In the past few years, YouTube has really taken off. What started as a platform for creators to share their hobbies and interests now has become a place for influencers to launch their careers.
However, with YouTube’s constantly changing algorithm and ad revenue, how much do YouTube influencers actually make? These numbers aren’t always clear, but we’ve done our best to reveal the highest-grossing influencers and their suspected income.
How Do We Calculate YouTuber’s Income?
First, let’s explain how we calculate YouTuber’s income. There is no single, straightforward formula for this. Most influencers make income on YouTube from a variety of different sources:
- Ad revenue – Ad revenue from Google Adsense on YouTube is the primary and most well-known way creators make money. They earn a small percentage of ad revenue based on views, clicks, etc.
- Sponsorships – Creators also partner with brands to sponsor products and services. For those with large followings, this can be anywhere from $3,000+ per video.
- Merchandise and events – Finally, many creators also earn money from selling merchandise and hosting events.
For the sake of this article, we’ll focus on ad revenue and partnerships since this is the easiest number to estimate. YouTube ads rely on what’s known as CPM. This stands for “cost per mille,” and it generally refers to the cost per thousand impressions.
The CPM varies by video and creator. Those who produce controversial content that isn’t “brand friendly” have lower CPMs than those who produce things that are relevant to today’s brands.
The average CPM is between $0.25 and $4.00 USD depending on all of these factors. Knowing this, we can estimate the income of the top influencers on YouTube.
Highest Income YouTubers
While there’s no way to know for certain the income of these influencers on YouTube, we can estimate based on views, brand relationships, and so on. Here are the highest-grossing influencers on YouTube based on what we know.
1. Ryan Kaji of Ryan’s World
This kid’s channel has been the highest-earning YouTuber for 2 years now, and with good reason. With nearly 23 million subscribers and a clothing and toy line, it’s no surprise he’s at the top of this list.
Ryan even earned his way onto Forbes’ with his $26 million in income in 2019. This is up from what he earned last year after being made famous by his “unboxing” videos.
2. Anastasia Radzinskaya
Recently, there has been a huge rise in kid-focused YouTube content. Kids and families are a huge consumer of YouTube videos, and there’s a lot of money to be made in this niche.
Russian-born Anastasia Radzinskaya is one of today’s fastest-growing YouTube stars. With videos in 7 different languages, this 5-year-old plays with her dad on her channel to earn a reported $18 million per year from brand deals and advertisements.
3. Rhett and Link
These two YouTube stars go way back to the early days of YouTube. Their daily show Good Mythical Morning is one of the most popular daily videos on the platform.
Since expanding to 4 different channels, publishing a podcast, writing 2 books, and purchasing the multichannel network Smosh, it’s smooth sailing. Rhett and Link reportedly earned $17.5 million in 2019.
4. Jeffree Star
Recently brought back into the limelight after becoming the focus of a Shane Dawson series, Jeffree Star is no newbie on YouTube. With his start coming from MySpace, Jeffree has come a long way to earn a place on this list.
His YouTube channel earns an estimated $1,000,000 on YouTube ads, but this isn’t all. His real source of income is his makeup line which he promotes through his channel. Overall, he reportedly earns $17 million.
5. Felix Kjellberg of PewDiePie
Famous video game streamer turned YouTuber Felix Kjellberg might have faced a lot of controversies, but his income doesn’t lie. As one of the channels with the highest subscriber counts until recently, there’s no way to dethrone this YouTube king it seems.
Felix makes an estimated $13 million per year from ad revenue, sponsorships, and brand partnerships.
The Future of YouTube Earnings
It’s easy to see why YouTube is such a popular platform for influencers-to-be. For those hoping to get a lot of eyes on their content, YouTube definitely offers a range of tools for promotion, building an audience, and partnering with brands.
As you can see from these highest-grossing influencers, there’s a lot of money to be made from YouTube. It might take a bit of work to get there, but for these creators, it’s all worth it.