Let's talk about YouTube for a minute.
If you only use YouTube to look up funny cat videos or how to brine a turkey, then you're probably unaware of this thing called YouTube celebrities. It's not really a thing...it's a fact. There are people on YouTube with millions of subscribers.
To put that into perspective: the first season of Game of Thrones had an average of 2.5 million viewers for its first Sunday night screenings, and an average gross audience of 9.3 million viewers per episode including all repeats and on-demand viewings.
Now compare HBO's hit show to Felix Kjellberg. Better known as PewDiePie, he is a video game commentator with roughly 33.5 million subscribers on YouTube. One of his latest online videos (seen below), called PewDiePie on South Park, recently surpassed 3.5 million views. And it has recently been revealed that he received more than 4.1 billion views of his videos in 2014.
PewDiePie's random online video, which went live yesterday, got 680,000 more views than the premiere of Game of Thrones. Those of you who are business-minded are probably thinking of the numerous ways PewDiePie is capitalising on that popularity. And you're right; he is.
But he's not the only YouTube success story. There are tonnes of them, and they're each signed to a talent company and dreaming big and earning more money than you've problem seen in your lifetime. Keep reading if you want to dive deeper into this crazy world of YouTube stardom.
Who are some YouTube celebrities worth checking out?
Oh, man. There are too many to list. But we'll try anyway.
Before we get started, we should note that a lot of YouTube celebrities have met each other at YouTube-related shows and conventions, such as Vidcon and Playlist Live, and they've since collaborated together in videos in an attempt to reach new subscribers and grow their audiences.
Because of that, many YouTube celebrities are actual friends with each other. They also hang out in the same circles. So, when watching a video from one specific YouTube celebrity, you'll likely be sucked into watching videos from other another one. It's a vicious and addictive cycle.
So, without further ado, here are some YouTube celebrities who are popular in the US and UK:
- PewDiePie - Swedish vlogger, notable for being a video game commentator
- Tyler Oakley - American vlogger, advocates for LGBT youth
- Grace Helbig - American vlogger, set to star in a upcoming E! comedy series
- Miranda Sings - Internet character, created by YouTube vlogger Colleen Ballinger
- Fleur DeForce - American beauty guru, specialises in beauty-related tutorials
- Joey Graceffa - American vlogger, starred in The Amazing Race 22
- Elle Flower - American beauty guru, specialises in beauty-related tutorials
- Sawyer Hartman - American vlogger, directs indie films backed by Ron Howard
- Kandee Johnson - American beauty guru, works as a celebrity makeup artist
- MichellePhan - American beauty guru, launched a L'Oreal line called EM
- Jenna Marbles - American vlogger, launched dog toys called Kermie Worm & Mr. Marbles
- Essiebutton - American beauty guru, specialises in beauty-related videos
- Zoella - British beauty vlogger, launched a makeup line called Zoella Beauty
- Thatcher Joe - British vlogger, the brother of YouTube vlogger Zoella
- Pointless Blog - British vlogger, also dates YouTube vlogger Zoella
- Tanya Burr - British beauty vlogger, launched a makeup line called Tanya Burr Cosmetics
- Jim Chapman - British vlogger, also dates YouTube vlogger Tanya Burr
- Caspar Lee - English-born South African vlogger, starred in the comedy film Spud 3
- Marcus Butler - British vlogger, also part of Comic Relief's "YouTube Boyband"
- Troye Sivan - South African-born vlogger, appeared in 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine
- Fun for Louis - British vlogger, notable for traveling the world and documenting his trips
- Sprinkle of Glitter - British beauty vlogger, known for her motivational and advice videos
- Amelia Liana - American beauty guru, specialises in beauty-related tutorials
- Pixiwoo - Beauty channel created by celebrity makeup artists Sam and Nic Chapman
- Laci Green - American vlogger, specialises as a public sex educator and feminist
- LilyPebbles - American beauty guru, specialises in beauty-related tutorials
- Philip DeFranco - American vlogger, notable for The Philip DeFranco Show channel
- Shane Dawson - American vlogger and musician, directed a film called Not Cool
- A Model Recommends - British vlogger, known for her work as a fashion model
- Viviannadoesmakeup - American beauty guru, specialises in beauty-related tutorials
- Lisa Eldridge - British beauty guru, also works as a celebrity and model makeup artist
- Stampylonghead - British vlogger, videos are about Minecraft as the character Stampy Cat
How do content creators become YouTube celebrities?
Stick with it
Becoming a YouTube celebrity is a secret recipe that not even talent companies know how to crack. There does seem to be one common aspect, however: dedication. The people who have the most subscribers on YouTube tend to publish daily videos, and they've been doing so for years.
Publishing a video that goes viral is like taking the fast lane to YouTube stardom. Jenna Marbles, for instance, first got noticed with the funny video embedded below. It went viral in 2010 and netted millions of views. Flash forward four years later, she now has 14 million subscribers.
Keep in mind millions of views don't guarantee millions of subscribers. You'll probably need to advertise your channel online and through YouTube to truly get a solid following. Also, avoid paying for views and subscribers. Yes...you could do that, though it's against YouTube's policies.
In order to become successful on YouTube, stick to creating a niche channel with a clear brand. You also need to publish interesting content often and regularly. If you stick to that game plan, as well as network and market yourself as best as possible, you will gain subscribers.
How do YouTube celebrities earn?
There are tonnes of ways to earn a living as a content creator as well as a YouTube celebrity. The first way is to join YouTube's revenue-sharing Partner Program. It allows content creators to monetise content on YouTube through advertisements, paid subscriptions, and merchandise.
The New York Times recently profiled Olga Kay, a somewhat popular content creator, and claimed she earned $100,000 to $300,000 in each of the last three years. She has 750,000 subscribers and gets about $7.60 per 1,000 ad views through the Partner Program.
The second way to make money is actually outside of YouTube. If you have at least 100,000 subscribers, you'll get offers to be represented by a talent agency such as Gleam Futures, Collective Digital Studios, Maker Studios, The Collective, The Cloud Media, Digital Artists, etc.
Being represented is the best way to earn money. An agency will work to get you deals including guest spots on television shows, film cameos, book contracts, clothing labels, makeup brands...the list goes on. Companies want faces with a built-in following, such as YouTube celebs.
British vlogger Zoe Sugg, better known as Zoella, has 6.5 million subscribers on YouTube. She has become the UK’s best-selling debut novelist, moving more copies in first week sales than J.K. Rowling. Her novel, called Girl Online, sold 78,109 copies in the week beginning on 25 November.
A YouTube celebrity can easily make money by having a website and monetising that site through ads and affiliates. And if they grow a following on other social networks, like Instagram and Twitter, they can get paid by companies to sponsor products. The possibilities are endless.
Why are YouTube celebrities also vloggers?
There's one last thing you should know about YouTube celebrities: most of them are vloggers as well. Sometimes they publish journal-like vlogs on their main channels, while other times they create second channels dedicated entirely to vlogging.
Although YouTube celebrities began as content creators, occasionally publishing content related to their channel's specific niche, they eventually faced an overwhelming demand to publish more often. Meanwhile, talent agencies likely noticed their clients were becoming pop stars.
An easy solution/business strategy was to have YouTube celebrities publish vlogs that showcase their daily lives and relationships. Think of vlogs as reality TV. They are effortless when compared to regular videos that need more work like planning, scripting, and heavy editing.
In some cases, vlogs actually help propel somewhat popular content creators into YouTube stardom. Subscribers can become addicted to watching their favourite YouTube personalities, seeing their life unfold online and all that juicy stuff. Next thing you know they're hooked.
Hooked subscribers will buy tickets to see a YouTube celebrity appear live at a convention like Vidcon. They'll buy a novel from that YouTube celebrity the second it launches, and they'll like the their Instagram photos and retweet all their tweets. They essentially turn into fans/fanatics.
In other words: YouTube celebrities, such as Tanya Burr, tend to post journal-like vlogs in addition to videos related to their original channel's brand simply because it is easy, keeps their subscribers entertained, and continues to fuel their careers.