Have you ever wanted to know how much YouTubers actually make?
I’m not talking about the major players, such as Ryan Kaji who reportedly earns $26 million a year for his toy unboxing and science experiment videos.
I’m talking about the average Joe and Jane YouTuber creators out there.
Well, me too! I’ve always wondered how much money you can potentially earn from making YouTube videos.
And so, I decided to use my inner scientific skills to perform an analysis to find out just how much YouTubers actually make.
The aim of my analysis
Before I started my YouTube channel, I was so intrigued as to how much money you can make by doing YouTube. But, as far as I am aware, there isn’t any data out there to show some real life numbers.
As a small YouTuber myself, I wanted to know the real numbers behind YouTuber’s earnings.
Over the past few years there have been a surge in creators posting income reports on their channels. These mainly involve taking a peek at their YouTube Analytics dashboard and exploring the numbers behind their channels.
So, the aim of my analysis was to get an idea of how much YouTubers make. Particularly, my focus was on AdSense earnings.
Important notes to consider
Since the majority of YouTubers reported their income from AdSense earnings, this analysis is based on AdSense earnings alone.
AdSense is the means of generating income by showing advertisements on YouTube videos.
It’s worth noting that many YouTubers use other means of generating income from their content, such as affiliate marketing, sponsorship deals and selling merchandise.
In fact, a lot of YouTube creators that monetize their channel through different revenue streams will agree that AdSense is probably not their most profitable source of income.
So, the results quoted from my analysis are probably just the tip of the iceberg in terms of actual YouTube income for many of the creators quoted, especially those with larger channels.
Another important point to bear in mind is that all of the income reported hereafter is the amount earned before tax and expenses. Obviously, the majority of creators have to pay taxes in their respective countries.
How I gathered the data
So I started off by searching Google and YouTube for YouTubers that have publically disclosed their YouTube income. This mainly returned creators posting YouTube income report videos.
I quickly discovered that the majority of YouTubers quoted either their previous 28 days or previous months earnings. And so, I decided to focus on data regarding the previous 28 days or the previous full month.
I then created an Excel sheet containing the list of all the YouTubers and their videos or blog posts that contain the data I wanted.
To download the list of YouTubers and the reference source that was used in this analysis simply click here.
From each source, I then manually extracted (when possible) the following data from each source:
- YouTuber name
- Number of subscribers (at the time of income report)
- YouTuber location
- Channel topic
- Estimated AdSense revenue (in USD)
- Estimated views or monetized playbacks
- Playback-based CPM
Nearly all of the income reports were in the form of YouTube videos, apart from two sources. Roberto Blake frequently posts his income reports as detailed blog posts. Also, my small education channel data was shared in a post on this website last year.
In total, the YouTube income videos totalled 18 hours and 40 minutes!
Luckily, I didn’t have to sit through all of that content. Once I got the data I was after, I moved on to the next one.
That being said, this extraction process did take me a good few hours to do, so I hope it’s worth it!
How I defined groups in the analysis
For the purposes of presenting the data, I thought it would be best to group the channels based on some of their attributes, including the channel size, YouTuber location and channel topic.
To keep things simple, I created three categories to define the YouTube channel size:
- Small: <10,000 subscribers
- Medium: 10,000-100,000 subscribers
- Large: >100,000 subscribers
There were also a few instances where the subscriber count was not included in the source. So, in these cases, I searched their profile on Social Blade and extracted the number of subscribers quoted around the closest date on the Total Subscriber graph. This gave me a close estimate for the subscriber count for that time.
The analysis included 41 small, 38 medium and 21 large channels. The actual number of subscribers for each channel is shown below.
The largest channel in my analysis was Linguamarina, which is run by the English linguist Marina Mogilko (aka Silicon Valley Girl). At the time of reporting, Linguamarina had a whopping 1,386,444 subscribers.
To understand the demographics of the YouTubers included in the analysis, I also recorded their location.
I was going to include the location within my analysis to see how earnings could vary between countries, however, I ditched this idea due to the low number of channels for certain regions.
I extracted their original countries and then grouped them as follows:
- North America
Over half of the YouTubers were from North America and a quarter were from Europe.
The majority (94%) of creators within the North America group were from the US, with the rest from Canada.
Similarly, the majority (72%) of creators in the Europe group were located in the UK, while the rest were from Ireland (8%), Romania (4%), Iceland (4%), Austria (4%), Belgium (4%) and the Netherlands (4%).
The Asian group was dominated by creators from India (57%), with the rest being from Pakistan (29%) and Singapore (14%).
A tricky job I had was defining what each channel was about and assigning them into similar groups.
Obviously, some channels contained mixed content. For example, some may post vlogs as well as fashion. In these cases, I categorised the channel based on the majority of their content.
Here are the channel groups I defined:
- Making money (e.g. affiliate marketing, real estate)
- Stock trading
- Online marketing (e.g. YouTube channel growth)
- Tech (e.g. product reviews)
- Education (e.g. how-to videos)
- Health and fitness
I decided to keep stock trading separate from the making money category because they were specifically focussed on stock trading, rather than other hustling themes, such as affiliate marketing, dropshipping etc.
Most (38%) channels included in this analysis were in the making money category. The next most common categories were vlogging (16%), tech (10%) and gaming (9%). The rest of the categories individually contributed less than 9% each.
How much do YouTubers make? The results
So, there are 5 different results from my analysis:
- Monthly income according to channel size
- Monthly RPM according to channel size
- Monthly RPM according to channel topic
- Monthly playback-based CPM according to channel topic
- Change in monthly RPM over the year
I’ll now go through each section.
Monthly income according to channel size
As expected, the larger the YouTube channel size, the greater their monthly AdSense income. This was mainly due to the larger channels having more views than the smaller channels.
Here are the monthly earning ranges for each channel size:
- Small channels: $1.04 – $1,282
- Medium channels: $33.63 – $7,093
- Large channels: $103.3 – $103,740
The eye-watering value of just over $100,000 in AdSense earnings in a single month belongs to financial guru Graham Stephan.
The only other channels that managed to make over $10,000 in AdSense earnings for a reported month were Nate O’Brien ($16,825.72) and TommyBryson ($13,870.56). Again, these were also in the money-making niche.
Monthly RPM according to channel size
As mentioned, the higher monthly AdSense earnings in the larger YouTube channels was mostly explained by the increase in total views.
To standardize earnings to make the comparisons fair, I next calculated the revenue per mille (RPM).
RPM is calculated by dividing the AdSense revenue by the number of thousand views. For example, a creator with an income of $1,000 from 100,000 views will have an RPM of $10 ($1,000/100). So, for every 1,000 views, the creator will earn $10.
Not all income reports in this analysis disclosed their total views for that month, so I could not calculate the RPM for 13 channels.
The RPM, grouped by YouTube channel size, can be seen below.
Now you can see that the RPM was actually similar across the different channel sizes.
In fact, the largest RPM recorded ($47.65) was in the small YouTube channel size and belonged to Jaime Resendiz, who only had 5,889 subscribers at the time. Jamie, a YouTuber interested in real estate and entrepreneurship, reported that in March 2020 he generated $1,281.7 with only 26,900 views.
If you’re wondering, Graham Stephan had an RPM of (only) $10.08.
Monthly RPM according to channel topic
Perhaps one of the strongest factors that influenced the monthly RPM was the channel topic.
As you can see in the graph below, YouTubers that mainly produced financially themed content, such as how to make money or stock trading, had the highest RPM on average.
Coming in third with an average RPM of just over $5 was YouTubers that produced content about online marketing. This category included those that discuss how to grow your YouTube channel.
The rest of the channel topics had, on average, an RPM less than $5.
Interestingly, gamers had some of the lowest RPM in this analysis.
And if you’re wondering what the channel is in the Other category that had a high RPM ($14.38), this belonged to Hogan Chua. Hogan’s content is mainly focussed on website design.
If you’re interested in the actual numbers for each grouped, I have summarised the average, minimum and maximum RPM in each channel topic group below.
|Topic||Average RPM ($)||Min. RPM ($)||Max. RPM ($)|
|Health & fitness||2.75||0.27||6.56|
Monthly playback-based CPM per channel topic
The reason why there is such a difference in RPM between channel topics is probably explained by their cost per mille (CPM).
CPM is the amount advertisers pay YouTube to show their adverts on 1,000 impressions. This value is commonly reported as playback-based CPM. In other words, this is the amount advertisers pay for every 1,000 advert impressions, not video views.
Note, advert impressions are different from views. Some YouTube videos may not have an advert shown on them, while some may have more than one advert shown on them.
Only 32 creators reported their playback-based CPM. Unfortunately, there were no health and fitness or gaming creators that had any data available.
As you can see, there is a similar pattern to the RPM when looking at the playback-based CPM between the different channel topics. Those in the making money niche were the winners.
So, obviously, those with a higher CPM will usually have an increased RPM, compared with channels with a lower CPM.
Change in monthly RPM over the year
In a separate analysis, I decided to search for creators who reported their AdSense income for each month over a full year. This way, I could see how their RPM fluctuates over the different months.
I found three US-based, large YouTubers that disclosed their detailed monthly income for 2019:
- Roberto Blake: A creative entrepreneur that focuses on how to make money and online marketing
- RALLI ROOTS: A pair of eBay and Amazon resellers, their channel revolves around making money
- Tailosive Tech: A technology review channel
It’s important to note that Roberto Blake reported his earnings alongside estimated views, however, RALLI ROOTS and Tailosive Tech both reported their earnings with monetized views instead.
A monetized view is a view that has had at least one advert shown. Usually, a creator’s number of monetized views will be a lower value than their total views.
I extracted all their monthly data for 2019 and calculated the RPM, either based on total views (Roberto Blake) or monetized views (RALLI ROOTS and Tailosive Tech).
I then averaged their RPMs over the year and calculated the percentage change from average RPM for each month, relative to the average RPM. This approach enabled a nice comparison between the different channels on the graph.
You can see below the graph for the change in RPM over the course of the year 2019 for the three channels.
There was a general trend for an increase in RPM over the course of the year, with the lowest values typically being at the start of the year (January – April) and the highest values being in the last quarter (October – December).
This rise in RPM around the Christmas season is probably due to the increased demand for advertising. This creates greater competition, thus increasing CPM and the earnings the creators earn.
Limitations of the analysis
It’s important to stress that this analysis, as expected, does come with its limitations.
First and foremost is my sample size. Obviously, just over 100 YouTubers is not a huge sample size. It would be ideal to have a much large sample, but, I had to stop at some point!
The whole YouTube income report area is dominated by channels with a make money focus. This is understandable since these entrepreneurs want to show how you can use YouTube as another income stream. But, this does make things a little biased.
Most YouTubers reported their income reports for a single month or the previous 28 days. As shown above, the RPM varies from month to month, and so the data may not be a true representation of their typical earnings. Ideally, data based on yearly income is preferred, however, there was just not enough data available to make that analysis worthwhile.
So, if you ask me: how much do YouTubers make?
My answer will be: it depends.
In terms of revenue from AdSense alone, there are many factors that can influence the earning potential of YouTubers, such as content topic and the time of year.
If you want to increase your AdSense earning potential without trying to increase your views, then you need to focus on content revolving around personal finance. This includes how to make money online, side hustling, budgeting and stock trading.
Channels with a financial focus have the advantage of higher CPMs, compared with generic educational channels, for example.
This analysis should also be encouraging for the smaller YouTubers out there. There is evidence that some channels with less than 10,000 subscribers are earning between $1.04 and $1,282 per month (before tax) just from AdSense. In my opinion, that’s a decent side hustle!
I hope you found this analysis useful; if you did, please let me know in the comments below.
Also, feel free to share the data/figures reported here. All I ask in return is a link back to this page.
Further reading on SideHustleTeach.com
Are you ready to create your own YouTube channel and begin earning some extra income? Well, check out my step-by-step guide on how to create an awesome YouTube channel.