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Meet The YouTube Stars Making $100,000 Plus Per Year


YouTubeThere are 10 independent YouTube stars who made over $100,000 in the past year, according to a study done by analytics and advertising company TubeMogul.

From July 2009 to July 2010, TubeMogul used their viewership data to estimate the annual income for independent YouTube partners, which they define as anyone who is not part of a media company or brand.

Here’s how they got their estimates:

  • Revenue only comes from banner ads served near content (we ignored pre-roll or overlay since we can’t easily isolate by publisher).
  • Since YouTube banner ads have a two-second load delay, we estimate 2.59% of viewers click away before an ad loads based on separate research.
  • Ads were served near all videos that loaded (since there are partners, this is generally true).
  • CPM for the banner ads was $1.50 (Google auctions a lot of this inventory off; we rounded this 2009 estimate down to be conservative).
  • YouTube is splitting ad revenue with partners 50-50.

Basically, take their views from the past year, assume a few don’t stick around long enough for an ad to load, divide that number by 1,000, multiply by $1.50 and divide that number in half.

Conservative estimates? Sure. But with that math, you get a pretty decent estimate of how much these YouTube celebrities are making from just the banner ads on their channel. So, without further ado, here are the highest earning YouTube stars!


1. Shane Dawson – $315,000

Shane Dawson is so popular that he is three different YouTube channels. His most popular channel consists of his comedy skits and music video parodies.  Dawson created a second channel as a vlog and for a separate series called “Ask Shane,” and his third channel only has videos taken from his iPhone.

July 2009 – 2010 Views: 431,787,450

2. The Annoying Orange – $288,000

The Annoying Orange is a comedy web series that takes place in a kitchen and is about talking fruit. Dane Boedigheimer is the mastermind behind the series and is also the voice of Orange.

July 2009 – 2010 Views: 349,753,047

3. Philip DeFranco – $181,000

Philip DeFranco uploads a new video onto YouTube every Monday to Thursday for his show – The Philip DeFranco Show. His video blogging topics range from politics to pop culture.

July 2009 – 2010 Views: 248,735,032

4. Ryan Higa – $151,000

Ryan Higa makes comedy skits and is a video blogger who turned into a viral star with his “How to be Gangster” and “How to be Ninja” videos.  Even though he doesn’t upload as many videos as his fellow YouTube celebrities, Higa is still the top dog at YouTube with over 2.6 million subscribers.
July 2009 – 2010 Views: 206,979,909

5. Fred – $146,000

Lucas Cruikshank plays “a lonely six year old named Fred” who uses his mom’s video camera and posts videos on a YouTube channel.  As the second most subscribed to YouTube channel, Lucas Cruikshank’s immensely popular Fred character even has a movie coming out backed by Nickelodeon.

July 2009 – 2010 Views: 200,656,150

6. Shay Carl – $140,000

As a radio DJ, Shay Carl started making comedy skits and put them on YouTube for the world to see.  He claims to have held 20 different jobs before settling down with his DJ and YouTube gigs.

July 2009 – 2010 Views: 192,309,247

7. Mediocre Films – $116,000

Greg Benson created Mediocre Films initially for a sketchy comedy TV series called “Skip TV.”  The show lasted for one season, and now Benson makes low budget comedy videos for the web.

July 2009 – 2010 Views: 159,030,703

8. Smosh – $113,000

Smosh is the comedy duo of Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla, and with over 1.7 million subscribers, they make up the 5th most popular channel on YouTube.  They first shot to viral fame with their “Pokemon Theme Music Video” which became YouTube’s most viewed video in Spring 2006. However, due to copyright reasons, the original video was removed from YouTube.

July 2009 – 2010 Views: 154,936,876

9. The Young Turks – $112,000

The Young Turks is a political talk show that also airs on Sirius Satellite Radio. Founded and hosted by Cenk Uygur, The Young Turks talk show and their vast viewership has proven that the Internet can be a viable broadcast platform.
July 2009 – 2010 Views: 153,807,362

10. Natalie Tran– $101,000

Under the user name of communitychannel, Natalie Tran is the most subscribed to YouTube user in Australia. Like most others on this list, she is a video blogger and occasionally uploads comedy skits.

July 2009 – 2010 Views: 138,871,829

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