YouTube hosts an underground of sometimes ad-hoc entertainment that has evolved into a booming industry over the last handful of years. PewDiePie, the gamer and comedian rules this market. Time and again, he has been named the world’s wealthiest YouTube star. This Swede’s charisma and high energy has attracted nearly 55 million subscribers and his channel boasts over 15 billion views. Felix Avrid Ulf Kjellberg, whose handle is meant to resemble the pew pew sound a videogame gun makes, reportedly made $15 million in 2016, a 20 percent increase from 2015. So how much does this YouTuber make? Here’s what we found:
Books. Kjellberg’s New York Times best-seller, This Book Loves You, a satire on self-help books that features jokes, illustrations, and aphorisms sold over 130,000 copies in the U.S. within ten months of its release. The 250-page advice book includes such golden nuggets such as “Don’t be yourself. Be a pizza. Everyone loves pizza.” It can now be purchased for as low as $1.99 at Barnes & Noble.
Advertisements. YouTubers make money through ad clicks, not views. According to Variety, YouTube keeps 45 percent of advertisement revenue and gives 55 percent to talent. In 2016, Kjellberg made $10 million alone in ads.
Games. How much does this YouTuber make from games? Kjellberg’s mobile games such as Tuber Simulator, which is free to download but includes in-app purchases up to $99, and Legend of the Brofist, a retro adventure game with a $4.99 price tag, also contribute this YouTuber’s fortune. Tuber Simulator offers an existential take on YouTuber culture, as the goal of the game is to increase your channel’s view count.
Commercials. In 2016, Kjellberg signed a major deal to promote Scott toilet paper. According to Forbes, Kjellberg banked $1.5 million in advertisement and brand deals last year.
Merchandise. Although the PewDiePie shop is currently “down,” the YouTuber attributes some of his earnings to product sales. On Redbubble, shirts with his logo and catch phrases start at $25. He has also sold backpacks hats, and phone cases.
Tour. Like any diligent YouTuber, Kjellberg maintains his success by performing in various cities. He’s not currently scheduled to appear anywhere in the near future, but in 2015 he made stops in major cities throughout the U.S. and U.K.
“I really think money doesn’t make you happy,” Kjellberg said in one of his videos. “I’m just as happy now as I was five years ago.” His feelings might have changed recently, since Disney cut ties with the star and YouTube cancelled the release of Scare PewDiePie’s second season after Kjellberg posted nine anti-Semitic videos. He after the videos came to light, he issued an apology on his Tumblr, saying, “I am in no way supporting any kind of hateful attitudes.” His follower count has apparently grown since the incident.
Although very few if hardly any reach Kjellberg’s level of success, if you’re able to generate a modest following on YouTube, then leveraging books, products, and branding strategies are ways to fuel a comfortable income.
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