Vlogging on YouTube can be lucrative even for middleweight creators, with one-million-subscriber channels thought to earn about $5,000 in ad revenue per month.
And as we’ll see, towards the very top of the YouTube creator charts, earnings can be out of this world. In this guide, we take a look at the ten estimated highest-earning channels on YouTube, from kid influencers like Nastya and Ryan Kaji to controversial celebs like Jake and Logan Paul. We’ll pick out lessons to be learned from each channel’s success, so you can take away some insights to apply to your own vlogging.
The earnings rankings we’ve used are based on estimates from Statista, the industry-leading statistics portal.
MrBeast (Jimmy Donaldson): $54 million per year
Subscribers: 97.7M | YouTube channel
YouTube’s current highest earner, MrBeast, draws on well-established YouTube content tropes to create a phenomenally popular product.
Watching MrBeast’s videos, we picked up on lots of fast cuts, ironic humour and pranks or surprises featuring unsuspecting members of the public.
Major displays of generosity and wealth are a recurring theme (“I ordered a pizza and tipped the house”, “I opened a free car dealership”). This would suggest that in order to make a lot of money from YouTube videos, it could help to have a big budget for the content.
An interesting aspect of MrBeast’s videos is that the channel features a recurring cast of friends with MrBeast himself as the ringleader, rather than simply focusing on one person. This increases the chance that viewers will relate to the humour and personality of at least some of the cast.
What’s most surprising about MrBeast’s content is that it’s fairly reminiscent of traditional TV – especially reality shows such as Undercover Boss and Queer Eye, where colourful characters with Fairy Godmother-like powers enter the lives of ordinary folk. The combination of influence from classic TV with up-to-date humour and editing is what makes this channel a commercial monster. It is both familiar and inoffensive enough to appeal to parents; and anarchic enough to appeal to kids.
Key takeaway: classic TV tropes plus contemporary presentation is a powerful combo.
Jake Paul: $45 million
Subscribers: 20.4M | YouTube channel
Jake Paul is perhaps best known as a semi-professional boxer and controversial celeb, rather than as a YouTuber these days – but his YouTube channel continues to rake in a fortune.
Paul rose to fame in the 2010s, along with his brother Logan, after cultivating a huge following on the video platform Vine, and appearing as an actor on the Disney Channel.
Content featured on Paul’s YouTube channel include music videos, day-in-the-life vlog’s about the YouTuber’s family life and boxing training, and series of comedy skits. In recent years, the account’s output has grown less frequent and more focused on combat sports.
While Jake Paul’s content is certainly not to everyone’s taste, it undeniably proves the commercial power of letting your subscribers into many aspects of your life.
Key takeaway: showing subscribers many aspects of your life is one way to drive audience engagement.
Markiplier (Mark Fischbach): $38 million
Subscribers: 33.1M | YouTube channel
With videos covering gaming, tech, sci-fi and humour, the Markiplier YouTube channel is a hub of good-natured geek culture.
The channel’s content is diverse in form. Key formats include video game playthroughs, and lighthearted hands-on encounters with new technologies such as A.I.writing tools and art generators.
The tone of Markiplier’s content is convivial and tongue-in-cheek – especially in the channel’s comedy sketches. Fischbach is sometimes joined by fellow YouTubers in his videos, and frequently makes guest appearances on other YouTube channels.
Key takeaway: extend your reach through reciprocal guest appearances with other YouTube channels.
Rhett and Link: $30 million
Subscribers: 4.99M | YouTube channel
This fun, family-friendly comedy duo has been pumping out vlogs, skits and music videos since the early days of YouTube. Such has been their success as “internetainers” that Rhett and Link have become mainstream figures in the U.S., appearing on TV shows such as The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
Rhett and Link are perhaps best known for their long-running vlog/discussion series, Good Mythical Morning, which sees the hosts discuss a different topic in each episode – from offbeat news stories, to social media challenges, food and tech.
In our view, the smart thing about Good Mythical Morning is that during each season of the production, a new episode is released every weekday. From the subscriber’s perspective, this makes the show a part of their daily routine, and forms the habit of engaging strongly with the channel and its hosts.
Key takeaway: find your place in your subscribers’ daily routine.
Unspeakable: $28.5 million
Subscribers: 13.9M | YouTube channel
A little like the millennial CBBC series Dick & Dom, the YouTube channel Unspeakable is all about grown-ups acting like big, unruly kids. It’s extremely popular with children.
The channel’s videos are all variations on an anarchic, just-about-child-appropriate brand of humour. Commonly featured formats include challenges, pranks and gaming streams.
Whatever the topic, the videos feature lots of bright colours, over-the-top facial expressions, silly pranks and extreme reactions – a powerful combination to keep kids watching.
Key takeaway: silly, colourful content is visual catnip for kids.
Nastya (Anastasia Radzinskaya): $28 million
Subscribers: 97M | YouTube channel
The average young child spends a significant percentage of their online time on YouTube – over half, according to some studies.
It’s no surprise, then, that several of the highest earning YouTube vloggers create content for kids. One such YouTuber is eight-year-old Anastasia Radzinskaya, whose channel Like Nastya features a mix of wholesome, family-friendly content, including music videos, vlogs and comedy skits featuring Nastya and her father.
Many parents worry about the content their kids could be watching on YouTube, and not without good reason. Against this backdrop, Like Nastya seems like a perfect antidote for concerned parents, combining colourful, cartoon-y action with moral learnings and a reassuring parental presence.
Key takeaway: YouTube content for young children needs to balance the needs of the child and the needs of the parent.
Ryan Kaji: $27 million
Subscribers: 32.7M | YouTube channel
Ryan Kaji, protagonist of ‘Ryan’s World’, is another child star with a huge YouTube following.
The videos featured on the Ryan’s World channel are mainly focused around fun, play and child-friendly comic skits, with some educational content thrown in for good measure. Ryan’s parents also feature in the videos, which gives the content a cosy, homemade feel – despite the fact that the channel is a massive commercial success.
This channel has a great mix of content and fun editing – but its greatest strength is Ryan’s facial expressions. The youngster clearly enjoys making his videos, and this comes across naturally and convincingly in his expressions of mirth, awe and surprise. This is really important in terms of selling the channel to a young audience, whose response to the content will be highly conditioned by the emotions they perceive on-screen.
Key takeaway: genuine fun and enjoyment makes YouTube content more compelling.
Dude Perfect: $20 million
Subscribers: 57.8M | YouTube channel
Dude Perfect is a sports- and humour-focused YouTube channel with a superb track record of racking up viral view counts. The channel’s description sums it up pretty well: “5 best buds just kickin’ it”.
In a competitive social media environment, posting content to do with trends and popular challenges isn’t always enough to maximise plays and shares. Dude Perfect sets its content apart by taking trends to the extreme – so where another YouTuber might post a regular water bottle flip video, Dude Perfect posts water bottle flip videos featuring trampolines, targets and other out-of-the-ordinary setups.
Another likely factor in Dude Perfect’s mass appeal is the use of everyday items in its stunts and challenges – from stacking crisps to doing trick shots with ping-pong balls. This opens the door for viewers to imitate the stunts at home, and perhaps also to make copycat videos to upload to their own YouTube channels. Building this kind of active participation can grow viral reach and engagement around a social media challenge.
Key takeaway: get maximum mileage out of social media trends by taking them to the extreme.
Logan Paul: $18 million
Subscribers: 5.14M | YouTube channel
Logan Paul stopped posting videos on his YouTube channel in 2021, subsequently explaining, “When you are yourself, the platform that you’re on, because of the advertisers, because of public sentiment, whatever it is, no longer wants to support you.”
Nonetheless, whatever advertisers, the public and YouTube may think of the elder Paul brother, his YouTube videos continue to accumulate plays and earn revenue for their creator.
Paul’s YouTube channel hosted a mix of vlogs, music videos and humourous series which reflected his changing interests over time – from Pokémon cards to boxing and NFTs.
Key takeaway: even an inactive YouTube channel can accrue significant passive income – provided it has enough popular videos.
Preston Arsement: $16 million
Subscribers: 20.4M | YouTube channel
Preston Arsement’s rowdy, hyperactive style might be a little off-putting for most adults – but the creator’s channel, Preston, is a hit with kids.
Preston’s videos include a mix of games, challenges, vlogs and pranks. As with fellow high earner Unspeakable’s videos, the content revolves around young adults acting like big kids, with lots of extreme reactions, banter and practical jokes. The frequent use of child-friendly cultural touchstones such as Sonic The Hedgehog and Minecraft gives a wide audience of kids a reason to click the channel’s thumbnails.
This channel makes particularly good use of YouTube Shorts – the platform’s short-form video format, made for smartphones. Preston regularly gets millions of plays on these shorter videos, which last no longer than 60 seconds.
Key takeaway: use YouTube Shorts to top up your play count.
In a competitive vlogging market, personality is power
Our top 10 highest-earning YouTubers list has covered a wide mix of content, from humour and pop culture vlogs to channels aimed at young children.
There are many differences among these channels – but one commonality between them is that they’re fronted by strong, over-the-top personalities. Think of Ryan Kaji’s surprised expressions, Preston Arsement’s hyperactive energy and the varied personalities of MrBeast’s group of co-stars. Whatever the content category, very-high-earning YouTube channels invariably seem to be driven by high-energy creators.
We’ve no doubt that there’s also potential for more understated YouTubers to earn big revenues. Nonetheless, expressive personality seems to be a condition of success at the highest levels of the YouTube rich list – which is something you might want to keep in mind if you’re aiming for mass-market success with your own vlogging.