Media

Content Sutra, Ep. 4: How James Altucher Built a $10 Million Content Business in Just 9 Months

By Joe Lazauskas January 8th, 2016

Last spring, entrepreneur and beloved blogger James Altucher decided to launch a paid-subscription newsletter. Nine months later, he has tens of thousands of subscribers, over $10 million in revenue, and over $1 million in profit.

How did he become an email millionaire? That’s the subject of this week’s podcast.

As crazy as Altucher’s story is—an entrepreneur and hedge fund manager who lost everything, confessed his darkest secrets on his blog, and eventually became one of the media world’s most interesting sensations—it’s also indicative of our time.

We’re in the age of the individual as media brand. As people increasingly discover stories sideways instead of through the homepage, the strength and following of a content creator’s individual brand matters more than ever. We’ve seen it in Nate Silver’s multimillion-dollar ping-ponging from The New York Times to ESPN, Bill Simmons’s dramatic and lucrative departure from ESPN to HBO, and Andrew Sullivan’s ability to build a one-man media brand after leaving HBO.

But none may be more interesting than James Altucher, whose wild path to media success includes an inspirational trip to Ice-T’s apartment. (Seriously. He talks about in the podcast.) The day before Christmas Eve, Altucher stopped by our office to chat with me and Contently co-founder Shane Snow.

Listen below, download on iTunes, and check out the highlights below:

Highlights

(2:32) Altucher goes over his incredible story, recapping how he was “living like a drunken rockstar on steroids, went broke… bombed and failed at everything”—and did so again and again. Ultimately, it was blogging—and the brutal honesty that came with it—that saved him.

(8:30) Altucher reveals the secret he used to turn his daily blog into a $10 million business, and it’s like nothing you’ve heard before, fueled by social media, co-marketing hacks, and the bold belief that people will, in fact, pay for great longform content.

(27:42) So how do you get started if you’re not James Altucher? We discuss the power of social platforms and the unprecedented opportunity people now have to become a star on a site like Medium, LinkedIn, or even Facebook, if you use it as a native publishing platform.

(37:50) Altucher publishes something new every day, believing that’s the key to keeping an audience engaged. To emphasize this point, he tells the story of the time he went to Ice-T’s apartment and asked him, “How long do you think it would take of you doing nothing for people to stop talking about you?”

While Ice-T’s been around for 30 years, even he doesn’t think he’d be remembered for very long.

(40:50) Altucher analyzes the lesser-known platforms where you can build a new audiences, potentially reaching millions of people for free. Then, he makes his big prediction for the future of media.

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