09: Discover How Nathan Chan Built His 6-Figure Digital Publishing Empire in Under 2 Years

Nathan Chan

He was once and IT employee but always wanted to have an online business.  He created Founder Magazine 2 years ago and now it is a 6 figure business.  He has interviewed Seth Godin, Arianna Huffington, and Richard Branson.  Founder is a digital magazine for entrepreneurs.  Please welcome Nathan Chan!

He started the magazine while he was working his full time job in IT.  He was the help desk technician that was doing the “grunt” work of IT.  He disliked his job immensely, he loved the company and hated the work.  He couldn’t really find another job, so he create his job. He made $5 on his first day of launch.  He built it into a business to replace his income, and now it is more than a magazine, it’s a platform.

He started his magazine by putting $3000 on his credit card.  He’s always been a hustler and knew he could make it work!

How did you go from wantrepreneur to entrepreneur?

Nathan just had all he could take.  He just couldn’t put up with his situation any more.  He talked for far too long before he acted because he was scared.  “You choose the path that you are least afraid of.”  If you are too comfortable, you will never make the leap.  You need a certain level of discomfort and frustration to compel us to take the leap.

Even when you start for the sole purpose of making money, eventually a change happens and the value you are providing to your clients and your employees begins to outweigh the impact of the money.

How did you land such big names for your magazine since you just started out?

We actually created a 6000 word blog post as a guide to this, since we get these questions so frequently.  The post is at foundrmag.com/getinterviews, it lays out our in depth process.

We got one big name and that was a spring board to getting all the rest.  Richard Branson was in issue #7 and from there it has been one big name after another.

We built a decent size audience.  We look for big names that are looking to promote things, so that timing plays a lot into scoring the interviews.

How did you use what you knew about marketing to build your audience for your magazine?

It seems like it has been a really long time in coming.  It was just starting one at a time.  The first month we made $5, the second month we made $80 and the month after that it was a couple hundred dollars.  So it was very steady increase month over month.  It took a lot of listening and it took a doing a lot of things that didn’t scale.

We combined great content with good design.  From there we just kept getting feedback and creating great products.  You can get lucky in business by hustling and making your own luck.

We are crushing it on Instagram right now, so we are developing a course for this and other things that we are getting questions on every single day.

One step at a time is the key to our success.  Build out on aspect or product and then build on it.

How do you learn to master something?

Find experts that are crushing it and model them.  Don’t just stay within your own industry, look to other industries.  Don’t copy them, but borrow ideas.  Speak to as many people as you can.  Clarity.fm has helped me find experts.

Give first and the ask much later.  Be respectful of people’s time.  If you want to build a relationship with someone, you need to add value to that relationship.

If someone wanted to create a digital magazine today, what advice do you have for them?

A digital magazine is certainly cheaper than a print magazine, but you really have to have a really good network in place.  It’s not the easiest road to start out without and established income source because it is costlier than other types of online business to get started.  If someone has an established business and presence in their niche and want to start a digital magazine, I say go for it.  It’s great way to get started in the online world.  Create an app around it an go for it.  Our tool of choice for creating a our magazine is MagCast.

What were your 3 biggest mistakes in your entrepreneurial journey?

  1. I was sued for trademark infringement right off the bat.
  2. No pitching for influencers in the entrepreneurial niche right away.  We had a stock image on the cover of our first edition.
  3. I wish I had started collecting email addresses much earlier.4.
  4. We should have started out paid newsletter service much earlier.

The best lesson I have learned is that your network is so critical.  Add value anytime you can and realize it will pay off in spades.




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