Can you imagine content creation as an industry wasn’t even that prominent just a few years ago? And the ecosystem it has transformed into today is just unreal. From not knowing much about this field to people building their careers on it while making millions, the content industry has grown by manifolds. Creators, Influencers, Streamers, Vloggers – these powerful social media personalities are calling the shots in entertainment and advertising. Forbes releases a list of the Top 50 Creators annually. Everyone from magicians to musicians and beauty influencers to chefs are on it.

Forbes’ List

The list, which is in its second year, ranks 50 of the world’s most followed digital creators. In 2023, the top 50 honorees on the second annual Forbes Top Creator list with a combined following of 2.6 million, earned approximately $700 million (INR 5,821 crore approx.). That is a 20% increase from the previous year’s $570 million (INR 4,740 crore approx.). Which means that the digital influencers saw their paycheck increase by more than 20 per cent for the current year.

forbes list top creators 2023 earning

This year, brands are projected to invest around $21 billion in creator marketing, which is more than 10 times the figure from seven years ago which was $1.6 billion, as reported by the social media research firm, Influencer Marketing Hub. Apart from earnings and follower count, Forbes’ also assigned an entrepreneurship score to each creator and presented their average engagement (in percentage). The entrepreneurship score is on a scale of 1-4, “ranging from people who make most of their money from traditional advertising to folks building their own companies, brands, and services.”

Also Read: Influencer Marketing Is Growing Faster Than Traditional Marketing in India

Influencers are more trusted by their audiences than ads. They can sell out products in minutes. They can cause a flash mob that shuts down a major city,” says Erin Lanuti, the Chief Innovation Officer at the Omnicom PR Group. In order to rank the world’s Top Earning Creators, Forbes analysed data on the estimated earnings, follower counts, engagement rates, and entrepreneurial activities of thousands of internet personalities with the help of the creator marketing firm, Influential.

The Top Five

#1 Mr. Beast

The gross earnings reflect how much each of the 50 creators made between June 2022 and June 2023. At the top of the game is Jimmy Donaldson aka MrBeast, whose earnings for the period of the report comes to USD 82 million (INR 681 crore approx.) from his follower count of 312 million. He is ranked #1 on Forbes’ list of Top Creators 2023.

Forbes gave him the title of a “YouTube titan” and noted that his “power and popularity stem from his high production videos and stunts.” Donaldson also has Beast-based brands such as Feastables snack bars and the restaurant chain named MrBeast Burgers. He has an entrepreneurship score of 4 and average engagement of 9.8 per cent.

#2 Olajide Olatunji (KSI)

MrBeast is followed by the infamous English influencer Olajide Olatunji a.k.a. KSI at #2. Olatunji raked in USD 24 million (INR 199 crore approx.) from his music, boxing promotional company Misfits Boxing, as the face of sports drink Prime Hydration, the official drink for football clubs FC Barcelona and Arsenal as well as mixed martial arts promotion Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). KSI boasts of a 112 million following with an entrepreneurship score of 4 and an average engagement rate of 6.5%

#3 Jake Paul

The Vine star turned American professional boxer Jake Paul bagged the third position on the list. His earnings of USD 34 million (INR 282 crore approx.) and follower count of 66 million came through his sponsorship with the energy drink Celsius, sports betting app Betr which he founded, and an MMA contract to fight in a new pay-per-view division. Jake has an average engagement rate of 1.6% and an entrepreneurship score of 4. Paul rose to fame playing Dirk Mann on Bizaardvark — the Disney series starring Olivia Rodrigo as a protagonist. However, he is primarily known for the stunts he performed for his fans on YouTube such as surprise tattoos, eating dog food, bathing in Icy Hot, and more. Jake has

#4 Rhett & Link

Best friends since grade school, the two former engineers Rhett James McLaughlin and Charles Lincoln “Link” Neal III began posting comedy shows on YouTube in 2006. With a following of 51 million, Rhett & Link made USD 35 million (INR 291 crore approx.) Today their Burbank, California, entertainment company, Mythical, employs more than 100 people who create YouTube series like the daily variety show Good Mythical Morning, the Mythical Kitchen cooking show and sketch comedy channel Smosh for their 18 million subscribers. The pair produces podcasts, live touring, and livestream events–books and TV shows too. Meanwhile their Creator Accelerator fund invests in upcoming creators. They have an average engagement of 0.85% and an entrepreneurship score of 4.

#5 Charli D’Amelio

Charli D’Amelio continues to reign supreme as the top female creator on TikTok and the Forbes Top Creators list. The D’Amelio dynasty is only growing, with an earning of USD 23 million (INR 199 crore approx.) and a following of 213 million. The Connecticut native, now one of the most viral stars on the internet, has become a face of Prada and a walking advertisement for Amazon, CeraVe and SKIMS. D’Amelio’s year-old fragrance, Born Dreamer, is on shelves across the U.S. and Europe. On clothing racks, you’ll find Social Tourist, the brand she and her sister Dixie (#18 on this list) launched with Hollister in 2021. The family is shooting the third season of their reality series “The D’Amelio Show” for Hulu and also running their recently-launched shoe brand, D’Amelio Footwear. All this, before Charli’s turned 20. She has an average engagement of 0.7% and an entrepreneurship score of 4.

Well, this were the Top 5 Highest Earning Creators as per the Forbes’ List. Have a look at the earnings and following stats of the next 5 creators who made it to the Top 10:

Logan Paul

Earnings: USD 21 million (INR 174 crore approx.)

Total Followers: 74 million

Emma Chamberlain

Earnings: USD 20 million (INR 166 crore approx.)

Total Followers: 28 million

Matt Rife

Earnings: USD 25 million (INR 207 crore approx.)

Total Followers: 22 million

Brent Rivera

Earnings: USD 17.5 million (INR 145 crore approx.)

Total Followers: 96 million

Khabane (Khaby) Lame

Earnings: USD 16.5 million (INR 137 crore approx.)

Total Followers: 244 million

Now, isn’t that mind boggling? All these figures have us holding our heads. But it’s a great win for the creator industry and a testament to how much it’s grown and continues to expand.