YouTube millionaires: How are they earning so much money from video?

Digital Spy

Digital Spy By Monday, Feb 16 2015

When YouTube launched 10 years ago, no-one knew how it was going to survive. Video – especially back then – was enormously expensive, and YouTube was hosting it for free, attracting an millions per day. Google bought the startup a mere year later, turning it into a juggernaut of content that has amassed over 1 trillion views and now averages over 800 million unique visitors a month.

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© Rex Features / Alex Segre

The revenue that Google’s ads bring also offers a slice of the profits for anyone who cares to sign up to the program. Users can make up to 45% of any revenue that Google generates from your videos, and while that’s insignificant for most people, there are some users who are earning serious amounts of money through the site:

1. Gaming vloggers like PewDiePie One area that seems to have generated more wealth than any other on YouTube is gaming videos. PewDiePie, a 25-year-old from Sweden who currently lives in Brighton, is the perfect example. PewDiePie has a staggering 34.5 million subscribers, and his videos each attract millions of views. The Wall Street Journal reported that in 2013, he earned around $4 million (£2.4 million) per year from that alone – a figure later confirmed by PewDiePie in a Reddit AmA.

2. Popstars such as Rihanna Although there are lots of stories like PewDiePie’s where individual vloggers have gone on to earn fame and a handsome living via YouTube, there are also lots of big-name companies and global superstars raking it in from the site. Owned by Google, Universal Media Group, Sony Music and Abu Dhabi Media, Vevo manages YouTube music videos for big-name artists. Rihanna‘s Vevo channel is one of the most popular, and YouTube channel statistics analysts StatSheep believe it could earn her around the same figure as PewDiePie – an estimated $4.15 million (£2.7 million) per year.

3. People who make you laugh, like PrankvsPrank It’s not just obvious categories like music and gaming though, because PrankvsPrank features husband and wife Jeana and Jesse Wellens, who have made their name playing progressively more ludicrous practical jokes on each other. They now have 7 million subscribers. The question about these two though, is how is either of them still falling for any of the pranks they play on each other, and how they keep coming up with new ideas. However they do it, their channel is hilarious. In a very smart move, the pair also have a vlogging channel which documents their lives together, and it has more than 5 million subscribers – giving them even more potential revenue. All in all, they could be earning as much as $4.6 million (£3 million) per year across the site from their videos.

4. The Slow Mo Guys Perhaps the best thing about YouTube though, is that you can make videos that are visually interesting and still make a living out of it. The Slow Mo Guys are a British duo who make videos of really cool stuff happening, and then slow it down (without a doubt, almost everything looks better slowed down). It might not be the most educational of endeavours, but the pair have close to 5 million subscribers, and could make up to $1.23m (£800,000) per year from their shenanigans. Interestingly though, there is potential added value here beyond just advertising revenue. For example, videos are often sponsored, by the likes of Audible. There’s also considerable scope for commercial videos here, which could very well expand the earnings of vloggers like The Slow Mo Guys substantially. Finally, if you want to be YouTube rich, remember this: these people all work enormously hard. Anyone can have a YouTube channel, and anyone can get money for it, but unless you’re prepared to work tirelessly at it, you’ll never make enough to quit your day job. But if you want encouragement, take a look at the people who are doing what they love, making videos and getting paid for it, all thanks to a silly video site that launched just 10 years ago. Happy Birthday YouTube – and thanks for all the wasted time.