Why PewDiePie Fired His Team and Went Back To Being a 1-Man Army

One of the most common questions I get is “Malan why don’t you have a team of employees running your campaigns?

And I get it. There is a lot of talk these days about how you can’t do affiliate marketing without a team. But it’s just not true. If it were true, I wouldn’t be doing this.

I went down this path years ago, in the 9–5 world.

  • I was a web designer.
  • My job was to listen to music, drink coffee and make stuff. I loved it.
  • I did good work so I was promoted to Creative Director
  • My new job was to lead the design team and attend client meetings
  • I hated it and became miserable
  • I ended up quitting the industry completely

I wrote about it here.

Do Whatever You Want

The best thing about online marketing is you can do it however you want.

  • If you want to build a Fortune 500 company is your thing, go for it.
  • If you want to drink coffee, listen to music and make stuff, you can do that too.

You can also change your mind.

For example – at some point I may build a team and offload the creative work. There’s no law saying I can or can’t. There’s also no law that says if I build a team I’ll make more money.

Most, if not all affiliates start by themselves. Then years later they build a team so they can stop doing the creative work and be a CEO.

Sometimes it works out.
Sometimes it doesn’t.

I’ve seen dozens of affiliates build teams, run them for a year or two and then realize they hate it and go back to being a 1-Man Army.

Politically correct inclusion note: If you’re offended that I used the term 1 “Man” Army, please note that I did this because 99% of affiliate marketers are male. But please feel free to insert your preferred gender into the phrase. For example, if you self identify as a Gelfling, you can be a “1-Gelfling Army”.

So back to team building.

PewDiePie Fires His Team

Today I was watching some Youtube videos and ended up on a video called ’I’m stepping back“ by a guy called ”PewDiePie“.

PewDiePie is the biggest Youtuber in the world. He has over 50 Million subscribers (more viewers than most mainstream media organizations), his videos get millions of views and he makes millions of dollars.

When he started his Youtube Channel he was just a guy who talked and made jokes while playing video games on the screen.

Over the years his following exploded, his view counts went through the roof and he made a boat load of money.

So he did what everyone says you’re supposed to do.

He hired some employees, rented an office and built his team, because he thought he needed to be “more professional“.

Then, a few days ago he posted a video saying he regretting that whole thing.

He said that building a business and working with a team ruined the fun of what he was doing. That’s because he’s not a business man. He’s just a guy who likes playing games and making videos.

So he went back to doing that.

He fired his staff, closed his office and has gone back to being a 1-Man Army.

And it sounds like he’s happy again.

The moral of the story: There are no rules. Do whatever you want to do. If you want to build a team, go for it. If you enjoy listening to music and making stuff on your computer, that’s fine too.

Just don’t do something you hate because you think you’re supposed to.

^^ This is trap and a direct path to failure.

The Video

I’ve included the video and a transcript below. He rambles a bit, and then the team stuff happens at about the 2:00 minute mark.

Enjoy and let me know what you think.


Hey, what up? Swede_Cuck_84 here. Back again with another video. That’s right. I really just wanted to make a video, a follow-up video, one of those, of the video I made, what was it called? Fuck, I don’t remember.

I’ve been doing YouTube for seven years, and I guess I’m really just tired of being in try hard mode. Tired of trying. That’s right. I’m tired of trying.

This kind of video, I was really nervous about uploading because I didn’t know what sort of reaction it would get. But I gotta say, it was truly heartwarming to see how you guys understood where I was coming from and appreciating my honesty with the situation.

Basically, I’ve been sort of treating YouTube as a startup, almost. I’ve been working crazy hours, just stressing out over it, for such a long time and I just realized I’m in a position where I just, I want to take it a little bit more chill.

In my approach this week to making videos has really just been like, “What do I feel like doing today? Do I feel like making this kind of video? Ah, not really. But it would probably get more views.” I’ve just been focusing on what I personally find really interesting or fun to do.

I’m just really, really glad that you guys enjoy that shit. Because it’s stuff that I enjoy making. It’s sort of like a new direction of the channel. The fact that you guys enjoy it, it really, really, really means a lot.

Just because I feel like I want to try less hard, doesn’t mean I don’t care as much anymore. I really still do care a lot about you bros. That sounded pretty gay. You guys are okay, I guess, is what I’m trying to say.

I’ve really been enjoying the Player Unknown videos. You guys seem to, as well. I’ve really been enjoying the fan interaction videos. You guys seem as well. And I really been enjoying just sharing and reacting to stuff that I personally find really interesting. And you guys have as well.

Really, just the only point of this video is to just for me to say, “Thank you,” because I think it’s really cool to have an audience that understands and respects me. I know maybe that’s obvious. But I really don’t think it’s the case for a lot of people on YouTube.

Looking back at how I was treating YouTube a couple months ago, it’s very different from now. I had an office. I had a couple employees. I was running a business on the side. I was doing all of these projects.

But I found that these were all just things I thought I had … That I thought I needed, personally. Because I thought I had to be more professional. But I think in reality, the more I try to be a professional, the more I sort of lost touch and just the direct connection with what’s so good about YouTube. And the direct connection with your audience.

I thought I had to be more professional. But I think in reality, the more I try to be a professional, the more I sort of lost touch and just the direct connection with what’s so good about YouTube

It sort of became layers upon myself. I don’t know why I thought that was a good idea. Like obviously that’s a terrible idea. Personally, these weren’t even things I liked to begin with. I don’t like to travel and do other things. I don’t like to do other projects that I don’t really care about. But they’ll bring in money.

These past two weeks have … I’ve been so much happier as a person. I’ve been so less stressed-out. Just chill. I feel really good. And I don’t think I would be unless you guys was on the same page as me, is what I’m trying to say.

I don’t know. I don’t know what’s next, to be honest. I’m just going to keep doing what I feel like doing. That’s really the plan here. But I love the videos. Because they feel more like me than they did before. Because I passionately enjoy playing Battlegrounds, and I really love fucking shitting on different things.

So I feel like I’m back in a way. I don’t know if that makes any sense. I’m probably just rambling at this point. But at the end, I just want to say, Thank you for being a sister, fister. And letting me be the kind of channel that I wanted to be.

I wouldn’t be here without you so I’m never going to ignore you guys. But at the same time, like I said, I really appreciate that you guys still respect where I want to take things. That’s all. I don’t want to get too mopey and shit. Thank you guys so much. Domo, domo domo and I’ll see you bros tomorrow with another video and as always, sister, fister.

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The End

So I’ll throw it to you. What do you think? Have you felt the pressure to build a team? Have you tried it? How did it go?

Are you a Team Building CEO or a 1-Gelfling Army?



  • Jim

    Thank you for the awesome post. There is also a middle ground where you can go to upwork and have “staff on demand”, like people you hire and work with regularly, but only pay them by the task. They work remotely and they have incentive to do well because their customer ratings are public. But really, after having hired people, I prefer to do things myself because hired hands don’t generally bring an “A” game….

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      yeah I outsource from time to time.

  • SholaA

    I couldn’t agree more that you should set your own values and standards when it comes to what kind of business you want to create. But here’s the reality of the situatio: until somebody other than you can produce the results in your business, you’ve built a wonderful creative craft, but not a machine, an asset or a system. And if a person is thinking long-term then they want to create something that could outlive them. As an example, I think I recall you saying that you had somebody close to you pass away? Well so did I… And what that made me realize is that you never know how long you are going to be around – what about an affiliate who might be making $500,000 or million dollars a year working alone? If they pass away with all of their systems inside their head along with the means to execute them, then their loved ones will be left with nothing. So building a team isn’t just about whether you want to do the work or delegate it. It’s about building a system that works independent of you which creates an asset that can extend far past you. Lastly you had a great post about different seasons… What if you decide that you want to completely leave affiliate market and say become a film investor? You want to invest all of your net worth into the biggest budget film that you can create. Only to do that you’re going to need to sell your biggest asset – your business. If you talk to a business valuation accountant… Yeah I’ve done that… They’ll tell you quite simply that if your business doesn’t produce results independent of you, it’s not sellable. So again the whole issue of building a team isn’t just about whether or not you can be creative with her without one. It’s about the fact you don’t have a actual system as in machine as in automated results – whether that automation is through computers or people – if you only get results with your own initiative. It’s a difference between being self-employed and being a business owner. I will recommend anybody who’s been in the game for a while to speak to a business valuation consultant and they will give you a real wake-up call about where your affiliate business stands in the greater scheme of things. It doesn’t matter if your business is even generating seven figures of profit it’s a difference between asset value and income. Jason (Akatiff) talks a lot about this and in an interview.


    One thing i like about this site is the author is so real and down to earth. Good post, because i was thinking must i have a team to work effectively. No, i dont. thanks man

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      you’re welcome