How Tim Ferriss Built 7+ Different Steams Of Income All Each >$1,000,000
How Tim Ferriss Built His Net Worth
Tim Ferriss is probably most well known as the 4 hour guy as well as the host of the internets biggest business podcast, ‘The Tim Ferriss Show’.
He continues to yield outsized influence on my life and while I am doing my best not to emulate, I think there is a wealth of upside in learning how he did it.
The amount of self-made achievements Tim has notched to his belt is ridiculous. People’s life work would be justified by just one of these notches.
…Yet Tim has more than 7.
Just Another Notch On The Belt
Tim’s an overachiever. Just consider the following.
- Tim wrote one of the best selling books of all time and defined a genre (The 4 Hour Work Week)
- He has built a podcast teetering on a billion downloads.
- Tim speaks multiple languages (all mastered as an adult), the most fluent of which is Japanese.
- He has one of the biggest email lists in the world.
- He is a professional at so many… little oddities. Just to name a few; horseback archery, tango dancing and nutrition come to mind.
- He’s a big dick swinger in psychedelic research.
- Wears a very good bald head.
- Contributed greatly to the mental health discussion.
- An incredibly successful angel investor.
And most importantly… he’s a mentor to millions.
Multiple Streams Of Income
- The podcast.
- The blog + email list.
- The books.
- The investments.
All of the information sourced here was found either online or by listening to one of Tim’s publications. A lot of the information (particular investments) is withheld from Tim to the public (for good reason). Therefore bare in mind that while the figures I present are not entirely accurate, they are the figures which Tim has alluded to us, and probably close to the mark.
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The Podcast – The Tim Ferriss Show
Tim reportedly makes up to $100,000 per episode of the podcast.
Now while this is an absurd amount of money, consider that it might actually be on the low side. If you read the disclaimer for advertisements displayed on his website he claims to ask for $50,000 per advertiser per episode.
Assuming some advertisements go for more, and he can easily bang out 5 advertisements per episode, I am left with the simple arithmetic of 5×50000 = 250,000.
I’m not sure where the reported $100,000 came from, but its entirely possible, according to his website disclaimer, Tim actually earns up to $250,000 per episode.
Personally, I think $250,000 is on the high side, and it’s likely a figure closer to $150,000, but nonetheless a remarkable income for a low cost venture.
Tim released podcast number 426 today. He wouldn’t have been making this money since the start, but if we take a casual assumption that he has been pulling in this revenue since… say episode 300… it is easy to conclude that the podcast alone has earned Tim millions of dollars.
It’s Not About The Money
The yield from this podcast is far greater than solely financial.
The 2nd, 3rd and 4th order effects that come Tim’s way in direct response to interviewing the worlds elite manifest through the intangibles.
Tim’s network is constantly growing and being refined for quality. It is true that Tim makes millions of dollars through his podcast, but the real value of the show is all the further opportunities this platform provides.
Tim has published two books, Tools of Titans and Tribe of Mentors, off the back of this podcast. Every new episode draws in new consumers of the Tim Ferriss brand. Further legitimises Tim’s philanthropic efforts and increases his influence.
And the great thing about this Flywheel is… with every additional guest of significance Tim has on, another 3 guests of greater significance tune in. The podcast is a self sustaining beast with little variable input.
It’s About Learning
He loves interviewing people with a deep curiosity and he himself is also an insatiable learner.
Tim’s a money magnet and marketing genius. You know he’s not leaving any money on the table and manages to monetise his podcast very profitably, but the point is that this is not the driving motivator.
He started off the podcast journey by saying I’m going to make 5 episodes no matter what. Tim was burnt out after the disappointing publication of his second book, the 4 Hour Chef and wanted to do something fun.
But Tim’s evidently no dummy, and immediately found a way to grow and popularise his new venture.
And of course, ended up with millions.
Books And Authorship
The 4 Hour Work Week
The 4 Hour Work Week is one of the best selling books of all time. It has routinely appeared on bestseller lists all across the globe ever since its release.
Ferriss published this book when he was 29 years old after some extended, purposeful travel… vagabonding.
It was on this trip he became a tango world record holder and appreciator of bold reds both wine and femme variety.
This book popularised the digital nomad movement. The timing of this book was unreal and deserves much of the credit for the book’s success.
Either he created the movement himself, or his book perfectly rode along side it.
People knew back then as they know now there is something inherently unnatural and metallic about going to an office, working an arbitrary amount of hours (despite productivity), hearing the clanging of keyboards, the menial chit chat, the sunless light, the uncomfortable dress, the costly transit.
People desire the escape, and Ferriss tapped right into that desire with a solution.
Book publishing is a notoriously competitive domain and known for publishers typically reaping the major upside.
Its fair to assume that Tim could make up to $1 per book sold. (though I must say it is a very indulgent guesstimate, and would differ book to book)
In 2017 there were reports the 4 Hour Work Week sold up to 1.5 million copies. I would have though more since I have literally seen it in gas stations and as a staple in all airport book stores.
But given a conservative 2 millions copies sold plus in total 1 million for all other publications Tim Ferriss is again a millionaire. This time off his book publications alone.
Similar to Tim’s other streams of income, the book publications yield significant second and third order effects.
Putting It Into Perspective
Tim said recently, in podcast #410 with guest Ryan Holiday that writing books is his lowest stream of income.
Very strong move. Consider being in a position where you can boast that your most insignificant stream of income is worth millions of dollars.
The Blog + Email List
People underestimate the power of a curated email list. It will shock you just how broad and lucrative they can get.
Ferriss hinted recently in his blog post titled, ‘Reasons not to become famous’, that his email list could be between one million and 10 million subscribers strong.
For the sake of offering a guesstimate, I would think Ferriss’s list teeters closer to 1 million than to 10, but nonetheless an enormous reach.
An email list is a direct line of communication with people who know you, and likely with people who trust you. Rather than Youtube, Instagram or Facebook there are no algorithms distorting your hiding your message.
Couple in the added benefit that the Tim Ferriss brand is all about lifestyle optimisation and that people want to Tim tell them what to buy.
So Tim therefore has this direct line of communication with people who want to be what he is selling.
Through affiliated marketing, Ferriss will makes hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars a month simply through his weekly ‘5 Bullet Friday’ email.
I know, it’s crazy.
But this all the benefit of a lifetime of building and optimising your flywheel.
Ferriss’s email list is such that there is even a thing known as the Tim Ferriss effect where the stuff he recommends typically sells out in minutes.
What About The Blog?
The blog serves as the launching pad for the entire Tim Ferriss brand. It is where emails are captured, content is published and the most common vector for people finding him.
The blog was started way back in the day and didnt really pick up steam until his profile did alongside it. Tim’s published a lot of longer form, really heartfelt posts on his blog. I think about his post about depression which I thought was a very emotional read. Also, perhaps, something for which he should be most proud of amongst all of his achievements. I think that really helped a lot of people across the world.
It’s a fundamental cog in the Ferriss machine, without which it would not run nearly as smoothly.
Although the blog itself isn’t a massive money maker, it enables all his other ventures to be so much more profitable.
Investments And Angels
Out of college, Tim founded, ran, and then sold a company of his own called BrainQuicken.
With the profits from this venture Tim entered the investment world. Again, great timing in the perfect place, but luck is when preparation meets opportunity.
In 2015 Tim announced that he would divert all of his time away from advising and investing, so all of these investments happened pre this date.
Let’s look at 6 of the most well known investments.
Ferriss made a very early investment – pre seed – so very early.
Ferriss is listed as an advisor as well, so his money has compounded a lot. Uber is currently valued around 50 billion dollars, which is a figure that ebs and flows according to the market.
Garyv talks a lot about how he missed these early investments and just how massive the payoff could have been.
In one of Tim’s most recent podcasts with Ryan Holiday, Tim was venting his concerns over the Uber stock plummeting amid coronavirus.
Tim essentially suggested that his position in Uber is worth more than his podcasting and book publishing incomes combined.
WHICH IS RIDICULOUS.
Just ball parking here, without any reference, but the revenue from the podcast alone is millions per annum as is book sales another mil on top. Plus youtube earnings which will continue to give back might possibly be worth a couple hundred thousand.
I would go as far to hypothesise that the affiliate sales from his email list alone might teeter into a million in rev per year.
Tim Ferriss mentioning your book can make it a bestseller.
But all this combined is likely peanuts compared to the value of his equity in uber alone.
It is not too much of a stretch to suggest that Ferriss’s position in Uber might well be worth 100’s of millions of dollars.
Tim was an advisor and early investor to this company which has been soaring recently. It is not known how big his initial investment was.
They are currently worth billions of dollars as well as Uber, earning Tim a nice slice of the pie since Ferriss exited his position in Shopify at an unspecified date at a nice profit.
His position as an advisor to this company further legitimises his position as an expert marketer on the world stage as well.
Tim was early to Zuck party as well.
He, along with friend Kevin Rose made a co investment on the secondary round which is that is reported to be in the 7 figures.
This is back in the early days, well before the potential of Facebook was realised. Ferriss cashed out and exited his position in Facebook at an unspecified time. So again…. a massive payday.
Just Chinas biggest online retailer worth over $200 billion. Of course Tim was early on this one too.
Does it surprise you anymore? It is not known how big a position he took in Alibaba was.
Ferriss was an early user and investor in Twitter.
Twitter is a now a multi billion dollar company and similar to Facebook, was a high risk play back in the day.
So again…. another massive pay day since Ferriss has cashed out his position.
Although it’s unclear what the future of monetisation of twitter might be, Ferriss has already made sure he was going to realise an ROI.
Tim is a lover of languages and along his journey has learnt a few additional himself, including Japanese, Spanish, and I’m sure 20% of many more.
Tim was also an advisor to Duolingo as well, suggesting a significant stake of investment… Skin In The Game.
This is a quick take of photos of all other investments Tim has to his name found on Angellist.co. Anything with a green corner-mark is an exit.
Ferriss is undoubtedly an overachiever and one of the most impactful and consistently successful marketers of our generation.
All his ventures covered here have yielded him independently >$1,000,000.
Notice the effectiveness of the Flywheel. Notice Tim’s detailed attention to branding.
He has a model worth emulating, and as you can see now around you, many people do.
I think Tim will be remembered less for his achievements individually and more as the pioneer of change for how we view our career and success. The economy for employment is rewarding more and more individuals with skills and less and less trading your time for someone else’s productivity.
You don’t need a podcast or blog or brain for investing. But you do need a personalised skill, and Tim is a great person to watch and listen to should you wish to harness it.
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Cheers for reading through to the end you legend!
Every month (or couple of weeks) I write a short, popular email which highlights the biggest insights I’ve distilled through all the noise of the previous month. This includes extremely cool ideas, exceptional companies, massive stories that weren’t given attention, the music and podcasts that defined that month plus of course the best-written content I came across.