The John Lee Dumas Effect

Author's note: This is not an article bashing John Lee Dumas. It is written to educate the influx of people being exposed to his incredible success and believe the medium will deliver the same results for them – and it's going to leave a bad taste in their mouths.

Everybody wants to know “How can I make money podcasting?” Affiliate marketing, digital products, and new customer acquisitions have brought a little something to the table but advertising is finally realizing how powerful podcasting is. However, podcasting newbies are getting the wrong idea and are being infected by the “John Lee Dumas Effect.”

This isn't a question of integrity or doing something illegal, it's my concern that the effect will have an adverse reaction to the medium.


John Lee Dumas is an Entrepreneur On Fire

The John Lee Dumas EffectJohn Lee Dumas is on fire – an Entrepreneur on Fire to be exact. He saw a need, had the desire to fill it, and worked hard for a few months to record dozens of podcast episodes before releasing them to the world. His plan was to interview a successful entrepreneur every day of the week and inject a couple advertisements to make money.

The show has become known as Entrepreneur On Fire and has been at the top of iTunes charts for almost a year.

John Lee Dumas’s business plan

John’s idea for making money on his podcast is very simple: Put out a show with some ads and get paid per download However, this isn’t your typical once-a-week niche podcast:

  • John Lee Dumas releases an interview with an entrepreneur every day of the week – no exceptions!
  • The podcast includes a 15 second commercial at the beginning of the show and a 60 second one towards the last half.
  • Each sponsor pays the Entrepreneur On Fire podcast $18 – $25 per one thousand downloads (CORRECTION: See John Lee Dumas's comment below).
  • The persons interviewed share the show with their audience, increasing the likelihood of EOFire gaining more followers.
  • More followers translates into more downloads.
  • John would share his successful story on other blogs and podcasts, increasing his visibility and finding new subscribers.

It sounds like a great idea that anyone could replicate. That is where people go wrong.

How John Lee Dumas does it right

John does more than just put ads in his podcast…

  • The advertisements are read by him
  • The ads fit the needs of the listeners
  • He does it in a way that does not interrupt the listening experience

One more thing John does that makes his show stand out: He calls his listeners “Fire Nation”, giving everyone a piece of ownership in the tribe. This fosters a sense of belonging and once someone belongs to the club they tend to talk about it with their friends. John isn’t selling advertisements, he’s giving his audience value and pride of ownership in the show. That is something we all should be working on – bringing our audience into the “club”.

The John Lee Dumas Effect on New Podcasters

It should be noted that John Lee Dumas isn’t the cause of the John Lee Dumas Effect. He is only the carrier. I would bet that he doesn't want the John Lee Dumas Effect to hurt this wonderful medium any more than I would.

But here is the problem: Everyone is hearing about John’s huge success and wants to replicate it. There are new shows coming out with dreams of making lots of money by interviewing people and selling ads, just like John does.

Is this a bad thing? Maybe:

  • If your sole reason for doing a podcast is to make money then stop right now
  • If you decided that a podcast was your way to an instant 6-figure income then think again
  • If becoming a Professional Podcaster sounds like an easy job then stop lying to yourself

This is the byproduct I call “The John Lee Dumas Effect” and it is very tempting and seductive.

The John Lee Dumas Effect will cause you to look past the fact that it took John months of recording before launching his first episode. It will tell you it’s easy to find an audience and won’t mention that he had to earn every download. Don’t dismiss the fact that John spends a lot of time connecting with his audience and giving value!

How to take advantage EOFire’s success without selling out

Launching a podcast that you aren’t passionate about is like taking a job you hate: It doesn’t work out well for you or for the person paying you.

  • If the thought of having your own show appeals to you then continue reading.
  • If the idea of helping people you never met interests you then keep going.
  • If you have a skill or ability very few people have and you can share it via a podcast then don’t stop here.
  • If you believe hard work in an area you are passionate about pays off in the long run then start planning.

Become a Podcaster, not a Podfader

The reason for this article is not to discount John Lee Dumas’s success or tell you that it can’t be done. This post was written to ensure new podcasters don’t become podfaders.

The world won’t come to an end if you spend some money and launch your show before giving up on it after only a handful of episodes. No harm is done pursuing a passion and trying this new medium called podcasting. I asked Pat Flynn, successful blogger and podcaster at, if podcasting was alive, dead, or just treading water. His response was “It’s just starting. It’s been around for a while and only the techie people knew how to figure it out but it’s become so easy to produce a show you will see more and more coming out.”

Immunize yourself

Make plans to get started.

This is not an endorsement of any of these programs although I have had experience with most of them (and each has wonderful benefits to their members). Joining one will ensure you get started without selling out to the John Lee Dumas Effect.

*Note: These are affiliate links. I will earn a commission if you are convinced these products/services are for you at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support.

Enter the podcasting field with the passion and desire to help people. Sell them on your ideas, tools, or digital products that can make their lives better. Create a tribe of dedicated listeners that will follow you anywhere. Don’t be blinded by the dollar signs – it’s a powerful symptom of the John Lee Dumas Effect and has nothing to do with being an awesome podcaster.

I love podcasting!
What is pod-fading and how to avoid it!


  • Dave Jackson

    November 19, 2013

    AMEN!. I have had a few people in my “Start podcasting in Six weeks” class who have joined up (from the military) and want to do HIS SHOW (as in excatly). While this isn’t to say it can’t be done (Ok, maybe it is me saying it shouldn’t be done), but that podcasting is not about a formula. I hear John’s passion in his voice. He’s very authentic. . I play guitar, and I can play the same notes as B.B King, but it doesn’t make me B.B. King. In the 80’s a band would get popular, and 5 knock off bands would follw with the same hair spray and make up. Take a good idea, and spin it. Make it your own. P.S. Your email sign up form makes it almost impossible to leave a comment (I can’t get it to go away). 🙂


      November 19, 2013

      Thanks Dave. I love the 80’s band analogy. Wish I had thought of it.

      BTW: I’ll see what I can do about the email sign up form. I thought I turned it off. I may need to Ask The Podcast Coach about what the heck I’m doing here!

  • John Lee Dumas

    November 19, 2013


    I love this article…seriously. I think it is incredibly well written, fair, and informative. Podcasting is going through an incredible time right now. I found my success by finding my USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and worked TIRELESSLY to bring it to market. My income may have been a tad over 100k last month, but breaking it down to an hourly rate makes it much less impressive 🙂

    I think every person who is thinking of starting a podcast should read this article. The only incorrect fact I would like to point out is the CPM rate you mention. The industry standard in $43 per 1000 downloads, and EntrepreneurOnFire often commands a higher CPM than that.

    Also, less than half of our monthly income is generated through our sponsors, with products/services, mentoring, and affiliate sales making up the rest, which is all laid out at

    Again, thank you for providing this reality…and not that you are looking for it but you have my FULL endorsement 🙂


    John Lee Dumas


      November 19, 2013

      Thank you John. You did work hard for your success and deserve every bit of it. I only hope those who are hearing the stories about a guy making $100K a month podcasting will look closer into your story.

      I appreciate you taking the time to comment. Thank you for taking the article in the spirit it was intended. Now: What are you doing here – get back to recording podcasts!

    • John Wilkerson

      December 10, 2013

      When I was selling ads in an old podcast of mine I was getting a CPM of about $25. This was 2-3 years ago. Great article.


        December 10, 2013

        Thanks John. Were you always advertising on the at podcast (from the beginning) or did you build the audience up before selling ads?

        • John Wilkerson

          October 1, 2014

          I had built up the audience. When I started podcasting in 2005 there weren’t advertising options for little guys like me.

  • Steve Vigus

    November 19, 2013

    I completely agree with you. John is a great guy and the backlash of his choice to market podcasting as a business is the bow wave of new podcasters that are arriving on the scene. I welcome the newcomers but I secretly hope that they don’t try to duplicate his success by selling podcasting back to the next wave of newcomers. The pyramid isn’t big enough for everyone.

    For the new podcasters reading this article, please don’t be discouraged. It’s a great community and the things that you learn as a result of having a show could fundamentally change your outlook on life.


      November 19, 2013

      Thanks Steve. It’s about time advertisers realized what we have been screaming about for so long: Podcasting can be profitable for advertisers. John Lee Dumas was just the first guy to prove it – and in a BIG way!

      I’ve already seen a slew of new shows coming on that are mimicking EOFire, I’ve even been interviewed on one that will launch after Thanksgiving. I believe if they can find enough successful people in their niche, say for example a nurse podcast that only interviews successful people in the healthcare field, then I can see it working. But they are not, and we already have one great Entrepreneur/small business interview show – John’s.

  • Will

    December 6, 2013

    Steve, I’ve been watching JLD for quite some time now, and am pretty impressed with what he’s been able to accomplish. I, too, would love to start a podcast, make money and “be like him”. But as you say, it’s not that simple. John has a ton of energy, has invested who-knows-how-much into what we know now as his brand, and understands that making money is a side benefit of putting out great content on a very consistent basis.


      December 9, 2013

      Thanks Will. I’ve accomplished my goal if you have weighed out all the pros-and-cons before investing a lot of time and money starting a podcast. If you don’t start a podcast then you have time to work on your craft. If you do then I’ll be your biggest fan!

  • David Anderson

    December 7, 2013

    Great post and I look forward to the follow up conversation on Podcasters’ Roundtable.


      December 8, 2013

      Thanks David. If you missed any of the 1.5 hour Roundtable discussion then you can watch it on YouTube

      • David Anderson

        December 8, 2013

        An hour and a half! No problem, I catch the podcast when it comes out every time.


          December 9, 2013

          Thanks David. I normally catch the podcast too but think I’ll skip this one for obvious reasons [*wink]

  • Kent Sanders

    December 7, 2013

    Steve, this a great article. I love what John is doing and have been incredibly inspired by his success.


      December 8, 2013

      Thanks Kent. I’ve had a few online discussions (written and video) with JLD and he is a stand-up guy. He’s definitely a guy to watch.

      I’ll be writing a post about his Podcasters’ Paradise program and who it would benefit.

      • Kent Sanders

        December 8, 2013

        Just listened to a bit of the interview – great stuff! I’ll check out the whole thing via podcast. Thanks for linking to this.


          December 8, 2013

          It was a long one but full of good stuff – worthy of watching all the way to the end. You won’t want to miss one of the Roundtablers calling Ray “lame”. Hint: I was joking!

  • Scott

    December 12, 2013

    Great article but I think any “effect” someone has that brings attentions and demand to a given industry is awesome. I am starting a podcast in an expertise of mine and we’ll will see how it goes. It isn’t as a hobby or a prayer of a lottery I may win in sponsorship but something I am passionate about that has been fueled even more by the modeling of the great podcasters and storytellers out there. Shoot, my first interview was with the most inspiring person I know, my dad, and if not one cent comes my way from this endeavor having that interview on record will have made all of the hours worth it. Lawyers, doctors, athletes, coaches, and engineers make lots of money in some cases so go forth and tackle one of those dreams if you like. At the very least you’ll learn something about that industry, and more importantly, yourself! Oh and feel free to constructively criticize my first few shows as I know they will take a few to get my “voice”!

    Scott Jones

    Note: first there was the Life On Fire podcast, then the Entrepreneur on Fire podcast, and here I am to tell the inspiring stories of athletes and what drives them!


      December 13, 2013

      That’s great Scott! I see you have named your show the same way John Lee Dumas did (Athlete On Fire).

      Is your show just an interview show? Are you trying to mimic the format of John’s show too? More importantly: Will YOU be in your show?

      Make sure there is enough of “you” to go along with some great interview questions for your guests. If not, and this is just my opinion, you will have to release a lot of shows like John (his is daily) for it to become profitable.

      Always be thinking of your listener, give them what they want even though you may never meet them.

      • Scott Jones

        December 13, 2013

        Hey Steve,

        I actually named the show the same way these guys did,!

        But really, I did write John for a blessing.

        It is an interview show but willbe adding my own touch. There are so many ways to format so I think the answer is no on that one. A little to proud to straight up copy but I am keeping it under 40 min. I am planning on 5 days a week. And of course I will be in my show. I have 10 years of relevant experience on my topic and have lots to add!

        Oh and my mission is pasted on my site, which is launching on Jan 1!

        Our show was developed with the following priorities:

        Listeners: We are here to inspire and add value to the days of our listeners. When people sit down and take the time to listen, we want to be what they need.
        Athletes: So many athletes have so many stories to tell. This is a platform to tap into their journey. It is an opportunity to archive their story for friends and family forever and it is a platform to share what they are working on or passionate about right now.
        AOF: We want to build a community where every single person knows that if you can dream it up, it is possible. We hope to be that catalyst.

        Thanks Steve for the feedback!



          December 13, 2013

          Alright Scott. I’m going to hold you to it! I have a date on my calendar to check out your podcast on January 1st.

  • Jack

    June 20, 2014

    I appreciate Dumas’ effort but I can’t help but wonder why this guy isn’t getting better at interviewing. He’s TOO system oriented which is a problem. Anybody who starts a podcast, tv show, radio show, needs a structured guide to start and then they evolve over time and stray away from the rigid structure and that’s when they become a real pleasure to listen to/watch. Listening to “Are you ready to ignite?!?!” and talk over and over again to “Fire Nation!” every episode is such a pain to my ear drums. I can’t hear any difference from episode one to episode 301. You could hear Seth Godin scratching his shiny bald head at John’s “personality.” But seriously, this guy is a GREAT producer and that’s something to study closely but his fake “That’s Awesome” throw away lines and forced “FIRE NATION” enthusiasm toward every guest is really irritating. Heck I can practically hear how tired he is every time he tells a guest how inspiring and awesome their stories are because he is listening to up to 7 “AWESOME” “FIRE ELITE” “IGNITE” inspiring stories a day. It sounds phony. One interview he’s talking to a mega book author who’s made 100 million dollars and the next he’s gawking over a guy’s craigslist business and he shows the exact same “excitement”. It’s working for him (for now) but personally I think the guy (or at least his non evolving style) is going to irritate everyone at some point.