It is a popular opinion that those who spend their working hours posting videos online either have too much time on their hands or are too lazy for real work. But since YouTube introduced its monetization option, which allows advertising agencies to incorporate ads into users’ videos, posting videos for some YouTube users has become their day job. Not only that, but the profession seems to be incredibly lucrative as some make more than $1 million each year.

The YouTube Nation

The world’s currently most lucrative YouTube account belongs to Felix Arvid Ulf Kjelberg from Sweden. Kjelberg goes by the username, “PewDiePie,” and acts as a video game commentator and is known for his comical reactions to what is playing on his screen. PewDiePie’s annual income from YouTube fluctuates anywhere from $1.1 million to $18.1 million, due to his enormous audience of 34,258,657 subscribers.

The money, however, doesn’t flow directly from the viewers. On the contrary, advertisers pay YouTube hefty sums of money to promote their products on Kjelberg’s videos because of his massive viewership.

YouTube has around one billion unique users active monthly, which means that it is not only immense, but its growth rate and promise is expanding.

Not to remain too modest about their prosperity, the Google-owned organization claimed that their “monthly viewership is the equivalent of roughly 10 Super Bowl audiences,” and “if YouTube were a country, (it would) be the third largest in the world after China and India.”

Millennials in the Advertising Giant

The vastness of the online community is a magnet for millennials, too. It was found that YouTube “continues to be the go-to social network for … millennials, beating out behemoths such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the top spot.”

Millennials are known for their speedy adoption of technology and are the most prone out of all American generations to utilize the Internet and to focus on broadcasting their thoughts and to contribute online content. According to a study by the US Chamber of Commerce, millennials produce and upload 60 percent of online content.

Those millennials are driving the market for advertisements within YouTube forward. The advertisement industry is benefitting from millennials’ activity, a generation whose purchasing decisions have relied on YouTube reviews and videos — in one study, 62 percent of smartphone purchases admitted that YouTube videos affected their choice of which phone to buy.

As one would think, within a community of billions of accounts, the act of rising above the rank and file takes a muscular and focused determination.

Ryan Higa, the creator of the YouTube account “Nigahiga” is an example of a millennial who accepted the challenge and rose into stardom. The Hawaiian native was thrown into fame after his first homemade videos of his everyday rants went viral. His fanbase increased rapidly.

Those fans rocketed him into the number one most-subscribed-to YouTube account until 2011, when he was superseded by another YouTube producer who went by the username “RayWilliamJohnson.”

Starting off with such an impressive fanbase, Higa ruthlessly marketed his trademark videos until he finally reached upwards of 13.6 million subscribers and brought in up to $1.4 million a year, a figure that he still rakes in annually.

The Risk

The risk of relying on YouTube for income is not one that always offers a return, however. The Internet is full of stories of failed enterprises and cynical nonbelievers.

Once monetized, the user only receives a few cents per ad, depending on various factors like the country the viewer is from, the type of video and how long the viewer watches. For the average user, those cents do not add up to a standard of income that he or she could subsist upon.

One YouTube partner, Geoffrey Reemer, asserted that a YouTube account owner nets about two to three dollars for every 1,000 views he or she gets for the videos posted every month.

The average YouTuber, the partner reasoned, would get about $15 a month.

Olga Kay, a millennial known for her YouTube videos of rants about the American female experience, claimed that she makes around $75 for every 1,000 views she gets on her videos. That could be attributed to her one million subscribers.

Despite all that, she is barely making enough money to get by. While the impressively high rate per 1,000 views puts her up to $130,000 in the black each year, production costs, taxes and YouTube’s 45 percent cut leave her with barely enough to make do.

Jason Calacanis, who managed his culinary company’s YouTube enterprise, and went through an experience similar to Kay’s, told the New York Times, “We were huge fans of YouTube. But we are not creating content anymore because it’s simply not sustainable. YouTube is an awesome place to build a brand, but it is a horrible place to build a business.”

So despite the lure of easy money and fame, millennials have found YouTube’s bait, in most cases, to be a small wage usually accompanied by monstrous costs.

Reemer advised, “Don’t be in it for the money. But if you love to make videos and you would do it even if YouTube wouldn’t pay you, you can consider the revenue a nice bonus to the fun you have.”