Why Are YouTubers Making So Much Money?

Just a decade ago, many people viewed success in terms of career growth, striving to be lawyers, doctors, accountants and senior managers. Likewise, some people preferred working towards acquiring positions of fame in the entertainment/fashion/sports industries, all of which are very profitable. However, in this day and age, a growing percentage of the population is becoming interested in an online entertainment career – YouTube, to be precise.

If you’re anything like me, you may have grown up watching a couple of content creators on YouTube, after randomly stumbling during evening internet rendezvous. I remember being around the age of eleven or twelve, binge-watching channels like Shane Dawson, Smosh and Community Channel (aka Natalie Tran). I later moved on to watching several other channels, opting for more serious content as time went by. Now, at the age of 20, I’m subscribed to over 30 people who I watch on a regular basis, not to mention several other channels not included on my list. Although my life is significantly busier than it was ten years ago, I still find it oddly relaxing – not to mention informative – to watch these (very) different people talk about their lives, share their experiences, give advice, document events and even create short films.

The example above is one of the many reasons why YouTubers are getting such a large following. With the rise of digital media, things like television and radio have become much less popular – especially amongst the younger generation. More and more people are turning to the internet for entertainment, and YouTube seems the place to be. You can find pretty much anything on the site, including:

  • Tutorials
  • Lifestyle/daily vlogs
  • Advice videos
  • Travel series
  • “Storytimes”
  • Educational content
  • News reports (which often do a better job than official news corporations themselves – just check out Philip DeFranco)
  • Musical content and song covers
  • Comedy skits
  • Short films
  • Q/As

And those are just some of the more popular categories.

Although the website has been around since 2005, it grew in popularity over the last seven years. The main reason is that, aside from a wider range of content, creators were granted the opportunity to monetize their videos via Google AdSense. In short, Google would allow ads to be placed next to/before videos, splitting the ad revenue with the creator.

Speaking of creators, YouTube Entrepreneur Hank Green provides an excellent insight into how YouTubers make money in this brief, 8-minute summary:

As mentioned in the video, content creators have the follow options: ad revenue, merchandise, brand deals/sponsorships (i.e. promoting products in their video) and YouTube-funded shows, such as Crash Course. Considering that these people are becoming actual stars, there are also specific events such as VidCon and Playlist Live, dedicated to bringing together creators and viewers for a few days (not to mention other options such as individual tours and meet-and-greets).

With all of these options, more and more people are becoming interested in the prospect of becoming a content creator. Moreover, they are seeing these new channels grow from a couple hundred subscribers to over a million, become full-time YouTubers and earn ridiculous amounts of money (just Google “how much money do famous YouTubers make?” and you will be surprised at the range). However, just like with any popular industry, the website has become highly competitive. People are investing in professional cameras, learning how to use sophisticated editing software and working hard to make their content appealing. With such huge competition, and such a tempting income, becoming a content creator is both intimidating and desirable at the same time.

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