The Internet has seen its fair share of articles speculating on the profits of the top YouTube users. We wrote about ABC's estimates on how much money was being made. TubeMogul had come out just a few months earlier with their own guesses at what top video creators were making--and several YouTube video creators came out and said ABC and TubeMogul's numbers were off. One commenter on this story even mentions hearing rumors that some creators were making as much as 100k per month.
We didn't really hear much more about it for a while. In all honesty, I starting thinking it was a lot like the kinds of numbers we see from comScore or Alexa--maybe a decent guide, but not trustworthy enough to be accurate. I began to wonder if we'd ever know the actual earning potential of top channels.
Then, just a few weeks ago, YouTube themselves casually mentioned that they have hundreds of partners making six-figures a year. That was the closest we'd ever gotten to an official, trustworthy number.
Until now... when we may have just taken one huge step closer to the truth.
Over at Reddit--a rapidly-growing social bookmarking and content sharing community--there's a popular kind of posting called an AMA. It stands for Ask Me Anything. Typically, the person offering to answer questions is someone in an interesting field (like a NASA employee, or someone that helped build IBM's Jeopardy computer, Watson) or is a celebrity (senators, former Jeopardy champ Ken Jennings, etc.). These threads are popular because it allows anyone and everyone--the entire Reddit community, really--to interview someone famous or interesting.
And today there's an AMA thread with "professional YouTuber" Philip DeFranco, who runs the sxephil channel--one of the top channels on YouTube. Here's a recent video from Philip's channel:
The entire thread is worth reading, as there are a ton of great nuggets in there like the kinds of equipment he uses or where he finds his inspiration. But the biggest bombshell of the entire chat is this:
That's right. $100,000... a month! Not per year... per month. And while DeFranco claims he doesn't make that much himself, he makes it sound like there are several individuals making this kind of money.
Elsewhere in the thread, he's directly asked how much money he makes. He sidesteps it... sort of:
He's got his own companies... isn't that nice? While most of us are still working for other people, this kid has money pouring in and has started his own companies. Good for him. He says later he has 10 employees---five for the YouTube channel and five for another company he says he doesn't talk about (ooh, intrigue!).
So let me see if I've got this straight: he takes a $60-$100k salary---notice he doesn't mention if it's monthly or yearly---and still has enough left over to pay 10 staff members and fund two companies. I'd say he's doing several miles better than okay for himself. As well he should be. He was one of the first to build an audience for his video podcast, he's worked hard for several years, and he's earned the community's respect. Whether or not you like his videos is completely beside the point---you still have to respect his accomplishments.
DeFranco has given us the biggest peek behind the curtain yet, and I have a feeling most of us are going to like what we see. It's not only possible to make money on YouTube, it's possible to make absolute bucketloads of money on YouTube. And many are doing just that. Maybe you'll be next?