If you rode a subway in New York City last year, you likely saw Bethany Mota's face plastered in stations and train cars. With nearly 10 million followers on YouTube, Mota is one of the brand's most recognizable faces, which is why the video giant featured her in an ad campaign.
It's content creators like 20-year-old Mota — who produces videos on hair, makeup and fashion — that have helped YouTube build its selection of channels with a new type of professional content, and grow to over a billion monthly active users.
"Six years ago, telling people you were a YouTuber, they looked down on it, and thought it was just kind of cute," Mota told CNBC at the MAKERS conference on Tuesday in California. Now, an elite group of YouTubers are pulling in big money for their content, and YouTube says the number of creators earning six figures is up 50 percent year over year.
Those videos are driving big ad revenue for YouTube, as well.