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I Found Success on YouTube. Then I Walked Away

My Journey from Viral Sensation to Purposeful Disconnection.

By Daniel FalonipePublished 2 months ago 5 min read
Top Story - September 2023
I Found Success on YouTube. Then I Walked Away
Photo by ConvertKit on Unsplash

The Beginner’s journey

Being a successful creator on any platform takes a lot of work. You toil away in the early days hoping to find traction, you tweet into the void, write for hours every day to no audience, film videos, edit, and publish to get a handful of views. It’s brutal. If you’re a creator of any kind, you know what I’m talking about.

The Early Days

The first time I filmed a Youtube video was in 2010, I had a crappy phone that had a 2.5MP camera. I knew YouTube was a thing but didn’t fully grasp how powerful it could be in self-expression. I filmed a 10-second video, published it and never looked at it again. In fact, I realized that this video existed only 4 years ago — about 9 years after it had been published.

My earliest YouTube video

In 2018 I began to take YouTube seriously again and posted a few videos here and there — some about my life as a Doordash delivery driver, then some about how to grow a YouTube channel — Even though I only had 35 subscribers, the irony!

It wasn’t until 2020 that I started to take it very seriously and a few months after that growth came into view. One video started to do well and the subscribers trickled in.

Metrics from the early days

“Do what works” — Don’t!

I used to watch a lot of YouTube growth channels — and the advice they gave was quite similar — “when you find something that works, double down”, and “When you try something and it works, do more of it”. That’s what I did.

So, what was the video that did well? It was a video I made about Facebook dropshipping. Like anyone who had tried to make any money online, I came across the dropshipping business model. I mean it was all over YouTube and everyone and their grandmother seemed to be making money from it, it seemed, except me.

After a lot of trials and failures, I gave up. But then I discovered Facebook Marketplace Dropshipping. It was the height of Covid and everyone was stuck at home, Facebook introduced the shipping option to their marketplace feature and I simply copied the business model of dropshipping — I saved pictures of items from Amazon or eBay, uploaded them to Facebook, and marked up the original price by 50,70, sometimes 100%, if it sold, I kept the spread. Simple!

This video caught everyone’s attention as the method was new and unsaturated.

I made follow-up videos to the one that was getting a lot of views and my subscribers started to increase. In less than 2 months, I’d gotten 1,000 subscribers and my channel got accepted into the YouTube partner program very quickly.

Getting Monetized

In the first two weeks of monetization, I made nearly $700 with just under 11,000 views. If you know anything about YouTube monetization, you’ll know that these numbers are insane. My CPM was close to $100. CPM is how much advertisers pay per 1,000 views. When I showed this number to people, they would always say that it was the highest they’d ever seen.

CPM data at its highest

Weeks went by, and it seemed like I’d finally cracked the code. Every video was getting good views and my subscriber count increased.

Deep down though, I dreaded what I was doing. I was only dancing to the algorithm’s tunes. The first indication of this was when I tried to make a video about a different topic that wasn’t dropshipping, my video barely got any views compared to the usual numbers. This crushed me. Panic set in. I wasn’t enjoying these dropshipping videos, my audience wanted nothing else. But the ad revenue was very good and many brands wanted to collaborate with me.

Eventually, I sat down and thought very deeply about it. How much longer could I keep doing what didn’t make me happy? It seemed wrong, I felt like an imposter, like a failure in fact.

Pulling The Plug

One morning, in my Airbnb apartment in Mexico City, I made the ultimate decision to change the direction of my channel. At this point, it had only been 6 months since my first viral video. I felt sad but relieved at the same time. It felt like I’d shed a huge weight off my shoulders. I didn’t have to play to the algorithm. Now I could make whatever content I felt like making.

I set all my videos prior to that time to private (all 55 of them) — meaning no one could see them except me. I gave myself time to mourn the loss of my short-lived YouTube success, then I went in a totally different direction.

These days, I share content about remote work, travel, global living and a life less ordinary. I’ve since created another channel where I talk about online marketing and monetization. On these two channels, I have a combined following of just under 8,000 subscribers.

I no longer obsess over metrics but create content that I truly love and enjoy.

Final thoughts.

When you find a tiny bit of success after a long period of suffering, it may feel as though it could get ripped off you at any moment. Maybe it could, but think about the misery of not enjoying success when it finally comes. No one should have to endure that.

If you did it once, you can do it again.

As I type this, the music playing in my Airpods is titled ‘Waiting for you’ by Majid Jordan, and the lyrics go… “Hang on, there’s another one waiting for you. Hold on to your truth.”

If you find this piece interesting, check out my other writings and I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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About the Creator

Daniel Falonipe

3 years ago, I said goodbye to 9 to 5 to travel the world - I share what I’ve learned about online creation & savvy monetization.

X (formerly Twitter) - ifdanieldid

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Comments (21)

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  • vinsys27 days ago

    Looking forward to reading more from this blog

  • Woman Topsabout a month ago

    An incredibly informative article. Thanks for authoring it. I wholeheartedly agree with your perspective that doing what brings you happiness is crucial. Congratulations on achieving the Top Story status!

  • Sarrah Isah Braym about a month ago

    I also have YouTube Channel and since monetization, I've only reached the threshold once

  • Thanks for sharing

  • JeRon Bakerabout a month ago

    This moved me. I have to say when we imagine success, we imagine thriving in JOY. If the joy is not there, then perhaps it’s not what we sought, but a (rewarding) stepping stone as we keep seeking. But short-lived treasures are undoubtable accomplishments nonetheless.

  • sara burdick2 months ago

    I think the do what works is awful advice also. I have a youtube channel also, and it is soooo slow to grow, but i create content that I enjoy and like, its a slow and steady climb, which i feel is better and i enjoy it. So many creators quit because they listen to the do what works, instead of do what you enjoy. Same with my writings also. Great advice!

  • Gerald Holmes2 months ago

    Very informative piece. Thank you for writing it. I agree with you, you need to do what makes you feel happy. Congrats on the Top Story

  • Yusuf Alam2 months ago


  • Samir Ali2 months ago

    Thank you .i write a short horror story. if anyone like you can check my profile

  • Amanda Starks2 months ago

    I resonate with this so much! While making money is obviously nice, for me it will never be worth it if I am unhappy. I tend to find that passionate people, no matter what they are doing, tend to eventually draw a following. I hope to have a sustainable life like that someday!

  • AnhKhoa.Arc2 months ago

  • Scott Christenson2 months ago

    Interesting! Your essay was really fast and clear, you have talent at writing as well. And I'm so clueless about making money online. I once edited a cute animal video that got 9 million views but I made nothing out of it. Its wild you made $1,000 out of 44,000 views. I too felt like a slave to the algorithm working harder and harder to make viral content (while earning nothing) so gave up, and switched to real fiction and non-fiction writing and connect with real people who are very supportive.

  • Tressa Rose2 months ago

    I'm really glad I read this. On here I have had my own experience, I got picked up for a top story twice (once because someone nominated one of my pieces) but after that nothing, and I have written a lot. It feels frustrating sometimes cause there are a couple that were important to me that I wish reached more people. I just keep hanging in there and pushing stuff out though. I'm definitely gonna check more of your work out! And traveling the world huh? Jealous! Congrats on top story!

  • M2 months ago

    Thank you for sharing your story with so much honesty and authenticity.

  • ARC2 months ago

    Yours is a powerful story, Daniel. Inspiring as well - in many ways. Thank you for sharing this with us - and thank you for making the choice to be authentic and true to yourself. When more creators follow your example, the algorithm(s) will have no choice but to adapt 💙

  • Thavien Yliaster2 months ago

    Being controlled by the algorithm is a huge thing that a lot of YouTuber's complain about and try fighting against. A favorite car channel of mine trying branching off in different directions with his videos and said that they weren't getting picked up for any form of traction. Here's the thing, it's not like that person makes bad videos either. Most of his videos are really good, and I wish I could make decent content like that someday. As for the drop shipping, I've seen too many ads for educational courses about it. I do think that like most things most people need to have a proper source of education, but these days one of the largest grifting schemes to do is to make a course on how to get rich by doing either a, b, or c, and then Your course video educates other people on how to make a course so they can get similar results. Meanwhile the only thing that those course videos teach are everything else except the skills genuinely needed to succeed in that field of work. Hence, a lot of them are just a carrot on a stick promising to tell You the secret for an subscription fee of $9.99 a month or $99.99 a year. It reminds me about how influencers will just make videos reacting to the most controversial news topics and people are so afraid that if they don't listen that they'll get crushed and left behind. Nobody wants to become BlockBuster in the age of Netflix (and Hulu (and Paramount+ (and HBOMax))), but the thing is most people don't have a business to run, let alone a model or plan formulated. I am glad that You did what You wanted to do. One of the things that I think a lot of people tend to work towards is branching out to different areas, and sometimes if Your brand is setup to cater towards this one specific audience a lot of people find it better to create a new brand for another area of interest. Just look at Game Theory for example. Now there's Film Theory, Food Theory, and Style Theory. There's a form of consistency across the brands, but they all cater to various audiences. I gotta say, based upon Your words here, it seems that You've found success in doing what You love in finding an audience that appreciates Your work.

  • Donna Renee2 months ago

    This is really interesting, I’m glad you found a way to enjoy what you are doing more :)

  • C.S LEWIS2 months ago

    This is excellent work you can also join my friends and read what I have just prepared for you

  • C.S LEWIS2 months ago

    This is excellent work you can also join my friends and read what I have just prepared for you

  • Alex H Mittelman 2 months ago

    Well, this is fascinating! You did good in the market place. Then walked away? Well, you got to live life! How was your AirBnB, hopefully awesome! Great work! 🩷❤️♥️💙🩶

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