Pursuing a Mission While Bootstrapping to Millions with John O'Nolan of Ghost

Episode #139

When John O'Nolan (@JohnONolan) set out to create Ghost, he made an unintuitive decision for a mission-driven founder: to use his skillset to tackle the obvious thing to work on, rather than chasing the most interesting thing to work on. But 8 years later, and perhaps as a direct result of that decision, Ghost finds itself in one of the most interesting places of any indie business I've had on the show: reinventing online publishing in the the midst of a crisis for journalism, and making close to $2M/year while doing it.

Show Notes

  1. 2

    What an interview. Thank you both.

    Very insightful thoughts about the present and future state of publishing, and the changing dynamics of content creation. Medium's pop ups, Instagram like count controversies, Youtube demonetizing channels (for various reasons)... the world is changing. We're never going to stop telling stories to each other, so content creators and audiences will continue to seek each other out. I'm glad the online written word is in good hands!

    @csallen man, good thing you didn't have to compromise on the content to please the advertisers! this site is pure gold. More than anything, you've given a home to all the lost souls that can't tell if they're crazy or actually onto something.

    Crazy wish for 2020: get Bruce Sterling on here.

  2. 1

    I loved the part about the overemphasis on user research and insights. Their point of view was very interesting to me: they view it as a tool in the toolbox, but not the thing that should lead your prioritization. They split up their roadmap in three: 1. Short term: Things people are asking for. 2. Medium term: Things they want to make and care about. 3. Long term: Things about they view the world.
    Eye opener.

  3. 1

    Excellent Interview. I've enjoyed it a lot. John's explanation about why Ghost is non profit is amazing. Thanks for this!

  4. 1

    I like the idea...