The world’s highest paid YouTube stars of 2015 were just revealed by Forbes, and among the millionaires was beauty tutorial pioneer Michelle Phan, who earns $3 million annually, before taxes and management fees. This number combines her monthly ad revenue, subscription beauty sampling business, Ipsy (valued at $500 million), and numerous partnerships with beauty brands. As for the platform that helped her rise to fame, Phan’s income from YouTube ad revenue alone is $19,780 per month or $237,357 annually, according to AdAge.
Phan’s success can be credited to her innovative mindset. “I thought, if [YouTube] is going to be the global television of the future, I need to build my brand here,” Phan said at Forbes’s 2015 “30 Under 30” summit. Her first YouTube video, a natural makeup tutorial published in 2007, took off quickly: “Within the first week, 40,000 people watched it and hundreds of comments came in and that’s when I realized I’d found my calling.”
Despite her tremendous success, Phan only clocks in at number seven of Forbes’s 13 highest earners. The beauty channel with the highest ad revenue is Yuya, a Mexico-based vlogger known as lady16makeup. Her videos and commentary are solely in Spanish and her ad earnings reach $41,476 monthly or $497,709 annually. She is followed by Bunny Meyer, a vlogger known as grav3yardgirl, who gained notoriety with a series entitled “Does This Thing Really Work?” where she roadtests the beauty products she sees on TV. Her earnings clock in at $32,292 monthly or $387,501 yearly. The third highest earner is Zoe Sugg, also known as zoella280390, who released her first novel, “Girl Online,” in 2014, which sold a record breaking 78,109 copies in its first week. She makes $27,375 monthly or $292,496 annually in YouTube ad revenue.
In a world where successful beauty vloggers were once viewed as a lucky fluke or a passing fad, it’s clear that women who are willing to film tutorials, reviews, and hauls, can do more than make a career for themselves. They can become richer than they ever imagined.