How to Use Webinars to Sell $1000+ Memberships with John Lee Dumas

Our Hero: John Lee Dumas of Entrepreneur On Fire

For more interviews with host John Shea visit Voices Of Marketing.


John Lee Dumas calls himself a small-town boy from Maine. After spending eight years in the army, he floated from mediocre job to mediocre job and he wasn’t passionate about any of it.

One day he was stuck in traffic, listening to podcasts and he just ran out of stuff to listen to. That’s when the idea hit him. He wanted a podcast that came out seven days a week and knew one didn’t exist. So he thought, why couldn’t he create that podcast?

And that was the day Entrepreneur on Fire was born.

He immediately quit his job to focus on building a seven-day-a-week business podcast. He launched in September 2012 and has produced nearly 500 podcasts to date.

But in the beginning, John struggled with fear and failure. When he started, he had no broadcasting experience. He had never interviewed anyone before, he didn’t know anything about the technical side of podcasting and he had zero online presence.

“I didn’t even have a Twitter account,” he said.

He felt like an impostor, constantly battling the voice in his head telling him he was a nobody, that he had no experience and no one would want to listen to him.

To help him get over his fear, he hired business coach and creator of the Eventual Millionaire podcast, Jaime Tardy, to be his mentor. Jaime helped guide John through the minefield of fear, failure, heartache and a basic lack of confidence.

Before he knew it, he was networking with people. Then he scheduled and recorded his first interview. He was learning the skills he needed and every step forward brought up new fears and failures.

But he confronted each new fear head on. And with every fear he overcame, he developed more confidence. It was an intense three months leading up to the launch of Entrepreneur On Fire. Three months packed with a lot of fear, failure, little successes and building his confidence.

By the time he launched Entrepreneur On Fire, he had 40 interviews in the bank and he was ready to go. He had learned a lot about podcasting and built relationships with the entrepreneurs he had already interviewed.

He calls it his summer of fire. “Focused, nose to the grindstone. Learning everything I could. Communicating, engaging with everybody I could. Building that foundation, that platform, so when I launched, I was ready to go.”

John created daily habits and worked with focus from 5am to 9am. His goal to put in more work for that short four hour period than most people put into their full day. Then use the rest of his day as a bonus. This compounded for John.

Soon, he had systems in place to allow him to record eight podcasts on a Monday, do one webinar per week, publish guest posts, and appear on guest podcasts. Occasionally John even did another set of eight podcasts recordings later in the week to build up a reserve for a potential holiday.

A year later, John had a very successful podcasting business and had created a bunch of products. He was working on another product, a video series outlining the steps John took to become a six-figure podcaster. But he realized his audience needed more than just a series of videos.

That’s when he came up with idea for Podcasters Paradise, a membership community to help podcasters “create, grow and monetize” their podcasts.

The podcast market was booming and he thought he was onto something. But he had to test the market first.


How to Use Webinars to Sell $1000+ Memberships with John Lee Dumas

Sell before you’re ready and reward your loyal fans

“You just can’t think something is a great idea yourself, you really have to test the market.” -John Lee Dumas

John thought he was onto something with the idea of creating a membership site to help podcasters create, grow and monetize their own podcast. But he also understood that just because he thought it was a good idea didn’t mean anyone actually wanted what he had to sell.

So, John took a cue from the Lean Startup model by Eric Ries and decided to test the market.

Before he even developed anything, he reached out to his loyal podcast listeners and email subscribers to help him find out if Podcasters Paradise was something he should pursue.

He showed them a mock-up of the “create, grow and monetize” components of the community and offered an early bird special rate of $197 to anyone who purchased memberships pre-launch.

In one weekend, 35 people bought a membership to Podcasters Paradise, a site that was in development and wouldn’t even launch for more than a month.

“That showed us that 35 people are willing to pay for something that doesn’t exist and won’t exist for over a month,” John said. “There was definitely value there.”

John and his team got to work right away, building the forum, creating content and lining up webinar guests. He also raised the price immediately — from $197 to $297. When he launched Podcasters Paradise on October 31, 2013, the price was set at $397 and John says the sales just started pouring in.

The price for membership to Podcasters Paradise has since gone up to $997 and the community has grown to more than 400 members.

He’s used different promotional incentives to drive membership sales. But the most successful method has been the free podcast workshop — or webinar — for anyone curious about the ins and outs of podcasting.

So how does John use free content to attract paid community members? Keep reading.

Why Webinars?

Giving away free content has become an important part of the online business model. If you visit the Podcasters Paradise landing page, you’ll see a video from John and the invitation to reserve your spot for his next free webinar.

You can certainly buy a membership right away but John prefers for people to attend the webinar first. In fact, rather than trying to sell the Podcasters Paradise membership directly, John promotes the webinars.

John credits his mentors Lewis Howes and Ryan Lee for opening his eyes to the power of live webinars to:

  • Give away free value
  • Truly engage people in a real conversation
  • Answer questions on the spot
  • Have lots of fun
  • And ultimately get them to make the decision to buy right away

You see, at the $1000+ price point, Podcasters Paradise is not cheap. Driving people to the webinars first gives John a chance to show people what they are investing in. It’s a way for him to provide value before asking people to open up their wallets.

During the live webinars, John offers participants tips and tools for successful podcasting. They also get an inside look at the community and the opportunity to buy a membership at a significant discount. Also, everyone who buys a membership during the webinar has the opportunity to win a free lifetime membership.

Kimberlee Morrison is a writer for Blueprint Entrepreneur, an Apple Newsstand magazine for smart entrepreneurs that want actionable content to start and grow their business. For more great content like this, you can download the app here and follow Kimberlee at @KymleeIsAwesome.

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