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Pat Flynn – Why I’m Successful

By:     Topics: Interviews

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:

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Quick Fire Questions

Best Business Purchase? My iMac computer.

Biggest Inspiration? My 1 year old son. Everything I do is for him.

Favourite Business Website? Viperchill.com and Entrepreneurs-Journey.com.

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.

Pat Flynn’s Work Station

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.

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#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.

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#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.

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#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.

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#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.

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#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.

Obviously there’s a lot more to it, but that’s the basic skeleton. I received a lot of great advice for The Smart Passive Income Podcast from a great resource: podcastanswerman.com.

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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  • Steven | Business Diaries

    Pat is definitely one of my biggest influences. He is all about making the internet a better place and he really sticks to his guns when it comes to ethical ways of crushing it online.

  • http://www.365Cincinnati.com Bridgett Raffenberg

    Excellent interview. Thanks, Michael. I am a big fan of Pat Flynn. Pat Flynn is one of the only people I follow on a daily basis (Pat Flynn and Lynn Terry). Pat is a stand up guy who knows what he’s doing and can be trusted (at least in my opinion) and that’s what really matters to me.

  • http://www.daniellemcgaw.com Danielle McGaw

    Awesome interview. I always love reading about your story and your insights Pat and I always send people to your blog. You are inspirational, yet you still come across as being genuine – and that is a huge factor for me.

    I’m always looking forward to what you might come up with next!

  • http://healthhomehappy.com Cara

    I love how Pat uses the golden rule to make a great living online! Knowing that business owners can be successful while keeping family first and keeping their integrity is an awesome encouragement and lovely change of pace from ‘get rich quick’ sites.

  • Cam

    Love the interview, very inspiring and useful info. Thanks!

  • http://www.Escapingthe9to5.com Maren Kate

    Great interview – I especially liked the “I made it” moments – those are the best :) Just a nice warm all over feeling!

  • Alberto Gonzalez

    Grat interview !!
    Very uplifting advice!!
    I enjoyed it very much!!
    I love the humble personality of Pat !!
    If he made we too can possible make it !!
    Good job Aarron Hatfield!!!

  • http://www.simplegood.com Brian C

    I have been involved with affiliate marketing since 2002 for 4 years then took about a 4 year break. I was once in the top 1% affiliates at CJ.com. Anyway I stumbled on Pat’s blog and just love the content. He is very honest which makes it very enjoyable and real. I love the openness of his writing. That is how you build a true audience.

  • Bojan

    Not only he’s earning insane amount of cash, he’s also a person I thrust to and follow his advice. He delivers content that’s cutting to the very core of online marketing and gives me inspiration and motivation.

    If he was making a company, it’s a place where I would love to work!

  • http://www.vocationvillage.com Janet

    Pat Flynn proves that you can be authentic and honest while earning a good income as an information marketer. I admire his success, I enjoy reading everything he writes, and I learn from the wisdom he so freely shares. Great interview!

  • http://missiondrivenbrand.com Rob Pene

    Pat is an amazing person and is a super smart dude…He’s not only great at what he does, but he also strives to make others great at what he does. Pat is truly an entrepreneurs entrepreneur! I’m grateful to him and his site for all the amazing info and community he provides! Kudos!

  • Howie

    While you can certainly measure ‘success’ in monetary figures, I think the truest form of success can be found in just how many people a man has helped. Unfortunately, the latter is difficult to quantify because many may have visited Pat’s blog, downloaded his eBook, read his content, only to never return and report back in…yet, they may have very well managed to be successful from a monetary standpoint. In the year + that I’ve been reading SPI, Pat has really developed an incredible ‘real life’ brand that will go to great lengths to help others.

    There were several things Pat has done for me that he very well could have charged me for. Had he charged, I would have gladly paid, and I guarantee that his monthly earnings could very well be thousands of dollars higher than what they currently are.

    Also, people come from all different walks of life, with different skill sets, motivations, and drives. I read the same eBook that thousands of other people have downloaded, and it provided me with a fundamental foundation to go on to earn thousands already. It’s not always about the money…it’s about helping people…however, I’d be naive if I didn’t say that, for as much as people want to be help, its those monetary figures that keep people salivating for more. Hence…the insanely popular nature of his income reports. Great job Pat, and thanks alot man!

  • Jeff Anderson

    Hi Michael and Pat,

    I wanted to leave a comment mostly aimed at Pat, because when I saw your interview with Yaro a while back, I was in a similar job situation as you were. I am a physician fresh out of school, and after failing to get a job right away I decided to create my own study guides for the US Medical Licensing Exams. I was juggling the idea for a while, and when I saw the interview with Pat it was a sign that it was time to finish those study guides.

    I wrote a study guide for both the first and the second exam, both being about 450 pages, and consistently make blog posts with the exact content that I’ve written in the books.

    Although I am not doing quite as well as Pat’s big 5-figure months quite yet, I am well on my way. In addition, since launching that site and that business I have moves into a similar situation with my new business where I teach other people exactly how I did it.. and just like Pat and Michael I feel that by giving away the best information for free on my blog I get the best rewards.

    So Pat, I owe taking that first step to you, so from the bottom of my heart, thanks!

    Jeff Anderson

  • Skye

    Great interview. Ever since I stumbled upon Pat’s pod cast I’ve been hooked.
    I love his story and his sincerity. I get so much from your tips and information. And I share the same philosophy of the golden rule no matter where you are. It’s so refreshing to have someone who isn’t telling me the only way to make money is to manipulate and use abbrassive selling techniques. Good on you Pat, keep up the good work.

  • http://www.myweightlosssurgeryblog.com Dreda Augustus

    Great article. I first became a fan of Pat’s after discovering his podcasts on iTunes. He has a gift for making the complex seem so simple! I appreciate his willingness to share his knowledge with beginners, such as myself. When Pat speaks…I listen because I know I am about to hear something worthwhile!

  • http://www.fitmarriage.com Tony DiLorenzo | Fit Marriage

    Thank you Pat for sharing how you got started and all the free information you put out each week. The big take away for me has been how you work 4 hours a day on the business. I know you mentioned this when we met up and it is a driving factor for me as I build Fit Marriage. You’re a true inspiration and a really cool dude. Best to all of your projects in 2011.

  • Ron

    Great interview with Pat Flynn. As Pat says, if you’re not adding value to the internet with whatever you choose to do, your success will be minimal or fleeting at best. Good stuff.

  • http://tightfistedmiser.com Andy Hough

    Great interview, Pat. I’ve been following your blog from the start. I remember when you had a goal of 100 subscribers. You’ve shared a lot of good information I just need to be better about actually putting it to use.

  • http://www.nudged2write.com Shannon

    Great interview! Pat is a personal favorite and I’ve learned a lot from him.

  • http://NicoleontheNet.com Nicole Dean

    I agree that Pat’s definitely one of the good guys. :) Great person to pick for your interview!

    And, Pat – love the story of turning down your former boss. Priceless!

  • http://FoolishAdventure.com Tim

    Woohoo! Look at that list of podcasts–Foolish Adventure is #10. Pat Flynn did an audio interview for our show. If you liked this interview, go have a listen to the episode on our site or in itunes.

  • Tony Ryan

    Great stuff Pat! I love your philosophy on over-delivering quality content for free – I think that’s the key to long term success on the internet.

  • Erik R

    Awesome. I’ve heard Pat’s story a number of times. But each time he tells it I learn something new about him and why he is successful. Especially that he said no to his former boss. Very cool.

    Thanks Michael, for sharing this with us.

  • http://blogtyrant.com Blog Tyrant

    The thing about Pat is that he is also a really nice guy. Its good to see some more ethical marketers out there. I’m a bit over the online bad-boy vibe.

    Tyrant

  • Karen

    Hi Pat,
    Great interview. I will never tire of this story. I feel like I’ve been a part of your success over this last 15 months (since I first found your blog). Although I love the videos, I’m going to start downloading the Podcasts (get some multi-tasking in on a run!). Keep up the good work. K.

  • Michael

    I really liked the ‘I MADE IT’ moments as the best bit.

    I am one of those targeted untapped traffic from finding you on iTunes so I am in the process of trail and error to get a podcast going now – getting all the interviews set up and ready to go now – tough gig for sure!!

    And just like one of the other comments, Pat for the last few months has become a real influence on my ability to focus on what matters and to steal a line from Seth Godin to start ‘shipping’

    Keep up the good work Michael and Pat!!

  • Skylar Topham

    King Flynn… I’m pretty sure we’ve only seen the tip of the ice berg.

  • http://www.smartpassiveincome.com Pat

    To everyone: thank you so much for all of your kind words and support. It really means the world to me and makes me want to work even harder (er, I mean smarter) so I can share as much with the world as possible. Happy holidays and I wish you nothing less than success. Cheers!

  • Chris Green

    Awesome interview. I’ve been following Pat for a long time and the thing that impresses me most is his transparency and honesty.

    I’m pretty convinced that the whole industry would excel if there we’re more people with Pat’s attitude.

    • Howie

      I agree completely, Chris. :)

  • Onibalusi Bamidele

    This is awesome.

    Pat is a really great guy and an inspiration to me. To be sincere, there are a lot of changes I would have made to my blog but after taking a look at Pat’s blog I’d decide not to again…he is too much of an inspiration.

    This interview is really a great one and it’s really great to see how everything went for Pat. I wish him more success in his entrepreneurial career.

  • Ian Tomlinson

    Pat rocks. He is my guru! He gives great information and does it for free. That’s why I buy my products through his links. He deserves it!

  • http://www.sportential.com Remco

    I also really liked this interview. I’ve been following Pat now for (only) a couple of months, and the dude just walks his talk.
    He kinda pushed me from the fence to really start my online niche, instead of only reading about this stuff.

  • samuel

    Awesome interview Mike. Pat is a great guy, a guy whom I can vouch for. Great story bro. Keep up the good work. Have fun.

  • http://www.chadferguson.com Chad Ferguson

    Great interview. Pat’s blog is one of the few that I read on a regular basis. He has a great style and doesn’t come across like a used car salesman like many others do. Definitely one to follow!

  • http://thesourcepublishing.com The Source Publishing

    Very nice interview as always Michael. Pat has some very good information to give out and seems to very straight forward and honestly gives of himself. Thanks again Michael, keep up the great work.

  • Philip geneman

    pat Flynn is so great, I am always on his site. that is how i found incomediary.com.
    Michel is great to. both has a lot to teach. .

  • Wasim Ismail

    Great inspiration, and goes to show, if you set your mind to something you relay want to achieve, there is nothing stopping you.

  • Mk Akan

    Pat’s blog is one of my favourite blogs online.i have learnt so much from him …he is an inspiration to me.

  • Allen Tapp

    Great interview Michael. I am new to this and really enjoyed the easy to read insightful info. that Pat avails. Great stuff!

  • Joshu Thomas

    Nice interview – Really enjoyed it!! Great work Michael in interviewing Pat.

    cheers
    Josh Thomas

  • http://news.WiseLevel.com Luciano Wutke

    Great interview! Pat is a personal favorite and I’ve learned a lot from him.

  • http://MeltingWaves.com/ Benjamin M. Jacques

    Hey Michael,

    These posts are always really interesting and well formatted. I like the layout and the questions you ask are solid and help get individual views and strategies from individual entrepreneurs.

    -Benjamin M. Jacques
    http://MeltingWaves.com/

  • http://www.thrumylens.org John Holbrook

    I’ve recently started following Pat this year, and was surprised at the parallels between his online business life and my own. Great guy!

  • Chef Tony

    You and Pat are my two “go to” guys when it comes to solid and heartfelt internet teaching and advice.

    Great post, Pat’s a great source of info, and I thank you BOTH for making the internet a better place, and totally motivating me to make 2011 my online year.

    I hope to look back at this and a few recent posts next year and know that I’m building myself a great lifestyle and passive income online.

    THANKS.

  • http://www.BoyterVentures.com Jeff Zickgraf

    Nice post. I really appreciate the information that you guys put out there. I think it really helps keep people motivated to continue their efforts or to begin.

  • http://thebusybeehiveblog.blogspot.com/ Melissa

    I like Pat’s down to earth approach and his willingness to give away information, which is very helpful to those of us starting out. And he’s an encouragement to get off my butt and get started so I can start making money.

  • http://www.artofwoodshopdesign.com Bobby

    I can tell you that Pat is the real deal; he’s the inspiration to me starting my woodworking blog. If you peruse his site, you can find step-by-step how-to’s as well as mind-set big picture strategy to make sure you’re on the right track. If you get stuck, go back to his blog and read it for a bit and you’ll rekindle your motivation.

    After reading a post of his, I almost feel guilty if I haven’t done what I know to be the things I need to do for success. He’s really changed my daily schedule, that’s for sure!

  • Gordon

    Great post with great information. I found this post very helpful. He fires me up to progress in my business as I believe in it. Thanks!

  • http://www.phillturner.com/ Phill

    Pat is great.

    As usual first class stuff and well laid out.

    I am totally blown away by your progress.

    Phill

  • http://optionstradingiq.com Gavin

    Great interview, Pat is the man. Really love his website.

    Keep up the good work Michael