How do YouTubers make money?

Forget about becoming a doctor, a lawyer, or an astronaut. These days, kids are three times more likely to dream of becoming a professional YouTuber.

And 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?

Before diving into the list, it’s important to understand the basics of the business. How do these content creators generate revenue?

  • Advertisements
    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.
  • YouTube Premium
    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.
  • Corporate Sponsorships
    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.
  • Merchandise Sales
    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 type of content is important in gaining popularity. 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.

If that doesn’t inspire you to start posting amateur videos on YouTube, we don’t know what will.

This is an excerpt of an article published in Visual Capitalist.

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