Top 20 Most Popular and Highest Paid YouTubers

In the ever-evolving landscape of digital entertainment, YouTube has emerged as a powerhouse, creating a platform for content creators to showcase their talents and build massive audiences. As the popularity of YouTube continues to skyrocket, so does the income potential for successful creators. Known as “YouTubers”, these online stars have become some of the most powerful influencers for brands to collaborate with.

Ever since its creation in 2005, YouTube has become one of the biggest platforms for people worldwide to seek out information and entertainment alike. The term “YouTuber” gained popularity once the company introduced its “Partner Program” that allowed viewers to earn money from videos they uploaded onto the platform.

With the rise of social media influencers, social media and YouTube marketing strategies have become vital tools for companies to effectively reach their target audiences. Although most content creators on social media use and create organic content, many also collaborate with companies to help spread the word about the brand. To convince influencers to work with them, companies need to create visually appealing and mutually beneficial content.

Many YouTubers have achieved success by virtue of their ability to communicate with viewers on a more personal level, with a friendlier approach. Their video content ranges from video blogging (vlogs) and educational videos to comedy sketches and more. In this article, I will introduce you to the top 20 most popular and highest-paid YouTubers who have mastered the art of turning their passion into profit.

With 15 video categories available on YouTube, there are millions of YouTubers who produce organic content to cater to their target audience and increase their viewership. Below, I’ve listed YouTubers from different categories and countries in no particular order. I’ve also described the reasons behind their fame and success on the platform.

1. Dude Perfect

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Net worth: $50 million

Dude Perfect is presently the second-most subscribed sports channel on YouTube and the fifteenth-most-subscribed channel overall for all sports and comedy enthusiasts. Its content features videos depicting various trick shots, stunts, and friendly competitions between a group of five former college roommates.

Although many of their stunts are too dangerous to try at home, the group published a 250-page book titled 101 Tricks, Tips, and Cool Stuff in 2021, which has photos and step-by-step instructions for some of these stunts. The owners currently live in Frisco, Texas, and have amassed a following of over 55 million subscribers. Last year, they announced plans for their 2023 Panda-Monium summer tour.

2. Jeffree Star

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Net worth: $200 million

Jeffree Star is one of the most influential makeup artists and beauty experts in the industry today. He started his social media career on Myspace, focusing on his music and fashion design career. Soon, he earned fans by blogging about his life and simultaneously establishing himself as a thought leader and expert on self-image and confidence fame, beauty, and life in general.

Originally, he shifted to YouTube to promote his e-commerce makeup brand. However, the exposure he got there turned Jeffree Star Cosmetics into a global makeup brand. In 2018, he earned $18 million from his YouTube endeavors alone and amassed a following of just under 17 million subscribers.

3. PewDiePie

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Net worth: $64 million

Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, known as PewDiePie, is a Swedish YouTuber known for his popular Let’s Play videos and comedic shows. He started his YouTube career in 2010 with gameplay videos of action and horror video games. Three years later, his channel became the most-subscribed one on YouTube.

By February 2021, the channel had more than 109 million subscribers and received over 27 billion views. Although his content is still mainly focused on gaming, his content style has expanded to include comedy shorts, formatted shows, vlogs, and music videos. Recently, he took the internet by storm by announcing that he and his wife, Marzia Kjellberg, are expecting a baby.

4. Lilly Singh

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Net worth: $22 million

Lilly Singh started her YouTube career in 2010. Seven years later, she ranked number ten on the Forbes list of the world’s highest-paid YouTube stars. Apart from maintaining her channels, she also released a documentary film describing her world tour and her first book, which ranked number one on the New York Times best-seller list.

In 2019, she changed her channel name from her former pseudonym “Superwoman” to her legal name “Lilly Singh.” By then, she had already gained around 18 million followers through both her primary channel and her vlog channel.

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Net worth: $30 million

Rhett & Link are the self-proclaimed “Internetainers” known for creating and hosting the YouTube series Good Mythical Morning. Their talk show-style channels feature plenty of comedic content that deals with interesting ways of testing out-of-the-box ideas. It is a family-friendly channel for entertainment that you can share with everyone.

Rhett and Link regularly create a wide range of content, from rating food items from different locations and price ranges to videos of them throwing darts at a map to guess international cuisine. In October 2021, they finally accepted fan requests to drop their family-friendly act and hosted a two-hour R-rated live stream, to which they sold 70,000 tickets for up to $50 per ticket. Presently, Rhett & Link and their expanded company Mythical Entertainment have gained around 17 million subscribers.

6. MrBeast

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Net worth: $25 million

Jimmy Donaldson, known as MrBeast, started his YouTube career by creating gaming content. Soon, he diversified his content style to include expensive challenge videos that reward the winners thousands of dollars. He also puts up donation videos, videos with tasks, and original vlogging videos.

In 2019, he won the Breakout Creator by Streamy Awards and was one of the top 10 highest-paid YouTubers of 2020, along with Markiplier and Ryan’s World. By January 2021, he had over 51 million subscribers on YouTube. His highly popular 2021 video, “456,000 Squid Game in Real Life,” gained 202 million views within less than two months of its release.

By January 2022, Forbes had ranked MrBeast as the highest-earning contemporary YouTube creator. More recently, he earned recognition for funding cataract surgery for 1,000 people.

7. Liza Koshy

Net worth: $6 million

Liza began her career on Vine in 2013 before starting her YouTube channel. She had around 7 million followers on Vine when closed down in 2017; she brought them over for her YouTube journey. Her celebrity status as an “Internetainer” helped her gain entry into Hollywood. As a thought leader, she interviewed former President Barack Obama and other celebrities at prominent events.

To manage her busy schedule, Liza stopped recording videos full-time when she dedicated herself exclusively to acting and hosting. As of 2021, her main channel had more than 17 million subscribers, and her second one had over 8 million.

8. Paul Brothers

Net worth: $75 million

Throughout their careers, the Paul brothers have been surrounded by controversies. Both of them started their social media careers on Vine and by the time it became extinct, Jake Paul had gained 5.3 million followers. Likewise, his brother Logan was ranked as the 10th most influential media figure.

However, the brothers received bad reputations for their actions on social media, and many have people have labelled them as attention-seekers. In spite of critics and negative reviews, they have amassed a combined following of 43 million. Jake Paul owes much of his success on YouTube to his boxing career, while Logan Paul became the owner of one of the first celebrity NFT releases, with a $5 million sale in February 2021.

9. Mark Edward Fischbach

Net worth: $35 million

With 31 million subscribers, Mark Edward Fischbach or Markiplier is a YouTuber with a talent for playing video games. He initially earned fame by playing games like Five Nights at Freddy’s, a video game involving a haunted pizza place. He mainly specializes in “Let’s Play” videos featuring survival horror video games, but his channel originally focused on sketch comedy.

In 2014, the MarkiplierGAME channel was featured on NewMediaRockstar’s Top 100 Channels. In the same year, he shifted to Los Angeles to be closer to other resources. After taking a short hiatus from YouTube, he returned and amassed 10 million subscribers. As of 2021, he had a loyal following of around 28.5 million and he continues to produce gaming videos and sketch comedy content.

10. David Dobrik

Net worth: $20 million

Like many other YouTube celebrities on this list, Dobrik gained success early on Vine’s video-sharing platform before starting his vlog channel on YouTube in 2015. He is best known for The Vlog Squad, which features his daily life and his friends.

By February 2021, his vlog channel had amassed about 18.8 million subscribers and 8.2 billion views. More recently, he launched his own Pizza business known as “Doughbrik’s.”

11. Emma Chamberlain

Net worth: $12 million

Emma Chamberlain originally launched her channel as a DIY channel, but later shifted her style to more relatable content. She pioneered a refreshingly new approach to vlogging that YouTube hadn’t witnessed before. By virtue of her comedic presence and ability to relate with her audience, many influential media outlets coined her “the funniest person on YouTube.” In 2019, Time Magazine also listed her as one of The 25 Most Influential People on the Internet.

Emma’s influence allowed her to work on many different projects unrelated to YouTube, such as collaborating with Teen Vogue for their Generation Next event at New York Fashion Week. As of 2021, she had a following of around 10 million on YouTube.

12. Zalfie

Net worth: $12 million 

Ever since they started their channels in 2009, YouTube power couple Zoe Sugg and Alfie Deyes have been sensational on the video platform. Zoe began posting content about lifestyle and beauty, and her charisma and expertise in the field earned her a following of over 10 million subscribers. Soon, she launched her brand of beauty products and a range of complimentary homeware products, which reportedly earn her 3.8 million British pounds per year.

Alfie Deyes started his career in 2009 as well, creating content and collaborating with other influential YouTubers to amass around 10 million subscribers across all his platforms. Although he focuses on on-trend topics to engage with his audience, he has also started a gaming channel and a daily vlog channel to viewers a closer look into the life of Zalfie.  

13. Fine Bros Entertainment (FBE)

Net worth: $11 million 

Founded by brothers Benny and Rafi Fine, FBE encompasses many different content types, including the narrative web series, React video series, and a “transmedia” sitcom called MyMusic. They’ve been creating content since 2004 and jumped on the chance to target new audiences when they started their YouTube channel in 2007.

FBE is one of the few companies on the platform with over 10 million subscribers on two YouTube channels. As of now, they have more than 44 million subscribers across all platforms and have received over 12.5 billion views on their video content. Last year, they partnered with TECNO mobile to grow its retail business in Nigeria.

14. Ryan Kaji

Net worth: $100 million

Formerly known as Ryan Toy Reviews, Ryan’s World is a children’s YouTube channel that revolves around nine-year-old Ryan Kaji and his family. People have described the channel as a combination of personal vlog and unboxing/review videos. It combines innocent childhood antics with consumerism to create a welcoming environment for its follower base.

Forbes claims that the channel earned $11 million between 2016 and 2017, when Kaji was the eighth highest-paid YouTuber. In 2018 and 2019, he earned $22 million and $26 million from his video and product lines respectively. As of 2021, he had 28.5 million subscribers and 45 billion views on his channel.

15. James Charles

Net worth: $22 million

James Charles is one of the most popular contemporary Internet personalities, beauty YouTubers, and makeup artists. Despite being a controversial figure, he remains an authority in the makeup industry. In 2016, he became the first male ambassador for CoverGirl and received many awards for his work on social media. In 2020, he worked as a host, director, and co-producer of the reality competition series Instant Influencer. 

As of now, he has gained more than 25 million subscribers throughout his dynamic career with his vlog, makeup, and beauty content.

16. TrapNation

Net worth: $33 million

YouTube has been a great platform to showcase new music, featuring over fifteen different categories covering various genres.

Andre Willem Benz, a music promoter known for releasing electronic music, founded TrapNation in 2012. Since then, Benz and his other curator have created various other channels to showcase different music genres and reach out to a wide range of music lovers.

As of now, all channels that fall under TrapNation have a combined following of over 29.1 million and a viewership of 11.24 billion.

17. Rosanna Pansino

Net worth: $18 million

From the tender age of four, Rosanna Pansino has been preparing baked goods with her large Italian family. Her passion for food and family led her to start a YouTube channel named Nerdy Nummies, which has become one of the most popular cooking series on the platform. In 2017, Rosanna was featured on Forbes’ prestigious Top Influencer: Food list.

After her original baking videos started gained a steady following, Rosanna was inspired to develop a brand identity based on cooking and baking delicious treats. She remains one of the highest-paid female YouTubers with a subscriber count of over 12.7 million and total views at 3.2 billion. 

18. Like Nastya

Net worth: $20 million

Anastasia Radzinskaya is one of the most well-known child YouTubers. In 2016, her parents Anna and Sergey started an educational and toy-unboxing channel and transformed it into reviewing products and services that other children and families could enjoy. With their help, Anastasia began her YouTube career by sharing her honest opinions about products with the world.

At seven years old, Anastasia or Nastya became the owner of the sixth most-viewed channel on YouTube and the single most-viewed channel owned by a YouTuber. It presently has a following of 68 million and a total view count of 51 billion.

19. The Try Guys

Net worth: $6 million

The Try Guys originally consisted of four friends who started their careers at a viral entertainment company named Buzzfeed. Presently, it is a combination of three very different personalities who produce engaging content based on different challenges. From trying to make things without instructions to doing everyday tasks with surprising twists, they’re constantly entertaining people with their educational, comedic, and relatable content.

Within three years of being an independent comedic entertainment company, the Try Guys YouTube channel and other related channels have gained a following of almost 8 million. They’re committed to creating content that puts a smile on their viewers’ faces.

20. Hi-5 Studios

Net worth: $14 million

Matthias Fredrick is considered one of the leaders in the YouTube space. He creates family-friendly content for people of all age groups to enjoy. What started as his YouTube channel for posting daily vlogs and updates from his everyday life turned into Team Edge – a YouTube channel he shared with his brother and brother-in-law. The channel grew into an in-house multi-channel network that currently has at least eight active channels.

Matthias currently gains more than 100 million views monthly and continues making gripping content ranging from gaming videos to comedy/drama sketches.

Conclusion

The world of YouTube is vast and diverse, offering opportunities for creators from various backgrounds to find success and financial prosperity. YouTubers have changed the game for many industries by providing more relatable content inspired by their followers. Many companies have been boosting their overall business strategies by building relationships with media professionals and influencers and creating engaging content to benefit their business in the long run.

The YouTubers we’ve discussed here have not only mastered the art of content creation but have also navigated the complex landscape of brand partnerships, sponsorships, and diversification of revenue streams. As the platform continues to evolve, these creators serve as inspirations for aspiring YouTubers looking to turn their passions into lucrative careers.

About Ishita Bhatt

Ishita Bhatt is the co-editor and contributor at gauravtiwari.org and Gatilab. She creates informative and actionable content for the clients.