While those numbers are high, there's another set of numbers that you might wish you never knew about: the crazy amount of money YouTubers are raking in. It's no secret that if you're popular on social media, there's cash coming your way sooner or later. A lot of that money is generated by those annoying ads that pop up just before a video—and Google reportedly takes a 45 percent cut of YouTube users' revenue before handing it over. It's a hefty slice, and means users' views will need to reach the hundreds of thousands, or even millions, before the money gets serious. Even then, there's a lot of other factors to take into account.
The number of subscribers, views, the length a video is watched, and how many in a row are viewed all affect how much a user makes in the end. (Plus, a ton of people block ads, and users might already be spending a lot in production, which means actual profit takes a big hit.) A few top YouTubers have spoken publicly about how much they're making, and others are more lowkey about it. But the analytics website Social Blade, which monitors YouTube channels, estimates how much money users should at least be making considering their views, subscribers,and assuming every video they have is monetized.
So in honor of YouTube's 10th anniversary this weekend, here are the numbers behind some top YouTubers:
Estimated yearly revenue: $100k - $300k
The New York Times profiled the former Russian juggler last year, and dived into her typical week of shooting nearly 20 videos for her four main channels, which feature her playing videos games, doing skits, and playing with her dog. She's been active on YouTube for almost a decade, and her skits usually involve her giving girls tips on how to get a guy to like them (and sex advice) or her dealing with her emo friend (played by Kay), Razor Blade. Even though a lot of her uploads seem simple, if you're trying to make a living from your videos, it's hard work.
Estimated yearly revenue: $35.8K - $573.4K
Phan got her start by doing makeup tutorials—which are surprisingly impressive (one showed women how to look like Lady Gaga in “Bad Romance"). She went viral by doing more of this type of makeup tutorial, from showing girls how to look like Barbie, Snow White, or azombie. (Though, now, a lot of her videos are vlogs featuring her model boyfriend answering questions.) What's more impressive is that, while Social Blade places her fluctuating YouTube revenue between $34,000 and $542,000, her subscription makeup startup, Ipsy, has a $84 million annual sales run-rate.
Ray William Johnson
Estimated yearly revenue: $58.2K - $931.1K (At least $1,000,000 in 2012)
Johnson was the host of the long running YouTube show Equals Three,where he collected a bunch of funny videos and talked about them and other trending topics (think The Soup or Tosh.0). That's exactly why he got big: a ton of hilarious YouTube videos were getting uploaded, and he brought them all in one place where you could watch them back-to-back any time you wanted. He launched the show in 2009, but brought in a new 20-year-old comedian last year to takeover hosting duties so he can write and direct.
Estimated yearly revenue: $80.6K - $1.3M (At least $346,827 in 2012)
Jenna got her start on Barstool Sports, writing on their sister site StoolLaLa, but she blew up when she made the video "How To Trick People Into Thinking You're Good Looking," which has more than 60 million views alone. That was followed up with "How To Avoid Talking To People You Don't Want To Talk To," which has 34 million views. She's funny as hell, makes fun of herself and the things girls (and sometimes guys) do, and these types of videos helped ignite her way to more than a billion views in all.
Sidenote: she got the name "Marbles" from her dog.
Estimated yearly revenue: $86.7K - $1.4M for NigaHiga, and $42.6K - $681.1K from HigaTV
Higa, from Hawaii, has two channels: NigaHiga (he says "Niga" means rant in Japanese), which he started in 2007, and HigaTV, which debuted in 2011. He blew up by dropping skits like "How to be a Ninja" and "How to be a Gangster," which featured him making fun of stereotypes with his former partner, Sean Fujiyoshi, back when YouTube was still in its infancy in 2007. Many of this videos have him playing different characters, like Rihanna and Chris Brown in "Why Chris Brown Beat Rihanna."
Estimated yearly revenue: $161.7K - $2.6M
Dalhberg made a name for himself when he was part of the Minecraftcrew Team Crafted. He splintered off and started his own channel, Sky Does Minecraft, where he did just that—play Minecraft. He's in the top 20 most subscribed channels on YouTube thanks to his commentary during Minecraft gameplay and parody videos where he sings about Minecraft. The video above has over 53 million views.
Benny and Rafi Fine
Estimated yearly revenue: $299.7K - $4.8M
The Fine Bros. are considered pioneers in the industry (they've been making videos since they were teens in the '90s). The duo went viral thanks to videos that show reactions—you know, the type where you record people's reactions to watching videos like "Two Girls, One Cup." They took this idea and ran with it, and launched the series Kids React, Elders React, and YouTubers React. They also have the scripted comedy show, MyMusic.
Samuel de Luque
Estimated yearly revenue: $496.1K - $7.9M
Spanish YouTuber Samuel de Luque moved to Los Angeles after getting big on YouTube, and he has the best channel name on this list—that's if you're a Dragon Ball Z fan at all. He's another gaming personality, and his channel features him playing Uncharted 3, Minecraft, GTA V, and Mario Kart 8. de Luque managed to tap into the market of Spanish gaming culture (his videos are in Spanish), which helped propel him to over 8 million subscribers. If it's possible to make money playing Star Fox 64 all day, sign me up.
Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla
Hecox and Padilla founded Smosh, which was—for a long time—the most subscribed to channel before PewDiePie came along. They now run over five channels, which bring in more than $10 million according to Forbes. Like a lot of top YouTubers, Smosh is all about comedy, and they've expanded to include gaming and cartoons—actually, half of Smosh's top 10 videos are about gaming, with their all time most viewed video being "Beef 'n go," about portable beef, clocking it at 100 million views.
Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg
Estimated yearly revenue: $1.1M - $18.2M (At least $4 million in 2013)
Sweden-born Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie, is regarded as YouTube's biggest celebrity—and its biggest single money-maker. At 25, he's pulling in millions annually by uploading videos of him playing video games, and his is currently the most subscribed channel on YouTube. His videos usually just feature himcalling his fans "bros," screaming nonsense while gaming, and could get annoying, fast, if you're anything like me (don't have the volume up high with headphones on). The Internet has a love/hate relationship with him, but at least his appearance in the last season of South Park was mildly funny.