Welcome to the 22nd episode of our podcast with John Lee Dumas from EOFire!

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CP22: John Lee Dumas from EOFire Talks about Starting & Growing Successful Podcast


Martin: Hi Folks. You ever wanted to start a passive income business, or maybe you are interested in interviewing high class people and starting a podcast. Today we have the expert on board with John Lee Dumas from Entrepreneur on Fire. Hi John, how are you doing?

John: Martin, I am fired up to be here, brother! Thanks for having me!

Martin: Great. Can you tell the people, what is actually Entrepreneur on Fire?

John: Entrepreneur on Fire is a daily podcast that I started 4 years ago where I interview today the most successful and inspiring entrepreneurs and we talk about their journey, their worst moments, lessons learned, their ‘aha’ moments, how they turned those ‘aha’ moments into success. Then we have a lightning round of questions that is meant to give gold to the listeners. We have now done over 1300 episodes to date, we are consistently getting over one million listeners per month of the show, and it’s simple been a blast.

Martin: Great. I mean, basically it’s the same stuff that I am doing.

Why did you start this kind of podcast? Did you just stumble into that and then at one point in time you realized there could be some business opportunity? What is the story behind Entrepreneur on Fire?

John: Entrepreneur on Fire is really a solving of my own problem.

I mean the reality is this, Martin, it’s that I was a struggling business person back in 2012/11/10, and so I was looking to consume content that would inspire me and motivate me, that would bring me to the next level and I found podcasting, and I loved podcasting. But the reality was there just wasn’t a daily podcast, there was a weekly podcast, there was a podcast that was going twice a month, it just wasn’t enough quantity for me. Because I was driving to work every single day by myself, I was going to the gym, I was doing this, doing that, I wanted to consume this content all of those times. I searched for the daily podcast, it didn’t exist, I decided to follow Gandhi’s great words and be the change you wish to see in the world, and that was the launch of EOFire.


Martin: Awesome. Imagine that you are just having this idea of starting this podcast, how did you find the first podcast interview partners?

John: It wasn’t easy, but the reality was I saw that there were a lot of people who were guests on other shows. And so I said: “Well, those people will most likely want to be guests on my shows as well.” So I reached out to them one by one and I said, “Hey, you were a great guest on this show, I really enjoyed your content, I would really like you to come and share a similar story on my show. But I have a very unique format; we talk about your worst moment, your ‘aha’ moment, I have these lighting round of questions. Would this be something you would be interested in having a conversation about?” Then slowly but surely, step by step I would be getting one guest to 2 guests, and then those 2 guests would recommend a third guest and I was really able to build a great back log of guests and interviews that way.

Martin: Nice. Nowadays you have like 1 million podcast listens a month, awesome.

How did you start with your podcast marketing and really attracting the first 1000, the first 10,000 subscribers?

John: For me again it goes back to that building a foundation, I think that’s so important. I launched just like everybody else launched, with zero listens, and then every single day I woke up and I said how can I just add to my listenership? How can I go find where my perfect listeners are right now, expose them to Entrepreneur on Fire, to my podcast and to maybe excite them to join.

It wasn’t easy, I had to hustle, I had to go into Facebook groups and LinkedIn groups, I had to go find Reddit’s and go repost that were being written by entrepreneurs and commented by and contributed. I had to really get out there and do some gorilla marketing.

Then of course having a show that goes live every single day with a successful entrepreneur, I would ask that guest of my show to share with their audience so then every single day, my guest was sharing EOFire with their listeners, with their audience. And that was growing exponentially the show every single day.

Martin: When you had like maybe 5000, 10000 subscribers, did you approach some kind of podcast advertisers or did they approach you? At what point in time did you think: “Okay, let’s start rolling the US dollars.”

John: At the 6 month point, I was really getting to a place where I said men, I am getting about 3-4 thousand listens every single episode, this is a significant number, maybe it’s time to start looking for sponsors. So I started kind of looking around on my own.

But sometimes how the universe works and you put things out there in the universe, I got reached out to by a broker that was a sponsorship broker and the company was called the Midroll. The guy emailed me and said, “Hey John, I would love to jump on a call because you know we are the Midroll, we find sponsors for podcasts. We are looking to bring in a business podcast, right now we pretty much focus on the comedy shows.”

My show appealed to them for a number of reasons; number 1, it was a daily show so there was a lot of opportunities for sponsorship spots on a daily show, 30 a month specifically. So we tried it out and by the end of that same week, that broker had already booked over $12,000 of sponsors on my show for the following month. EOFire went from no sponsors and almost no revenue for the first 6 months, to generating 5 figures a month from month 7, and then by the 12th month, so a year later after we launched we had entered the 6 figure a month category.

Martin: I can really imagine your face dropping down when you said: “What? $12,000 in sponsorship?”

I mean if I am calculating just in my head, having one billion monthly listeners and you are getting like $80,000 that approximately translates into $80 CPM. Why is that CPM so crazy high and what is your expectations on the podcasting CPM’s for the future?

John: The CPM’s are so high because with podcast listeners, it is a very intimate medium. I mean they are choosing to press play on your content, unlike a radio where you just find a radio station and do this, do that. Podcast listeners have found the content, they have found the hosts that they want and they have decided to press the play button, and they get to know the host. They get to know, like and trust the voice behind the microphone so to speak. So why spend 6 months growing a great fire nation now they trust me. So when I recommend a product or a service to them, they are much more likely to try that service because it is coming from somebody that they know, like and trust, not just some voice that is sharing with them the ups and the downs in a very sales marketing pitchy kind of way.

So that’s why CPM’s have sometimes, for podcasts, been anywhere from, you know, fill in the blank, anywhere from $15 CPM’s all the way up to $60 CPM’s, and I have seen them range all in there since I started and it’s a very powerful medium.

Now, the future of podcasting is interesting because, like everything in life, now people are becoming a lot more used to sponsors on podcasts so they are becoming a little more tone deaf to that, when back in the day it just was kind of a special day and so if you are able to use a unique read and keep the listeners interested, they probably listen.

But now it’s a little bit different, it is a lot more crowded of a market place. I kind of foresee CPM’s decreasing in the future, but never to a level of like a radio or a newspaper or a bill board, but just kind of down from the stratosphere they have been up for so long.

Martin: Yes, definitely, because I would also add one more dimension… Because you said basically you have a higher trust therefore the CPM is higher, but apparently the audience is getting used to this therefore the conversion rates thereby the generated sales decrease, therefore the willingness to pay from the advertiser will go down. But one factor I would like to add is there are so many new podcasts reaching out and actually competing against each other. Because if they are millions of business podcasts out there, then you should give me a very good reason advertising on your podcast versus another one.

John: I definitely agree. Again, that was when they first reached out to me. My broker, they said: “We haven’t sponsored on any business podcast before, we haven’t used any, like I was literally the first business podcast that this broker, which is the biggest broker that is out there, The Midroll is their name, they actually just acquired Stitcher radio, like a week ago. It’s just crazy.

Just make sure to use a great podcast hosting service when starting your podcast.


Martin: Are you looking into your podcast marketing or user acquisition statistics? Can you give us some kind of detail on where are the new users coming from? What type of marketing tactics are you using in order to use that?

John: Really the new types of acquisition are coming from:

  • #1: my current guest sharing to their audience when they are on the show, that’s always bringing new ears to the actual podcast, and
  • #2: it is just organic iTunes. Like on iTunes we have people that are very single day they are searching for content, and when they are looking for the top ranked business podcast, they are searching for key terms on the iTunes search bar, whether they be entrepreneur or fill in the blank, and they are coming across my podcast that way, so discover ability with an iTunes and then also just sharing with our audience, with the guest audience.

Martin: Are you doing anything on, let’s call it podcast SEO or something like that? Optimizing key words, etc.? So that your discoverability is improved.

John: No, nothing in that area.

Martin: Okay cool.


Martin: On your site, I have seen that you are working with freelancers and virtual assistants, let me understand how is your work day, or your work week structured? And how are you collaborating with those freelancers?

John: Yes, we have actually 5 full time virtual assistants and then 2 freelancers, 2 independent contractors so to speak. Our 5 virtual assistants work 40 hours per week, so they are just working full time, they have their tasks, they know what they are doing. Then the independent contractors, we actually have them on retainer, so we have them for our designers 40 hours per month and our web developers 30 hours per month, and we pay them based off of that. We have them for a minimum those amount of hours every single month.

And then just as different campaigns come up or opportunities arise, we will then reach out to them and have them fix it up for us and have them do a design or fix up a website or add this or add that in kind of a very one-off basis.

Martin: I would assume that the virtual assistants are working on your interview partner backlog so to speak arrange the meetings, maybe do some transcribing or something like this. Anything else that they are doing?

John: Yes definitely. Like you said, we have the transcribing, we have a lot of email follow up going on, we have a lot of social media, whether it is Twitter, or Facebook or whatever, it might be kind of keeping the conversations going and making sure if there’s any direct questions to me, then I get those questions, etc. There is a lot of different things we do on a day to day basis for sure and that my virtual assistants do, going forward that they just know because, it’s their 40 hours per week.


Martin: I have also seen that you have a very diverse type of revenue stream, so from affiliate earnings from podcast advertising, from product sales and so on and so forth. Can you elaborate a little bit on that, and how did you experiment with those different revenue streams over time? And how do you think this revenue split will change over the next 12 months and why?

John: Yes, revenue streams are definitely something you always want to keep your finger on the pulse with when it comes to be an entrepreneur because things are changing. The world is changing, opportunities are changing, new things are coming up, old ways are dying, etc. So you always want to keep your finger on the pulse.

And that’s one thing that we have always done that I am very proud of as EOFire, is that we are very open and transparent and honest with our personal revenue. So every single month we publish an income report where we break down all the revenue that we have generated, how we have generated it, we break down all of our costs and expenses within the business and exactly what that looks like. So we give a really great snapshot of our business every single month; the trends, what’s working, what’s not working, etc.

That has been a really big part of our business, is continuing going forward with that transparency. So that’s been huge, that’s been a big plus for what we do. Because it is also allowed for me to say what is working revenue wise, what is the 80:20? And that meaning, what is the 20% that is actually contributing to the 80% of the overall bottom line, and really making sure that we focus on that 20% and kind of just let the other 80% of stuff that is just not doing the big impact kind of drift off into nothing. That has kind of really allowed us to hone our skills.

So some of our big revenue sources right now are podcasters paradise, which is our podcasting community, where we teach people how to create, grow and monetize their own podcast.

Another one is the freedom journal, which is a physical book that I have created which teaches people how to set and accomplish their number 1 goal in 100 days, and it’s done via this gorgeous leather bound journal that has a very unique step by step process on setting and accomplishing your number one goal.

We do a lot of great affiliates and joint venture sales and revenue. And that is where like another entrepreneur, one of my friends, whatever, might have a course, a product, an offering that definitely aligns with my listenership and my audience. What are we able to do, boom, we are able to go ahead and bring them on the show or send an email about them and recommend their product or their service and if anybody converts then we have a commission off of that as well.

Those are some ways we generate revenue and going forward, I can say I am working on another project right now that’s very similar to the freedom journal, but it’s going to be in a very different niche and a different spectrum.

Oh yeah, and kind of going backwards again real quick, is we generate a lot of money every month as well, via podcast sponsorships, to the tune of sometimes $40K to $50K to $60K per month. So that’s a big revenue stream for us as well.

Those are some things, and again, going into the future, it’s looking at another project similar to the freedom journal and another project that I am working on right now is actually called “Skills on fire”, where I am just going to kind of be teaching for a very low level as far as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, just how I use these in a very effective way. This is not like an all-encompassing premium course type of everything, but just how I use these different social media platforms and different marketing platforms effectively, for people that want to kind of study that.

Martin: Cool. John, when I am looking at this kind of revenue and the profits that you are making, my question is, what are you doing with the profits? Are you just enjoying your time? Are you investing in organic growth or diversification, which is partly one thing that you are doing? Or are you an angel investor? What are you doing with these profits?

John: Yes, and I can tell you it’s definitely a good question. There are a couple of things that we are doing.

Number 1, we are definitely making sure that we are putting a good portion of this away because when we work hard and things are working well right now, I know as well as anybody else that things can change in the future at any time. The best part about hosting EOFire is, I start every show with the worst entrepreneurial moments and that is just the reality, so I know that the next worst moment is right around the corner because nobody expects it, it just happens, boom, just like that. We are definitely looking to build up quite a nest to make sure that when things change, and things always change, that we have a nice little nest so that we can make sure that we smoothly transition into that next stage or opportunity in life.

At the same time, we definitely are investing back into our business with a certain portion of the money. We are investing in Facebook advertising and different like Amazon growth opportunities like with the Freedom Journal on Amazon. I am looking at different ways of using Amazon advertising to get that in front of more people, etc. We are definitely looking to invest back into the company with organic growth and hire people.

Another thing is we are actually hiring another employee to our team which is going to add to our monthly expenses, but we know it is going to add to also the overall growth of our business if it is used correctly.

So a little combination of organic growth, a lot of savings, just kind of being stacked up or what may or may not happen in the future, so just having that peace of mind.

And we are big into charities, like I donate a lot of money every single month, charities like Pencils of Promise where we built 3 schools at over $75,000 in just the past year alone through Pencils of Promise with 3 separate $25,000 donations. So we kind of want to have that full spectrum that makes sense and that is where we are at.

 Martin: Cool.


Martin: John, after talking to you about this Entrepreneur on Fire thing, how do I monetize and how do I build this kind of business… Now I would be very interested in, for example, if you are looking back to this 1300 podcasts, what have been the 3 major learnings or fuck ups or whatever that entrepreneurs have shared with you?

John: Wow.

  1. Number 1 is just giving into fear. I mean we are all going to feel, fear is always going to be with us when we try something new, when we try something different, when we put ourselves out there, but it is giving into fear, like that is the major mistake that so many entrepreneurs make, and it happens time and time again.
  2. Number 2 is surrounding yourself with the wrong people, like you are an average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. So often entrepreneurs, they just fall into this trap where they slowly but surely sort of surround themselves with the wrong kind of people who just don’t really have the same morals or the same outlook or the same desires in life and they become the average of that and this is kind of a downward spiral or a downward trend.
  3. The third thing would be just having a singular mentor, like not having that person that is just where you want to be right now. Because so often in life we look around a room, and whether it is a physical room or a virtual room, and if you are the smartest person in that room, you are in the wrong room, you have got to get out of there and find another room where you are being challenged, where people are holding you accountable, making it happen. So having that one mentor that is pulling you upwards is okay.

Martin: How do you know that the surrounding people are the right ones for you, so that you really make sure: “Okay, now I am at the right spot, or no I am identifying I am not at the right spot?”

John: You just sit down and say: “What kind of person do I want to be? What kind of things do I want to accomplish? What do I want to stand for? What do I want to be important in my life?” Once you have a grasp on that, then you can look around and say: “Okay, now I get it, now I want to attract these people to me and spend time with these people. And maybe I am now pretty aware that friends 2, 3, and 5 just do not have those qualities, those traits, how do I move them off from my top 5.” I am not saying cut them off forever, but you got to move them out of your top 5.

Martin: John, do you have a mentor? If yes, who is it and how did you find him?

John: Yes, I absolutely do have a mentor, that is and going continue to be private, but it is a mentor and I believe in always having a mentor going forward, that is so important. What I did was, I found somebody who is currently where I want to be and I hired him, I said what is it going to take? You name the price, I want to be where you are, I want you to mentor me, and we have been mentor-mentee ever since.

Martin: Cool. Because this is interesting, as you said, this is the price where you are paying, because I would have assumed that a lot of people for example, if I am thinking of who would I love to have as a mentor would not be, let’s say acquirable for money but maybe for something else.

Imagine, I would love to have this is not true, but I would love to have a Bill Gates or Barrack Obama as my personal mentor, because maybe this is what I want to do. I guess I would never be able to pay Bill Gates, because he has all the money in the world, he doesn’t need any more money, maybe he needs something else. So what other things could you think of that could motivate a mentor that you really want to be a mentor?

John: Maybe showing them that your mission in this world aligns with their mission, I mean maybe they love the charity water. So if you are willing to really become committed to that and moving that forward in a very powerful way, then that mentor would be inspired to say: “Wow, if you are willing to give that to something that I believe in so strongly, I am willing to give some of my time.” There are other ways to go about it, for sure.

Martin: Great. John, thank you so much for sharing your insights, I wish you all the best with your Entrepreneur of Fire podcast and all the other ventures that you are starting, and especially one thing that I really like is that you are doing some charity and helping people with building schools and education and so on. Thank you so much for that.

John: Martin thank you, I really enjoyed the chat today.


Thanks so much for joining our 22nd podcast episode!

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Special thanks to John for joining me this week. Until next time!

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