Celebrity status is so achievable these days. All it takes is for your YouTube video to go viral and you’ll likely be a guest on the Ella DeGeneres Show. Since launching in 2005, YouTube has become a breeding ground for celebrities of all genres: music, pets, comedy, self help, magic, pets

Earlier this month, Forbes revealed a list of the world’s highest-paid YouTube stars of 2015. Together, the pool of eight DIY filmmakers earned almost $US45 million in the last tax year. We thought we’d introduce you to the top five richest YouTube stars in the online world.

5. (Tie) KSI
Income: $US4.5 million

Olajide “KSI” Olatunji is a gamer from way back. In 2009, took his passion for FIFA video games to YouTube with demonstrations and commentary. Today KSI has more than 11 million subscribers who follow his every upload. His video content has veered away from solely gaming commentary to leverage pop culture, too. He’s doing something right, because he banked $US4.5 million in the last tax year. Check him out.

5. (Tie) Rhett & Link
Income: $US4.5 million

Rhett McLaughlin and Charles Lincoln Neal III are the men behind YouTube channel Rhett and Link. They might be a little older than the typical YouTube star demographic — they’re 38 and 37 years old — but they’re hilarious and they’re popular. The duo is best known for making comedic music videos, sketches and ridiculous local ads for real companies. They’ve gotten sponsorship from big brands for many of their videos, hence the $4.5 million salary.

4. Lindsey Stirling
Income: $US6 million

After years of rejections from big record companies in the USA, Lindsey Stirling decided to start posting her videos to YouTube. She’s a classically trained violinist who, through YouTube, has become famous for her covers of hip-hop songs. After appearing on America’s Got Talent in 2010, she scored herself the title ” the Skrillex of classical music”.

2. (Tie) Fine Brothers Entertainment
Income: $US8.5 million

Benny and Rafi Fine are two Brooklyn-based online superstars who produce, write and direct the uber-successful React video series. The video series (and its various iteration) are based on reactions to a subject. Sponsored by big brands like Ford and Comedy Central, the duo has become a YouTube sensation, reeling in more than $US8.5 million last year between them.

2. (Tie) Smosh
Income: $US8.5 million

Smosh is a veteran YouTube duo, made up of Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla. The duo was one of the first YouTube sensations, best known for slapstick comedy videos that parody video games and pop culture. The pair has shown no signs of slowing down, with multiple channels (they’ve even got their own app).

1. PewDiePie
Income: $US12 million

Gaming is what you do if you want to get rich, apparently. The world’s most wealthy YouTube celeb right now is Felix Arvid Ulf Kjelberg AKA PewDiePie, a Swedish video game commentator. His videos show him playing various video games while a box in the top corner of the screen shows his reactions to what is happening. So what makes him different to other YouTube gamers? He feeds his audience with conversation, forming a community of “bros”.

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