It started as a simple hobby but Michelle Phan has managed to turn posting make-up tutorials on YouTube into an incredibly lucrative empire. The beauty vlogger features on Forbes' list of the highest-earning YouTube stars of 2015, just days after her company Ipsy was reportedly valued at $500m (£323.7m).
Phan has been placed at number seven on the list with estimated earnings of $3m, which Forbes claims comes through reinvesting revenue the 28-year-old has made from her various business ventures, which include her cosmetic line and beauty subscription service.
In September, reports emerged that she had raised $100m in additional funds towards Ipsy, a subscription beauty sampling business that she launched in 2012.
It is reported that Ipsy now ships more than 1.5 million "glam bags" around the US and Canada each month but Phan claims its success was completely unexpected. Speaking at an event in September, the vlogger said: "I didn't have a roadmap, I just did it because it was meaningful to me and I wanted to disrupt the beauty industry.
"The beauty of the internet is there's a niche market for everything and if you can focus on it you can build a sustainable and viable business of it. The internet is where you can find people who are authentic. Some 87% of women today trust in influencers in YouTube over celebrity ads and endorsements and it's only going to grow.
"Ipsy was a platform that was built for this generation of people who want to express inner and outer beauty. Makeup is not a mask that covers up your beauty, it's a weapon that helps you express who you are from the inside."
Phan started her YouTube channel eight years ago and has now amassed more than eight million subscribers. Addressing the fame she has achieved through the video platform, Phan explained: "I thought, if [YouTube] is going to be the global television of the future, I need to build my brand here. Within the first week, 40,000 people watched it and hundreds of comments came in and that's when I realised I'd found my calling. Influence is the new power – if you have influence you can create a brand."
YouTube gamer Felix Kjellberg, also known as PewDiePie, has topped the highest-earning list by Forbes after earning more than $12m throughout 2015.
The highest-paid YouTube stars are as follows:
1. PewDiePie – $12m
2. (Tie) Smosh and Fine Brothers – $8.5m
4. Lindsey Stirling – $6m
5. (Tie) Rhett & Link and KSI – $4.5m
7. Michelle Phan – $3m
8. (Tie) Lilly Singh, Roman Atwood, Rosanna Pansino – $2.5m