If you don’t know where this quote is from, you’ve been living under a rock.
The Oscar-winning movie Wolf of Wall Street depicted the life of an extravagant salesman who conned thousands of people into investing in stocks, becoming a billionaire in the process.
It becomes even crazier when you know that Jordan Belfort, who DiCaprio depicted in the movie, is an actual person who did all these things!
But hear this – After his downfall and two years in prison, Belfort redeemed and reinvented himself.
He started riding the new wave of personal branding and membership websites to finally do what he loves – teaching others how to sell.
This article will explain how you can replicate this stage of Wolf of Wall Street’s life and start living the good life doing what you enjoy.
The Wolf’s Journey
This isn’t your typical rags to riches story. Unlike those where the protagonist fights against impossible odds and achieves success, Belfort’s story is full of twists and turns.
Let’s see how the Wolf started the journey that would shape his entire life.
A Capable Cub
Some people are just born with the knack for business and Belfort displayed glimpses of his potential at an early age.
In his biography, he recalls how he partnered up with his friend to sell ice water desserts to people near the beach.
Since they were using cheap coolers, the profit margins were pretty high. According to Belfort, they ended the summer with $20k profit!
An aspiring dentist in his youth, Belfort wanted to study for a dentist. However, he dropped out of college after realizing dentistry won’t provide him with the lavish lifestyles he dreams of.
Instead, he turned to what he knew – sales. In his early twenties, he started a door-to-door meat and seafood venture that grew exponentially. After the company’s brief success and expansion, Belfort hit another block and he had to declare bankruptcy.
At 25 and still recovering from his big failure, he came in touch with stockbroking. Thus, the Wolf was born.
Reveling in Riches
Belfort quickly realized the unlimited monetizing potential of stockbroking if you’re willing to bend the rules.
He started his investment company “Stratton Oakmont”, a boiler-room type company that used pump-and-dump-schemes to artificially up the price of penny stocks. His team pressured investors into a high-risk-high-reward type of speculations that weren’t as lucrative as it seemed.
Using his high persuasion skills and natural talent for sales, he grew Stratton Oakmont to over 1000 employees and over 1 billion of investment.
Belfort didn’t mind the lifestyle that came along. He spent his money on luxurious yachts, sports cars, and high-end partying.
This led to all sorts of debauchery, most of which are depicted in the movie. Moreover, he admitted that indulgences were even worse than seen on the big screen.
"In some respects, my life was even worse than that”, he says. “Though I'd say I did more Quaaludes than cocaine."
At one point Belfort managed to crash his helicopter and sink his yacht, admitting in one interview that the famous, almost comedic “yacht-sinking” scene from the movie was much worse in real life.
It turned out that the too-good-to-be-true lifestyle was exactly that. A couple of years later, his life was about to take a turn for the worse.
The Fall of the Wolf
Belfort’s get-rich-quick stockbroking scheme caught the eye of the US National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD).
Convinced in misdeeds, they launched a thorough investigation that forced Belfort to quit the brokerage business shortly afterward. He finally pleaded guilty to tricking multiple investors and other illegal manipulation of the stock market.
Investigation reports claim that Belfort scammed investors for over $200 million during his time and was sentenced to 4 years in prison (though served only 22 months).
After his release, he brokered a deal to pay 50% of his income to the investors he tricked.
Redemption and New Beginnings
Belfort’s redemption arc started during his time in prison.
He shared a cell with Tommy Chong, a famous comedian and an advocate of the legalization of cannabis. During their time in prison, Chong was fascinated with Belford’s life and his sublime way of words. “He’s a little crooked” – Chong once jokingly said to Hollywood Reporter – “But he’s a genius”.
Belford even admits that it was Chong’s idea to write up his journey and turn it into a book. He named it The Wolf of Wall Street, which was the main source of inspiration for the award-winning movie.
After his release, Belford spoke many times of his remorse toward the things he has done. “Money is like alcohol”, he says – “It makes you more of what you are…Not a day went by where there wasn’t a voice at the back of my head saying “what the hell am I doing?”
Today, Belford is one of the most famous motivational speakers covering topics about ethics in business and avoiding the same appealing traps that brought him turmoil.
At the same time, he teaches aspiring businessmen how to best utilize their skills to find success in their niche.
Tricks from the Den
The vast majority believes that Belfort had another shot at success only thanks to his past. However, they neglect that he has a unique skill set that brought him success in the first place.
Belfort is a fantastic storyteller, able to draw you into his world with a distinctive charisma and a knack for words.
This perk combined with his extreme drive to succeed made him successful in the sales world. Throughout his career, he closed thousands of deals with him saying some were almost impossible.
Nowadays, he’s passing on his ability to close a sale to his audience. His major value proposition is teaching aspiring businessmen how to negotiate, set boundaries, and handle objections.
He often sprinkles stories from his past into his lessons and would sometimes even record a live sale as an example to his students.
At the moment, Belfort is enjoying a cult following as an authority in the business niche. He amassed a huge following over the past decade and completely focused on building a personal brand through valuable content.
Thanks to the various pieces of content that he created (and keeps creating) over the years, he managed to build multiple revenue streams and rise from the ashes of his past failures. Let’s take a closer look.
Diversifying Content and Revenue.
Belfort’s fortune vanished in thin air, but he’d soon realize that a good personal brand can make up for all the money lost. (Personal branding is also something he covers in-depth on is YouTube).
His first touch with content was writing and selling his book – The Wolf of Wall Street.
The book was such a hit that his reputation skyrocketed even before the movie was released. People were just interested to hear more about his venture, misdeeds, and success.
But above all else, his regrets and learnings.
The extraordinary tale made him realize that he can leave the past behind and start building a new brand that will utilize his skill set for good.
Even before the movie was released, his reputation was on the up. He was a frequent keynote speaker, a guest on business-related talk shows, and even released another book.
The Oscar-winning movie was more of a catalyst to boosting the Wolf of Wall Street brand.
He started his new business, a sales and recruiting coaching company called Straight Line Hiring. This online business managed to streamline the sales performance of all their clients up to 8x during their first year.
They solved selling pain points to clients like Toyota, Ford, IBM, and more.
The past few years saw a surge of content creators that all battle for authority in their niche. With his background and experience in lecturing and providing value, Belfort saw an entrepreneurial opportunity.
He uses his channel as a platform to educate, but also have a say on the state of the stock market and financial world.
One of his main appeals is that he can simplify complex business processes thanks to his verbal skills.
This model earned him half a million subscribers and six-figure annual revenue only from posting his videos on YouTube!
His content often includes paid promotion from well-known businesses which adds to the revenue pool.
A few of the main things that Belfort did on his YouTube channel and we can all learn is.
Leveraging other people's status, the guests he invites onto his show are all people who have an audience that Belfort wants in on. People like Chris Voss, Grant Cardine, Bob Menery, Logan Paul, etc.
The use of eye-catching thumbnail, he leverages the guest, the Wolf of Wallstreet movie, and his brand.
Organization of his channel. Take a look at how we segment up his content so that he can help people get value as quickly as possible. He focuses on Sales School (educating people on sales), Wolf Bites (becoming an industry thought leader), Podcast (network building).
Jump on trending topics, Belfort does a great job at identifying interesting topics to cover as well as trending people to interview. This makes his content relevant and helps him reach new viewers.
Leveraging the fame from any publicity you have received. For example, Belfort is on another level being able to leverage the Wolf of Wall Street but you can look at doing this on a smaller level. Leverage websites you contribute to, events you speak at, podcasts you appear on, clients you work with, etc in your intro, call to action, or video frames.
Use of sponsorships, if you watch his channel you will see he has about 2-4min sponsor sections edited into his videos. These sponsorships are a story, something that's interesting about the product. Time Ferris also does a really good job at this. The takeaway is to make your sponsorships interesting and valuable for watchers/listeners.
Belfort’s consultation service proves that it’s better to build your brand around one thing that you’re good at instead of being a jack-of-all-trades type.
You may think that his entire reputation stands on his ability to sell. However, his even bigger achievement is training hundreds of salespeople to follow suit.
Today, Belfort offers to build another high-performance sales team using his unique methods.
On his website, you can request a free consultation on how to recruit a sales team, which will eventually lead to paid service.
The same goes for the actual sales training, where Belfort can teach your entire team the skills that made him close sales others couldn’t dream of.
Takeaway: if you’re good at something and there’s a demand for that kind of knowledge, your consultation services can be impeccable. It doesn’t have to be popular and it’s even better if it targets a narrow, yet in-demand niche.
Offering a service or doing a task for someone is the easiest way to start selling something online. You can start as small as setting up a gig on Fiverr, then build-up to the Wolf status!
Belfort will often monetize his incredible speaking abilities and his reputation by appearing at live events.
Event organizers would often invite him as a star speaker on business-related subjects both as an educator and a storyteller.
Aware of the demand for this type of service, Belfort has a special section on his website dedicated to booking him for various events (including going virtual during Covid).
Depending on the scale of the occasion, Belfort would request from $50,000 to $150,000 appearance fee. special occasions such as charity events, he wouldn’t request a fee.
With around ten high-ticket events during the year, Belfort’s already approaching a 7-figure territory.
Takeaway: When you grow a personal brand to the point that makes you recognizable in your vertical, event organizers will want to pay you to speak to their audience. Not that this is a monetization strategy that takes a long time to build out so it's not for beginners.
If you’re just someone who wants to learn the more advanced “ways of the Wolf,” you can sign up for one of Belfort’s multiple courses.
Unlike consultation which is more business-oriented, these online courses tend to a much wider audience.
You’ll have to pay at least $1000 to attend one of his courses, with more advanced (and certified) ones going up to $8000!
A shrewd businessman always adapts and caters to his audience. Belford researched the market and realized he’s quite popular in Spanish-speaking countries. His next move - publishing courses in Spanish!
Takeaway: Courses are booming and you should jump on the bandwagon. If you can provide value to your audience a good course can be a great source of passing income. You build it once, market it, and watch the pennies drop.
To get started you just have to choose a topic that you can cover in-depth, ideally, something you can also give examples with, plan out your course structure (sections and lessons), then film the content.
Exclusive Mastermind Group
Imagine the real Wolf of Wall Street inviting you to his house to hang out with like-minded people and listening to inspiring lectures.
From time to time, that’s exactly what he does. His masterminds include a personal one-hour consultation with the Wolf, while also hanging out together with fellow businessmen and network.
Moreover, everyone can listen to and discuss with prominent people in the business.
Before every big event, Belfort makes sure that he bangs the drum loud enough so he can reach most of the interested people. Thus, he utilizes social media marketing like Facebook ads to gain quick traction.
Moreover, he has an email list where he promotes his offers to members but also targets non members with special emails and a sales funnel.
The website doesn’t specify the price of the entire mastermind but notes that one-hour consultation with Belfort already goes north of $20k.
A sound profit!
Takeaway: Exclusive content works wonders in today’s content marketing. If you want to form a tight-knit community, you should provide your followers with events or content pieces out of the ordinary.
By adding value to your followers and audience it sets you up for an easy sale when you have a product or service to offer.
Podcasts are becoming the go-to sources of information and entertainment of online audiences and content creators are well aware.
For that reason, Belfort hosts a podcast The Wolf’s Den, where he interviews interesting people from the world of business.
This format allows Belfort to glide through various topics, from e-commerce to stocks, digital marketing, and even cryptocurrency.
The way he monetizes the content with sponsorships and affiliate links which he either mentions during the show or just leaves the links in the podcast description.
Takeaway: Podcast provides a platform to discuss broad subjects with your guests on topics relevant to your niche. At the same time, it’s one of the less demanding content to consume, as your listeners can listen to a podcast anywhere at any time (even during working hours).
Belfort has also been able to repurpose his content across video and audio channels to get the most out of every episode.
A podcast can generate awareness and build relationships to help take your brand to the next level.
Merchandise Store (Physical Products)
Belfort has a Shopify store integrated into his website. So while digital content and services are his main appeal, he earns some money on the side selling physical products for his audience.
One of the items in the online store is a mug that says: “Sell me this mug” – a throwback to the legendary scene from the movie. Also, you can buy hoodies, t-shirts, and hats with the “#wolfpack” written, indicating you’re a part of Belfort’s tribe.
Takeaway: Every content creator needs a distinct brand and a voice that resonates with their audience. If the message is clear enough, you can slap it on your merch and earn cash on the side.
How to Replicate the Wolf of Wall Street?
Don’t worry, it’s not necessary to have a life as crazy as Belfort’s to become a successful content creator (you’ll hardly find a similar journey!).
All you need is a platform, patience, and the ability to share a passion for a particular niche. In today’s saturated market, the narrower the niche – the better.
Here’s what you can learn from Belfort before embarking on your adventure:
1. Find Your Passion
If you don't care about bonsai trees, would you start a personal brand teaching others how to grow them?
Belfort was a top salesman from a very young age. He even dropped out of university so he could focus on sales!
So, once you know you’re passionate about a particular skill or any hobby, you’ll know how to make it appealing to others.
The key is to start building your name by doing something you genuinely care about. Makes it easier to transfer the energy to your audience and they’ll always take you seriously.
2. Growing Your Reputation
To be a good content creator, you need to practice what you preach.
Belfort’s main appeal is that he’s proven himself in the “game.” All his misbehavior aside, he was a top salesman and capable of managing hundred-people teams.
To monetize something that you love online, you need to do it consistently and make your name relevant in your field.
If you’re a yoga instructor, you need to gradually grow your presence online. If you’re an expert jeweler, find active groups online where you can make yourself known.
It’s important to leave a footprint of authority long before you start counting on others to pay for your content.
Posting free content and focusing on attracting organic followers will go a long way in setting the foundation for your future membership.
We are not all going to reach the point of having a movie made after us but this tactic can build 1000 true fans and followers which is plenty to get started earning your first few dollars online.
3. Create a Membership Website
The next step is having a platform that’s suited to your goals. For instance, Belfort’s personal website is also a membership website for his Straight Line brand.
His website is a perfect example of a multi-purpose membership website. It has multiple CTAs, a sales funnel, a course section, a podcast, and even an integrated storefront.
Building such a website takes money, time, and various third-party integrations. For instance, his website has a membership plugin for gated content, online courses, and storefront.
But if you want to build a membership site with premium content, you don't need all this.
How? Simply create an account and start your project.
You don’t need to patch-up numerous integrations or look for the right plugin because it’s all in one place and ready to go.
You can create different membership levels and segment old and new members. Then, build courses and landing pages, and design a storefront in an instant with a drag and drop editor.
Protect your content with gated options and leave free content as well for non-members.
In a few steps, you can have a website just like Belfort’s, and save tons of time and cash (learn more here).
Hyax allows you to use the simple builder to get a website and membership up in under an hour. Or if you want highly customizable experiences for your visitors there is the advance builder.
Check it out for free to see which suits your needs.
4. Promote Your Membership
With a strong foundation and a good website, you’re ready to start acquiring your first paid members.
However, it takes a good promotion and retention strategy if you want your membership to last long.
Belfort uses social media advertising channels to promote special offers, masterminds, and exclusive deals.
Hyax can easily sync with your marketing strategy, be it email marketing, content marketing, or paid advertising. Get the word out and try to make an appealing first offer so you capture those first members.
5. Create and Cultivate Your Community
A community can’t last long without a designated group where your audience can gather to network, discuss, and share ideas with their peers.
When he started his courses and memberships, Belfort created a private Facebook group – Wolfpack. It states that this near-7k-member group is “an exclusive place to talk about sales, training, business and much more”.
Showing that you care about your paying audience is a step toward retaining them for a long time.
Adding discounts, offers, sharing special content for members are just some of the activities that will bring that aura of exclusivity to your community.
Even better, you can actively participate in discussions and answer questions in the group. This approach will ensure your audience holds you in high regard.
Belfort’s story proves that the right content carries unlimited power. If he didn’t decide to pen down his journey and venture into the world of content, he would never achieve the success he has today.
Furthermore, there’s a lesson in there for all aspiring creators. As long as you do what you love and you’re good at it, others would like to hear your end of the story. And if you grow a reputation of being the absolute best, you’ll turn your passion into hefty revenue.
So jump aboard before it’s too late. Head over to Hyax, create a free trial and start earning from the things you love to do.
Jack Paxton is the co-founder of VYPER, a marketing tool that helps brands build email lists, social followings, and revenue using viral giveaways, referral, and reward programs. After millions of dollars spent testing different marketing strategies at his marketing agency. He then also co-founded Hyax a fast, conversion & design-focused course and funnel builder for creators.