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Top Ten Highest Paid YouTubers Of 2021

Content creators have been working to find an audience and master YouTube's algorithms for years. It's definitely possible to carve out a living creating video content for fans, but some creators have found a way to make unbelievable amounts of money by filming themselves playing video games, sinking incredible basketball shots, and opening up about their personal lives for their rapt audience.

Some of the biggest names on the platform, like Logan Paul and MrBeast, might be familiar to even casual YouTube viewers, but there are niche creators earning millions every year who might not be household names (at least, not yet). Back in 2005, YouTube seemed like a novelty website that might fizzle out in a few years, but now it's become a place where even children under ten can become millionaires seemingly overnight. 

It's not all luck of the draw, though. Many of the biggest YouTubers in the game have spent a decade or more slowly building their channel's audience. The highest earning YouTubers from 2021 are a mix of longtime grinders and sudden sensations.

10. Preston Arsement

Preston Arsement started out on YouTube nine years ago with the channel PrestonPlayz. His earliest content featured various video games, but had a special focus on "Minecraft." He's since rebranded the channel under just his first name and created a spin-off PrestonPlayz channel that exclusively publishes "Minecraft" videos. 

Arsement spoke with Insider about his decision to change the focus of his channel. "I wanted to do something more than just play 'Minecraft' ... the real life stuff is something I'm really interested in." Now Arsement's primary channel features challenge and competition videos, with snappy titles like "Bulletproof Glass vs World's Strongest Man" and "I Survived 24 Hours in a Vending Machine."

The shift worked well for Arsement. His main channel now has nearly 20 million subscribers, while his "Minecraft" channel has over 12 million subscribers, showing there's still very much an audience for it. According to Forbes, Arsement earned roughly $16 million in 2021.

9. Logan Paul

With over 23 million subscribers, Logan Paul definitely has the following of many other YouTubers' dreams. According to Forbes, Paul leveraged that following to pull in $18 million in 2021 alone. While he doesn't have the subscriber count of some higher on this list, like MrBeast, Paul makes up for it by diversifying his income sources. 

For one thing, he's taken on acting roles in a dozen or so TV shows and even in feature films, including the upcoming film "Liked." Paul's not just limiting himself to work in front of the camera. In 2021, he released an NFT, hosted a popular podcast on YouTube, and stepped into the boxing ring to fight none other than Floyd Mayweather. Paul has been developing his personal brand on YouTube for years, and he's perfected how to use that brand to open new doors.

Paul says that he's interested in pushing himself to move beyond the entertainment industry. He told Square Mile that these days he's thinking about how he can leave a lasting impact on the world. "That's the golden question," he said, adding "Cos it's not through just video content." Paul may not yet be satisfied with his impact on the world, but he definitely changed YouTube and internet stardom forever. Paul arguably laid the groundwork for future YouTube stars building big platforms with vlog content.

8. Dude Perfect

Plenty of YouTubers get views by pulling off ridiculous stunts, but Dude Perfect helped to perfect the trend. Their 57 million subscribers tune in to see the guys take on bottle rocket wars and bizarre world record challenges. The channel also ventures into comedy skits from time to time, but most of the videos are dedicated to athletic challenges so out-there that you can hardly call them sports. The formula has worked incredibly well for its five members. In 2021, they earned $20 million from their videos, touring live shows, and book releases (per Forbes).

Dude Perfect is now the eighth highest-earning channel on YouTube, but the group was by no means an overnight success. The team of five met when they were all students at Texas A&M (via NPR). They got some attention from a basketball trick shot montage uploaded in the early days of YouTube, and they decided to keep slugging it out on the platform for years. Of course, back in the mid-2000s, YouTube wasn't nearly as profitable or ubiquitous as it is today, so the friends probably had a hard time imagining they would ever be able to make videos full time. In 2014, though, that's exactly what they started doing. Now Dude Perfect is an established brand, and the guys get to goof off just like they did in their undergrad years — only now there's a paycheck attached.

7. Ryan Kaji

Putting in years of hard work is one path to becoming a massive success on YouTube. Another is to be a cute little kid with a super fun personality. Ten-year-old Ryan Kaji is number seven on the list, and in 2021 he earned $27 million. As impressive as that number is, Kaji's placement on the list is actually a bit of a step down for him. In 2020, he was the highest paid YouTube on the platform (via Interview). Still, that doesn't mean that he's slowed down a bit. These days he's involved with two YouTube channels, Ryan's World and Kaji Family, and he works on the Nick Jr. show "Ryan's Mystery Playdate."

Ryan Kaji first burst onto the YouTube scene when his mom uploaded a video of her then-four-year-old son playing with a Lego Duplo train. To date the video has received 54 million views. Many of Kaji's earliest videos showed him unboxing and playing with different toys. Kids everywhere fell in love with the videos, and Kaji's channel became so popular that Nick Jr. gave him his own TV show in 2019. Since then, Kaji's popularity has only grown. Though other YouTubers may have found ways to out-earn Ryan's World, the channel certainly isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

6. Nastya

Ryan Kaji isn't the only child star earning millions on YouTube. Anastasia Radzinskaya, known as Nastya by fans of her channel Like Nastya, is just eight years old, but she's already one of the most popular content creators that YouTube has ever seen. In 2020, Bloomberg reported that Nastya's various channels — which repost her videos dubbed into nine different languages for audiences all around the world — were pulling in 100 million views every single day. At that time, Nastya's family had earned $18 million from YouTube and had relocated from Russia to Florida.

Nastya's rise to internet fame was nothing short of meteoric. Her parents posted their first video to YouTube when she was just three years old. They say that Nastya's earliest videos were just their attempt to capture her speaking on camera after doctors in their hometown had mistakenly diagnosed her with cerebral palsy (per Forbes). Now those earliest videos have millions of views, with Nastya's most popular video earning over 900 million views.

Nastya's videos regularly get hundreds of millions of views. That's part of the reason why Spotter signed a deal with Nastya's family in 2021 to buy the rights to her old videos (via Forbes). The deal helped put Nastya at the number six spot on this list, with earnings north of $28 million.

5. Unspeakable

Nathan Graham, known as Unspeakable to his fans, is a self-made YouTube star who got his start on the platform by posting videos of himself playing "Minecraft." Speaking with The Knockturnal, Graham said, "Obviously the first videos I did were super, super rough, so I had to teach myself how to be an entertainer." He kept at the grind of making videos for years, and eventually all that effort paid off. Today his channel has nearly 13 million subscribers, and his videos regularly pull in millions of views.

Unspeakable still spends time creating "Minecraft" gaming videos, but he's also expanded into the kinds of vlogs, stunts, challenges, and giveaways that have brought success to other big channels. Sometimes he's filling his house with plastic balls, other times he's giving away $10,000

Unspeakable lands at number five on this list after earning $28.5 million in 2021, and Forbes reports that his biggest chunk of earnings came from a deal with Spotter for the monetization rights to all of his past videos. That's not a bad payday, and Unspeakable isn't just cashing out; he's continuing to grow his channel further with the influx of money.

4. Rhett and Link

In their YouTube bio, Rhett and Link describe themselves as "two guys who are only getting older, trying our best to maintain our childhood friendship via filming each other on various adventures." Their adventures have been entertaining people for over a decade now, ever since the friends started their daily YouTube show "Good Mythical Morning," which now has over 17 million subscribers. Rhett and Link stand out on this list because their talk show format varies wildly from the type of videos that typically see success on YouTube — but that difference didn't stop them from earning $30 million in 2021 alone (via Forbes).

Part of the duo's success is due to their broad appeal. "Good Mythical Morning" is designed for viewers of all ages, and many of the show's fans are kids, but when Rhett and Link hosted an adults-only livestream, they still had no problem selling 70,000 tickets to the event. When asked how it feels to be part of a decade-long show, Link told The Washington Post, "Honestly, I just try to stay grateful that somehow we're still relevant."

Rhett and Link aren't content with just being grateful, though. They're paying it forward. Last year, they launched the Mythical Accelerator Fund, which they plan to use to support YouTube creators by investing in their content. Like some of the others on this list, Rhett and Link have realized that sometimes the best thing to do for yourself is to help someone else.

3. Markiplier

At number three on the list, Markiplier is another YouTuber who rose to fame playing video games. He got his start on YouTube by posting videos of himself playing popular horror titles like "Amnesia: The Dark Descent," "Penumbra," and "Five Nights at Freddy's." Markiplier's choice of games and sense of humor turned him into a major star. His channel currently has over 30 million subscribers, and The New York Times reported that his videos had been watched over 11 billion times by 2019.

In recent years, Markiplier's content has still largely revolved around video games, but he's looking to diversify. He's branched out to do a number of other video projects, including interactive films and his wildly popular Unus Annus channel. In 2021, he filmed a television series called "The Edge of Sleep," based on an original podcast he had done a couple of years earlier (via Forbes). Markiplier is currently trying to sell the show to a major streaming platform, but even without that sale, he earned $38 million in 2021 alone. Much of his earnings come from sales of t-shirts and other merch, but everything that Markiplier does is supported by his YouTube audience.

2. Jake Paul

Jake Paul, younger brother of Logan Paul, has over 20 million subscribers on YouTube, and he was the second highest paid YouTube star in 2021. Before leaving his mark on YouTube, Paul rose to fame on Vine, where he says that he and his brother used to challenge each other to see who could make the best video (via Forbes). "For us it was just this hobby," he said. "We made videos for a couple years and developed this natural act of storytelling and video creating without really knowing what we were doing." Like his older brother, Paul eventually parlayed his skills into films and TV, gaining even more fans as one of the stars of the Disney Channel series "Bizaardvark." 

These days, Paul's YouTube channel advertises his career as a boxer, a change of focus that's been incredibly lucrative. Paul earned $45 million in 2021. While that does technically put him at number 2 on this list, there's an argument to be made that Paul isn't really a YouTuber anymore, at least not full time. 

Like Logan Paul, Jake is committed to expanding his reach. He still acts — and has some upcoming TV and film roles — but much of his time is currently dedicated to boxing, which is where a great deal of his money comes from, too. Jake has stepped a bit further away from YouTube as time goes on, but he'll always be associated with the platform that launched him into fame. 

1. MrBeast

MrBeast is currently the reigning champ of YouTube. His channel has grown exponentially since he first went viral for counting to 100,000 back in 2017, becoming especially lucrative. Forbes reported that MrBeast raked in $54 million in 2021, double the amount that he'd earned the previous year, and most of his money comes from ad revenue generated by the 89 million subscribers who tune into his channel.

Like other YouTubers on this list, MrBeast frequently pulls over-the-top stunts for his videos. He splits his stunts between personal challenges, like the time he spent 24 hours in a house made of ice, and ridiculous pranks, like when he filled his brother's house with slime. What sets MrBeast apart is that a majority of his content focuses on giving his hard-earned money away. After filling his brother's house with slime, MrBeast bought him a new one. Other times, MrBeast will simply give strangers $10,000.

MrBeast also organizes charities outside of YouTube. In 2019 he created #TeamTrees with the goal of raising enough money to plant millions of trees around the world. Just two years later, he was helping to remove plastic from the ocean with a new campaign, #TeamSeas. MrBeast's charities and giveaway videos have earned him the title of "YouTube's biggest philanthropist" and pushed him to become YouTube's highest paid content creator in 2021.