The highest-paid YouTubers of 2020 have been revealed

By Alma Fabiani

Updated Jan 12, 2021 at 05:23 PM

Reading time: 4 minutes

Although TikTok has recently become everyone’s number one app, YouTube remains our go-to video-sharing platform when looking for any type of content. Want to see Cardi B’s new music video? You go on YouTube. Looking for a video tutorial on how to open a tin without a tin opener? Again, you know you’ll find one on YouTube. You get my point.

According to research firm Statista, 77 per cent of US internet users aged 15 to 25 tune into YouTube. But what about Youtubers—are they as young as their audience, and how much do they earn? Forbes just revealed the highest-paid YouTube stars of 2020, and some of them are shockingly young.

YouTube’s top earners in 2020

10. Jeffree Star


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Earnings: $15 million
Views (from June 2019 to June 2020): 600 million
Subscribers: 16.9 million

Beauty influencer Jeffree Star has regularly made headlines for different controversies. His self-described past racist behaviour and allegations of sexual assault, which he denies, as well as a years-long feud with fellow YouTuber James Charles have caused some business ramifications, including the decision by retailer Morphe to stop selling his line.

Regardless, Star still clocked 600 million views between June 2019 and June 2020. Even more lucrative than his YouTube channel, though, is his makeup line, which he sells direct-to-consumer. One of his most recent collections, Blood Money, features £52 eyeshadows and £16 lip balms, and his popular Conspiracy Collection, launched in 2019, reportedly sold 1 million eyeshadow palettes in 30 minutes.

9. David Dobrik


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Earnings: $15.5 million
Views: 2.7 billion
Subscribers: 18 million

Over the past few years, Dobrik, 24, has done just about anything to make his audience laugh. “He has driven a convertible through a car wash, shaved someone’s entire body and even once surprised his best friend by marrying his mom,” writes Forbes.

Lately, Dobrik has concentrated on his TikTok presence. He’s been a hit there, too, accumulating more than 24.7 million followers. He’s also won corporate sponsorships from SeatGeek, Bumble, EA and others. His devoted audience has led to a thriving apparel business named Clickbait.

8. Blippi (Stevin John)


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Earnings: $17 million 
Views: 8.2 billion
Subscribers: 27.4 million

Stevin John is the only adult creating kids content on the list. After launching his channel in 2014, the 32-year-old became known as Blippi, the brightly dressed, child-like character who educates through videos like Blippi Visits the Aquarium and Learn Colors with Blippi. Like other YouTubers, he has rolled out a full-scale merchandise line at big box retailers—child-size versions of his iconic orange glasses and blue-and-orange beret are top sellers—and offers his videos through Hulu and Amazon.

7. Nastya (Anastasia Radzinskaya)


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Earnings: $18.5 million
Views: 39 billion
Subscribers: 190.6 million

The six-year-old Russian YouTuber goes by Nastya on her channel, which features her and her father playing with legos, doing household chores and explaining viruses. The videos are colourful, expressive and don’t feature much advanced language, making them perfect for her global audience of toddlers. Since her debut on the list in 2019, Nastya has branched out—she’s become a popular kid on TikTok with 3.1 million followers and will launch her licensing programme next year.

6. Preston Arsement


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Earnings: $19 million 
Views: 3.3 billion
Subscribers: 33.4 million

Arsement, 26 first rose to YouTube stardom off his videos exploring the animated cosmos and has since branched out to several other gaming-focused YouTube channels. On one, he plays Roblox. Another is called TBNRFrags—the acronym standing for ‘the best never rest’, the last word gaming slang for slaying an opponent. TBNRFrags features his exploits on Call of Duty. Arsement operates several lucrative Minecraft servers, where users pay to access Minecraft worlds he’s created and for in-game items; he also runs another YouTube channel, PrestonCosmic, devoted to his time playing on his servers.

5. Markiplier (Mark Fischbach)


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Earnings: $19.5 million
Views: 3.1 billion
Subscribers: 27.8 million

Markiplier has been at it on YouTube for eight years, posting ultra-popular breakdowns of video games. They’ve drawn in nearly 28 million subscribers, eager to pour over his new videos and vast archive—like, say, his 31-part series examining 2013’s Cry of Fear.

Over the past year, Markiplier, 31, decided to change things up, and in addition to his existing YouTube channel, he and fellow gamer Ethan Nestor (aka CrankGameplays) founded a new channel, Unus Annus. On it, they featured funny, stunt-y vlogs. One time they tried on a bunch of Grinch costumes. In another, they had themselves pepper-sprayed. They posted a video every day for a year, then deleted the channel entirely, erasing all of its content, a comment about the fickle lifespan of internet popularity.

Unus Annus was indeed popular, bringing in 4.5 million subscribers and nearly 1 billion views. When the time came to pull the plug last month, more than 1.5 million people tuned into a livestream as the duo bid goodbye, about roughly the same number who might ordinarily watch a primetime Sunday night baseball game on TV, according to Forbes.

4. Rhett and Link


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Earnings: $20 million 
Views: 1.9 billion
Subscribers: 41.8 million

Having started their nerdy talk show Good Mythical Morning back in 2012, Rhett and Link are some of YouTube’s longest-standing stars. Rhett (43-year-old Rhett James McLaughlin) and Link (42-year-old Charles Lincoln III) have recently added something else to their Mythical Entertainment Co.

In February 2019, they paid $10 million to acquire SMOSH, a sketch comedy YouTube channel. With that purchase, Mythical Entertainment, which now has 100 employees, did almost 2 billion views on YouTube in the past year, bringing in some $11 million in estimated revenue from YouTube’s ad-share program. Good Mythical Morning also has a thriving fan club with monthly dues ranging from $10 to $20 for access to exclusive content.

3. Dude Perfect


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Earnings: $23 million
Views: 2.77 billion
Subscribers: 57.5 million

These five brothers (Coby Cotton, Cory Cotton, Garret Hilbert, Cody Jones and Tyler Toney) have more fun playing with lightsabers, Nerf Guns and paintballs than most adults do. Their popular stunts have led to a national tour that grossed about $6 million and an accompanying documentary, Backstage Pass.

In March, when the coronavirus first hit and professional sports were at a standstill, the group took to their YouTube channel to host the Quarantine Classic, competing against each other in three-point basketball shootouts and roller-chair hockey. The series of videos raised about $160,000 for the Red Cross and Feeding America.

2. Mr. Beast (Jimmy Donaldson)


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Earnings: $24 million
Views: 3 billion
Subscribers: 47.8 million

Donaldson is YouTube’s biggest new star, good enough for almost 50 million subscribers. His ultimate goal? doubling that. His videos are a mix of stunts and humour. In the last 12 months, Mr. Beast has frozen himself in ice, gone around a Ferris wheel 1,000 times and constructed the largest Lego tower ever.

1. Ryan Kaji

Earnings: $29.5 million
Views: 12.2 billion
Subscribers: 41.7 million

This November, the nine-year-old star became the first YouTuber featured in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with a float based on his superhero alter ego. It was a marketing ploy as much as it was a thrilling moment for the kids who tune into Kaji’s videos of DIY science experiments, family storytime and reviews of new toys. The bulk of his business comes from licensing deals for more than 5,000 Ryan’s World products—everything from bedroom decor and action figures to masks and walkie talkies.

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