Mark Ellis Reviews in 2022

The first and largest cost I had to bear in 2022 was studio rent. Having spent the first two years of my YouTube channel operating from our back bedroom, I was craving more space, and towards the end of 2021, I finally move out.

My studio isn’t huge. It consists of just over 10,000 square feet of space spread over two floors. Thankfully, it sits below the business rates threshold in England, so that’s one cost saved, but it still sets me back just over £13,000 per year.

This is the largest overhead I’ve ever had to contend with, but it’s also the single best decision I ever made for the brand.

Sitting in second place behind the studio rent is the amount I spent on review units last year. I should highlight at this juncture that, while I do get sent some stuff from brands, I have to buy the biggies from the likes of Apple and Samsung. If a new Mac gets announced, I have to budget for it, and the same goes for many of the flagship smartphones that hit the shelves each year.

As a result, I spent just over £11,000 on devices, headphones, computers, and accessories purely for review purposes in 2022. Although many are repurposed as devices within the business, some are used once and turned into background interest for b-roll. Thankfully, review units fuel my content and bring in the audience, which in turn generates revenue – so they can be very profitable indeed.

There are a bunch of software tools I rely on to run Mark Ellis Reviews, too. These range from Notion to Zoom, Dropbox, and many other platforms. Without them, I’d lose most of the automation that saves me hours of time each week, and I wouldn’t be able to work as efficiently. The total annual cost for these services is around £4,000.

These days, I outsource PR and talent management. It’s what got me an invaluable foot in the door with Porsche and a number of other brands with whom I’d struggle to strike up a relationship on my own. Although I can’t reveal the exact cost for this (that would be unfair on the PR company), I can say that it amounts to about 10% of my turnover.

Despite having most of the tools of the trade for video work, I still spent £6,500 on studio gear last year. Although trust me, if I had less self-control, that number would quickly spiral out of control!

I’ve picked out the headline numbers above. There are many more fees, charges, and investments I make for the business each month that, last year, resulted in a total expenditure of around £44,000.


It’s not an inconsequential amount of money, is it?

Making it profitable

I made a decent profit last year, and that £44,000 of outgoings contributed to my ability to make that profit. As the old adage goes, you have to spend money to make money, and that absolutely applies to profitable content businesses.

How do I keep it profitable? It’s pretty simple. I only buy what I need and what I know will have a measurable impact either on my productivity, regained time, ability to draw in an audience or overall business efficiency.

Combine that with a resolute focus on creating multiple sources of revenue, and you’ll find that any costs are quickly dwarfed by the money coming in. It’s infinitely scalable, too.

On that note, this year is a year of hired help for Mark Ellis Reviews. There’s not much more I can do with software or tools when it comes to buying back my own time. By calling on the services of external experts and hard-working assistants, my diary will slowly clear, enabling me to focus on what matters: creating more – and better – content.

For that reason, it’ll cost a lot more to run Mark Ellis Review in 2023, but by the same token, the audience should grow even larger, in line with the revenue. I’ll report back in 12 months’ time.

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