Who are the Most Famous YouTubers and How Much do They Make?

Have you ever wondered how some people made it rich from YouTube? It’s essentially a video platform, the same place where people search for how to fix leaky drains and listen to music. Most people wouldn’t consider YouTube a career choice, much less one that could pay millions each year.

In this article, we’ll look at some of the early YouTubers. We will also discuss the richest YouTubers in 2019 and look at how YouTube stars earn money, and how Brave contributes to the ways YouTubers monetize their accounts. Additionally, we’ll be looking at the advantages of using the Brave browser to tip your favorite YouTube channels.

Who were the original famous YouTubers?

In 2007, YouTube began its partnership program as a way to make money off ads and pay popular YouTube stars. Most of the partners in the program make a couple of hundred dollars a month, but others are far more successful, becoming the first YouTube millionaires.

YouTube gained success quickly, and early YouTube stars quickly discovered that there was a lot of money to be made on the platform.

What were the popular videos and YouTubers in 2007? The earliest popular videos certainly weren’t as high-quality as today’s HD offerings, but the early YouTube stars shared an eccentric vibe with today’s top YouTubers.

Geriatric1927 was Peter Oakley, a British YouTuber who discussed his life, including his time in the military during WW2. He quickly rose to fame in 2006 and became one of the most subscribed videos on the platform.

One of the highest viewed videos in 2007 was a video of two otters holding hands as they floated together. Within a couple of weeks, the video amassed over 1 million views.

By 2009, the YouTubers consisted of comedians, musicians, and snarky news shows. From ShaneDawsonTV to NigaHiga, YouTubers were learning how lucrative the platform could be.

A year later in 2010, it was estimated that the top YouTube creators were making between $100,000-$200,000 per year, which was a substantial sum to be making off a fairly new online platform. Users like Smoosh, ToyMusic, and Dane Boedigheimer were creating humorous videos and their estimated income for that year alone was considerable.

Who are the biggest YouTube stars today?

A decade later and the YouTube world has changed dramatically. In 2019, the top YouTube creator was Ryan Kaji who made $26 million. Ryan Kaji was only 8 years old in 2019; his channel, “Ryan’s World,” consists of unboxing and trying out toys.

In second place was the channel “Dude Perfect”, five friends doing stunts and breaking Guinness World Records. Their income for 2019 was $20 million. In third place was Anastasia Radzinskaya of Russia, who suffers from cerebral palsy. While only five years old in 2019, she made an estimated $18 million.

  1. Ryan Kaji - $26 million
    Ryan’s World boasts 25.2 million followers. That said, the content is, well, childish! Ryan unboxes toys, plays games, and does quizzes and puzzles to entertain kids. His original channel has expanded eight other channels, making Ryan’s World a small empire.
  2. Dude Perfect - $20 million
    These Dudes have been around a while, but their signature collection of trick shots and world-record breaking stunts continue to gather an audience. An audience of over 50 million, to be precise.
  3. Anastasia Radzinskaya - $18 million
    What’s a 5-year old Russian girl get on YouTube? 55.6 million followers, and a whole suite of affiliated channels. Like Nastya, the primary channel, tells Anastasia’s story of her life with cerebral palsy. All told, Anastasia has over 120 million followers across six channels.
  4. Rhett and Link - $17.5 million
    Rhett and Link have been around since the early days of YouTube, one of the few original stars to hold a top position for so long. Their blend of friendship and humor have kept their audience coming back for more.
  5. Jeffree Star - $17 million
    Another star of early social media, Jeffree Star got his start on MySpace. He’s found more success on YouTube, with millions of followers and now his own cosmetics line.
  6. Preston - $14 million
    Preston Arsement runs Minecraft servers that earn him seven figures annually. And in his spare time, he creates gaming videos on YouTube for his millions of followers.
  7. PewDiePie - $13 million
    The somewhat-notorious former #1 on YouTube still enjoys a strong following and the earnings that go with it.
  8. Markiplier - $13 million
    Games - and now clothing! Markiplier started a clothing line for gamers to capitalize on his YouTube success.
  9. DanTDM - $12 million
    A British gamer, who started with Minecraft videos.
  10. VanossGaming - $11.5 million
    A Canadian who makes compilations of “funny moments” of video games including Grand Theft Auto V and the Call of Duty series.

The fact that five gamers rounded out the top ten demonstrates the enduring appeal of gaming to today’s audience.

How do YouTubers earn money?

Originally, a successful YouTuber would earn money through ads. Today, YouTube takes 50% of ad revenue, and more people are able to opt-out of ads. This has forced content creators on the platform to look at other methods of earning revenue.

YouTubers beyond video

Instead of relying solely on ads, many YouTubers get paid through brand recognition and affiliate links. Beauty and fashion YouTubers often earn revenue from affiliate links, which pays the YouTuber for sharing links to retail websites. Unlike merchandise, affiliate links indicate an endorsement. The creator is paid through a percentage of the purchase from the affiliate website.

Cookies on your Internet browser play a big part in intentionally or inadvertently paying a YouTuber after clicking on an affiliate link. For a YouTuber or other content creator, the advantage of affiliate links is that revenue is continuous as long as the affiliate links are clicked and purchases are made.

Brand ads offer another source of revenue in which brands pay the creator directly for promoting their products. With brand ads, a brand will pay a one-time sum of money to a YouTuber in exchange for a promotion. For the top YouTubers and big brands, this can be upwards of $20,000 per ad.

Increasing competition and the constant change in how YouTube calculates views and ads have led YouTubers to look beyond YouTube for revenue streams. One of the most recent additions has been Patreon. Patreon allows individuals to support a content creator directly, sponsoring them in exchange for special access to future content.

Brave: Building a new Internet economy

The current Internet economy uses consumer surveillance to track your habits, determine your buying tendencies, and then market ads to you. But with that economy comes a slower browsing experience and the possibility for creepy trackers and various forms of fraud.

Brave offers a new, privacy-based Internet economy. With Brave, you’re in control of your own data. Trackers and external ads are blocked, and you opt-in to advertisements at your own discretion. When you choose to view ads, you’re rewarded with Brave’s Basic Attention Token or BAT. The BAT’s you earn are deposited into your secure Brave Rewards wallet.

With the BAT, Brave recognizes that your time and attention have real value. Not only do you get rewarded for opting-in to ads, but you have the power to reward others when you discover content that is truly worth your time. When you use the Brave browser to watch YouTube, you can tip content creators with BAT. Your contributions don’t pass through YouTube but are deposited directly to the creator’s wallet, providing a much closer connection between creators and their audience.

Tips give YouTubers a direct source of income and the ability to see how successful their content is. You can tip the creator of a YouTube video no matter where you watch it - even if it’s an embedded link on a different website. The ability to tip creators isn’t limited to YouTube. You can tip content creators on YouTube, Twitter, Reddit, and more, and even set up recurring donations for your favorite stars on those platforms.


Having a YouTube channel can be profitable and successful, once you find the right formula. Even if you don’t make it into the “Top 10 Most Profitable” list, you can still earn a significant income. Brave expands the opportunity for aspiring YouTubers to have their content recognized and rewarded by Brave users and to receive direct support. If you’re interested in expanding your YouTube profits or rewarding your favorite YouTubers, download the Brave browser and start earning BAT today.

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