For Generation Z/TBD, YouTube has really replaced other forms of entertainment like television, movies, music or going outside and facing the sun. While some people look down on YouTubers, the reality is that they make a ton of money. The top 10 YouTubers of 2017 have made a combined $70 million dollars so far this year.
That comes from the amount of clicks they generate — $2,000 per 1 million clicks — and the sponsorships they receive and promote on their channels — and for some, their “merch.” That’s not pocket change, that’s real foldin’ money. So, let’s look at the Top 10 richest YouTubers of 2017 (so far).
10. Colleen Ballinger
Colleen Ballinger is also known as her meme/most popular “comedian” online doppelgänger “Miranda Sings.” Ballinger is an actress that performs in theaters across the country and became so popular on YouTube that she was offered a show on Netflix — Haters Back Off. She, perhaps more than anyone on this list, has diversified her offerings by engaging in products outside of YouTube.
From off-broadway shows to the Tonight Show, or even Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Ballinger has really used her YouTube status to leverage her career in ways that other YouTubers have tried to, and mostly failed — see Jake Paul. As most every cast member of Saturday Night Live will tell you, though, a character is only popular for a limited amount of time. So while Ballinger has been on this list before and will continue to make bank, it’ll be interesting to see where her characters and videos go in the future. People might move on from Miranda and the style of make-up she wears that can only be named the Borderline Personality Disorder look.
According to MediaKix.com, this is Ballingers reach and income so far this year:
Twitter: 1.41 million followers
Facebook: 294k page likes
Instagram: 4.3 million followers
YouTube Channel: 7.6 million subscribers
Estimated Earnings: $5 million
9. Rhett & Link
The comedy duo of Rhett and Link may not be household names, yet, but they’ve been establishing a great following online the past few years. Like Ballinger, they’ve elevated themselves above YouTube and created content for other platforms, like the Independent Film Channel — where they hosted a show called Rhett & Link: Commercial Kings.
They’re mostly known for their morning show, Good Mythical Morning, which is one of the most professional and hilarious shows on YouTube. The duo brings in about $5 million a year, which is pretty impressive considering their humble beginnings.
Like most everyone on this list, they’ve amassed a following and the money and internet fame that comes with it simply by trying. Really, really hard. We live in an age where you can really do anything you want to, thanks to the internet. It’s like a gold rush that everyone has access to in their pockets.
People like Rhett and Link really are just taking advantage of a platform that literally anyone can use to do the same. It’s always interesting to see the how behind the why when it comes to what makes a channel successful.
According to MediaKix.com, this is their reach and income so far this year:
Twitter – 611K followers (2017 update: 705k followers, +94k followers over 2015)
Facebook – 1 million page likes (2017 update: 1.3 million page likes, +0.3 million page likes over 2015)
Instagram – 1 million followers (2017 update: 1.6 million followers, +0.6 million followers over 2015)
YouTube Channel – 4.1 million subscribers (2017 update: 4.3 million subscribers, +0.2 million subscribers over 2015)
Estimated Earnings: $4.5 million (2017 update: $5 million, +$0.5 million over 2015)
8. German Garmendia
German is probably the least known YouTuber on this list — to the American audience. He’s from Chile and most of his videos are in Spanish. He may be the most popular non-English speaking Youtuber there is, with two channels that have a combined following of over 50 million subs — those are PewDiePie numbers.
He’s expanded beyond YouTube, a bit, by writing a book and doing voice overs for cartoons like one of the Ice Age films. His videos are extremely high energy and he speaks very, very fast.
It’s that type of energy — and the editing style that goes along with it — that makes his videos interesting and watchable. He’s another perfect example of someone who just applied their personality to their videos and used that to grow an audience.
The quality of his videos isn’t great. Yet, he’s great motivation for those who are on the fence about creating their own channel. He shows that as long as you have a great personality and the ability to come up with new topics on a daily basis, you don’t even really need a great camera to get your channel established.
With earnings of near six million dollars a year, if that doesn’t get you off the fence I don’t know what will and if he doesn’t buy a new camera eventually you’d have to wonder where all that money is going.
According to MediaKix.com, this is her reach and income so far this year:
Twitter: 9.2 million followers
Facebook: 1.9 million page likes
Instagram: 6.8 million followers
HolaSoyGerman.: 31.3 million subscribers
JuegaGerman: 18.3 million subscribers
Total: 49.6 million subscribers
Estimated Earnings: $5.5 million
Mark Fischbach, better known as Markiplier, got his start the PewDiePie way by focusing on playing video games in front of an audience. While most YouTubers have transitioned from that to more of a vlog style of videos, Markiplier still stays true to his origins and plays a lot of video games to this day (in addition to Vlogging, as well).
His Let’s Play style sticks out from the legions of other Let’s Plays because of his unique personality and approach to each game. He’s well liked among other YouTubers — surprising considering all the “drama.” He’s partnered up with other YouTubers — mostly in the gaming realm— by simply being a genuinely nice guy.
He also does comedic shorts and vlogs, which show his potential. He has a lot of opportunities for growth in the coming years.
According to MediaKix.com, Markiplier’s reach and income so far this year is:
Twitter: 5.5 million followers
Facebook: 3 million page likes
Instagram: 5.5 million followers
YouTube Channel: 16.9 million subscribers
Estimated Earnings: $5.5 million
6. Tyler Oakley
When PewDiePie fell from grace (see below), Tyler Oakley replaced him as the new face of YouTube — mostly. Tyler is a nice guy and the people behind Youtube (*cough* Google *cough) can rely on him to not blurt out racial slurs at any given time.
While he is well known, he only made the “richest YouTubers” list this year. With earning around six million dollars per year, he’s been an amazing representative of LGBTQ people. That has gotten him in touch with TV personality and Oprah replacement, Ellen Degeneres.
Tyler has expanded his content to host a show on “EllenTube”— Ellen’s YouTube channel.
An outspoken activist, Tyler uses YouTube as a way to educate the youth on social issues. While that does cause a lot of controversy — and people using the word “cuck” and “snowflake” as if that’s somehow clever in 2017 — he still remains outspoken letting people live whichever way they choose — as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else.
According to MediaKix.com his income and reach is:
Twitter: 5.7 million followers
Facebook: 2.9 million page likes
Instagram: 6.9 million followers
YouTube Channel: 8 million subscribers
Estimated Earnings: $6 million
5. Rosanna Pansino
Rosanna Pansino perhaps best represents the diversity of content that YouTube has as her channel isn’t so much about vlogging and doing the typical “YouTube thing” but rather she focuses on a lot of DIY/”how-to” type videos. She’s a self-taught cook who was inspired by her grandmother — and her cooking — to pursue a career as a neo-Martha Stewart.
She has even written her own cookbook, titled The Nerdy Nummies Cookbook: Sweet Treats for the Geek in All of Us — also the title of her YouTube channel. While you may not want to spend real money on a cookbook, you can get a ton of great advice and tips by watching her channel each week.
Pansino represents the fact that YouTube has content for EVERYONE. Regardless of what you’re interested in, you’ll be able to find a channel/community filled with likeminded people.
According to MediaKix.com, her reach and income in 2017 is:
Twitter – 222K followers (2017 update: 451k followers, +229k followers over 2015)
Facebook – 632K page likes (2017 update: 748k page likes, +116k page likes over 2015)
Instagram – 1.5 million followers (2017 update: 2.6 million followers, +1.1 million followers over 2015)
YouTube Channel – 6.1 million subscribers (2017 update: 8.1 million subscribers, +2 million subscribers over 2015)
Estimated Earnings: $2.5 million (2017 update: $6 million, +$3.5 million over 2015)
Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox are a comedy duo that go by the name Smosh. They’ve been balling out of control on YouTube for quite some time — they were the number two earners on the platform back in 2016. They focus a lot on doing satire videos but have expanded to create multiple channels.
Outside of their main channel (which has 22 million subscribers) they have a game channel (which has five million subs) and a channel called “Smosh Pit” (nearly eight million subscribers). So, it’s no surprise that they’re making significant bank and that they’ve been handed a lot of great opportunities outside of YouTube, as well.
One of the results of that was the film titled Smosh: The Movie. Considering how clever and funny both are, you’d think they’d have a better title for their movie than that.
But it’s on brand and in their minds — and the minds of Hollywood execs — they’re making sure that your 30 million subscribers know that it’s your movie is more important than some zany title. The movie was released on demand and on Netflix after premiering at Vidcon 2015. Though it received mixed reviews, but a lot of critics praised the film.
While they did have low expectations — thanks, Miranda Sings — the fellas made a successful transition from YouTube to a full length movie. The New York Times said the following about the movie:
“[Smosh: The Movie is] a fairly successful effort to apply the tone and comic style of those hastily produced weekly shorts to a feature-length script with an actual plot. [It was] clever and surprisingly easy to sit through”
That success should’ve opened a lot of doors for the duo so it looks like the sky is quite literally the limit for these two. Even if that doesn’t work out, though, they still have an estimated income of around $8.5 million dollars to fall back on. Not too shabby!
According to MediaKix.com, their reach and income is:
Twitter – 3.28 million followers (2017 update: 3.33 million followers, +0.5 million followers over 2015)
Facebook – 7 million page likes (2017 update: 7 million page likes, no change from 2015)
Instagram – 2.4 million followers (2017 update: 2.9 million followers, +0.5 million followers over 2015)
YouTube Channel – 22 million subscribers (2017 update: 22.6 million subscribers, +0.6 million subscribers over 2015)
Estimated Earnings: $8.5 million (2017 update: $7 million, -$1.5 million since 2015)
3. Lilly Singh
Lilly Singh is another YouTube “comedian” who hails from Canada. She lives in Toronto and is known for her ethnically-themed parody and satire videos. She is better known as “IISuperwomanII”. She’s somehow been able to work with a ton of super famous people, including Selena Gomez, Dwayne ” The Rock” Johnson and more!
That has helped up her subscriber count to a staggering 12 million (on her main channel). The videos that made her famous were similar to Eddie Murphy movies. She plays every character in a lot of her videos (at least those about her family/parents). She parlayed that into an almost 30 city tour in 2015, that stretched across the globe.
Titled A Trip to Unicorn Island, the tour turned into a documentary that debuted on YouTube Red— “Only thing worth watching on YouTube Red” (ouch!) by Odyssey Online.
Perhaps because of that tour/documentary, she leapfrogged many of last year’s top YouTuber earners. She went from (a still amazing) $2.5 million dollars in 2016 to over $7.5 million dollars so far this year. This should remind everyone to go buy a webcam, a microphone and some wigs. There’s money to be made!
According to MediaKix.com, her reach and income in 2017 is:
Twitter – 1.4 million followers (2017 update: 2.2 million followers, +0.8 million followers over 2015)
Facebook – 2.8 million page likes (2017 update: 3 million page likes, +0.2 million page likes over 2015)
Instagram – 3.6 million followers (2017 update: 6.1 million followers, +2.5 million followers over 2015)
YouTube Channel – 8.7 million subscribers (2017 update: 11.3 million subscribers, +2.6 million subscribers over 2015)
Estimated Earnings: $2.5 million (2017 update: $7.5 million, +$5 million over 2015)
2. Roman Atwood
Roman Atwood, is the “King of Pranks” on YouTube. While Atwood has mostly avoided a lot of the backlash that have sunk other pranksters’ channels.
First and foremost, most “pranks” on YouTube are completely staged and thus sort of lame. What makes a good prank is the genuine reaction from the victim. If they’re in on it, it becomes pointless.
Atwood is a pretty talented guy though. He directed his own feature film that he also starred in, titled Natural Born Pranksters. Critics and audiences alike enjoyed it. He’s also done a lot of co-branded videos — with Nissan, for example — that have made him a ton of money and success. He’s leap-frogged a ton of people to reach this spot.
A few years ago he wouldn’t have been anywhere near this list. But thanks to massive gains to his sub count in 2015 and then again this year, he’s nearly at the top!
According to MediaKix.com, Roman Atwood’s reach and income are as follows:
Twitter – 939K followers (2017 update: 1.79 million followers, +851k followers over 2015)
Facebook – 1.2 million page likes (2017 update: 1.5 million page likes, +0.3 million page likes over 2015)
Instagram – 2.4 million followers (2017 update: 4.9 million followers, +2.5 million followers over 2015)
YouTube Channel – 8.9 million subscribers (2017 update: 10.4 million subscribers, +1.5 million subscribers over 2015)
Estimated Earnings: $2.5 million (2017 update: $8 million, +$5.5 million over 2015)
1. PewDiePie (for Now)
There’s no denying that PewDiePie is the king of YouTube. He’s amassed nearly double his competition’s following, reaching an unreal 57 million subscribers as of the writing of this article. Felix Kjellberg was once the face of YouTube, participating in YouTube Red shows like Scare PewDiePie and showing up on billboard ads.
That was all before the “Fiverr.com Incident.” PewDiePie decided to test the limits of what human beings will do for money. He reached a couple of guys through the site Fiverr.com and gave them $5 to hold up a sign that said “Death to All Jews.”
He later defended that “joke” and went after the New York Times for reporting about his “anti-Semitic” views. This week, while doing a “Let’s Play” — a live stream of Kjellberg playing various video games — he got upset at another player and ended up blurting out the dreaded “n-word”.
While he apologized, PewDiePie’s reign at the top may be coming to an end. With an estimated $15 million dollar a year income through his various channels, he’s lost a ton of sponsors because of his racist leanings. Regardless, he’s made enough money to live comfortably for the rest of his life.
According to MediaKix.com, Kjellberg’s online following is as follows:
Twitter – 7.5 million followers (2017 update: 9.8 million followers, +2.3 million followers over 2015)
Facebook – 7.2 million page likes (2017 update: 7.4 million page likes,+0.2 million page likes over 2015)
Instagram – 8.5 million followers (2017 update: 12.2 million followers,+3.7 million followers over 2015)
YouTube Channel – 44 million subscribers (2017 update: 54.4 million followers,+10.4 million subscribers over 2015)
Estimated Earnings: $12 million (2017 update: $15 million , +3 million over 2015)