New Look, Same Great Show (formerly Systems Made Simple)
July 26, 2022

Why Your Business Needs a Podcast with John Lee Dumas

Why Your Business Needs a Podcast with John Lee Dumas

How many of your recent marketing ideas have fallen flat despite your best efforts

Marketing and visibility for digital business owners are HARD and if they’re something you struggle with, know that you’re not alone.

Today, I’m joined by the infamous John Lee Dumas — one of the most successful podcasters of all time — as he shares why podcasting is THE key to making consistent revenue and how to grow a podcast for your business.

In this episode, you're going to learn: 

  • The marketing ideas that allowed John to take his podcast from zero to eight figures in just a few short years
  • The hardest lessons he learned along the way (and what they mean for other digital business owners)
  • How he became one of the most well-known podcasters in the entrepreneurial space — and how you can grow a podcast too
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Courtney Elmer 0:00  

Welcome to the System's Made Simple™ Podcast. This is episode 132. And today I'm joined by a very special guest, online business owner, John Lee Dumas who is a law school dropout turned eight figure podcaster. And he's here to show you why every online business owner needs a podcast. John Lee Dumas is also going to reveal how you can become successful with a podcast and add additional revenue as an online business owner, this year as the host of a top ranked show. That's all coming up next. So stay tuned. 


Courtney Elmer 2:32  

So if you're listening to my voice right now, I know you can't see me smiling ear to ear. But hopefully you can hear it in my voice because today, I am joined by the one the only online business owner John Lee Dumas who also goes by JLD. And he is the host of the entrepreneurs on fire podcast, that podcast that rakes in about eight figures a year and reaches millions upon millions of entrepreneurs. It is one of the most highly impactful and highly successful podcasts of this day and age. And JLD is one of the most successful podcasters of all time. And what he's going to share inside of this episode is for every online business owner- YOU!

Courtney Elmer

If you're a struggling online business owner right now, trying to get visible in your business, if you feel like you're doing all the right things and your marketing and you're showing up every day, but you're still not seeing results. If you're struggling to get consistent leads and traffic to your business, or to make consistent revenue as an online business owner. And if you have a deep desire to impact people, and you've got a powerful message to share, but you haven't quite cracked the code on how to get it in front of more people as an online business owner. Keep listening because John Lee Dumas is here!

John Lee Dumas 4:31  

Courtney Elmer, I am fired up to be here. We got a lot of great online business owner things to talk about.

Courtney Elmer 4:35  

Yes, John Lee Dumas we sure do. And I listen for those that are listening here today who maybe don't know you. You were in the army for over eight years, weren't you?

John Lee Dumas 4:44  

I did four years as active duty and then four years in the reserves.

Courtney Elmer 4:49  

Thank you for your service John Lee Dumas. That's amazing. And also a law school dropout. Yes. Tell us about that. I heard you on GEICO whistle Rocky's podcast say that that was truly one of the most pivotal moments of your life. describe for us what that was like John Lee Dumas.

John Lee Dumas 5:05  

[John Lee Dumas shares his background story about becoming an online business owner.]

Courtney Elmer 8:16  

Wow, what a courageous decision John Lee Dumas. Kudos because I didn't even make it to law school. That was part of the plan was an undergrad for five years. Next thing was law school. I'm I can't, I can't. So I relate on that level, John Lee Dumas, when you when you're faced with the thing that you thought was going to be your path, and then you realize so blatantly, that it is not the path, but then the repercussions of making difficult decisions like that. So, okay, so you dropped out of law school, went to India came back. 

Courtney Elmer 

And based on what I know of your story becoming an online business owner, you started listening to podcasts, and learning and recognizing that wait a second, no one is really talking about the entrepreneurship space, and nobody's releasing a podcast daily. So is there a couple of needs that you saw in the marketplace John Lee Dumas? So tell us about that. What was the idea first and foremost, to release a daily podcast was kind of new and crazy at the time. And I know people have asked you about that before, what the heck were you thinking?

John Lee Dumas 9:24  

Yeah Courtney Elmer. So there were a couple of years in between there when I got back from India, where I went to corporate America for a while, worked at this company called John Hancock in Boston, and then tried to become an online business owner with a little startup software company down in New York City Living right in Tribeca. And then I finally kind of pieced out and , realized neither of those things were for me. So I went to San Diego, California, by myself. No job, no significant other, I'm going out there didn't know anybody and I kind of landed on the coast in San Diego. 

John Lee Dumas

I'll try my hand to real Last Date. And it was really then when I was listening to podcasts because I kind of found a few podcasts about real estate. And I was listening to those often. And that kind of led me to listen to other shows, on finance, with Dave Ramsey, and Suze Orman, and I kind of kept going down that rabbit hole of podcasting. This is such an amazing medium. I love that. With podcasts. It's free. It's on demand. And it's targeted content, meaning you can listen to it when you want, you can listen to what you want, and it is completely free. And it's right there.

John Lee Dumas

And that was really powerful for me Courtney Elmer. So I understood the platform, the medium of podcasting pretty much right away. And that's kind of when my brain started kind of flickering with a little flame of an idea of how can I maybe get into this space, because I didn't see myself in real estate long term that was kind of more of a holdover, until I found my next thing. But at the same time, ,I was like, 3031 years old, and I'm a man, I'm getting to be an old man. Now. I gotta, I gotta start finding a real career. Of course, now, I'm 42. I look back at that. You're still a spring chicken. But at the time, we always think we're old. And that's how the world works. But that kind of gave me that first spark in my day. How can I get into this Podcast and online business owner space? 

Courtney Elmer 11:25  

Wow. Okay, so what came first for you then John Lee Dumas? Was it being an online business owner or the podcast? Did you go into it with the idea to be an online business owner? Or were you podcasting to start it because you enjoyed the medium and you saw a need?

John Lee Dumas 11:36  

I went all in Courtney Elmer, I went all in to be an online business owner and to make it make money. I said, Where do I find the biggest need? Where's the biggest void in the marketplace? As I see it, what is missing? And what do I actually think I could enjoy doing? That I could do it long enough to maybe have some success and maybe make some money and to maybe build a business around that. And something that you mentioned a little bit earlier, that's where I kind of came up with the idea, Well, my favorite podcasts that I'm enjoying right now are podcasts that are interviewing successful entrepreneurs, those are really enjoyable shows for me, I'm loving listening to how I built this of the world where they're interviewing founders and online business owner, talking about their ups, their downs, you're realizing they're human beings that they make mistakes, they were scared, they were fearful, but then they turned it around, they stuck with it, they made it happen.

John Lee Dumas

 And I said, but man, all these online business owner shows are coming out, at most, one day, per week. So I get all excited. I'm waiting all week, the show goes live, it's awesome. And then 30 minutes later, it's over. And I have to wait another seven days for another show to go live. And man, that's not enough content. Because I'm, wanting to consume this content every single day. And if, if there's the options, multiple per day, because I'm driving around these real estate listings, I'm at the gym, I'm walking the beach, I'm biking around, , Pacific Beach, San Diego, doing all these things. And that Courtney Elmer is where I said, Well, if I want to do this, I'm not going to do double what should be two a week, I'm not going to do triple, I'm going to literally do a podcast episode every single day for so many reasons. 

John Lee Dumas

By the way, Courtney Elmer, number one, because I knew that was a void in the marketplace. That that was a need that had to be filled. But number two, I knew I was going to be really bad. As a podcast host asking questions, facilitating interviews, I knew all of those things were going to be really foreign to me. And the only way that I was going to get better that thing was to do that thing. Courtney Elmer, I love the quote, If you want to be do I want it to be a successful podcast, or the only way for me to do that was to podcast. , luckily, I had enough experience as an athlete to know, you want to get good at shooting free throws, by shooting free throws, that's how you get better at that thing. If I'm gonna do this, I'm going to fill a void in the marketplace, and I'm gonna go all in, I'm gonna do it every single day, it's gonna be my sole focus. So I hired a mentor, join the masterminds launched a daily podcast.

Courtney Elmer 14:09  

Wow John Lee Dumas. Okay, but didn't you also put the online business owner and podcast idea off for a while?

John Lee Dumas 14:12  

Yes. it was great idea. But I've got a couple of real estate deals coming in. I'm making money doing this doing that, Courtney Elmer, I'm traveling. So , there's never the right time. 

Courtney Elmer 14:27  

What do you do you think that there was a belief there maybe under the surface that kind of prevented you from jumping in right away? Did you feel that there was something deeper there that was kind of preventing you from jumping in?

John Lee Dumas 14:47  

It was straight up imposter syndrome Courtney Elmer. The online business owner startup imposter syndrom. I knew I was going to be a bad podcast host I knew that I was going to be , naive and nervous and fearful and stuttering and hemming and hawing. Buying an arms and ahhs and that was going to be hopefully interviewing people that I really respected that I really looked up to. And I was going to kind of look like a fool in front of them. And they're going to kind of give the phone call, Who is this kid? What does he think he's doing? Courtney Elmer, that was not a good experience, I knew all those things were going to happen. 

John Lee Dumas

But I knew that I still had to do those things to get over that hump to at some point and get good, which, for me, when people asked, how did you at what point did you finally feel like you were a good podcaster, or you are a good host, or you are a good interviewer. And I say with a straight face, because I can remember the day. That was a great interview. And that was episode 480. So that was a year and a half of doing it every single day, before I felt like I was at the place that I want it to be. And of course, continuing to even improve upon, that was always a goal as well. But it took me a year and a half of doing it every single day to get there. And,Courtney Elmer , I knew that was going to happen. So I was was putting it off. Because of all those reasons I was scared, I knew it's gonna take so much work, I knew it might fail.

Courtney Elmer 16:36  

For those listening, I can imagine how reassuring that is to hear from someone like the John Lee Dumas who's gone on to build, this eight figure very values based huge, well known brand and online business owner out of your podcasts. And to almost picture themselves, where you were when you started like the rest of us where it's like, we don't know what the what the heck we're doing, we have no clue how to be an online business owner, all the skills that have yet to be gained along the way that we know like, Okay, if we want to get there, we got to do the thing. 

Courtney Elmer 

So I'm curious then, and this is where I really want to dig in with you John Lee Dumas. You've had the Barbara Corcoran is in the Gary v's and the Tim Ferriss of the world on your show and so many others. How did it feel to interview those people early on? Were you freaked out about that? Was that like, are you sweating and nervous? Or was it something that kind of you got better at as you went along?

John Lee Dumas 17:33 

I was freaked out Courtney Elmer. It was very surreal. It felt like it was people that I had been reading about and listening to from afar for a long time. Now I'm having a one on one conversation with them. they're actually literally answering my questions and interacting with me and calling me by name like, Hey, what's up, John? It's like when Tim Ferriss said that I was like, Whoa, this is Tim Ferriss, I read this guy's book, four years ago, and many times since, and now I'm having like this one on one conversation with him, was ,quite surreal and very cool. But, that's the beginning things, and then you kind of realize, okay, everybody's a person. 

John Lee Dumas

we're all people, we all started at point A, and now we're at point D, or M or Z wherever they're at in life. But the reality is, we're all humans. And we all have the same doubts and fears and emotions, and all these different things. So now, Courtney Elmer, over the past, like, seven, eight years, when people are like, it's so crazy, like meeting you, or speaking to you or doing this thing with you. I get it. Because I felt the exact same way for a long time. I'm like, and don't worry, like, you'll think I'm a lot less cool after talking to me, because you realize I'm a person like you are.

Courtney Elmer 18:41  

I think we forget that, John Lee Dumas, we tend to put people up on a pedestal look me sitting down before I sat down with you today. And I'm sitting here, like, oh my gosh, wait, so many glitches getting started, I'm like, shoot, this is God, like this can't happen when online business owner John Lee Dumas is here, at the end of the day, like recognizing, this happens to all of us. It's part of the process as an online business owner and podcast host. It's part of the journey. Your podcast, I'm sure it's not the first time you've had tech glitch out on you, John Lee Dumas, I'm assuming, how I felt. and it's one of those things where I remind myself of that, too, like, this is a conversation. And that's what I love about podcasting.

John Lee Dumas 19:35  

And that's one of the things that I never kind of factored in going into podcasting Courtney Elmer.  yeah, we'll get to meet cool people and talk to them. And that'll be kind of like this 30 minute like, block. That's amazing. And then we'll both go on with our lives. But some of them have become incredibly good friends. , I've had Michael Hyatt down to my house here in Puerto Rico. , I've had many times meeting with like Dan Miller, and Pat Flynn's one of my better friends. I'm, texting with Jenna Cooter, and Amy Porterfield on the regular , these are all people who are huge names in our online business owner space. 

John Lee Dumas

But, Courtney Elmer, because of what I've built on what they've built, and how we've had these kinds of interactions and communications together over the years. Courtney Elmer, you build real relationships, real connections, and real friendships through that. And that, to me is, one of the most unexpected benefits of podcasting is I was like, going in, I get to connect with cool people hopefully make money and have fun and like, help my listeners with, their problems, like other podcasts helped me with my problems. But , that extra benefit of man, you're also like, really getting to build real connections with real people as an online business owner.

Courtney Elmer 21:13  

Yeah, it's awesome. So well said John Lee Dumas. So I'm curious, then, could you reveal what was your online business owner strategy early on to get those people on your show? Obviously, I'm sure it didn't happen overnight, right. Like, what was your approach there?

John Lee Dumas 21:33  

So, Courtney Elmer, there definitely was a time when I was not John Lee Dumas and I was not JLD. And my name was unknown entrepreneurs on fire was a weird brand at the time. But I will tell you this timing can be important timing can play a lot of factors. And back when I launched entrepreneurs on fire, it was the best daily podcast, interviewing entrepreneurs. It was the worst daily podcast, interviewing entrepreneurs. It was the only daily podcast interviewing entrepreneurs. 

John Lee Dumas

So people like , Chris Brogan pad, Gary, Amy, Barbara, they weren't getting hit up, , by countless numbers of people all the time flooding their inbox saying, , XYZ, they were getting hit up, like, once or twice, like, Oh, I've done a podcast episode before that was kind of cool. Or like, Oh, I've kind of heard about this podcasting thing, like, let me kind of check it out. And so like, for people, when I reached out to them, I was like, hey, I want to talk about you about your products, about your expertise about your genius about, sharing what you've learned over the years, like you've done with your books, and your products, and your services, and all these different things, and take it to a podcasting format. It was kind of an easy, yes, for them. Because again, this is a new medium that I want to check out as well. So let's do this. 

John Lee Dumas

And once those names say yes Courtney Elmer, then it's the snowball effect. Well, if Tim Ferriss was on entrepreneurs on fire, like that's all I need to know, to qualify that show for me, like it was like an easy yes, for people once I'd gotten a couple of big names to come on. So there are some, online business owner stragegies in there. And, Tim had launched one of his, for our books, I think it might have been for our chef back then. So he was on a promotional tour anyways. And once you get that name, and the couple names going in there, the momentum takes over.

Courtney Elmer 23:59  

Wow. Yeah. And it is cool to see, it's one of those things like it's the whole snowball metaphor, where it's like, it's really tough to push that snowball wheel from the top of the hill. But once you get it going, it's much easier to kind of keep it going. But I'm curious about this, too. Because isn't it also true that for the first what was it nine months or something of your show and being online business owner, you didn't make any money John Lee Dumas?

Courtney Elmer 

I'm curious to know what that experience was like, and also for someone listening right now who maybe has a podcast that they're not seeing the traction that they're hoping for, or maybe they're thinking of starting one and , they're kind of having all that same kind of impostor syndrome and everything and they're like, wait a second, I want this to make money but how long is it really going to take to be a successful online business owner? What would your advice to them be John Lee Dumas?

John Lee Dumas 24:45  

It definitely was a warm up period. And Courtney Elmer, it's it's gonna be like that for any online business owner in any vertical industry. You don't like hanging up your your your sign and then all of a sudden the dollar start rolling in like it's a process. And it was the sea Same thing for entrepreneurs on fire. For me, the first nine months being an online business owner, I made essentially no money. And then the last three months, that year, we had a little bit of a windfall. So we ended like year one with like, $27,000, because like some things are clicking some contracts finally paid out, that I've been building throughout the year. And then a month, our team, that's where things really clicked in a month 13, we had our first $100,000 net profit month. And since then, we've actually been publishing our monthly income reports every single month, and we published our 100 and fifth consecutive monthly income report. 

John Lee Dumas

And we've never had below $100,000 in net profit for 105 months now, sometimes significantly more. But nevertheless. And that's kind of one way that we want to give back to our community by showing them. What does work for us. How are we generating revenue, that transparency, that authenticity, that genuineness, but also what's not working for us? Like, what's, what are we missing? Like, what mistakes are we making? How are we losing money? How are we spending money, that's not giving us any kind of an ROI. So that people like you mentioned, that are struggling right now to be come a successful online business owner that aren't where they want to be kind of look at what's working for us, and maybe emulate some of our successes and maybe avoid some of our mistakes. And we bring our our lawyer onto every income report in our CPA on to every income report. 

John Lee Dumas

So they can give a tax tip and a legal tip to kind of further bolster the value of the actual income report podcasts and blogs that we do every single month. We really love in this world where a lot of times you can see a flashy ad of someone, like I had a six figure launch, or I'm running a seven figure business and like, I've interviewed some of those people, and sometimes I dig into the numbers, and yeah, they've grossed $2 million, but the had to spend $3 million to get there. And they're like, Yeah, but , we're a startup. So like, of course, we're gonna be losing money again, I'm like, okay, that's fine. But at the same time, Courtney Elmer, It's misleading, because, nobody wants to be negative $1 million a year or negative $100,000 A year or, , make $80,000, but your expenses are $75,000. So you're making $5,000 a year when you do that hourly rate, you want to cry. But some online business owner are like that. And I wanted to show like, this is how I feel like you can run a lean, like valuable team, keeping the money that you make at the same time, that's the business that we chose to run.

Courtney Elmer 27:31  

Yeah, and I think it's so cool that you publish those John Lee Dumas. I've looked at them, they're on your website, for anyone listening, if you want to go check it out, go look like the fact that you publish those and that transparency, that level of transparency, a builds trust, which I know, , but then to actually show what's possible. And I think that's what's really cool, because for me,John Lee Dumas, when I look to another online business owner in the industry that I've looked to over the years, people like yourself, the big names in the industry, and it's like, well, if they can do it, then that's possible for me too. 

Courtney Elmer

And maybe won't be there yet. Maybe there's some time that has to factor in, along the way, like you said, John Lee Dumas, it's not straight vertical, you don't jump in overnight, like hey, oh, now I'm an 8 figure online business owner, it takes time. But in time knowing that that person got there well, that that's possible for me as well. And which is very encouraging, inspiring, because , day to day of entrepreneurship, and you're here in your office working remotely, and you're by yourself, and you could feel a little disconnected and kind of isolating. So So I think it's cool that you publish those. So I've got one last question for you John Lee Dumas and actually the last one's really short. But this one I'm curious to know, John Lee Dumas, as we kind of wrap up this episode today. If you could go back in time, 10 years ago, you're starting out again, starting with your podcast was is there anything that you would maybe do differently?

John Lee Dumas 28:46  

I would do more and buy more Courtney Elmer. I would be focused every day to spend as much time on the microphone as possible. , that sounds crazy coming from a guy that was doing a daily podcast. But I was still getting distracted by a lot of the little things like social media this like website that like this. And it was like this was what I needed to be doing was like interviewing people. Being a guest on other shows, I should have been trying to get more time as a guest on other shows to kind of sharpen those skills as well. I should have been trying to get on summits and speaking at more conferences, I was kind of, Courtney Elmer , again, back to the imposter syndrome. 

John Lee Dumas

I'm not ready to speak at a conference because I just launched and I'm a new online business owner and hey, maybe that's the case. But that shouldn't have stopped me from trying like I ended up getting a speaking gig pretty early through pure luck because one guy dropped out last minute and the head of my mastermind Cliff Ravenscraft was like, We need a quick fill in like, John, can you can you do it? And I'm like, Absolutely. I'm here. Let's do it. So we were already at the conference. 

John Lee Dumas

So I went from like, an attendee to a speaker like, right right there and then and it was quite an amazing , Trent transition, and like, I got my first bad speech out of the way so I was like, All right, that was bad. But , I can get better and I can do this and like, again, you want to be doing doing doing like if you Want to be something it's doing that thing, so many people spend, , so much of their time not doing the thing they're trying to get better at. And that was my my biggest mistake as an online business owner. And again, Courtney Elmer, that's coming from a guy who's doing a daily podcast. So that says a lot.

Courtney Elmer 30:15  

That says a lot John Lee Dumas. Awesome advice for any online business owner starting a podcast. Alright, so last question for you. Before we hop off, I'm personally curious to know what side of the mic do you like to be on?

John Lee Dumas30:40  

Guest side. Yeah, like to be the guest side Courtney Elmer because I think it's interesting, because now that I've done so many, like, I really do enjoy seeing, like how the host runs their show. Because to me, Courtney Elmer, I'm learning from different ways people are interviewing the questions or asking the things you're doing around the show. So I always love to be on the guest side. Because, Courtney Elmer, for one, I the pressures kind of off for me.

John Lee Dumas

I feel like when I'm the host, like the pressures on like, it's up to me to facilitate a good interview to ask the good questions, asked a good follow up questions to make sure everything's right smooth, and I'm doing the editing afterwards. And having the promotional aspect. So that's all well and good. And that's something of my business I enjoy. But I do enjoy more, being the guests, learning from other hosts, how I can implement what they're doing that I've never even thought of into my podcast and make it better into my show. 

Courtney Elmer 31:32  

Be sure to join me back here next Tuesday to learn how to develop the copywriting skills you need to recession proof your business and how armed with nothing but your laptop and an email list. I'll see you back here next week and until then, go live your EffortLESS Life®.

John Lee DumasProfile Photo

John Lee Dumas

John Lee Dumas is the host of Entrepreneurs on Fire, an award winning podcast where he interviews Entrepreneurs who are truly ON FIRE 7-days a week. Over the past 10 years JLD has interviewed over 3500 Entrepreneurs to the tune of over 100 million total listens. Entrepreneurs on Fire generates over 3 million listens a month, seven-figures of annual revenue, and JLD is just getting started.