20 YouTube Stars That Turned Their Obscure Hobbies Into Multi-Million-Dollar Empires

When YouTube started, users flooded it with goofy videos of their pets’ and friend’s wacky antics. Over the next decade, however, creative talents posted quality videos and earned millions of followers—and some cash, too. But how much money do these YouTube stars really make?

The short answer? More than you think! By producing sponsored content, peppering their frequently watched videos with advertisements, and making videos their millions of followers can’t help but watch, these 20 creatives rake in mind-boggling figures every year…

1. Jenna Marbles ($350,000): Marbles earned 2.6 billion video views by producing comedy videos sometimes featuring her dog, Mr. Marbles. She was the first YouTube star with a wax sculpture in the Madame Tussauds Museum.

2. Smosh ($11 million): Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla make up the comedy duo that produced slapstick sketches and pop culture parodies. In 2017, Padilla split from the channel—but not before he made some moolah.

3. Lindsey Stirling ($1.3 million): With her dazzling talent on the violin, the YouTube star was a must-see for all music fans. She used her channel to propel herself towards $6 million in album sales in 2015.

4. Dude Perfect crew ($14 million): Twins Cory and Coby Cotton, along with three college friends, stack their bank accounts by making funny sports videos—everything from trick shots to skits bashing stereotypes.

5. Rosanna Pansino ($2.2 million): The pastry chef lured viewers with her picture-perfect pastries and propelled herself to a successful career outside of YouTube. She even wrote a cookbook!

6. Casey Neistat ($3 million): The New York City filmmaker posts regular Vlogs—nearly 1,000 since 2010—and earned media attention for a short film documenting his first-class trip on an Emirates Airline flight (a $21,000 ticket)!

7. Crazy Russian Hacker ($1.8 million): His YouTube pseudonym sums up his popular videos quite well. He blows stuff up and conducts simple-yet-crazy science experiments—like turning soggy chips crispy again.

8. Lilly Singh ($10.5 million): Comedy sketches and music videos earned the YouTube star dubbed “Superwoman” develop a dedicated and rabid fan base of over 12.7 million followers.

9. PewDiePie ($12 million): Sweden’s Felix Kjellberg snagged 58 million subscribers by providing funny commentary on popular video games. 

10. HolaSoyGerman ($3 million): With two all-Spanish channels—the 4th and 18th most subscribed to on YouTube—Chilean comedian, Germán Alejandro Garmendia Aranis, keeps his combined 60 million subscribers in stitches.

11. Logan Paul ($12.5 million): Paul gathered a huge following on the now-defunct Vine before taking his comedy sketches to YouTube. Now, 15.7 million subscribers watch his videos, despite his involvement in recent controversies.

12. PrankvsPrank: ($2.26 million): Before they broke up in 2016, Jesse’s and Jenna’s escalating pranks earned 10.2 million dedicated subscribers. Their first ever video featured Jenna failing the “Cinnamon Challenge.”

TriciaSham / YouTube

13. Ryan ToysReview ($11 million): What better way to know what toys your kids want than to hear a review from the mouth of a six-year-old? That’s how Ryan ToysReview makes millions. His parents must be so proud.

14. The Fine Bros ($2.41 million): Benny and Rafi Fine won 17 million viewers and nearly 7 billion video views with popular reaction videos. They lost many fans, however, when they tried trademarking the term “react.” 

15. Evan Fong ($15.5 million): Otherwise known as VanossGaming, the 26-year-old Canadian earns massive paychecks by playing video games. His 23 million subscribers love his comedic commentary and video editing skills.

16. Markiplier ($12.5 million): Mark Fischbach’s 21 million subscribers love his over-the-top video game commentary videos. If you see a grown man cursing and screaming about games on YouTube, it’s probably him.

17. Jake Paul ($11.5 million): After starting on Vine with his brother Logan, he earned 16 million YouTube subscribers with comedy, music, and other videos. In 2017, he rented a Los Angeles mansion for $17,000 per month.

18. Rhett & Link ($5 million): Rhett McLaughlin and Charles Lincoln Neal quit their jobs as engineers to produce funny YouTube videos for their 20 million subscribers across three channels. Sponsors pay them well, too.

19. Vegetta777 ($2.59 million): Spanish-speaking YouTuber Samuel de Luque earns multi-millions by playing Minecraft for his 22 million followers. His avatar wears an all-purple suit and a fly purple cap.

20. Dan TDM ($16.5 million): In 2015, Daniel Middleton’s YouTube channel was one of the most watched on the planet. His craft? He posts daily reviews of and plays video games—mostly Minecraft—for a young audience.

In the end, these talented video producers entertain millions of people every week—they no doubt earned their paychecks.

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