Dropping out of college is a tough call as it changes the less methodical lifestyle and abruptly drops you into the scary world of reality. But some decisions, no matter how unconventional they sound, are meant for those who belong to passion.
When Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg (now 28) dropped out of college, he was clueless about his future. His parents were in utter disregard for his decision. He tried to earn an apprenticeship with an agency but failed to do so. The disappointment made way for another idea – to create video content for his existing YouTube channel.
It was a time when advancement in multimedia technology was in its initial stages and cameras or computing gadgets weren’t enough for one to start off as a vlogger. Hustle was a part of the process that was not as easy as it sounds.
Breakthrough and the birth of game commentary
Felix was steadfast about creating content but he was uncertain about how this new genre will be welcomed by people. He started selling his photoshop projects and even worked at hot dog stands to raise funds. “The fact that I could make videos was so much more important to me that I had to spend a few hours a day doing a job that wasn’t that prestigious,” he says. He was adamant that his determination will pay off, and after two years, it did.
On October 11, 2012, his Youtube channel reached one million subscribers. Being one of the very few artists who pursued a career in gaming commentaries, his unique aesthetic, and sarcastic humor made him the mogu of the game world. He got popularised by the name of Pewdiepie, a game commentator from Sweden who started an era that was never seen before.
“I knew people were big at other types of videos, but there was no one big in gaming, and I didn’t know you could make money out of it. It was never like a career that I could just quit college to pursue. It was just something I loved to do. And here we are five years later and it’s exploded,” says Felix.
In no time, by September 2012, his channel attracted two million subscribers. It was a major success, especially because back then, the number of people with smartphones and internet connectivity were way less than today. His videos were mostly about gaming commentaries, trolls, and profaneness which was acclaimed by the young generations but also criticized for profanity and politically vague statements.
Driving through criticism and bends of popularity
In 2016, some critics pointed out the use of unsophisticated content in his videos which brought some of his popular works under scrutiny. It led to an investigation of nine of his videos by the esteemed Wall Street Journal to establish the nature and impact of the videos. The negative allegations also sabotaged his partnership with Disney Maker Studios in 2017.
But during the investigation and controversies that surrounded his popular channel, billions of supporters who followed the channel stood up to his side. It also helped the channel bounce back from the crisis. Felix said, “My most blatantly anti-semitic video was an instance of absurd humor, but it’s a part of a disconcerting trend.”
Taking gaming and entertainment next level
Challenges aren’t meant for suffrage, but for helping one turn the better to best. In 2016, his subscriber base reached an amazing number of 40 million which got him in the list of 100 Most Influential People on Earth by Time magazine. After he crossed 60 million subscribers in April, he still was undisputedly the most subscribed personality with over 17 billion views on YouTube.
Felix has been honored with the highest play button YouTube grants, the Ruby play button on successfully achieving 50 million subscribers. He also started creating vlogs under the name Fridays with PewDiePie. His coverage of indie games created a surge in sales of the titles he played and he got awarded the Gaming Personality award in 2015 by Golden Joystick Awards.
The very same year on October 20, with the support of penguin group he got his first book launched on a parody of self-help books titled This book loves you. Today, he’s one of the most popular icons in the entertainment industry with a net worth of 12 million dollars per year.
From working on a hot dog stand to the highest paid YouTube celebrity, the journey speaks for him. It not just only proves that anything that is driven by determination and hard work can be achieved but also the fact that criticism and appreciation go hand in hand.
If there’s anything we can take from his journey, it’s to never undermine your vision, it may not be common, but it can be something only you were meant to discover. Like once he said, “Don’t be a salad, be the best goddamn broccoli you can ever be.”
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