Richest YouTube Stars: The YouTube Millionaires List

Top 10 Richest YouTubers

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The Top 10 Richest YouTubers Made A Combined $54 Million In 2015

Launched in 2005, Internet juggernaut YouTube presented content creators (commonly called "YouTubers") with an entirely new opportunity to produce videos for large, engaged audiences. Since then, the platform has earned attention for its impact on pop culture and its effect on the marketing landscape. The changes to the latter have been so pronounced, in fact, that Forbes published their first list of top-grossing YouTube stars in October 2015 to illustrate the commercial viability of social media stars for both brands and consumers. Today, these top YouTube content creators have become mainstream celebrities in their own right and made millions in the process.

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How The Top 10 Richest YouTubers Became Financially Successful

While there are a number of ways top YouTubers can monetize their reach and leverage their loyal social followings, most top YouTuber stars make money from video advertisements (usually pre-roll ads served at the start of each video), brand deal sponsorships, or collaborations (e.g. sponsored videos, YouTube product placements, partnerships with YouTube MCNs), affiliate commissions, and/or selling their own merchandise.

Related Post: The 5 Different Types Of YouTube Marketing Campaigns

Our List Of The Top 10 Richest YouTube Stars

See which YouTube stars made our list of millionaires and learn about each influencer's other social channels—Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and others—below.

1.  PewDiePie (The Richest YouTuber)

Swedish-born Felix Kjellberg—a.k.a. PewDiePie—has garnered much attention for being the world's richest YouTuber. Kjellberg's gaming channel features primarily Let's Play YouTube videos and boasts over 44 million subscribers worldwide. In addition to being a prominent gamer, Kjellberg is also a spokesperson for YouTube (he appears on many of the company's billboards) and recently broke into the mainstream by appearing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. His salary is reported to be about $12 million annually.

Recently, with the launch of YouTube Red (YouTube's subscription service), PewDiePie polled his Twitter audience to see just how many of his millennial audiences use ad blockers—see his poll finds here.

2. Smosh (Tied For Second Highest-Paid YouTubers)

Comedy duo Smosh consists of Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox. The two create parody and satire videos for YouTube, and their sketch-based comedy sensibility clearly strikes a chord with a large audience—their channel has garnered 22 million subscribers to date. Padilla and Hecox were among the first YouTube celebrities to earn wax statues at Madame Tussaud's and have consistently been named as two of the most popular celebrities with teen audiences in polls. Recently, the two announced that they would head up a new YouTube series. With annual earnings of $8.5 million, they tie for second place among the top 10 richest YouTubers.

3. The Fine Brothers (Tied For Second Highest-Paid YouTubers)

Like Smosh, The Fine Brothers are a comedy duo (comprised of brothers Benny and Rafi) who make pranks and sketch videos. In addition to earning a massive audience of nearly 14 million subscribers, The Fine Bros. YouTube channel recently attracted attention for their six-minute recap of the newest Star Wars film. With earnings of $8.5 million a year, these top YouTubers are some of the most successful content creators on the platform.

4. Lindsey Stirling (Richest YouTuber Musician)

Lindsey Stirling first gained recognition on her YouTube channel, which featured videos of herself playing the violin and dancing. After her talents helped her acquire a following of nearly 8 million YouTube subscribers, the 29-year-old was named one of Forbes' Top 30 Musicians Under 30, became a quarter-finalist on the talent competition America's Got Talent, and found a place on the Billboard Charts for her 2014 album Shatter Me. With an income of $6 million per year, Stirling is YouTube's third-highest-paid star.

5. Rhett & Link

Yet another comedy duo to top our list of top 10 richest YouTubers, Rhett & Link are self-proclaimed "Internetainers." The pair makes funny music videos, sketches, and ridiculous local commercials, as well as a weekly talk show called Good Mythical Morning. Rhett & Link are responsible for a number of viral videos in recent years, and also run a television show on the IFC Network. Earning $4.5 million annually, Rhett & Link are YouTube's fifth highest-paid stars.

6. KSI

Multi-talented YouTube star Olajide Olatunji (also known as KSI) is known for his gaming, gaming commentary, music videos, and prank videos (which often featuring his younger brother, ComedyShortsGamer, also a top YouTube star). After finding success through his gaming videos, KSI launched his music career and has produced several singles to be featured on UK music charts.

7. Michelle Phan (Richest YouTuber For Beauty)

Michelle Phan is a content creator and entrepreneur known for pioneering fashion and beauty content on YouTube. With a very distinct and artful aesthetic, her channel currently has a global audience of over 8.5 million subscribers and her videos have been viewed more than 1.2 billion times. Not only is she an award-winning content creator, she's also an entrepreneur with her own makeup line ("em by Michelle Phan") and a monthly beauty subscription service called Ipsy.

Related Post: How Ipsy Used Influencer Marketing To Become An $800 Million Company

8. Lilly Singh

Hailing from Toronto, Canadian YouTuber Lilly Singh rose to mainstream prominence with her ethnically-themed parody videos. In 2015, Singh (better known as "IISuperwomanII") embarked on her global tour, entitled A Trip To Unicorn Island, and subsequently released a documentary of her experience on YouTube Red. Singh has won multiple awards for her work, including MTV's 2014 Fandom Award "Social Superstar Of The Year" and a 2015 Streamy Award for "Best First Person."

Related Post: How YouTubers Become Brands

9. Roman Atwood (Richest YouTuber Prankster)

Starring in the prank movie Natural Born Pranksters, which was released on April Fool's Day, Roman Atwood both directed and starred in (along with other notable YouTube pranksters VitalyzdTV and Dennis Roady) the well-received feature film. An Ohio native, Atwood frequently features his family and friends in many of his pranks. His recent sponsored video with Nissan resulted in a Streamy Award win in 2015.

Related Post: The Top 5 YouTube Pranksters

10. Rosanna Pansino (Richest YouTuber For Food)

In the spirit of YouTube DIYs, how-to's, and video tutorials, self-taught cook Rosanna Pansino recently published her first cookbook, The Nerdy Nummies Cookbook: Sweet Treats For The Geek In All Of Us (based on her popular YouTube series by the same name). Inspired by her grandmother, Pansino began her YouTube career by sharing recipes, tips, and tricks on baking themed treats (as exemplified in her Frozen-themed baking video above).

Related Post: The Top 5 Best Branded YouTube Videos: Part II

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December 23, 2015 By Evan

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