From being laid off from his job, to becoming a successful eBook author, and a true blogging authority in the online marketing niche – meet Pat Flynn…
Pat Flynn is the man behind 6 Figure Blog, Smart Passive Income and in this fantastic interview he explains his rise to blogging success, why podcasts are the future and how he managed to generate 4 figures in just one month, from his very FIRST eBook!
Who is Pat Flynn?
Pat is a blogger and internet marketer who has built up a huge knowledge in both making money through blogging and niche marketing over the past few years. As Pat explains in the interview, his online venture actually started by mistake when he lost his job as an architect. But while he was at his job he started a blog as a journal of notes for a particular architecture exam he was taking at the time.
He eventually monetizes the site itself and manages to write his own study guide for the exam, which he sells as an eBook – the eBook which made Pat $7,905.55 in the first month…not bad for 2 months work – and it still sells well today!
One of the great outcomes of Pat’s early online success is Smart Passive Income, the blog where Pat reveals his vast knowledge of online marketing, while providing some insightful and relevant Podcasts. Pat’s podcast has managed to rank number 1 on iTunes for ‘blogging’ and number 2 on iTunes for ‘online business’ – and it has only been around since July 2010!
Another great feature of Smart Passive Income is that Pat openly provides his monthly income reports, and tells you HOW and WHY he has managed to make so much money at any given time (he will even highlight the times when he hasn’t made so much money).
Pat has to be one of the most influential bloggers in my life right now. In an internet marketing and ‘make money online’ blogosphere which predominantly consists of outsourcers and scammers, Pat has kept it real and true to his detailed knowledge of the online marketing niche by being one of the few honest and inspirational writers of today.
Interviewing Pat was a true joy and I am certain you will find some truly valuable tips within each of Pat’s responses. Not only does he know what he is talking about, and is speaking from first hand experience but he also manages to stay up to date with new and cutting-edge techniques for making money online, of which he reveals in this interview.
I’ll leave Pat to do the rest! As you will see he is a great speaker and an interesting story-teller (transcription below), so I hope you enjoy what he has to say and that you use this interview to elevate your own online success.
“The Interview Guy” at Blogtrepreneur.com
P.S. We would love to hear from you – let us know what you think of the interview in the ‘comments’ section below.
Pat Flynn Interview (Audio Transcription)
Luke Etheridge: Hey guys. This is Luke Etheridge here Blogtrepeneur.com. Today we have a very special interview and a very special guest for you guys. His name is Pat Flynn and he’s from SmartPassiveIncome.com. It’s a great blog and thanks for being here today Pat.
Pat Flynn: Yeah, thanks for having me Luke. I appreciate it.
Luke: Cool. First off, if you haven’t heard of Pat Flynn I cannot recommend his services and his blog enough. I don’t want a big him up too much because he might get a bit big headed.
Pat: No, no, no.
Luke: But I can genuinely say that his teachings are a great help and have inspired me personally so much in the past so thanks for that Pat.
Pat: You’re welcome. Thank you.
Luke: For those of my readers and subscribers that haven’t heard of you if you could just explain what you do and then about your online presence.
Pat: Sure. Well most people know me from SmartPassiveIncome.com. It’s a two year old blog that’s kind of blown up in the make money online industry. I never expected it to be like that.
But all my online stuff started with a blog I created a couple years back nearly around the same time that I launched SmartPassiveIncome.com. And that’s really how I kind of started doing online business.
And that blog is at GreenExamAcademy.com. It’s actually a site that teaches people how to pass a certain test in the architecture industry. And if you have a brief second I’ll tell you the story, which I love to tell.
It’s pretty amazing how I got to this point. I never thought I would be here. I never thought I would be doing online business or blogging and making money from it. So it’s really amazing how it all kind of happened.
And what happened was I was working a 9-to-5 job in the architecture industry here in Southern California and I loved my job. I loved it. I was getting paid fairly well, I was traveling everywhere. I was working with high-end clients like Hilton and designing hotels for them. It was amazing and I was ready to devote 40 years of my life to this industry.
But as we all know the economy kind of went down and I went down along with it. So luckily right before I had gotten laid off I had started this blog to keep track of my notes for this exam I was taking to add to my credentials and hopefully get a raise and add to my resume and stuff.
So when I got laid off it didn’t really matter that I took this exam so I thought it was a waste. But, because I had this blog that had my notes and then I had been inspired by other podcasts and blogs out there about making money online, just for a hobby. It was really interesting to me but I never thought I would do it.
But when I got laid off and I needed to figure out what I was going to do with my life because there was pretty much no other way I was going to get an architecture job here in the States. It’s just bad. It’s still bad two years later. It’s almost impossible to find one because no one is building anything, but anyways…
Pat: I had been inspired by some make money online blogs and podcasts and I figured hey I have this blog and there’s a lot of content on it I might be able to monetize it.
So the first thing I did was actually figure out how many people were, you know I just added some statistical, analytical type tools on there just to see if anyone was visiting my site. And I wasn’t expecting anyone, but when I checked it there were literally thousands and thousands of people around the world visiting my site every day and I had no idea.
They were all using my notes to pass the same exam which is worldwide. It was quite amazing. I was actually scared at first because I didn’t realize this was happening, I wasn’t sure if what I was doing was legal or whatever.
But it totally was and so at that point I decided even though I had passed the test already to expand on the content on the site. Make it really geared towards helping other people pass the exam using my experience with it to help them. And then later I added AdSense, because that was the first thing I learned to make money on a blog or website.
I added AdSense and started making money off of that. So my first month I had seen like $20. $20.
Pat: And that totally blew me away. That was a lot to me back then.
Luke: Yeah, from no work you’ve all of a sudden got $20.
Pat: Yeah, 10 minutes to add some code on a site and I have $20. It was amazing. And that’s kind of the motivation I needed to keep going.
So from there I joined some mastermind groups and paid for some courses to learn more about this industry, the online Internet marketing industry. And then I had a private advertising. So I contacted companies to see if they wanted to “rent” space on my blog. I would sell 125 x 125 pixel advertisements on my site for a couple hundred dollars a month.
So I did that. I got two clients right at the beginning I was making like $400, $500 bucks the next couple months plus my AdSense earnings were going up a little bit. So that was great but obviously it wasn’t enough to live off of.
So the next thing I did, which was a suggestion from actually some of my readers and commenters on that blog as well as in the mastermind groups I was in was to create an e-book. So what I did is I created a study guide e-book to help people pass the exam. In the first month after I launched it, I had made, I think it was $7,905.55 or something like that. Almost $8000 that very first month I launched my eBook.
That blew me away. That was more money than I had ever made working in architecture. That was like three months of salary in architecture here. I thought I was doing something illegal again
because it just didn’t seem right.
Luke: Seemed so easy?
Pat: Yeah, it seemed too easy. Then, the next month I made $10,000. The month after that I think I made $14,000. Then, just learning more about this industry, I created an audio guide to go along with my eBook.
When I sold that, I peaked in March 2009, earning $30,000 in one single month from this little tiny exam niche. The LEAD exam, which I’m sure most of you probably have never heard of before.
It’s just amazing to me. That’s when I started Smart Passive Income blog at www.smartpassiveincome.com because I really wanted to show people that making money online was possible, one.
Making money online without having to talk about making money online is possible as well. Also, just to inspire people and show people my wins, my failures, and what I’m doing to improve my businesses.
Since then, I’ve created several other online businesses. I have an iPhone app company, I have a number niche sites. I have e-articles that are generating passive income for me. All of the businesses that I’m looking at, that I’m experimenting with, are ways that I can generate income without having to trade my time for money.
That’s why I don’t do consultations or coaching or anything like that. I really enjoy the time I have to spend, the flexibility of my schedule because of passive income. Again, earning money because these businesses are set-up almost on auto-pilot.
With my Green Exam Academy site I set-up in such a way that everything is automatic. When people purchase the products, it automatically gets delivered to them and then money just comes into my account.
A lot of my other businesses are like that. iPhone apps kind of act in the same way. My niche sites, all this stuff just happens automatically. So, I can spend my time doing things I want to do like spend time with my family.
My wife and I had a baby boy who is now 11 months old. He’s about to walk so, I get to be here at home and watch him grow. That’s the most important part to me.
I’m not here to buy a mansion or an Audi R8 or a Ferrari or anything like that. I just want a comfortable life doing what I want to do which is spend time with my family. Not worry about finances and luckily doing this online business thing and passive income has allowed me to do that.
That’s how I got to where I am at today. Sorry that was a little long.
Luke: No, no, that’s fine. I think that question actually [inaudible 07:37] . It’s not very often that you get marked to just go on like that. It’s very good to actually hear the whole story rather than just a very small snippet, I thank you.
Pat: You’re welcome.
Luke: I think the point to make is that I think they’re all legitimate ways to make money. A lot of Internet marketers out here, they seem to sell the get rich thing which you’ve never, ever fallen into that. I quite admire that. I quite admire how you’ve kept your own respect like that.
Pat: Yeah, I’m totally truthful in everything I do. Although I tell my story and it sounds like it was easy, it was not easy. I spent six months to a year putting content on that initial blog, that LEAP blog which took a long time.
It took two and a half months to write that eBook that I had sold. It took me a year to finally get some traffic on smartpassiveincome where it finally started to take-off on it’s on.
Even on my newsletter, if you sigh-up for my newsletter, the first email I send out says this is a serous message from Pat. Making money online is not an easy button. I just want to get that straight in people’s heads.
If they want a get rich quick scheme or formula or whatever, I tell them to unsubscribe. That’s not what I’m about.
Luke: I think that’s a really, really important message and I always try and get that across as well, that it’s not get rich quick. No matter how hard you try to make it get rich quick, I don’t think it ever will be.
Like you just said, it took you two and a half months to make that eBook. If someone was out there that wanted to make an eBook, would you recommend them spending a long time on it rather than outsourcing it and it not being as good and as much value?
Pat: That’s a good question. I didn’t know about outsourcing back then. I’m sure that if you find someone who’s good you can have someone produce content or an eBook that’s good enough. Of course, as long as you read it and you make it your own. You put your own voice in it.
The content you put out, whether it’s on your blog or in your e-book, just making sure it’s of the highest of value, that’s the most important thing. That’s why I spent a long time. I could have really just packaged everything together on that e-book and had it out in a week or two, but most of the time I spent on it was actually designing it and making it flow very well and easy-to-read.
To be honest, 85 percent of the content that was in that e-book was pulled directly from the free content on my website. And I was worried about that at first, but apparently, if you are an authority, if people have your trust and you provide free information on your blog or whatever. On a podcast or YouTube videos, they’re going to be happy to pay for something, even if it’s the same material, if it’s packaged correctly and if they feel like you deserve their money.
I know Darren from ProBlogger did the same thing, where he took a series of blog posts that he wrote. Which you can find free on his blog – it’s the “31 Days to Build a Better Blog” series of posts – and he turned that into an e-book. Which he’s selling now, and it’s selling like hotcakes, and I haven’t heard anyone complain about it. I’ve sold over 10,000 copies of those e-books, and not one person has complained that the material on there was exactly the same as they could get on the site.
Luke: I personally don’t think that that’s a problem either, though. You do get them emails, and I’m sure you get you get loads. With the amount of traffic that you get, you get loads of hating emails. I’m sure that you do get the odd person that will say, “Oh, I’ve already read this stuff before. You’ve just rehashed some old articles.”
But I think a lot of people will just appreciate to have them in one document, just in that PDF. It would just be smarter. Even if it is a little bit of money, you really wouldn’t mind paying it because, if it’s of high quality, then that’s all that really matters anyway.
Luke: It would take you ages. Especially ProBlogger, it would take you ages to go through his archives of posts and try and pick out each one of them posts and put them in the right order.
Luke: The whole point is that you should almost appreciate paying the money just for him putting it in the order, just to be able to learn it in that right order. So I agree with you.
Pat: Right. Exactly, exactly.
Luke: The main thing that I find that’s different about your blog, and one of the things that I really, really like, and certainly something that I would love to do one day with Blogtrepreneur, is the whole podcast thing. What is the benefit of having a podcast? Did you feel it necessary to do this, or was it just something that you thought was quite cool?
Pat: Well, it was something that I’ve always wanted to do, mainly because a podcast is what inspired me and it’s how I found a number of different people that have kind of become not exactly mentor but people that I follow. And I know how powerful the voice can be, as far as getting a point across, as compared to what’s written on a blog.
And some people just have different ways of absorbing and consuming content. Some people like to read but they hate to watch video. Some people love to watch video but they don’t listen to podcasts. And some people listen to podcasts only. So it’s another way to hit all people and all the ways they consume content.
But really, the podcast, it just totally blew my mind as far as the response and, actually, the actual reach it has. I know Internet Business Mastery, which is a podcast on iTunes as well, they built their entire business from their podcasting audience. They had a podcast before they had their blog, and that’s exactly how they got started.
So you can really become kind of an Oprah-type person, where people just become your fans, raving fans. They can’t wait to get your next podcast and listen to your content and absorb it. And you really do get a lot of influence as host of a show. It adds to your authority and your trust levels. And honestly, I get at least five or six emails every week of people saying that they found me on iTunes and they’re really glad they did, and now they’re on my blog. So it’s a great way to connect with new people who you probably couldn’t have reached before.
Another reason I started it was because I was not comfortable with being behind a microphone. And a lot of the things that I have trouble with, I just do, because I want to get rid of those fears. Except for when it comes to spiders. I’m totally scared of spiders, and I will never, ever put a tarantula in my hand. I will not do that but for things like this…
Luke: Sure that will never hold you back from making money online.
Pat: I hope not. That’s like a scary nightmare.
As far as these “getting out of comfort zone” type things, like these very Tim Ferris, four-hour-workweek type exercises, where you just put yourself into situations that’ll help you become a better person, become a better presenter, become a better speaker, become a better content deliverer, it’s really helped me.
And I think if you go back a year and a half, to when I started doing YouTube videos, if you watch my first YouTube video where I do speak on the video, you’ll see the difference between now, listening to me here on this interview, as compared to that. It’s a world of difference, and it just came from that experience of doing it. I could’ve read a ton of books and learned all the tricks and stuff, but unless you actually do it, then you can’t really experience it.
Luke: That’s exactly like anything, I think, the whole education thing. If you go for a job, when you have grades and things that you’ve achieved in university and all that kind of thing, a lot of people, they just want the experience.
And I think that is exactly the same as what you’re saying. If you haven’t lived it, then you’re never really going to progress that much. You can read a ton of books. You can download e-books on how to speak and how to make audio and all that kind of thing, but I don’t think it’ll ever help unless you just throw yourself into it, as much as you hate it. I quite like what you’re saying there.
Pat: Yeah. My best educator is experience. I can’t stress that enough. The most I’ve learned was from doing. Even when I was in architecture, when I started my actual nine-to-five job after graduating, 95 percent of the stuff I learned in school didn’t apply, or just wasn’t used. I learned a ton of stuff being in the industry.
Now, when I started blogging and doing online business, I didn’t know anything. But I just did it, took bold actions, just didn’t care about being perfect. That’s another thing that I used to have trouble with. I would spend so long making sure my website was perfect or everything is absolutely the way it should be.
It’s all about just getting stuff out there, taking action and doing it. I know that sounds kind of clichÃ©, because people drive that in your brain. It sounds clichÃ©, but we still don’t do things that we should be doing.
Luke: Yeah. You’re right, it does sound clichÃ©, but you still should never steer away from saying it, because as much as you try and steer away from saying it, it is the truth. If you don’t take action, you just won’t see the results. And I think it’s quite important, because you hear a lot of people, they comment on blog posts and they say, “I just wish I had the guts to do this kind of thing,” and all that kind of stuff. And you think, well, you can do it. There’s absolutely nothing holding you back.
And pretty much all of it’s free. Obviously, there’s a certain point when you want to excel and you want to get better at what you’re doing, create a better blog, and you do have to pay people. But I think, in the beginning, just to get your content out there, there’s a lot of ways you can do it for free, and I think that’s a good point to make.
Pat: Yeah, absolutely. And another thing that used to hold me back was fear, the fear of what’s going to happen and if I’m going to fail. But honestly, the little trick I do now is, before I do anything that I’m kind of uncomfortable with, I think, “What’s the worst that can happen?” So with my podcast, I was thinking, “OK, what’s the worst that can happen?” OK, people won’t listen to me, or they might say that they just don’t enjoy the show. Well, that doesn’t hurt me, really, or hurt my business at all very much.
When I came out with my e-book in the first place on Green Exam Academy, “What’s the worst that can happen?” Well, no one buys my e-book. Well, I wouldn’t know if people would buy it unless I tried. Even if you fail, you learn from your experiences, and you can use those experiences and failures. Each failure is a step towards success. That’s something that I actually have written on my wall right now that I’m looking at.
Luke: Good. It’s good to hear, because people are always scared of failing. People will always be scared. I am personally scared of failing. But what you’ve got to think half of the time is that all you’re ever really going to lose is your time, especially with Internet marketing. Because so much of it is free, and you can make a website and you can build a list and you can promote a product with a list, you can promote affiliates. It’s all free.
So, therefore, what are you going to lose? You’re just going to lose hours or weeks of time. Like you with your e-book, you would have only ever lost two and a half months of time. It was lucky that you didn’t, and those two and a half months certainly did pay off.
Luke: But if no one bought it, you’d sort of think, “Oh well, scrap that. I’ll start again on something else.” I think that’s the important thing. Just be relentless.
Pat: Exactly. Exactly, relentless. Absolutely.
Luke: If someone was to make a podcast, how would you actually go about promoting it? How would you get it on iTunes? I actually listened to it last night on iTunes your latest one, and I think it’s quite fascinating that you can get something listed on iTunes.
How does that actually come about? How do you actually do that?
Pat: It’s a very complicated process but let me try and break it down for you. I mean, that’s part of the reason why it took me two and half years to finally do it.
I had said I wanted to do it in 2008 but I just, I thought it would be easy like…
Luke: You wanted to do it properly.
Pat: Yeah. I wanted to do it properly and I thought it was easy where I could record something, make an MP3 and then upload it but it doesn’t work like that.
What happens is you have to, let’s see, so I’ll just take you through the process of recording a show.
Pat: So I record a show and I have a voiceover that does my introduction so I edit that in. There’s some parts in the middle, maybe I coughed or something where I take that out. And then I package it into an MP3 and then what I do is I drag it into iTunes so it’s just part of my library.
I right click it and click on get info and that’s where it has all these different fields where you can enter the title. The album which is the name of the podcast. The track number which is the number of the podcast that it is, the artist which is me. Things like that and you can also put artwork in there too which is how you see the artwork. So that’s how you package it before you get it onto iTunes.
So how it gets into iTunes is iTunes actually reads a feed, a blog feed. So you have to create a special feed for your podcasts on your blog and iTunes will check your blog every 24 hours to see if there’s any new audio in there. If there’s any new audio under that feed that you set it for it will automatically place that information into iTunes for you.
So after the first time set up all you have to do is post that blog post with that audio in there. Obviously there’s a little more to it than that but I’m just kind of giving you the basics. And then iTunes will read it and put it in their list of podcasts.
And then as far as promoting your podcast you can obviously promote it to your own audience or email list if you have it already. But there are some things you can do within iTunes to get ranked higher and be seen more.
The first thing is using really good artwork. iTunes and Apple love great looking artwork and you’ll see whenever people get placed in the new and noteworthy section at the very top, especially for new podcasts or the what’s hot area, they all have really good artwork. So that’s one thing to realize is just get someone to design some good artwork for you because then chances are you will get featured in the new and noteworthy section.
And I was up there for the first two weeks after the podcast was launched. After the first episode was launched. So it really makes a big difference.
Also, try to figure out what keywords people are going to search for in iTunes. iTunes is a huge search engine. It doesn’t have as many statistics and analytics as Google can give us through keyword research and stuff like that so you kind of have to guess. But you can use the Google AdWords tool to see kind of what people are searching for, and kind of just generally think that that’s what people are searching for in iTunes too.
So that’s why I’m in ranking number one in iTunes for blogging. I’m ranking number two in iTunes for online business. I’m number one in iTunes for passive income. Those are all things that are in my title. They’re in my description. It’s kind of like search engine optimization for iTunes in that way.
Luke: Yeah, so for the time being do think it’s just less competitive to have a podcast?
Luke: Do you think that’s sort of help you get there?
Pat: Yeah. Absolutely.
Pat: It’s less competitive but there are so many people on there. Every person who has an Apple Computer has iTunes. Every person who has an iPhone has iTunes even if they’re on Windows so millions and millions of people are on there and they search for things.
Luke: Yeah, yeah. How did you actually get that guy on the intro? I think that’s wicked.
Luke: I know you probably spent a while thinking about how you were going to get that intro sounding good, but it’s really cool. How did you get that to happen?
Pat: Oh thanks. Actually that intro guy, his name is John Melley. He does voiceovers and he does a number of different voices so I had him do the movie voice. Like a really deep voice, I can’t even copy it. But I just contacted him and said hey, can you do these voice intros for me? And he did them and obviously I paid him a little bit for it but then I got them as MP3s and I just plug them in the beginning of my podcast episodes. And there you are.
Luke: Cool. That sounds wicked. I mean, how do you actually, I don’t know if you actively do it because I can never sort of pick anything out, which is obviously a good thing. But how do you actually monetize your audience who are listening to a podcast? You know, can you send them places? Is there an actual strategy in place where you can actually monetize your podcasts?
Pat: Oh yeah, absolutely. I mean, there are a number of things you could do. I mean, it’s just different because you don’t get people clicking on things so you have to actively get them to go to certain places. But, the trick is to get to make that easy for them.
So, for instance, I have a newsletter on my blog and I obviously want to grow that list. And, I can grow that list through my podcasts by sending people to a specific landing page that has information about my free ebook that you can get there and the fields to entering your name and email to then get on my list, right?
But, the trick is, you know, a URL will be something crazy or long. And, the longer it is, the harder it is for people to remember. So, the trick is you can either use a plug in for your WordPress blog like Pretty Link, which makes URL shortening really easy.
So, I can create a URL like smartpassiveincome.com/ebooks-the-smart-way, which is the name of my free ebook that you can get if you sign up for my newsletter. So, that makes it really easy for people to sign up.
But, you can get even further in that and buy an actual domain that then forwards to that same address. So, I actually have just plain old ebooksthesmartway.com and I usually mention that at the end of each show. You know, it’s real easy to remember and people go there.
And, that’s the only place that I promote that link, so I can track to see how many people are going to it. And, there are a lot of people headed to that domain name from the podcast because, and again, that’s the only place I mention it at.
So, URL shortening, buying specific domain names that then forward to landing pages for your newsletter, landing pages for certain products that you have on your blog or affiliate products if you want. The options are kind of endless in that regard.
Luke: So, it allows you to actually analyze the performance of the podcast.
Luke: So, I mean once someone is signed up to your list, you probably get this asked a lot. But do you have a massive strategy with monetizing your list? So, when a subscriber actually subscribes to you list, is there a process that they go through with Autoresponder emails, and what would you sort of recommend to someone as a way to monetize their list?
Pat: Well, you know, people ask me that a lot. And, I do it differently than most people. Most people have an Autoresponder set up where people get emails, you know, maybe they’ll get three really high quality content emails and then one email a week later that promotes something. And then three more content emails, and then another one that promotes something.
You know, I’ve been noticing, I’ve signed up for maybe 20 to 30 different email lists just to study how different people promote. And, I’ve been getting the feeling, and other people have been telling me this, as well, that people are getting tired of getting pitched on the email lists and they are unsubscribing faster these days.
So, my take on it is I’m using the email list as simply another way to provide content, another way to connect with my readers and followers and subscribers. I’m not promoting anything directly off the email list.
So, what I do is I actually have 25 high quality content emails that go out once a week. All just pure value peer content, no selling anything, although some of those newsletters that I send out go to my blog to a specific page. I’m not selling anything, but something where I may talk about something.
So, for instance, one of the newsletters will be how to do better keyword research, for example. And then, in that email, I’ll send people to my keyword research webinar replay, which is a free webinar and people can get to see how I do keyword research real time, right?
So, from there then, that’s when I promote something. I don’t even promote it really, I just say I use a tool called Market Samurai, which is a very cool tool that people can use to do market research, keyword research and market research and track your rankings in SEO competition and all that stuff. And, that’s where all my sales come in on the blog.
So, it’s totally indirect, but it’s just I show people the process of how I do things and the products I happen to use during that process. I also offer the free tools people can use, too, because I understand that a lot of people can’t spend money on those types of things. So, at the same time it shows people how much more time they could save using the tools that I use and then they go through my affiliate link and then I get paid that way.
So, for instance, Market Samurai, just to give you an idea that just in – was it December 1? – that in November I had mad over 400,000 dollars in commissions from that one piece of software that I was promoting in that one newsletter.
Luke: Yeah. Yeah. So you’re almost… You’re not actively selling anything to the person or promoting anything but you’re sending them places where you are promoting something.
Pat: Yeah. Or not even actually actively promoting it just where I do have an affiliate link placed.
I really want to take care of my subscribers. I really want to keep them on there as long as possible. And, of course, the longer they’re on there the longer they are going to stay with me and become a fan, and appreciate what I do and recommend me to someone else. And then, potentially, eventually buy something from me if I do come out with product.
Luke: So, with all this in mind, how do you actually… without being to pushy and in your face about things, how do you actually manage to monetize your blog in general? So just a normal blog visitor that don’t even subscribe to your list, how do you actually monetize that visitor?
Pat: Well, what happens, most of the monetization on my blog happens from the different case studies that I do. And I do a lot of experiments online. For instance, just recently I have been participating in this what we call the niche site duel, which is my friend Tyrone challenged me to build a niche site from scratch. We are both doing that and showing people exactly how we’re doing it, what the exact niche sites that we chose and the domain names and walking people through the process.
So that’s just one example of a case study that we’re doing. And then during that process I’ll share again kind of in the same way that I did with that key word search tool. I share with people the tools I use. For instance, I share with people that I use Bluehost to host my domains and then I’ll throw in an affiliate link for that. And, I have made 300 dollars in Bluehost affiliate sales just last month.
Luke: Is that through Commission Junction or Bluehost direct?
Pat: That’s through Bluehost direct.
Luke: OK, cool.
Pat: But some of those products are through places like ClickBank. Some of those products are through Commission Junction. Again, this is just my noninvasive way to make money on the blog.
Another tool that I use is my resources page on the blog. If you go to the top of my of my blog at SmartPassiveIncome.com you’ll see a link for a list of resources. And that lists a bunch of the different resources that I used to earn a passive income from hosting to key word research to rank tracking to different books that I read to different coursed that I have taken. And those are, obviously, affiliate links as well.
And that resource page alone, which people go to… I don’t even force them to go there. They volunteer to click on that page on their own. That makes me $2,000 to $4,000 every month. And it’s a win/win for everybody. It’s a win for them because they’ve found a place where there’s condensed information that they need to stuff that I’ve used before that they know works. And it’s a win for me because, obviously, I earn a commission off of those products. And they appreciate it, I appreciate it, so then we grow our relationship together.
Luke: So, yeah, I mean even though they might not even know that they are making you any money but they are usually happy to. Even if you told them that, “by the way, if you click this link you will make me some commission” they will be more than happy to do it providing that what you’re advertising to them is of value.
Pat: Right. And I do disclose that I’m making an affiliate commission at the top of that page. And I actually, I usually disclose that now because people feel that they know the law of reciprocity. The reciprocal kind of relationship that we have where if someone gives you something you feel like you have to give something in return. And people have told me they’ve bought things from me through my affiliate link just because they feel like they owe me something, which is cool.
Luke: Yeah. I mean that’s obviously a very, very, good relationship to build up on it’s own.
For someone who is thinking about starting a blog from scratch… I’m sure you get asked this so many times in emails. People saying, “Where do I start? Where do I start?” But genuinely, where would you send someone? What would you tell them to do tomorrow? If they said, “I want to make a money making blog,” where would you send them? What kind of market would you get them to go into? Or do you think that’s up to them?
Pat: Well, that’s what I was going to say. I was going to say, really make sure you select a market or a topic that you’d be interested in, and so I would spend those first couple days really deciding what you want to write about, because a blog is not a short-term deal.
A blog isn’t passive at all. The ways you can make money from a blog is, but actual upkeep of the blog is not. I mean, it’s … can you imagine writing on the topic that you’re thinking about five years from now? Ten years from now? If you can’t … and I’ve started blogs before just with the idea that I wanted to make money from it without that passion behind it, and they all died, because, you know, I just didn’t have the information. I didn’t have the passion. I didn’t have the drive to keep it going, and you will need that.
You know, even with a smart passive-income blog, which I’m really passionate about the topics that I’m writing about, I’ve gone into phases where I just wanted to give up, especially in that first year. If it wasn’t because I had that passion for it, that true passion for it… that’s what kept me going, and I’m really glad I stuck with it, obviously.
So I would spend a couple days brainstorming. I would use a resource like MindMeister to brain-map or to mind-map everything out that you want to think of. And beyond just selecting topics that you’re interested in … I’m going to use an example from Glenn Alsop. He uses three different ways to think about a potential niche site or a potential blog to write about.
That’s talking about your passions, which we just talked about, but also talking about your fears and your problems. Because those three things are things that potentially other people are going to be interested in as well.
If you can provide information on your passions, fears, or problems, then you know you’re going to be able to amass a community behind it and potentially build a nice blog with a community and potential to make money from it.
Also, I would want you to really think about the purpose behind your blog. If you truly start the blog with the sole purpose of making money from it, I truly think that it will not do as well for you. It will fail. Maybe not fail… you might potentially make money from it. But if your primary purpose is to help people, you will see the rewards in the end, and that’s always been my primary purpose.
My business model, even going back to the Green Exam Academy website. Because it’s just… think about that six months to a year that I spent just putting peer content on there. My business model is the more you help people, the more you get back in return. I’m just giving away as much free information as possible. And like we said, even… I don’t hold anything back, because like I said before, even information that is free can be packaged and put into something that can be paid for.
Luke: I’ve also noticed on your blog that you actually do something quite brave for most bloggers. But it doesn’t seem to affect you very much in the way that… it’s done in a very decent way. You show income reports. Is there a certain way to do that? Have you ever felt that you might be touching or verging on bragging or anything? Have you ever worried about putting them up?
Pat: I have worried about that, because that’s what I feel when I read other people’s income reports. You know, “Oh, I made this much money.” I am fortunate enough to be making quite a bit of it too, so that’s even more potential to feel like bragging. But I really, really do purposely try not to make it feel like that and that I really am humble with my earnings.
And it’s not about the earnings. It’s about the journey to get to those earnings, or what I’ve been doing… what I’ve learned, the mistakes I’ve made, and also my wins. Those are all things that I include with my monthly income report. The money in there is just there because I know people are interested in it.
People want to see numbers. People love numbers, so that’s why it’s there. But that’s not the reason for that post. The reason for that post is to teach people what I’ve been doing to inspire… to show people what not to do, and I think that’s what makes it feel less, you know, braggish or show-offy. I hope.
Luke: I think maybe… no, I personally, I can assure you that from my point of view, I don’t see it as that. And there’s so much on the Internet, especially on sales pages and things. You see so much of it, and it is very easy to come across as, you know, bragging. But I think maybe the importance… correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s that you actually analyze them with the readers. So you say, “Oh, the reason that my income went up in AdSense that week was because of this.” You’re actually telling them the reasons why.
Luke: So you’re sort of opening them up to do it themselves.
Pat: Yeah. Exactly. I mean, there’s no reason for me to hold that information back. I mean, it’s not going to affect me at all, and if I can help more people, the better. Yeah, like you said, I reveal why things happen, you know, my income went down in November because it’s the holiday season and people aren’t studying for exams that type of thing.
Pat: That’s interesting for people to know.
Luke: Definitely, it’ a lesson to learn.
Another thing I’ve also noticed on the blog is that you’ve got more guest bloggers at the moment. Is there any kind of… do you actually vent your guest bloggers to make sure that they are going to provide your readers some really good value?
Pat: Oh, absolutely. I mean, since my blog has kind of blown up since last year, every week I receive about five to ten guest post submissions. It might seem like there’s more than usual, and yeah, there’s a couple more than usual. But I could just be putting up tons of content from other people and I don’t want to do that.
So, I have a very, very strict policy when it comes to my guest posts because I do get a lot of requests. And, I tell people up front that, you know, I select maybe one percent of the articles that come in. And, you know, the article that I posted I felt were really valuable and I didn’t want to pass those up just because I, you know, I thought that was valuable content and I wanted to help those people out at the same time.
But, I tell people that it has to be the highest value. It can’t be anything that’s touched about before on the blog. It has to be totally unique content and it has to provide a lesson to the readers of the Smart Passive Income community and you have to be there to answer comments and stuff.
And, that usually scares a lot of people away when I them that I only accept one percent because sometimes people ask if I accept guest posts and they don’t even send me a draft.
So yeah, I mean don’t worry, I’m not going to be leaving blog. I’ve noticed a lot of other bloggers like Darrin and Yarin who seem to be, for some reason, absent from their blogs now. So, I’m not going to be like that. I love blogging.
I just feel that this past couple months I’ve received a lot of good content that I want to post, as well. And I feel those people deserve some exposure on this site, as well.
Luke: I think that’s a good point to make because I personally don’t mind guest bloggers. It doesn’t bother me at all. If I see that person’s a guest blogger, I do actually do what you’re supposed to do for the guest blogger. I do usually go to the guest blogger’s blog and see what they’re about. And, I also read it to see if it’s any good.
I think the only reason you ever need to worry about it is yeah, if they were not providing the value that you expect yourself. And, I think it is very important to vent them.
And, like you were saying just now that when you become absent from your blog, I think that’s a real shame because I’ve certainly noticed it on sites like John Chow.
Pat: Oh, yeah.
Luke: I find that almost every other post is sort of plucked out of the sky. There’s not a real sort of lessons in the posts anymore. So, I think it’s a very good point to make that if you’re going to, basically saying, if you’re going to have guest bloggers, make sure that they’re decent quality.
Pat: Yeah. I mean, I think those guys, I mean they’re so big now that they feel like they don’t have time for the blog because the blog does take a lot of time. But, I mean I know, and that no matter how big you get, that I will always remember that this blog is kind of what my launch pad was if I ever get to bigger levels. And, I will always stay on the blog.
You know, I’ve had offers to sell it for large sums of money and I’ve turned them down because my blog is my baby, my fans are my family, and I’m loving what I’m doing and I won’t forget where I came from.
Luke: That’s cool. I mean, do you have anything in store for 2011? What’s sort of your next move with Smart Passive Income or, indeed, your online presence or have you got anything planned?
Pat: I do. I have a, you know, people have been nagging me about this for along time, but they’ve been asking me to come out with products which is a great thing for people to ask. But, at the same time, I don’t want to force anything.
So, over the last few months I’ve been working on something. I’m working on a number of different projects, some of them more passive than others. But specifically they are for the Smart Passive Income brand, which is cool because right now I don’t sell anything.
I am making money as we talked about earlier, but I’m not selling anything, but I’m building my lists, I’m building my authority, growing my community, and now the community is asking for products which is really cool. So I have a couple WordPress plug-ins that are coming out. These are actually WordPress plug-ins that will help me tremendously. So even if they don’t sell at all these are premium WordPress plug-ins.
Luke: You wanted them made anyway.
Pat: Exactly. Because I have these problems that these plug-ins are solving I think some other people might have these problems too. I’m sorry, I’m not going to reveal exactly what they are yet. They’re kind of under wraps but I haven’t really told anyone about them.
But hopefully in the next couple weeks one of them will be revealed and we’ll see how it goes. It’ll be fun. You know a lot of what I do is experimentation and I get a lot of fun out of doing it.
That’s the same with my iPhone app business that I created. It was all fun and experimenting and now it’s all providing passive income which is cool.
I have a course that I’m potentially working on. I’ve gotten a ton of people asking me to walk them through how to be a blogger and I never thought I would be doing a blogging course because there are so many others out there. But people are telling me that I have this ability to really dumb things down in a way that’s easily consumable.
So what I’ve been doing is I’ve been referring those people who have been asking me, and I get seriously two or three a day which is a good sign that what I’m creating, this blogging course, which is sort of going to have a twist to it is something that people are going to want. But I’ve been referring them to other people’s courses and you know I want to keep them in my brand because I know that I can provide them with value over time and keep them as long-term subscribers, readers and customers.
So that’s kind of what’s going on for now in 2011. We’ll see what’s in store for the later half of it.
Luke: Yeah, I think that’s a good system to follow. You sort of build the readership and the following first and then wait for them to almost dictate to you when to actually release a product rather than pushing it on them at the beginning and scaring them off.
Pat: Yeah, yeah.
Luke: So finally, I’d like to take you back to that horrible day that you lost your job.
Luke: But basically, if that ever happened, obviously it can’t happen again. But if you had to rewind back to that day and you actually lost absolutely everything.
You lost your products, your contacts, all your money, your blog, you know not your family.
Luke: But you lost everything and you needed to start again what would you actually do to get you back on track?
Pat: Well, I would do the exact same thing that I did. Just start a blog, or maybe not a blog because blogs are becoming a little competitive now, but doing something maybe like a TV show on the Internet on YouTube or some way to get a following of people in that same fashion where I’m providing good content for them and building a community that way.
That’s a tough question because it depends on the time that you live in and it just seemed like doing stuff on the Internet at that point was the right thing for me to do. Someone asked me a similar question in another interview but they said what if the Internet shut down. Then I wouldn’t have the option to go back on the Internet that’s a whole different…
Luke: That’s a little more scary.
Pat: Yeah, it’s a little more scary. So I definitely think the Internet is the way to go. Blogging is a great way to build a long-term community, a long-term business. Obviously it’s not an easy button but it’s a way to over time build a long-term business as opposed to doing something like a niche site which will plateau at a certain level as far as income is concerned. And you don’t have that sense of community and membership in that site as a blog does or a podcast.
I definitely think I would, OK if I lost everything I think what I would do is, well then I would lose my microphone so then I couldn’t do a podcast.
Luke: You can have your microphone. I’ll give you your microphone.
Pat: OK. I have a microphone. Then I think I would go the podcast route because it’s just been pretty amazing the response I’ve been getting and it’s been a lot easier than I thought it was going to be to reach this many people.
Luke: Well that says a lot in itself. So there you go guys, you need to start a podcast. That’s your next move. That’s it today, Pat, but thank you so much for the interview.
I mean, I knew it was going to be a long one because I’ve listened to your podcasts and I know that it’s, you know, like you say you maybe weren’t such a good speaker at the beginning but it certainly shows that you know what you’re doing. You’re certainly an authority at speaking anyway now, I think.
Pat: Well thank you.
Luke: So thank you very much Pat, and to everybody else, go visit Pat’s blog. I’ll put a link at the bottom of this post so that everyone can go. Thanks Pat and have a good Christmas.
Pat: Thank you, you too. Merry Christmas and happy holidays to everyone out there.
Luke: Cheers Buddy.