Forbes recently released their annual list of the highest-paid YouTubers, with the winner being 9-year old toy reviewer, Ryan Kaji. He earned an estimated $29.5 million between June 2019 and June 2020. How did he earn so much? And who are the others on the list? Read on and we’ll explore.
While a majority of YouTubers will derive their income from advertisements placed on their videos via Google AdSense, the highest paid YouTubers on this list diversify their income streams by selling branded merchandise and pursuing other media related business ventures.
Who were the highest-paid YouTube stars of 2020?
10. Jeffree Star
Estimated YouTube earnings: $15 million
Total Views (from June 2019 to June 2020): 600 million
Total Subscribers: 16.9 million
How he earns his money: Jeffree Star runs a YouTube channel centered all around luxury and beauty. He is a makeup artist turned business mogul who owns his own direct-to-consumer cosmetics company, Jeffree Star Cosmetics. The YouTube earnings listed above exclude the estimated earnings from his private cosmetics company, which we anticipate to be in the hundreds of millions.
9. David Dobrik
Estimated YouTube earnings: $15.5 million
Total Views (from June 2019 to June 2020): 2.7 billion
Total Subscribers: 18 million
How he earns his money: Dobrik is arguably one of the most famous YouTubers today. The 24 year old vlogger is known for his short 4 minute and 20 second jam-packed videos in which he surprises his friends with cars, plays jokes, and meets celebrities, to put it mildly. Corporate brands like SeatGeek, Bumble, and EA love sponsoring Dobrik’s YouTube videos in exchange for the publicity and exposure that his videos ultimately bring their brands. He also has his own line of merchandise called “Clickbait” that he sells through Fanjoy, a platform for creators to sell merchandise products.
8. Blippi (Stevin John)
Estimated YouTube earnings: $17 million
Total Views (from June 2019 to June 2020): 8.2 billion
Total Subscribers: 27.4 million
How he earns his money: Blippi is a well-known educational channel creating content aimed at children. With his bright colored clothing and quirky glasses, he visits many places to teach children about the world, science and history, such as with his visit to the aquarium, or to the science museum. Blippi has merchandise sales with big box retailers and has signed deals with Amazon and Hulu to provide content to these streaming services.
7. Nastya (Anastasia Radzinskaya)
Estimated YouTube earnings: $18.5 million
Total Views (from June 2019 to June 2020): 39 billion
Total Subscribers: 190.6 million
How she earns her money: Nastya is a Russian YouTuber with a kid-friendly (ages 5 through 10) channel and vibrant, age-appropriate content that is enjoyed by her global audience of tots. She’s launched a successful TikTok channel and will launch her licensing program next year. Income is earned primarily from ads and corporate sponsors.
6. Preston Arsement
Estimated YouTube earnings: $19 million
Total Views (from June 2019 to June 2020): 3.3 billion
Total Subscribers: 33.4 million
How he earns his money: 26-year-old Preston Arsement, otherwise known as the “King of Minecraft,” is one of the most influential players on online gaming platform Minecraft. His pixelated world operates several lucrative Minecraft servers, where users pay to access Minecraft worlds he’s created and for in-game items. He runs multiple YouTube channels focused on different games, like Roblox and Call of Duty.
5. Markiplier (Mark Fischbach)
Estimated YouTube earnings: $19.5 million
Total Views (from June 2019 to June 2020): 3.1 billion
Total Subscribers: 27.8 million
How he earns his money: Markiplier is one of the most popular personalities on YouTube. He has over 27 million subscribers and his channel is growing rapidly. Subscribers come for the goofy humor, stay for the shocking breakdowns of popular video games. He earns mainly through advertisements on videos and sponsorships with video game companies.
4. Rhett and Link
Estimated YouTube earnings: $20 million
Total Views (from June 2019 to June 2020): 1.9 billion
Total Subscribers: 41.8 million
How they earn their money: The pair originally started their nerdy talk show “Good Mythical Morning” in 2012. In 2019 they purchased SMOSH, a sketch comedy channel bringing in some $11 million in estimated revenue from YouTube’s ad-share program. Their “Good Mythical Morning” membership club also brings in recurring monthly revenues from an eager fan club paying for exclusive content.
3. Dude Perfect
Estimated YouTube earnings: $23 million
Total Views (from June 2019 to June 2020): 2.77 billion
Total Subscribers: 57.5 million
How they earn their money: Dude Perfect is an American sports entertainment group-composed of Coby Cotton, Cory Cotton, Garrett Hilbert, Cody Jones, and Tyler Toney. The channel is known for its viral videos of members performing basketball shots and other stunts that lead to millions of views and significant AdSense earnings.
2. Mr. Beast (Jimmy Donaldson)
Estimated YouTube earnings: $24 million
Total Views (from June 2019 to June 2020): 3 billion
Total Subscribers: 47.8 million
How he earns his money: Mr. Beast is relatively new to the YouTube scene, having gone from an obscure YouTuber to consistently hitting the trending page and making it to number two on this highest paid list. His videos are a mix of stunts and humor, and have amassed a small fortune in ad revenue and brand sponsorship with Microsoft, EA, and Honey. He has his own merchandise line that he promotes through his channel.
1. Ryan Kaji
Estimated YouTube earnings: $29.5 million
Total Views (from June 2019 to June 2020): 12.2 billion
Total Subscribers: 41.7 million
How he earns his money: Topping the list for 2020 is nine-year-old Ryan Kaji. His videos tailored towards kids feature DIY science experiments, family storytimes, and new toy reviews. The bulk of his earnings comes from his licensing deals in which he sells more than 5,000 branded “Ryan’s World” products, from bedroom decor and action figures to masks and walkie talkies.
There you have it, the top 10 highest-paid YouTubers of 2020. These highest-paid YouTubers earned an estimated $211 million in total earnings from June 1, 2019 to June 1, 2020, which represents a 30% jump from the previous year. While other major media businesses have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, YouTubers have flourished, with lock-downs keeping more people at home and consuming content on YouTube.
A majority of these highest-paid YouTubers cater towards younger audiences. This isn’t surprising, given that 77% of U.S. internet users ages 15-25 tune into YouTube daily, per research firm Statista. This is certainly something to keep in mind as you move forward in your YouTube career.