As you probably knew already, there’s some serious money to be made on YouTube. Everyone from dancing violinists to ranting gamers have turned hobbies into media empires, with sponsorship deals, merchandise and legions of adoring fans following their every move. And just in case you needed that little bit of extra motivation to pack in the day job and strike online, viral gold, then the Forbes list of 2015’s highest earning YouTubers might just do it. Topping the list is Swedish-born, Brighton-based video game streamer Pewdiepie, who took in a staggering AU$16.5 million for his video game commentary channel; while other big earners include a self-taught pastry chef and a new wave of internet-age comedians.
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WHO? A 25-year-old manchild with a penchant for hoodies and screaming. Your nephew loves him.
2015 EARNINGS: AU$16.5 million
HOW? His ‘Video games with your bros’ channel, where he streams himself playing and commentating on games, has nearly 40 million subscribers, along with a book deal and best-selling mobile game.
Pewdiepie Youtube channel
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28 and 27-year-old manchildren who do Pokemon roleplay. The last laugh is on us though, because they're millionares...
Childhood best friends Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla make up comedy group Smosh. They run five YouTube channels and released a feature length film: Smosh The Movie, in July.
3. FINE BROTHERS
WHO? 34 and 32-year-old brothers Benni and Raffi Fine. They've made millions filming people react to other people's YouTube videos. Why didn't we think of this first?
They won a daytime Emmy for their React video series, where they film people watching shocking online videos (so meta). Now they’ve struck a deal with Nickelodeon for a TV series called React To That.
4. LINDSEY STIRLING
A 29-year-old musician who is trying really, really hard to make playing the violin cool. She also has an impressive mastery of the smoldering gaze.
Lindsey Stirling plays the violin and dances at the same time, but she is good. This multitasking talent has earned her an immensely loyal fanbase and her own world tour.
Lindsey Stirling Youtube Channel
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5. RHETT AND LINK
WHO? 38 and 37-year-old manchildren - sensing a trend? - Rhett McLaughlin and Charles Lincoln Neal III make comedic videos with an unfathomably large amount of hits.
2015 EARNINGS: AU$6.2 million
HOW? Elder statesmen compared to the other whippersnappers in the YouTube game. They’re most famous for their Good Mythical Morning channel, which parodies morning news.
Rhett & Link Youtube Channel
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6. KSIWHO? A 22-year-old from Watford who started out making Fifa videos in his mum's house and now drives a Lamborghini. How was your 50 hour week?
2015 EARNINGS: AU$6.2 million
HOW? Olajide Olatunji, known online as KSI, has expanded from his original video game streams and now has a mobile app and a Hip-hop career under his belt. His single ‘Lamborghini’ reached 30 in the UK charts.
KSI Youtube channel
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7. MICHELLE PHANWHO? One of the original YouTubers, Michelle Phan actually seems to possess talent and a keen eye for business, how dare she!
2015 EARNINGS: AU$4.12 million
HOW? A self-taught makeup artists, Phan started out doing makeup tutorials, but has since expanded her empire into a subscription service and a cosmetics line. Michelle Phan Youtube Channel
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8. LILLY SINGHWHO? A 27-year-old Candian/Indian swiss army knife of a performer. Singh hit it big with those 'Things your parents say', 'Things you do with your crush' type of videos - you decide.
2015 EARNINGS: $3.44 million
HOW? Comedian, rapper, actress, vlogger and motivational speaker, it’s not surprising that Lilly Singh’s YouTube name is Superwoman. She also had a world tour as a singer, which visited 27 cities.
Superwoman Youtube Channel
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9. ROMAN ATWOODWHO? Do you remember how Punk'd got pretty old, pretty quickly? Well, Roman Atwood doesn't! He is credited with reviving the aggresive prank. The one where you have to tell the other person it's a prank, because otherwise they would just think you're a terrible person. 2015 EARNINGS: AU$3.44 million
HOW? Atwood is probably the most controversial name on the list, with the online prankster drawing plenty of criticism for his aggravating stunts. This doesn’t deter his 7 million followers. He also runs his own brand called Smile More, which sells t-shirts, water bottles and various other paraphenlia. Roman Atwood Youtube Channel
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10. ROSANNA PANSINOWHO? If you ever wanted to spend your entire weekend baking a cake that will be devoured in minutes, then Rosanna Pansino is the YouTuber for you!
2015 EARNINGS: AU$3.44 million
HOW? Another self-taught YouTuber, Pansino found online stardom with her Nerdy Nummies baking channel, where she shows her nearly 5 million followers the science behind the perfect cupcake and other treats.