In EntrepreneurOnFire’s breakout interview, Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income chats about how he went from being fired as an architect to making over 50k a MONTH with his blog “Smart Passive Income”. Pat gives us an incredible inside look at the world of niche sites, e-books, Kindle publishing, and much much more.
Click to tweet: Fire Nation, Pat shares his incredible journey on EntrepreneurOnFire today!
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- “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford click to tweet!
- “My inner world creates my outer world.” – T. Harv Eker click to tweet!
- Pat’s failure hits so close to home for any Entrepreneur who has put their neck on the line. Find out how he pulls himself out from this pit of failure.
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- Learn how to find the perfect price for your product. Hear how Pat made a crucial mistake at the launch of his product, and how he was threatened to be “punched in the face” because of it.
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- Pat’s response to “What is the best business advice you have ever received?” is simply the stuff of legends.
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John Dumas: Hire Fire Nation and thank you for joining me for another episode of EntrepreneurOnFire.com, your daily dose of inspiration. If you enjoy this free podcast, please show your support by leaving a rating and review here at iTunes. I will make sure to give you a shout out on an upcoming showing to thank you!
John Dumas: Okay. Let’s get started. I am simply thrilled to introduce my guest today, Pat Flynn. Pat, are you prepared to ignite?
Pat Flynn: Let’s do this. Let’s ignite.
John Dumas: [Laughs] Pat runs a massively successful blog, Smart Passive Income, which just passed the 50,000 subscriber mark last week. Congrats on that, Pat.
Pat Flynn: Thank you. Yes, it’s pretty amazing. It’s unbelievable.
John Dumas: He actually also has a top 10 podcast in the iTunes business category. He’s a very moving speaker who’s spoken at BlogWorld on multiple occasions. One of which I had the pleasure of attending. Overall, Pat is just a great guy, and I’m personally thrilled to see him doing so well online and to have him join us here at EntrepreneurOnFire.com.
So Pat, I’ve given a little overview. Why don’t you just tell us a little more about who you are and what you do?
Pat Flynn: Sure. My name is Pat, and probably the most important thing is that I’m a father to a beautiful two-and-a-half year old son and then a coming daughter, who’s going to be here in September, and I’m a husband too. I’m a big, big time family man, and that kind of inspires a lot of what I do and the decisions that I make.
Going back to business, I actually went to school for architecture. I loved architecture. I never had any sort of desire to leave it. Unfortunately, in 2008 I was sort of kicked out of the industry. I was laid off. That’s sort of when all this online business stuff started for me. I actually tried to get another job in the architecture industry, but I couldn’t. Nobody was hiring any architects because no one was building any buildings. So they didn’t need any designers.
Now luckily – and this is kind of the interesting thing that happened – it was while I was still working, I was sort of doing all these things to climb the corporate ladder, to impress my boss, and all these types of things. So one thing I did was I studied for this exam called the Lead Exam. It’s an exam in the architecture industry that deals with green buildings and sustainable design and things like that. Environmentally-friendly buildings.
I passed the test. To help me pass the test, I created a blog to basically just keep track of my notes. All I did was put my notes online, and it helped me study because I was on the computer all day and I could study. I traveled a lot, so I could study from a laptop and I could share my notes with some of my coworkers, but I never had any intention of the site going anywhere.
So I passed the exam. The site had been up for a year-and-a-half. I finally passed, so I just let it sit there. I didn’t do anything with it because I didn’t need to anymore. I passed the test. Now when I got laid off, that’s when I started to hear about all of these success stories from people doing business online who had websites who were teaching people to do stuff, who were just making thousands of dollars, and it kind of struck me. I was like, hey, maybe that’s something I could do. I’ll see what happens. I had this site already, and I said, maybe I could do something with the site. I haven’t really promoted it ever. Maybe that’s something I could start with since it’s already there.
Now the next day, I put some tracking software on there and I saw that thousands of people around the world were already visiting that site. Because it was online, people found it. I mean, I didn’t know this was happening at the time, but all that stuff I was writing on there – and I was writing for a long timearound the world were already visiting that site. Because it was online, people found it. I mean, I didn’t know this was happening at the time, but all that stuff I was writing on there – and I was writing for a long time. Like three, four hours a night for over a year.
John Dumas: Right.
Pat Flynn: So this might turn into a story that sounds like it’s a get rich quick story, but it’s definitely not. It took a lot of work to get to this point, but people found me on Google because Google loved all the stuff that I was typing in, and then I was posting and I was writing about relevant things that people were searching for.
So I already had thousands of people coming to the site every day, and so I began to try to monetize it. So the first thing I did was I put AdSense on the site. I remember that this was a big moment for me. This was when I made my first – I think it was $1.18. I think it was. I just put AdSense on my site. I had some code that kind of auto generates some advertisements.
That day, I had made like $1.18, or the next time I checked online, I had made $1.18. I could find that between the cushions of my couch, but it was just such an amazing feeling to know that I actually made money online, and I did it in a way that was different than any other way that I ever thought was possible, which was you hear about Internet business and online business and Internet marketing and you think of all these negative things like people scamming people or just feeding off of people’s hopes.
Well, I just had this site that had notes on it and I put this code on it, and all of a sudden I had money coming my way, which was really cool. So that income started to grow a little bit more, and I eventually got to a point where I published a book for the site. A study guide. It was that month that I published that study guide – it took about a month-and-a-half to create – I had generated $7,905.88, I think it was.
That was just ridiculous. Like I couldn’t believe that was – I thought I was doing something illegal because I’ve never seen that much money before.
John Dumas: [Laughs]
Pat Flynn: People ate it. People loved the guide. I actually had a couple of people who had passed the test from studying my website earlier, who bought the book just because they felt like they had to pay me back. That, I thought, was really cool, and that showed me that if I could provide all this value to people online – just over-deliver like crazy – that it’ll always come back to me somehow.
So I’ve taken that model and kind of turned it after I found that success with that website, and the income started to grow too from $14,000.00 a month, all the way up to $30,000.00 in a single month from that one product in this little, tiny niche. In March of 2009, that’s when it happened.
The beauty of it is that it was mostly automated. I was very inspired by Tim Ferriss and The 4-Hour Workweek. In that book there was an automation section where he talks about businesses that can kind of run on autopilot that have systems in place that can automatically deliver products to people, and without you having to be there.
So literally, at that month – March of 2009 – that’s the month after I was married. So I was spending half that month in Hawaii in my honeymoon. I maybe worked four hours that entire month, but I was still able to generate $30,000.00 a month because people could come to the site. They could buy the e-book. It could get automatically delivered to them after making a purchase, and that money goes into my PayPal account. There’s nothing I have to do that takes out of my time during the day in order for that to happen. So it was just amazing. So I like to talk.
John Dumas: [Laughs]
Pat Flynn: That’s when I started the Smart Passive Income Blog, because I didn’t know that any of this stuff was possible and I wanted to share everything I was doing with people. So that’s why on my site, I share how I created Green Exam Academy, which is that LEED exam site.
What I was doing to increase sales, what I thought I could do better, what I thought I should have in the beginning that I didn’t do. Just sharing everything I can so that people who want to do something similar can do it and kind of not have to figure it out for themselves. That I can kind of guide them there.
I don’t have a specific “this is what you got to do to make money” type of thing. I just share to people what I do, and people can take that and use it as inspiration or as a guide for something that they want to attempt to do.
That was just one business. I had since created several businesses publicly on the site. For example, my iPhone application business. That was another experiment to see if I could create passive income, and indeed, my partner and I have 27 apps live in iTunes right now that are generating between $5,000.00 and $10,000.00 a month.
I created a niche site in the security guard training industry publicly on the blog and I showed people how I created that all the way from selecting that niche to when it got to number one at Google, and that’s now making a couple thousand dollars a month.
Then now the Smart Passive Income Blog itself, through all these case studies and examples that I’m sharing, and by offering products and services along the way – not that I create, but that other people have created or just stuff like hosting and domains or tools to help people with keyword research. Stuff that I had used myself.
Because I show people that I’ve used these tools, people are more than happy to go through my affiliate links, which means that if they go through those affiliate links and make a purchase, I get a commission. So I don’t even have a product to sell on the Smart Passive Income Blog, but I’m generating about $40,000.00 a month from it.
John Dumas: That is inspirational, Pat. I mean, you’re just doing a lot of things online right now. You’re being so transparent. People can really just dive in to the different businesses that you’re doing, get inspiration from that, and get direction from that and move forward.
So we’re also going to move forward in this interview here and go on to the next topic, which is the success quote. We usually do this at the beginning part of every episode here because we really want to get the motivational ball rolling. Now you’ve already done that because I’m inspired right now. I almost want to stop this interview and just go like read some more of your posts right now, but we’re going to keep going through for the sake of the audience. So Pat, what is your favorite success quote?
Pat Flynn: Well, my favorite success quote is a quote by Henry Ford. It’s “whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” I love this quote because it basically means whatever you think you could do, that’s what’s going to happen. If you don’t think you could do something, then it’s not going to happen. If you really believe in yourself and you think you could it, whatever it may be, then it’s going to happen.
There are other quotes that are similar to it. Like in T. Harv Eker’s Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, there’s a quote that is “my inner world creates my outer world.” So how you think actually transpires to reality.
John Dumas: Those are two great quotes. I’ll definitely have those in the show notes afterwards and just continue to move forward with the show into the next topic. We’re really going to be focusing on failure. Every entrepreneur has seen it, has lived it, has breathed it, has hopefully learned from it and moved forward from it. We don’t let failure define us as entrepreneurs.
So bring us back to a point in your journey where you came up against failure. What were the steps leading up to that point and how did you move forward from that?
Pat Flynn: [Laughs] This is a hard one because I have a ton of failures. Like a billion failures.
John Dumas: All entrepreneurs have.
Pat Flynn: Yes. I mean I was trying to think of one. The first one that comes to mind – I mean I’ve had a ton and I have one big one [Unintelligible [00:09:59]. One comes to mind because it happened yesterday. Actually, it happened two days ago, because I’m writing a book right now and I’m going to be publishing it on the Amazon Kindle platform. This book writing thing is just a beast. On Sunday, I had a four hour block to write. I said, okay, I’m going to write for four hours.
Then after the four hour time span that I had to write, at the end, I had nothing to show for it. Absolutely nothing. I wrote. I deleted. I wrote. I deleted even more. And at the end of it, my head was in my hands and I just could not believe I had wasted four hours. I felt like that was a failure because it was just I got nothing out of it, and I felt like I just wasted time.
Now, what I eventually learned was that I was my own worst enemy because what I was doing was I was editing along the way, and I just tried to make everything perfect. I think that’s a problem that a lot of people have, is they try to be perfect. If you try to be perfect, a couple of things happen. One, you’re never going to get done because nothing is ever perfect.
At the same time, and probably the biggest thing for me for this book, is that perfection got in the way of my creativity because I was worrying too much about editing and making things perfect and I just got rid of any opportunity for creativity or stories to just come up that I can’t even think of right now that just kind of come about because you just kind of what they call “vomit on the paper.”
So that’s a big thing I learned, was just to stop being perfect. Then with this writing a book thing specifically, I picked up a book called “Bird by Bird.” It’s entitled that because basically, you have to take things one step at a time. If you’re doing a report about birds, which is what this example is about in this book, take it one bird at a time, and just vomit on the paper and don’t even worry about it. You can always come back and edit later.
That’s something that I’ve applied to business in the past, but this book writing thing, like I said, is totally different. So in the past, when I came out with that e-book for GreenExamAcademy.com, it wasn’t perfect. I knew that, but I wanted to get it out there because I knew it would help people, and it had the information to do that, but it wasn’t perfect.
There were still spelling errors, there were still some stuff that I could have added, which I eventually did later. But if I didn’t publish that book when I did, I wouldn’t have made that $8,000.00 in that month and I would have lost money because I was just sitting there and doing nothing.
So that was one failure, and the lessons learned behind. The other one came with – again, this is in respect to GreenExamAcademy.com, and it was in I think April or May of 2009. I got letter from the USGBC, which is the United States Green Building Council, and it was a cease and desist letter. I just saw the words “cease and desist” and I totally freaked out. I thought I was getting sued.
John Dumas: Yes.
Pat Flynn: I was freaking out. So I read it and I was like, okay. I’m apparently using some trademarks in the domain name that I shouldn’t. The actual domain name before was called Intheleed.com. I thought was a perfect domain name. It’s catchy, short, and the LEED [it comes on [00:13:11] has a double meaning, but it had the trademark LEED in it, so it wasn’t perfect.
So I got this letter. I hired a lawyer. I had never hired a lawyer before and he was telling me all these stuff and all these jargon I knew nothing about. Really, at the time, I just considered myself a failure because I thought that – I asked myself, maybe I’m not just cut out for business. This seems like something so obvious and I just totally missed it.
The thing was I created this site when I was still working, so I really had no intention of it becoming a business. I just thought to myself, I’m just not cut out for this. This is scary stuff. Stuff that I wouldn’t have to deal with if I was just working 9 to 5. I could just do my job and let the experts, the other experts in the office, so I’ll figure this stuff out if it ever comes up or avoid this type of situations.
What eventually happened was I changed the domain name. That was okay, and it was okay that I was publishing these study guides. It was just the domain name. So I didn’t get sued. It was just a warning, and it was just a big wake up call for me to really be careful and to really make sure that I think things through before I publish them or I go out there and create these things, and kind of getting through that actually boosted my confidence because it’s been live for three years since then and it’s been doing really, really, really well. It showed me that I could really get through anything.
John Dumas: That’s great stuff, Pat. Now, let’s go back to your first failure real quick and let me pose this question to you. You’re a podcaster. You have a top iTunes podcast. Now, would it be helpful for you to kind of look at writing in some ways that you look at podcasting because for instance, with this interview, if you and I stopped every time that we stuttered or said the wrong word, went back and edited, we never would get through an episode, and there’s going to be phenomenal content in this episode and it’s going to be very powerful for a lot of people.
If you took that same mentality and applied it to writing where you just sat down, spilled it all out on the paper, and then came back into Adobe Audition a little later and maybe did a little postproduction for the big uhms and the ahs, but the whole general sense would be there, would that be something that could help you out?
Pat Flynn: Yes. Absolutely. Yes, definitely. I mean talking things through is so much different, and if I can imagine myself talking to a friend who I’m trying to teach this stuff to, it would definitely help. I am imagining a friend when I write, and I might explore kind of the audio tactic as well. It’s funny because I know there’s a program called Write or Die. It’s an application where you basically write and it forces you – there are different settings, but you could set it so that your backspace or delete button doesn’t work. It’s just pretty crazy, and if you don’t reach a certain amount of words in a certain time period, it starts to delete stuff that you’ve already written.
John Dumas: Wow!
Pat Flynn: And it just kind of forces you to write, kind of in the same way that you said. Just put it out there, and then you can come back and edit later. So I’m thinking about different ways. I actually had a great writing session last night after reading Bird by Bird yesterday, and I actually wrote four times as many words that already existed in the book because I just kind of put it all out there.
I got some really great creative stories out that I didn’t even think about. They just came out of nowhere and I kind of went with it, and it’s very disorganized right now. That’s okay. Those stories were there and they popped into my brain and they’re now on paper.
John Dumas: That’s great stuff. So EntrepreneurOnFire is a journey. We’re talking about an entrepreneur’s journey. In this case, you’re our spotlighted entrepreneur so we’re discussing your journey. So you’ve given us some very powerful insight into some failures that you’ve had, and you have touched upon this next topic to some level, but let’s really grab on to one point right now where you had transitioned through a failure, you were working in your passions, you’re doing what you’re enjoying to do. What were the events that actually led up to an aha moment that you’ve had?
Pat Flynn: Well, the aha moment – I mean there’s a bunch of aha moments. Like one of the aha moments I had was when my boss who had let me go called me a year or two later asking me to come back and work for him, and then me saying, “No, thank you.” That was a really cool aha moment that made me realize that I actually did it. That I got somewhere that I didn’t need to be working for anyone else anymore, that I could do it on my own. So that was a really cool aha moment.
Yes. It’s so funny thinking about that because he was just kind of like, “Oh. Okay.”
John Dumas: [Laughs]
Pat Flynn: [Laughs] I was like, “Yeah. It is okay.”
John Dumas: He probably thought that he was making the best phone call of your life.
Pat Flynn: Yes. I mean, because I was so devastated. He knew how devastated I was when I got let go, but I think he was surprised that I actually did something with myself in such a short time period, which is pretty cool.
Now another aha moment, and I can’t pinpoint the specific actual moment – the time and location – but it was – oh no. Actually, yes, I can [Laughs]. When I started – yes. So I just thought of a new story, and this one actually is better because there is an actual moment.
Now I had a mentor, Jeremy Frandsen from Internet Business Mastery, which is the podcast I listen to when I started doing business online that was really inspiring to me and why I kind of do what I do. I got to talk to him every once in a while. He actually moved to San Diego and I’d meet up with him every once in a while, which is pretty cool, and we would talk about what we were doing in our businesses and how things were going and we’d help each other out.
Once Smart Passive Income started doing well and Green Exam Academy was going well, I wanted to do something more. As entrepreneurs, we always want to do more and all these different things. I talked to Jeremy. We sat at lunch one day at Cheesecake Factory, I think, and I brought this list of 10 possible new business ideas that I could come up with and I want to get his opinion on because he was an expert.
So I go down the list and he’s like, “Oh, okay. Uhum, uhum. I could see that. Uhum.” Then at the end, I was like, “Oh, none of these really jive with you, do they?” Then he’s like, “For you, Pat, you have amazing things going on right now and you have an amazing personality that people can easily connect with. These things on this list, I don’t see anywhere where you can inject your personality like you have already done with GreenExamAcademy.com,” which if you go there, you can see my picture and I talk about my experience with the exam, and so on and so forth, or Smart Passive Income where you go on there and you see my picture, pictures of my family, I talk very personally about how my business is going, the failures and things like that that I’ve gone through and the wins.
Then he’s like, “You know what? Just stick with what you have for now. Stop being an entrepreneur that is always chasing new things and just make what you have better, and put even more of your personality in it because that’s what people can connect with.”
So that’s what I did and that’s when I started to write more posts about really how I felt, and even include stuff about my family. That’s when I started posting videos with my face in it. Before, I used to be so scared of doing that, but once I started doing that, people actually could see my face and I could relate to people. What happened was a couple of years later when I started going to these conferences to speak at BlogWorld Expo and at Financial Bloggers Conference, people would come up to me and they already knew who I was, and they already were talking to me like we were friends, and I never met these people before.
It kind of freaked me out in the beginning, but it’s such a cool feeling to know that all these people, I’m friends with all these people, even people that I don’t even know yet because I’ve injected my personality. If it wasn’t for Jeremy saying that to me at that moment in time, I might be kind of running around with all these different businesses – too many, I guess – and I wouldn’t have taken Smart Passive Income to where it’s at now.
So speaking of where Smart Passive Income is now, we’re going to move on into your current business. Now we have touched upon a book that you’re working on publishing and we’ve talked about a couple other things that you really have as the forefront of your business such as your niche sites and things along those lines.
Above and beyond that, what would you say is one thing that’s really exciting you about your business today?
Pat Flynn: Well, probably the most important thing and the one thing that excites me the most is all the feedback I get from people when I either write a post and it helps them or I share some strategy and I see immediate results to some people. That’s what really is important to me, is getting those emails and those messages and those thank yous. It’s not about the money for me. It’s not about trying to get as many subscribers as possible. It’s just trying to get as many personal messages from people that say I have helped them out in one way or another.
I’ve actually started a collection of people who have sent me handwritten letters of thanks and praise. I’m not trying to be cocky or anything, but I use that as motivation for me to do even more of that. I’m selfish in the way where I want more thank you notes, and the only way I could do that is to just keep providing a ton of value and just experimenting with different things.
I’ve realized that not everyone wants to build a niche site. Not everyone wants to do a podcast. Not everyone wants to do this or that. So I give people all the options and explore each of them just to see and to kind of show people kind of what might jive with them. That’s how I know I’m doing something right, is getting all those thanks.
John Dumas: Now, Pat, I have to commend you because you have 50,000 subscribers. I’m one of them so I can speak from firsthand experience. You ask questions in these emails that you send out to us. You ask us very poignant questions, you ask for us to respond to those questions.
I obviously understand why, because it’s great for you to understand what your audience wants, what they need, where their pain point is, but man, 50,000 understand what your audience wants, what they need, where their pain point is, but man, 50,000 potential emails back, how do you deal with that?
Pat Flynn: [Laughs] Very slowly, I guess you could say.
John Dumas: [Laughs]
Pat Flynn: No. The emails are important. I don’t get 50,000 emails from people when I ask a question, but I get quite a few. I do take time out of my week and I block it out. I don’t just answer them as they come in, but I’ll spend a specific amount of time going through them as fast as possible. I don’t hire a VA to answer my emails or anything. It’s just me.
The cool strategy behind the email and asking questions is I have this constant stream of emails that come in when people get to those particular emails in my auto responder that ask those questions. I have this constant stream of emails telling me what exactly I should be writing a post about or what people’s pains are or what people need help with. So I never run out of blog post ideas. I never run out of potential things to talk about. It’s always coming to me from the people who matter to me the most – my subscribers. I think that that’s really cool.
As far as the emails, I think it’s important to answer each and every one of them, and I eventually get to them. It’s becoming harder and harder now that I have 50,000 subscribers. I mean, in the beginning it was so easy just to talk to each person individually and write these long emails back and reply with just a ton of detail, which really impresses a lot of people. I still try to do that as much as possible, but I want to get to everybody because I know how important it is to reply to emails. It just kind of strengthens the bond and the relationship that I have with my readers, and I think that’s really important.
That’s probably the most important thing because nothing else can happen until that relationship is there, and no transactions whatsoever – not sharing, not buying something, not reading my posts – none of that is going to happen until or unless my subscribers trust me. That can happen through actually being like a real person, and replying and being a friend and trying to help people out like you would a friend in real life.
John Dumas: Pat, what’s your vision for the future of Smart Passive Income?
Pat Flynn: The vision is, well, in the immediate future I’m working on this book right now and I’m really exploring the Kindle platform. My goal with that is to not only publish this book and see how it does, but also to publish a guide, an addendum to my existing free e-book, eBooks The Smart Way. That talks about publishing a book and writing and publishing a book on your blog, but I’ll create an addendum through my experience with Amazon and write kind of a guide to doing that, and it’ll just be an addition to it. An addition to eBooks The Smart Way.
Kind of maybe the three or year plan, it’s hard to say because technology is changing so fast and who knows what it’s going to be like even in a year. My primary purpose is just to help people figure things out online, to break things down that are complicated into easily digestible tutorials or step by step guides. I’m going to continue to do that, whatever technology comes up or social media platforms or whatever, and I’m going to continue to create new businesses and publicly display how these businesses are created.
I have one in mind, a big one in mind that I want to do, which is going to be in a very, very saturated market because I want to just show people that you could go into any market and find a hole, and just fill it and be successful. I don’t want people to be scared about getting into these saturated markets where they think everything is done already because no way. I want to show people through this example. I apologize I’m kind of being vague with it. I have yet to reveal exactly what this is, but I’m really, really excited about it.
So after this Kindle book is done, I will probably try a traditionally published book as well. I’ve been contacted by a few publishers for that, which is awesome. I’ll continue to be speaking because it’s just something I enjoy. I don’t know if I ever get to the point where I’m like these big guys who kind of charge tens of thousands of dollars to speak. I just love speaking and putting myself out there on stage and trying to help people that way.
This project that I’m going to be working on, this case study, it’s going to be awesome. I think that’s maybe in a year or so when that starts to unfold, and I just want to show people – I want to give people no excuses for not trying to do business online.
John Dumas: Well, Fire Nation will anxiously await that. So listen, Pat, we’ve now reached my favorite part of the show. We’re about to enter the Lightning Round. This is where I’m going to provide you with a series of questions, and you’re going to provide me with amazing and mind-blowing answers. Does that sound like a plan?
Pat Flynn: Yes. Sounds great.
John Dumas: What was the number one thing that was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Pat Flynn: The number one thing that was holding me back from becoming an entrepreneur was probably my job. I loved the job that I had – my nine to five job. I loved it. If I wasn’t laid off, I wouldn’t be doing what I am today. I wouldn’t even know this was possible. I was happy, but I wouldn’t know what it would be like to be this happy. I think the number one thing holding me back was – well, I guess breaking that down and going deeper into it, it may have just been lack of knowledge that becoming an entrepreneur was possible, lack of time to do those sorts of things.
When I got laid off, I had a lot of time to do a lot of these things. So probably the time factor as well and just getting burnt out in an architecture job, which was consistently 60 hours a week and not 40.
Then also – I know this is a myth – that I was fortunate enough to not have this problem, but I know it is a big one for a lot of people. That is the whole crab in the bucket deal where if you imagine a bucket of crabs, whenever a crab tries to pull out of that bucket, all the other crabs will pull that crab that’s trying to climb up down back into the bucket.
So what I mean by that is there’s always these external factors. People like friends and family that can easily stop us from pursuing our entrepreneur journey. That’s very difficult to deal with, especially when it’s family. You can’t get away from them. It’s really easy to be knocked down by people who say, “You know, Pat, I don’t think this is going to go anywhere for you.” How can you not be distracted by that or how can you not let that bring you down?
So the best tip I have for that is if you’re surrounded by people who are constantly pulling you down, surround yourself with people who are also going to be pulling you up too. Then get into mastermind groups. You should go to meet-ups with entrepreneurs and just get in touch with people who have similar goals as you or who are already where you want to be.
John Dumas: Very, very powerful visualization. Thank you for that, Pat. What was the best business advice that you ever received?
Pat Flynn: The best business advice that I ever received was to never sell myself short. The reason I say this is because when I actually started selling my e-book on GreenExamAcademy.com, it was $19.99. That was way lower than any other guy that was out there already. The reason I priced it that low was because I thought, well, it’s super cheap, so I just as many people to get it as possible.
Now what actually happened was one of my customers who bought the book who owned an architecture firm emailed me back. He was a businessman. He said, “Pat, you are killing yourself here. Please raise the book or I’ll punch you in the face.”
John Dumas: [Laughs]
Pat Flynn: Like that’s exactly what he said in his email. Then he’s like, “I’m not kidding. Please do it. You are totally undervaluing your book and what it can do for people.”
So I followed his advice and I raised the price. I played with it a little bit. I went higher and lower and tested it out, and I actually got to a point where I raised the price by 50%. Not only did I make more money in the end, but I actually sold more copies of my book when I did that.
That kind of blew me away. The reason that happened was because the perceived value of the product was much higher. It wasn’t just a cheap little product that may or may not help out, but it became something that people were willing to pay for and knew that it was going to help them because it was kind of a substantially priced book.
So I apply that to everything now. Not just stuff that I sell, but stuff that I write, stuff that – it’s just being confident in myself, I guess is what you could say. Then knowing that I have value to provide I think is very important.
John Dumas: Great stuff. What is something that’s working for you or your business right now?
Pat Flynn: Podcasting and YouTube videos. I have this sort of strategy, which is sort of what my book is about. I call it my “be everywhere” strategy. Not just on the blog or not just on the website. I’m everywhere. I’m on a podcast and I’m on YouTube. By doing that, I can reach out to people who would’ve never found me otherwise if I had just stuck with my blog.
There are people out there who don’t like to read, but who love to listen and are searching through iTunes all the time. iTunes is a totally underutilized platform. I think there are only 200,000 podcasts as opposed to millions and millions of websites out there that everyone’s competing for attention for.
Then also, YouTube videos. YouTube is the number two search engine in the world. I only have 50 videos, I only have 43 podcast episodes, but I have two million downloads of my podcast, almost two million views of my YouTube videos. I did a survey back in 2001 asking my blog readers, how did you find me? The number one answer was the podcast at 19%. The number two answer was YouTube at 16%. This is where they found me and are now reading my blog. Underneath that, I think 15% was links from other blogs, and then it was Google and Facebook and Twitter.
When you think about it, where is everyone spending their time? They’re on Twitter and Facebook and they’re doing SEO. If you can reach out there and put yourself where people are already looking for people like you, then you’ll have a much higher probability of being found and reaching these people who can then become a part of your brand and become a subscriber.
John Dumas: Okay. Our audience are also avid readers. Do you have a business book that you’d recommend that you’ve read in the last six months?
Pat Flynn: Oh yes. I’m looking at maybe 20 on my shelf right now.
John Dumas: [Laughter] I can imagine.
Pat Flynn: They are all so good. “Made to Stick” by Dan and Chip Heath is an absolute favorite. Why some ideas survive and why other ideas die. I think that you have to read it. It’s so, so good. Then I think also – and we’re all entrepreneurs. I was going to recommend Tribes, but we all kind of know that we have to lead people.
The last one – I’m looking around my office right now. Another one is – gosh, where am I? No. I mean I’m just going to say Made to Stick just so you remember that. It’s my all-time favorite. It’ll help you with your writing. It’ll help you with anything that you produce. So products that you create. Your copy, how you say things on Twitter. Everything. It just helps you understand why certain things are remembered and why certain things just are not.
John Dumas: Great! I’ll have all of these in the show notes. So thank you for that. The last question is by far my favorite, but it’s kind of a tricky one, so give it a second here. If you woke up tomorrow morning and you still had all the experience and all the knowledge that you currently have right now, but your business, Smart Passive Income, everything that you’ve “built and created” disappeared so you were starting with a clean slate from scratch, as many of our entrepreneurs now find themselves looking to do, what would you do?
Pat Flynn: I would research different markets and find a hole and fill it with information that needs to be found by people who haven’t found it yet. I know that’s vague, but again, I keep thinking back to that project that I want to do. The method I would do that, after you find out exactly what it is you want to do, is I would actually go and create a podcast. Then go and create a YouTube channel and kind of create your brand that way. The reason why I say that instead of build a website first is because there are millions of people on those platforms looking for people already.
When you build the website and you create it and you launch it, who is the only person in the world that knows about it at that moment in time? You. So you have to then go and put yourself out there and other places. I would start with the podcast and I would start with YouTube just because you could get stuff out there immediately. I mean I think that the most important thing is just to go out there and publish something and start making a name for yourself. That’s what I would start doing.
So once I have that message out that I want to share, I’d be very big on just posting it and sharing that message and start to build a brand again on those platforms first. Then obviously, once things start going on there, to create a website to drive people back to and start collecting emails, and then go from there.
Then at that point, it would be really easy to start developing these relationships with the other influential people in that particular niche. I think that’s absolutely important. That was one thing that I believe was crucial to my success as well, was hooking up with other people in the different industries that I’ve been in. Then just becoming friends with them and being there for them. While at the same time, they end up being there for me too.
Then we start just linking to each other. I can guest post on their sites really easily. It doesn’t start with an email. It just starts with kind of getting them on your radar by first you having to produce great content. Then like I said, I would start on YouTube and the podcast. And it’s free. I mean, you don’t even need a domain in hosting. You can just do it on a podcast, or especially YouTube.
John Dumas: Pat, you’ve given us some incredibly great actionable advice, and we’re definitely all the better for it. So let me just thank you for that. Do you have any last piece of advice for Fire Nation? Then just finish up with a plug for what you’re doing right now.
Pat Flynn: Sure. Thanks, John. I think the last piece of advice I want to give you is to just take bold actions and get uncomfortable. Every time I’ve done something that has taken my business to the next level, it has been something that was a little bit uncomfortable at first. For example, going on to YouTube. I wasn’t comfortable with putting my voice out there or even putting my face out there.
Actually, to kind of help with that, I did a lot of screencasts and screen recordings first so I didn’t have to put my face on there, but it was still a struggle for me and I felt very uncomfortable doing it. But over time, I started to become better at it. Now, I’m ranking really high in YouTube for certain keywords. A couple of my videos have been seen hundreds of thousands of times.
Yes. So that was uncomfortable. The podcast too is uncomfortable. At the beginning, I was just terrible behind the microphone. If you go back to my first episode, you’ll listen and just hear kind of how timid I was. I’ve just become better because of it, and not just for the podcast, but even with public speaking.
Just take bold actions, get uncomfortable. There’s an example in The 4-Hour Workweek where Tim Ferriss kind of gives you an exercise to go out into a public place and just lay out on the floor. Just lay down on the floor because it’s going to be one of the most uncomfortable things that you’re going to be doing. People are going to look at you. They’ll think you’re a weirdo. If you can learn to put yourself in that situation, it’s going to take your business to the next level. Yes. So just get uncomfortable.
To plug something, I just want to plug SmartPassiveIncome.com. I don’t sell anything so I don’t really have anything to pitch. So I’d love to see you on the blog.
John Dumas: SmartPassiveIncome.com. That will be in the show notes, as everything else. Go check it out, guys. It is more than worth your while.
Awesome, Pat. Thanks again. We will catch you on the flipside.
Pat Flynn: Alright, John. Thanks.