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Only a few years ago, Jason Fyk was broke and in jail. Now he’s making several million dollars a year in advertising revenue and oversees a staff of 16 people. It’s all thanks to Facebook.

Business Insider reports that Fyk’s troubles began in 2005 when the tanking market ruined his real estate career. He then started, which he describes as a College Humor knockoff.

“[Our team] was running with no money,” Fyk said. “We were doing the fake-it-till-you-make-it thing, putting content together and starting to pick up steam, but I had no idea what I was doing.”

Fyk’s troubles went from bad to worse after he tried to break up a drunken brawl, but was instead blamed for orchestrating the whole thing. He was charged with attempted murder, and even though the charges were dropped after two months, Fyk’s lawyer bills left him with no money.

“I couldn’t just go get a job at McDonald’s, because my bills were massive,” he said. “My kid held me together. I was almost suicidal. It was a disaster for me. I put my head down and kept pushing forward.”

Fyk turned towards social media to get back on his feet. He realized that by creating specific Facebook pages, he could generate a following that would turn into profit.

“It didn’t really matter if a page was specific to my brand,” he said. “I could get distribution whether it was through WTF or through a ‘Family Guy’ fan page, for example. As long as I got someone to like a page, they were effectively one more member of the distribution list.”

Now with 40 Facebook pages that reach 260 million people, Fyk has amassed a substantial “distribution” list that brings his website tens of millions of pageviews a month and earns him millions a year through advertising. His social media success has not been without its bumps, but Fyk’s journey remains a 21st century success story.

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