I think we’ve all had those moments when being a YouTube sensation sounds a lot more attractive than working a 9-5. This idea is only further solidified when you come across an article like this one that lists the highest paid YouTubers. I mean, I can be funny, too.
Consider 6-year-old Ryan from Ryan ToysReview. He gets to open and review toys on the family-run YouTube channel for an estimated $11 million. Sometimes, YouTube talent even runs in families. Jake Paul earns $11.5 million posting comedy videos and original music, while older brother Logan Paul makes $12.5 million posting vlogs and comedic reaction videos.
But…Most YouTube Stars are Still in Poverty
It’s easy to assume that all popular YouTubers are living it up, but the honest truth is that making millions off reviewing toys and filming vlogs is rare. So rare, in fact, that 96.5 percent of people trying to become successful YouTubers will only make a poverty-level income, according to research from professor Mathias Bartl from the Offenburg University of Applied Sciences.
If you’re lucky enough to land in the top 3 percent of the most-watched channels, you can expect an average annual income of $16,800. The poverty line in the United States is $12,140 for a single household and $16,460 for a two-person household. That 9-5 isn’t looking so bad all of a sudden.
YouTubing is Still a Popular Career Goal
Even if you don’t care to be a YouTube celebrity, it’s possible that your own kids will be chasing the dream. Children born after 2005 (when YouTube was created) literally know of no world without vlogs and vlogging. In one British survey, 1 in 3 children ages 6 to 17 said they wanted to grow up to be a full-time YouTuber. That’s three times the number of kids who wanted to be a nurse!
Every child deserves to have their dreams taken seriously – but – this is one you may want to nix. If things stay on the same track as they are now, it’s only going to be harder for people to reach YouTube stardom. In 2006, the top 3 percent of YouTube channels accounted for 63 percent of total views. In 2016, the most popular YouTubers earned every 9 out of every 10 views.
Making Money is Getting Harder for Small Channels
To add another challenge, YouTube announced that accounts will need at least 1,000 subscribers to be eligible to earn money from advertising. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just means that you can’t expect to get rich overnight. Smaller YouTube channels should focus on growing their communities with compelling video content. If the channel does turn into a money maker, it will be well deserved.
In the end, YouTube stardom isn’t easy to achieve. Still, it will remain a popular career goal, especially for Gen Zs that have grown up alongside their favorite YouTube celebrities. For those who still want to be the next famous YouTuber, the best advice is to choose a category with a higher chance of success such as news and politics or gaming. People and blogs – well – that’s a tough one to crack.