I guess it depends how you define success, but I've certainly been pretty lucky in my career.
7 years ago I was asked to manage a community that I had been a volunteer moderator at for a few years. That was my first community job (I was a software developer before that). While I was there I did a pretty large and public migration which got @richard_millington's attention so he offered me a job with FeverBee.
I've always done some freelance work on the side because I like the variety. For a while that was with eModeration, doing agency work in some big and interesting brands, then it was with Polpeo, who simulate social media crises to help organisations strategise in times of crisis, and now it's for UXMastery, which is a labour of love because I built that community from scratch.
I'm particularly lucky because I live in NZ and all of the above jobs have been remote. Some in Australia, some in the US, and some in the UK.
I'd love to hear other people's stories.