But how will you make money?…
This is the question I was asked every time I shared my plans to leave Corporate America to launch my own podcast.
Unfortunately, at the time, I didn’t have an answer. But what I did have was an idea, a passion: to start a daily podcast that interviews today’s most successful and inspiring Entrepreneurs. I would call it EntrepreneurOnFire.
Why a daily podcast?
My idea to start a daily podcast was born the day I asked that wondrous question: “Why does this not exist?” I knew there were others out there who, like me, thirsted for motivation and inspiration during their commutes to work and their stints on the treadmill.
Why is there not a podcast serving up a fresh dose of inspiration on the same timeline?
Have you identified a niche in your industry that your business will fill, or a specific pain point from your audience that you’re going to solve?
Taking my entrepreneurial leap
Something deep inside was telling me this was a leap I was meant to take, and so I took a deep breath and stepped out into the abyss.
Once I looked down and realized there was no net below me, my survival instincts took over.
So what did I do?
I went out and searched every crevice for podcasting knowledge, resources, masterminds, conferences, and for other people in my industry I could connect with. Here are three key things I did immediately:
- I took all the relevant courses at Lynda.com
- I joined The Podcast Answerman’s mastermind
- I went to a conference to meet the brightest Entrepreneur stars and other influencers in my industry
Then, I used these platforms not only to gain knowledge and insights, but also as a way to introduce myself, and my mission.
For example, when I was at this conference, I asked entrepreneurs and industry influencers for 25 minutes of their time to share their journey with my audience – an audience that did not yet exist. These entrepreneurs and influencers believed in what I was doing, and so they agreed.
I knew if I could get inspiring and successful entrepreneurs on my podcast – who believed in what I was doing – that I would quickly become an authority figure in my niche, and the people who were listening would quickly grow to trust me. They would get to know me through listening to me every day.
Meeting people and making connections in your industry is an important step because these are going to be the people who can help you. Soak up as much knowledge from them as possible.
One yes from an entrepreneur to share their journey led to two. Two led to six. Six led to 40. And on September 20th, 2012, three months after I made the decision to become an entrepreneur, I launched my podcast.
At this time, I still hadn’t quite figured out how I was going to make money. I knew from the mastermind I had joined that it was possible, but my strategy was still a bit blurry. Crazy, right? I didn’t think so. From the very beginning, I set out to build a podcast that would inspire millions, not make millions.
EntrepreneurOnFire catches fire!
The first couple of days after I launched started off quiet enough, pulling in 20, 59, and 53 downloads respectively. I thought this was about right… myself, my iPad, my girlfriend’s iPhone… we were doing ok.
Then, WHAM! A jaw dropping 1,615 downloads THE NEXT DAY.
I was speechless. I could not fathom that many people actually finding my podcast and clicking “subscribe”. How did this happen?
Then WHAM – WHAM! 2,886 the very next day. Seriously?!
My head was spinning, and I had to sit down and try to figure out what the heck was going on. I logged into my iTunes account, went to the Business Podcast home page, and there, just as plain as day, EntrepreneurOnFire sat atop the “New and Noteworthy” list for all eyes to see.
Prior to launching, I had no idea what the criteria was for this “New and Noteworthy” section. But now, before my very eyes, EntrepreneurOnFire was perched on the best piece of real estate in the world of podcasts.
So how did I get these massive download numbers, and in effect, make it into the “New and Noteworthy” section? Here it goes…
How I caught fire, and why you should “just ask”
Here’s the exact formula I used to get there, mistakes and all:
When I launched EntrepreneurOnFire on September 20th, I had 40 interviews completed and ready to go.
Day one was a Thursday, and I had 20 downloads. On Friday, I had almost tripled that number to 59. Then, on Saturday, I dropped down to 53. I took a little walk and pondered the fact that I was now going in the wrong direction: downward. Was it the weekend? What else could I do?
Then it hit me. Why not reach out to the Entrepreneurs I had already interviewed – the very people whom I had made connections with way back at the conference? They had shared their amazing journey with me; would they also want to share it with their massive audiences?
I ran home and composed an email to all 40 Entrepreneurs I had interviewed, including links to EntrepreneurOnFire.com and iTunes, with a thinly veiled plea for them to share with their audiences.
When I logged into my Libsyn account on Monday morning, my jaw dropped. I had 632 downloads, at 7am EST!
My numbers continued to climb quickly all day, and the emails started pouring in. My interviewees had not only promoted the heck out of their interview on EntrepreneurOnFire, but they also wanted to know if there was anything else they could do to help!
By days end, 1,615 downloads had been tallied, and I was sitting on cloud nine. My shotgun email had paid massive dividends, and just like that I had my first solid base of subscribers – and all I had to do was just ask.
When I logged into my Libsyn account on Tuesday morning, my eyes went wide as I saw over 1,800 downloads – and the day was just beginning. I did a quick little happy dance and ended the day at 2,886 downloads.
From that point on, EntrepreneurOnFire cemented its place as #1 in the iTunes “New and Noteworthy” section and continued to gain subscribers daily as each Entrepreneur shared their interview with their audience.
Before I knew it, I was averaging over 3,000 downloads a day and was able to approach some really big names (Seth Godin, Barbara Corcoran, Tim Ferriss, Gary Vaynerchuk) and humbly ask for 20 minutes of their time in return for the opportunity to reach the massive audience EntrepreneurOnFire now commanded.
If you’re not running a podcast, what can your business do to make connections with people in your industry or niche and how will you reach out to them for help? Request a guest post? Ask industry leaders to share your business on Facebook? Connect with people through HARO?
How I started making a six-figure income
This is where things really started getting fun. I started to see my audience grow big time. My email list was rockin’, my social media pages had picked up, visitors to EntrepreneurOnFire.com increased, and people began to contact me about sponsoring the show.
Sponsor EntrepreneurOnFire? I guess if I could find the right types of sponsors (so that I wasn’t diluting my show with irrelevant content), then I could provide value to both my audience and my business.
One day not too long after, a broker who realized that podcasts were a great advertising tool approached me. Companies like Audible.com, LegalZoom, and Stamps.com were on his roster, and he was able to negotiate a $345 fee per episode from these sponsors! Within days, all of my Q2 slots were booked.
Doing some quick math, I saw that 30(days) x $345 = $10,350 per month. Holy crap! Just like that, I suddenly found myself running a six-figure-a-year business.
What Q3 and Q4 will bring is unknown. But what I do know is that EntrepreneurOnFire’s audience is growing every day, which has been the key to my success thus far.
Sponsorships are one of the many income streams I currently have, and more will soon join as I continue to develop EntrepreneurOnFire as a brand for Entrepreneurs.
In the beginning, I didn’t have an audience – only an idea, a passion. And I’ve never lost site of how important it is to focus on my main goal of inspiring millions, not making millions – an important distinction to make when you’re an Entrepreneur.
What is the #1 tip you can share for how you’ve successfully grown your audience? Let me know in the comments section!
John Lee Dumas is the Founder and Host of EntrepreneurOnFire, a top ranked Business podcast in iTunes that averages over 250,000 downloads every month in over 145 countries. EntrepreneurOnFire releases daily episodes of interviews with today’s most successful and inspiring entrepreneurs, who share their journey – including failures, AHA moments, and priceless insights – with Fire Nation. If you’re interested in more 6 Months to 6 Figures materials, visit Podcast Launch.Subscribe to the Podcast