It’s now a well known fact that there’s lots of money to be made in online spaces. From YouTube to TikTok, creators are weaponising their video skills to make their fortunes, often from the comfort of their own homes.
The new career option is becoming increasingly attractive to many, and people are flocking to social media to try their hand at the game. But, most of the platforms are already over-saturated with content creators - so not everyone can become a millionaire through social media.
However, there are some online sensations who have the knack for making money through video - and they’re starting to reach the heights and net worths of more “traditional” celebrities. But who are the highest-paid stars on YouTube? Here are the top ten earners on the video platform, according to estimates by Forbes.
1. MrBeast – $54 million
MrBeast, aka Jimmy Donaldson, tops the Forbes’ YouTube rich list. He reportedly earned $54 million in gross revenue last year which puts him above other creators on the platform. In fact, the magazine reported that his $54 million earnings in the past year would also put him in the Top 40 of their last Celebrity 100 - a ranking of the top-paid stars across all of entertainment, above people like Billie Eilish and Angelina Jolie.
His 104 million subscribers enjoy a range of crazy, big-budget videos. In the past couple years, his content has included a $465,000 real-life Squid Game, and a 100 person ‘extreme hide and seek’. He also earns money from a new project called MrBeast Burger. The app lets fans order Mr Beast-branded meals from 1,600 restaurants across the country, and he and the restaurants then split the profits from the orders.
MrBeast markets the app on his channel, and so far, the operation has sold 5 million sandwiches.
2. Jake Paul – $45 million
Despite past controversies, Jake Paul has made his way back onto the top-earners list. He has been missing from the Top 10 since his brother, Logan, caused one of the big YouTube scandals of the last decade.
In December 2017, Logan posted a video filmed in a Japanese “suicide forest” - and the video included footage of a suicide victim. There was a huge backlash, and it hit both brothers - their sponsors dropped them and YouTube demonetised them.
The demonetisation has since ended, meaning the brothers can earn money off adverts again. But Jake mainly only posts nowadays to market his boxing career, which Forbes reports accounts for 90% of his huge earnings. In 2021, he fought three matches - one with MMA fighter Ben Askren, and two with Tyron Woodley. Jake won all three.
3. Markiplier – $38 million
Number Three on the list is Markiplier, who boasts 33.6 million subscribers. The majority of his earnings reportedly come from merchandise, (the star sells t-shirts, hoodies and various other items), but he’s also looking to give TV a go soon.
In 2021, the video creator filmed a television adaptation of The Edge of Sleep, a post-apocalyptic thriller he initially released as a podcast in 2019. He’s hoping to sell the series to a company like Netflix or Hulu at some point in the future - and if he does, we may see him climbing higher up the YouTube rich list.
4. Rhett & Link – $30 million
Rhett & Link are a comedy duo known for creating and hosting nerdy daily talk show, Good Mythical Morning. Since its creation, they’ve launched numerous spinoffs - running from a cooking series Mythical Kitchen to an investing initiative Mythical Accelerator.
They recently satisfied fans’ requests to take off their “family-friendly” masks, and hosted a two-hour, R-rated livestream. 70,000 tickets were sold for the event, most of which went for as much as $50 each.
5. Unspeakable – $28.5 million
Unspeakable is a ‘gamer’ YouTuber, and kickstarted his stardom by posting videos of himself playing popular game Minecraft to his 14.5 million subscribers. In his other videos, he has turned his house into a ball pit, and challenged himself to break “1,000 rules in 24 hours”.
The YouTuber, whose real name is Nathan Graham, makes his debut on the top earners list after last year selling his YouTube videos to Spotter, one of the largest independent owners of content on the video platform. The lump sum he received will have been used to grow his business - perhaps faster than traditional ad revenue on the platform would have done.
6. Like Nastya – $28 million
Like Nastya is the youngest YouTuber on this list. At just seven years old, she has drawn in 101 million subscribers to watch her, according to her channel’s description, “explore the world and learn about songs, numbers, nature, colours, shapes, animals, the importance of eating healthy food, washing hands, being a good friend, and much more.”
Those in charge of her brand also did a deal with Spotter last year - selling the monetisation rights to Nastya’s old videos for cash while retaining Nastya’s rights to any new videos she posts. Some of her recent top hits include a video of her decorating Halloween cupcakes with her parents, and stories about “friends and school” with one of her friends, Evelyn.
7. Ryan’s World – $27 million
Nastya is not the only child on the list, however. Ten-year-old Ryan, known on YouTube as Ryan’s World, started on the video platform at the age of four.
He grew a following by reviewing and playing with toys, and has amassed 33.4 million subscribers. As he ages out of playtime those guarding his business interests will be looking for new ways to keep his brand alive, but at the moment he’s doing just fine - with an enormous line of branded merchandise and toys sold at big-name retailers like Target and Walmart.
8. Dude Perfect – $20 million
Dude Perfect, made up of Garrett Hilbert, Cody Jones, Tyler Toney and twins Coby and Cory Cotton, is a channel for those who love stunts. As far as the fivesome are concerned, the crazier, the better.
From walking on a helicopter battle to kayaking down an escalator, the group are seemingly up for anything - and are likely keen to consistently outdo their previous content. They’re also always looking to appeal to their adventurous followers, and last year published ‘101 Tricks, Tips and Cool Stuff’, a photo-filled book with step-by-step instructions for a series of stunts.
9. Logan Paul – $18 million
Logan, as mentioned, fell off the list after severe backlash to his video in Japan’s “suicide forest”, but makes a return as he continues to try rehabilitate his image. Like his brother, he has ventured into boxing, and in June 2021 fought against former world champion Floyd Mayweather.
He still has over 23 million subscribers, and has also launched a podcast, Impulsive, which in 2021 generated over 100 million YouTube views.
10. Preston – $16 million
Number Ten on the list is Preston Blaine Arsement, who runs a host of channels on YouTube. One of his most popular is PrestonPlayz, where, as you may guess, he plays video games - primarily Minecraft.
On his other channels, he posts prank and challenge videos, as well as cartoon animation videos with his wife and fellow YouTuber Brianna. He has 21 million subscribers on ‘Preston’.