How Entrepreneurs on Fire Has Made Over $2 Million Annually For 7 Years in A Row

Mar 01, 2021
Created by the author — original image Wikitia


Everyone and their grandma want to start a podcast these days and there are few better role models than John Lee Dumas.

He quit his job in 2012 to create Entrepreneurs On Fire when the podcast audience was a tiny fraction of what it is today. Apple had only just launched their app and many incorrectly thought the medium would never catch on. It was a bold gamble to go headfirst into such an unproven market back then.

It took him 4 months to even launch and he’d already blasted a $10k hole into his savings. The costs kept mounting but luckily the revenue started trickling in too. The first year was tough but the foundation had been laid. In 2014, the income skyrocketed to over $2.7m and it hasn’t dipped below $2m since.

The great thing is there isn’t a big mystery around his rise to the top. John has shared volumes of information about his journey every step of the way. As well as several online courses, he has published monthly income reports in incredible detail.

I find John’s story fascinating as an online entrepreneur who dreams of running a podcast. I studied him intently and here are my key takeaways.


Launch early to compete with the heavyweights

Let’s be real even with his millions of downloads, you may have never heard of John Lee Dumas. Yet have you heard of these guys and their podcasts?

Reid Hoffman’s Masters of Scale began in 2017.
Guy Raz’s How I Built This began in 2016.
Tim Ferriss’s The Tim Ferriss Show began in 2014.

They play in a different league because they launched their podcasts with huge existing audiences.

If you’re reading this, your background is probably closer to John’s than theirs. He proves normal people can do it. Yet he built his podcast rapidly partly because there was such little competition. He readily admits if he launched today, his audience would be far smaller.

It doesn’t mean you can’t launch the next big podcast but it is much harder now than it was in 2012. Remember a large part of the rewards for entrepreneurship comes from taking risks others aren’t willing to take. All the giants will pile once there is a proven market.

John had built up his savings so he didn’t need to immediately worry about money and believed wholeheartedly in what he was doing.

Today’s online market is more competitive across the board but there are still new platforms being created and generating superstars. Think about those who were early adopters of TikTok for instance. Clubhouse may well be the next big thing or it may disappear after a year.

Are you willing to take the risk?


Don’t be afraid to spend money to make money

I know online entrepreneurs who make hundreds of thousands a year and still do all the menial tasks themselves. It means they work dozens of more hours per month than they need to, on things that take them away from higher-value tasks.

John started this way too and remembers trying to build his own website. He wasted 8 hours trying to move an image from one side of the page to another. Let’s say he can charge $200 per hour for consulting, he just spent $1600 on failing to do a simple bit of web development.

His wife called her friend who did it in 3 minutes flat.

It was a painful lesson but one that other entrepreneurs should learn from rather than repeat. You aren’t different. You aren’t amazing at everything and there’s a reason why professionals are professionals!


Consistently different

In a recent episode with a guest, John put his prosperity down to his hustle and grind but it doesn’t quite tell the full story.

Entrepreneurs On Fire stood out when it started because it was a daily short podcast when most others were weekly or sporadic. He realized he was listening to podcasts every day on his commute but no one produced enough episodes for his needs.

John betted others were in the same position as him and history has proved him right. He’s recorded over 3000 episodes, something no other entrepreneurship podcast can rival. Though it’s untrue to say he outworked everyone else because is it harder to make one 4 hour podcast a week or seven 20-minute ones?

If John had put just as much effort in but produced a weekly podcast, it’s unlikely he would have carved out his own audience as there were other more established options. The key was directing his effort in an innovative way and the opposite could have worked if everyone else was making daily podcasts.

He has kept this differentiator for the whole life of Entrepreneurs On Fire. His followers know exactly what to expect and love him for it. Whatever format you choose to stand out, can you be consistent enough to get the same level of fandom?


Teach others what you are good at

John was already making over half a million in revenue directly from the podcast by 2014. Most people would be happy with this, I know I would!

Yet because he was an early mover in a growing industry, he’d become an authority on all things podcast too. Many people who were too nervous to start their own show in 2012 now wanted a piece of the growing pie. They wanted to learn from someone who had been there and done it.

This is where 67% of his revenue came from in 2014. He launched an online course before it was cool and his trusting audience were like kids in a candy shop. He’d put in the hard work to gain his expertise and now could profit off his valuable knowledge.

When you’re thriving in any field, there are usually supplementary skills needed to get there in the first place. To reach people with fascinating daily entrepreneurship stories, John had to master all the tech, the networking, the business strategy, and so on. These skills can sometimes be more lucrative than the end product!

Consider writers who after seeing significant progress tend to create courses to teach others how to write. People may love their stories for the content but a small minority might be far more willing to learn how to be like them.

Keep track of everything you learn about your craft as one day it could be the way you earn millions.


Listen to your fans

Although John keeps publishing an episode a day, almost everything else he does has completely changed.

His first course, Podcaster’s Paradise, brought in $1.87 million in 2014 but only $0.5 million in 2017. He has released more online courses since then but combined the total income has been falling year on year.

People love the idea of creating an evergreen online course and collecting money forever while they sit on the beach. The reality is more complex.

Entrepreneurs On Fire has managed to consistently make 7 figures because John keeps adapting to what his listeners want. For over a hundred days so far, he has jumped on YouTube for an hour every morning where fans can ask him questions live. He’s not locked away in an ivory tower.

Whenever someone sends abuse or downvotes his video, he thanks them and asks them to drop him a message to tell him how to improve. This level of humility and willingness to learn even at his stage says a lot about his mindset.

Many people see mild success online then they fizzle out and are forgotten about. If you want the long-lasting presence John has built through Entrepreneurs On Fire, don’t lock yourself away. There are new opportunities all the time if you are paying attention.

Amar's Letter

Real talk on driving impact as an imperfect human.