Forbes has listed the highest-paid YouTube stars, who rack up millions of dollars in ad revenue each year.
YouTube stardom is something that may go amiss by some older generations, as Google’s video service draws a much younger (under 30) demographic.
As such, some of the most popular YouTube channels (and subsequently the biggest earners) appeal to these audiences, covering topics from video games, to sketch comedy and fashion and beauty.
Musicians have also used the service to wedge a neat piece of that Internet money for themselves, while other channels dedicated to cooking have also gained larged audiences.
These are the 10 highest-paid YouTube stars – and what’s earning them the big bucks.
- Rosanna Pansino – Culinary – $2.5 million
Pansino is a self-trained chef, who uploads various cooking and baking tutorials on YouTube. She’s gearing up to launch her first cookbook and has partnered with various brands.
Her most popular video is making a Princess Anna and Elsa cake from Disney’s Frozen.
- Roman Atwood – Comedy – $2.5 million
Roman Atwood is a popular prank comedian who has over 7 million followers on YouTube. He infamously “flashed” children in a park (wearing a “don’t do drugs” t-shirt) and operates an online store.
- Lilly Singh – Comedy – $2.5 million
Lilly Singh is a stand-up comedian and is also a singer. She goes by the YouTube name Superwoman, and has toured the world with her music.
Her most popular video is how girls get ready.
- Michelle Phan – Cosmetics – $3 million
Michelle Phan is a self-taught makeup artist, who gained popularity by teaching viewers how to replicate celebrity looks. She’s made some good business decisions, including creating her own cosmetics line, and a makeup subscription service.
One of her most popular uploads is a tutorial on how to look like Barbie.
- KSI – Video games / Music – $4.5 million
KSI, born Olajide Olatunji, started off his career as a videogame commentator – once he had amassed 11 million followes, he used his fame to launch a music career. His first single has hit over 25 million views.
- Rhett & Link – Comedy – $4.5 million
Rhett McLaughlin and Charles Lincoln Neal host their own morning television newscast type show on YouTube – the duo are older (in their late 30s) and made most of their money through sponsorship deals.
- Lindsey Stirling – Music – $6 million
Musician Linsay Stirling started posting videos of her performances in 2007. She plays the violin and dances, at the same time. Her skills and talent earned her a very loyal fan base.
Her most popular video is Crystallize – a mash up of violin and dub-step.
- Smosh – Comedy – $8.5 million
Smosh – who are childhood friends Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla – went the way of sketch comedy, and have even made their own full-length movie.
This is the duo’s most popular video, selling a fake beef-in-a-tube product.
- Fine Brothers – Comedy – $8.5 million
The Fine Brothers (Benny and Rafi Fine) on the other hand gained popularity through their “react” videos, where they get children, teens and the elderly to react to pop-culture phenomena.
This is the group’s most popular kids react video – where children react to the Harlem Shake meme.
- Felix Kjellberg – Video games – $12 million
The top earner on YouTube, sporting over 40 million subscribers is Swedish video game enthusiest Felix Kjellberg – better known to fans as PewDiePie.
Kjellberg’s claim to fame may not make much sense to anyone born before 1990, but that hasn’t stopped the YouTuber from making over $12 million, pre-tax, from providing commentary while live-streaming his playthrough of video games.
His channel recently hit 10 billion views – he’s a montage of what he offers viewers (Language and animated violence warning).