How This Doctor Built One of the Most Popular Websites in the World

Kelsey Humphreys sits down with Dr. Axe to talk about how to become the go-to online expert in your field.

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If you’ve watched my interviews with successful influencers and entrepreneurs, you’ve learned that physical health is a huge priority for those at the top. Perhaps this spurred you to dive into the deep Google pool that includes searches like “the benefits of apple cider vinegar” or “healthy smoothie recipes.” At the very top of that pool is, the website of Dr. Josh Axe.

Axe, who started his Nashville-based functional medical center in 2008, has cultivated the site to reach over 12 million monthly visitors. He has reached millions more through his multiple bestselling books, online health courses and corporate wellness programs for entities like Nissan and Whole Foods. He’s also seen regularly speaking at conferences and festivals such as South by Southwest, and is a regular contributor to The Dr. Oz Show. If all of that wasn’t enough, he co-founded BurstFit with his wife Dr. Chelsea Axe, and founded Ancient Nutrition, Ancient Apothecary and Dr. Axe Supplements with his partner and CEO, Jordan Rubin.

I was excited to get to chat with him about how he grew his operations so successfully in under a decade. If you want to become the go-to expert in your field and build multiple revenue streams around your expertise, here are the top seven lessons from my interview with Dr. Axe.

Hone in on your passions.

Axe’s interest in health began when his mother developed cancer in his teens. His passion for natural medicine began later in life when the cancer returned and none of her treatments were working. Since then, there’s been no turning back, and that dedication played a part in his rapid growth.

“I couldn’t really imagine doing anything else. For me, just helping people is getting healthy is such a passion, it helps drive the business,” he said.

Being passionate about business in general can get you far, but those that become the standout brand in their industry often see their work as their “mission” or “calling.” If you don’t deeply love your work, someone in your industry who does will probably out-work you, and it might be time to pivot.

Find a niche within your passion.

Even though natural medicine is already a niche,  Axe focuses on his brand around the argument that “food is medicine.”

“Today people are looking for something very specific,” he explained. He shared that people no longer search general terms like “back pain” and instead search for their specific condition, down to the particular vertebrae. He and his team create detailed content answering those very specific questions.

Within the niche you choose, find a way to stand out with specific, detailed solutions to your customers’ problems.

Find your greatest strengths within your passion.

When Axe opened up his clinic, he began creating monthly newsletters to hand out to his patients. Soon Axe’s patients asked for a way to email the information from his patient newsletters to their family and friends. This prompted the launch of the website. Axe also began speaking to groups and teaching workshops about natural medicine.   

At a John Maxwell seminar early in Axe's business, he heard Maxwell say if you want to change the world you need to figure out your best gifts, and he realized he was best at communicating. One by one, he hired out all the other parts of the practice so that he could focus on his strength: creating the helpful content.

Analyze your strengths and force yourself to choose one strength above the rest. That strength is your secret weapon -- use it!

Find someone to model using that strategy.

“I believe a roadmap to success is modeling other success,” Axe said.

After graduating, Axe shadowed three different chiropractors in different markets to learn and study. This exercise, he believes, led to his business's amazing growth to seeing 1,000 patients a week within the first year.  

“[Once it was time for me to start my practice] there wasn’t much guesswork; I knew, because of a great mentors, what I needed to do to succeed,” he said. “If you have a model, I think people can see success quicker that way.”

Consider a strategic partner.

Axe mentioned that part of his success was due to his partnership with one such mentor, Jordan Rubin. Rubin, author of The Maker’s Diet and other bestselling health books, founded supplement company Garden of Life in 2000, which he sold for over $30 million in 2009.

“A lot of people try to figure it out on their own,” Axe explained, sharing that you can go further, faster with mentors and partners.

Decide on your strategy and work backwards.

Once Axe decided to build an online information business, he analyzed how many articles it would need to publish a week to dominate the space. He started with just one article per week, and now puts out between 15 and 20, with four to five people working on each piece.

“Once you know the strategy, and the amount what kind of output you need, then say what type of staff does that look like? What are the team members, what do they do? Work backwards from the end goal you want,” he advised.

Be the absolute best at that strategy.

“We have a saying: The organic, grass-fed cream always rises to the top. It’s true. If you’re putting out the best of the best in the world, you’re going to be found.”

Axe Googles relevant search terms in his niche and analyzes the results that rank higher than content. He tells his content team “if there’s an article better than ours, we’ve got to go and make it better -- whatever we can do to make it the greatest content in the world.”

Watch in-depth interviews with celebrity entrepreneurs on The Pursuit with Kelsey Humphreys

Related: How to Turn Your Idea Into a Movement

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