4 min read

How Jordan Peterson Makes $6 Million Per Year as An Author

How Jordan Peterson Makes $6 Million Per Year as An Author

There aren't many nonfiction authors selling 20,000 copies of their book per week.

Jordan Peterson is one of the few who is doing it.

In this post, I'm going to break down a few of Jordan’s primary sources of income as an author, as well as which revenue streams you should emulate.

If you prefer to watch the video instead, you can do that here:

(And be sure to subscribe to my new YouTube channel, where I'll be posting more Bestseller Breakdowns.)

Revenue Stream #1: Book Royalties

Even though Jordan is making $120,000 per month from selling his book...

80,000 copies per month
X $1.50 royalty per book
= $120,000 per month

... Book royalties are arguably the WORST WAY to make money as a nonfiction author. 

Just look at the math.

If you’re a self-published author selling your book for $20 on Amazon, you get to make a much better royalty than a traditionally published author – about $8 per book sale. 

Nice, right? 

Not really. 

According to BookScan, only 6.7 percent of books will sell more than 10,000 copies in their first year. 

That means your odds of making $80,000 in royalties during your book’s first year are less than 10%.

Not great.

Should you celebrate if you end up selling thousands of copies?

Of course! 

But you should never bank on book sales as your primary source of income. (Unless you're a fiction author).

Not to take anything away from Jordan Peterson. Earning 7-figures per year through book sales is an amazing accomplishment. Seriously, bravo!

But for the rest of you authors: If your goal is to make $100K per month, there are much easier and more efficient ways to do it.

This leads us to…

Revenue Stream #2: Paid Memberships & Digital Products

Selling access to a community or course is a better way to make money as an author. Before Jordan parted ways with Patreon, he was making $80,000 a month through the platform. He had nearly 10,000 members paying him at different tiers:

  • $5 per month for early access to videos and lectures.
  • $10 per month for additional content, like articles or podcasts.
  • Higher tiers – $100 or more – included personal interactions with Jordan, such as monthly Q&A sessions.

(These price points aren't totally accurate, but you get the picture):

The nice thing about this model is that you can charge for recurring subscriptions. The monthly amount could be as low as the price of a book, and now your reader is effectively buying your book 12 times per year. 

You can also go the course route, which has a much higher profit margin and perceived value - even if it’s nearly identical to the content in your book. 

Now, doing an online course well is a different story. Most authors do a terrible job of translating their written word to a video course. This is because you have to effectively treat courses as tutorials, rather than lectures. Your students aren’t looking for more information, they’re looking to achieve a specific outcome.

Here are a few examples of excellent courses that are making $1M per year, or more:

Assuming you create a great course that delivers a valuable outcome, you can sell it for a minimum of $100 (don’t go lower than that), all the way up to $2,000. 

That $2K price point tends to be the most you can charge without needing to do sales calls.

(Note: I NEVER recommend the Udemy discount model, where you’re selling a course for $10. That’s just as bad as selling individual copies of your book). 

Want to make even more money as an author, without putting in much more effort?

I’m so glad you asked…

Revenue Stream #3: Ultra-Premium Offers

I bet Jordan Peterson is charging a minimum of $100,000 for public speaking appearances. That’s what I like to call an ultra-premium offer, which I loosely define as a service you provide for $50,000 or more.

This is my favorite way to make money as an author, because it’s the most efficient pathway to earning a full-time income and beyond.

You might think you could never charge such high prices. 

And you’d be totally wrong.

High net-worth clients are more than willing to pay a premium for luxury experiences, exclusive access, and getting much better results with much less effort.

They don’t want to compete for your attention in your online community...

They want to have exclusive access to work directly with you, 1-on-1.

They don’t want to do a bunch of monthly Zoom calls...

They want to work alongside you for three days at a 5-star hotel.

They don’t want to have to implement the suggestions in your book or course...

They want you to just do it for them.

Get the picture? 

When you cater to high net-worth you can absolutely charge $25K, $100K, even $1M and beyond.

Here's the easiest way to get started...

Take your online course, then package it up into a premium group coaching model. Offer them live coaching calls and support, twice per week. This simple change alone will allow you to charge $3K, $10K, even upwards of $50K.

Now, there’s a lot more to it than I’m laying out here. The devil is definitely in the details. So, if you want to learn more about this model, the two best coaches I’ve found are Kathryn Porritt and Russ Ruffino. They’ve been following and teaching this model for a long time, and they’ve been extremely successful at it.

Final Thoughts

If I had to guess, I'd say that Jordan Peterson is making about $500,000 per month. Maybe more. Good for him!

I love to see nonfiction authors getting compensated well for their hard work. They deserve it. 

But most authors struggle to make even $1,000 per year from their books. I'm not a fan of that statistic, but it’s true.

If you want to make a living as a nonfiction author, and actually find a viable business model that will support your life, check out my group Author Alliance. Or you can set up a call with me.

You deserve to be compensated for your talent, expertise, and dedication as an author. Because writing a book creates a disproportionate amount of value for the world. A good book is magic that people can buy.

And when you write a good book, your bank account should reflect it.