How Much Do YouTubers Make and How Is It Calculated?

It’s no longer news that a lot of people make a living from YouTube, with some going as far as becoming multi-millionaires from their activities on the platform. In recent times, more and more people have embraced making and sharing videos on YouTube as their full-time career. If there was a time when this was not considered as something one should regard as a career, reports about Ryan Kaji, a kid that pulls as much as $26 million a year from YouTube earnings have surely changed the perception of the public regarding that. While many people have rushed into it to get their share of the fortune, one question that lingers on revolves around how YouTubers make money from the platform.

Well, the amount YouTubers make is highly dependent on who the YouTuber is, the number of subscribers on his or her channel, and who the channel is targeting. If you are barely starting, you certainly have a long way to go and a lot of creative content to make and share on the site. But that shouldn’t discourage you because every smart work tends to pay off in the end. With a unique and interesting niche that people enjoy watching, it is possible to accumulate a massive subscriber base and begin to generate millions of views daily which would, in turn, bring in thousands of dollars daily within a month of launching your YouTube channel.

Advertising Revenue (AdSense) Is The Basic Source of Income for YouTubers

Through the Google AdSense program, YouTubers realize revenue when viewers watch their videos and generate advertisement impressions. The price of each 1,000 ad impressions (CPM) differs from country to country. For developed nations like the US, Canada, UK, Australia, and others; the CPM rates are somewhere around $5 – $10. But, if it’s a country in Asia or a developing or a third world nation, the CPM rates on YouTube can go as low as $0.01 per 1000 views.

Also, all of the money made from the CPM does not go to the vlogger. YouTube takes away 45% of the total ad revenue as part of their advertising cost and gives out 55% only. Meanwhile, what a YouTuber makes is not only decided by the CPM factor; there is also what is called CPC (Cost-per-click). What this means, in a nutshell, is that if a viewer lands on a YouTube video and click on the ads displayed by Google, the creator earns money. The CPC rates also differ from country to country and time of year.

For instance, a video on Christmas songs generates a lot of traffic on Youtube during December than any other month in a year. However, you would soon learn that the YouTube earning that comes from Google Adsense is only one of the multiple means through which YouTube bloggers earn. They can make more money from sponsorship and merchandise. If you have a huge reach, you surely can get to companies related to your niche and land offers that could pay you a lot more. Nonetheless, you have to be famous and have a lot of subscribers.

Analysis of What YouTubers Make from AdSense

Most YouTubers focus on getting more subscribers and how to increase the number of views they get. This is because, with more subscribers, one can hope to get more views and ultimately earn more from the AdSense program. Getting more views also comes down to advertising and promoting your YouTube channel, unless you’ve something very unique, interesting, and entertaining to offer.

It is no secret that YouTubers first promote their videos on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter that attracts a lot of visitors. They do this to gain a decent fan base because with that, their videos will be shared by their viewers and in turn, attract more people. To begin to earn, one must enable monetization and agree to Google’s ad revenue sharing ratio for YouTube among other things. The following offers an insight into what YouTubers make from AdSense:

  • YouTube takes 45% of all advertising revenue whereas content creators keep the remaining 55%.
  • The rate an advertiser pays varies; it ranges from $0.10 to $0.30 per view but the average estimate is $0.18 per view.
  • An average YouTube channel makes $18 per 1,000 ad views; this means the average channel would make anything from $3 to $5 per 1000 videos viewed.

Estimated Earnings of YouTube Channels That Generate from 1k to 10k Views Daily

Some people have been making four-figure earning every month from YouTube while there are also people who can take their YouTube earnings to around 7 figures per year. Going with Forbes’ estimate of $5 per one thousand views, below is a rough estimate of what YouTube channels that pulls anything from a thousand views to 10 thousand views daily would make.

Number of Views Est. Revenue
One Thousand Views $5
Two Thousand Views $10
Three Thousand Views $15
Four Thousand Views $20
Five Thousand Views $25
Six Thousand Views $30
Seven Thousand Views $35
Eight Thousand Views $40
Nine Thousand Views $45
Ten Thousand Views $50

Earnings of YouTubers That Accumulate from 100k to 1 Million Views Monthly

Number of Views Est. Revenue
One Hundred Thousand Views $500
Two Hundred Thousand Views $1,000
Three Hundred Thousand Views $1,500
Four Hundred Thousand Views $2,000
Five Hundred Thousand Views $2,500
Six Hundred Thousand Views $3,000
Seven Hundred Thousand Views $3,500
Eight Hundred Thousand Views $4,000
Nine Hundred Thousand Views $4,500
One Million Views $5,000

Possible Earnings of YouTubers That Pulled from 10 to 100 Million Views In a Year 

Number of Views Est. Revenue
10 Million Views $50,000
20 Million Views $100,000
30 Million Views $150,000
40 Million Views $200,000
50 Million Views $250,000
60 Million Views $300,000
70 Million Views $350,000
80 Million Views $400,000
90 Million Views $450,000
100 Million Views $500,000

Based on the foregoing, it is clear that it comes down to the number of visitors your videos attract and the number of clicks the ads thereof receive. It also has a lot to do with your niche; it determines the rate at which viewers interact with your content and eventually, the revenue generated.

It is imperative to stress that the figures quoted above are not guaranteed. It is possible to generate any of the numbers of views listed and earn less than the amount estimated. In reality, there’s no specific amount that a YouTuber would make for a given number of views. Also, YouTubers promote several products and get brand deals through which they can earn much more than what they get from AdSense.

According to what has been reported in several quarters, the success of a YouTuber begins at 1,000,000 subscribers. If 1,000,000 followers religiously watch two new videos on your YouTube channel per week, it can pull as much as $10,000 every week:

1,000,000 x 2 = 2,000,000 Views

2,000,000/1000 = 2,000

2000 x $5 = $10,000

Other Ways Through Which a YouTuber Can Make Money

Most of the articles about how YouTubers make money are focused on Google AdSense as it is the basic source of income for any YouTuber. But the fact of that matter is that it is not the only source of income for YouTubers. Through the YouTube partner program, one can cash out through other means other than from advertising revenue. This means include channel memberships, merch shelf, YouTube Premium Revenue, super chat & super stickers.

However, one doesn’t get to start earning immediately through these means once you create your channel and upload a couple of videos, some requirements must be met for each, apart from view count and subscriber requirement. Normally, YouTube would review your channel and the videos thereof to authenticate you for any of the listed earning features. And even when you have been approved, they continue to review your channel to ensure that the content you upload does not go against its policies. If you are found wanting, the approval can be revoked.

Below are what each of the earning features entails:

Channel Memberships

How YouTubers make money through this earning feature is quite straightforward. It means that viewers can join your channel as members and make recurring monthly payments to gain access to certain perks like emojis and other goods that are available for only members. To qualify for this earning feature, YouTube requires that the YouTuber must not be younger than 18 years and must have over 30,000 subscribers.

Merch Shelf

Through this feature, a YouTuber gets to display his products to viewers on the platform. The merch shelf displays as many as 12 products that typically appear on the video page. The idea behind this is to make it possible for YouTubers to make money as well through merch sales instead of relying solely on what they can make through ad revenue. Any YouTuber that wishes to use this earning feature is expected to have more than 10,000 subscribers and be at least 18 years old.

Super Chat & Super Stickers

These features largely revolve around a YouTuber getting his fans to pay him so that their messages can be highlighted in chat streams. Regarded as a way for fans to connect with content creators during live chat, not every YouTuber can use the super chat & super sticker features. To use it, the YouTuber must be 18 years old or older and live in a country where Super Chat is available.

YouTube Premium Revenue

YouTube Premium was put in place for viewers who would rather watch their favorite content without being interrupted by ads. While this feature enhances viewers’ experience, it ensures that creators are financially rewarded for their efforts as views have to pay a subscription fee to become a YouTube Premium member.

At the end of the day, YouTube shares the Premium revenue generated with creators. Google typically takes a 45% cut of the total amount realized from Premium subscription.

Brand Ads

Although this is not one of the earning features that YouTube has put in place through its partner program, it is a significant way YouTubers make money. There are a massive number of brands willing to part with mouth-watering sum to promote their goods and the services they offer.

So, if one becomes a popular YouTuber that generates a huge number of views from each video shared; and with a massive number of subscribers, these brands can approach him or her to promote their offerings. It’s more like landing an endorsement deal.

Affiliate Marketing

Similar to Brand Ads, this is also not an earning feature availed by YouTube; but many creators have made a great deal of money through it. Here, YouTubers make videos wherein they promote and endorse products. Oftentimes, they subtly nudge their viewers towards purchasing these products and would normally include links in their bio through which anyone interested can make a purchase.

For any purchase made through the links, the YouTuber gets a kickback that ranges from 5 to 20% of the price of the product, depending on the agreement reached with the original sellers.

How Much Can YouTubers Make From All The Revenue Streams Available?

In view of what has been discussed thus far, it is clear that YouTubers make money through various means under the YouTube partner program with AdSense as the basic source of earning. Outside the YouTube partner program, YouTubers that have been able to accumulate a massive number of subscribers cash out big time through brand ads and affiliate marketing. Considering all of these revenue streams, how much can a YouTuber make?

There is no specific answer to that question as the earning capacity varies and largely depends on the number of viewers which is determined by how successful the vlogger’s niche is. Successful niches include gaming, lifehacks, celebrity gossip, news, top lists, compilations of people’s fails, food reviews and kitchen hacks, product unwrapping, animal activities, and others that are yet to be discovered.

New York Times‘ profile check of a YouTuber named Olga Kay gave an insight into what a Youtuber can make when one considers all the revenue streams available to them. Kay vlogs on five different channels and had around 1 million subscribers. She worked as a full-time YouTuber and was able to earn $100,000 to $130,000 per year for three years regularly. This means that she earned around $8.3k – $10.8k per month with 1 million subscribers on her list. Olga works on at least 20 videos every week and also does several promotions, advertising, merchandising, and sponsorship deals to add to her wealth.

Perhaps, the best way to look at what YouTubers can make from all the revenue streams available to them is to examine the income of those who are currently the highest-earning YouTube stars.

These Are The Highest-earning YouTuber of 2020

According to Forbes, the highest-earning YouTuber for the year under review is Ryan Kaji. The lad made a jaw-dropping $29.5 million with his 41.7 million subscribers and 12.2 billion views.

Below are the top ten biggest earners on YouTube:

  • Ryan Kaji
    • Earnings: $29.5 Million
    • Number of Views: 12.2 Billion
    • Number of Subscribers: 41.7 Million
  • Mr. Beast (Jimmy Donaldson)
    • Earnings: $24 Million
    • Number of Views: 3 Billion
    • Number of Subscribers: 47.8 Million
  • Dude Perfect
    • Earnings: $23 Million
    • Number of Views: 2.77 Billion
    • Number of Subscribers: 57.5 Million
  • Rhett and Link
    • Earnings: $20 Million
    • Number of Views: 1.9 Billion
    • Number of Subscribers: 41.8 Million
  • Markiplier (Mark Fischbach)
    • Earnings: $19.5 Million
    • Number of Views: 3.1 Billion
    • Number of Subscribers: 27.8 Million
  • Preston Arsement
    • Earnings: $19 Million
    • Number of Views: 3.3 Billion
    • Number of Subscribers: 33.4 Million
  • Nastya (Anastasia Radzinskaya)
    • Earnings: $18.5 Million
    • Number of Views: 39 Billion
    • Subscribers: 190.6 Million
  • Blippi (Stevin John)
    • Earnings: $17 Million
    • Number of Views: 8.2 Billion
    • Number of Subscribers: 27.4 Million
  • David Dobrik
    • Earnings: $15.5 Million
    • Number of Views: 2.7 Billion
    • Number of Subscribers: 18 Million
  • Jeffree Star
    • Earnings: $15 Million
    • Number of Views: 600 Million
    • Number of Subscribers: 16.9 Million

Answers to Commonly Asked Questions

How Much Money Does a YouTuber Make?

What YouTubers make varies and depends on several factors; but generally, their earnings are determined by the number of views they get. In terms of earnings from ad revenue (AdSense) which is their basic source of income, Google takes 45% of all advertising revenue while YouTubers keep 55%. The average rate an advertiser pays per view is $0.18. So, an average YouTube channel makes $18 per 1,000 ad views which equates to anything from $3 to $5 for every 1000 videos viewed.

Who Is The Highest Paid YouTuber?

Ryan Kaji is the highest-paid YouTuber as of 2020. In the year under review, the boy accumulated 12.2 billion views and has a total of 41.7 million subscribers from his multiple channels. His most popular channel is Ryan’s World and he reportedly made $29.5 million from June 2019 to June 2020. A huge chunk of that amount came from licensing deals that cover over 5,000 of Ryan’s World products.

Do YouTubers Still Get Paid When Viewers Skip Ads?

No, YouTubers do not make any money when viewers of their videos skip the ads embedded in them. This is so because advertisers do not pay for skipped ads but for only those that were viewed. The implication of this is that a YouTuber with a large number of viewers who skip ads would earn close to nothing. Nonetheless, there are ads that viewers can’t skip (bumper ads) so creators get to make money anytime the ad is played.

How Many Subscribers Do I Need to Get Paid?

Through the YouTube Partner Program, YouTubers get to monetize their channels and partake in the revenue sharing from ads that are served on their videos. For a YouTuber to take part in this, certain criteria must be met for eligibility. Among other things, the YouTuber must have more than 1,000 subscribers and more than 4,000 valid public watch hours in the last 12 months.

Do YouTubers Get Paid for Likes?

No, YouTubers are not paid for the likes they get on their videos. While the number of likes a video gets offers an insight into how well it was received, it plays no role when it comes to computing what a creator makes. YouTube only considers the number of ads viewed on your channel or the number of people that clicked on the ads, as the case may be.

Can You Make a Living Off YouTube?

Yes, it is totally possible to make a living off YouTube. There are thousands of people who have their activities on the video-sharing platform to thank for their day-to-day sustenance and, some have gone as far as making it their sole career. In fact, multimillionaires like Daniel Middleton (DanTDm), Dude Perfect, PewDiePie, Markiplier, Evan Fong, Jake and Logan Paul, Lilly Singh, and Smosh have YouTube to thank for their wealth and none of them is worth less than $10 million.

Nonetheless, it must be stressed that making a living off YouTube isn’t an easy way to become rich and famous; it demands commitment, consistency, and creativity. If you expect to just create a channel, upload a few videos, and hit a jackpot; you’d be in for a rude awakening and might end up rushing out of the endeavor as quickly as you rushed into it.

Do YouTubers Pay Income Tax?

Yes, YouTubers do pay income tax, unless there is no income to tax. But for any YouTuber that makes money from the platform, he or she is obligated to pay tax. It is said that some YouTubers even pay as much as a 20% effective tax rate. Before November 2020, it was up to YouTubers to pay any income tax that’s due on their YouTube ad revenue.

That is, Google didn’t withhold tax on behalf of YouTubers. They only did this if the YouTuber is a foreigner owing tax in the United States and is yet to file the required forms for the country’s Internal Revenue Service. This is no longer the case. Since the 18th of November 2020, Google began treating payments YouTubers are entitled to as royalties in the U.S. As such, they began withholding taxes from such payments in line with the requirements of the law.

Is It Worth Starting a YouTube Channel in 2021?

Understandably, it is more difficult now to succeed as a YouTuber compared to ten years ago. It has become a very competitive endeavour and there seems to be no unique niche anymore. But then, it is still very possible for one to thrive in the business as there are a good number of people who recently become YouTubers and have done well for themselves thereof. In fact, Ryan Kaji who is currently the highest-earning YouTuber only began making YouTube videos in 2015. With relentless dedication, a good niche, and consistency, one can surely still gain financial freedom through being a YouTuber.

Summary of The Various Ways YouTubers Make Money

  • Advertising Revenue (AdSense)
  • Channel Memberships
  • Merch Shelf
  • Super Chat & Super Stickers
  • YouTube Premium Revenue
  • Brand Ads
  • Affiliate Marketing


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