Pat Flynn – Entrepreneur, Blogger, Podcaster – Smart Passive Income
The Power of Transparency – Pat Flynn’s Secret to Making Millions.
Getting laid off is enough to make anyone want to crawl into a hole and hide. But Pat Flynn went the other direction. He took the opportunity to open himself up, and put his experience in the spotlight. And that very openness became the key to his success, as his Smart Passive Income Community has now reached millions of entrepreneurs.
It’s not every day that you have the chance to become an overnight sensation, but for Pat Flynn, the stars seemed to align perfectly for him on a gloomy day in 2008. After landing the job of his dreams and working passionately at it for many years, the mid-2008 recession hit him harder than he’d ever imagined. Being recently promoted at a large architecture firm, he was shocked when his boss announced that the company could no longer pay for his services and expertise.
Although he was clouded with the fear of unemployment during the first few weeks, this obstacle was the golden opportunity that would change his life forever.
While on his two-to-three-month transition period before he was officially let go, Pat called every company he could find to beg for a job.
“That was my comfort zone. All I knew was architecture. I didn’t have a plan B, because I was in a secure position,” he says.
Unfortunately, the recession hit many companies and no one was hiring. Therefore, like 21.2 million other college graduates in 2008, he had to return to his parents’ house until he could figure out the next steps.
This situation may seem like a failure to many, but sometimes what seem like the most embarrassing and difficult situations are just opportunities waiting for you. If a problem arises, focus on finding a solution, not on the reason why everything seems to be going so wrong.
He stopped using his car (as gas was not affordable at the time) and took the train to work every day, and when his transition period was over, he was no longer positive about his life and goals. Just like many others employees, the recession took a toll on his paycheck and his mental strength. Until one day, on one of his train rides, he heard a podcast about this entrepreneur who was teaching people online how to pass a project management exam. What stuck out for him was that this man was actually making six figures online doing just that.
This all happened in mid-2008, when online businesses were just starting to take form, so it was still fairly new and surprising to Flynn. As he was listening to the inspiring podcast, he realized that he was actually doing that very thing for his friends in the architectural world. He was helping his friends pass the Lead Exam and jotting all his notes on a blog, so everyone could see his tips for the short test.
After he heard the podcast, he decided to add a tracking tool on his blog to see exactly how many people were really reading his notes and realized that thousands of people were interested in his thoughts on the exam.
Although hesitant at first, he opened the comments section on his blog and automatically became an authority figure in this industry. He made $7,980.55 on the same month he was officially let go from his job, simply by selling a study guide e-book online.
Entrepreneurship isn’t about dwelling on the failures, but rather finding the solution and opportunity behind these failures.
It’s at that moment that he started doing things differently. Instead on dwelling on being unemployed, he shifted his focus to the online world. He started his website www.smartpassiveincome.com to keep track of his earnings and show his readers exactly how much he makes each month.
How can you grow your online audience effectively?
With a podcast. “It’s amazing what a podcast can do for you and your brand,” as it helps your audience see the real you. With a podcast, your audience feels as though they were in a conversation with you or listening to a live conversation between you and your guest; it helps them connect with you more personally. It breaks the virtual connection as people see you for who are, that’s why reality TV shows are actually so popular.
When it comes to podcasts, it’s very important to remember that iTunes is an online marketing tool. Adding keywords, descriptions and eye-catching titles is just as important in iTunes podcasts than in blog posts. Writing a short and concise description is vital, as it’s the first thing that people will look at. A podcast’s short description needs to be concise and engaging, making the reader want to know more and click “play.”
On top of the podcast copy, reviews are also very important for your audience, as it assures them that the podcast is actually loved by many. The more honest reviews you have, the better your audience will grow. Flynn’s secret tip is to engage your audience, at the end of your podcast, with one exciting call to action. What Flynn did once was ask his audience to write a review for his podcast, take a snapshot and post it on social media with the proper tags for a chance to win something. The engagement was phenomenal!
Everyone Has Fears. It’s all About how Honest you are with Yourself.
Flynn’s transparency online about his fears, failures and income is what’s made him so popular among the online community. It’s not always easy to keep a human presence online, since everything is virtual, but Pat Flynn does it perfectly by being vulnerable in front of his readers. Not all entrepreneurs are willing to share their income online (without exaggerating) or share their failures and fears to millions of strangers. It’s scary, but Flynn wants his readers to learn from his mistakes.
Even though Pat Flynn has become an authority in the online business world, with readership of over 75,000 email subscribers, he still has his fears. When it comes to creating new products, there are still doubts and concerns about what his community will think of it all, and whether or not he’ll meet everyone’s expectations, as well as his. What sets him apart from the crowd is how transparent he is about it all with his readers. He openly talks about his fears of creating a new product, his thoughts on starting a new venture or why he makes certain choices in business and in life.
He’s a leader and friend to those around him, opening up about what’s really happening in his bank account and his mind. Not every entrepreneur has the courage to do so, but Pat Flynn is definitely not like every other entrepreneur.
His Biggest Marketing Tool: his relationship with his audience.
His Biggest Strength: the trust he’s earned from his audience.
As an authority figure in the online business world, he’s changed the lives of many people by providing free tips and tricks for his readers. How can he make so much money if he puts so much time into giving free advice? By letting the universe work its magic.
Give away as much as you can for free and it will come back to you financially in one way or another, Flynn recommends. Think of it as Karma, as the Universe finds a way to give you back what you gave to your audience. One of the best examples of the truth behind this theory is when Pat sold his first study guide e-book for architects trying to pass the Lead Exam. After selling hundreds of e-books, many customers told him that they actually didn’t need it, but they wanted to give him something for all the free advice he had given them in the past. It’s by giving away free information and being transparent about his past failures and fears that he’s created a unique relationship with his community. During the holidays, for example, a reader and fan of Flynn’s emailed him directly and asked for his Amazon affiliate link, to indirectly pay him while he was doing his Christmas shopping. You definitely don’t hear that everyday, which shows just how amazing and unique his community is.
Build a trusting relationship with your readers, and the relationship will bear fruit when the time is right. Don’t force a product upon your readers just because you know that they trust you; losing your audience will cost you more in the long run. Trust the process.
Smart Passive Income, which currently has over 3.4 million views per year, and a top ranked business podcast, is all about “giving readers what they want.” Whenever you want to write an e-book, a podcast description, or a blog post, ask yourself this: “What am I gonna get as a reader?” Everything comes down to whether or not your readers will find the article worth the read and worth the share. The more you give to your audience, the more they will share.
“Find the right person and deal with the fact that someone is going to be there on your behalf. Be honest with your audience about that,” he says.
As long as you let your audience know that you have a virtual assistant who will respond to some emails on your behalf, your relationship with your audience won’t be tarnished.
Pat Flynn has had his share of failures while being an entrepreneur, but he remained focused on his goals and took a step back whenever it seemed like the pressure of failure was too much.
“We want to succeed as entrepreneurs and we’ll often do whatever it takes to succeed. But sometimes we forget about other things in our lives, like health and family, because we’re too involved in our businesses.” – Pat Flynn
It’s important to unplug whenever you have a business, especially if it’s an online business. Most people start businesses in order to enjoy life and the people around them, so make sure you take the time to actually enjoy your surroundings. Your business can only benefit from these breaks, as you’ll have time to clear your thoughts and come up with new, innovative ideas on how to grow your business and online presence.
- How Pat has built a raving super engaged community so powerful that he often receives emails from community members asking for his amazon affiliate link as they want Pat to receive the affiliate commission from Amazon
- The power of building extremely deep relationships with your audience and how to build epic amounts of trust
- A throwdown on the Foundr Podcast and core action items on how to improve your podcast
- The power of transparency and how it has helped Pat grow his business exponentially
Full Transcript of Podcast with Pat Flynn
Nathan: Hello and welcome to the “Foundr” podcast. My name is Nathan Chan and I’m your host, coming to you live from Melbourne, Australia. We’ve got a really, really nice day today and I’m going to talk to you about today’s guest. His name is Pat Flynn and he runs a website called Smart Passive Income. Funnily enough, Pat is one of those guys that I…has been on my radar ever since I’ve started as an entrepreneur. Even before I launched “Foundr,” Pat was one of these guys that, he produces an income report and it’s extremely inspiring.
And I used to read his income reports long before I started “Foundr,” when I was in my day job and I’ve really, really enjoyed his work and it’s extremely valuable. And I’m always on his blog and I’m always seeing what he’s up to, because he’s a very, very smart entrepreneur, marketer, podcaster and just a really nice all-around guy. So this conversation that we had actually goes for quite a long time, a little longer than our usual conversations. This one went for about 50 minutes, but I have to say, it is chock-full of gold.
I know Pat has done a lot of interviews, but the stuff that we cover, I haven’t really heard him share this kind of stuff before. We talk about transparency, we get him to break down this “Foundr” podcast, because he runs one of the top business podcasts in iTunes and he gives a whole ton of advice. He gives a whole ton of marketing advice, transparency, you name it. And he really delves deep and give us a lot of stuff to work with, really actionable stuff. So I’m really, really excited to share this interview with you guys and yeah, I cannot tell you enough how much value there is in it.
So enough from me. If you are enjoying these interviews, please do take the time to leave us a five-star review and please do check out the magazine, please do check out the website. We’re here to check out entrepreneurs however we can. All right, now let’s jump into the show.
Nathan: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today, Pat.
Pat: Yeah, absolutely. Excited to be here.
Nathan: Awesome. So can you tell us about how you got your job?
Pat: Yeah. I mean, it’s interesting. I went to school for architecture and I’m doing nothing like architecture right now and I feel like that’s kind of how things work out, sometimes. But it’s interesting. I went to school for five years, got a great job–pretty much my dream job–and my life was going perfect. I’d just propose to my girlfriend–this was back in early 2008–and she said, “Yes.” I’d just gotten promoted at the same time, which is kind of where the engagement came from, as well. And everything went well. Everything was going fine until in 2008–mid-2008–I got pulled into my boss’ office.
He sat me down and he said, “Pat, you know what? You’re one of the youngest, brightest guys I know and we’re so lucky to have you. But unfortunately, we have to let you go.” And I’m like, “What?” Like, “How could you say that and then that? That doesn’t make sense to me.” But it was 2008, the recession, they kept me on as long as they could and they eventually had to let me go. And my first instinct was to call every single architecture firm that I’d ever contacted–anybody who I knew who worked at an architecture firm–and beg and plead for a job, because that was my comfort zone.
All I knew was architecture, I didn’t have a Plan B, because I was in this secure position, I thought. Well, nobody was hiring at that time, everybody was letting go. And it was a little bit lucky for me that I had about two or three months before they officially could let me go, because I was just promoted to job captain and as a job captain, I was responsible for certain clients. They couldn’t just let me go without sort of easing my way out of those positions.
And so, during those couple months, I was…it was a pretty depressing time in the beginning, because every day, I would go in to work knowing that I was going to get let go. So I really had no energy to work and so, I focused on a lot of, “Okay, well, what am I going to do?” And I actually moved back with my parents in San Diego and took the train, because it was cheaper than driving at the time and my fiancé moved back in with her parents, too. So it was a tough time. I didn’t really know what the future was going to be like.
Well, to make a long story short, on one of the train rides, I had listened to a podcast where I heard an interview of this guy who was teaching people how to pass the Project Management exam–the PM exam–and I didn’t know what that exam was. But he was telling a story and he was making six figures doing that online. And it kind of made a lightbulb go off for me, because I had taught a couple of my co-workers and myself, really, how to pass this really tiny exam in the architecture space called the LEED exam.
And to help me study and my co-workers study, I created a blog. And essentially, the blog was just there to kind of hold my notes and that’s it, and to share my notes with my co-workers. And then, I passed that exam and I’d kind of just let that site sit there. Well, after I heard this interview, I went back to the site and put a tool on the site to keep track of the traffic that I was hopefully going to have in the future. And the next day, I saw that 4000 or 5000 people were already visiting that site every single day. And I had no idea how that happened or why that was happening and initially, it scared me, because I didn’t know what was happening.
But in October of 2008, a couple of months later, I eventually turned it around and opened up the comments, became this authority in that space and published a study guide to help pass this exam. And in that month–October 2008, which was the same month I was officially let go–I’d made $7908.55 and that was more money than I’d ever seen in my life. And this was from a $19.99 e-book. It wasn’t even a real book, it was an e-book, which was…you know, e-books were just kind of getting popular at the time.
And then, the business continued to grow. I added new products like an audio guide and then, practice exams and I became this sort of big authority in the space. And that’s when I started smartpassiveincome.com, which is where most people know me from now, because a lot of people were wondering how I was able to do this and I wanted to have a place to keep track of all of the things I was doing as well. So I created smartpassiveincome.com to talk about the journey and everything I was doing, everything I wish I had done instead and everything that was happening and things that were going right, things that were going wrong. And then, this site eventually started to take off and people started to really find value from it.
And you know, I do a lot of things on it that a lot of other people don’t do, like, I share a lot of my failures. People enjoy my failures and I love that, because it just makes me feel like a failure isn’t always a complete failure, because there’s always a lesson involved for somebody. I also share my income every month and how much I make and where it’s coming from, which a lot of people enjoy.
But the coolest part is, sort of all this and a lesson I took from my very first business was that…and it was in that first month I created that e-book, too, because that first month where I sold over 200 copies of that book…way more than 200, actually. But 20% to 25% of the customers were actually people who already passed the exam. They didn’t need my guide and they told me this. I got so many emails after I ran a survey from people saying, “You know, I just bought the guide because you finally gave me a way to pay you back for all the free information you gave me.”
And that’s what taught me that serving your audience first is what’s most important and that’s sort of what I do on smartpassiveincome.com. I do what I can. I just give away as much as I can for free and it always ends up coming back my way, in one way, shape or form. And not necessarily from the same people who I helped, too, just maybe referrals or something. But it always…you know, the universe has its way of repaying you for all the kind things you do. And when you serve your audience, they will turn around and serve you back, too.
So on the site now, I have many other businesses that I’ve built and many publicly on the site over time, showing people, step-by-step, how it’s been done. And again, a lot of failures along the way, but it’s been really cool. And now, I have all these different passive income streams, a lot of people saw how those were built and are able to learn from my mistakes and kind of follow my example, as well. And now, I’m doing a lot of cool things that I’d never thought I would have done, like public speaking, something I was definitely afraid of. I’m actually paid to do keynote speeches now.
I’m an author, I’ve written books. I have a podcast that’s one of the top business podcasts in iTunes and it has been for the last few years, which is awesome. And I have, actually, two other podcasts that go along with that. And so, it’s just been an amazing journey and kind of…that’s kind of been the amazing run that I’ve had. And I almost feel like I’m just getting started still.
Nathan: Yeah. Oh, wow. You feel like you’re just getting started?
Pat: Yeah. I mean, there are so many awesome opportunities out there and bigger things I want to do. One of my biggest inspirations right now is Elon Musk, who’s just this complete big thinker, thinking…his brand is limitless, in terms of what the possibilities might be. And I’m trying to think about how I can go bigger, because with all these little businesses…and it’s important that when you start a new business and you’re an entrepreneur, that absolutely, you’ve got a niche down, right? “The riches are in the niches,” as I say. Unless you pronounce, “niches,” then it doesn’t really rhyme and sound as cool, but…which you may pronounce it that way, since you’re all the way on the other side of the world.
But anyway, you’ve got a niche down and you’ve got to focus in on that tiny market that really needs help that you can be the solution for, the solution. And I’ve done that very, very well. But now that I have this base and I have these successful businesses, I want to think bigger and see what else I can do to…I don’t know if I could ever become an Elon Musk, but I can train my brain to think like him, I think. And then, I think that can provide a lot of cool opportunities not just for me as a business owner, but for the world in one way, shape or form. I don’t know what it’s going to be, but I want to use him as an example, as far as thinking bigger. And like I said, I feel like I’m just getting started.
Nathan: Yeah, yeah. Look, I know what you mean. Now, I’m curious, because you struck me as a lifestyle entrepreneur. Do you think that as time goes on, you would kind of like to become a big start-up entrepreneur?
Pat: You know, I don’t know. I’ve always…it’s interesting, because lifestyle entrepreneur, yes. I’ve sort of built my business in a way that allows me to live the life I want to live and the way I want to live my life is to be here at home in the house. I work from my home office and I do that purposefully, because I want to be at home when my kids are here. And I actually schedule my life around them, so that when they’re at home and…that’s not when I work and when they go to sleep, that’s when I begin work. Or I wake up earlier when they wake up, so I can spend all my time with them and then, work when…I need to work not when it’s going to overlap with time I should be spending with them.
So that yeah, I am a lifestyle entrepreneur at this point. And that’s sort of what I’ve been sharing how to create, sort of building your business in a way that serves you and not in a way that you end up serving your business and not living the life you want to live. But I’ve always had the idea of doing something big in the start-up world. And a lot of people are doing that right now and it’s so fun and exciting. I listen to all the podcasts related to that and I hear all the things that people like Tim Ferriss are getting involved with and the companies that he’s an angel investor for and just…we live in a time where there’s so many opportunities, right?
It is something I thought about, but I also know that part of me doesn’t want to go that way, because it would completely change my lifestyle. I feel like I would do that later in life, if the kids are a little bit more independent and they’re kind of doing their own thing, they’re in school and I had more time, because I definitely don’t want to take time away from them. And it’s interesting, because one of the products that I’d recommend on my site is a fairly well-known company out there that provides me a great commission and I’m an affiliate for their company.
And a lot of people were like, “Wow, you’re making so much money by promoting this other company. Why don’t you create that solution yourself? Why don’t you just create that yourself? You could make so much more money.” But then, I think about it and I’m like, “I could do that. But then, I mean, the infrastructure that would be involved with that and the employees and the customer service…” I mean, that would just change my entire life. And yes, there’s millions of dollars there and I can make it work, but do I want to, or should I? Probably not, at least at this point in time.
Nathan: Yeah, no. That’s an interesting point and it’s something I wanted to touch on with you. There’s a lot of things I want to unpack, Pat, so yeah…
Pat: Yeah, let’s do it.
Nathan: …it’s good.
Pat: Let’s unpack the luggage.
Nathan: Well, let’s think on that. First of all, you’ve changed the game for a lot of people. You are the reason that a lot of people, three to four years ago, even five years ago, have got started in this online business world. You’re a massive influencer in this space. And your income reports…before I even started the magazine or doing anything, I stumbled across your income reports–I don’t know how–like, what, about four years ago. And I remember showing some of my friends in my day job and we’re like, “You know, how is…? Look at how good…what this guy’s doing. He’s living the dream,” and it’s really inspiring.
So my question to you is, you’ve got all these forms of passive income, you’ve got all these affiliates. That’s how you…like you said, most of your money comes from Bluehost. So my question to you is, why haven’t you launched many of your own products? I know you have the Smart Passive Income Player. We have that on our site, it’s brilliant. But how come you haven’t launched some of your own products? Because I’m sure you’ve got a massive community and I’m sure they’re telling you what their problems are, what their biggest frustrations are. I’m really curious, why haven’t you done that?
Pat: Yeah, that’s a fantastic question. And you’re definitely not the first person to ask me that, because there’s obviously a lot of opportunities here. But a lot of pains and the problems that people have, out there and in my audience, there are solutions already available to them. And Bluehost is obviously an extreme example, because I can’t create a hosting company. Or I guess I could, but if somebody wants to start a website, that’s how you do it, you go through that particular example.
But there are, for example, courses and membership sites that I could potentially replicate and potentially do even better. But I’ve gone through those…that myself and I recommend them, because I know that those people who I have a relationship with are also going to take care of my audience, as well. And it’s not like when I send them there, they’re going to be gone forever. I still have my free content and a lot of the things that I share that are going to help them, too.
Now, I have dabbled with my own products, like you said, the Smart Podcast Player, which is my first successful software business. But there’s also some membership sites that I’ve done in the past. And I’ve explored those options and I’ve launched those in a very strategic way, where I have a certain amount of people in there. And then, I kind of close it off to test the waters a little bit and I’ve done this a few times. One was a more hands-on sort of an eight-week coaching course, which is sort of the…you see this in the online world. You see these typical, pay a certain amount of money and then, you work with eight weeks and by the end of eight weeks, you have something. I did that.
And then, membership sites where you get access to a certain location online, where then, you get access to videos and transcripts and audio files to achieve something and meet your goals. And I’ve tested that as well. And I mean, I feel like that’s what everybody else does and I feel like I need to do something better, or…I’m still looking for a better way to serve my audience in that way. And I think there’s a lot to go…a lot to do with this. I mean, we can break this down in several ways, Nathan.
I mean, I think part of it also is because I’m scared. And I’m just going to be honest, putting together a product and selling it is not something that you can just do lightly and be okay with. And for a lot of people, it’s a scary thing and for me, it’s scary. Every time I launch something new, I’m afraid, afraid because I worry about not failure, but just how people might think about it. And I have such a high standard for the things that I do that I feel like it’s to a point where I almost don’t do anything, because I’m worried it’s not good enough.
And I’ve spoken to people in my audience before who have said, “Pat, you just have…” Like, “Your stuff is fantastic. Just put it out there for us. We will buy it, we will consume it.” They’re telling me they will pay for it and yet, I don’t do it. And it’s still something I have to get over mentally, sometimes. Another part of it is, I feel like I shouldn’t do something just because I can. That’s been another big reason: is, I don’t want to force something just because I can. I want to do something that’s going to make a big difference and make a change to the audience who’s going to consume that product.
And for me, I don’t want to…with all the other stuff I have going on, I don’t want to just, “Oh, well, I’ll put a product out there,” just for the sake of making money. No, I need a fantastic reason to do this. And it’s interesting, because I have a few friends who are in the online space who are doing very well who’ve come up to me. And they have said the same things, like, “Pat, it’s about time that you come out with your own product.” And I’ve gone through all the same sort of…well, excuses and things like that.
But then, they say, “Pat, you are doing your audience a disservice by not doing this,” and I’m like, “Explain.” And they say, “Well, when people pay for things and you give them access to these things that are a gateway into your brain and your teachings and you just have a fantastic way of sharing this information, you’re helping them do whatever it is they want to do, better. And yes, your free information is great, you have these online courses and step-by-step tutorials, these epic posts, but when people pay for things and get access to it, they are more likely to take action with it.” Like, “How many people have read your post, but actually have taken action?” And then, I’m like, “Wow, I never thought of it that way.”
And that’s kind of where I’m at right now in my business. I am putting together products right now, as we speak, interestingly enough, Nathan. But you’re right, it’s been six years and it took about five before I started actually creating my own stuff. And another part of it is because I’ve learned that when you rely on another company for your income, it’s really scary, because you can have it taken away from you in a flash. For instance, at Bluehost, where they’d just…I mean, they could…they have all the control, right?
I mean, they’re a great company and I recommend them because of that and I use them. But what if they were like, “Oh, we’re not going to have an affiliate program anymore?” I can’t say anything about that. Or if, maybe…what if their product just goes to crap? And then…I don’t want to promote something like that and so, then, I’m screwed again. So creating my own essence is kind of what I’ve been sort of thinking about over the last year now and that’s…that is something I’ve been doing. So hopefully, opening up a little bit helps out you and everybody else out there, listening right now.
Nathan: Yeah, no. Look, thank you for sharing that with us, Pat. And I’m sure the audience are probably interested, actually, how you’re approaching, creating these products and also, how you plan to launch them. You have a decent size email list on your site. You’re transparent about that. You say you have 75,000.
Nathan: Obviously, you’d do a launch, like, a Jeff Walker style. Is that safe to say, you’d just do a launch?
Pat: Yeah. I mean, I always try to do something different. When I got started, what has helped me stand out is doing the complete opposite of what everybody else does. You know, I’ve subscribed to all those lists of all of those big A-lister Internet marketers and I’ve always done the complete opposite. So they all sell and use their email list, I don’t sell one bit on my email list, but I use an indirect approach. Well, I bring people back to my blog. And that’s where I share, not through selling and exaggeration and hype and amazing copywriting, but typically, just through example and showing people what they’re going to get, high-quality videos and how it’s helped me. That’s sort of been my approach, so it’s always been the opposite.
So in terms of when these products come out, will I do a Jeff Walker-style launch, three video series and that…? I mean, I’ve studied the whole thing. Maybe, I don’t know. I’m not exactly sure. I want to get these products created first and work with a sort of beta group of people, to make sure that they’re great and fantastic and that all of the things are in there that need to be in there, first, which is what I did with the Smart Podcast Player. And that turned out to be very successful in that approach. But I don’t know, we’ll see how it goes.
But definitely, it’s going to be something that I know is going to take a lot of time, because I want it to be great. But I also understand that…through my experience with software…is that you don’t want to make excuses for not launching it either. And this is a trap that I’ve seen a lot of people fall through, myself–and I’ve fallen through, myself, too–is, they try to make their product perfect before launching. And that’s typically just an excuse or a form of procrastination or fear or resistance. And now, I’m in it, myself, too. So I know I have to ship less, as Seth Godin always says.
So yeah, I’m kind of in this weird transition phase now, where I’m kind of looking at my own stuff, now. And I think a lot of it’s going to have to…I have so much I want to do, Nathan and I think all of us can relate to that. I kind of have to pick one thing at a time. And so, right now for Q1 and Q2 of 2015, it’s about writing books and these software products. Those are my big focuses right now. And then, Q3 and Q4, there’s going to be some online components and products related to the books that I’m coming out with earlier in the year. So hopefully, they’re going to be able to kind of work together and promote each other and things like that.
So that’s kind of what I’m looking at. And I’m…you know, really, my main marketing tool is the relationships that I’m building with my audience. I mean, there’s all these fancy copywriters who are great–I’m not a great copywriter–all these people who create these really interesting tactics and strategies, you know, like you were saying, the Jeff Walker thing. I mean, I feel like my biggest strength is just the trust that I’ve earned with my audience that I…and that’s always going to be in the back of my mind when I go forth and promote these things.
Nathan: Yeah, no. Look, you’re very, very smart in that sense. And I don’t even see it as a strategy, your transparency and your…just even how you’re talking to me–making yourself vulnerable, telling me you’re scared–it’s just you, it’s who you are and it’s pretty obvious that you care. And that’s one of the best marketing strategies out there.
Pat: Yeah. It’s interesting, you’re like, “It’s a strategy.” I mean, it is a strategy, but it’s…I think…
Nathan: Yeah, look, it is…it’s just who you are.
Pat: …I think that’s a strategy for my product.
Pat: Yeah, yeah. Exactly.
Nathan: Yeah, it’s just who you are. And yeah, it’s not really a strategy, but yeah, if you were to put a label on anything you do, you really care. And that’s why you have such an engaged community, because you put them first and you’re all about them.
Pat: Yeah, I mean, the community is so amazing. I get emails every week, Nathan, from people saying, “Do you have an affiliate link for this product?” And I’m like, “I’ve never heard of that product before, but thank you for asking me. No, I don’t have an affiliate link.” And no, I don’t go and sign up right away just to earn a few dollars, because I only promote and recommend the products that I’ve used and know and…to a point where I could actually provide support for them if I needed to. But I mean, just to have people like that email me to make sure that I get paid back in some way, shape or form is amazing.
Just right before Christmas, actually, I had about two dozen people email me–completely different people–saying, “Pat, do you have an affiliate link for Amazon? I’m going to be doing a lot of Amazon shopping for my family and I want to make sure, just I give you a little bit of commission as a result.” And I’m like…just like, “Oh, this is so freaking cool.” A couple of times…and I would never recommend this, but a couple of times, people have given me…like, sent an email with their credit card number, saying, “When you come out with a product, here’s my credit card number. I just want it.”
And I’m like, “Please don’t ever do that,” and…you know, don’t send your credit card. This is ridiculous, like, “You will hear about a product if it comes out.” I mean, just to show…I’m just trying to share with you just the kind of tribe that I’ve built and how amazing they are. It’s just so cool. And the coolest example of everybody coming together recently was on my birthday last year. I did a campaign to build a couple of schools in Ghana. And what I said was, “Okay, we’re going to raise $25,000 from the SPI community”–from the Smart Passive Income community–“if we get to that, we’ll match. My family and I will match that.”
And the community raised over $25,000 and we matched and we were able to build two schools in Ghana. And I’m going to actually be headed there in June of this year to meet the students who are attending those schools and to meet…and to see the schools. And it’s really cool, because just last week, I got an email from pencilsofpromise.org–which is the company that we’re running this campaign through–asking for what I wanted to put on the plaques that are in front of the schools.
And so, one of the plaques is a dedication from my family and then, the other one is a dedication from the entire SPI community. And then, I am bringing a videographer there to film the whole experience and get them involved, too, so that they can kind of take the trip with me without actually going.
Nathan: Yeah. Wow, that’s really amazing. Do you plan to do more stuff like that, like, to give back to the community?
Pat: Oh, yeah, totally. I’m so blessed to be where I’m at now and I am looking for new and different and fun ways to give back, just because like I said, every time I’ve done this, it’s always come back to me. And even after announcing this campaign, “Forbes” reached out to me and featured me in an article, because they heard it through this. And again, that wasn’t planned, it’s just kind of…that’s the way the universe works and it’s so crazy. This year on my birthday, I think I’m going to make it an annual thing or maybe start to do it even more, hopefully. But I would love to do another thing, but kind of keep it more local this time, maybe even in my hometown of San Diego.
I mean, everybody…there’s parts of the world that need help…all parts of the world need help in one way, shape or form. So I’m just going to try and continue to do more and push and try to be that example. I mean, a lot of people said that they couldn’t contribute to the campaign, but they emailed me saying as soon as they could, they would, or as soon as they have the opportunity to do something for the people in their community, they would do that. So this is just kind of a very cool butterfly effect that’s happening.
Nathan: I’m curious, what has been the best platform out of all the ones, all…? Because you have influence on many different platforms on social, your podcast, your blog, your email list, traffic to your website. What’s been the best platform to grow this massive community?
Pat: By far, it’s the podcast and I would have never guessed that. And I mean, if you had asked me when I first started if that would be the case, I would have never guessed that. Now, since we own the podcasting, it’s sort of taking off and going mainstream now and it’s doing so for a reason. It’s because it’s just amazing what it could do for you and your brand, when… Back in 2010, actually…so this was even before podcasting really became mainstream. But I was doing a presentation in LA at what was then known as “BlogWorld Expo,” now known as “New Media Expo.” And this was in LA, when they did kind of one on the East Coast, one on the West Coast.
And for that presentation, I did a survey to my audience–and I had 7500 people respond at that time–asking them one simple question, “How did you first hear about me?” And by far, the number…or not by far, but the number one way that people discovered who I was in my brand…again, I was asking my blog readers. I didn’t ask my podcast audience or my YouTube audience.
I asked my blog readers, “How did you find me?” The number one way, 19% of the people–one out of every five people–found me through my podcast. Number two was 18% through YouTube and then, the next one was 15% through links on other sites or mentions on other sites. Google and Facebook and Twitter, those were below those and the podcast, by far, has just made the biggest difference. And so, it was at that time…actually, no. At the time, I was doing a bi-weekly show, so every other week.
In 2012, I switched to a weekly show, because when I went to a conference…again, I was a blogger, I consider myself a blogger. But I went to this conference, everybody who came up to me and wanted to introduce themselves commented on how much they loved the podcast. It was podcast, podcast, podcast. Everything was about the podcast and I was like, “What about my blog? Nobody cares about my blog anymore.” And that’s when I switched to weekly.
And the coolest thing about all those conversations and still, conversations I have with people who I meet who listen to the podcast, they always say the same thing, “Pat, I feel like I know you.” And these are people who I’ve never met before, who come up to me and start talking to me like we’re friends. And I love that. At first, it scared me. People would come up to me and be like, “Hey, Pat. How’s your fantasy football team doing?” Or, “Pat, how’s your son? He’s starting school soon, right?” And I’m like, “Who are you?” And that’s scary at first. Obviously, I draw a line in terms of what I talk about with my family. But I do share a bit about my family, but not too much, obviously.
But that eventually led me to realize just how much of a connection this podcast was making with people. And it’s a very intimate thing, this listening to a podcast, right? People listening to us right now, it’s like we are in their ears and it’s as if we were there, having a conversation right in front of them or actually speaking to them, sometimes. And it’s…I mean, it’s just…I mean, okay, a blog post may be 10 minutes of reading time, right? A video, five to ten minutes before people kind of tune out. A tweet or a Facebook post, I mean, that’s just seconds of attention. But a podcast, I mean, we’re already–I don’t know–30 minutes into this conversation and people are still listening.
I mean, that much of a brand of just sharing information and value-providing is just huge. And it’s just done wonders for my brand, in terms of the exposure of my brand, the connection I have to people, but also incredible opportunities that have come as a result and…including publishers reaching out to me, asking if I want to work with them to write a book. I’ve gotten some very small roles in Hollywood. I mean, really small, like background roles. But I’ve had people in Hollywood reach out to me and say, “Hey, do you want to help us with our movie? We’ll put you in the movie, if you’d like.” And so, that’s happened.
And just, of course, the connections that I’ve had with people, like kind of the connections like we’re making right now, Nathan. You and I had never spoken before, but here we are, we’re having conversation. We’re now friends, right? This is a 30-minute conversation, that’s a long time. At a conference, you might speak to somebody for a few minutes before you move on, or have to go to the next room, or shake somebody else’s hand. But the connections and the relationships that I’ve built through my podcast with my guests have been, I mean, just life-changing, seriously life-changing.
I’m friends with a lot of the people in my show now, like Gary Vaynerchuk and Tim Ferriss and things like that, which I would have never…I was like a fanboy of those people, now and now, I’m their friend, which is still a fanboy a little bit. But it’s just really cool what podcasting can do, in more ways than just more exposure for your site and brand.
Nathan: Yeah. Look, the podcast…to be honest with you, Pat, we recently launched a podcast for Foundr. And it’s going okay, it didn’t get the exact traction that I was looking for. And I’m a little like you, I like to do things differently, too. I don’t want to be like everyone else and that’s one of the reasons I launched the magazine. And the kind of people we interview are the kind of people that no one would ever really get in touch with, usually, like the Eventbrite, Indiegogo…just all…
Pat: Yes, that’s true.
Nathan: …these great people, all these crazy founders. To be honest, I’d like to hear some strategies that you guys used for “1DayBB,” because that’s a brilliant podcast. It’s something a little different and…
Pat: Thank you.
Nathan: Yeah, look, I’m going to be totally selfish here and find out some strategies for myself that you would recommend. Are you able to pull up our podcast right now, if you go to foundrmag…? Are you in front…? You’re in front of a computer. Can you go to foundrmag.com/cast? So we’ve had 20,000 downloads in eight weeks and we were quite high during those new and noteworthy periods. I followed the rulebook, I launched a ton of episodes, but I was going for 50,000. That was the number that I was going for. I didn’t promote it or push as hard as I could have, because I was working on other things: I was traveling around India and a few things came up.
But yeah, I’d love to hear if you could pick apart some little things and strategies and techniques that I could be doing and if anybody that wants to launch a podcast, how you’ve launched “1DayBB.” And that’s actually something I wanted to talk to you about, anyways.
Pat: Sure, yeah. Let me open this up in iTunes right now. Okay. So immediately, you’re doing a lot of things, right, like the name of the show and the host. I mean, those are all keyword-filled and great and things like that, your description’s good. Those are typically the first things I see which a lot of people forget that they have. You know, iTunes is a search engine. And so, for example, if you were to look up “blogging” in iTunes, the “Smart Passive Income” podcast comes up first, which is pretty cool.
Now, the first thing that pops up is, you only have 51 reviews. Reviews are extremely important for a podcast in terms of rankings, in terms of getting other people to see that this is a show that they should listen to and things like that. So one thing that we did with “1DayBB,” at 1daybb.com, we launched that and on day one, we had over 200 reviews. And we did that because we made a huge deal out of it. I mean, we’ve turned that sucker into an event and that kind of helped.
That happened because we built hype leading up to that event and we had built an email list of people who were going to listen to the show before it even came out, teased things every few days about what they were going to get and what they could look forward to. And then, when it launched, we give them a clear call to action to leave a review. And if they left a review and used the hashtag “1DayBB” on Twitter and took a screenshot of that, they’d be entered into a drawing to win something.
Yeah, we incentivize it a little bit. And this is something I picked up from a lot of other podcasts that launched since my podcast launched, because you’re going to have to do a little bit extra then, now that podcasting is sort of becoming mainstream now, to stand out. Exactly. Now, 51 ratings, all positive, that’s good. I mean, that’s fantastic. And so, what you could do is, maybe there’s a podcast episode coming out. I mean, now that you’ve launched already, you can’t do the sort of prelaunch thing.
But you can still create excitement and lead up to an event-like situation with maybe an upcoming podcast. Maybe you have somebody on deck who’s just…everybody can’t wait for and you know it’s just going to be a top-notch interview. And then, you just…
Nathan: Uh huh.
Pat: You know, you…
Nathan: We’re just about to launch…well, we interviewed Seth Godin…I interviewed Seth Godin…
Pat: Oh my gosh, that’s huge.
Nathan: …the other week. So I’m going to…
Pat: He’s not easy to get.
Nathan: That was a brewing interview, too. But that will…that one won’t go live till May, because I coincide…like, your interview, that won’t go live for a while, because I generally always launch…if I put our interview in the magazine, I’ll launch the magazine first and then the podcast, then the podcast episode live and…yeah.
Pat: Right. Well, if you know Seth is coming in May, you can talk about that and create a sort of contest around it, in terms of ratings and stuff. And you’ll see, I mean, the iTunes rankings in that situation’s very organic. It moves around a lot. And so, it’s all based off of subscribes and ratings and downloads and reviews, of course. And so, those things, if you can get more of those in a short period of time, that’s better than getting the same amount over a long period.
Pat: Does that make sense?
Nathan: And how many reviews do you think I should aim for within the next six months? Because I’ve seen yours. You’ve got, like, 2000, 3000.
Pat: Yeah. I mean, that’s over 13 million listens, when you think about that. So that’s…
Pat: …it’s a small percentage. But I wouldn’t go for a specific number, I would just go for big events and…I don’t know. I mean, you could go for a specific number, if you’d like. But just the whole point being, more ratings, more subscribes in a short period of time. So make an event around it, have some fun promotion going on around the same time. That’s going to help push it up the rankings. And the rankings are really important. That’s how I’ve been able to really stay up there. And this is how a lot of iOS apps stay up where they’re at, because they were up there already, right? And so, you kind of have to weave your way in there with these sort of big promotional tactics, these event-type situations, instead of organically getting through.
But as you come out with more episodes, what’s going to happen is, you’re going to see that your rankings are going to climb over time, as well. And that’s because people listen to one show and then, they continue to listen to more and they eventually subscribe. The more shows there are, the more opportunities there are for people to find you through search and things like that. Now, another way that is really easy to grow is to feature somebody on your show, who then features that particular episode with their audience, as well.
So for instance, you have Mari Smith in episode 15. I don’t know if she shared this episode, but that would be huge if she shared it, because she has hundreds of thousands of subscribers, right? So maybe there’s a way for you to work with her to do something, maybe you give something to her or provide value to her in some way, where in return, she would then promote or tweet. Or probably best for Mari, actually, would be a Facebook post about it.
Utilizing those relationships and building those relationships is important, but if you can…and I wouldn’t just pick people for the sake of picking people because they have a large audience, but if you can utilize them, that would be fantastic. And those relationships that they’ve already built, a lot of times, those people would be happy to share, because you’re featuring them and it’s making them look better. Along the same lines, one thing you could do is, you can make sure to feature people and interview people who are group owners on your Facebook or group owners on LinkedIn or who own a specific forum.
That’s a fantastic strategy, because when you interview them and talk about their group and have them promote their group a little bit and also go over the strategies and things like that, chances are, they’re going to share that interview with…on that group, because they’re talking about that group. It’s going to make their group look better, it’s going to make them more connected. And so, that’s a great strategy that’ll…I’ve shared recently that a lot of people are using and finding great success with.
Nathan: Yeah, that’s a good one. The only thing with me is, though, Pat, I’m very ruthless with who I want to feature, like…
Pat: I could tell. I mean, you have some amazing guests on here.
Nathan: Yeah. Yeah, that’s…it is a good tactic, though. What about the copy? Do you think the copy’s a bit too long?
Pat: No, I don’t think it’s too long. I mean, if you go to 1DayBB or Smart Passive Income, it’s about the same length. I mean, the copy is important, because people read that. And so, there might be…unfortunately, iTunes doesn’t give this away to split-test or anything like that. But that is something you could do, is to work on that and really hone in on those pains and problems that people have, so they can really make a connection. I would imagine that most people visit the page, they look at the image first.
And the image is fine. I mean, it actually reads really well from a long distance, which means it looks good as a small thumbnail, which is great. And you have your smiling face there, which is always good. I have half of my face on mine, but that’s not really a big deal. But yeah, that’s fine. But I could imagine people looking at that and then, look at the ratings and then, they look at the description really quick. And it says, “Unlike most podcast interview series, I literally started from knowing nothing.” Maybe that’s not the first thing to start with. Maybe the first thing to start with would be, “Okay, what am I going to get as a listener out of this?”
You’re going to get interviews with people who nobody else can get ahold of. Okay, now I’m intrigued, you know what I mean? So that’s thinking about… And you can always add what you had here. I mean, it’s a good story that you’re telling here, but first, start with the benefits to me as a potential listener. I think that would be helpful. Another thing is, I’m not sure what you’re doing on your website or what the traffic is on your website. But I know for a fact that a lot of people listen to podcasts on websites and not through subscriptions on iTunes and things like that. So that’s another potential way that you can make sure that that listening experience on your website is really good. And that’s kind of…
Nathan: Oh, look, man. We’re using your player and it looks amazing. When you get a…
Pat: Okay, good.
Nathan: …you should check it out. It could be a good case study, because it looks that good.
Pat: Good, okay. I was kind of leading into a little bit of a promotion of my stuff there, but you swung it out of the park for me. So thanks. But again, we’re sharing this with everybody else out there listening to you, so I want to make sure that that was covered. And then, are you on Stitcher, as well?
Nathan: Yes, we’re on Stitcher now.
Nathan: Question: when people play… We don’t get much traffic outside around almost 50,000 hits a month, but I’ve only just start working on growing it. But question: when people listen to the podcast on your side, does Libsyn count that as a download?
Pat: Yes, it does. Libsyn does.
Nathan: Ah, okay. Gotcha.
Pat: ITunes does not, because it’s not going through iTunes. And you should definitely be…no matter where you’re at, if you’re not on iTunes, you should be making it easy for people to subscribe. And of course, the podcast player helps with that. But you can also in your show, talk about subscribing. In your show, you can talk about leaving reviews.
And I would recommend kind of leaving the call to action to do something like that to one per episode, because once you start saying, “Okay, guys, thank you for listening to this show. You can go subscribe on iTunes, you can subscribe on Stitcher. You can go here to download this free giveaway. Make sure to leave a review on…” That’s 100 different things that you just said. Which one am I going to do? And remember, people are typically listening while on the go or at the gym, or…not in front of the computer. They’re on a mobile device. And so, making it easy for them by helping them, by just mentioning one thing to do.
And I mean, they’re going to listen to another episode if it’s great and they’ll get another call to action. And so, I do that in my episodes. I typically have just one call to action at the end of each episode, to do something and that’s been working out really well, too. So kind of just make sure people do one thing instead of hear five and then do nothing.
Nathan: Yeah, okay. All right. Well, look, those are some great tips. I have a few things I need to go and do now, so thank you for that.
Pat: Oh, we all do, no. So don’t worry.
Nathan: But we have to work towards wrapping up. Few questions. I want to get into the tactics, some more tactics.
Pat: Good. People love tactics…
Nathan: Yeah, that’s right. That’s right, that’s right. So best tips for driving traffic to your website. Like, I’m working on driving traffic to our website: I’m growing the social channels, I’m producing content. And that’s working like…it’s going…we’re getting some good growth now. What are some good tactics and tips that you would recommend that you use for your experiment websites or, like, FoodTruckr, Security Guard Training?
Pat: Well, the number one visited page and post on foodtruckr.com is a post which was the very first post that was ever written on the site and published. And it was a post that featured 50 different answers from 50 different food truck owners about what they wish they would have known before they started a food truck. So you can see how that topic can be completely useful for people looking to get into the food truck space or who are in it already.
But what also happened was, a lot of those people who were featured, similar to what we said about podcast guests, they shared their material as well. They shared that post, because it was just such a cool post and when you can get all of these people contributing to one thing, it just becomes this massive, epic resource for people. And because they were featured, they want to share that, too. So not did they share it on their social streams…even though, to be honest, we didn’t get much leg out of that, because when you think about it, who follows food trucks? The people who eat at the food trucks, not people who really care about how to start a food truck, but…
So really, the true benefit came from what that article eventually became, which was…I mean, when you read the title, it’s just…it just draws your eye in sort of like a Buzzfeed sort of headline. Although I…there’s debate on whether you should go down that route or not, because we could have said, “50 things food truckers wish they would have known. You cannot believe #26…”
Nathan: Yeah, it’s…
Nathan: It’s that good, isn’t it?
Pat: Like, “Oh, I want to know what number 26 is.” I mean, it is really good, but there’s a line there and it’s up to you if you want to go down that route. But the article itself was just so appealing when people who came to the site that they just ended up sharing it, because it was so good. It got shared on Facebook several times. It got picked up on Reddit, which drew in a few thousand visitors in one day. Now, the Reddit traffic wasn’t very useful, but it was just cool to see that it was getting put out there, meaning somebody saw that it was worth their time to share and people visited.
So doing things like that–those little round-up posts–that’s a great strategy, especially if you’re just starting out. But also, while you’re doing that and reaching out to those people, be mindful of their time and make sure that you keep those emails short when you ask those questions. And another strategy to go along with that is, we sent out 250 emails. We just found the emails of 250 food trucks from all around the U.S. when we did this, when…before we even launched. We got 10 answers back within a week, which is not very much.
Well, we then followed up with the people who didn’t answer back and just simply sent a one-liner, “Hey, sent you a message the other day. Just want to make sure you saw it. We’d love your input, thanks so much. Pat from foodtruckr.com.” We had 35 more responses come in after that from the follow-up. And I forget who says it but, “The fortune is in the follow-up,” they say. So if you’re sending emails out…and yes, those were cold emails, which is not ideal. Ideally, I would have had a relationship with these people beforehand, or contacted them on Twitter beforehand, to…before getting their answers and I probably would have gotten more.
But you know, we ended up getting 50 and it’s just become a massive resource. And a lot of it was because I took the time to spend a few seconds to follow up with those people who didn’t respond. And a lot of them said, “Oh, I missed your email.” Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t, but I don’t know. And a few other people were like, “Oh, I just wanted to see if you actually were legit. And because you followed up, it means that you actually care about this.” Some people will wait till that second ask before actually answering in that way. So that’s a good strategy.
Another strategy is just featuring…I mean, just giving them what they want. And the only way to do that is to really have real conversations with them. So a lot of the content that is being pushed onto foodtruckr.com is directly coming from conversations that I’ve had with food truck owners and people who are starting a food truck, asking them what they wished there were pieces of content about and we just go and them. I mean, answering people’s questions, that’s the best thing you could do. And that’s how you eventually get picked up on Google with SEO and things like that.
I mean, that’s how securityguardtraininghq.com…another one of my experimental niche sites…that’s how that became popular. And it’s making a few thousand dollars a month mostly through AdSense, but…because I just was able to find that there was this whole niche market where there was much needed information for how to become a security guard in all the different states in the U.S. And I worked on the first 17 states myself and then, I outsourced the rest and now, the site is getting found by over 18,000 different keywords.
Now, most of them are just long-tailed keywords and just getting one hit, but those one hits add up. And those only happen if you are publishing content, but also if you’re publishing content that answers people’s questions, because people are typing in those questions into Google.
Nathan: And out of curiosity, can you give us a…? Are you able to share some numbers around traffic to SPI and these sites that you speak of, just out of curiosity?
Pat: Yeah, absolutely. I just published my annual report which actually shares all of that, so let me go and get that right there for you, now. So I actually started out talking about some of the numbers. So for Smart Passive Income, the blog has 3.34 million unique visitors, which was up 26% from last year, 7.6 million page views, average time on site, three…almost three and a half minutes, which is really cool. The…
Nathan: Yeah. And this is over a year?
Pat: That’s over a year, yes.
Nathan: Oh, wow.
Pat: The podcast, over the year, had 5.7 million downloads and that’s 60% increase from the previous year. The “Ask Pat” podcast, which is my other five-day-a-week show, has 3.1 million views. Securityguardtraininghq.com–so this is my first experimental niche site–this has 350,000 unique visitors, almost two pages per visit per people and two minutes on the site. FoodTruckr.com, almost about the same, actually: 349,000 unique visitors, a little less page views. So 1.8 page views, essentially, per visitor in the same amount of time on the site.
I have another sort of experimental site at createaclickablemap.com, where anybody can go. And you’ll see a map that when you hover over the states…you can click on, actually and you can create one for yourself for $9.99. This has been generating about $600 to $700 a month over the last couple years. This has, over the course of the year, 42,000 unique visitors. My very first site, the first one I talk about, greenexamacademy.com, which is currently generating between $2000 and $5000 per month, depending on the season, about 120,000 uniques over the year.
Nathan: Okay. Now, that really helps to bring things into context also, for me and…at least…
Pat: Okay, okay.
Nathan: …on stuff like that. Okay, look, great tips, great tactics. A couple more around your team. This will probably have to be our last question. Around your team, I know you have a virtual team now. Can you just run us through your team? And I know you’ve mentioned you use Slack. What…? I need to get a virtual system badly. My inbox is just overwhelming right now. We have hundreds of emails coming through. But how do you feel comfortable with someone sending emails on your behalf and you’re not saying that or whatnot?
Pat: Yeah. I mean, that’s a fantastic question. I actually have a whole episode of podcast number 115, where I actually interviewed my VA, my VA that I hired specifically to answer my emails for me. And…
Nathan: Yeah, I listened to that one. It’s great.
Pat: Oh, yeah, yeah. Her name is Jessica, she’s amazing. She’s a lifesaver, because at the time I brought her on, I was approaching 10,000 unread emails in my inbox and that was just ridiculous. So we eventually had to declare email bankruptcy and delete a lot of those, although a lot…she went through all of them, found the most crucial ones and I was able to finally reply to all those. And now, what happens is, the emails come in, she reads all of them and she puts the most important ones–the ones that have to be answered by me now or sooner, like within a day–into my “Urgent” folder. So that’s the folder I look at.
I don’t even go to my inbox anymore. I look at my “Urgent” folder and then, I try to clear that out every single day. Then, I have a less urgent folder for when the “Urgent” folder’s cleared out. Then I go into the less urgent folder, sort of like tier two. And then, that sort of…I have a specific time of the week where I go and answer those. And that’s once or twice a week, mostly on Sundays, typically after I’ve cleared out everything else for that day, because I get less emails on the weekend and I have more time. So that’s kind of the strategy here.
Now, how do I feel about somebody else going through my email inbox? Well, that’s why I didn’t have somebody like Jessica for over four years, even though my buddy, Chris Tucker at, christucker.com, who’s sort of like the king of virtual assistants and virtual staff and things like that, he wrote a book called “Virtual Freedom,” which was amazing and completely helpful for anybody. And it’s something I would recommend you read, Nathan. I finally…it was either deal with that…you know, find the right person, obviously and deal with the fact that somebody’s going to be there on your behalf in that and you know, obviously, be honest about that with your audience. That was a big thing.
I didn’t want Jessica to go in there and pretend to be me. And knowing that, you know, sharing on my contact page that, “You know what? I get 100,000 emails a week…” not that much, but literally 300 to 400 a day. I tell them, “You know what? I can’t answer every email. My assistant goes in and goes through and sends me the most important ones. You’ll get answered eventually by either Jessica or myself at some point.” And that really helps ease my mind, knowing that my audience kind of knows where I’m coming from. And then, I go in there and I answer those most urgent ones, but it just makes me feel good, knowing that somebody is there to answer these people that are emailing me.
And it’s either do it that way or get beyond 10,000 unread emails. And I was to a point where every email that came in, I just knew that I was not going to be able to answer it and I feel terrible. So it’s one or the other.
Nathan: Okay. And how many people a part of your team right now and how’s it structured, out of curiosity?
Pat: Sure. Well, everybody is contracted right now, nobody’s working for me full-time. And it’s always on a per-project sort of basis, so they work for me for specific reasons. For example, Mindy is my assistant who helps me put together my podcast for “Ask Pat” and things like that and she also helps with customer service for the Smart Podcast Player. And then, I have Matt who is sort of my project manager/executive producer.
And he’s fantastic, because he was somebody who had came…who came on recently to kind of take over control of, okay, if I want to do something, I tell Matt and he figures out, “Okay, what’s the best way to do it? What’s the most streamlined way to do it? Who do we need to have in place on the team to make this happen,” and call in the troops to work on this battle that we’re going to have with this product. So that’s really cool to have him in place, because he is sort of that brain. And I can take that away from my efforts and put it on him, so I can then focus on things that I need to focus on.
And then, I have a UI designer or user interface designer, sort of the graphic design guy. I have a videographer as well. Again, these people aren’t working for me full-time. They’re just kind of whenever I need stuff done, they do it, which is really cool. I have a writer for FoodTruckr.com. That was something that I had to decide to do, just because I just couldn’t find the time to research or write for that particular niche. So I found a writer and she’s amazing. Her name’s Nicole. I have a developer, obviously, who helps implement a lot of the things that my designer creates on the front end: my website or products like the Smart Podcast Player, getting into the code and things like that.
And so, those were the people who are involved in my team right now. It sounds like a lot and it is, when you think about the individual people. But they all have their specialties, which is really cool and get called upon when they’re needed.
Nathan: Yeah, no. Oh, that’s really cool, because I wasn’t really sure and that’s a similar kind of set-up that I run, just get contractors. It makes things really easy, right? There’s no commitment and they have all of their other stuff that they need to do and they’re still freelancers.
Pat: Yeah. Yeah, exactly.
Nathan: Oh, awesome. All right. Well, look, our last question. And that is, what’s the biggest problem you see online business owners face today and what is your recommendation to solve it?
Pat: Being an entrepreneur is about facing those problems and overcoming those challenges and breaking through those hurdles. I mean, that’s really what this is all about. And you know, I want to say when you’re met with that first failure or mistake, to just not give up. I mean, that’s cliché, though, but I think we all know that. But we feel that when we are met with…you know, we plan ahead and we put work into something and then it doesn’t work out, it’s really easy to just walk away or turn around and kind of look at that and say, “Wow, I don’t deserve to even try this anymore,” because…I mean, no. That’s ridiculous.
You ask any successful entrepreneur and if they’re honest with you, they will tell you that failure is just a part of the process. As long as you learn from your mistakes and move forward, that that’s exactly what it’s all about, true failure is actually giving up. Now, what I really want to say, though, is kind of beyond just the business. And the thing that I think all entrepreneurs should absolutely worry about…or not necessarily worried about, but just at least keep in the back of their mind…is, we want to succeed as entrepreneurs, of course and a lot of us will do whatever it takes.
And sometimes, what that means is forgetting about a lot of the other important things that are happening in our life: the people, our health, a lot of things that shouldn’t be forgotten or put aside. And I know we want to work on our business, it’s exciting, it’s fun and it’s actually quite addicting. But I see too many relationships fail, I’ve seen too many people’s bodies just fail on them, because they are just so involved with their business. And why do we start a business? We want a…at least for me, I want to create the life that I want to create. But a lot of times, I see people creating a business for that reason and then, their life is the complete opposite of what they wanted.
And so, just to keep in the back of your mind and remember that…why you’re doing what you’re doing. But also give yourself time and other people around you who are important, time as well. And I know this is especially hard if you’re a single guy and you’re just so gung ho and a hustler. It’s really easy to just stay in front of the computer all day long and just kill it, right, just do amazing things. You’ve got to take time away from that every once in a while.
And yes, you might feel like, “Wow, I’m losing these hours in my business.” No, you’re gaining these hours in your life. And it’s going to come back and help you, because when you come back into your business after that sort of break, whether it’s a day or just a few hours or maybe a week or two…I mean, whatever it is…when you come back, you’re going to be more excited as well. And if you focus on your health and your fitness, yes, that takes time away from the business, because you’re spending an hour at the gym or on a walk or a run or whatever, on a bike.
But those hours are going to come back to you even more, because I mean, I’ve found when I focus on my health and fitness and eating well–which does take more time, especially the eating well part–I’m more focused when I’m at work. And I can do a lot more work in a shorter period of time and much better work. And I’m more clear and more focused and more creative. And so, I just want people to think about that and sort of beyond business. But other things in their life that are important, too, but things that can have a direct impact on your business. And together, everything kind of is lifted up on a good note.
Nathan: Yeah, no, that’s a great one, because actually, that’s something that I’ve been focusing on a lot recently, because I ended up meeting Arianna Huffington a couple…well, a few months back and she shared all this kind of stuff. And it’s amazing that those were her secrets for running the “Huffington Post,” actually taking a step out. And it’s just unbelievable, because you think that somebody that runs a massive company like that had to have time to do that. And she says that taking those times out his way she came up with her best ideas even, you know what I mean?
Pat: Right, right. I read that article that you wrote about her.
Nathan: This is crazy…yeah. Yeah.
Pat: It’s great. And I mean, one of the things she said was, “Unplug.” And I mean, she’s online, but she’s saying, “Unplug,” and…which is really important.
Nathan: Yeah, yeah. No, it’s such, such good advice, so thank you, Pat. Well, look, we’ll wrap there. But yeah, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me. This has been…every conversation we’ve touched on, so much, has delved really deep and…no, it’s been awesome. It’s great to finally connect.
Pat: Yeah, absolutely, Nathan. It’s a pleasure to speak to you. And thank you to everybody out there who’s listened.
Key Resources From Our Interview With Pat Flynn
- Check out the Smart Passive Income website
- Follow Pat Flynn on Twitter
- Checkout Pat Flynn’s books on Amazon