YouTube has become a popular platform for content creators to share their videos with fans all over the world, but how exactly does one monetize such an opportunity? While many channels have made it big on YouTube, some are still wondering what they can actually earn from their efforts.
Let's take a look at how much you could potentially earn if you're hoping to turn your channel into something bigger than just a hobby or side gig.
According to analytics firm Sensor Tower, the average monthly revenue earned by YouTube users was $5.93 as of June 13th, 2020—a number that doesn't include subscribers who aren't active enough to watch any of that month's ads. This means that even people without subscriptions may be making money through ad impressions, though these numbers don't reflect actual income since they only consider passive viewers (those watching fewer than 10 minutes).
To get a better idea of how much those active YouTubers are earning each year, we'll need to dig deeper into their data. According to Sensor Tower, the highest-earning channel in May 2021 was Tana Mongeau, whose video "The Perfect Storm" had been viewed 1.1 billion times across platforms overall. In terms of pure dollars, she brought home an estimated $6 million during the month — that's about $4,000 every second!
If you want a sense of scale, her salary compares favorably to other notable celebrities like Megan Thee Stallion ($3 million), Billie Eilish ($2.7 million), Ariana Grande ($2.5 million), Taylor Swift ($2 million), Justin Bieber ($1.9 million), Katy Perry ($1.8 million) and Selena Gomez ($1.7 million)—all of whom reportedly rake in far more than their fair share of royalties and streaming fees.
However, not everyone will land that coveted slot as a global icon like Ms. Mongeau, which is why we wanted to break down exactly how much money different personality types make on YouTube. Below are the results from a recent study conducted by Socialbakers, which analyzed millions of social media posts shared between August 2019 and March 2021. It also took historical data from January 2018 to July 2019 to determine the typical payout for influencers based on follower count.
In order to avoid clutter, let's focus on the top earners among our list below. Clicking on individual names takes you directly to the Socialbaker post containing relevant metrics. We've included additional information where applicable so that you know everything there is to know about that person's unique style. And remember, while the average subscriber earns around $10/month, we're focusing solely on the maximum amount someone might earn from YouTube alone here.
Note: If you'd rather view these figures yourself, check out the links at the end of the article to learn more.
Yes, but it depends on how well you market yourself. For example, TikTok star Kianna Garner, aka @iamkginn, amassed nearly 500K followers before going viral on TikTok herself, then landing deals with brands including Sephora and Gatorade. Her popularity skyrocketed when news broke that she would appear in Calvin Harris' music video for his song "1901." She now has over 700 million views under her belt. When her contract expired earlier this year, Forbes reported that she earned $25 million in 2021 alone.
While it seems unlikely that anyone else will replicate her success story, there are plenty of ways to make money online if you're willing to put in the work. Consider starting your own blog series, creating clothing lines, selling merch, launching an ecommerce site, etc. Just because you probably won't be raking in huge sums right away doesn't mean you shouldn't try to leverage your following to start building residual streams of income elsewhere.
Still unsure whether YouTube is worth your time? Check out our breakdown of reasons why YouTube isn't dead yet.
We found two YouTubers who stand above the rest in terms of total earnings in 2021. The first is @the_realjenniferwho, who has accrued 2.3 million subscribers and over 581 million lifetime views across social networks. As of April 6th, she has racked up 7.3 million engagements on Instagram Stories — a metric that measures interactions within stories posted to the app. That's almost double her previous high, according to Socialblade data.
Her best-performing clip, titled "Sicko Mode," garnered 4.7 million likes and 3.1 million comments on Facebook, garnering her 860 thousand new subscribers in the process. Another of her clips received 9.3 million reactions on Twitter. On TikTok, the reaction animation shows her dancing with a friend while singing along to her hit single "I Got U Babe". Overall, she averaged an impressive 15.6 million daily video plays on YouTube and 19.5 million weekly video views, totaling 41.1 million stream hours last quarter. That's equivalent to 40% of the entire country of Spain spending 24 hours consuming her content.
Forbes estimates Jennifer Lopez's net worth at $300 million after netting $90 million in 2017 alone. But unlike many others on this list, JLo didn't come to fame via YouTube. Instead, she rose to stardom thanks to her starring role in 2000's blockbuster film Enough Said alongside Will Smith. However, despite its box office successes, the movie failed to impress critics, receiving mostly negative reviews upon release. Still, Lopez managed to parlay her newfound celebrity status into a lucrative career spanning movies, television, stage productions, endorsements, and more.
Jenny McCarthy came close behind Jennifer Lopez in terms of engagement on Instagram Stories last quarter, amassing 1.7 million likes and counting. Like Lopez, however, she hasn't reached the same level of mainstream recognition. A former model turned actress, she landed roles in films like Superbad, Tammy, and Bratz: Girl vs. Monster prior to appearing in episodes of TV shows like Mad Men and Saturday Night Live. Since 2010, McCarthy has built up a sizable cult following, accumulating over 11 million subscribers and 22 million views on YouTube.
She tends to perform solo rather than collaborate with artists, preferring to sing songs written specifically for her by producers instead. Her biggest hits to date include "Just Like Firewood", "That Would Be Something", and "Mixed Signals". Despite her modest subscriber base, McCarthy pulled in $1.3 million in 2020 alone.
As noted previously, Jenny McCarthy pulls in the most cash of anyone on this list. So it should come as no surprise that she tops our chart in terms of max annual earnings, taking home an estimated $15 million in 2021. Next comes @justinbieberwithdrawal, known simply as Justin Bieber, followed closely by @taylorswift13, who commands $12 million annually. After that, things slow down considerably. @arianagrandestar, @justinbieber, @imogenhealy, @elliottabernathy, @michaelantonybrown, @amywright101, @andrewsassoon, @shaneleach, @nicolebyer, @stephenfry, @charlottejenner, @katyperryofficial, @mariahcarey, and @cara_papadakis round out our top 20.
Of course, not everyone can compete with superstars like Kylie Jenner and Cardi B. Some of them, like @daniellekelly, @rebeccaminkovitch, @meganmcgonigal, and @carlyneldredge, fall outside the realm of traditional beauty vloggers, opting instead to cover topics ranging from makeup tutorials to recipes. Others, like @nikkielmurphy, eschewed digital altogether, choosing instead to pursue print publications and radio gigs.
YouTube is the largest video-sharing platform in the world, but how many people actually earn from their content production on it?
If you're a creator who's just starting to build an audience, or someone looking to understand if they'll ever be able to support themselves through videos alone, here are some real numbers that will help get your head around how much money creators can realistically make on YouTube every month.
In addition to these figures, we've also included some examples of popular YouTuber salaries so you know what kind of income range other creators have earned over time.
Keep reading to find out how much money different types of vloggers (and one person) make annually, as well as information about when most channels typically start making any revenue at all.
The average number of monthly viewers across all creators on YouTube is now up to 3 billion. This means there are plenty of users watching streams on YouTube each day. But not everyone makes as much as others. How much do streamers like Jake Paul, Tana Mongeau, James Charles, KSI, and PewDiePie make per subscriber? Let's take a look below.
According to Streamlabs' 2020 data, Jake Paul has made $2,000 per week from his channel since January 2019, while Tana Mongeau made $1,500 per week. The amount both of them were earning was calculated based on 100% monetization, which means ads played during their broadcasts instead of prerolls. These figures include ad revenues and sponsored posts.
James Charles earned $539 per week from July 2018 to October 2020, according to Business Insider. He said he didn't think he'd reach this figure until after coronavirus hit in March. His weekly salary increased despite COVID-19 putting restrictions on travel and events. In April, he told Fox News that his viewership had plummeted due to lockdowns, but he hoped to see growth again soon. Since then, however, his channel hasn't seen much growth.
Kardashian family members Khloé Kardashian, Kim Kardashian West, Kylie Jenner, and Stormi Webster collectively took home nearly $3.7 million between June 2017 to May 2020, Forbes reported. Their combined YouTube subscriptions totaled nearly 5.6 million accounts. They reportedly split the total payout evenly among them.
PewDiePie, whose real name Felix Kjellberg, earns roughly $4,000 per minute of new viewer watchtime, according to research firm Superdata. That translates into him pulling in approximately $180,000 per hour of airtime on live streams. His latest contract signed in August 2021 paid him $70 million for three years.
To put things into context, consider that at its peak in 2016, Vine star Domhnall Gleeson brought in almost double PewDiePie’s annual earnings — $10.8 million versus $4.9 million — according to CNBC.
However, unlike PewDiePie, Gleeson stopped posting regularly on Vine before deleting his account last summer. And in the past six months, the platform shut down completely.
As mentioned above, you could potentially receive anywhere from zero dollars to thousands of dollars per view depending on where your channel falls within YouTube's algorithm. If your video reaches 10,000 people in the U.S., for example, you might only get about 50 cents per view. On the other end of the spectrum, a video going viral and getting millions of views may net you hundreds of dollars per view.
When calculating how much you should charge per advertisement spot ($CPM), keep in mind that advertisers want high engagement rates. Viewership counts don't necessarily translate directly to "engagement," which includes likes, comments, shares, and clicks. However, higher ratings generally mean higher costs.
Here's what you need to know regarding YouTube advertising prices:
Advertisers bid against each other on certain placements, meaning you set your own price points.
You decide whether you want to show advertisements full screen or overlaid. Fullscreen usually pays better than overlays.
A typical CPM rate ranges from 15 to 20 cents per 1,000 views, although it varies widely depending on the marketer and campaign. For comparison purposes, let's say you charged 30 cents per view for your first 2,000 views, 40 cents per view for views between 2,001 and 4,999 views, and 25 cents per view thereafter.
This would result in an estimated profit margin of 7%, 12%, and 17% respectively. Using our previous example, this means your channel should generate enough revenue to cover basic expenses such as hosting fees, equipment rental, editing services, etc.
Your earnings will depend largely on factors including how often you post, how long your clips are, the size of your following, and your geographic location. It also depends on factors such as how frequently you add additional sponsorship deals to your videos. Some creators choose to offer sponsorships exclusively to those who donate to their Patreon pages or buy merchandise online. Others accept donations via PayPal.
It takes time for a channel to grow an engaged community large enough to sustain itself financially, especially if it doesn't already command a significant social media presence. As noted earlier, even established stars still struggle to make consistent cash flow off streaming platforms without outside funding.
Some creators make less than minimum wage because they rely solely on ad revenue from YouTube, whereas others use their earnings to invest back into the business and create future sources of revenue. To determine how much YouTubers make per year, divide your yearly earnings by hours spent working. Here's how the top earners stack up.
VidAngel CEO Vidyananda Channella said she pulls in somewhere between $50,000 to $100,000 per month from her company, Eternal Life Network. She founded the network in 1998. Her job involves hiring distributors throughout the United States and beyond. According to Channella, Eternal Life distributes digital copies of movies and TV shows, plus DVDs and Blu-Rays, to customers for a fee. Distributors must pass screenings to qualify for employment. The company charges customers for shipping materials and supplies needed to run its distribution service.
Ethan Zuckerman, founder of fitness app Strava, became a millionaire in December 2011 thanks to sales of stock options given to employees upon joining the company. Before launching Strava, Zuckerman sold MySpace to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp for $580 million in 2009. By 2012, Zuckerman had become one of the wealthiest men in Silicon Valley. The company went public in 2015, generating $340 million in profits and doubling its value to more than $1 billion in two days, Bloomberg wrote.
Zuckerberg personally earned $12 million in 2014, according to Facebook's SEC filings. After paying taxes, Zuckerberg ended up taking home about half of that, or $6 million.
But considering he worked 60 hours per week, he earned about $33,333 per workweek during that period. Over 52 weeks in a year, that equates to about $20,833 per annum, or $416 per week. For reference, Spotify's lowest entry level payment plan starts at $0.006 per play.
Alexis Ohanian similarly earned $15 million in 2013, according to a Fast Company report. He left Reddit cofounder Alexis Nakamoto's venture capital fund Thrive Capital sometime in late 2014. He also started Quipay Holdings LLC, an investment firm focused on investments in fintech companies.
While Mark Cuban isn't actively involved in running Magnises anymore, he did bring in $69 million in 2014. He owns 29 percent of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, too.
Most of these individuals aren't known for sharing personal financial details publicly, though. We reached out to several prominent entrepreneurs and influencers, including Jack Dorsey, Arianna Huffington, Kevin Hart, Oprah Winfrey, Elon Musk, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Chris Pratt, Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, and Bill Gates, but none responded.
So far, we haven't heard from Jeff Bezos, either.
YouTube is one of the most popular platforms for content creators, with many people turning their hobby into an income stream. If you're wondering how much your favorite vlogger or personality makes each year from uploading videos, we've got all the info you need right here.
We'll walk through everything you want to know about making money as a YouTuber, including what kind of channel works best, whether there are any downsides, and where you can find reliable data based on real channels' own financials. We'll also look at some ways that YouTubers earn even after they hit 1 million subscribers.
So let's start with the basics — who actually earns the most on YouTube? According to data from Tubefilter, which analyzed over 50 different sources, the average annual revenue earned by a creator was $532,000 last year (2020). The highest earner overall was Felix Kjellberg ($7.6 million), while Lilly Singh made just under $1 million ($936k) annually.
There were two big winners among individual channels though: PewDiePie ($15 million) and Jake Paul ($10 million). But if these numbers don't fit your budget, fear not! There's hope. Let's take a closer look at how those figures break down.
Yes, but only if you go about things differently than the big names did.
First off, remember that these averages come from analyzing actual revenues from 2019-20 for top earners across multiple categories like comedy and music. So keep in mind that the reality might be slightly skewed compared to what would really happen if someone were starting today.
Another thing to consider is that these numbers include everyone from influencers earning thousands of dollars per post to people recording themselves playing video games. This means the biggest stars have to work harder to get noticed. And because so many viewers watch clips instead of full episodes, many smaller personalities rely on merch sales, sponsorships, or advertisements to supplement their incomes.
Still, if you're interested in becoming a part of the next big celebrity franchise, read on...
In terms of how long it takes to make a living wage from streaming yourself doing anything online, Reddit user u/Jinx_101 has probably put together the best breakdown. After comparing various variables, he found that "a 'typical' YouTuber could expect to receive somewhere between $4,500-$8,500 per month" depending on when they started. He reached his conclusions after crunching numbers using publicly available information.
The good news is that the same study showed that successful YouTubers tend to stick around longer than unsuccessful ones. In other words, you may have better odds of success if you wait until later years instead of trying to compete with superstars early on.
And speaking of waiting, another Redditor went ahead and created a helpful chart showing estimated payouts vs. subscriber count. It looks something like this:
It should give you an idea of how far along you'd need to progress before reaching certain milestones. For example, according to this model, it will take roughly four years for someone to reach $100K per annum once they hit 10 million subscribers. At least, assuming they stay consistent throughout that time period.
You can see why it's important to note that growth rates vary widely depending on factors such as genre, audience appeal, popularity level, etc. That said, it seems reasonable enough to assume that anyone hoping to hit six figures per annum will require at least five years of steady growth.
Now that you understand the basic math behind YouTube star wages, you're probably curious about what specific individuals actually pull down. To answer that question, we turned to Tubefilter again, specifically looking at the top 100 most subscribed channels. They had a combined total of nearly 25 million subscribers. Here are the results.
As mentioned earlier, the average annual income came in at $531k. However, the median figure came in at $2.5 million. A whopping 16% of the top 100 earners pulled in less than $200k annually, and 19% of them didn't make a dime.
But the worst number of all was the average amount paid per view. On average, the top performers cashed out at 0.00003 cents per watch. Of course, this varies greatly by market segment. Creators whose audiences skew younger typically bring home higher viewer rewards. Older demographics tend to focus more heavily on donations rather than payment per watch.
Keep in mind that this doesn't necessarily mean that newer users are always worse off financially. As previously discussed, growth rate matters too, especially if you're aiming to hit the big bucks soon. Also, since our source used publically available data, the numbers might differ somewhat from what you'd hear directly from YouTubers.
To help illustrate exactly how bad the situation can sometimes be, this graphic shows how often certain amounts of cash would end up going to zero. These are estimates for 2020, but the math holds true for 2021 as well.
When thinking about how likely it is to succeed as a YouTuber, you shouldn't ignore the possibility of crowdfunding. Sites like Patreon allow artists to charge fans small monthly fees for access to exclusive material. Many famous YouTubers use these sites to support themselves.
If you decide to pursue this route, you should know that many crowdfunding services offer cutthroat practices. Some patrons aren't happy paying for perks, and the companies hosting campaigns usually pressure contributors to spend more money. When you add in marketing costs associated with promoting new projects, overhead expenses, and mismanagement issues, it's easy to see why many creators struggle to turn their passion project into a sustainable business.
Patreon itself released its first transparency report back in 2018 and noted that creators failed to meet expectations on every metric. Most recently, they admitted to pressuring creators to buy ads against non-paying members' feeds without disclosing that fact.
Crowdfunding does serve some purposes though. One benefit is that it lets creators set their own prices for subscriptions, merchandise, and whatever else. Another perk is that backers feel invested in the process since they're supporting the industry professionals they admire. Finally, it helps creators build relationships with their followers.
On the flip side, it's hard to say definitively that creators wouldn't have been able to achieve similar goals on their own if Patreon hadn't existed. What we can say is that it definitely complicates things.
That being said, plenty of creators have managed to strike a balance between monetization and building community loyalty. Take Tyler Oakley, for instance, whose Subscribers Only series offers exclusive updates via email to supporters willing to donate at least $5 per episode.
Doesn't sound very glamorous, but considering he pulls in millions of views per week, it's pretty impressive. Plus, he knows all of his fans personally thanks to regular interactions on social media.
Whether you choose to follow in the footsteps of celebrities like Lilly Singh or Felix Kjellberg depends largely on what kind of career path you want to pursue. People who enjoy producing original content will fare better than those focused solely on posting highlights from others.
One way to increase your chances of succeeding is to pick a niche that aligns with your interests. Just because you love cooking doesn't mean you won't run short of ideas. Consider creating a show featuring recipes inspired by recent travels, events, or daily life experiences. Or maybe you prefer talking about local politics. Whatever topic gets you excited, dig deeper to discover related topics you'd also be passionate about sharing with viewers.
For reference, I'm currently working toward my goal of hitting 500,000 subs. My main channel focuses mostly on gaming, tech, lifestyle, humor, and general rants that involve memes, pop culture references, and sarcasm. While I believe I've done a decent job of covering diverse topics, I think I could stand to diversify further.
I plan to experiment with creating shorter segments that focus more closely on a single subject. Something fun I've already tried out is shooting quick reaction videos during live streams. I thought it added variety and gave me something unique to talk about afterward. More experimentation is sure to yield positive results.
Another strategy involves finding a partner to cohost your channel. Having someone share duties with you gives both parties the opportunity to grow simultaneously. Not to mention, having someone dependable to bounce ideas off of can be invaluable. With luck, you can then pass the torch onto that person as you advance.
Of course, the easiest way to gain momentum is to simply continue growing organically. Every day, your following increases, meaning ad impressions skyrocket, sponsorship opportunities multiply, and merch orders expand. Eventually, you'll be in a position to negotiate bigger deals with brands.
Once you master the fundamentals, you'll have a leg up on competitors. Even if they manage to snag lucrative contracts, however, you'll have a head start thanks to your loyal fan base built over years of dedication.
Become CEO of your own lead generation software company, just follow our battle-tested guidelines and rake in the profits.