YouTube was once a platform where users simply shared short cat clips or low-budget comedy sketches. Today, it has evolved into a paying gig for millions. Specifically, over three million creators participate in the YouTube Partner Program. Among these partners, a select few stand out both on and off the site. Let’s take a look at the journey that these rich YouTubers took to gain their success.

Who are the richest YouTubers?

According to Statista, these were the estimated top earning YouTubers in September 2023:

  1. MrBeast: $54 million (per year)
  2. Jake Paul: $45 million
  3. Markiplier: $38 million
  4. Rhett and Link: $30 million
  5. Unspeakable: $28.5 million
  6. Nastya: $28 million
  7. Ryan Kaji: $27 million
  8. Dude Perfect: $20 million
  9. Logan Paul: $18 million
  10. Preston Arsement: $16 million

However, there are no concrete rankings of the richest YouTubers, as YouTuber’s earnings are not public. So take these rankings with a grain of salt. Still, there’s a lot we can learn from all of these YouTubers in regard to profit-making. In this article, we’ll look at the top three richest YouTubers, according to Statista: MrBeast, Jake Paul and Markiplier.


Image courtesy: MrBeast

MrBeast, AKA Jimmy Donaldson, has gained extraordinary success on YouTube in a relatively short period of time. What started as outlandish stunts meant to attract attention transformed into large-scale challenges normally seen on big-budget TV shows. Through creative ideas and high production value, he developed one of the largest and most engaged audiences in the world.

Beyond tactics like optimizing his videos and thumbnails and dubbing his content in other languages to maximize his ad revenue, MrBeast integrates sponsors into his content. He uses them to fund videos and provide equipment in exchange for promotion on his giant platform. MrBeast also increases his bottom line by diversifying his income sources outside of YouTube. Currently, his most successful venture outside of YouTube is Feastables, a chocolate and snack brand. However, MrBeast also created other ventures such as MrBeast Burger and MrBeastStore.

MrBeast has been a successful and high-paid YouTuber for years, but his earnings skyrocket after landing deals with major brands and other business ventures.

Jake Paul

Jake Paul
Image courtesy: Jake Paul

While Jake Paul may be one of the most controversial creators on YouTube, his is one of the highest paid creators. After gaining notoriety for his short-form video content on Vine, he solidified himself as a top-earning creator on YouTube. In more recent years, he as ventured into semi-professional boxing. His content primarily consists of vlogging content, showing his family life and boxing training sessions.

Boxing has proven to be quite lucrative for Paul, but he has also made a great deal off of record deals and merchandise sales. Paul, along with his brother, Logan Paul, have always been controversial figures on YouTube. However, if there is something that we can learn from Paul’s success, it’s that audience engagement leads to opportunities that boost your bottom line. Paul is a master at getting people to engage with his content, regardless if they are his fans or not. For example, Paul has an upcoming fight with one of the greatest heavyweight boxers of all time, Mike Tyson. Hate him or love him, Paul knows everyone’s going to be tuning in to see if Paul pulls off a win or gets knocked out.


Image courtesy: Markiplier

Mark Fischbach, better known as the comedic gaming king Markiplier, rose to online fame through his lively “Let’s Play” gameplay videos. Markiplier’s entertaining presence fostered a loyal following and turned his channel into a staple of YouTube gaming.

Beyond YouTube, alongside his close friend and fellow YouTuber Jacksepticeye, Markiplier co-founded Cloak, their joint line of casual wear. While continuing to produce new gaming videos, Markiplier has additionally lent his voice to animated projects and penned graphic novels. Also dedicated to charitable causes like his philanthropic peer MrBeast, Markiplier dedicates the bulk of profits from side ventures to cancer research and other philanthropies near to his heart. Currently, he has ventured into filmmaking, working on a movie adaption of the video game “Iron Lung” (2022).

There’s a lot that we can take away from Markiplier, but what stands out is that he is always looking to push himself creatively. From venturing out into movies to co-creating a popular yet temporary YouTube channel (Unus Annus) and deleting it after promising to a year prior, Markiplier doesn’t create solely to make money. His creativity and desire to create something special, in turn, is what gives him more opportunities and viewers, leading to financial success.

Here’s a breakdown of how they became the richest YouTubers

Ad revenue

Ad revenue remains a pivotal source of profits for video creators on YouTube. To begin earning through ads, creators must first access the YouTube Partner Program (YPP). This requires a minimum of 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours over the past 12 months (or 10 million Shorts views in the last 90 days).

Once part of YPP, creators can earn money in several ways:

  • Pre-roll, mid-roll and post-roll ads: These are the video ads that play before, during or after a YouTube video. Creators can earn more if viewers watch the entire ad without skipping.
  • Display and overlay ads: These appear on the side of the video or as a semi-transparent overlay on the bottom.
  • Sponsored cards: These are small, clickable notifications within the video that promote other content or products.

To maximize ad income, creators should focus on making engaging videos that keep viewers watching. The longer people watch, the more ads they are likely to see. Creators also need to confirm their content adheres to YouTube’s monetization policies. Violating these can lead to demonetization on your video or whole channel.


Sponsorships provide creators with a direct path to financing their work. Through partnerships with brands — where the influencer endorses a company’s goods or services within videos — creators can earn compensation to offset production expenses.

These brand collaborations generate a consistent income stream that supports content development. Unlike ad earnings that fluctuate alongside audience behaviors and algorithm changes, long-term sponsorships offer a more predictable financial return.

Known for massive (and expensive) stunts, MrBeast routinely weaves sponsor plugs into his videos. Many of these are in the form of trips or products that are used for the premise of the video, letting MrBeast dramatically cut costs for ambitious schemes — like renting a fleet of cars for a challenge.


Another strategic way for YouTubers to capitalize on their brand is through merchandising. After gaining a sizable following online, creators often venture into selling branded items stamped with their logo or catchphrases. This helps turn viewer loyalty into a tangible revenue stream.

Selling merchandise helps in solidifying a YouTuber’s brand identity, creating physical representations of their digital persona. Fans wearing or using their merchandise serve as brand ambassadors in the real world. All three of our star examples have their own product lines, Markiplier taking it a step further with his separate Cloak brand aimed at gamers. 

Ventures beyond YouTube

MrBeast, Jake Paul and Markiplier have all used YouTube as a stepping stone to build their empires.

Leveraging his business knowledge, MrBeast launched MrBeast Burger in December 2020. The virtual restaurant operates as a delivery-only service, partnering with existing kitchens to prepare and deliver the food. Not long after, he launched Feastables to cater to health-focused consumers, its chocolate bars being made of only natural, minimally processed ingredients.

Jake Paul aggressively expanded his brand into combat sports, generating widespread attention through headline fights and pay-per-view promotions against established athletes and fellow celebrities. His polarizing combat persona provokes passionate reactions from both supporters and critics alike. In turn, this strategic shift simultaneously amplified viewership on his YouTube channel, where millions tune in for his boxing-focused vlogs.

In 2018, Markiplier co-founded Cloak, an apparel line tailor-made for gamers seeking stylish, durable fashion. While being a lifestyle brand representing gaming culture, Cloak outfits are designed in a way that they are suitable wearing outside of the gaming space.

Image courtesy: Cloak

Anything’s possible

Ultimately, there’s is no one way to make money through YouTube. AdSense can be very lucrative, but many of the top earning creators have ventured outside of YouTube, expanding their brands beyond YouTube. So, the main take away here is that if you really want to maximize your earnings on YouTube, it’s time to start looking beyond YouTube.

Feature image courtesy: Jake Paul, MrBeast and Markiplier