Lifestyle & Culture

YouTube Millionaires

Lauren Gross discovers the perfect job for uni students.

Felix Kjellberg of 'PewDiePie'

Felix Kjellberg AKA PewDiePie

Right now, countless people are filming themselves applying makeup, playing video games, travelling the world or simply talking to the camera. By uploading that footage to YouTube, some of them are earning millions of views and dollars in the process.

Currently, the channel with the most subscriptions belongs to Felix Kjellberg, or PewDiePie as he is known to his ‘bros’. He is reportedly earning $4 million a year for recording himself playing video games. Let me repeat, 4 mil for letting strangers watch you play games. That sure as hell beats the average uni student job of scraping chicken out of a deep fryer. 37 million people are subscribed to Felix’s channel to see the Swede talk, swear and scream as he straps on his headphones and picks up the controller.

How can Felix possibly be a millionaire from playing video games online?

If your channel becomes popular enough you can become a partner with YouTube. YouTube will then pay content creators to play advertisements before their videos. Youtuber and UON student Nicholas Smit (channel name Nichoals) also runs a gaming channel and says the amount paid for advertisements varies considerably.

“Both YouTube and Adsense’s metrics figure out how many views a video got, how many clicks any of the adverts had, and a number of other things to determine the value of advertising on my videos. Without going too much into it, views aren’t everything anymore and you’re rewarded for evidence of engagement with your content,” Nicholas said.

YouTube pays its partners a Cost Per thousand iMpressions (CPM). Allegedly, the amount can vary between 0.30 and $6, loose change for a fledgling channel, but it can add up real quick for channels which regularly get over a million views per video.

Another way Youtubers can make money is through sponsorship, where companies will pay the Youtuber to include their product in a video. The terms of the sponsorship can vary; some companies will insist on a positive review and will include points that have to be spoken about, while other companies simply want the product included. Companies can also give Youtubers links or special discount codes to include and if a purchase is made using that code or via that link the Youtuber can make a cut of the profit.

Rumour has it that sponsorships are where the big money is made. Australian Youtuber Matthew Michael (channel name Alright, Hey!) makes beauty, comedy and general vlogging videos. Matthew’s lips are sealed as to how much brands have paid him to promote products as he says that Youtube’s policy prevents him from disclosing this information. However, he has worked with big names like Benefit, Rimmel London and Lush.

Matthew Michael of 'Alright, Hey!'

Matthew Michael of ‘Alright, Hey!’

And it’s no wonder that brands are lining up to pay Youtubers to talk about their products when they have an audience of millions watching. British Youtuber Zoella has an audience 26 times the circulation of British Vogue and a product she talks about in her ‘monthly favourites’ will typically be watched by one million people. As a result, products that are raved about by a popular youtuber can be sold out in weeks as the audience rushes to buy the product. For example, when Australia’s most popular beauty guru Lauren Curtis raved about L’Oreal true match in shade W4, it resulted in a shortage at Priceline Pharmacy. Lauren’s full time job now is making videos for YouTube and she is regularly flooded in free makeup that companies send her in the hope of getting a mention.

And beauty is not the only area for sponsorships. British Travel vlogger Fun for Louis is in Africa one week and America the next because travel companies and airlines like pay him to travel with them. Oli White has a channel full of various challenges and has been paid to create videos for Coca Cola.

Entrepreneurial Youtubers with enough popularity can also create their own products and promote them on their channel. Zoe Sugg’s (AKA Zoella) novel ‘Girl Online’ became the fastest-selling book of 2014, breaking the record for highest first week sales for a debut author. Nicole Guerriero has launched her own skincare line, Michelle Phan has her own makeup line, Tyler Oakley and Jenna Marbles have their own merchandise, Sammi Maria (BeautyCrush) has her own clothing line and Grace Helbig has her own television show on E!

Matthew still has a casual job in conjunction with YouTube, but he definitely views YouTube as a potential full time career. Plus, money hasn’t been the only benefits for Matthew.

“For me, self confidence and happiness are the two main things that have come out of my YouTube experience. I wouldn’t change it for the world. YouTube opens so many doors for you. This year I’ve been in music videos, walked the red carpet at movie premieres, been invited to exclusive events… it’s so cool to think that a normal guy like me can be invited to events with celebrities!” Matthew said.

Despite the fact that some Youtubers are making big bucks online, there are lots of people who aren’t. It takes millions of views and subscribers to make money from advertising and growing an audience isn’t easy. Both Nicholas and Matthew warn that there are a lot of people on YouTube, but only a small percentage make enough money to have it as their full time career.

“Going into YouTube, thinking you will get money out of it is the wrong way to think about it. Do it because you love creating content. If you make money out of it, it’s a bonus!” Matthew said.


Matthew: provided by Matthew. 
Felix: Youtube

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