It’s hard to believe that somebody could become famous or make a small fortune via social media, but for these YouTube stars, videos stopped being social hobbies a longtime ago. From comedy segments to beauty advice, the top earners prove that social media is big business. In fact, they’re so big that the minimum income to make the list was $2.5 million (pretax)! Here are the top six highest-earning YouTube stars according to Forbes.
1. PewDiePie – $12 million
PewDiePie has almost 40 million subscribers. He specializes in “playing videogames with your bros.” That’s right. He makes more than $10 million a year playing video games! His real name Felix Kjellberg. Well played, Felix. Well played. (Pun very intended.)
2. Smosh – $8.5 million (tie)
The Smosh duo includes best friends Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla. The comedy duo first gained notoriety performing live-action Pokemon skits. Today, they run five channels, including a Smosh in Spanish.
3. Fine Brothers – $8.5 million (tie)
Technically, these guys are tied for the second spot. Benny and Rafi struck computer gold with their React channel. The React series featured the reactions of people watching other videos. They’re Inception-style video within a video series caught the eyes (and a Daytime Emmy) from Hollywood. They now have a show on Nickelodeon called React to That.
4. Lindsey Stirling – $6 million
The violinist and dancer has been at it since 2007. Her videos show the wonderful results of combining violin and dancing simultaneously. She once yearned to be on a Major Label and couldn’t get signed. Today, Lindsey now turns them down regularly. Talk about a lesson in never giving up.
5. Rhett and Link – $4.5 million (tie)
Rhett McLaughlin and Charles Lincoln were members of corporate America before taking YouTube by storm. The two specialize in comedy, most famously their show Good Mythical Morning which looks at morning television news shows.
6. KSI – $4.5 million (tie)
KSI is a British video game commentator who used his YouTube fame to launch his career in hip hop. His debut single “Lamborghini” even reached number 30 on UK charts. He is further proof that millions of online followers (11 million in his case) go a long way.