On his Twitter bio Ray William Johnson, (RayWj) makes one reference to his profession: I produce a few shows. Those who have stumbled upon his show on YouTube might call his bio a little understated; with more than 1.5 billion total views, Johnson earns $1 million a year for his own comic YouTube series, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Johnson will go to all lengths to capture the attention of his audience. Whether he is dressing up as a penguin, or running a commentary on a video of a hippopotamus farting, Johnson will, on average, attracts 5 million viewers to each of his videos.
The 30-year-old native of Oklahoma does not have an agent or a contract with a TV Show, instead he leverages his following using YouTube and its 780 million unique monthly visitors. When contacted by the Wall Street Journal, Johnson disputed the idea that he was making a lot of money. Maybe someday, if I work hard enough, entertainment will be a career for me, but right now making videos and uploading them to the Internet is just a hobby, he said in an email.
He told the Journal that he runs advertisements and sells T-shirts to cover overhead costs, and also pays people who help behind the scenes. Any money left over goes towards production and animation costs, according to Johnson.
The Wall Street Journal claim that the highest earners on YouTube are usually tight-lipped about their earnings, but after speaking to people familiar with the matter, they found that for every 2 million views YouTube pays between $3,000-$9,000.
Taking Johnson as an example, David Cohen, a global digital officer of media buyers Universal NcCabb. told the Wall Street Journal that this is a microcosm of what's going to happen to the overall media landscape. We're moving from a scaled, mass media to more hyper-local, niche media, he said.
A Google spokeswoman says that several hundred of its partners made more than $100,000 in 2011, up 80 percent from the couple of hundred partners who made more than that in 2010.
Johnson graduated from Normal North High School in Oklahoma in 1999, according to the Daily Mail. He also studied at Columbia University but did not graduate.
Here are some highlights from Johnson's YouTube Show: