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High-earning YouTubers are protecting their own brands

High-earning YouTubers are making their money off branded content, but they remain very cautious.

Forbes added YouTubers to its list of top earners in various industries this year (alongside sports, business, actors, etc.). The analysis brought forward a key finding: subscriber count and views don’t seem to matter that much towards the amount of money they make.

Swedish gamer PewDieDie tops the list with $12 million (pre-tax) earned in the year ending June 2015 (he has 40 million subscribers). Not bad for a guy who “didn’t know you could make money out of it” (his words).

But what is interesting is when you start noticing YouTubers like Rhett and Link who, ranked in fifth place, with $4.5 million earned while millennial favorite Tyler Oakley, whose channel has about 500 million views (about the same as Rhett and Link), didn’t make the list.

The reason? A lot of the income these YouTubers make comes not from YouTube ads revenue share, but rather from branded content opportunities. This means that yes, you can make money from millions of views, but the real bucks comes from brands willing to create content directly with these stars.

But this comes with a risk for popular YouTubers.

If a YouTuber, who is speaking directly to his or her audience, starts sounding like an ad, there’ll be a strong backlash from that same audience (something PewDieDie experienced earlier this year when news came out about how much money he makes).

These smart young (for the most part) stars are very cautious in how they are willing to work with brands. They want to make money but not at the expense of alienating their audience with too much product placement or endorsement.

As interest and investments rise in the YouTube sector, brands will have to accept that YouTubers will not do anything for a quick buck, far from it.

Today’s article comes from StreamDaily, who does a nice analysis of Forbes’ Top10. A worthy read in a media world living a major shift in how it works and invests.