Last updated on October 31, 2018
James Clear is one of the most popular bloggers in the world.
He’s a delightful bald-headed man who writes articles about habits and self-improvement on his blog JamesClear.com.
With over 1 million blog readers per month, and 400,000 email subscribers, James knows how to build a blog.
In today’s blog and podcast, you’ll learn 3 key things:
Let’s dive in…
Success isn’t a straightforward path.
People look at entrepreneurs who run a successful business, rock it with their podcast, or get a ton of subscribers on YouTube… and think it’s simple.
But that’s not how it actually works!
Success is a long road. It takes time. And that rarely gets talked about.
For example, people see our business AppSumo and think it was always successful.
What they DON’T know is it took years to build. And years when we weren’t making very much money.
James Clear’s story is no different.
When most people see James, they see success right now. Maybe they think he “got lucky”, or his blog magically grew overnight.
What most people don’t see…
James Clear, the failed iPhone app developer.
A few years ago, when it was extra cool to be developing iPhone apps, James won $10,000 for an essay competition in grad school.
With his entrepreneurial spirit, James wanted to use that $10k to build his own business.
He spent $5,500 hiring a development firm on L.A. to build this iPhone app, and the rest covered his living costs for a few months while it was in development.
After months of hard work, launch day came and James released his app to the world…
Aka no one cared.
The app James had spent $5,500+ building got just a few downloads — and only made about $19 in revenue.
That lesson SUCKED for James. And it meant he started researching how to actually build a business.
After reading about how email marketing can help grow a business, he launched his personal site and focused on writing content and building his email list.
It worked. Today, his email list is over 400,000 subscribers. And it became such a valuable part of James’ business he still say it’s his best marketing channel today.
Every business has competition.
And if you’re a blogger today, you have MILLIONS of competitors.
James’ approach to stand out focused on one question:
“What is one level above this?”
In other words, What are other people missing that I can do to be successful?
At that time, guest posting was one of the top content marketing tactics around. EVERYONE was doing it.
In marketing, you need to always look for opportunities. Where can you get more out than you put in?
For example, when we first launched Sumo, we spent over $2 million dollars when Facebook launched ads in the News Feed because no one else was doing it yet.
And with Mint.com, I gave small finance bloggers $500 to put ads on their site. This was before affiliate marketing was big and blogs had tons of ads, so no one else was doing this.
James also wanted to find those opportunities.
Instead of reaching out to well-known blogs and asking about guest posting, James skipped ahead and asked for partnerships with publishers.
Here’s the approach James used:
James was one of the first individuals to push for content syndication, and he stood out.
So the next time you think about marketing, take inspiration from James and ask yourself:
“What is one level above this?”
The way I like to think about is this…
At the grocery store, everyone always goes to the shortest line because when you join a short line, you can pay and leave the store quicker.
If you go to the long line, where everyone else is, you get stuck. The same applies to marketing, the opportunity is to go where no-one else is.
Today, James has a big audience:
James takes inspiration from Craig Newmark (the founder of Craigslist). HIs philosophy is there are two ways you can make an impact on the world:
James prefers the second method, so he gives away his content for free on the front end — and his goal is to have 250-500 high-quality pieces of content on his site.
But how does this audience translate into revenue? 💰
James Clear monetizes his content in four different ways:
And here’s how James estimates his revenue breaks down over those four areas:
If you want to hear more from James on how to grow make money online, check out the full podcast below.