When My YouTube Channel Topped The Box Office

Relatively speaking, of course.

I’ve written a few posts about my time as a volunteer with the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services (DAS), and reminiscing of these experiences has inspired me to start including more of this material in my portfolio.

There is a particular sample, however, that can’t be displayed as a portfolio piece because it’s actually just a number:


At its peak in 2015, the DAS YouTube channel was number one in total views for animal shelters located in San Diego County. This includes marketing juggernauts San Diego Humane Society and Helen Woodward Animal Center (both of which were privately owned at the time). What these two shelters paid their marketing departments to do, I was able to accomplish for absolutely nothing. This was pure passion for me.

Well, okay, they paid me in donuts and corn chips and the occasional Mountain Dew. I lied.

I would periodically keep track of the overall figures, and when DAS formally took the number one spot, the numbers looked something like this:

  1. County of San Diego Department of Animal Services: 384,638 views/94 videos
  2. Helen Woodward Animal Center: 384,378 views/301 videos
  3. San Diego Humane Society: 130,459 views/196 videos

What took HWAC 300+ videos to do, I was able to accumulate in a third of the content.

Here’s the thing: my goal was always to accumulate local views for the videos that were specifically highlighting one particular animal for adoption. Someone from Nantucket is highly unlikely to fly to San Diego to adopt Al Poochino. You need to get views here in San Diego county. That’s why it was exciting to see the “Shelter Spotlight” series routinely generate 500-700 views per video which, at the time, was excellent, because most of them were local. We were doing our best to maximize the reach to find an adopter within Southern California.

Most of the other shelter videos out there frequently disappeared into cyberspace, often amassing fewer than 100 views, and sometimes even less than 50. We were generating up to 700!

It just so happens that during the program there was one video that went internationally viral. That certainly helps to boost the numbers, but hey, it was all part of the original plan. Star Wars saved 20th Century Fox from going bankrupt in 1977. Contrastingly, Cutthroat Island sent Carolco Pictures to a watery grave in 1995. One video can be very powerful.

This snippet actually came after the original video had already gone viral on YouTube. We licensed the video to Rumble, where it amassed millions upon millions of views. Janine, the human star of the show, even has her own GIF out there. Banks was adopted shortly after his video premiered in 2013. To this day, we don’t know if his owners are even aware of his superstardom. All proceeds from the video were donated back to DAS.

But anyway, producing content for this YouTube channel was so much fun, and I feel like the numbers reflected that. To me, it’s not a coincidence that we ascended to number one in a fraction of the time. We had good content and I had a vision. We experimented and tried new things. We even had Thor make an appearance.

And it was all generated by pure passion.

Being number one, even if it was just for a short blip in time, is something I’m immensely proud of. When I was struggling to find a job or even land an interview, DAS provided me an opportunity to shine and really make a difference.

I visited the Carlsbad shelter recently and I’m thinking of making a return to volunteering. I’d like to get the job stuff worked out first, and make some more progress on my script before starting with any commitments. But watching all of this old content and reminiscing has been a lot of fun.

If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.