The Long Tail of Online Educational: A Case Study Into $1M A Month Income

John Danaher observing his star pupil, Gordon Ryan.

In an interview on the Joe Rogan podcast Gordon Ryan told Joe that most of his wealth comes instructional videos. Not long after, Gordon posted on Instagram that 2021 was the first time he made $1M in a month.

I’m guessing most readers do not follow grappling and have never heard of Gordon Ryan. Gordon is the #1 competitor in a relatively obscure sport that only 0.04% of the population practices (when compared to baseball, basketball, football, etc.).

The instructional videos he sells go for ~$200 for 8 hours of content. To reach $1M in sales he would need to sell 5,000 copies. Five thousand copies sound like a lot, but that represents 1% of his Instagram following and 0.17% of the amount of people who practice in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu globally.

What does this mean for us?

Gordon has been honing his craft and building a following for the better part of a decade; it is important to recognize that he is certainly not an overnight success – even if he is only 25. Developing a specific skill and building a following for 10 years takes advantage of one of the most powerful tools: compound interest.

Understanding what your specific knowledge is and continuing to build on that compounds over time. In the past if you wanted to teach someone the specific skill you’ve developed it was hard to scale in person. You were limited by the output of hours you could put in. Now something as niche as not letting someone past your legs in a fight can attract thousands of people a month around the globe.

Skills, reputation, and following compound over time. Educational content can now scale. Media (podcasts, blogs, books, social) gives the individual leverage.

This was impossible 50 years ago, but the long tail now permits the internet to connect any niche obsession with a massive audience.

What are you obsessed with that you could teach someone else?

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