Eight Year-Old Ryan Kaji Leads YouTube’s Top Earners for 2019

Eight Year-Old Ryan Kaji Leads YouTube’s Top Earners for 2019


Ready to re-assess your life choices?

Forbes has this week published its annual listing of the top earners on YouTube, with eight year-old toy reviewer Ryan Kaji – of the popular channel ‘Ryan’s World‘ – once again topping the list.

Yes, Kaji also topped Forbes’ 2018 top YouTube earners list – and while the data Forbes uses to estimate each YouTuber’s earnings is not 100% accurate (Forbes’ estimates are based on data from Captiv8, SocialBlade and Pollstar, as well as interviews with industry insiders), it’s likely fairly close. And even if they were only 50% right, there are still some major dollars in circulation among these YouTube stars.

Here are the top ten YouTube earners for 2019, according to Forbes’ estimates:

  1. Ryan Kaji – $26 million
  2. Dude Perfect – $20 million
  3. Anastasia Radzinskaya – $18 million
  4. Rhett and Link – $17.5 million
  5. Jeffree Star – $17 million
  6. Preston Arsement – $14 million
  7. PewDiePie – $13 million
  8. Markiplier – $13 million
  9. DanTDM – $12 million
  10. Vanoss Gaming – $11.5 million

The listing underlines the popularity of gaming-related content on YouTube, with the latter five all connected to the gaming community. Gaming is not exclusively what, say, PewDiePie broadcasts about, but each of the bottom five have built their followings within the gaming realm, and continue to play a part in the broader gaming community.

That is a lot of money. What’s more, YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki recently noted that:

“The number of creators with a million or more subscribers has grown 65% [in 2019], and creators earning five or six figures, annually, has increased more than 40%.”

So what are we doing? Eight year-olds are out here unboxing new toys for millions, while we’re slaving away in our regular jobs. Maybe we should all be looking to start our own YouTube channels, right?

That’s the thing – while it may seem, on the surface, like most of these YouTubers are sharing random, easy to make, nothing content, creating entertaining, engaging videos, on a regular basis, is actually incredibly difficult.

Definitely, the emergence of YouTube has provided more opportunity for people to build their own empires through uploaded content, but the vast majority of people wouldn’t be able to create one popular YouTube clip, let alone one (or more) every single day. It takes storytelling and presenting nous, editing ability, inherent understanding of trends. It may not seem like it, but it takes a lot to become a YouTube millionaire. 

That pressure is now leading to its own problems, with various popular YouTubers suffering from burnout amid the endless grind to churn out new content. Just this week, PewDiePie – number seven on Forbes’ list – announced that he will be taking an extended break from YouTube in the new year, citing exhaustion from ongoing controversy and endless demand for content. 

And that’s a significant risk for him to take – when you stop broadcasting, you can lose your place in the YouTube totem pole, and potentially forego millions by slipping out of view, even just for a bit.

That’s doesn’t necessarily mean these stars should have our sympathy (nor that they’re asking for such), but if you are looking through the above numbers and shaking your head, remember that it is not as easy as it looks. It takes work to get to that level. 

But maybe 2020 is your year – if you have an idea for a YouTube channel, the time is now, with opportunities rising, and people becoming multi-millionaires on the back of wacky, goofy clips. 

Can you do it?

I mean, if an eight year-old can…

You can check out Forbes’ full YouTube Top Earners listing here.

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