While many of us were furloughed, scrambling to find new jobs, or stuck at home with little to do, a nine-year-old kid made a staggering $29.5 million through his YouTube channel. Ryan Kaji, a Texas native, has now been the highest-earning YouTuber for three years straight.

Perhaps even more baffling, it’s a drop in the ocean compared to his other earnings. His Ryan’s World product range, sold all over the world, earned him a cool $200 million. It kinda makes you think, doesn’t it?

The figures are mind-boggling. They make you wonder what the point of college was, and whether a career change is in order. Because hey, maybe you can do it too. Here are the other two YouTubers who round off the top 3.

#3 Dude Perfect

57.5 million subscribers, 12 billion views. Those are the numbers you need to match Dude Perfect’s $23 million earnings from 2020. Dude Perfect is made up of five guys who basically make money hanging out and doing the most absurd fun stuff possible.

It’s like getting paid to have fun. They have Nerf Gun tournaments, fight each other with lightsabers, hurt each other with paintballs, you name it. They’ve also done a national tour that brought them $6 million.

The guys are also in tune with world events. When Covid-19 hit, they ran the Quarantine Classic, essentially a sort of bro Olympics. The videos were done for Red Cross and Feeding America, netting them a much-needed $160,000.

#2 Mr. Beast (Jimmy Donaldson)

As a lesson that you don’t need years of experience to break into the YouTube Hall of Fame, Jimmy Donaldson is a new star and already has 47.8 million subscribers, with his channel garnering over 3 million views.

His earnings last year were jaw-dropping: $24 million. He has an ingenious way of combining humor and stunts, captivating his audience by freezing himself in ice, building the biggest Lego tower ever, and just generally being an engaging personality.

The Rise of Live Streaming

YouTube used to be a platform to watch recorded videos. Always past tense. But one of the reasons YouTubers are becoming increasingly popular is live streaming. It’s become the go-to entertainment option for a lot of people, as it enables interactivity. Instead of just being a passive member watching someone else, users can get involved through chat.

This trend is being followed by a lot of other platforms, including competitors such as Facebook and Instagram. Facebook Live, for example, now accounts for 33% of total views, while Twitter has also increased its market share by 16%.  Smaller players like Periscope and Ustream have been niche options for certain industries like gaming. There’s so much potential it feels like it’s still the early days (yes, even with people already making millions a year).

This trend has bled into other industries, including gambling and more specifically- live casinos., This became particularly evident in 2020, when punters weren’t able to join live establishments and many opted for this option. Similar to other live streams, live dealer casino games work by utilizing streaming video technology in order to bring games from studios or land-based casinos right to your screen. You get to see everything happen in real-time, while a graphical interface overlays the screen, allowing you to click buttons to place your bets and make decisions during the game. This makes the game even comfier.

As a form of marketing strategy live streaming has also penetrated every possible business, from modeling, makeup and fashion through the retail industry, to house construction and renovation, to name a few. It opens up potential to bind customers and brands closer together, for example by consumers being able to peek into the production process itself.

A good example of this method is when General Motors streamed the launch of the Chevy Volt EV and became the first auto brand to introduce live streaming to their marketing strategy. Or Bolshoi Theatre, which recently teamed up with Google to broadcast ballets for free. The Brewing Network channel with brewing tutorials, podcasts, and tips streamed live. And, of course, we remember when BuzzFeed streamed an exploding watermelon challenge. The ideas are inexhaustible.

This interactivity is expected to get even better over time. People are now expecting to be part of the action, not just neutral bystanders. With technology improving yearly, we don’t see why not.

There’s More Than Just YouTube

We’ve focused on YouTube here because it’s the most well-known amongst the general public. And yes, it’s the biggest and currently most significant platform. But the landscape is changing.

People are getting super creative with the way they make money online, and companies are aware of the opportunity they have to leverage talent. Companies like TikTok, Twitch, Snapchat, and Instagram are expanding their streaming options to get a slice of the ever-growing pie.

Expect 2021 to see even greater changes to the various platforms and many cool new ways for talent to make serious cash. Considering Covid-19 is keeping many of us locked in the house with nothing else to do, profits are expected to go through the roof.