I’m so happy with how the “Meet the Bloggers” interview series has been going on the blog and I’m extremely excited about today’s interview with Pat Flynn. I first heard of Pat a couple years ago, but didn’t really start reading his blog and his podcasts until the past couple of months. Let me say I really like what Pat has been doing and his blog posts and podcasts provide some great content and motivation to do better in the process!
I look forward to when our schedules sync up and we get a chance to meet with each other at an upcoming conference. In the meantime, everyone will not get a chance to learn a bit more about Patt Flynn and his awesome stories of finding success online.
1.) Please tell us about yourself and how you got into blogging?
My name is Pat Flynn and I actually started blogging when I was in college. It was on the Xanga platform and I blogged about what I was doing on a daily basis – typically where I went and what I ate, but that’s about it. It was nothing more than a personal online journal that I shared with family and friends.
After college, I landed a great job in the architecture industry and used a blog to keep track of notes for an exam that I was taking. This exam, the LEED exam (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), was a crazy test that required lots of memorization, and I knew that a blogging platform, such as WordPress, would be a great way to manage the content and organize it in a way that was easy to understand and convenient to study from. I added notes to the site and studied for over a year from the site, and shared it with a couple of co-workers too. After I passed the exam in March of 2008, I had no more use for the site so I just let it sit there.
Well, in the summer of that same year I learned that I was going to get laid off from my architectural position, which was a huge blow because everything I had been working for since high school sort of just flew out the window at that point. I did try to get another position in the field but nobody in the entire United States was hiring – it was that bad. That’s when I discovered podcasts.
It was a particular podcast where I listened to a success story of someone earning an income and making a living teaching others how to pass the PM (project management) exam, and that’s when I decided to give a go at online business and blogging professionally, using the LEED exam blog that I had created as my initial platform.
Well, to my surprise, after adding an analytical tool on the site, thousands of people were already visiting the site every day. Since there was a year and a half of content on there, Google ranked a lot of my content high in the search engines, I was found by several people who shared my sites on forums and other blogs – and I had no idea this was happening until now.
To make a long story short, I ended up publishing an eBook study guide and selling it on my blog. That particular eBook grossed about $200,000 in a years time, and I’ve since added new products to my product line.
It was at that point that I created The Smart Passive Income (SPI) Blog where I share my story and build new businesses, live on the site to inspire and teach others how to do the same. Currently, the SPI Blog has over 60,000 subscribers, a podcast with over 3 million downloads and a YouTube channel with nearly 2 million views.
2.) What is the focus of your blog and why did you choose that niche?
SPI has a focus on entrepreneurship, in particular how to succeed with an online business that you can be proud of by serving your audience and providing massive value to them, and getting paid in return. I’ve purposely done many things differently than other people in this “make money online” space, who traditionally use aggressive marketing tactics and exaggeration to sell things to people. I use myself as a guinea pig and test various business models, sharing the exact process from scratch so that people can learn from both my wins and my failures. My #1 priority is to build a true relationship with my audience and give away as much information as possible, for free, and in turn many people in my audience have become true fans who go out of their way to pay me back, typically by choosing to go through my affiliate links.
I also use the blog as the hub of my brand, which is so much more than a blog nowadays. The podcast is actually the #1 way that people discover my brand, but I always bring people back (whether through my podcast on iTunes or my videos on YouTube) to the blog because the blog is where all the action takes place – clicks, links, recommendations, etc.
3.) How are you currently monetizing your blog traffic?
For SPI, I currently only monetize through affiliate marketing. Again, I focus on the relationships I have with my audie
nce, as well as making sure the products I promote are products that I’ve used myself and am comfortable being connected with, because if I were to recommend a product and it doesn’t perform – sure they’ll dislike that product, but more importantly that trust with me is broken. I also go above and beyond to share as much information as I can about products that I promote that are owned and operated by other people. Clay Collins, founder of LeadBrite and creator of LeadPlayer, a video tool that I promote, told Andrew Warner in an interview that I create posts and videos that are better at explaining his products than his own tutorials. I strive for that each time I recommend something. I’m also the top affiliate for Glen Allsop’s Optin Skin plugin, which many of you perhaps use. That is thanks to the same strategies.
For GreenExamAcademy.com, my LEED exam blog, I primarily earn money through my own products, however I do have affiliate relationships with a practice exam company and make a decent amount of income from that relationship as well.
On SecurityGuardTrainingHQ.com, a niche site that I created live on SPI, from scratch (you can find the posts at http://www.nichesiteduel.com), currently generated between $2500 and $3000 purely on Adsense at the moment, and nearly a hundred dollars through affiliate marketing as well as a Job Board on the site.
4.) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started blogging?
I wish I knew two things:
1 – That VAs (virtual assistants) existed. I remember spending 8 hours trying to figure out how to move an image from the left side of the page, to the right. it was stupid. I could have easily paid someone to do that for me instead of wasting 8 hours of my time, but I didn’t know that VAs existed, let alone where to find them. Also, I was a little too prideful and tried to figure things out on my own. Now, whenever I have an issue with something or am having trouble figuring something out, I ask someone right away.
2 – How important it is to build an email list. When I launched my eBook at GreenExamAcademy.com, for months I didn’t collect email addresses, so when I came out with a new product (an audio guide) I totally missed out on the chance to sell directly to my previous customers. It was a shame.
5.) What are three blogs that you visit almost daily?
To be honest, I’m not reading too many blogs these days. SocialTriggers.com by Derek Halpern and ThinkTraffic.net by Corbett Barr are my top two, but I don’t visit them every day. I typically listen to podcasts because I can educate myself while doing other things, like running or driving somewhere.
6.) Can you give us three recommended tools/services that you use with your blogging?
1 – LeadPlayer – it’s my video player of choice right now. I love it because it allows me to include opt-in forms and/or a call to action right inside the video, and unlike many other players that now have that ability, LeadPlayer can serve YouTube videos on your site (i.e. free hosting for your videos) and still keep the same functions.
2 – Opt-In Skin – I don’t share this because I’m an affiliate for it. I’m an affiliate for it because it’s that good. I use it on my site (at the bottom of each of my posts, you can see it in action). It’s simple to implement as far as adding opt-in forms for your email list at any part of your site, and it gets results.
3 – Conduit.com. I use Conduit to create a nice looking mobile site for SPI, and it has the ability to build an apps for you (e.g. iPhone, Android and Windows applications) that people who visit your site on those mobile devices can download.
7.) What advice would you have for someone who is just starting with their first blog?
Two important pieces of advice:
1 – Build relationships with other people. Real relationships. Build friendships with other bloggers in your niche, because it’s other people who will help lift you up and help your blog grow. Also build real relationships with your readers, especially when you are just starting out. You should know and care for your first hundred readers, if you can. Email them, get to know them, because when you do that you’ll start to create your first true 100 fans who will become evangelists and super fans for life, and you never know the impact that one person can have on your blog.
2 – Keep going. You’re going to be excited at first, and then maybe a few months down the road, when you’re not seeing a lot of traffic and each blog post becomes a chore, you’re going to want to give up. This is natural. What separates those who succeed and those who do not are those who keep going – so keep going. Michael Hyatt from MichaelHyatt.com once said, “Most people quit right before the inflection point.” In other words, you never know what tomorrow will bring, especially as a blogger – so keep going.
8.) What’s the best advice or tip you’ve discovered about blogging since getting started?
If you want to succeed with your blog, don’t just blog. Put your brand onto multiple platforms (one at a time), such as iTunes for a podcast, or YouTube for videos. When you do that, you will reach people who you would have never reached otherwise, and you will become more authoritative at the same time. Yes, it’s uncomfortable, and yes, it’s going to take some balls, but again – these are the kinds of things that separate those who succeed and those who don’t. Those who are willing to take risks and get a little uncomfortable every once and while.
9.) If you only had $100 to start a new blog, how would you use it?
I’d find a person who was where I wanted to be, and treat them to dinner. That 2 hour conversation will be the best education you will ever get, from a person who is at the other end of the path you know you want to follow.
10.) How can readers of the blog get in touch with you?
You can find me at SmartPassiveIncome.com, as well as PatFlynn.me.
Here are my social media URLs too:
Pat also recently published his first book, Let Go, which is hosted on a brand new platform for iOS called Snippet. Books on the Snippet platform include audio, video, stunning visuals as well as social media. If you’d like to read (and listen and watch) more about Pat’s story, you can check out his book Let Go at the following URL: http://patflynn.me/letgo
Thanks again Pat for taking the time to share your advice and story with the Blogging Tips community. If you would like to learn about other bloggers and how they are finding success online, be sure to read through our blogger interview series.
Top 5 Social Media Marketing Tools To Grow Your Business
Social media has become an imperative part of our daily lives.
And marketers know that the best way to connect with their audiences is to go where they go. This indicates meeting and interacting with them on social channels.
Today 3.8 billion people or 45% of the global population use social media.
Below are some important statistics on the use of social media as of March, 2019.
As the use of social continues to skyrocket, so does the number of brands that use social media to get their voices heard in front of customers.
Before we move ahead and see what are some of the tools which can help you to grow your blog, let us look at a few stats.
However, we’re not all packed into a single social network. This is why businesses are segregating their attention. Remember that your audience is spread across multiple platforms.
This is the reason why businesses are splitting their focus across an ocean of social networks to keep in touch with prospects and fans.
Companies have been developing 3rd party tools and apps to assist marketers attune themselves to the challenge of engagement.
While the best social media scheduling and management tools are always changing depending on the social landscape, there are some evergreen tools that will dominate your social strategy.
Here goes the list………..
Buffer is one of the hottest scheduling tools that allows you to schedule posts across a range of social platforms. There are two options: either publish the same post on all platforms or tailor each post based on the type of platform.
Furthermore, you can use the Buffer Chrome extension to add your favorite piece of content to the Buffer queue. This results in a bit of creativity and fun to the entire process of aggregating content and sharing it. You don’t have to build a strategy on what you want to build in advance. Even then, your posts will be shared on the best times. The tool also gives you the freedom of tracking links to find out the most popular content among your readers.
Pricing: $15 a month
Sometimes when you sit down to create stellar content, you’re on fire. And at other times, it’s like pulling teeth and you’re simply thankful to have met a deadline. You cannot always guarantee success but a tool like Buzzsumo increases the odds.
Using Buzzsumo, you can find the most shared content on social media. Also, enter your own or your competitor’s domain and find what’s been socially shared. You can also use it to find the best performing keywords and trending topics which your audience might be interested in.
And if you have some funds to splash, get Buzzsumo Pro as it is a fantastic resource for competitor research.
Pricing: $99 per month
Building relationships involve identifying people who are creating relevant content and sharing it. When the same group of people notices you sharing their content, there are high chances that they’ll share yours too. The tool aggregates all the websites and blogs you follow into one place. It’s a terrific option to subscribing a whole lot of emails or checking every blog for new updates.
Within Feedly, you can use collections to organize all of the websites and blogs you follow. For instance, in your social media collection, you can follow some of the leading blogs and influencers who you know come up with terrific content.
You can log in to the software on a daily basis to check the latest articles from all your sources. Based on how the site or blog is set up, you can either read the entire post on the tool or just a part of it.
This helps you curate the best articles and share with your audience.
Pricing: $5 a month
Agorapulse is one of the best social media marketing tools on the internet.
The dashboard is pretty straightforward and simple. Switching through all your accounts is a cakewalk as they are clearly listed on the left-hand side. The entire features like inbox, publishing, monitoring and social media are located at the top of the dashboard and can be easily accessed.
One of the best features is the social media inbox since it makes it easy to check all your social media updates that require attention. It works similar to an email account.
In addition, Agorapulse also has a monitoring feature by the help of which you can see how many shares and mentions you have got across all your social media platforms. You can search for certain keywords on Twitter and monitor hashtags on Instagram.
Apart from this, Agorapulse has analytics feature too. With the help of this feature, you can see your audience engagement and important metrics. Also, with its CRM feature, you can find out who your most loyal fans and followers are. If you have a large number of followers, you can categorize them in custom tags as prospects, influencers and followers.
Price – $89 a month
The year 2018 saw a humungous growth and change in the ever-changing digital landscape. There was a massive shift from traditional content to video, which is only going to get bigger in the coming years.
Thankfully, the era of scheduling a social media campaign across each platform now things of the past. Sprout Social, an all-in-on social media management tool provides publishing, analytics, engagement, and team collaboration tools.
Instead of working and updating with each profile individually on your website, you can use the software as a one-stop location where you can manage everything linked with your social media marketing, which includes content curation, publishing, scheduling and much more.
The ultimate goal of the tool is to make it easy to manage your social profiles and find out which marketing actions you take are effective.
Pricing- $99 a month
There are a lot of outstanding tools out there, with new ones popping up time and again.
The key lies in discovering tools that ease your marketing efforts, and investing the time in getting to know them.
What are some of the social media marketing tools you’ve been using and how has been your experience with them?
What Does Blogging Teach You?
Blogging teaches you how to handle fear.
My best blogging lesson ever; blogging unearths fears for you to feel fear and for you to release fear, to serve more people and to see greater success. I wish blogging were more complex. I would sound intelligent. Alas, this blogging journey is simple, fun, freeing and in moments, highly uncomfortable.
Welcome to blogging, guys.
Take my eBook:
Literally, take it or buy it on Amazon. Share it with friends and readers, too.
Chapter 6: Ignore Useless Criticism
Some bloggers and readers offer loving, meaningful feedback from a genuine, calm, detached energy. Pay attention. This could apply or be helpful. But most readers vibe predominantly from fear so criticism offered in biting, angry, unhappy, nasty fashion does something beautiful to a new blogger: said criticism forces you to face, feel and release deep fears. Again, blogging teaches you how to handle fear because as you grow, fears arise, for feeling and releasing, to reach the next stage of your journey.
My Criticism Story and Fear
At various times, everybody in my life criticized me and some believed I was nuts, for what I did online. Some triggers in other humans, goading their criticism:
- me asking candid questions online
- sharing thought belief that disease begins within your body
- being genuinely honest with my thoughts and feelings
Being a newbie many years ago, I never faced such sharp criticism from friends, family and strangers. Deep fears bubbled in me. Sometimes I screamed at people in rage; fear. Other times I angrily made fun of critics; fear. Sometimes, I broke down and cried; fear. Every time, I learned how to handle fear through my blogging experiences. Every time, I grew through the fear-feeling and experienced more traffic and profits down the blogging road. Every time, I gained platforms to inspire more people as I developed a more intimate bond with fear. Every time, I only lived my dreams and allowed my dream life to expand because I faced, felt and released deep fears, triggered by blogging experiences.
These days, anybody I am close to, can criticize me and I smile and calmly speak to them. No deep criticism fears reside in me because I learned how to handle this fear from my decade of blogging and being an entrepreneur. Fear is an anchor that destroys your day, week or life if you allow fear to do so, unless you learn how to face, embrace and release deep fears.
Blogging: A Vehicle
Blogging can be an awesome vehicle for facing, feeling and releasing deep fears if you are willing to intimately explore fears triggered during your journey. Plus, the direct path toward greater blogging success is lined with fear. Struggles and failure are fear-fueled. Success is love, abundance, detachment, trust and fun. Feeling fear helps you arrive at fun. Blogging unearths fears every moment of some days because you are not enlightened. You are human. You live a worldly life. Fear will be there because you have attachments.
Face, embrace and release deep fears fueling your blogging struggles. Hug the fear of criticism. Dance with the fear of failure. Be with the fear of poverty. Guaranteed, the person who comes out on the other side of these fears will become one of the most successful people in your blogging niche.
Everything begins when you see blogging’s greatest lesson: how to handle fear.
How to Better Handle Blogging Obstacles
Take a breath.
Now, take a deep breath.
This, too, shall pass.
Every blogging obstacle dissolves into opportunity the moment you breathe, slow down and calm down. Nothing good happens fighting obstacles because your fighting gives attention to the obstacle, making the obstacle grow into something big and scary. But breathing deeply, feeling the fear fueling the obstacle, and letting go the fear-obstacle alerts you the transitory nature of the block, and how it passes into solution.
Better handle blogging obstacles by following a few tips.
1: Take a Deep Breath
Breathe. Take 1-5 deep, slow breaths. Breathing slows down your mind, thoughts and feelings. Slowing down everything allows you to be in the moment, to feel the fear fueling obstacles. Simple process but few bloggers take this step so obstacles appear to run wild.
Take a deep breath, now. Be aware of your thoughts and feelings. Breathing deeply and relaxing expands your awareness. Do you feel nervous now or anxious? Do you fear some obstacle related to time, and losing it? Breathing deeply allows you to be here and now, to feel fears fueling obstacles.
2: Feel the Fear
Fear fuels obstacles. What is a blogging obstacle but fear you cannot get past something? Imagine seeing the white screen of death on your blog. How would it feel? Scary? Why? You fear you cannot get past your blog being a white screen. Other fears cascade into mind; fear of losing readers, fear of losing money, fear of losing reputation, fear of being criticized.
Be with these fears. Feel the fears. You cannot solve obstacles being burdened by fear for you only see what appears to stop you, not solutions, being shackled by fear. Feel fear, release and proceed.
3: See the Opportunity
Opportunities plant themselves in obstacles. Imagine facing some pressing backoffice issue, tech-wise, blogging-wise. You received an opportunity to:
- learn more about tech, to solve the problem
- hire a web developer to solve the problem, outsourcing
- ask your readers and Facebook friends how to solve the problem, humbling yourself
Every blogging obstacle dissolves the moment you breathe deep, feel fears and relax, because opportunities arise in response to following these steps. Everything is abundance. Everything is opportunity. Fear is illusion so obstacles cannot be real.
4: Invest in a Resource
Do you always seem to be getting tripped up by blogging obstacles?
Buy my eBook:
Resources offer you complete guides to reference when times get tough. Minds race. Feelings fluctuate wildly. But breathing, feeling fear, seeing opportunities, and having a resource in your blogging library levels you out, calms you and helps you find solutions quickly.
Obstacles Are Not that Scary
Blogging obstacles are not that scary if you know to solve these mental blocks. Few bloggers put a strategy into place for handling blogging crisis so they panic, struggle and fight foolishly through resistance. Following a few steps alerts you: blogging is not so hard and facing obstacles need not be some endless nightmare creating hours, days or weeks of panic. You are a human, not a tree. Use your awareness, follow these steps and knife gracefully thru obstacles toward greater blogging success
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