Everyone loves a good rags to riches story. It makes you think it could happen to anybody, especially you. YouTube content creator on it’s surface sound like the pipe-dream, fantasy job of a small child, right up there with astronaut, or rock star. “Where do I see myself in ten years? Oh, I’m just going to make millions by playing video games.” “People will give me free products, and I will review them on camera, for money.” But in the late 20-teens, these things are viable sources of income. YouTubers seem to be the next movie stars, except it looks like it could happen to normal people like you or me.
YouTube is not simply a video watching platform- it is a legitimate way to generate income, and it has come a long way since it’s inception in 2005. YouTube videos generate an impressive 4 billion views a day, mostly from the 18-24 Millennial crowd. With quality content like educational videos such such as Crash Course or pure entertainment such as gaming channels where creators film them selves playing games in and do some running commentary there’s something for everyone on YouTube. And the people creating that content are raking in the cash at astounding rates. While doing research for this article, I found another piece on money-making YouTube stars from 2011, and the top-earner was Shawn Dawson at a comparatively small salary of $315,000. These days, even number ten on this list clears an impressive net worth of 2 million dollars.
10. Hank Green: Net Worth – $2 Million
The 36 year old Montanan may have the smallest income compared to the other content creators on this list, but he does win points for starting the California-based YouTubers convention – VidCon along with his brother, well-known author John Green. His salary of $2 million comes from his extensive list of popular channels, including Vlogbrothers, SciShow, Crash Course, GameswithHank, Animal Wonders, and The Brain Scoop. As his channel list shows, he makes a wide variety of content ranging from educational videos used to classrooms across America, to entertaining Let’s Plays. He is also the inventor of 2-D glasses, which allow you to watch 3-D videos in two dimensions. So there’s that.
8: (tie) Lily Singh: Net Worth – $2.5 Million
This 27 year old Canadian-Indian firecracker is one of my favorite YouTubers to watch. Her energy and excitement are infectious, and it’s impossible to be in a bad mood while watching her videos. This is kind of ironic, as she originally started making YouTube videos in October 2010 as a way to combat her depression. This Superwoman has over 8.5 million subscribers, and her funny and insightful videos have raked in over a billion views. It’s no wonder she has a true net worth of $2.5 Million as of 2015. She makes her millions not only from her satirical stories, but also as a motivational speaker, rapper, and Although she is suddenly rich, she comes across as down-to-earth and genuine. Lilly recently completed a real-life tour of 25 cities.
8. (Tie) Rosanna Pansino: Net Worth $2.5 Million
This engaging 31 year old ties with Lilly Singh at a net worth of $2.5 million. After being encouraged by several of her popular YouTube personality friends, Pancino decided to get in on the gig herself. And who can blame her she as she has baked her way to her significant salary, doing what she loves. Her channel, Nerdy Nummies, features her showing people how to make their own nerd themed cupcakes goodies Her channel boasts 6.1 million subscribers, and her videos get over 75 million views a month. She released her cookbook late last year, “The Nerdy Nummies Cookbook: Sweet Treats for the Geek in all of Us.” She is also branching out into music, releasing her first single, Perfect Together, in 2015.
7. Jenna Marbles: Net Worth $2.9 Million
With over 15 million subscribers, and almost 2 billion total views on her videos, it’s no wonder that Jenna Marbles has joined the YouTube Millionaires club. According to Wikipedia, she is the top YouTube channel run by a woman. She is a perfect example of the YouTube rags to riches story. As recently as 2010, she lived in a small apartment that she paid for by go-go dancing, and working other odd jobs. Now she makes millions, and has a personal assistant and a business manager. She expanded her business by making stuffed animal toys out of her dogs, canoeing in other celebrity YouTubers videos, hosting a podcast with her boyfriend, Julian, and a radio show on SiriousXM centering around pop music. Her bitingly sarcastic videos are the best, with my favorite being her video about what to do with your master’s Degree.
Roman Atwood – Net Worth $4.5 Million
One of my least favorite human beings, Roman Atwood, is famous for making videos of himself performing sadistic pranks. He has over 8 million subscribers as of April 2016, starting from his humble beginnings working at his family’s rope factory… No, really. Even so, he has been acting in and producing videos since high school. He created his channel Sketch Empire in 2010. Atwood has caused much controversy with his prank videos, and has even been arrested while filming them. Shows you that even people with a net worth of 4.5 Million are not above the law.
Grace Helbig: Net Worth $5 Million
I have a certain soft spot for this YouTube celebrity, as we attended Ramapo College at the same time. I honestly can’t remember if we ever saw each other on campus, but she has certainly come a long way since then. She has amassed a wealth of about $5 Million, from a combination of her YouTube channel, her funny handbooks for Millennials, and she even has a talk show on E!
Markiplier: Net Worth $5.1 Million
This bubbly Hawaiian 26 year old has over 12 million subscribers, and billions of total views on his Let’s Play channel. He started in 2012, and now banks $5.1 million by making daily videos of himself playing video games. So, living the dream essentially. He distinguishes himself with his signature voice, and his charity work. He regularly live streams for charity, playing video games while raising over $900,000 for various charities such as the Best Friends Animal Society, and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. This last one is particularly special to him, as he recently took a hiatus from his channel to mourn the suicide of a close friend. After he returned, he achieved 10 million subscribers. He was also in Disney’s Gamer’s Guide to Pretty Much Everything.
Smosh: Net Worth – $11.8 Million
This sketch comedy twosome from America has gone a long way since 2011, when their projected revenue was a mere 133,000, and their total subscribers were just over 3 million. Now Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla are multimillionaires with a true net worth of $11.8 million, and 22 million subscribers. A video of theirs that was just released 2 days ago already has almost 2 million views. They had their start on famous gamer-geek website newgrounds.com, then migrated to YouTube in 2005. This proved to be an excellent decision, as their enviable wealth proves. They rake it in from their comedy and gaming channels, as well as a real life movie and comedy albums.
Pewdiepie: Net Worth- $18 Million
This Swedish dreamboat’s real name is Felix Arvid Ulf Kjelberg. He started on Youtube in 2010, funding his videos with his employment at a hot dog stand, as his parents refused to support him after he dropped out of college. I guess they were afraid he would not be successful. No worries on that front, I guess. Kjelberg was named one of “The World’s 100 Most Influential People” by time magazine, and his wealth increases everyday. He has an impressive 12 billion total views on his videos, and over 43 million subscribers. He also has his own app, and his web-series “Scare PewDiePie” is currently airing on the paid subscription service YouTube Red.
Michelle Phan: Net Worth – $50 million
This lovely 29 year old is the richest YouTube Personality with a true net worth of $50 million big ones. Ignoring her parents wishes for her to become a doctor, she went to college for illustration and Design. She started posting makeup tutorial videos in 2006, while she was supporting herself by working as a waitress. The videos teach you everyday makeup styles, as well as how to resemble your favorite celebrities. The bulk of her wealth is from her partnership with the makeup company Lancome, as well as her makeup subscription service, Ipsy.
By now, I’m sure that you are curious to see how you can cash in on this YouTube gold. It is an avenue to riches that seems accessible to just about everyone. These YouTube stars all seem to have a couple things in common. They are creative, dedicated, and hard working, and above all, talented. That could describe anyone with an AdSense account, so what is the main key to YouTube success? It is a combination of luck and talent. Not only do you have to make good, quality content, you need that content to be seen by many, many people. You need it to be interesting, funny, or shocking enough to go viral, and be shared all over the world.