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.
Why Do You Want to Publish an eBook?
One subsection of my eBook on writing eBooks is:
Know Why You Want to Publish an eBook
Knowing why gives you clarity if you write to free yourself and to free your readers. But if you write just to make money or to be well know, clarity lessons. Fear invades your mind because you write mainly to get, not to give. Shifting from fear to fun intent-wise just takes a little decision on your part. Small potatoes really. But this shift does feel a bit uncomfortable if you are new to the eBook writing process because you need to face fears. Who wants to face fear? Nobody, really.
But facing fear is one tax to pay for being successful in blogging and life. Ditto for your self-publishing journey. I largely faced fears to be who I am today, although I keep uncovering fears along the way. Part of the journey. I am cool with that. I had to ask why I wanted to publish an eBook about 4 years ago when I went on a tear, but even before, in 2014, I asked why I published an eBook in the first place? Simple. I created a new blog and brand in Blogging From Paradise and just believed having an accompanying eBook would help me be successful. I only had one eBook in mind. I never thought beyond the single eBook. But someone told me I deserved to write another eBook so after my first, I wrote and self-published a second eBook. I caught the writing bug.
100 plus eBooks later, here I am, writing eBooks for years, and now, promoting the eBooks effectively. The why, the emotion I chose in writing eBooks, propels me forward because I do what I do to have fun, to spread love and to help you, largely. One small part of me wants to make money online too. This is OK. As long as it is a small part of what you do, eBook-wise. Moving that money aspect mostly to the side gives me the energy to keep writing and to keep promoting, should I choose to write another eBook. Now I am all about promoting those suckers.
Why did you consider writing and shipping an eBook? Be honest with yourself. Think through your driver. Money? Fame? Sweet passive income stream? Each primary driver saps your energy because money, fame and passive income flow to you years or minimum, months, after publishing your eBook. What do you do during that zero dollar time? Money drives you, but you see no money. Since you lose your motivator, you quit. This is why so many authors fade into obscurity. Poor driver. Sell 3 eBooks, get flustered because you made $4.35 over 6 months, and quit, because money drove you but you made no money. On the flip side, bloggers and authors who choose a fun, freeing intent promote and write every day for their online career because the work is the reward. All else feels like a bonus, gravy, extra, or icing on the cake….including money.
Be straight with your eBook driver. Do not bother writing an eBook if you mainly want money because you quit and fail when money does not arrive. Even in rare cases if you make money pretty fast, you lose your heart and feel bad reaching money goals because we are mainly designed to have fun and help people, not to make money.
Do You Believe You Deserve Blogging Success?
My friend Alonzo Pichardo sent me an interview recently.
Pay close attention guys; one concept behind the video can be destroying your blogging success. Sure killed my career, for years.
Boxing legend Evander Holyfield went bankrupt, it has been claimed, as of 2012. He lost/spent $530,000,000 USD, 530 million dollars. Allow that idea to sink in. I read how Mike Tyson reportedly went bankrupt after spending/losing over $300,000,000, 300 million dollars. Most of these ideas astound people because we do our best to manage money effectively. I could live 40 life times on 500 million dollars. Anyway, a recent Mike Tyson interview highlighted one reason why he went bankrupt after amassing 300 million. I deeply suspect Evander blew through 500 million largely due to the same mindset. Iron Mike noted how he believed he did not deserve the big bucks. He saw himself as a broke kid from a rough neighborhood who did not deserve money, because he loved fighting for free, and also, clung to the past, keeping the same self image from when he lived in poverty.
If Tyson believed he did not deserve 300 million, the quickest way to get rid of 300 million is to spend like mad and blow the money irresponsibly. Most humans say he is foolish but this is not true; HIS BELIEF SYSTEM ensured he would do everything to get rid of the 300 million he did not deserve…and it became so.
Blogging and Deserving
Do you genuinely believe you deserve $10, or $100, or $100,000 through blogging? Most bloggers do not believe this, so they never make much money. Other bloggers make some money but lose it quickly through poor financial decisions, ensuring that they do NOT keep the money that they believe they do not deserve. Blogging, money or financial conditions have nothing to do with the money woes. The blogger’s belief system concerning money is 100% the root cause behind the problem. Change the deserving issue, and you change the income. Or cling to deserving problems, and keep slamming into blogging financial problems.
I recall not believing I deserved more than 99 cents for an eBook. I slammed into financial issues, sold few eBooks, then decided to face my deserving issues and deep fears concerning money and my self-worth. I eventually rose all my eBook pricing to $6.99, $9.99 and $20. Why? I deserve to sell 7 to 20 dollar eBooks. People buy at these prices – far more than at the dirt cheap prices – because I BELIEVE I deserve to make sales at those prices. Why? I faced deep fears concerning deserving. But if I never faced deserving-fears, I never make the money. Plus I would quickly lose money I made because if I still believed I did not deserve much money, my subconscious mind would find a quick way to lose my money. My belief system creates the experience. Ditto for your belief system; even if your ego does not agree with this point.
Like I say in my eBook:
you may leave your comfort zone if you learn new, scary techniques for monetizing your blog effectively. One scary and uncomfortable tactic involves observing your money limiting beliefs in the light of truth. If you do not believe you deserve money, you never make money or you make money and lose it incredibly quickly. Belief created the experience. You believing you do not deserve money creates the experience. Clear the fears, release deserving issues and money will flow to you more easily. Plus you will keep the money, too. Pure win-win, if you ask me.
All Bloggers Begin at Zero
“I felt like a famous person had just called my home.” ~ Expert Admirer
“If only this person had known I made $5 the prior month through my online exploits.”
These are the first 2 lines of my eBook:
We all begin at zero. All bloggers start at zero. Even when some of us see some success, exposure-wise, the money comes later. I had a decent name 8 years ago as far as folks knowing me. Money lagged a bit. My earnings seemed slow to grow. Par for the course. All people who work jobs tend to think if an entrepreneur gets pretty well known, millions flow in. Nope. Money tends to lag being noticed.
Anyway, this vignette from my eBook sums up the concept of this post; every blogger you admire, every genuinely rocking blogger, every super star, started blogging with zero blogging traffic and zero blogging profits. We all begin at zero. Nobody begins luckily with $20,000 or 43000 people visiting their blog daily. I began at zero. Nobody visited my blog. I made zero dollars blogging. As a new blogger, I began at zero and worked my way up, from there.
Gary Vaynerchuk had zero followers on all of his social media accounts as a new user. Ditto for every successful, famous online entrepreneur. We all begin at zero and work out way up, from there.
Never assume successful bloggers walk an easy, simple, fear-free path. Stop it, because we all began with zero followers, zero traffic and zero profits. If you made a penny, have 1 follower and 1 blog traffic aka visit, you are farther along than I was 10 years ago because I was at all zeros, across the board. Do I seem lucky now? Nope. You are beyond where I was. But top bloggers do not assume, or figure top bloggers before them, had it easy. Nope; top bloggers know as newbies that all bloggers begin at zero and start from there.
I did a little assuming myself 10 years ago. I figured top earning bloggers had it easy and never needed to face my fears, pain and struggles. I was right; their fears, pain and struggles were 10 TIMES WORSE. You only reach the top by facing all fears and pains most bloggers refuse to face. I began at zero and faced plenty of uncomfortable moments along the way, to become successful.
You begin at zero, like me. We are on a level playing field on day 1. Do you know what makes the difference? Top bloggers follow their passion, trust in the process and generously help people for free during this journey, working daily, not panicking and seeing the journey through.
We also…..feed the hog.
I am super excited to join my friend Sue-Anne Bubacz in releasing a fun, entertaining and valuable new blogging course.
Watch the video introduction here:
I’m sharing because it perfectly embodies this “we all begin at zero” type mindset that newbie bloggers should adopt.
We will be walking you through your successful blogging journey; yes, you can and WILL succeed if you learn from pros and work generously. We believe in you, and know success is your right. The key is to follow your fun, to practice simple blogging tips, to develop your emotional intelligence and to generously help people.
Enjoy the video AND the course guys.
Search Blogging Tips
Blogging2 years ago
6 Steps for How I Nabbed 6500 Comments on My Blog
Blogging1 year ago
113 Bloggers share their Favorite Email Marketing Tools
Blogging12 years ago
CoComment – The new way to track blog comments
Blogging3 years ago
6 Tools For Boosting Content Marketing Results Over The Holidays
Search Engine Optimisation3 years ago
7 SEO Analysis Tools Every Blogger Needs to Know
Reviews2 years ago
LeadNetwork Pays Big Bucks for Payday Loans
Blogging2 years ago
How to Start a Fashion Blog in 8 Simple Steps
Blogging3 years ago
How to Become a Nimble Blogger