It’s been coming for quite some time, and in 2021, it finally happened. According to Forbes’ annual list of the highest-paid YouTube creators, Jamie Donaldson – aka Mr. Beast’ — is now leading the way, having earned an estimated $54 million from his YouTube content over the course of the year.
Donaldson took the crown from Ryan Kaji, the now 10-year-old YouTuber who has been topping Forbes’ earnings list for the past three years in a row.
Top YouTubers overall saw a big jump in 2021 – as Forbes explained:
“Altogether, YouTube users collectively earned about $300 million in 2021 – another record amount – up 40% from the previous year, and most were pushed to the top by increasing the views on their YouTube channels and the ad revenue they generate from these videos. About half of their earnings come from that advertising revenue. To increase their salaries, all these stars have branded merchandise lines. And they work differently to generate additional revenue from Twitch, Snap, Facebook, podcasts, NFTs — and even hamburgers.
It should be noted that these are not official earnings numbers – Forbes uses a range of sources to formulate its estimates, including data from Captiv8, SocialBlade and Pollstar plus interviews with industry insiders.
So the numbers here aren’t definitive, as we can’t know for sure how much each creator brought in. But based on these aggregated search sources, our top 10 YouTube earnings list for the past year are:
1. MrBeast – $54 Million
Known for his highly detailed videos and mega giveaways, Mr. Beast took some major steps in 2021, including launching a chain of fast food delivery outlets across the US and Canada.
2. Jake Paul – $45 Million
Social media influencer turned boxer, Paul remains a divisive figure for many. But no matter how you feel, he’s clearly doing something right.
3. Markiplier – $38 million
Game creator Markiplier continues to achieve massive success, with 31.5 million subscribers to his channel tuning into his increasingly creative and original content.
4. Rhett Link – $30 million
YouTubers OG, Rhett, and Link are currently preparing to release season 21 of their show “Good Mythical Morning,” which has run for over 2,000 episodes so far.
5. Untold – $28.5 million
Basically, Nathan Graham was the creator of Minecraft, and he’s expanded his content into more detailed and realistic collections, pushing his success to new heights.
6. Like Nastya – $28 million
Seven-year-old Nastya Radzinskaya is the youngest content creator on the Forbes list, whose channel content focuses on ratings of games and activities for children.
7. Ryan Kaji (Ryan’s World) – $27 million
Kaji, the former king of kids on YouTube, was dropped from the list in 2021, but he’s still hugely popular, as his game churns out videos that keep little ones entertained around the world.
8. Dude Perfect – $20 million
The Dude Perfect team is crafting unique sports challenges, and they’ve recently taken the plunge into adding celebrity photos and partnerships to enhance their content.
9- Logan Paul – $18 million
Another Paul, who is now a retired boxer, remains a very influential figure, highlighting in many ways the value of creating a character that people can get along with throughout their lives. Although his luck has taken a turn recently (see below). It’s also worth noting that Paul originally rose to fame on Vine.
10. Preston – $16 million
Finally, who makes up the top ten, Preston Arsement has gained a huge following for his gaming videos, which once again underscores the importance of gaming in modern web culture.
It is interesting to note the top trends, which are not based on views, so these are not necessarily the most watched channels. But they are the creators who outsmart their efforts to monetize.
If you’re looking to get a better understanding of YouTube, and what resonates with audiences, these creators can provide some key informative notes, while also highlighting the monetization opportunities as a result of online content.
Which certainly isn’t easy, but it’s worth noting the success of these stars, and learning from their channels to build your own online video approach.
You can read Forbes’ full list of the Top Ten YouTube Earnings for 2021 here.