How John Lee Dumas Grew A Podcast Into $2M/Year Business

$170,000
revenue/mo
1
Founders
4
Employees
product
Entrepreneurs on ...
from Puerto Rico
started September 2012
$170,000
revenue/mo
1
Founders
4
Employees
134K
alexa rank
99.4K
followers
61.5K
followers
8.3K
subs

Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Heyo! John Lee Dumas (JLD) here, founder and host of Entrepreneurs On Fire, an award-winning podcast where I interview inspiring Entrepreneurs who are truly ON FIRE!

Entrepreneurs On Fire started out as a daily podcast back in September 2012 and quickly grew into a business offering online courses, one-on-one coaching, a mastermind program, and physical journals.

Our flagship product is Podcasters’ Paradise, an online community where we teach you how to Create, Grow, and Monetize your own podcast, which to-date has generated nearly 4 million in revenue.

My goal from the very beginning: to inspire my audience, Fire Nation, to take their own entrepreneurial leap.

how-john-lee-dumas-grew-a-podcast-into-2m-year-business

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

Before I launched Entrepreneurs On Fire I was working in Commercial Real Estate, which meant I was spending a lot of time in the car driving to show properties and meet with clients.

That’s when I had my own ah-ha moment: why isn’t someone creating a daily podcast for people like me, who have to drive to and from work every day and want to consume inspiring content? … Be the change.

Because I was not a huge fan of the radio, I started listening to podcasts. They were like a breath of fresh air: on-demand, valuable content that gave me advice, tips and tactics about any topic I was interested in for free.

I couldn’t get enough!

I started listening to interview podcasts where the host would talk to a successful entrepreneur, and hearing those entrepreneurs talk about lifestyle freedom and the impact they were making in the world was so inspiring.

But those podcasts were coming out once a week, and sometimes only once every other week.

So one morning I hop in my car, go to play my next podcast, and… SILENCE.

I had run out of podcasts to listen to.

That’s when I had my own ah-ha moment: why isn’t someone creating a daily podcast for people like me, who have to drive to and from work every day and want to consume inspiring content?

Be the change.

That day, I decided I would be the one to start that daily podcast.

Quitting my job in Commercial Real Estate wasn’t easy.

While the market wasn’t great at the time, I was on track for partnership, and I had teamed up with my brother-in-law not even one year prior.

Giving my notice was tough.

Not only did I feel like I’d be letting my brother-in-law down, but this wasn’t the first time I had made my family cringe as a result of my professional decisions.

In the years leading up to this I had quit my high-paying job in finance, dropped out of law school, and now here I was, about to quit another “comfortable” job.

The craziest part is, I had zero online presence, no broadcasting experience, and no idea what it would take to start and run a podcast.

But I wasn’t going to let that hold me back.

I gave my notice at my job, and then I went searching.

I spent hours researching the podcasting industry, trying to figure out what equipment to buy, how to set everything up, and how to get great guests to come on my show.

Before too long, I knew I couldn’t do it alone, and so I went and found the person who was where I wanted to be: Jamie Masters of the Eventual Millionaire.

I hired Jamie as my mentor, and I joined Cliff Ravenscraft’s podcastmastermind.

With my mentor, support from my mastermind, and a lot of determination and drive, I launched Entrepreneurs On Fire within 3 months.

how-john-lee-dumas-grew-a-podcast-into-2m-year-business

Take us through the process of getting started and launching.

Hiring Jamie Masters proved to be invaluable as I prepared to launch Entrepreneurs On Fire. Not only was she helping me out with getting set up, but she also gave me some pretty tough challenges along the way.

One mistake I see entrepreneurs make again and again is thinking that starting an online business happens fast, and that you get to just skip to the generating revenue part.

One of them: within a few days of hiring her, Jamie told me to buy a ticket to an event called Blog World - that I would be attending with her in New York City that next week.

I hired Jamie for a reason, and so I listened. I attended Blog World with her and at that event she introduced me to many of the bigger names in podcasting - and in the online entrepreneur world.

Attending that event sparked everything.

After meeting and hanging out with people like Pat Flynn and Derek Halpern, I started making the ask: Will you be a guest on my podcast and help inspire those tuning in to take their own entrepreneurial leap?

They said yes.

How did I get them to say yes?

Well, Jamie was already connected to all of these people, and because I was her mentee and with her at the conference, she gave me personal introductions to these individuals.

I was a nobody, but she was a somebody - her introducing me gave me instant credibility.

I also had a very clear vision of what I wanted to accomplish with my podcast, and being able to communicate that clearly to these individuals when I invited them on as a guest was huge.

I wanted to inspire millions to take their own entrepreneurial leap, and so when I asked these individuals to be guests on my podcast, I made sure to also say “in sharing your journey with my audience, I know you’ll be helping me inspire millions to take their own entrepreneurial leap.”

I knew that was something that was important to them, too. We’ve all been there: at the very beginning. At some point in time, we’ve all looked to those who have come before us for inspiration. So I made sure they knew the impact they’d be helping me make by coming on the podcast.

The great thing about having a daily interview podcast at the time was that:

  1. No one else was doing a daily interview podcast
  2. My guests all had one thing in common: big audiences

So my initial marketing momentum came from my guests: every single day a new episode would go live, and every single day my guest would share their interview with their audience.

I know, I know… this might all be sounding a bit too easy, right?

Trust me, it was NOT easy!

Remember, I had zero online presence and NO podcasting experience.

Translation: I was a terrible interviewer!

I stumbled my way through 30 minutes of awkwardness many times, but guess what? Every time I hit record and started interviewing another entrepreneur, I got a little bit better. And a little bit better. And a little bit better.

And it wasn’t just the podcast.

I, of course, had to launch a website, get a logo designed, create social media profiles, invest in my equipment and software… not to mention all the money I had already invested in my mentor, the mastermind I was a part of, and in attending Blog World.

All said and done I had invested just about $10,000 to start Entrepreneurs On Fire.

how-john-lee-dumas-grew-a-podcast-into-2m-year-business A look at my first few logo iterations for Entrepreneurs On Fire

how-john-lee-dumas-grew-a-podcast-into-2m-year-business Six years later… Entrepreneurs On Fire current logo

Note: you can launch a podcast for a lot less than this, but I didn’t know that at the time, and a huge chunk of that investment was for my mentorship with Jamie and my spot in Cliff’s mastermind.

Lucky for me, once I launched Entrepreneurs On Fire my audience began to grow quite quickly.

And as my audience began to grow, I started getting emails and requests on social media… questions from Fire Nation about entrepreneurship, one-on-one coaching with me, and A LOT of questions about how I started the podcast.

Within a few months after launch I was also able to reach out to sponsors for the podcast, and with a couple of coaching clients and my first sponsors, I started generating revenue.

You can check out an in-depth breakdown of our first 365 days - income, expenses, and everything in between - right here :)

We’ve also been documenting our monthly income ever since, so if you want to check out our monthly income report, you can do so here.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

Everything we’ve built here at Entrepreneurs On Fire is a result of the podcast.

The podcast is the platform and the foundation from which everything else has been made possible.

I didn’t run fancy ads or build multi-level funnels or have a PR representative. I put my head down, created insanely valuable content for Fire Nation, and I made myself present whenever possible in order to build real relationships and partnerships.

Without the podcast, I never would have grown an audience, and therefore never would have gotten requests for one-on-one coaching - and I definitely wouldn’t have been able to start partnerships with sponsors.

It was because I offered free, valuable, and consistent content to Fire Nation that Fire Nation continued to grow.

So my #1 growth tactic? Create free, valuable, and consistent content for an audience who you know wants and needs it.

How do you prove it?

Put it out there, get feedback, iterate and improve, and continue.

Will it be a quick win, where you launch a podcast, a blog, a product, or a service and suddenly have people knocking down your door for help?

No, it’s a marathon - not a sprint.

But content marketing is a very powerful thing.

In addition to creating my own content through the podcast and on our website with show notes and a blog, I said yes to just about everything.

I started contributing guest posts to other websites in my niche, and I was a guest on others’ podcasts… actually, I’ve been a guest on hundreds of podcasts.

That’s great visibility.

I was also going to events and conferences to meet more people in my industry and to build stronger relationships with those I had as guests on my show.

Because of my platform, the relationships I had built, and the momentum I had from my own content, plus the content I was putting out on others’ sites and platforms, I got my first few speaking gigs.

how-john-lee-dumas-grew-a-podcast-into-2m-year-business Speaking to a room of entrepreneurs about the fear of failure in 2013

Those first few speaking gigs not only helped me solidify myself as an authority figure in the podcasting space, but they led to more speaking gigs.

how-john-lee-dumas-grew-a-podcast-into-2m-year-business My keynote presentation at Podcast Movement 2015

I didn’t run fancy ads or build multi-level funnels or have a PR representative. I put my head down, created insanely valuable content for Fire Nation, and I made myself present whenever possible in order to build real relationships and partnerships.

And I listened.

Whenever someone in my audience would reach out to me with a question, or a piece of feedback, I would listen.

As a result, I was able to start recognizing recurring themes - multiple people coming to me with the same question, or the same piece of feedback.

Those questions were struggles. Those questions were areas where my audience was stuck, and I recognized that as an opportunity to create a solution.

What’s the business model and how you do make money?

As I started recognizing the recurring themes and struggles my audience was sharing with me, I started seeing opportunities to create products, services, and communities in order to help.

At the time my team consisted of me and my Virtual Assistant, JM, who is still with Team Fire today.

I knew if I was going to venture into creating products, services, and online courses and communities that I would need more help, and so I asked my girlfriend, Kate, if she would join the team.

It took a lot of back-and-forth and each of us figuring out individually what it would look like to work together, but within a few months Kate had quit her job and was working with me full time.

how-john-lee-dumas-grew-a-podcast-into-2m-year-business Photo credit: Matt Bouvet

With Kate on board, I knew we could move forward fast, and so I went back to those recurring themes I had been hearing from my audience.

First, I noticed many of my listeners were struggling because they felt alone. They didn’t have anyone to talk to or turn to for support on their journey - someone who knew what they were going through and who was on the same path as them.

So we created Fire Nation Elite, a mastermind for entrepreneurs who were just getting started and needed support and accountability on their journey.

This consisted of a membership site, a Private Facebook group, and monthly live calls.

Here’s a picture from our first live event we held in San Diego:

how-john-lee-dumas-grew-a-podcast-into-2m-year-business

After Fire Nation Elite was up and running, I went back to the struggles I was hearing about from my listeners.

I was getting so many questions about podcasting!

My listeners wanted to know how they could start their own podcast in order to share their message with an audience.

This one took a few iterations, but we eventually got there: Podcasters’ Paradise, an online community and video training to help you Create, Grow, and Monetize your own podcast.

As was the case with Fire Nation Elite when we first launched it, we didn’t create or build anything. We presented a concept to our audience and asked them to pay money for it.

THEN we created it.

It went like this:

I was getting tons of questions about how to create a podcast.

I put together a 45-minute training that walked through the steps to start a podcast, and I even talked about ways you might grow and monetize your podcast.

I set up an optin page and I invited my audience to join me on a live training, a webinar.

I talked about the live training on the podcast, I sent an email to my email list (probably about 1,000 subscribers at the time), and I posted on my social media channels about it.

I presented the live webinar, and at the end I asked people to pay me $197 to become a founding, lifetime member of Podcasters’ Paradise.

I was very transparent on this live webinar: Podcasters’ Paradise didn’t exist - there were no video trainings or resources or anything available.

But for $197 you would not only get in at the lowest investment ever offered, you would also get to help shape this community. You tell us what you want, and we’ll create it.

We welcomed about 100 founding members into Podcasters’ Paradise during our proof of concept webinar, and since we’ve welcomed over 3,000 more.

In 2014 we hosted our first annual meetup for Podcasters’ Paradise at the first annual Podcast Movement, and we’ve hosted that meetup every year since for the community:

how-john-lee-dumas-grew-a-podcast-into-2m-year-business

Next, we create Webinar On Fire. All of these podcasting webinars that our audience was attending had people wondering “how can I create and present a webinar to my audience?”

So we created an online training to teach them how.

In 2015, I was ready to try something different. We had created the online mastermind, and then two online communities and training courses.

A recurring question I kept hearing from Fire Nation was: “You’ve interviewed over 1,000 inspiring and successful entrepreneurs - what do they all have in common?”

It didn’t happen overnight, but that question gave me a BIG idea: the one thing my interviewees had in common: they knew how to set and accomplish goals.

That’s when I started working on my first physical Journal, The Freedom Journal: Accomplish your #1 Goal in 100 Days.

how-john-lee-dumas-grew-a-podcast-into-2m-year-business Photo credit: Jen Wojcik Photography

We launched The Freedom Journal in January 2016 on Kickstarter, and after 33 days we closed the campaign with over 7,000 backers and $453,000 in revenue. If you want the complete breakdown of how we launched on Kickstarter, check out this post we wrote to document everything from start to finish!

how-john-lee-dumas-grew-a-podcast-into-2m-year-business Photo credit: Jen Wojcik Photography

To date, we’ve sold nearly 30,000 copies of The Freedom Journal.

With the success of The Freedom Journal, I went back to the drawing board. What else does Fire Nation struggle with that I might be able to help solve with another journal?

Well, another recurring question I got from Fire Nation was “How the heck are you so productive, disciplined, and focused all the time?!”

In January 2017 we launched The Mastery Journal: How to Master Productivity, Discipline, and Focus in 100 Days.

how-john-lee-dumas-grew-a-podcast-into-2m-year-business Photo credit: Josh Rossi Photography

In 2018 we went back to the basics: what’s working, and how can we make it better?

We continue to welcome new members into Podcasters’ Paradise every day through our evergreen masterclass - in addition to our live training we still host twice per month; we have five fully functioning email funnels that start with a free course and lead to a paid product, service, community, or affiliate offer; and this year we launched our third physical journal: The Podcast Journal: Idea to Launch in 50 Days.

how-john-lee-dumas-grew-a-podcast-into-2m-year-business

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Running a business is not easy.

At any given moment you’ll get knocked down, you’ll fail, something you expected to work won’t work, and you have to get back up and try again.

At any given moment you’ll be paralyzed by fear, afraid you’re going to make the wrong decision, but you have to make a decision and move forward anyway.

But at any given moment you can discover your next big idea, and you can turn that idea into a product, service or a community that impacts someone else’s life.

It’s not about getting to a destination. One of my favorite quotes that helps me keep going is this:

Success is the gradual realization of a worthy ideal. ~ Earl Nightingale

Enjoy the journey. That’s what it’s all about.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

We use A LOT of tools here at Entrepreneurs On Fire. We’re huge fans of automation, delegation, and efficiency!

A few of our daily tools include:

Asana

We love Asana for teamwork and project management because it helps everyone stay on the same page and makes it easy to assign tasks (even recurring ones) with due dates, descriptions, and notes.

ScheduleOnce

I use ScheduleOnce to help me keep my interview schedule in line, which has been a massive help. It prevents a ton of back-and-forth when it comes to scheduling, and you can use it for just about anything: interviews, coaching calls, mastermind sessions, etc.

Infusionsoft + ClickFunnels

We use Infusionsoft for our CRM, and ClickFunnels to help build out our landing and opt in pages.

Shopify

Shopify is the platform we use to sell all 3 of our physical journals. It’s super easy to use and connects with Shipwire (who we use for our fulfillment), so that makes our selling process seamless.

Google Drive

Google docs, spreadsheets, and forms play a big role in our day-to-day operations. We track just about everything in Google drive.

Screenflow

Screenflow is a recording and editing tool that we use to create all of our video training modules for our courses and programs.

We also use it to create videos for our virtual team so they always have a reference to go to for their tasks.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

The One Thing by Gary Keller and Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker are two great books for entrepreneurs.

I listen to tons of podcasts, but a few that were inspirations for me back in 2012 were Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income and David Siteman Garland’s Rise to The Top.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

One mistake I see entrepreneurs make again and again is thinking that starting an online business happens fast, and that you get to just skip to the generating revenue part.

Building a foundation for your business is critical, and for the first 6 months, maybe even a year, it’s going to be 100% heads down hard work before you start to see any momentum or results.

You don’t just start a business and then suddenly grow an audience. Growing an audience takes time, and it might take failing a couple of times before you even find your audience.

Be patient, be consistent, and always listen.

Where can we go to learn more?

Check out everything we have going on at eofire.com

Follow me on Instagram, where I drop value bombs daily! @johnleedumas

Check us out on Facebook at facebook.com/johnleedumas1

-  
John Lee Dumas,   Founder of Entrepreneurs on Fire

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