Apparently, you can make a living off playing video games. Just ask PewDiePie.
Felix Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie, a Swedish YouTuber who makes short videos of his adventures in video gaming, was just announced as YouTube’s highest earning celebrity. The 25-year-old earned $12 million to earn that top spot. I know what you’re asking: How on Earth does someone make $12 million by playing video games on YouTube?
In PewDiePie’s case, he hooked viewers with his humor and one-of-a-kind game reviews. As he gains followers, more and more people want to see his new content, and so they subscribe to PewDiePie’s channel. Those annoying ads before videos help PewDiePie earn money by getting millions of people to watch the ads, for which he earns revenue. PewDiePie would also share that revenue with YouTube. Some YouTube users also get paid for doing reviews of certain products in their videos or speaking about a certain brand.
A lot of YouTube celebs, PewDiePie included, transcend the short internet videos. Take Fred, for example. He gained internet fame from YouTube, which led to him starring in not one, but three Nickelodeon movies. PewDiePie has written a book titled This Book Loves You, which is described as “collection of beautifully illustrated inspirational sayings written by PewDiePie,” which is currently on preorder and will be released October 20. Others go on tour or get recording contracts, like Karmin, Lana Del Rey, Justin Bieber, and even Katy Perry — and let’s not forget the endorsement deals. Since these videos already appeal to younger audiences, brands are quick to use that to their advantage and gain consumers while they’re young.
That’s not to say that PewDiePie didn’t earn his spot on Forbes’ first-ever ranking. He has almost 40 million subscribers and over 10 billion views.
Because of those 10 billion views, advertisers want PewDiePie to share their products with his “bro army.”
The 12 others who accompany PewDiePie on this list have also used their own unique appeal to gain followers. The fourth place celeb, Lindsey Stirling, brought in $6 million by playing an almost haunting violin while dancing, and she is the one who writes the music and edits the videos. She has released two albums, Lindsey Stirling and Shatter Me, and is looking at a book deal and tour. She recently spoke about the benefits of making a career out of YouTube at Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Summit.
It’s a very loyal fan base [that] wants you to succeed because they found you. It wasn’t some big radio station or record label that shoved art down someone’s throat and said this is what’s cool.
Up and coming beauty mogul Michelle Phan, who has done several celebrity-inspired makeup tutorial videos, came in toward the end at $3 million, but she seems to be in it for the long haul. She takes the money she has earned from her videos, her own cosmetic line, and her beauty subscription service and puts it right back into developing her brand. She knew, years ago, that YouTube was the right route for what she wanted to accomplish.
“I thought, if [YouTube] is going to be the global television of the future, I need to build my brand here,” she told Forbes. “Within the first week, 40,000 people watched it and hundreds of comments came in and that’s when I realized I’d found my calling.”
Forbes, whose list is published in the November 2 issue, states that they measured the earnings before any management fees and taxes were applied. They interviewed managers, lawyers, industry insiders, and the stars themselves, as well as using data from Nielsen and IMDb.
[Featured image courtesy of PewDiePie/Twitter]