This article may contain links from our partners. We may receive a small commission if you make a purchase through a link. Please read our disclosure and how we make money.
How much money do YouTubers make? Come down the rabbit hole with me and learn how to make money on YouTube.
If you’ve been on this blog before, it’s no secret to you that I am always on the lookout for alternative ways to make money to get rid of the typical 9-5 job.
And YouTube has been on my watch list for quite some time.
The more I watched YouTube channels (and the more I had to keep pressing Skip Ads), the more I got interested in how much money YouTubers really make.
I do believe YouTube is one of the best platforms to make money today.
Videos are much easier to watch for some topics than reading long posts (keep reading, please, my friends, lol).
And they entertain.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the top YouTubers out there are real stars and are making millions of dollars every year.
So how much do YouTubers make?
YouTube is the 2nd most-visited website in the world, according to Alexa.
2 billion people log in to YouTube every month.
Google made a whopping $15.5 billion in ad revenue in 2019, up 36% compared to the year before!
And a big chunk of this money goes directly into YouTubers’ pockets. Google pays 55% of its AdSense revenues to publishers. This means for every $100 an advertiser pays to watch YouTubers’ videos, Google gives them $55.
According to Forbes, this is how much top YouTubers made in 2020:
10. Jeffree Star $15 million
Total views: 600 million
Total subscribers: 16.7 million
Net worth: $200 million
Jeffree Star started out as a pop singer with a huge following on MySpace before moving to YouTube. With over 16 million subscribers, he is one of the highest-paid YouTube stars on the planet.
Jeffree uploads vlogs, makeup tutorials, and beauty product reviews on his channel.
In 2014 he created his own cosmetic empire called Jeffree Star Cosmetics, where most of his astonishing $200 million net worth comes from.
9. David Dobrik $15.5 million
Views: 2.7 billion
Net worth: $20 million
David Dobrik is a Slovakian American actor that knows how to make his audience laugh. He started his YouTube channel in 2015, after finding early success on the video-sharing platform Vine.
He has accumulated an incredible amount of social media followers, including over 27 million on TikTok, which landed him some great sponsorships.
8. Blippi (Stevin John) $17 million
Views: 8.2 billion
Net worth: $16 million
Stevin John is a 32 years old comedian that creates educational videos for children. With many children being stuck at home during the pandemic, his popularity has reached new levels during 2020.
His character (Blippi) always wears a blue and orange beanie cap and a blue shirt, orange suspenders, and a bow tie. He has also rolled out a merchandise line and offers videos on Amazon and Hulu.
7. Anastasia Radzinskaya $18.5 million
Views: 39 billion
Subscribers: 190.6 million
Net worth: $20 million
Children’s channels can be a gold mine!
Anastasia Radzinskaya is only 6 years old, was born in Russia, speaks 4 languages, and runs her channels with her parents. She is by far the biggest children’s YouTube star.
Her channels have over 190 million combined subscribers and more than 190 billion views.
Anastasia has grabbed the attention of big brands for sponsorships, and in 2020 has already amassed 3 million followers n TikTok.
6. Preston $19 million
Views: 3.3 billion
Subscribers: 27.8 million
Neth worth: $20 million
Preston Arsement started by playing Call of Duty online, and he became so popular that he started posting funny pranks as well as gaming content on Minecraft.
With over 27 million subscribers across his channels, he was still one of the top paid YouTubers in 2020.
5. Markiplier $19.5 million
Views: 3.1 billion
Subscribers: 27.8 million
Net worth: $35 million
Markiplier is a YouTube veteran with over 8 years on the platform.
Mark Fischbach’s channel shares hilarious gaming videos, original comedy sketches, animated parodies, and other entertainment bits. He cofounded Cloak, a high-end line of clothing for gamers, with fellow YouTuber Jacksepticeye.
4. Rhett and Link $20 million
Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal host a daily show on YouTube called Good Mythical Morning. They share viral videos, explore surprising new products and trends, compete in original games with celebrity guests, perform comedy songs, and more.
In February 2019, they acquired Smosh, another comedy channel on YouTube, which helped achieve almost 2 billion views in 2020 with over 41 million subscribers combined.
3. Dude Perfect $23 million
Views: 2.77 billion
Subscribers: 55 million
Estimated combined net worth: $20 million
This sports-focused channel is run by 5 friends and features amazing trick shots and stunts. Plus, they love breaking Guinness World Records on camera.
Twins Cory and Coby Cotton, Garrett Hilbert, Cody Jones, and Tyler Toney have amassed 55 million subscribers and 2.77 billion views.
2. Mr. Beast (Jimmy Donaldson) $20 million
Views: 3 billion
Subscribers: 53.8 million
Net worth: $16 million
A new entry in this year’s list, Mr. Beast has collected 3 billion views in 2020 alone. Jimmy Donaldson creates incredible stunts and gives a large part of what he earns through YouTube to charity.
In his first viral video, he recorded himself counting to 100,000. This was in 2017.
Since then, he created all sorts of stunts, including driving through the same drive-thru 1,000 times or buying everything inside a store.
1. Ryan Kaji $29.5 million
Views: 12.2 billion
Subscribers: 41.7 million
Net worth: $32 million
And the winner is, yet again, Ryan Kaji!
Now 9 years old, Ryan started his channel in 2015 when he was just 3 by unboxing toys on camera. He has over 41 million subscribers and over 12 billion views in 2020 alone.
He branched out from YouTube and has his own toy line available in stores like Walmart and a show on Nickelodeon called Ryan’s Mystery Playdate.
How do YouTubers make money?
When I started my blog 2 years ago, I didn’t believe it was possible to make money blogging. I thought you could just make a few hundred dollars a month at most.
What happened 3 months later came as a shock and a complete surprise. I made over $3,000 after only 3 months! ($3,878 to be precise).
So all these people who keep saying it’s possible to make money online are not lying?
I really couldn’t believe it.
And YouTube is no different.
Like with blogging, YouTubers can have several income streams. And how much YouTubers make is completely dependant on their ability to exploit the system.
Simply uploading a video on YouTube, add a 5-second advert at the beginning, and hope for the best isn’t going to cut. The YouTubers that make real money are much more strategic than that.
Here are the 5 top ways to make money with YouTube:
1. Google Adsense
Pretty much every YouTuber makes money with what’s called Google Adsense. Google places ads on YouTubers’ videos and depending on the quality of the video, the niche, and the number of ads you have running, YouTubers can make money.
The amount of money you’ll make with ads as a YouTuber also depends on the time of year. For example, many companies spend a huge amount of money during what is called Q4 (October, November, December) in the run-up to Black Friday and Christmas.
What is CMP?
CPM means Cost Per Mille (with Mille meaning 1000 in Latin). CPM is the amount Google Adsense pays on average every 1000 views on YouTube.
There are lots of speculations about how much YouTubers make with ads, but the simple answer is that ads revenues are dependant on several factors, and there isn’t a clear answer. I know YouTubers that make as little as $1 per 1000 views and others who make well over $15 per 1000 views.
What is the average CPM on YouTube?
The average CPM is between $3 to $10.
Some of the factors that can influence how much YouTubers make with ads:
- Location: If most of your audience is in the US, Canada, or the UK, you will make more money than if all of your audience is in Honduras. As simple as that. Google Adsense has divided countries into 3 tiers. Any countries in Tier 1 will earn more money than those in Tier 2 and Tier 3 (here, you can find a list of countries by tier if you are interested).
- Demographic: Advertisers love to target a very specific audience. This can include age, gender, and interests. If your channel is too broad and appeals to anyone, you might struggle to get a high CPM.
- Video topic: Some particular niches on YouTube are in high demand because there is little quality content, and advertisers are prepared to pay over the odds for a placement. Some of these niches are banking, insurance, mortgages. This is why personal finance channels or investment channels normally have a high CMP compared, for example, to a food or travel channel.
- Video length: The length of your video can influence how many ads you can place, potentially doubling or tripling ads’ income. If your video is over 10 minutes, you can enable ads to be shown in the middle of the video (mid-roll), not just at the beginning. Wondering why some YouTubers just talk and talk about nothing for the first few minutes without getting straight to the point? Now you know why!
- Ads skipping: Every time someone skips ads, YouTubers don’t make any money. If you always skip ads, think again. If you want to support your favorite channel, you might want to let the ads play until the end, at least a few times a week.
Want to see some real CMP examples?
Example of real CPM earnings in the Personal Finance niche:
Graham Stephan shared how much he made with Google Adsense in December 2019. With 7,781,430 views and $126,054.41 in ads revenues, his CPM was on average $16.19. A lot more than the average estimated $3 to $10!
Example of real CPM earnings in the lifestyle Vlogging niche:
Shelby Church shared how she improved her CMP in 2019. In January 2019, she was only earning as little as $1.55 per 1000 views. By creating videos above 10 minutes, she was able to add more mid-roll ads, and in just 6 months, she has increased her CPM to $4!
This shows that if you want to make money on YouTube, you need to be strategic and intentional with every video you create.
2. Affiliate marketing
YouTubers often recommend a service, a product, or a company that they use, and they get a commission if someone signs up or buys something.
The most popular ways to make money with affiliate marketing are:
- Creating a video reviewing the product you are trying to sell.
- Creating a video in which you recommend the product.
- Casually using the product you want to sell and linking to it.
You will normally find affiliate links in the video description.
Affiliate marking is a great way to generate passive income from a YouTube channel.
After all, people are already watching and would probably love to know what brands YouTubers are wearing or what books they are reading.
Adding links doesn’t cost anything to YouTubers, but if they have a good following, they can make hundreds if not thousands of dollars a month with affiliate marketing.
Once you reach a good level of popularity as a YouTuber, a great way to cash in on that is to create your own products.
And this can come in 2 main forms:
You can create your own brand and sell limited-edition merch, including t-shirts, stickers, mugs, bags, hats, prints. You name it, you can sell it. Big YouTubers like PewDiePie or Dude Perfect make millions of dollars a year selling merchandising alone. Merchandising can become a much bigger revenue source than ads.
For YouTubers with an engaged audience, a great way to make more money is to sell a digital product or educational product related to the channel.
A couple of my favorite examples:
- Boho Beautiful: my favorite yoga channel has several at-home fitness programs you can buy.
- Graham Stephan: started his YouTube channel to share his real estate journey and has now launched courses on becoming a real estate agent and how to start a YouTube channel (after he amassed over 1.5 million subscribers in just a couple of years).
Signing up for sponsorships is pretty common for big channels with lots of subscribers. But if a YouTuber has a small channel with high engagement and quality content, it’s possible to land sponsorships by contacting companies directly.
How do sponsorships work?
Companies are always on the lookout for channels that fit their target audience. They pay YouTubers to promote their brand or product/s in a video or series of videos.
How much can YouTubers earn with sponsorships on YouTube?
On average, YouTubers charge brands anywhere from $10 to $50 per 1000 views.
For YouTubers with over 1 million subscribers, sponsors can pay anything from $5,000 to over $20,000+ depending on the niche and the deal. If you can bag a few sponsorships a year as a YouTuber, this can quickly add up.
Another way to make money is to ask for a donation.
YouTubers normally use platforms like PayPal or Patreon.
Patreon is a crowdfunding platform: YouTubers fans can make monthly donations to access special content and videos based on a membership level. For example, for $5 a month, you might get access to a Q&A live video, and for $10, you could be able to view exclusive bonus content.
This helps fans feel part of a smaller supportive community and allows YouTubers to continue creating great content without constantly worrying about the money.
Common FAQs about making money on YouTube
How much money do YouTubers make per view?
There is no right or wrong answer here. Many people try to guess what the average YouTuber makes based on the number of views. But the reality is that there are many factors at play, including the niche you pick, the quality and length of videos, and your viewers’ location.
Plus, you have to remember that YouTubers get paid only if people watch ads until the end or click on them.
The average YouTuber earns between $0.003 to $0.01 per view.
How much money do YouTubers make per 1000 views?
Advertisers pay anything between $3 to $10 every 1000 views.
How much money do YouTubers make per million views?
It’s quite hard to estimate how much YouTubers make per million views. If we simply use the average CPM, they could be making anything between $3,000 to $10,000. But when YouTubers reach this level of view, they are most likely able to make more money using affiliate marketing, merchandising, or sponsorship, making it harder to estimate exactly how much they really make.
When does YouTube start paying you?
You can start to monetize your YouTube channel when you:
- Reach a minimum of 1,000 subscribers
- Have 4,000 hours of watch time
Both within the past 12 months period.
Is it worth starting a YouTube channel in 2021? And how long will it take you to make money?
In my opinion, yes, yes, yes!
If you love creating videos, there is no better time to start a YouTube channel than today.
Advertisers are spending more money on the platform every year, and if you are ready to put in the hard work, you could start to monetize your channel within 3 to 6 months.
You will not get rich overnight, but you can create a great engaged community and earn a good amount of money within your first year.
But before you decide to start a channel, remember that you have to:
- Create high-quality and engaging content.
- Post regularly (at least once a week, more if you want to grow fast) to keep your subscribers engaged and please the YouTube algorithm.
- Create captivating thumbnails to make people pick your video above the others.
- Learn SEO and plan your content with research on topics and keywords, to get a chance for your videos to be found.
- Engage with other channels and with your subscribers.
- If a topic does well, create more videos around that topic.
- Be consistent and put in the hard work: you need to treat your channel as a business, not as a hobby.
And above all, focus on something you are passionate about. I can’t stress this enough.
People will see your face and hear your voice. You need to be engaging and entertaining. And you can only do that if you love what you do. If your only reason to start a YouTube channel is to make money, you will fail.
Most profitable niches on YouTube
With over 500 hours of video uploaded every minute on YouTube, the competition is massive.
But this is true in every successful business.
If you want your YouTube journey to be successful, you need to decide what niche you want your channel to fall into.
Some of the most profitable niches on YouTube are:
1. Product Reviews
Unboxing and reviewing products is a very lucrative business for YouTubers. Just make sure you go into a specific sub-niche like toys, tech gadgets, backpacks, etc. With reviews, you can make big bucks with affiliate marketing too.
Just look at the top 10. Six out of ten channels started out as gaming channels (although some have moved away from that). Gaming is a super popular niche, and it’s perfect if you know how to show off your skills.
3. Fitness & Health
With gyms being closed and people trying to figure out how to work out from their living room, fitness is a super-popular niche right now. And I am one of those who jumped on the trend even before the pandemic. I always used YouTube to stay fit. If you want to save money and stay fit, there isn’t anything better than starting from free YouTube videos.
4. Prank & Entertainment
People are watching videos to switch off their brains and have fun, and any entertaining video or harmless pranks will be a hit on YouTube.
5. Personal finance & Make money online
I love personal finance on YouTube: surprise! The great thing about this niche is that advertisers are prepared to pay over the odds, which means you need fewer views to make money, and your CMP will be higher.
Comedy is one of the fastest-growing niches on YouTube. According to YouTube, comedy was still one of the hot topics in 2020. If you know how to make people laugh, you should consider this niche for your channel.
7. Food & Cooking
Who doesn’t love watching people cooking a decadent chocolate cake? Everyone seems to be on a diet these days, and if you can’t eat it, you can at least watch it.
8. Fashion & Beauty
This is one of the biggest trends on YouTube, with talented make-up artists and creators showcasing what’s possible. From make-up hacks to fashion tips, millions of people watch these types of videos every day.
9. DIY & Craft
Craft and DIY are a great way to switch off your brain for a bit and use your hands, and that’s why these channels are so popular.
10. How to videos
If you love to help people solving problems, how-to videos can have great success. Things like “How to wrap Christmas presents” or “How to cut your own hair” get thousands of searches every day.
Are you ready to become a YouTuber star?
Now that you know exactly how much YouTubers make, are you ready to start your own channel?
There is a lot of money to be made on YouTube, but you need to be prepared to work hard for it like with any other business.
You can’t just expect to upload a couple of videos and make big bucks.
You need dedication, determination and need to be willing to invest at least 20-30 hours a week for a year to give it a good shot.
But if making and editing videos and talking about a specific subject for hours are your passion, give YouTube a shot!
Let me know if you have started a channel in the comment!
AND…After writing this article, I did start my own Gathering Dreams YouTube channel! Come and check it out and click that subscribe button if you want to see how it goes!
We all start from ZERO.