Pat Flynn – Why I’m Successful
How Pat Flynn Became an Internet Entrepreneur
I’ve known Pat for a while now and I consider him a very good friend of mine, which is one of the reason’s I’m so excited to have him here on the Income Diary series: Why I’m Successful. Pat does a great job of providing quality content and real world examples of his own income via his very successful website; The Smart Passive Income Blog. Pat is now making a very healthy living from his online business and it just goes to show that f you have the passion, drive and the ability to connect with your readers (as well as working extremely hard) then you too can be successful; just look at myself and Pat, were making things happen. Here’s why Pat is successful at what he does:
Quick Fire Questions
Best Business Purchase? My iMac computer.
Biggest Inspiration? My 1 year old son. Everything I do is for him.
Favourite Business Resource? Market Samurai
How I Started
It all started back in 2008 when I was laid off from my architectural position. Unlike most, I loved my 9 to 5 job and never really had any desire to leave, but I was forced to because of a bad economy and the company’s downsizing efforts.
At the time, I had one little blog to my name (now at GreenExamAcademy.com) that I used to keep track of my notes for an exam that I was taking, the LEED exam, which deals with green architecture and sustainable design. Having the blog made it much easier for me to study because I could study from anywhere – work, while on travel, or at my apartment without having to lug around a huge notebook. I could easily share my notes with my co-workers, but never had any intention of making money from it.
After getting laid off and being inspired by a number of online business blogs and podcasts, I eventually learned that each day thousands of people from around the world had been using my blog as a resource to help them study for the LEED exam too. Apparently, my website was ranking very high in Google for relevant search terms, and I didn’t even know it.
It was at that point that I decided to have a go at doing business online, and so naturally I added some Adsense to my blog and immediately saw results. The results weren’t spectacular and clearly not enough to make a living off of, but seeing an extra $2 to $5 a day for doing practically nothing was the most amazing feeling in the world. It gave me enough motivation to keep going and really make this work.
The next thing I did was sell advertisement space on my blog. I had a lot of targeted traffic coming in (a few thousand uniques per day), so I knew I had something of value to offer companies. I easily sold 2 125×125 pixel spaces on my blog within a couple of days. I was at a point where I was almost earning $600 a month from both Adsense and advertisements, but again this was definitely not enough to live off.
This is when I got very serious about what I was doing and joined an online business mastermind group. One of the best business decisions I’ve ever made because it was from my mastermind group that I decided to write an eBook study guide for my blog.
After spending about 2 months writing my eBook, I finally launched it and earned $7,906.55 during the first month, which totally blew my mind! The next month, I had earned nearly $10k, and after introducing an audio version of my guide, I peaked in March of 2009 grossing over $30,000 in one single month.
Also, because of the way the business was setup (again thanks to the mastermind group and inspiration from The 4-Hour Work Week), it was running virtually on auto-pilot. I still had to answer questions from time to time and respond to comments on the blog, but I did not have to be present in order for a transaction to take place. Now, I literally spend 2 hours a month on this business and it still earns thousands every month.
This site is where I learned all about passive income and its ability to create a location and time independent business and lifestyle. I’ve since created several other passive income businesses, including an iPhone application company, which helps provide an income for myself and my family while I’m able to spend most of my time at home with them.
Nowadays, most people online know me from The Smart Passive Income Blog where I share with the world how I run my online businesses and to give back for all of the wonderful and fortunate things that have happened in my life recently. I guess you could say I’ve joined the “make money online” and “blogging” niche, but I try to do things a little differently by revealing everything about what I do, including how much I make, where it comes from, and both my wins and my failures. Since starting the blog I’ve acquired 15,000 RSS subscribers, a very active and responsive community, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be ranked amongst some of my favorite bloggers in Michael’s 50 Most Influential People in Blogging 2010.
The Best Things I Did For My Business
The best thing I’ve done for my businesses is give away as much free information as possible. I find that the more quality information I give away, the more I get back in return.
You might think that this isn’t a good move because if you give it all away, then what do have left to monetize?
When I wrote my first eBook, I felt the exact same way. I was worried about selling an eBook that comprised of the same exact material (about 90% the same) that people could find for free on the blog. I went through with it anyway and over 7500 transactions later, I’ve never had one person complain.
Darren Rowse from Problogger did something similar with a 31 post series he entitled, 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, which I’m sure many of you know now is an eBook that Darren sells on Problogger. His book has been wildly successful despite the fact that most of the same material can be found for free on his blog.
Part of the reason this works well is because people will pay for a well designed, organized package, whether it’s an eBook, course, membership site, etc. Also, if you’re an authority and you’ve taken care of your audience by providing them with lots of free, high quality content, many will feel they owe you for all that you’ve done for them already.
What Makes Me The Most Money
In the beginning, it was creating my own products. Lately, my affiliate income has matched and surpassed that amount, although I am currently working on some more products of my own.
The only difference between the two forms of income is that one comes from a product that I created myself, and the other are products that other people have created. Everything else is exactly the same, meaning I strive to only sell or promote products that have the highest value, that I’m familiar with and I know will be beneficial for my readers to use.
I may be leaving a lot of money on the table by not promoting certain products that could potentially be big-time moneymakers (not only for The Smart Passive Income Blog, but for my other websites as well), but by recommending products that I’ve used I can only add value to my own brands and build stronger relationships with my audience, which I believe will ultimately make me more money in the long run.
How I Work
Ever since the birth of my son about a year ago, my schedule has been determined by him. That’s what it’s like when you become a parent – at least for parents that work at home. I love the fact that I get to work from home with a very flexible schedule and be here for my wife and son, but on the work side of things, it can be very very difficult to manage.
I typically work about 4 hours a day (when my son gives me the time, such as during his naps or after he goes down at night), on a number of different things, which I’ll explain below.
Since most of my income is from passive income streams, most of the work that I do is for new projects that I’m working on, besides adding content to my blog every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, of course.
I try hard to stay focused on one project at a time and make sure that I’m at a stopping point before I spend my time with another.
For example, I may undertake the development of a new iPhone application (my partner and I currently have 27 live in the App Store). I’ll spend time developing the idea, drawing it out on photoshop and creating graphics for it, at which point I send it off to our developer to complete, which usually takes about 2 weeks, depending on how complicated the application is.
During that 2 weeks, I may work on a new project, such as a niche site, which will usually takes me a couple of weeks to build and create backlinks for before I can ease down and let it do it’s thing. Lately, I’ve been utilizing a virtual assistant to make these tasks even easier so I can work on even more projects, or just take some time off.
Staying organized is key, and also limiting the amount of distractions that could hold you back. So, when I do find time to work, I close all other programs and applications except for the one I’m working on.
Step By Step – How Do I Podcast
A podcast is what inspired me to get into this business in the first place, so it was always my goal to eventually do one. I had first mentioned that I wanted to host a podcast in November of 2008 but it wasn’t until July of 2010 that my podcast finally went live in iTunes.
I wish I had done it sooner, because I’m seeing loads of brand new, targeted traffic coming from this untapped resource.
Since July, I’ve had over 250,000 downloads and was featured as a top podcast in the overall business category, right next to Jim Cramer, Suze Orman, Harvard Business Review and Dave Ramsey. For a while I was the number one podcast in the Marketing and Management category, which was awesome.
Setting up a podcast is no easy task (which is part of the reason why it took me so long. The other reason was my fear of speaking on the microphone, which I’ve since overcome), but it’s not rocket science either.
Here’s a basic step by step procedure:
#1 Determine what your show is going to be about. Make it about a specific topic related to something you know you’ll be able to talk about comfortably for a certain number of minutes. Many people have a co-host on the show because it makes the episodes a lot easier to produce, since most of the content is just conversation.
#2 Invest in a good microphone. I’m using a Heil PR40 which runs about $300, but the sound quality is AMAZING. Sound quality is huge because many people will not listen to a show if it has bad sound quality, even if it has the best content in the world. You want people to enjoy listening to you while at the gym, running around the block or in their cars.
#3 Outline and structure a “typical episode”, which usually includes an introduction, a little bit of royalty-free music (not too much), and then right into your content, which could either be just you, you and your co-host, or also a guest for an interview.
#4 Record it. You can use Garageband if you have a Mac, or Audacity if you’re on a PC – both are free on whichever platform you’re running.
#5 Create a special category on your blog that will be used for the podcast. When you come out with an episode, create a specific blog post for it owithin that category and link to the mp3 file that you recorded (which is stored on a server such as AmazonS3 or Libsyn.com). The way iTunes works is that it reads a feed from your blog and looks for audio files embedded in the posts. You don’t directly upload stuff to iTunes.
#6 In iTunes, there’s a specific section for submitting your podcast which has you fill out information about it, including the feed for the category that you created for it on your blog. Do this after your first episode and it’ll take a day or two, but then you’ll see yourself in iTunes.
The Day I Realized “I MADE IT”
I had a lot of “I MADE IT” moments during my online journey.
The first one came when I sold my first eBook. It was such an amazing feeling because I had no idea if I would sell even one single copy, and it just helped me realize that the 2 months of work that I put into the eBook was totally worth it.
Another “I MADE IT” moment came when I received a call from my previous boss, who was also eventually let go from the company. He had started another company and asked me if I was available to work for him, but I turned down his offer because I was making a lot more money and living a better lifestyle working online from home.
One of my biggest “I MADE IT” moments came when Yaro Starak asked me to share my story with his audience. Yaro played a huge role in inspiring me to do online business, so for him to ask me to share my story for his podcast was such an honor.
I Would Have Been Successful Sooner If…
I would have been successful sooner if I didn’t wait to get laid off.
You see, my lay off pretty much forced me to do business online and figure out a way to make it all work. My back was up against the wall, and that’s usually when I take action and do my best work.
I had always listened to internet business podcasts and read a ton of blogs about it while working my 9 to 5 job, but mainly just for fun and to live vicariously through other people’s success stories. If only I had really believed that I could do it myself, I would have done something about it then instead of waiting until I had no other choice.
The key point is that in order to find success you’ve got to take action now.
What You Should Be Focusing On
Plain and simple: focus on what’s working.
It’s WAY too easy to get distracted by things that supposedly help your business or blog, but really don’t. You should have some soft of idea of what it is that is truly helping you reach your goals. Do more of that.
Why I’m Successful and Why You May Be Not
When people ask me what they can do to be successful online too, I usually tell them to make sure you do something that adds some kind of value to the Internet, whether it’s informational, educational, entertaining or just plain ol’ useful. This is how you build a long term and potentially self-sustaining business online.
I know a handful of people who try to make money online using methods and “get rich quick” schemes that don’t really add any value to the Internet, and as a result they fail or just aren’t seeing the results they want.
Take bold actions, step out of your comfort zone and over-deliver. That’s the recipe to success.
Want to learn more about what Pat? Check out The Smart Passive Income Blog.
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