Forbes evaluated creators across four categories: earnings, total followers, engagements, and entrepreneurship score, to make up the creator’s 2023 list.
This year’s 50 ‘Top Creators’ utilise their combined 2.6 billion followers to pull in an estimated $700 million in total earnings. This is a big win for the creative industry, as the numbers are up more than 20% from 2022’s $570 million score. According to the social media research firm Influencer Marketing Hub, brands will spend an estimated $21 billion on creator marketing in 2023, up from just $1.6 billion seven years ago
Mr. Beast topped the list with earnings of $82 million, Olajide Olatunji (KSI) with $24 million, and so many more clocked into the list with impressive stats.
Seven black creator’s made the 2023 list with their earnings, clout, and entrepreneurship.
No. 1: Olajide Olatunji (KSI)
Total Followers: 112M
Average Engagement: 6.5%
Entrepreneurship score: 4
Olajide Olatunji, also known as KSI, initially gained fame on YouTube in 2009 by reacting to FIFA video games, amassing a substantial following due to his unconventional humour. Over the years, he’s transitioned from being a comedian to a multifaceted entertainer, taking on roles as a rapper and a boxer. In 2023, he released two singles and secured a multiyear distribution deal for his promotional company, Misfits Boxing. Additionally, KSI has become the prominent face of Prime Hydration, alongside Logan Paul. This sports drink has recently earned recognition as the official beverage for FC Barcelona, UFC, and Arsenal.
KSI’s journey has not been without controversy, as he has faced criticism for his behaviour in the boxing world, the presence of misogynistic content, and his use of racist and transphobic language. However, he has consistently managed to turn these scandals into opportunities for increased online engagement and success, both in the digital realm and in the boxing ring.
No. 2: Khabane Lame (Khaby)
Total Followers: 244M
Average Engagement: 0.85%
Entrepreneurship score: 4
Silence is the golden currency for Lame. The TikTok sensation, known for his million-dollar mime act, commands an impressive $750,000 for featuring a product in both TikTok and Instagram posts. In a remarkable journey, Lame transitioned from assembling car filters in a factory near Turin in 2019 to amassing a staggering following of over 240 million on various social media platforms. He has successfully secured lucrative partnerships with notable brands like Hugo Boss, State Farm, and Middle East Bank QNB. Additionally, his fame reached new heights this fall when he became a character in Fortnite, the immensely popular multiplayer video game boasting over 230 million monthly players.
No. 3: Drew Desborders (Druski)
Total Followers: 12M
Average Engagement: 5.75%
Entrepreneurship score: 4
Drew “Druski” Desbordes, the digital comedian known for his hilarious skits, has leveraged his comedic talent to build a substantial media empire. In the past year, this versatile comedian and actor has not only opened for renowned musicians like J. Cole and Lil Baby but has also showcased his acting skills in TV series such as “House Party” and “Praise This.” Additionally, he embarked on his own highly successful comedy tour, “Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda.”
Druski is now expanding his influence further by launching a satirical record label called “Coulda Been Records.” His corporate partnerships include industry giants like Nike, Google, and AT&T. Furthermore, he has taken on the role of spokesperson for Happy Dad, a hard seltzer brand in which he holds a partial ownership stake.
No. 4: Marques Brownlee
Total Followers: 29M
Average Engagement: 1.00%
Entrepreneurship score: 2
While YouTube boasts a significant category for product reviews, Marques Brownlee stands out as the only tech reviewer to have made appearances on the popular digital show “Hot Ones” and even has his own signature shoe. Brownlee embarked on his journey of sharing tech insights on YouTube as a high schooler back in 2009. His dedication and longevity have yielded impressive results, with a subscriber count exceeding 17 million on the platform. Notably, he has conducted interviews with prominent figures such as Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Kobe Bryant, and Barack Obama, showcasing the breadth of his influence in the tech and digital content spaces.
No. 5: Kai Cenat
Total Followers: 22M
Average Engagement: 25.75%
Entrepreneurship score: 1
Kai Cenat stands out among this year’s creators with the highest engagement rate, boasting nearly 26% of his audience actively participating in his hyperactive livestreams. Cenat initially gained fame on YouTube, where he became a viral sensation through daring stunts like consuming hot peppers and orchestrating pranks involving his siblings. In 2021, he made the transition to Twitch, where he consistently shares comedic reaction videos and gaming content. Notably, his channel has attracted celebrity appearances, including rappers Offset and 21 Savage.
Cenat’s engagement is remarkably influential. In August, he made global headlines when he was arrested for inciting a riot in New York’s Union Square. This incident occurred after he announced a Sony Playstation giveaway, drawing thousands of enthusiastic fans to the scene and highlighting the substantial impact he wields over his dedicated following.
No. 6: Monet McMichael
Total Followers: 5M
Average Engagement: 13%
The beauty influencer and Rutgers Nursing School graduate, McMichael, has a unique formula for cultivating a dedicated fan base. In an industry where a 2% engagement rate is considered impressive, she consistently engages with an exceptional 13% of her over 5 million followers. McMichael’s magnetic presence has led to lucrative partnerships with well-known brands like MAC Cosmetics, Fresh Beauty, and Bumble.
No. 7: Drea Okeke (Drea Knows Best)
Total Followers: 7M
Average Engagement: 1.15%
Entrepreneurship score: 3
Drea Okeke, a former engineer, has made a remarkable transition from crunching numbers to crafting comedy. Her repertoire includes street interviews and quirky characters, such as the memorable passive-aggressive Nigerian mother known as “Momma D,” which has attracted a substantial following of six million on TikTok. Her influence extends beyond entertainment, as she has collaborated with an impressive roster of companies, including Nissan, Google, Coca-Cola, 7-Eleven, Disney, Netflix, McDonald’s, and TikTok.
Beyond her comedic skits, this Nigerian-American entrepreneur is committed to educating others on building digital communities. She achieves this through her educational company, Next Level Influence, where she imparts valuable knowledge on community development.
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