The majority of the funds have come from brand deals, as many fans may have guessed, but he also relies on going viral to boost his own personal revenue from the Adsense algorithms.
It all began with incrementally sponsored deals from companies like Quid, who worked with Donaldson on $10,000 videos that featured the YouTuber walking around his city donating $1,000 to as many homeless people he could find, or giving money to Twitch streamers, to his parents, his friends, and even his followers.
Donaldson said that after giving away $10,000 to a homeless man for his first major sponsored act of philanthropy, he realized he liked helping people. His channel grew as well, as it now has 5 million subscribers, with each video boasting more than 10 million views after just a few weeks, which helps him keep his head above water.
“If you want the special secret, if you want to know where it all came from — my parents aren’t that rich, I’m only 20 years old, every dollar I’ve ever made came from YouTube, and YouTube just pays better than you think,” Donaldson said.
In one of his most notable philanthropic acts, Donaldson threw his support behind the YouTube star PewDiePie with a pricey ad campaign, purchasing space on every billboard in his town to promote PewDiePie’s YouTube channel and keep him No. 1.
Recently Donaldson has been struggling with demonetization related to his How I Gave Away $1,000,000 clip — which he complained had been mistakenly flagged by the video giant, and currently appears to be pending an appeal. “I invest everything I have into my content and pull 10 million views a video, and I still deal with this shit,” he tweeted. Yet later he apologized saying that he was being “too dramatic” and was “accidentally letting it all out on YouTube.”