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How Much do YouTubers Make? Top Earners Revealed

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So you want to be a YouTube star?

Well, check this out. YouTubers are making some serious money. First, you get yourself a laptop and take some time and learn how to do it right (apologies to The Byrds for corrupting their rock and roll classic).

It’s really that simple! Or is it?

Since YouTube’s debut in 2005 and Google’s subsequent purchase in 2006, YouTube has encouraged millions of individuals to “Broadcast Yourself”, with the result being that the video sharing community has expanded exponentially to 1,300,000,000 daily views and is estimated to be worth 14.52 billion dollars.

YouTube is such an integral part of today’s’ society, that the diverse offerings on the site feature everything and anything. To be sure, the kind of content that is being produced on YouTube is all over the map. There are a lot of content producers, but most of them don’t make loads of cash from their efforts.

A few people have been able to make cash with YouTube, and also turn the platform into a career. There isn’t a single ‘kind’ of YouTube star, but they all seem to have personalities that are larger than life.

Make Money on YouTube

Big Money for Some YouTubers

Entire movies, movie clips, television shows, cartoons, music videos, songs, gaming, tutorials, social commentaries, news and conspiracy theories all vie for viewers and subscribers. YouTube is used for all sorts of purposes from background noise to educational opportunities.

Emerging from the vast array of videos is a small group of individuals who have ascended to global popularity and mind boggling wealth. The fact that people not only can make money on YouTube, but outrageous amounts of money have led many people to believe that they too can achieve this goal and that it really is as simple as “broadcasting yourself”.

This mentality is further reinforced by the fact that the global economy is in free fall, having shifted from full-time jobs with benefits and security to gig economies where people cobble together part-time freelance jobs. The YouTubers who hit it big are sitting comfortably in the upper 1% of the global elite and bringing in millions.

Pewdiepie
Top YouTuber PewDiePie

Many countries are currently in a recession or about to be, with a middle class circling the proverbial drain. In an environment like this, how are people to earn a living?

Fewer jobs and lower wages fuel people of all ages and nationalities to seek their wealth and fame not on the silver screen of Hollywood but on the billions of smaller screens of YouTube.

Becoming an influencer, a job unknown a decade ago has attracted many people who cannot find regular jobs but are also seduced by the slick polish of celebrity culture. Being an influencer fulfills the re-imagined materialistic capitalist dream of rags to riches or breaking into the “big time”.

YouTube is a major content platform, and for some people, it has been immensely profitable.

Making the Internet Money

How exactly does one make money on YouTube? How do the top YouTube stars actually earn their millions? Making and posting videos are relatively simple affairs, but attracting the three golden keys is another matter.

Those golden keys are subscribers, advertising (how many ads must we all suffer through these days??) and sponsorship.

Viewers can subscribe to their favorite YouTubers, and the more subscribers someone has, the advertising companies definitely take note. In turn, they throw their money at the “star” in the hopes that they can convince viewers to try their product or visit their country after a mere 15-25 second ad.

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The Online Hustle

The newest money-making angle is that someone can sponsor his or her favorite YouTube channel. For a monthly fee, the money helps the creator and the sponsor receives special benefits and privileges. For example, for a mere $4.99 per month as a gaming sponsor, someone will get custom emojis and access to live chats.

What do the Top YouTubers Make?

So who are these mysterious people who have found the magic code of success and notoriety in the virtual world?

Although the lists of the top YouTube stars vary, according to publication, the most recent conflicting reports were published in August 2019, and therefore, the following list is a loose compilation of the most named ether net superstars.

1. PewDiePie

A Swedish gamer whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, PewDiePie has the looks and the controversy to be a YouTube star. Despite some anti-Semitic videos, he still has the highest number of followers (100 million) and advertisers still stood by him, paying up to $450,000 for a sponsored video.

On the wings of his fame, he started plugging merchandise which he sells on his own website, thus cutting out the middle man and his main platform, YouTube.

One source claims that he earns $6.5 million per month, yet another put his earnings at only $12.5 million this year.

According to one list, he is declining in popularity, yet remains in the top ten. Regardless of his actual ranking, he remains the biggest internet earner with a small fortune between thirty to fifty billion.

2. Dude Perfect

In a break from the gaming majority on this list, Dude Perfect is a troupe of five guys performs feats of physical dexterity and trick shots.

Due to their impressive and seemingly impossible performances, which have a comedic tone, they attract both viewers and advertising, with a $14 million dollar income.

3. Vanoss Gaming

The brainchild of Canadian gamer Evan Fong, Vanoss Gaming features highly distinctive videos of him playing mainstream games like Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed.

He has 23.9 million subscribers and earns 15.5 million. According to Forbes, he has attempted to break out of character and to become a rapper, but alas, success has eluded him in that realm and he has returned to playing video games.

Nonetheless, he has worked as a creative director for a video game and co-authored a computer-animated series.

4. DanTDM

DanTDM is a British gamer (there appears to be an entire UN of gamers on this list) who specializes in Minecraft, having played it on camera for six years, somehow managed to amass twenty million followers.

He hawks his own merchandise of backpacks, baseball caps, and hoodies, and even had a tour in 2018.

He makes $16.5 million and has recently expanded to playing Fortnite on camera. Having had a child obsessed with Minecraft, I know the power of DanTDM, whose real name is Daniel Middleton.

5. JuegaGerman

A top Chilean YouTuber, JuegaGerman is a voice actor and musician. Apparently, he sells many T-shirts, and his $2.2 million per month income is due to merchandise sales rather than ad revenue. This obviously means that he sells LOTS of T-shirts.

His other claim to fame is that he was the voice of Julian in the Spanish version of Ice Age: Collision Course. It would seem that so little has taken him quite far….

6. Markiplier

Hawaii native Mark Edward Fischbach is a gamer with PS4 firmly in hand and has parlayed that into a stellar career of seven-figure brand deals, a North American tour and a high-end leisure line called Cloak, created with his fellow top ten dwellers, Jackspeticeye.

He has 23 million subscribers and average earnings of $12.5 million. Not bad at all for over the top commentary style complete with yelling and cursing.

7. Collins Key

A finalist on America’s Got Talent, Collins is a magician, which at least distinguishes him from the gamers. His videos receive 4.5 million daily views which of course, means lots of ad revenue.

He too sells merchandise but in an attempt to be different, sells phone accessories and stickers. He makes $2.1 million a month.

8. Atta Halilintar

Indonesia’s’ top YouTuber, Atta Halilintar, has 18.5 million subscribers, who love to watch his pranks on video. He is also a rapper and actor with his own online store so he can sell directly to fans who might want his merchandise, with the end result being that he makes close to $1.6 million a month.

9. Jacksepticeye

Like others on this list, Jackspeticeye is a gamer whose videos contain commentary, color, and profanity. The Irish Sean McLaughlin is the most popular YouTuber in Ireland, who has managed to use his popularity to ink a deal for Disney and live-streaming platform Twitch. He makes about $1.6 million a month.

10. Smosh

Smosh is an American comedy duo comprised of Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox, they have garnered twenty-four million subscribers. Having watched and learned from other YouTube stars, the duo has diversified their offerings, having multiple channels addressing a variety of interests. They made $11 million last year.

Other High Earners

Although there are some repeaters from the Forbes 2018 list, favorites such as Logan Paul (who courted controversy last year by posting a video of a suicide victim in Japan), his younger brother Jake Paul, and flamboyant makeup artist Jeffree Star are missing from some of the most recent lists.

Others have the Paul brothers still in the game, singing, and rapping and making millions. YouTube is a near-perfect way to cross-promote an identity and make loads of money in the process.

Interestingly, Ryan ToysReview which was the top earner in 2018 with 22 million, remains on one list with an impressive showing of $11 million in earnings this year. This channel features a seven-year-old boy reviewing toys, just as the name suggests. Appealing to both children and parents, his reviews have made him an incredibly rich elementary school student.

Ryans ToysReviews
Ryans ToysReviews – a 7 Year old making $11million a year!

One list features Lilly Singh, the only female on any top earner report, whose channel is Superwoman. A vlogger, gamer and comedian, she reportedly made $10.5 million last year. Although the contenders constantly rise and fall, the top earners remain strong, despite a market and a public that overall are brutal and fickle.

The Successful Few

It would appear that the top YouTube earners have achieved immeasurable success by offering very little. Then again, it might depend upon one’s perspective.

Nonetheless, becoming a YouTube star takes patience, skill (yes, really) and luck. In addition to these factors, branding and content are essential, because one needs to stand out from the crowd. Merely imitating or copying other stars or their formulas is no guarantee of success.

Therefore, it probably literally pays to be different, without having to race towards the bottom in terms of controversial or tasteless content. For every success story, there are multiple hard or bad luck cases. Being in the right place at the right time with the right idea is a very rare combination that entails tremendous luck.

There are online tutorials and articles that can help a potential dreamer become “the next big thing” on YouTube. These resources give guidance on how to start and how to earn.

Platforms of the Future

In many ways, YouTube has morphed into a giant advertising platform where everything is for sale. Relentless ads before, during and after the chosen videos tend to irritate rather than intrigue.

Another detracting aspect of YouTube is that it is obviously contributing to the increase in narcissism rampant in today’s society. Most social media is guilty of this, causing anxiety and depression, as well as fostering a false sense of importance in its video “stars”.

There is an online culture that is 100% manufactured and has no place in objective reality. Many people have a hard time seeing the difference, and this may have long-lasting social consequences.

However, it is the barometer of popular culture, where everyone has an opinion and likes to express it. It has created an online community and a quicker exchange of ideas. This transition has happened over the last decade and will continue to shift and change in the future, which most likely will have new and improved live streaming platforms.

Therefore, the future will have even more virtual stars, earners and influencers, presenting new commentary and merchandise (or even less than that), making riches and fame seem easy and attainable, but the best advice would be: don’t quit your day job if you are lucky enough to have one.

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Nicholas Say grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan with a father that would read him the Wall St. Journal along side of other bed-time fare. He has traveled extensively, and been lucky enough to study a changing global economy in person. Nicholas spent many years in the Southern Cone of South America, sometimes in the middle of the countryside where livestock starts its journey to all points of the globe. Today he is thoroughly bemused with the stance that Central Banks have taken in the wake of the 2008 meltdown. There is no telling what will come out of the global financial system next, but he is glad that he lives somewhere that gold can be bought and sold readily! nick@moneycheck.com


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2 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Jon Danzger Reply

    Love your list of youtube top earners. Youtube really is a great method for passive income.

  2. Avatar

    Amazing article! I really enjoyed it and it reminded me because I am passionate about making money online … Actually, a long time ago I felt lost, but this type of article motivates me to move on and help me discover how to make money online and live the style of life that I wanted.

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