How a bestselling author became a one-man media company
The author started producing regular blog posts, YouTube videos, and podcasts.
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For several decades Randy Gage had the kind of career that most writers only aspire to. He’d written multiple bestselling books on career success and traveled the world to give motivational speeches to sold-out audiences.
But several years ago, Gage made a major pivot. He decided he wanted to spend more of his time writing, and he also recognized that authors needed to create a large body of work online in order to remain relevant. So he began producing regular blog posts, YouTube videos, and podcasts. He also doubled down on social media, amassing 400,000 followers across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
I interviewed Gage about why he made this pivot, how he structures his content output throughout the week, and why he’s abandoning traditional publishing to self-publish his next book.
For decades you were a successful public speaker and bestselling author, but several years ago you made the decision you wanted to be a “one-man media company” and start producing a lot more online content. What caused that pivot?
I love to be in other places, but hate the "travel" part of getting there. I am elite in three different airlines and have flown more than 7 million air miles. The human body just isn't designed for that. You can't leverage doing a speech on stage, but you can leverage an online presentation.
So you wanted to spend less time traveling and speaking and more time on writing, which is your true passion?
It took me many years to discover I'm not a speaker who writes, but a writer who speaks. People want to hire authors and hear from them and I appreciate that a lot. It's great rockin' a stage with 5,000 people in the audience. But I'm happiest when I'm in my lonely writer's garret, hunched over my laptop writing.
Did the pivot require any major risks or changes from a staffing perspective? My guess is that it took a lot of infrastructure to run the seminar business that required real human resources.
Actually I made that pivot 20 years ago when I had my first mid-life crisis. I had 13 employees and woke up one day to discover I needed to bring in $125K a month to break even. So I sold my product and fulfillment division to a publisher and kept only my personal assistant. Everyone else is an independent contractor. The goal was to create a business model where I can work from a laptop under a palm tree or the Champs-Élysées, or anywhere in the world. I started filtering all the projects through a lifestyle lens and it has worked out wonderful.
What kind of online content are you putting out on a regular basis?
I'm a social media whore, generating lots of content every day. This is the primary traffic generator to direct people to my blog, Power Prosperity Podcast, and YouTube channel. (Not doing as much with YT any more, deciding to concentrate more on the podcast, because of the eventual move to voice.) Also, I’m on a timeline now of creating online courses.
What does your work week look like in terms of content production? How much time are you dedicating to each medium?
I like to devote maybe 15-20% percent of my time beating the drum for my work. That's primarily the social media I post, doing interviews, etc. Then 75-80% of the time to creating content: writing books, crafting keynote speeches, developing courses, etc. When you start, obviously, those numbers are probably inverted. You have to develop your brand in the space, attract your tribe, and have platforms through which you can reach them. It's very important that these be platforms you control (your blog, email list, app, etc) -- not platforms like Facebook fan pages, or groups where others can cut you off from your tribe. I'm even leery of platforms like Medium, Substack, and Patreon, as in today's political environment, you can be cancelled at any time. Even with your own podcast, you have the threat that Apple or Spotify could pull your show and you'd be dead if you haven't migrated your tribe to platforms that you own and control.
How do you approach content monetization? Are you directly monetizing your online content? Or are you just building up an audience to sell books, seminars, and online courses to?
When we talk about monetization, the critical word is leverage. If I could scream something from the rooftops, it would be: Forget about rich versus poor, experienced versus inexperienced, college degrees versus less educated, and white-collar versus blue-collar. All those premises need to be retired. Think about leveraged versus not leveraged. That is the premise that matters most when it comes to creating wealth in today’s world.
I do want monetization, but my ultimate goal is not to make money. My goal is to do intoxicating work that gives me a creative high and also allows me to live my desired lifestyle. I believe in using leverage to do that.
Leverage is the superpower for manifesting prosperity in general and for content creators specifically. You have to escape trading hours for money. Learn with your time. Earn with your mind. The goal is to make money with your thought process not your work process.
As mentioned earlier, social media, podcast, and blog are not designed to make money, but make connections. I like to think of my biz model as a metaphysical, prosperous flywheel. I’ve developed some knowledge and circulate it widely for free. (My blog and Power Prosperity Podcast.) That builds my brand in the universe as a critical thinker in the areas of prosperity and entrepreneurship. People come in contact with that knowledge – maybe knowledge is the wrong word – they come in contact with my thinking process. They decide, “I like the way he thinks,” and want to bring me into their world through a joint venture or engaging me to work with their company. That makes me money and allows me to do more great work, which turns into more free content I circulate…
You mentioned that a lot of your traffic comes from Twitter. Is that your main audience development channel? Are you trying to move more of your audience onto email and channels you control?
Yes Twitter is the main place I interact with people. Facebook and Insta generate a lot of traffic, but their business model is so distasteful that I plan to leave all Zuckerberg platforms after the release of my next book in January. I have 150K followers on my Facebook page, but only a fraction of them will see my posts if they aren't paid for. So the most important objective by January is getting people on the email list or the RSS of the blog.
What do you like about podcasting in particular? Do you feel like it delivers value that you don't get from blogging and book writing?
In podcasting you can have an intimate conversation with your Tribe, almost as if you are speaking to each person individually. I still much prefer blogging, books, and other writing. But I believe it's inevitable that as we move from smartphones to whatever comes next, the primary method of search, even on the Internet, will move from text to voice. (And we can argue that is already happening with smartphones, Alexa and Siri in automobiles, etc.) So podcasting is a way to build a library of content when that change happens. And that change will probably happen soon!
Tell me about your books business. Do you only work with traditional publishers or do you self publish at all?
First book was self-published. The next 12 were with publishers. That gave me credibility as several were New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today bestsellers. Now the book publishing industry seems to be shell-shocked from Covid-19, so I'm going back to self-publishing for number 14.
Do you think that's where owning more of your audience comes into play? Because you have such a large social media reach, you can bypass the middle man and capture more of the revenue from your book sales?
Honestly at this stage of my life, I'd rather not mess with it. If a publisher gives a big advance, you can have some confidence they'll do something to help promote the book. Right now they're running scared and only looking for guaranteed hits from big players like Obama, Stephen King, etc. They're offering minimal or no advances for other books right now, which pretty much means they're going to print and warehouse them, not get behind them in a meaningful way. My next book is titled "Radical Rebirth" and it's the culmination of my life's work to this point. So I'm going to do whatever is necessary to get it out for the world to see.
And definitely the self-publishing route is a lot more lucrative for writers.
How has the book market changed over the years for you? Do you feel like it’s easier or harder to move sales?
Every market I work in -- entrepreneurship, marketing, direct selling, professional speaking, book publishing, and information products and publishing is more difficult in the sense of competition. There is so much white noise you have to cut through. Each of us is assaulted with information every day and feels overwhelmed by it. So that's tough. But it does offer a unique and powerful advantage right now if you are a thought leader. Because people don't need more information, they need people who can help them interpret that information and figure out what it means in their career and life. So that's a power opportunity right now. so the cost of entry is lower everywhere in the world. Everyone can be a broadcaster or publisher. There are so many platforms available to anyone with a smart phone, so that serves as an equalizer. Everyone can be a one man or one woman media company today. If you have something to say, there's never been a greater time in human history to be alive.
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Simon Owens is a tech and media journalist living in Washington, DC. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. Email him at email@example.com. For a full bio, go here.