John Lee Dumas (00:00): Let's see if this thing works, let's give it 18 months. If I make no money, I'll be fine. If I make some money, that'll be good. If I make a lot of money, it'll be great. If you are willing and able to provide the best solution to a specific problem, you're going to win it.
Intro (00:15): Choose not to live in a world of filters, realize your mistakes, set the foundation for your success. Get some wins, knucklehead. podcast.
Stephen Colon (00:28): Welcome To another edition of knucklehead podcast you got with you today. The knucklehead Steven I've also got kind of an OG in the business, podcasting content marketing before content marketing actually became a thing that people started talking about. And it's John Lee Dumas. Listen, if you've ever heard of an industry being on fire, it's probably because John started it. You know, I don't know if that's giving him too much credit or not, but John let's be real here for a second. There's not a whole lot of broadcasters or specifically content marketers that did that as a career prior to you and Tim Ferris. And so I'm interested just based off of this show, being predicated on screw ups, mistakes failures, and that actually paving the way to your success. What have you found to be consistently the key towards you just running towards risk that you see actually, people are kind of staying away from now that this has actually become a popular thing to be a content marketer or a podcast, or,
John Lee Dumas (01:23): Uh, just for the record, I taught Tim Ferris how to podcast two years after I launched my podcast. So he was a little late to the game. Although I have to give him credit for being early to the game, as far as the location independence, uh, four hour type of workweek lifestyle, for sure, but no, it's been a fun journey. Listen, 2012 had this stupid idea to launch a daily podcast, interviewing entrepreneurs. Everybody said it couldn't be done including the luminaries in the industry, which got me fired up because I said, if these guys think it can't be done and I can figure out how to do it, there's definitely something there. So here we are. Eight years later, 2,600 episodes later, entrepreneurs on fire has been a seven figure a year net profits business for seven years in a row now. And living in Puerto Rico live in the Lavita loca.
Stephen Colon (02:11): Well, and so I love that. I love that you leaned right in with people telling you what you couldn't do and you're doing it in spite of that actually added fuel to the flame. But let's back up just a second here with some context around the streaming platforms that are out there, you know, the Netflix's of the world that quite frankly have maybe not even learned from their previous mistakes and other industries with supporting things that are out there right now that honestly are, there's been a lot of skeletons in the closet that coming out about the entertainment industry as of late. So that would tell me that maybe aren't necessarily learning from their lessons in the past. So you coming out onto the scene, hearing the luminaries or the wonders of the world, telling you that you couldn't do your own thing from an independent or business standpoint, do you see folks that are actually starting to separate themselves in this market now that it's being flooded with people who haven't learned from their mistakes in the past? Well, wondering
John Lee Dumas (03:00): Again, there are probably four or five years behind me, but I do love those guys. I mean, talk about quality podcasts and quality shows. I mean, man, I think like four or five of my favorite podcasts come from that business. So I'm really impressed with what they're doing and taking podcasts into the next level. In fact, that's kind of one thing that we were seeing for years in like 2012, 2013, 2014, we were just like ni and a couple of other knuckleheads that like we're bad at interviewing and didn't know what we were doing. And pretty clueless, just kind of stumbling around. We're saying watch out because the prod casters are coming, those professional podcasters, they will be coming when they wake up to the fact that this is an amazing medium. And finally like 2016, 2017, 2018, you started to kind of seeing people wake up to the fact Spotify came in, you know, just said, podcasting's awesome for reasons I could definitely get into, but I won't now, you know, giving Joe Rogan a hundred million dollar plus exclusive contract signing, Michelle Obama doing all these other things.
John Lee Dumas (03:54): So it's just been so obvious in this evolution, you know, where I got in when podcasts and we still kind of like a joke and like kind of like a side hobby and nobody had figured out how to monetize or make real revenue from it. Then they start seeing this kid, you know, JLD who, you know, is making over six figures of net profit a month, not just one or two months in a row, but now as you and I are talking 80 at four months in a row, as we publish on our income reports at eofire.com/income. And you know, that's just kind of like what our process has been. It's just like, wow, we got in here early, we caught the wave. We need to try to do whatever we can to stay above it. But at the same time, it's just like the wave is cresting. And it's about to just collapse on all these surfers below it. And everybody's going to get washed out because it's true. And you've heard Gary Vaynerchuk say this marketers ruin everything. It's only a matter of time and you know, they're going to ruin the podcasting space. It's only a matter of time. So I'm just hanging on down here in Puerto Rico, having fun, doing my thing. And when the show is over, when the rise done, I'll get off and I'll be happy about it.
Stephen Colon (04:57): Well, that's what I was going to ask you about because history has a way of repeating itself. If folks don't learn from their mistakes. And that was one thing that was, I thought was very interesting about your story. And you probably hear this all the time with 2,600 different podcasts yourself and all the different interviews that you do on a daily basis. What you're doing is you're having folks focus their attention on the details. They're focusing their attention on the emotions behind the words or the honestly the gut wrenching, visceral feeling and reaction to failure that you had to go through in order to actually turn out your first sponsorship or your first dollars. Can you rewind back the clock a little bit to think about the mindset that you were in and how you had to maintain daily focus, having a young family, having a young business and still wanting to go out there and actually solve business problems for companies that worked with you.
John Lee Dumas (05:42): So that was a beautiful thing. I didn't have a young family. It was just me. Didn't really support anybody. Didn't have to like have any significant revenue coming in. I could just really keep expenses low, keep my head above water and just say, you know what? See if this thing works, let's give it 18 months. If I make no, I'll be fine. If I make some money, that'd be good. If I make a lot of money, it will be great. And like, that was the experiment I was able to do because at 32 years old, when I launched, like I had that kind of savings, I had that kind of financial cushion to really go and strive for that, which I know a lot of people don't have. And I think it's great. And it's awesome if you want to start a podcast as a side hustle, because it just might work like it just might click and it might take you a little bit longer than if you go all in and focus on it, but it can be a much safer route going forward.
John Lee Dumas (06:27): So for me, it's just like, listen, if you have something that you're passionate about to talk about, and then you can also add value and expertise to the world and you can combine those two things and actually have a podcast that is solving a problem better than any other podcast is doing right now for a set of listeners, you're going to win. But if you're going to say, Hey, I'm gonna start a podcast and just interview people like John Lee Dumas and have them talk about the same things they always talk about and answer the same question. They always answer. You're going to fail
Stephen Colon (06:55): Noted. Got it. I appreciate that words of wisdom too. So when you see into the future, based off of your experience, do you see companies like Barstool sports separating themselves in different industries or is that just an anomaly that's out there because they're, you know, based in the competitive sports landscape that they're going to be the ones that are going to be the industry centers that are out there.
John Lee Dumas (07:16): I like to stay in my lane of knowledge and, you know, I don't like to speculate on things that frankly I don't know much about or care much about. My attitude is pretty simple when it comes to podcasting and just content marketing in general, if you are willing and able to provide the best solution to a specific problem, you're going to win at life. Whether that be with a podcast, which Barstool is able to do, because guess what, for a certain huge number of people who want that type of humor, that type of content, that type of focus, they've captured a huge audience in that because of that reason. And that's amazing for them. And if you're able to do that in your own niche, start tiny solving a really specific, but you know, maybe even minuscule problem better than anybody else, you can get a little bit of a foothold and then over time you can grow, expand and broaden out into something a little bit bigger, but that's what it comes down to.
John Lee Dumas (08:08): Very simple content marketing podcasting, wouldn't be a YouTuber, a tick Docker, Instagram influencer fill in the blank. What problem are you solving better than anybody else? You know, there's all of these beautiful Instagram models, you know, on Instagram. And guess what, there's only so many pictures, you know, of women in a bikini on a beautiful beach, the people that are going to like there's a limited number. And so like, you're playing a tough game right there. But if you're like, you know what, I am going to become the number one influencer on a yoga and being a vegan at the same time, because nobody's tackling those two combined topics and how you can be the best Yogi vegan in the world. You're going to win period.
Stephen Colon (08:54): Well, I think it also is very inconvenient for a lot of people. And if I'm just being transparent with you, based off of the conversations that you have in the business world, you have to sacrifice a significant amount of your ego in order to accomplish that. It's, it certainly sounds a lot better when you're talking to Harvard MBAs or, or folks that have actually been out there in the marketplace that have gone to business school. When you start to reduce it down to talking about yoga and, and being a vegan to them, it's, it's beneath them. But quite frankly, that's where the connection to humans lie in this particular medium here, having conversations that corporations, if they can figure out that the individuals who are at their companies, they have stories to tell. And then in conjunction with that, it's probably stories that they've screwed up along the way to help them get to where they are and here at knucklehead, essentially, that's what we do.
Stephen Colon (09:39): We lead with the fact that you're going to screw this up along the way, whether you're in a new role, you're starting a new company, or you're establishing a new market, a new channel, a new business development process in order to go out there and gain new market share. You're doing it for the first time or you're replicating what somebody else has done in your business. You're probably going to screw it up. So let's hear about what you've screwed up along the way, and then, and then go from there. So when it comes to negotiating some of your initial sponsorship deals, what did you think was important that actually wasn't as you were going through that whole process, John?
John Lee Dumas (10:09): Well, what I thought was important to answer the opposite part of your question is to actually give a return on the investment for my sponsors. Like that was pretty clear to me, day one, like that was important. What I also thought was important day one was that my audience fire nation, they knew, liked and trusted me as the podcast host. And so if I was going to bring in a sponsor, I actually wanted to know like, and trust that product and that service. So I was very specific about testing and trying and making sure that this in fact is going to be a great product or service specifically for my audience entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, small business owners. So I can make that connection because if it's not a win, win, win three ways around when it comes to podcast, sponsorships, Dennis, a loss, if your is not winning, meaning they're not getting an ROI on the actual investment, making more money than they're spending with you.
John Lee Dumas (10:57): It's a loss. If you're not actually able to generate revenue as the host and make it worth your wild, then it's a loss. Cause guess what? If your show has a thousand listens per episode, that's a really good show. But then if you go spend all this time, finding a sponsor, locking him down for the industry, average $25 CPMs, you just made $25. And if that's not going to really be meaningful money for you, then you've got to be looking at different ways to generate money and revenue with your podcast. And then of course, for your listener, which I kind of already got into, is, is this a meaningful product or service for them? Is it going to improve their life, their business? So they're going to be like, okay, like I trusted John. I went ahead, I use 99 designs. I got a great logo.
John Lee Dumas (11:38): So the next time you recommend something in the business space, I'm going to have trust in that as well. So that's kind of how I went across the sponsorship game. Yeah. That's want to circle back to something real quick that you said, cause I kind of like was internally chuckling when you talked about like an Harvard MBA coming on and you have to like, I dunno, like impress them or something like, am I might've just like the heart guy from Harvard, MBA's going to impress me because that guy's just going off of knowledge. That's, you know, was maybe relevant 15 or 20 years ago with, you know, talk to him by professors that are probably never been successful in the business world ever period. Anyway, so what am I going to learn from this guy? I mean, this guy or girl needs to be relevant in the new world if they're coming on my show or most other entrepreneurial and business podcasts that I know. So actually we gotta be like really, you know, specific just to not get caught up in this old guard of like, this person has an MBA. This person went to Harvard, this and that. It's like to me, it's like, you just probably wasted a ton of time and money doing those things in my opinion.
Stephen Colon (12:31): And you're humble, but accurate opinion that I think that's like, you don't have to agree with me. In my opinion, I do believe that the proof is in the pudding. And it depends on what the goal is. A proof in the pudding is what you've been able to accomplish over the course of your career. And a couple of different ways that you've told folks that if they're interested in some of the things that you're talking about, they can connect with you to help our audience understand exactly how to get in touch with John Lee Dumas
John Lee Dumas (12:53): E O fire.com is the website. We've got a ton of free courses for people and podcasting creating webinars, doing funnels, coming up with your big idea. And we also have a podcast called entrepreneurs on fire that I would love for you to listen to.
Stephen Colon (13:08): Fantastic. All right. So he just told you exactly how to get in touch, not just with him, but the information. And I mischaracterized Tim Ferriss there. Tim Ferris was taught everything he knows by JLT. So there we go. Now that we've set the record
John Lee Dumas (13:21): In the podcasting,
Stephen Colon (13:23): I know I'm going to get slapped upside the head at sometime whenever I have a conversation with him. So that's just how it works. That's why I'm a knucklehead. John, you've been gracious with your time. I appreciate you taking some time to talk with us today. Anything else you want to leave these folks with? That's it just keep on keeping on. I appreciate you, John. Have a good rest of the day. Okay buddy. You man.
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From its humble beginnings, podcasts have become a commonplace for business and content marketers. The exponential growth and popularity not only serve as a medium for creating and distributing valuable content but also create an avenue for multi-dollar revenue.
Today’s episode of the Knucklehead Podcast is a short but meaningful interview from one the top names and pillars in the podcasting industry, John Lee Dumas. He will talk about the key factor that made his way to the top of the podcasting space, his best advice on how to succeed in this arena, and what to keep in mind when dealing with sponsorships.
John Lee Dumas is the founder and host of Entrepreneurs on Fire, an award-winning podcast that hosts an interview with inspiring entrepreneurs. He is widely regarded as one of the best viral entrepreneur podcasters in the United States who started his entrepreneurial career in 2012 and up to date, has generated over $18 million in revenue through his podcasts.
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. His goal from the very beginning: to inspire my audience, Fire Nation, to take their own entrepreneurial leap.
“Let’s see if this thing works, let’s give it 18 months. If I make no money, I’ll be fine. If I make some money, that’ll be good. If I make a lot of money, it’ll be great. If you are willing and able to provide the best solution to a specific problem, you’re going to win at life.”
– John Lee Dumas
In This Episode
1:11 – The key factor that contributes to his success in the podcasting space
2:43 – The evolution of podcast and what to expect in the coming years
5:29 – How John get along during the early days of exploring podcast
7:16 – The best advice you can get from a content marketer
10:09 – The most important part in dealing with the sponsorship game
Engage with John Lee Dumas
Website: Entrepreneurs on Fire
Connect with Knucklehead Media Group
• Knucklehead Media Group is your “push button” for podcasts. We help companies and organizations tell their story using podcasts and best practices for content distribution. Home to some of the top podcasts across multiple categories, captivating coursework on gaining traction with your show, and consulting to those companies BOLD enough to get some wins. We believe your mistakes set the foundation for your success, those stories help customers beat a pathway to your doorstep, and the myths from bringing business online shouldn’t hold you back from getting yours.
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