If you missed my Zoom conversation last night with John “The War Nerd” Dolan then – hoo boy – did you miss a doozy.
The stated theme of the event was how John turned his ‘Radio War Nerd‘ podcast into one of the most successful paid shows on Patreon, with around 5500 subscribers paying as much as $200 a month to listen.
But our conversation quickly expanded to a much bigger topic: The power of independent media and why, for perhaps the first time in history, any writer with deep knowledge of their subject can get paid a pile of money without giving up any editorial freedom.
By John’s own admission, he and his co-host Mark Ames had a long history of struggling to get paid for their work. Neither knew a damn thing about making a podcast when they sat down to record episode one back in 2016. And yet today they are netting (by my most conservative estimate) hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for their show. Their listener base is still growing, even after six years.
More than that, as John explained, they are unstoppable. No matter how many powerful people they upset by telling the truth about global conflicts on Radio War Nerd, there is no boss for critics to appeal to and no advertisers to get cold feet.
But that, says John, is the key part of the host-listener bargain: You have to tell the truth. No conspiracy theories, no hot takes.
That also means putting in the hours. John walked me through the incredible effort it takes to produce the show: The days of research he puts into each episode and the accompanying supporter-only newsletter. Sorry to say, if you want to earn a six figure income (or more!) from podcasting it’s going to cost you a lot of hours. And days. And years.
Other highlights from our discussion…
- John shares his advice on getting through the dark, impoverished days before you break out. (See the subject line of this email.)
- Why freely admitting your mistakes, no matter how embarrassing they are, is the key to successful independent media (are you listening, every newspaper and cable channel in America?)
- John’s thoughts on the importance of picking public fights, and not backing down
- Fun reminiscences from our adventures at NSFWCORP and Pando
…plus, perhaps most importantly, how you too can make serious money from your words, without selling out.
You can watch the full conversation by clicking the giant link below.
The conversation was part of the promo efforts for my upcoming six-week course, taught with help from a constellation of experts like John: The Writers’ Guide To The Hustle Economy.
If you are a writer who wants to build a hugely successful paid newsletter, podcast (etc etc etc), I hope you’ll consider joining the course. (Use code WARNERD at checkout to get a surprisingly generous discount for newsletter readers only.)
Ok, enough preamble…