How to raise $1 million with a tweet

If you have a burning mission, and you’re short on the money you need, this story is for you. This is the three simple (but not easy) steps Matthew Inman (better known as The Oatmeal) took to raise $1 million with a tweet.

STEP ONE – Follow your talent and delete the rest

Few years ago Matthew Inman was a web designer who stumbled on a new talent. As he says: “I actually used to build websites for a living, and I did that for a long time but got tired of working for people…”

“So I started a dating site, but I didn’t know anything about marketing, so in order to get people to actually come to the website, I started making funny things: comics, quizzes, and illustrated stories about dating just to draw people in.”

“The comics were more popular than the actual dating was, so I decided to build a site full of the humor stuff. That’s when I decided to launch a career as a comedian rather than a marketer.”

Over the next few years, ‘The Oatmeal’ grew in popularity, and Matthew figured out how to make money from merchandising and books. With books like “5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in The Mouth” and “How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You”, by 2012 The Oatmeal was making over $500,000 a year and attracting millions to his site each month

STEP TWO – Champion a worthy cause

Matthew Inman didn’t just create comics on cats and bears but on things that interested him, including one called “Why Nikola Tesla was the greatest geek who ever lived” on his hero, Nikola Tesla.

In 2012, Matthew found out that the old laboratory of scientist Nikola Tesla, Wardenclyffe (in Shoreham, New York), was at risk of being sold to a retail developer. So he put together an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to help a non-profit buy it instead and turn it into museum.

Why help? As Matthew said “Tesla is a hero of mine, and very rarely does an opportunity present itself where you can make a difference to your hero’s legacy nearly a century after his time. It’d be like starting a crowdfunding campaign to keep Mahatama Gandhi’s or Abraham Lincoln’s original home from getting bulldozed and turned into a Krispy Kreme.

Called “Let’s Build a Goddamm Tesla Museum”, Matthew’s crowdfunding campaign appealed to his followers and it ended up raising $1.3 million. On his success, Matthew said “I’m like the Tesla evangelist, sorta. Teslavangelist?”

STEP THREE – Give first, then get

The problem? The crowdfunding campaign raised enough to buy the land. But not enough to build the museum. Two years later, Matthew thought about what it would take to get Elon Musk (whose electric car company is called “Tesla” after Nikola Tesla) to contribute to the build. He decided to create a comic “What it’s like to own a Tesla Model S – A cartoonist’s review of his magical space car”.

Matthew then created a second one “Part Two: Man vs Motor” where he wrote about Elon Musk and Nikola Tesla. This second one made the case of why Elon was the man to help the Tesla Museum, together with an appeal, and a few compliments: “He’s like Hari Seldon but with wicked biceps.”

Then he sent the fateful tweet: “@elonmusk I wrote a review of my Model S, and then asked you for a little favor here…”

Within a day, Elon replied “I would be happy to help”.

From that tweet, Elon pledged $1,000,000 towards the museum, as well as making the museum a part of the nationwide Tesla recharging network for Tesla cars.

The million dollar tweet took less than a minute. But the build up took years.

We all have the power to get instant, massive results – if we’re willing to put in the legwork first. Now it’s your turn:

What are you building your community around?
What worthy cause are you supporting?
And who are you giving to today?

As you build your value, don’t use social media as a radio antenna, creating noise. Use it, like Matthew, as a lightning rod, creating opportunity.

“Unitil you remove the noise, you’re going to miss a lot of signal.” ~ Seth Godin

Image : (CC) Randy Stewart,

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