I’m so happy with how the “Meet the Bloggers” interview series has been going on the blog and I’m extremely excited about today’s interview with Pat Flynn. I first heard of Pat a couple years ago, but didn’t really start reading his blog and his podcasts until the past couple of months. Let me say I really like what Pat has been doing and his blog posts and podcasts provide some great content and motivation to do better in the process!
I look forward to when our schedules sync up and we get a chance to meet with each other at an upcoming conference. In the meantime, everyone will not get a chance to learn a bit more about Patt Flynn and his awesome stories of finding success online.
1.) Please tell us about yourself and how you got into blogging?
My name is Pat Flynn and I actually started blogging when I was in college. It was on the Xanga platform and I blogged about what I was doing on a daily basis – typically where I went and what I ate, but that’s about it. It was nothing more than a personal online journal that I shared with family and friends.
After college, I landed a great job in the architecture industry and used a blog to keep track of notes for an exam that I was taking. This exam, the LEED exam (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), was a crazy test that required lots of memorization, and I knew that a blogging platform, such as WordPress, would be a great way to manage the content and organize it in a way that was easy to understand and convenient to study from. I added notes to the site and studied for over a year from the site, and shared it with a couple of co-workers too. After I passed the exam in March of 2008, I had no more use for the site so I just let it sit there.
Well, in the summer of that same year I learned that I was going to get laid off from my architectural position, which was a huge blow because everything I had been working for since high school sort of just flew out the window at that point. I did try to get another position in the field but nobody in the entire United States was hiring – it was that bad. That’s when I discovered podcasts.
It was a particular podcast where I listened to a success story of someone earning an income and making a living teaching others how to pass the PM (project management) exam, and that’s when I decided to give a go at online business and blogging professionally, using the LEED exam blog that I had created as my initial platform.
Well, to my surprise, after adding an analytical tool on the site, thousands of people were already visiting the site every day. Since there was a year and a half of content on there, Google ranked a lot of my content high in the search engines, I was found by several people who shared my sites on forums and other blogs – and I had no idea this was happening until now.
To make a long story short, I ended up publishing an eBook study guide and selling it on my blog. That particular eBook grossed about $200,000 in a years time, and I’ve since added new products to my product line.
It was at that point that I created The Smart Passive Income (SPI) Blog where I share my story and build new businesses, live on the site to inspire and teach others how to do the same. Currently, the SPI Blog has over 60,000 subscribers, a podcast with over 3 million downloads and a YouTube channel with nearly 2 million views.
2.) What is the focus of your blog and why did you choose that niche?
SPI has a focus on entrepreneurship, in particular how to succeed with an online business that you can be proud of by serving your audience and providing massive value to them, and getting paid in return. I’ve purposely done many things differently than other people in this “make money online” space, who traditionally use aggressive marketing tactics and exaggeration to sell things to people. I use myself as a guinea pig and test various business models, sharing the exact process from scratch so that people can learn from both my wins and my failures. My #1 priority is to build a true relationship with my audience and give away as much information as possible, for free, and in turn many people in my audience have become true fans who go out of their way to pay me back, typically by choosing to go through my affiliate links.
I also use the blog as the hub of my brand, which is so much more than a blog nowadays. The podcast is actually the #1 way that people discover my brand, but I always bring people back (whether through my podcast on iTunes or my videos on YouTube) to the blog because the blog is where all the action takes place – clicks, links, recommendations, etc.
3.) How are you currently monetizing your blog traffic?
For SPI, I currently only monetize through affiliate marketing. Again, I focus on the relationships I have with my audie
nce, as well as making sure the products I promote are products that I’ve used myself and am comfortable being connected with, because if I were to recommend a product and it doesn’t perform – sure they’ll dislike that product, but more importantly that trust with me is broken. I also go above and beyond to share as much information as I can about products that I promote that are owned and operated by other people. Clay Collins, founder of LeadBrite and creator of LeadPlayer, a video tool that I promote, told Andrew Warner in an interview that I create posts and videos that are better at explaining his products than his own tutorials. I strive for that each time I recommend something. I’m also the top affiliate for Glen Allsop’s Optin Skin plugin, which many of you perhaps use. That is thanks to the same strategies.
For GreenExamAcademy.com, my LEED exam blog, I primarily earn money through my own products, however I do have affiliate relationships with a practice exam company and make a decent amount of income from that relationship as well.
On SecurityGuardTrainingHQ.com, a niche site that I created live on SPI, from scratch (you can find the posts at http://www.nichesiteduel.com), currently generated between $2500 and $3000 purely on Adsense at the moment, and nearly a hundred dollars through affiliate marketing as well as a Job Board on the site.
4.) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started blogging?
I wish I knew two things:
1 – That VAs (virtual assistants) existed. I remember spending 8 hours trying to figure out how to move an image from the left side of the page, to the right. it was stupid. I could have easily paid someone to do that for me instead of wasting 8 hours of my time, but I didn’t know that VAs existed, let alone where to find them. Also, I was a little too prideful and tried to figure things out on my own. Now, whenever I have an issue with something or am having trouble figuring something out, I ask someone right away.
2 – How important it is to build an email list. When I launched my eBook at GreenExamAcademy.com, for months I didn’t collect email addresses, so when I came out with a new product (an audio guide) I totally missed out on the chance to sell directly to my previous customers. It was a shame.
5.) What are three blogs that you visit almost daily?
To be honest, I’m not reading too many blogs these days. SocialTriggers.com by Derek Halpern and ThinkTraffic.net by Corbett Barr are my top two, but I don’t visit them every day. I typically listen to podcasts because I can educate myself while doing other things, like running or driving somewhere.
6.) Can you give us three recommended tools/services that you use with your blogging?
1 – LeadPlayer – it’s my video player of choice right now. I love it because it allows me to include opt-in forms and/or a call to action right inside the video, and unlike many other players that now have that ability, LeadPlayer can serve YouTube videos on your site (i.e. free hosting for your videos) and still keep the same functions.
2 – Opt-In Skin – I don’t share this because I’m an affiliate for it. I’m an affiliate for it because it’s that good. I use it on my site (at the bottom of each of my posts, you can see it in action). It’s simple to implement as far as adding opt-in forms for your email list at any part of your site, and it gets results.
3 – Conduit.com. I use Conduit to create a nice looking mobile site for SPI, and it has the ability to build an apps for you (e.g. iPhone, Android and Windows applications) that people who visit your site on those mobile devices can download.
7.) What advice would you have for someone who is just starting with their first blog?
Two important pieces of advice:
1 – Build relationships with other people. Real relationships. Build friendships with other bloggers in your niche, because it’s other people who will help lift you up and help your blog grow. Also build real relationships with your readers, especially when you are just starting out. You should know and care for your first hundred readers, if you can. Email them, get to know them, because when you do that you’ll start to create your first true 100 fans who will become evangelists and super fans for life, and you never know the impact that one person can have on your blog.
2 – Keep going. You’re going to be excited at first, and then maybe a few months down the road, when you’re not seeing a lot of traffic and each blog post becomes a chore, you’re going to want to give up. This is natural. What separates those who succeed and those who do not are those who keep going – so keep going. Michael Hyatt from MichaelHyatt.com once said, “Most people quit right before the inflection point.” In other words, you never know what tomorrow will bring, especially as a blogger – so keep going.
8.) What’s the best advice or tip you’ve discovered about blogging since getting started?
If you want to succeed with your blog, don’t just blog. Put your brand onto multiple platforms (one at a time), such as iTunes for a podcast, or YouTube for videos. When you do that, you will reach people who you would have never reached otherwise, and you will become more authoritative at the same time. Yes, it’s uncomfortable, and yes, it’s going to take some balls, but again – these are the kinds of things that separate those who succeed and those who don’t. Those who are willing to take risks and get a little uncomfortable every once and while.
9.) If you only had $100 to start a new blog, how would you use it?
I’d find a person who was where I wanted to be, and treat them to dinner. That 2 hour conversation will be the best education you will ever get, from a person who is at the other end of the path you know you want to follow.
10.) How can readers of the blog get in touch with you?
You can find me at SmartPassiveIncome.com, as well as PatFlynn.me.
Here are my social media URLs too:
Pat also recently published his first book, Let Go, which is hosted on a brand new platform for iOS called Snippet. Books on the Snippet platform include audio, video, stunning visuals as well as social media. If you’d like to read (and listen and watch) more about Pat’s story, you can check out his book Let Go at the following URL: http://patflynn.me/letgo
Thanks again Pat for taking the time to share your advice and story with the Blogging Tips community. If you would like to learn about other bloggers and how they are finding success online, be sure to read through our blogger interview series.
Are You Selling Income Claims or Something More?
See me in that featured image guys?
The spot is Arthur’s Pass, New Zealand. My eBook-paperback had to make an appearance.
I have retired to a life of island hopping through smart blogging.
I never once made an income claim on Blogging From Paradise.
Retiring to a life of island hopping through smart blogging depends on:
- your energy
- your generosity
- your service
Even though I make money and spend money, the only reason I made money is because I allow it in through my energy, my generosity, and my service.
My life does not suck. I live in places like Fiji, Bali, Thailand, NYC, New Zealand and Costa Rica for months at a time.
Before you fell asleep at night, if you are not living a life of long term travel already, you would at least consider dreaming about living in New Zealand for 3 months or Fiji for 4 months, as I have.
Or maybe 2 years in Thailand sounds about right, so you can snap selfies on the beach in the Land of Smiles as I have.
But I doubt you would dream about a stack of money before you fall asleep because money is just a means to an end. Useless, in and of itself.
Billions of means exist to reach certain ends.
I am house sitting in Queens, NYC now. Rent-free, 2 week sit in a million dollar home located in one of NYC’s best neighborhoods. Did I need money to live in Queens for 2 weeks? Nope. All me and my wife do is care for sweet little cats.
Sure we make money through our blogs. But my wife and I offer something more than income claims; through our blogs, we help you make your spectacular dreams come true.
Making Income Claims
If you are clear on making income claims you can build a thriving blogging business using this strategy.
Unfortunately, most bloggers are unclear on making income claims because they fear that without making the claims that few folks would read their blog and buy their stuff. Their fear attracts 2 types of folks; desperate bloggers and greedy bloggers. Desperate bloggers are generally broke and have not money to buy your stuff. Greedy bloggers call you a scammer if they do not make $10,000 a week by next month after following your advice.
As a rule, unless you feel 100% clear aka 100% fear-free in choosing to make income claims, avoid taking this route
If you want to take things to the next level guys, sell something even bigger than money. Sell a dream.
Selling a Dream
I have been featured on some of the world’s most famous, iconic sites because I help folks freely, I live a dream life and I sell a dream. Forbes, Fox News, Virgin and Entrepreneur featured me because I know my stuff and because I patiently built up an eye-popping brand, helping people retire to a life of travel through blogging. Quite a dream.
Contributors from these world famous sites do not tend to feature bloggers who focus heavily on making income claims because doing so would sully their reputation. Do you really think Richard Branson and his brand would want to align with a guy whose 1st or 2nd search result on Google is “Name + Scam”? Hell no.
At the end of the day, nobody dreams about fat stacks of money other than Scrooge McDuck and the mentally ill because money is worthless in and of itself. Dust collector. You dream of an experience. You dream of something more.
Selling a dream inspires your readers to leave their comfort zones, to do scary but freeing things and to patiently but persistently create helpful content and to build strong connections, so your readers can live their dreams too.
Selling income claims alone? Kinda lame guys. Unless Scrooge McDuck follows your blog.
You want an experience that may or may not require money for its manifestation.
Sell a dream.
Share your blogging journey.
Enjoy the ride and connect with high energy, like-minded folks who empower one another to live their dreams.
4 Tips to Continue Blogging When No One Reads Your Blog
I had 3 visitors a day to my old blog nearly 10 years ago.
Today I’ve a few more visitors peeping my blog every day.
You may have zero blog visitors daily. Right now. Been there guys.
I know how frustrated and flat out angry you may feel now but taking smart steps boosts your traffic slowly but steadily.
Focus on the solution, not your lack of blog traffic.
All established, pro bloggers continued to blog when nobody read their blog. We all have audiences of zero from Day 1 because new blogs are new blogs.
Traffic flows in – along with engaged readers – organically and steadily if you patiently follow a few steps.
Follow these tips to keep blogging when no one reads your blog.
1: Build Friendships
Blogging buddies are my #1 traffic builder.
Example; I genuinely commented on Enstine Muki’s blog for a while. I also promoted his posts via my blog and social media accounts.
We became friends. Enstine promoted me, endorsed me and graciously invited me to guest post on his blog.
Nearly 60 guest posts later I have seen a steady flow of traffic through his site.
I drive traffic through 600 plus guest posts on Blogging Tips too.
Guys; make blogging buddies. Help people. People will be reading your blog soon.
2: Write Your Next Blog Post
You may be caught up in a scarcity mindset guys.
After writing and publishing a blog post you try to squeeze as much promotional juice through the post, marketing the sucker for weeks on end, checking traffic stats. Fear goads you because if you don’t promote the post for weeks you won’t get enough traffic, you believe. You don’t write and publish a post again until next month. Not good.
Meanwhile, since I don’t do the scarcity mindset thing, I published 120 blog posts, promoting each post modestly, during the same time frame. Who do you think people will notice first if we are in the same niche? Me of course; quality plus quantity beats quality plus scarcity every time.
Write and publish your next blog post today. Readers will flock to your blog. Be abundant; hit the publish button frequently. You have helpful content to share with the world. Ship. Publish. Drive warm bodies to your blog.
3: Write Your Next Guest Post
I noted guest posting gigs on Enstine’s blog and here on Blogging Tips earlier in this post.
Go wild guest posting guys.
Build blogging friendships. Improve your writing skills by publishing posts frequently. Eventually blogging friends will invite you to guest post on their blogs.
Gobble up these opportunities. Leverage your presence by helping large, targeted audiences of readers.
Be generous with your knowledge. Observe how many new, interested people begin following your blog.
4: Keep Meeting New Bloggers Daily
This is the secret tip.
Few bloggers meet new bloggers daily, being lulled to sleep in their networking comfort zone, hanging with old blogging buddies.
Even if you attract a few people to your blog every day you find few people reading your blog, commenting on your posts and promoting you on social media unless you wander into new blogging friend networks daily.
I open Tweet Deck, create a #blogging column and scan 1 by 1 through blog posts. I click, read and comment genuinely on posts, taking advantage of the endless stream of new bloggers gracing my feed every day.
Guys; keep meeting new bloggers. Be patient, believe in yourself and your blog grows exponentially over the long haul by following such an approach.
Keep going guys.
Follow these tips.
People will begin reading your blog if you get through challenging times.
Blog readers are on the way.
Blogging About the Americans With Disabilities Amendments Act
No matter your type of business, chances are the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act applies to your building, employees, and visitors. While this is something that many corporations and businesses know about, it’s mostly something is focused on in the human resources area. Today, as a blogging platform, we wanted to shed some light on an issue that affects millions of people in the workplace, and those who have the opportunity to work or blog from the comfort of their own home.
But do you know if you’re in compliance? It’s worth taking a look at some facts and reviewing your company’s policies. Penalties for non-compliance include fines and lawsuits.
The ADA protects people with physical and mental disabilities in the workplace and through public accommodations.
Find out if your business has the information it needs to comply with Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act.
What is the ADA?
The original Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in 1990. It’s a civil rights law that doesn’t allow discrimination against anyone with physical or mental disabilities.
The law covers all areas of public life, including school, jobs, and transportation.
In 2008, the law was updated with the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act. The most significant changes included updates to the definition of “disability.”
What is a Disability?
There are three main areas to consider when making accommodations for a person with a disability.
Someone falls under the definition of “disability” if:
- He or she has a mental or physical impairment that significantly limits one or more major life activities
- He or she has documentation of an impairment, or
- He or she has a known impairment
A person can have any or all of these qualifications as a person with disabilities. But there is no requirement that a person shows proof of having a disability for protection through the disability act.
Who Must Comply?
The short answer is that any public place or employer with fifteen or more employees must comply with the ADA.
The American Disabilities Act is in place to make sure anyone with a disability has the same opportunities and rights as anyone else.
But what does it look like to make sure the opportunities are available? The details and case-by-case scenarios can get tricky.
Let’s look at a few major points for compliance within the five Titles of the ADA laws.
Title I Employment
Employers must provide a reasonable accommodation that helps any employees with a disability perform their job duties. This Title also applies to schools and colleges.
- Handicap access for your building and facilities
- Providing a reader for a blind employer or student
- Adjusting a workspace to help an employee.
Note the word “reasonable” comes with making these accommodations. An employer is not required to provide anything that causes an undue hardship on the business or on other employees.
“Undue hardship” includes significant expense depending on the size and financial resources of your business. But an employer must provide an accommodation even if there is some expense that doesn’t qualify as “undue hardship”.
To get an accommodation, an employee must ask for help. They’ll need to tell the employer the nature of the disability and what they need.
Title II State and Local Government
The government must also accommodate people with disabilities.
At events or facilities, government agencies must provide methods of communication for people with hearing, vision, or speech disabilities.
Agencies also cannot discriminate anyone from programs or activities due to a disability.
Title III Public Accommodations
Some businesses fall under Title III as well as Title I.
If you run a hotel, transportation company, museum, bank, library, or other similar institution open to the public, you must comply with the ADA.
Restaurants and shops fall into this category, too. Reasonable accommodations for Title III places include ADA-compliant signage.
Knowing exactly what you need and where to place it can be difficult. But help is available to determine the types of signs and factors for compliance for your business.
Image360 provides a simple guide to understanding the requirements for your business signage. Everything from braille specifics to signage height and location is important.
Title IV Telecommunications
For compliance under Title IV, internet and communication companies must provide a way for people with hearing or vision impairment to communicate using their resources.
For your business, make sure any employees with vision or hearing disabilities have equipment for using computers and phones.
Title V Miscellaneous Provisions
This last category is the catch-all for any business or entity that doesn’t fit neatly into any other category.
This Title also allows for the recovery of attorney’s fees in the event of a lawsuit. And Title V also notes that drug or alcohol abuse is not a disability.
Discrimination or Harassment
ADA-compliance is only one part of the American Disabilities Act when it comes to Title I and businesses. People with disabilities are also protected from discrimination and harassment under the ADA.
- Firing an employee or refusing a promotion solely based on a person’s disability
- Assuming someone can’t perform job duties because of a disability
- Refusing to hire someone with a disability who is otherwise qualified for the position
Harassment includes making disparaging remarks about or to a person with a disability.
Be sure your employee handbook includes a detailed anti-harassment policy. This protects your business and your employees, and it helps comply with the ADA.
If an employee feels they are a victim of discrimination or harassment, their best course of action is filing a complaint with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).
Since 2006, the ADA documents enforcement of violations for Titles I-V. The EEOC joins with other government agencies to investigate and enforce reports of discrimination in the workplace.
Protect Citizens Through The Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act
The Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act is in place to protect our citizens with disabilities.
Providing signage, accessibility, and other resources help make a business, school, or public area usable for everyone.
Don’t risk fines or punishment. Work to accommodate needs and create a positive office environment that your employees love.
Building a positive culture supports people with any ability or disability. Happy employees are the best employees.
Be a business that accommodates the best talent for each role, no matter their physical or mental abilities.
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