There comes a time in every YouTuber’s career when one has to conduct a giveaway.

Sometimes, this will be encouraged by a sponsor partnership, or by the fact that the studio desperately needs a clearout.

When I gave away my M1 Mac mini earlier this month, it was for neither of those reasons (although my studio does need a clearout), but it is easily one of the most satisfying things I’ve done since starting this business.

This is the story of what that M1 Mac mini meant to me, why I decided to give it away, and the reason I chose the winner.

What it meant to me

I’m the sort of person who gets attached to technology – but it has to be for a particular reason.

My iPhone doesn’t count. As technically impressive as it is, and as much as it might be welded into my production process (thanks, Apple ecosystem), it doesn’t hold a special place in my heart. It never has.

The Apple Watch Ultra, for as ridiculously over-the-top, scuba diving-ready, and impressive as it might be, doesn’t occupy a place in my heart, either. I just find it fascinating.

As amazing as the M1 MacBook Air is, I’ve never been head-over-heels attached to it. I’m just massively impressed by it – constantly.

The M1 Mac mini is a different story – that’s a computer which does mean an awful lot to me. And the reason is simple – it helped me build this business from a production perspective while simultaneously being one of the main drivers of views and subscribers. My growing audience has always loved that computer, and I cannot thank it enough for the 80-plus videos it helped me create during those early days.

So, why give this thing away?

The downside of being a tech reviewer

I wouldn’t change my job for the world. It’s the most rewarding, exciting, and exhilarating thing I’ve ever done, professionally.

However, being a tech reviewer encourages an unrealistic ownership experience. I swap smartphones, tablets, and computers far more regularly than any consumer or business owner. I have to – it’s my job to check out the latest stuff. The problem is that I often have to let go of devices far too early to make way for the latest thing.

Despite this, the M1 Mac mini survived for an awfully long time, relatively, in tech reviewer land. Due to its always-surprising grunt and ability to sail through 4K video edits with ease, I struggled to justify replacing it too early.

Alas, I had to eventually. The M1 Max 16-inch MacBook Pro made the M1 Mac mini redundant. I briefly considered putting the latter to use as the brains behind my music production project, but then Apple surprised us with the M2 ProMac mini.

This left me with three choices: allow the M1 Mac mini to gather dust, frame and mount it on the wall, or give it to someone else.

I’m glad I chose the latter.

The lucky winner

As you might suspect, the decision to give away my M1 Mac mini was in part a marketing decision. By asking that people follow me on Instagram to stand a chance of winning, I could boost the size of my audience on that platform.

This is a risky endeavour. Giveaways are notorious for doing nothing more than artificially increasing the size of an audience. New followers arrive in the hope that they might win, only to hit the unfollow button immediately when they lose out to someone else.

That aside, and for anyone interested in this content creator game, the giveaway was a resounding success, increasing my audience on Instagram by 43% and, thus far, losing very few new followers after announcing the winner.

I kept the rules simple. All I wanted to know was what each giveaway entrant would do with the M1 Mac mini if it arrived on their doorstep.

I received an overwhelming number of entries. Someone wanted it for their dad, who had recently lost his job. Another wrote a song about why they’d use it “to make loads of money”. But there was one entry in particular that stuck out a mile. It came from a chap in Florida, whose reason for wanting the M1 Mac mini was very close to my heart.

Why I picked the winner

When announcing the giveaway I made it clear that I wasn’t fishing for otherworldly entries. The simplest and most relatable reasons for wanting my beloved M1 Mac mini were far more likely to gain my attention, I noted.

This, inevitably, resulted in lots of people informing me how it would be put to use for “general stuff at home”. I genuinely liked that, but Jerry’s reasoning leapt off the page the second I spotted it.

“My long-term friend and I plan to kick off our podcast where we talk about being (new) dads.”

This was the one.

Firstly, Jerry is a new dad – something I can strongly relate to since my son entered the world nearly a year ago. As any parent will know, once you have your own little bundle of joy and constant worry, you become uniquely attuned to others experiencing the same life-changing event.

Jerry’s desire to put the Mac mini to use as part of his production setup for a new podcast venture sealed the deal. Given how important the M1 Mac mini was during the early days of Mark Ellis Reviews, it seems fitting that it should play a similar role in someone else’s venture.

The idea of passing on the baton and enabling that computer to help another content creator build their mini empire is so satisfying. I can’t wait to see what Jerry does with it, and I know he’ll have a blast using the M1 Mac mini to produce his podcast.

Wrapping up: my new Mac mini setup!

Although it will soon be winging its way to Florida, that M1 Mac mini left an indelible mark on me. I could have built this business with any number of Macs, but the effortlessness and pound-for-pound performance have left me with the desire to always have a Mac mini residing somewhere within my production setup.

That role is now being fulfilled by the rather brilliant M2 Pro Mac mini.

M2 Pro Mac mini review

In my studio, this new Mac mini is an occasional video editing machine and an unbelievably capable all-rounder. But its main role is that of the brains behind my music production work. I have some very exciting stuff planned in that area, and I have a feeling the M2 Pro Mac mini is going to work its way into the gaping M1 Mac mini-shaped hole in my heart.

In fact, I think it already has.

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