James Clear Made $250K Every 90 Days Before He Ever Published a Book

The counter-intuitive way you can monetize content.

Tim Denning
The Startup
Published in
4 min readJun 8, 2021


Photo by Ken Cheung on Unsplash

Write a blog post. Make money from a blog post.

That’s how a lot of us writers think about the business of writing. What if we’ve got it completely wrong?

One of my favorite writers of all time, James Clear, continuously helps me reinvent my approach to writing. He made a super-niche topic like habits into a New York Times Best Seller, that Elon’s future robots will still be reading on Mars in a hundred years.

Blogger and ConvertKit founder Nathan Barry gives us a behind the scenes look at his interactions with James Clear, which provides an alternative path for content creators.

The problem for content creators

Content creators simply want to produce content. The trouble is creating content takes a lot of time and we have bills to pay. This leads to a problem: how do you spend most of your time creating content, and a smaller amount of time doing tasks that allow you to earn a living? Enter James Clear.

Build without money in mind at first

I’ve said it many times. In the beginning, be proud to make $0. James Clear did the same. His focus at the start of his journey, according to Nathan Barry, was to build his newsletter.

Writing content and solving problems became the foundation of all of the success that followed. Trying to make money too soon can accidentally feel like desperation to an audience.

Writing helps uncover the value you can offer before you charge any money.

James Clears’ First Income Stream

I am surprised to learn the first way James made money from writing is by running “habit workshops.” This is not the traditional path for writers. Most writers are desperate to get paid the big bucks for their words. The challenge is most writers are taking this path so it’s crowded.

The first workshop James ran with Nathan Barry made about $25,000. It quickly got to the point where once a quarter they were making $250,000 per workshop.



Tim Denning
The Startup

Aussie Blogger with 500M+ views — Writer for CNBC & Business Insider. Inspiring the world through Personal Development and Entrepreneurship — timdenning.com/mb