A young Californian Christian, a Vietnamese-Australian comic who parodies the online obsession with body image and a 16-year old who makes programmes for other children are among the top earners, according to analysis by TubeMogul.
Although these acts are unfamiliar to many web users, they represent a growing number of independent contributors to the video-sharing site turning a bedroom hobby into serious money through millions of hits.
The research, reported in The Independent, found at least 10 performers, writers and producers have accrued more than $100,000 (£65,000) each over the last 12 months from their short films which have achieved popularity largely through word of mouth.
Although YouTube traffic is largely driven by demand for professional music acts, the site receives 60,000 video clips a week of varying quality.
The site, owned by Google, allows creators of original content to generate advertising revenues from their work in the same way as mainstream entertain firms.
Nine of those that appeared in TubeMogul’s top 10 are comics, and almost all are in the United States.
However, Greg Benson of Mediocre Films, which came in at number seven in the survey, dismissed the figures, telling the newspaper: “I would be thrilled if I actually had any business being on that list or if I actually made that much money or had that many viewers that they say I have.”
TubeMogul’s top 10 independent YouTube acts
(estimated earnings and number of views in past 12 months)
1. Shane Dawson ($315,000/£200,000) 431,787,450 views
Clean-living, wholesome 22-year-old Californian comic actor producing home-made sketches.
2. The Annoying Orange ($288,000/£185,504) 349,753,047 views
Animated fruit created by Dane Boedigheimer that could soon appear on television.
3. Philip DeFranco ($181,000/£117,000) 248,735,032 views
Video blogger (vlogger) who began uploading clips while at university.
4. Ryan Higa ($151,000/£97,200) 206,979,909 views
Also known as Nigahiga, the Hawaiian-born Japanese-American evolved from lip-synching to original comedy and has had more than 150 million hits. Videos How to be Gangster and How to be Ninja went viral for him and his Yabo Crew.
5. Fred Figglehorn ($146,000/£94,000) 200,656,150 views
Lucas Cruikshank, 16, whose videos aimed at children are soon to appear on Nickelodeon.
6. Shay Carl ($140,000/£90,000) 192,309,247 views
An Idaho radio DJ and comic
7. Mediocre Films ($116,000/£74,600) 159,030,703 views
Comedy clips created by Greg Benson.
8. Smosh ($113,000/£72,700) 154,936,876 views
Comedy duo Anthony Padilla & Ian Hecox
9. The Young Turks ($112,000/£72,000) 153,807,362 views
Current affairs discussions and satire
10. Natalie Tran ($101,000/£65,000) 138,871,829 views
24-year-old Vietnamese-Australian comic with popular vlogs. is the No 1 Down Under.