How I Started A $100K/Month Membership Platform Focused On Self-Improvement
Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hi! My name is Dean Bokhari, and I’m the founder of DeanBokhari.com - a membership platform focused on inspiring people to improve their lives and achieve their goals.
Members of our platform get exclusive access to summaries of best-selling self-improvement books, as well as articles, courses, members-only podcast episodes, and audio-training programs on a variety of personal development topics to help them get ahead in life.
Some of the topics we cover in the membership area include goal-setting, building better habits, productivity, meaningful work, leadership, creativity, and more.
These days, about half a million people read or listen to my work every month. It’s both fun and fulfilling to help others grow. And it’s financially rewarding, too—our revenues are over $100,000 per month.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
After graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in Political Science, I took a job in southern California as a marketer for one of the largest tobacco companies in the world.
After a few years working for Big Tobacco, the moral implications of punching the clock for an organization that contributes to the death of over 29 million people a year led to an emotional breakdown—which led to me asking myself some hard and serious questions about what I really wanted to do with my life…
Did I really want to be part of a company that sells products that kill people? The answer was No.
So I quit and decided to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life.
One of the greatest realizations for me was that everything in our lives comes down to our decisions.
I used to do purpose-less work that didn’t matter to me or make a positive impact on the world until I decided to find my purpose and start doing meaningful work.
I used to be shy and afraid to speak up or share my ideas until I learned how to communicate with impact, which led to me becoming a professional speaker. I used to be overweight and unhealthy until I transformed my body and mind.
The point I’m trying to make is this: I used to be a lot of things until I decided not to be anymore. And that decision—the decision to stop settling for less than what I was capable of—sent me on a life-changing journey... Over the course of a few years, I read hundreds of books and began taking action on what I was learning.
I learned about health, which helped me transform myself physically. I learned about financial success, which helped me become a millionaire by the age of 30. I learned about emotions, which helped me deepen my relationships and develop new and meaningful ones. I learned about cultivating a strong mindset, which helped me think big and achieve my goals. I learned about everything related to success, self-improvement, and leadership that I possibly could—and most importantly, I actually applied what I was learning to see if it actually worked. And it did.
My aha-moment came when I decided to start sharing all of these things I was learning with other people: I started writing. I started a podcast. I built courses. I started getting invited to speak to groups and organizations. This is what eventually led me to start DeanBokhari.com.
Describe the process of launching the business.
I started with a simple WordPress website and built from there, adding membership functionalities.
It took 1-2 years of consistently working and publishing for free before I saw real growth and financial profits.
Don’t try to perfect every detail before you share your work.
My initial purpose was two-fold: #1) to share what I was learning about personal development in hopes of inspiring others. #2) To write/record/publish content often enough and consistently enough such that I could find my own unique voice and style.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Guest blogging and contributing to major publications and platforms within or related to my niche. If you’re able to find a contact form on a publication’s website, pitch to them there. If you can’t find it, google “website.com + ‘contribute to’” and something should pop up. If there are guidelines for contributing, FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES. Tailor your pitch to the specific publication. Another tip: you can also use an extension like Email Hunter to find the email addresses of key people within a website.
SEO, keyword-focused high-quality content.
Quora is a platform that allows you to ask and answer questions. If you do it in a non-spammy way, it can be a great source of the traffic to your site. Here’s an example of a popular post/answer within my niche.
Facebook ads. You can get super-specific with Facebook ads because of how much data they collect on people. Define your audience, and tailor your ads to them. Drive them to a funnel. Collect emails. Or create a landing page and sell straight from there. I’ve done it all—each of them works depending on your goals.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
I plan on growing the business to $1,000,000 in sales/revenue per month over the next 3-5 years.
Memberships continue to grow.
Audiobooks are also an excellent source of revenue, with distribution on platforms like Audible, Scribd, etc.
I have a small team of editors, writers, and customer support. 17 people total.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Consistency is king, and quality content is queen. Publishing quality content consistently is absolutely crucial.
I publish once a week on Thursdays. Usually one article + one podcast episode.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
- Rainmaker membership platform, which is built on WordPress.
- Scrivener and Byword for writing.
- Upwork for finding contractors and freelancers to help with various projects and tasks.
- Buffer for automating social media posts.
- Libsyn for podcasting.
- Omnifocus and a paper notebook for getting things done.
- Adobe Audition for recording audiobooks, audio-training, and podcasts.
- Stripe and Paypal for payment processing.
- Vocal Booth and sound-proofed recording studio.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
- My own podcast, of course! Dean Bokhari’s Meaningful Show
- Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
- Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
- $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau
- The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
- Start with Why by Simon Sinek
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
*All of the books above are summarized at another one of my membership platforms, getflashnotes.com
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
Avoid perfectionism. It’s your greatest enemy. Don’t try to perfect every detail before you share your work.
Launch and learn. Focus on creating and shipping/publishing. Then, tweak based on what you learn.
Be patient. Most people try something (especially online) and give-up before they see any results. But you’ve got to give things time. It’s like planting a seed and watering it consistently. Eventually, you’ll see something growing. That will motivate you to do more.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
- Audio editor familiar with Adobe Audition (paid, part-time)
- Writer: responsible for reading and summarizing non-fiction books (paid, per project)
- Intern: various administrative duties (unpaid)
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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