Johnson graduated from Norman North High School in Oklahoma, in 1999, however Johnson's Youtube profile states he was born and raised in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
In an interview with Wall Street Journal, Johnson says that he studied at Columbia University, as a history major, while his profile adds he was preparing to study law.
While attending Columbia University as a history major, Johnson started his first formatted show, Equals Three, as a way to combine two popular video styles, watching viral videos and video bloggers.
In Equals Three (stylized as "=3"), Ray William Johnson reviews, criticizes, and adds commentary to some of the internet's latest viral videos.Equals Three episodes are usually uploaded to his channel every Tuesday and Friday. In these episodes, Johnson interacts with his audience by posting a viewer-submitted "comment question of the day", then features five of his favorite comments in the preceding episode. Equals Three is on the most subscribed channel on YouTube, having over 5 million subscribers to date, and has been recognized by Guinness World Records.Because of his popularity, Equals Three episodes can consistently obtain several million views within a week. Johnson has been able to leverage his popularity to secure several celebrity guests on Equals Three, including Robin Williams, Gabriel Iglesias, Kal Penn, Margaret Cho, Bobby Lee, T.J. Miller, Garfunkel and Oates, John Cho, and Jason Biggs.
In January 2011, Johnson launched a collaborative YouTube channel called "YourFavoriteMartian", which features animated music videos.The songs are performed by a virtual band of four fictional cartoon characters: PuffPuff Humbert (vocals, voiced by Johnson), DeeJay (turntables), Axel Chains (drums), and Benatar (vocals, guitar/keytar).Johnson writes lyrics, raps, sings, composes beats, and sometimes collaborates with other musicians to produce the songs.
To date, Johnson has released 30 original songs, 1 remix, and 2 covers through the channel. As of May 2012, the channel has over 1.8 million subscribers, making it one of the most subscribed channels on YouTube, and over 372 million video views. Due to the rapid growth of popularity of the channel and the music videos getting more views than the Equals Three episodes, Johnson has commented in his Breaking Los Angeles video blog that he at some point hopes to have the music videos released weekly instead of bi-weekly.
As of April 2012, the RayWilliamJohnson channel is the most subscribed channel on YouTube, with over 5.3 million subscribers, and over 1.6 billion video views. In February 2011, one industry publication noted that Johnson currently had six of the top twenty most watched videos of the month.