Forgot about becoming an astronaut – these days, kids are three times more likely to dream of becoming a professional YouTuber.
And as Visual Capitalist’s Carmen Ang details below, who can blame them? With a big enough fan base, vlogging can be a lucrative business. Who exactly are these professional content creators, and how do they make their money?
This graphic by Accredited Debt Relief shows the most popular YouTuber in nearly every country. The list only considers individual YouTubers, so brands, bands, or shows didn’t make the cut.
How Do YouTubers Make Money?
Before diving into the list, it’s important to understand the basics of the business. How do these content creators generate revenue?
If a YouTuber reaches 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours within a year, they can start to monetize their account with advertisements. YouTubers only get paid when a viewer watches the full ad, or clicks on it.
This is a monthly subscription service that allows fans to watch their favourite content without ads. YouTubers get a cut of subscription profits, based on how many views their channel attracts.
Also known as influencer marketing, this is when brands pay content creators to promote their product. A vlogger typically needs a large following before brands are willing to work with them, but expectations from brands vary based on the company and their marketing objectives.
If an influencer has a loyal fan base, they can make a pretty penny selling branded swag. It’s estimated that PewDiePie, the world’s most popular YouTuber, makes over $6 million a month from merch sales.
While there are several options for making money on YouTube, it’s nearly impossible to make a living without a large following.
The Full Breakdown
With over 50 million content creators on YouTube, getting noticed is no easy feat. Here’s a look at the most popular YouTubers in 187 different countries, based on their total subscribers:
As mentioned earlier, the world’s most popular YouTuber is Swedish-born vlogger PewDiePie. He’s well known for his “Let’s Play” videos, which document him playing various video games. PewDiePie joined YouTube in 2010, and has now amassed 105 million subscribers. While he’s based in England, his channel is registered under the United States.
It’s worth noting the vast discrepancies between certain countries. For example, while the U.S.’s most popular YouTuber, Like Nastya boasts 57 million subscribers, Eswatini’s top vlogger, OuSSama MiZani has less than 800. Clearly, some markets are more saturated than others.
Categories, Ranked by Popularity
Geography isn’t the only factor that impacts popularity—the type of content is important as well. Which 10 categories do the top earning YouTubers fall into?
Not surprisingly, the most popular category is entertainment, which has 72 of the top earning YouTubers. Some of the biggest YouTube personalities fall under this category, such as PewDiePie and Chilean YouTuber HolaSoyGerman, who has 41 million subscribers.
The second most popular category is gaming, which has 25 of YouTube’s top earners. Some big names in this category include Ireland’s jacksepticeye with 24.7 million subscribers, and Canada’s VanossGaming, who has 25.2 million.
In third place are “How To” videos—18 of the 187 top earners fall into this category. Life Hacks & Experiments is the most popular YouTuber in this group, with 8.3 million subscribers.
Categories, Ranked by Earnings
Here’s the highest earning YouTuber on this list for each category.
When ranked by monthly earnings, the kids category comes in at first place. Six-year-old Like Nastya makes an estimated $7.73 million per month—that’s over 5 million more than the second ranking category, which is entertainment. The third most lucrative category is gaming, with the highest earner, jacksepticeye grossing an estimated $990,000 a month.
It’s important to note that figures are estimates of each YouTuber’s ad revenue, so it doesn’t account for corporate sponsorships, merchandise sales, or any fan donations.
So for all we know, these influencers could be making even more money. If that doesn’t inspire you to start posting amateur videos on YouTube, we don’t know what will.