There really is no denying the power of podcasting in helping you build a business empire for yourself, given that you do it the right way. In this very special episode, Tracy Hazzard sits down with Pat Flynn, one of the most influential people in the podcasting industry. Pat is the man behind the Smart Passive Income Podcast and AskPat, both have earned a combined total of over 60 million downloads, multiple awards, and features in various publications. He also owns several successful online businesses and is a professional blogger, keynote speaker, Wall Street Journal bestselling author. As one of the best teachers in podcasting and its business side, Pat tells the story of how he built an online business from his podcasting venture and shares how we can do that ourselves. He dives deep into alternative monetization and affiliate marketing, sharing the many opportunities for all podcasts that are often overlooked. He further gives some great advice on staying motivated, inviting new guests, increasing your audience, producing professionally, and encouraging engagement. Listen in on this great conversation to know more about the world of podcasting and creating a whole digital online business from it.
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Beyond The Smart Passive Income Podcast And Into Building An Online Business That Works With Pat Flynn
I have one of my most successful podcasters on that I’ve had on the show thus yet. I am excited and I was a little bit nervous for a change. I’ve done thousands of interviews, but when you get to interview someone who is foundational and fundamental in starting you on your path, there’s that little bit of excitement and energy around. You’re geeking out and you’re starstruck. I am interviewing Pat Flynn. If you have not started in the podcast industry, you may not know who he is. You should get to know who he is because Pat Flynn is one of the best teachers as to all the different things that you need not just on the podcasting side, but on creating a whole digital online business side of things. He’s phenomenal in that. His podcast is called The Smart Passive Income Podcast. He’s reached over 400 episodes. I think he’s at 425 or so. He has another show called AskPat, which has shifted into a new format. AskPat is almost close to 1,200 episodes, plus he’s got a few other studies dabbled in along the different years as he’s testing things out.
His whole business and whole focus has always been in driving that, “How can I be an entrepreneur? How can I be in business for myself? How can I still be a father, a husband, an entrepreneur, live, and work the way that I want to work?” A lot of that was forced on him. He’s not going to go into a story here, but you’re going to want to check out his website, check out his podcast and hear some of the stories of how he got started because he got started out of getting laid off. Many of you may be in that situation. Pat owns several successful online businesses. He’s a professional blogger, which is why we also connected in the sense because I saw a fellow writer and that helped me identify with him.
He’s a keynote speaker. He’s a Wall Street Journal bestselling author of two books, although he has three books, Superfans and Will It Fly?, thinking about your business, ideas, and show. Those are some great books you’re going to want to check out. Those you’re going to want to subscribe to because we’re going to talk about some things there. There are also lots of success tips that have formed the way that I’ve run this business, the way that I run my shows, and the things that I’ve decided to do and some not to do because I didn’t want that type of results or I wasn’t looking for that type of program. There are lots of those over the course of his many episodes for you to choose from.
He has asked me if I would share with you that he’s working on his YouTube strategy, so he’s always testing and working out something new. You’re going to want to check out Pat Flynn on YouTube as well. He’s earned a combined total of over sixteen million downloads, multiple awards, and features in publications such as The New York Times and Forbes. He is an advisor with ConvertKit, Leadpages, Teachable, and other companies in the digital marketing arena. You’re going to understand why I’m saying that there’s so much more than podcasting than what he’s talking about with us. You’re going to want to check all of that out.
Bringing you someone on like Pat Flynn, whose downloads are true and they’re successful. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t things to learn and there aren’t things that they don’t know about what their audience thinks. There are ways at which we can engage better. That’s what I love about him because he’s going to be totally raw, honest, share with you the things that he does know and the things that he’s like, “I’m always testing this. I’m always trying that.” He’s honest. That’s one of the great features that does make him bingeable. We’ll get to that. I’m excited to be able to bring Pat Flynn on the show.
Pat Flynn is a father, husband, and entrepreneur who lives and works in San Diego, CA. He owns several successful online businesses and is a professional blogger, keynote speaker, Wall Street Journal bestselling author, and host of the Smart Passive Income and AskPat podcasts, which have earned a combined total of over 60 million downloads, multiple awards, and features in publications such as The New York Times and Forbes. He is also an advisor to ConvertKit, LeadPages, Teachable, and other companies in the digital marketing arena.
Follow Pat Flynn on his Social: Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn & YouTube
Pat, I’m excited to have you here. In fact, I was a little intimidated, I had trouble sleeping. That never happens to me on an interview.
That’s weird to hear. Why are you intimidated by me? I’m a regular person or a podcaster like you and your audience. Thank you so much for having me on. I’m excited about this. Where do you want to go? I want to help out as much as I can. I want this to be one of your most popular episodes.
I agree. I do too. That’s what kept me up, thinking about, “How am I going to get that?” We’re going to get that. I know because you’re generous with all of your information. The first thing that I like to touch on for people is that starting impetus. What made you start a podcast? That for you was quite a while ago. What was it that made you go, “This is the thing I’m going to try?”
It was a podcast that had changed my life. Through that, I understood how impactful a podcast could be for not just growing an audience, but serving that audience that I knew I always wanted to have one of my own. This story started when I got laid off on June 17, 2008. We celebrate that every year. My family and I, we call it, “Let go” day. It’s a celebration although at the time it was hard. That is the reason why I found and saw these and took advantage of these opportunities that were always there. They are for all of us. It took that moment for me to find them and actively seek them out. Thankfully after I got let go, I discovered podcasts.
I discovered one in particular called Internet Business Mastery with Jeremy and Jason. Two people, even though I never met them, I became friends with them through the podcast. I met them in person and we felt we were friends already because of the nature of podcasting, relationship building, and the intimacy there. They helped me build my business to teach people in the architecture space how to pass a particular exam. When I started to build my own brand at SmartPassiveIncome.com to show how I started this business, answer questions, share my failures, share my wins, and share my income, I vowed that I wanted to start a podcast. At the end of 2008 on Smart Passive Income with a small audience, I bought my microphone, equipment and I was ready.
I was ready to start a show. In fact, I even have an audio file, that was the first audio file I ever put up. It was a test to see. It wasn’t on a host or anything. It was an MP3 embedded in my hosting platform through my website. My first episode came out in July of 2010, a year and a half later. I was naturally a blogger. I liked typing. I could hide behind my keyboard. Putting your voice out there is difficult. Back then the technology was a little bit harder to understand than it is now. There were many reasons and excuses for me to go, “Maybe this isn’t for me. I’m going to go back to blogging.” If I could go back into time and take that DeLorean, I would tell myself, “Do it, get it out there. It’s going to be bad. Get to be a disaster before you become the master.” It was a disaster for me, but I’m thankful I started because since then amazing things have happened.
All of you can hear the tie-in to that story. There’s this geek side of Pat Flynn that I personally relate to. That was what made me believe that I could start a podcast. It was like, “He’s got it. He’s geeky. He likes to write. I like to write.” It’s that personal connection that we make with our hosts, as they share little bits and pieces of themselves over time that make us relate to them and say, “I can tackle this. I can try this.” We start taking in their advice. That’s why I think you and I personally, even though you don’t even know me, you just met me. That’s why we connected all those years. You inspired me to start my show.It’s going to be a disaster before you become the master. Click To Tweet
That reminds me of how I connected to Jeremy and Jason. They each had young kids, I had just had a kid. I could connect with them because of that. In fact, when I started my podcast, I was adamant about including little bits of personality into my show, even purposefully. What I did was I included a fun fact about me at the beginning of every single one of my episodes. I remember when I came up with this idea, I knew it was a great way to connect because that’s what I connected with others. Although the content was great. I liked the person because of those fun, random things like you said.
I went to some of my mentors and friends who were in the podcasting space who inspired me. I told them this idea, and they said, “Pat, that’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.” Not only was I going to share these facts, I was going to pay a voiceover guy to share these facts about me too. They’re like, “Number one, that’s a waste of money. Second, your audience wants the content.” I understood where they were coming from because there were many other podcasts who were talking for ten minutes before getting to what people came to the shows for. I think a little bit of myself should show up in every episode. The 5 podcasts, 1,500 episodes, and 65 million downloads later, those same people are coming back and they’re like, “That was a good move.” I know it’s a good move because when I meet people in person now, that one little random fact that they connected with is always the first thing they start with like, “I was in the marching band too.” It worked.
This is the part that I think a lot of people don’t realize they stumble into it and it works. You felt this was the right thing to do and you do it, and it works. The thing is sometimes we don’t always look back at our show and say, “This is working for me. It’s working for the audience because I’m hearing things back on that.” That’s critically important to take a look at your show and keep going with what’s working. You had to have some big flips in the beginning, and you still occasionally do, all or most of us do. What are some funny things that happened that went completely wrong and you thought, “Why am I doing this?”
Hopefully, you can all perhaps relate to these things. I can list them out for days from the first interview that I did, not preparing for what a great podcast interview was supposed to be like, and listening to others and consciously trying to develop my own style. I went right into it. On one hand, that’s great. Ready, fire, aim is a strategy for sure, but it was embarrassing. I interviewed a person. His name is Yaro Starak from Entrepreneur’s Journey, and he lived in Australia at the time. It was my first interview. Number one, I had a terrible audio quality and I did another interview with him to make up for that. I went into my closet because the closet is the place to have the best audio quality, as we all know. The interview, the questions were terrible, Tracy, like, “You’re this amazing business owner. What’s your favorite color?” It’s like, “Blue,” and then, “What’s your favorite food?” he replied, “Spaghetti.” I then try to be funny. I’m like, “Do you like blue spaghetti?” It was bad. Thankfully, that episode got lost in a hard drive fail.
That is a podcaster’s prerogative, for those of you reading.
The computer messed it up. The dog ate my homework kind of thing. We ended up connecting later. I got invited on his show and that was helpful too. We built a relationship through those misfires and I think that speaks to you. You’ve got to put yourself out there, but a little bit of prep work would go over well for you. Since then, I’ve studied. I’ve gotten coaching on interviewing alone, I’ve learned so much about that. I feel I have a lot of things to say about how to create a good interview and a compelling, engaging show. Another mistake I made was several technological mistakes, not just a hard drive fail, but I remember the first time putting video on. I heard that sometimes when it’s video, like us, we have the video on which adds a level of flavor to the show because we can connect visually. If I could see that you have something that you want to say, I can visually read those cues.
I was like, “That’s cool. Let me pop in my Logitech C920 during this interview.” I popped it in, I did the interview and I listened to it later. Unfortunately, when I popped in the webcam, the audio hardware switched to the webcam audio and it was terrible. I felt bad, but I published it anyway. Funnily enough, nobody said anything about it. I set it up upfront like, “This is what happened.” I love that, being into owning up to my mistakes, that helps. We could go down forever in some mistakes.
How many shows are you on? There are like over 1,100 of AskPat and over 400 or 500 or so of Smart Passive Income.
Those are two shows. My son and I have a podcast, which is seasonal and it’s been a while since he’s been interested. I often go all-in with wherever he wants to go all-in. It was the podcast. We’re going to come back with season two, but we have a podcast together. He was eight years old at the time, he’s ten now. That show still is getting thousands of downloads a month. Parents and their kids listen to that to get inspired, to have conversations that are fun. That’s called All Of Your Beeswax.
I have a podcast that was a part of a business that I sold. It was FoodTruckr.com, which helps people start food trucks. I’m not a food truck owner, but I use and utilize the podcast to curate the best information from existing food truck owners. That show became popular and still continues to get about $3,500 to $4,000 a month from food truck owners. I sold that business, which was cool. I’m no longer a part of that. Me and my friend, Chris Ducker have one called 1 Day Business Breakthrough. My wife and I are thinking about starting one related to Disney+ and streaming. I’m addicted.
You’ve produced a couple of books from your podcasts. Inspired out of the content and the things that you talk about a lot, you have Will It Fly? and Superfans. Those books and I love reading. I’m a reader, I’m a writer at the heart of it. I love the process that you went through in these books and how you’re laying them out in a different way than you do on your show. Your show is in a different order, but now you have something in order. Have you found that fans are translating into book sales?
With your podcast audience, you build this incredible relationship. If you’ve gotten to know somebody for so long. Number one, if you provided value when you have something to share that perhaps has a dollar amount to it. Your audience is going to step up because they’re going to want to support you. I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me when I was coming up with my books. This was a specific email from a guy named Steven, he reached out to me when I was coming out with Will it Fly? I had mentioned that I had a book coming out. I did not mention what it was about or the name or anything. He said, “Pat, I’m a big fan of your podcast. Let me know when your book comes out. I want to buy twenty copies for my friends and family.”
I didn’t even mention what the book was about and yet he stepped up, which is crazy. When you can match the content of the book to the specific problems, pains, needs, wants, and desires of your target audience, it’s a match made in heaven. Especially when a person needs a little bit of know, like, and trust first before they transact with you. There’s no better way, in my opinion, including YouTube, to get a person to know, like, and trust you than a podcast. The voice, there’s so much emotion behind it. There’s a realness and there’s connection.
I love sharing with my students in my courses for podcasting that if they have a coaching program or course. Use your platform as an asset to show how you teach because it’s almost like a Costco-sized sample of the other areas by which they can interact with you more whether it’s a book, course, or coaching program. Use your platform to showcase the success stories that your products have created and feature those as hero stories within your community. You become the Yoda that everybody wants to work with or they want to get access to your guides and your knowledge.In podcasting, a lot of opportunities could come out as a result of the connections you have made with people there. Click To Tweet
I love sharing and offering, even pulling out parts of the book and explaining it even more deeply. Stories that didn’t make the book or even going further into them because the podcast audience, they might even already have the book and then appreciate the behind the scenes or the other parts about that. I also love to use the podcast to work in public. Meaning, I will share with people what I’m working on as I’m working on it. By the time it’s ready to come out, it’s no surprise. When you can get your audience involved, they will invest.
I’ll often call on my audience to potentially join a book launch club or book launch party or being a founder’s member of a course, for example. They feel like they have a part in something. When you feel you have a part in something, you want it to do well. You want to support it, even if you don’t have any money to share, you might want to share it because you have a connection to that product but because of the host. It’s translated. I love monetization on podcasts outside of advertising and sponsorships. There are many opportunities for all podcasters at all levels to do that, I think are often overlooked.
Let’s dive into that because alternative monetization, that’s what I keep calling it here. Alternative monetization is one of my favorite topics here because it’s sorely misunderstood. All the different ways that your business benefits, that you benefit, that your authority benefits, all of that happens. You’d never been on a stage before you started podcasting. All of a sudden you’re keynoting places. I can see that authority rise happened straight out of your podcasts. What are some other ways? What are the many different venues of it that have come from your podcast?
The idea of being able to command five-figure earnings from keynote speeches as a result of the podcast. These are indirect ways to utilize your platform, to build authority, and then generate an income. It all comes down to the trust, expertise, and connections that you have in the industry that your podcast can create as well. A lot of the opportunities that I have had on stages or to write potentially for publishers have come as a result of the podcast and the connections I’ve made with people there. There are a lot of indirect ways your podcast can help you as a business in whole. As an extension of your message, as a platform to connect, as an area to display your abilities and expertise. There are some other directly from the podcast ways to generate an income from. If you have your own products to sell, you can mention them on your show. A common way people do that is they often use and utilize their own products as if they were essentially sponsors of the show. It feels sponsor-like.
I do want to mention that one of the commonalities that we also have is that you started out with your Smart Podcast Player, which I loved the style of it. That’s what drove me to it. You offered it up to your audience, I was one of them on a pre-promotion that we could buy it and we would get a lifetime license for it. I bought it, I have one of your original licenses, but not just that. We then went on to buy them for all of our clients as we put them onto their websites and do that. We are one of your larger installs, which is now called the Fusebox, but that’s your product. You didn’t do it in an ad. You did it, “I’m working on this. I’m proud of it. We’ve been working for a year on it.” You’d worked for quite some time on the coding and getting it right. I was like, “I’m all in.” I immediately bought. That’s a different way to approach it than advertising and sponsoring with your own product.
The advertising oftentimes can be something that easily gets skipped over. People can manually skip over those things. I think if you integrate it more organically into your promotion or into your podcast, it doesn’t even feel like a promotion. It’s a conversation especially when you’re sharing as you were building. If you’re sharing behind the scenes, perhaps not just the good things, but the things that you’re learning that you can improve on. The Smart Podcast Player now known as Fusebox because it’s much bigger than a podcast player. Thank you for being a customer and for sharing it with your clients. We have big plans for it.
Even if you have your own courses and your own coaching programs, there are many more creative ways to use your podcasts. I love to feature our customers on the show, offering up a little bit of space to amplify their voice. A few things happen when you do that. They’re stoked on it because they don’t often have that opportunity. They get to share about themselves and it almost feels like a radio show. They’re more likely to share it. It’s more organic. It’s something that your audience is likely to more relate to them than to you. They are somebody who represents the rest of your audience versus, for example, if I had Tim Ferriss or Gary Vaynerchuk on my show, those are big names and a lot of people listen to them, but a lot of people can’t relate.
A lot of people feel that they’re in a different world and what they’re sharing or the strategies that they share are, “That works for you because you’re Tim Ferriss,” versus an episode like 122 of my podcast where I invited two teachers from Kentucky, Shane and Jocelyn, who shared their story about listening to the podcast one day in the middle of mowing their lawn, stopping to start working on their business because they got inspired by an episode. Now, they have a multimillion-dollar business. To share that story as somebody who’s also an audience too. It’s way more inspirational because they’re a few steps ahead versus somebody who’s in a stratosphere. Utilizing your platform for that too.
That’s where your AskPat does that a lot where you’re doing on-air coaching. You hear that, “I’m right where they are and look at they’re getting a lot out of listening.” They listen to more of your shows, which is helpful for you. At the same time, they’re saying, “That person did. I can do it too.”
With AskPat, which is for the first 1,000 episodes, it was collecting voicemails through a tool called SpeakPipe and then answering their questions. We collected over 1,000 answers. I found out that was great because if we get a question coming in from email, we go, “Check out this AskPat episode.” A lot of these questions are the same, but we started to notice that we couldn’t help people as much as if we were to have a real conversation with them. A lot of times, questions are surface-level problems and the actual solution lies much deeper. After episode 1,000, I switched to a 30-minute coaching call and the live coaching aspect has been incredible not just for helping people get results, but for the audience, because they can understand the process by which I can help find where the actual problem is and create those solutions for them.
We also bring those people back on, almost like Shark Tank where they bring the people back on to talk about how their business is. I see the results and that’s super-inspiring. As a byproduct of that, people get a sense of how I can work with people and how I can help them. Although I don’t offer one-on-one coaching, I have had thousands of people ask for it because they’ve seen what I could do for others. It’s the demonstration. Sharing through example and sharing success stories is key for whatever products that you might have. You might consider, “I don’t have products to sell. I guess I can’t make money in any other way than advertising and sponsorships.” It’s not true. There are two other solutions that you can offer.
Affiliate marketing is huge. Affiliate marketing is generating an income through the recommendation of other products that are not your own and your audience, they’re already buying things. They could utilize your expertise as expert curator to understand what is worth spending money on. These companies will reward you with a commission if you have a special link. That’s part of the challenge as a podcaster, “How do we get people to click on things when they’re not at a computer?” I have a nice short link or I’ve even bought domain names to forward through an affiliate link to make it easy for people to go through those things. You can match a product that already exists that you know is going to take care of your audience, and is something that relates to their goals or their destinations.
You can be there to help them, number one, find it. Number two, understand it. Number three, help them make it easy for them to do and maybe even talk about experiences with it yourself. Everybody wins. You win because you’re getting a commission. The product company wins because they’re getting a new customer. Your audience wins because they’re finding a product in this giant sea of all these different recommendations coming from you, the expert curator. When you play expert curator, you can be rewarded for that as well. The hard thing is because it’s not your own product, you have to work a little bit harder to get that audience to earn that trust from you and the product.
How might you use your podcast? Instead of having this space to talk about the product and how awesome it is, invite the founder of that product on your show. First of all, they’re going to be stoked on that. Number two, don’t invite them on to go, “Tell me why your product’s awesome.” Ask them about the stories behind the product. Why the product was created? What were the struggles getting into that product? How might a person best use this? What are some things that people should pay attention to? Even if they can’t afford the product, how can we still use your expertise to help people? That in return helps you earn trust not between you and the audience but the product and the audience. It makes that much easier.We couldn't help people as much as if we were to have a real conversation with them. Click To Tweet
For example, I interviewed the Founder of ConvertKit, which is an email service provider that I love. I’m an affiliate for it. I’ve loved it so much. I became an advisor to the company. I invited him on the show and he told this amazing story about how he dumped all of his other projects to focus full-time on this. How he almost gave up on it, how he was adamant about not taking Angel investor outside funding. It was completely bootstrapped. It was such a fantastic story. At the end, I mentioned, “If you’re interested in ConvertKit, go here,” has accounted for over $50,000 in recurring revenue since that episode came out. That episode continues to get listened to day after day, which is cool.
The other solution that might be of interest and perhaps it’s something that your audience is already doing is something like Patreon where you don’t have to ask your audience to listen to an ad. You’re having them allow themselves to support you in whichever way they choose to do so. Whether it’s a $5 a month thing or a $10 a month thing, which gives them more access to you or other items. Patreon is cool. I know a lot of podcasters, especially in the tech space interestingly enough, who use Patreon and successfully to earn five figures a month from their fans. Their fans are happy to do it because it’s almost PBS, paid for by viewers. People love to show support in that way, you don’t have to create anything. It doesn’t have to be a full-fledged product or program. It could be a space for your patrons to come and receive additional things that they wouldn’t if they weren’t supporting.
You’ve done many episodes. You’re prolific. You’re always looking at a new podcast to run. How do you stay motivated? How do you avoid that high level of podfading we have going on in this industry? That’s anywhere between 70% and 80%, depending on which numbers you look at. How do you prevent that, “I have to do another episode today?”
I’ll speak to people who are at the same level of my students, those who are starting out because there are a different set of reasons to keep going when you’re starting out versus when you’ve done this for years. I’m going to speak to both sides. If you’re starting out, what’s helpful is to have some skin in the game and accountability. Number one is accountability to your audience and to your guests to make sure that you’re taking care of them. Number two, I don’t know what your stance is on free podcasting platforms, but I like paid hosting platforms.
We’re anti-free. I mention that all the time because free is not always free.
We’re not just talking about dollars free, we’re talking about control. We can speak the same language. When you pay $50 a month for something, you’re more likely to use it. You are reminded every single month, “I better go and do that thing.” When you combine that with perhaps the consequences of not continuing whether that’s a friend holding you accountable, “Every week you don’t come out with a show like you said you would, you’re going to pay me $20.” I know some people who do that and that holds them accountable or holding your audience accountable to be accountable to you. Having a little bit of skin in the game goes a long way.
I remember when the at-home fitness program, P90X, came out with Tony Horton. I know you have seen those infomercials. I wanted to get into that because we had a kid and I was putting on some weight. I made this announcement to my friends and I was like, “I’m going to do P90X. Has anybody done it before?” They’re like, “It’s great.” My friend was like, “Let me give you the DVDs. You can use mine.” I was like, “No,” because I know that if you give them to me, I’m not going to do it. I want to pay for this. I’m investing in this. I would encourage you to see how you are committing to and investing into your podcast. I’m not saying you have to spend loads of dollars and the more money you spend, the more successful you become. That’s not the case, but a little bit of skin in the game goes a long way.
Support is important too. Those that have gotten coaching from you, those that come into our program, and those that have support I think also because they’re invested at least in that they’re moving forward as well. They feel that sense of, “I’ve got to show up. I’ve got to do this because I put some skin in the game too.”
Connecting with other podcasters and holding each other accountable. If you go to the gym and you try to do it by yourself, you’re going to be excited about it for the first couple of months. March rolls around after the New Year’s resolution. You’re like, “I’m not motivated,” because it’s hard and it’s boring. When you have a friend doing it with you, they’re going to help you and you’re going to help them. Everybody will succeed more likely as a result. To speak to the people who have been podcasting for a while, and this is for those who are just starting out too. I think it’s important to understand that your podcast is not for you, your podcast is for your audience. You need to show up for them.
I’ve had a few experiences in my past where it’s obvious how much of an impact my show has had. In one particular case, when I was considering giving up on the show because this podcasting is hard and I wasn’t yet quite efficient in how I was podcasting. It was taking a lot of time. I was blogging three times a week. I was podcasting every other week and yet, it was still hard for me to get up on the microphone. It was hard for me to know what to podcast about next. I was considering giving up. It had been about a year at this point and the audience wasn’t as growing as fast as my blogging audience was at the time. Now, it’s flipped.
I had received an email from a person. His name is Michal from Poland. He sent me this email and the subject line was “Please read, Pat, you saved my life,” which is a good subject line. I’m not saying put that in the subject lines of your emails to get people to open them. I was curious. I opened this email, it was twenty pages worth of stuff. I read every single word and it completely changed my life because he talked about how he got into this accident and he was unable to serve his family. He was unable to go to work. He even shared X-rays and it was terrible. He said when he was bedridden, that’s when he found my podcast. Every day he listened to my podcast and got inspired by it. In one of my podcast episodes, I talked about creating goals.
When you create a goal. Create a goal that’s seemingly impossible, but not completely so that you can extend yourself as far as you can go versus creating goals that you can reach. With two broken legs, he decided in a year and a half time, he was going to run a marathon. There was a marathon in Warsaw, Poland that was happening. He signed up for it. At the bottom of his email, he showed a picture of him running through the finish line, holding up a sign. On the sign that he carried with him the whole way said in Polish, so he had to translate it for me. It was like, “Thank you, God. Thank you to his wife and kids,” and right there at the end, “Thank you, Pat Flynn.” I was like, “I will never stop my podcast ever again.” This has been happening for so long without my knowledge. How many more Michals are out there like that who maybe I will never even hear from them, but who are struggling, who needs somebody, needs a voice?
The interesting byproduct of the year of listening to my show was he was then able to build a brand of his own in the personal finance space in Poland. It became the number one podcast when he created a podcast in Poland. He’s become a national bestseller in his country. There are moments when he’s seeing people who are crossing finished lines of marathons with his name on it because he’s told his story. The ripple effect, people, is a real thing. You have the ability to be that stone that you throw that creates those ripples. It would behoove you not to understand how much insane ability you have to affect people’s lives. That’s what keeps me going when I get distraught, tired, or bored, I’m like, “Am I going to let that get in the way of helping people? No,” and then to get inspired and motivated to do.
Do you have a strategy for coming up with new topics, new guests, and other things? I want to tap into some of our best ways because we’re going to touch on them there. Some of the best ways that you find to book great guests.It's important to understand that your podcast is not for you but for your audience. You need to show up for them. Click To Tweet
First understand that it’s not about me, it’s about my audience. I consider what would be the most helpful for them? I’ll often even go to them on Facebook, Instagram, or especially my email list. In my email list, I have what’s called an Auto Responder Series. A follow-up sequence that’s already pre-written that people get sequentially over time after they subscribed. Through that, every day I’m getting replies to this particular email that says, “What’s your number one biggest challenge? Hit reply, send that to me.” I’m hearing legit from my audience exactly what they want to know about. It takes some time and I have an assistant who helps me through those and find the patterns. If I can find something that I can’t speak to myself, that my audience wants to know about, that’s the signal.
I want to find somebody who knows about that because I want to tap into their knowledge. That’s where it starts, it doesn’t start with me. As a byproduct of that, then I can show data or even questions to that person to go, “I know you don’t know me, but my audience needs your help. I would love to invite you on the show because I want to share your expertise. They see you have a book out there too. This is another strategy. What’s in it for them?” How are you able to use your podcasting platform to serve them as a guest? It’s time out of their day to come on your show. To even have a conversation about potentially coming on your show, to schedule, it’s time and energy that you want to make sure is rewarded. Even if you’re a small podcaster, knowing what they’re working on next is key.
Oftentimes when I have a guest on, I might consider, do they have a book coming out anytime soon? Do they have any programs or anything that they’re interested in that I could potentially help them with? Even if it’s not related to the topic of the show, I consider and see on their social streams that they might be going to Disneyland sometime soon, which none of us are doing because of the pandemic. Perhaps they’re Disneyphiles. I can start a conversation related to that because I am the one as well. That little connection can be the start of a cool conversation, but the best way to get a guest on is to get an introduction from somebody who knows both of you.
You’ve got guests pitching themselves at you left and right. You have more of the problem of vetting them and making sure they’re right. When you do have a need going to find the right one out of the group, that’s the opposite thing. In our case here, I’ve never been on your show. I’ve always wanted to be. It’s going to happen. I got the introduction through Matt who is your partner because of Fusebox because of what we were doing there. That’s how I was able to get you here. That to me is the best strategy of what you’re saying there is that when you can get that personal introduction, it’s going to be much more powerful.
There are some interesting ways that we can go about finding people and how to get those introductions. Perhaps you are a guest on another person’s show and you see in their archive that there are some other amazing people that you love to connect with. Hopefully, you’ve provided value. You can go back to them and say, “I enjoyed being a guest on your show. I see that also this person was on your show. Might there be a way that we can get connected in some way? No worries if that’s not possible, but I would love to have an introduction,” because that person is connected to both of you. That’s a cool thing.
Another thing I love to do is recommend going into Apple Podcasts and seeing who else matches your audience. You can go into the related tab or area of your show both on mobile and on desktop to see. It’s almost like Amazon, people who bought this also bought this. You can see people who listen to your show also listen to this show. You can go in there and you can get lost in a little bit of a rabbit hole because you can go from crater to crater, see how these things align. I often go into mine and see that there’s a new podcast that shows up that my audience seems to listen to. I might not know them, but I’ll use that as a conversation piece to go, “It looks like our audiences align and a lot of my audience listens.” In fact, I’ll also go to social and go, “Who else listens to this show? I’ve never heard of it. Is it good?” I tag them. They go, “Pat Flynn is talking about us.” They see my audience go, “I listen too.” Now, we’re connected through my audience. That becomes a cool conversation piece because cold reach-outs are difficult. How might we warm up the conversation first before the ask? The collaboration like, “Here I am on your show. I’m grateful for that. You’re coming on my show.” Collaborations between podcasters should happen more.
I think sometimes there’s that fear of like, “They’re going to steal my audience.” It doesn’t work like that in the podcasting industry. Audiences aren’t like that.
People are subscribed to seven shows on average. You’re not competing, you’re complementing. You can add to a person’s playlist. You’re not taking anything away from anybody.
I love that collaborativeness. Anyone who espouses that, there’s a show worth being on. Increasing audiences, you’ve had a lot of different strategies, you’re always testing different things that are going out there. What have you found to be some of the most effective ways to increase audiences?
This relates to a quote from Seth Godin that it was about podcasting. He said, “Podcasting is the new blogging.” I completely agree, which is exciting because we just crossed a million podcasts. There are 500 million active blogs. The future of podcasting is so bright, I’m excited for it. If podcasting is the new blogging, then I say guest podcasting is the new guest blogging. Guest blogging was the strategy to use back in the day. I think that we need to focus on whether you have a podcast or not. How might you offer value to a podcast host and their audience? That’s how you want to approach. The cool thing about this more than any other strategy is when a host endorses you or you’re on their show, those people are already open with their podcast app. It’s one step away to go and find your show.
I have a lot of people who go, “Pat, how can I run Facebook Ads to get more audiences to my show?” I’m like, “Let’s think about that.” You have to first interrupt somebody. They’re not on social to listen to your show, but you have to capture their attention with beautiful copy, beautiful images, and then they have to click over. You can’t control what podcast app they want to listen in. How might you navigate that? Let’s say they get there. They then have to be compelled to click play. They have to be compelled to subscribe. That’s coming from you as an ad, not an endorsement from somebody. It’s a lot more friction. I prefer to go through a guest podcasting platform.
Another great way to grow your show. This worked for me, it was surprising, episode 96 of the SPI Podcast. I was afraid to record and publish it because it was specific to a tiny space in my audience. My audience are entrepreneurs and I could talk about all kinds of things entrepreneurship. This particular episode was for the entrepreneurs in my audience who were artists, painters, and sculptors like legit artists. I was like, “This is pigeonholing this episode to that small portion of my audience. I know they need help, but maybe I can talk about something that would relate to everybody.” What I realized is that when you talk to everybody, you’re talking to nobody.
That’s the episode that I remember the most because I’m a designer by trade. It spoke to me a lot and that’s partially why I binge listened on a lot more.
It was specific to something that was relevant to you. I found an expert to come on because I am not an artist myself. His name is Cory Huff and he helped artists make money online. I invited him on the show. What ended up happening was this episode went viral in the art community because they found somebody who was speaking about monetization who was relevant to them as an artist. The riches are in the niches. Even within your own target audience, there are sub-niches that you could serve. It might not be relevant for everybody. In addition to going viral in that space, I found that when I shared this on social, a lot of people who weren’t artists were tagging their artist friends. That was a cool byproduct. That’s part of the reason why it went viral too. I ended up seeing links to it in forums, on Reddit, and in all other places. That was a cool strategy. That’s a planning and niche selection strategy versus let’s get on a big platform. It speaks to the importance of connecting with the audience and giving them something that’s useful that feels like it’s for them. Those two strategies work well.The best way to get a podcast guest is to get an introduction from somebody who knows both of you. Click To Tweet
The next question that I ask everybody is about producing in a professional way, but I want to reframe that here for you because you have a team and you have quite the professional setup. For someone who’s starting out, what are the most important factors to producing professionally?
To me, it’s the planning. It’s the content calendar. For years, I would hit publish and be scared. I’d be scared because I’d have to go, “What am I going to create for next week?” That’s not a good headspace to be because you start to have this countdown timer. Every second gets more and more anxiety in your life because you’re like, “What am I going to create?” You’re then forced to create. You’re spending all night doing it to get it out in time. A part of the podcasting process is what are you going to create episodes about? An energy-draining part of the podcasting process is the creative, thinking, and planning.
What my team and I do, and you can do this whether it’s yourself or you have team members. I would include the team members because the more voices, the better. We create moments every quarter to get into a room or Zoom together to plan what episodes do we want to have come out in the future, the next quarter after? We already have this quarter planned. I know that some podcast niches don’t lend themselves to planning that far ahead. Think sports, news, and whatnot. There are some other ways that can be done, but a lot of podcasters can plan ahead, we just don’t. Spending some time upfront to consider what do we want to come out and when? More importantly, why. That’s when things start to happen as a complete and whole business.
For example, four months down the road, we are going to be coming out with a new product. How might we then utilize this asset that we have as a podcast to create content that supports the launch of that product? A specific example was in July of 2017. I came out with Power-Up Podcasting, a course that I have, and to set that up for a month prior. This was planned ahead of time. It was planned in February and March. We decided that we were going to have podcast episodes that were all about opening up the idea of a person starting a podcast. An episode about the rapid growth in statistics behind podcasting. Why I feel it’s the number one platform that content creators should have. Another episode that came out was about success stories from myself and others about what can happen when you have a podcast. The first five steps newbie podcasters should make to prove authority. All these episodes leading up to the launch made it clear that a podcast was worth doing, and then here’s something to help you if you do want to go deeper with this.
You’re planning the setup and bringing the audience through with you.
Versus, “What am I going to do next week?” That’s the CEO mindset versus the scrappy entrepreneur mindset.
You have a highly engaged audience. They went to SpeakPipe and send in messages. I’m going to be the first to admit that we modeled that when we started our show WTFFF?!, which is on 3D printing, but we knew we didn’t have any audience at the beginning when we were starting it. We modeled a day where we would answer someone’s questions. We did a five-day week and we made them up because we didn’t have anybody. We said, “Here’s our SpeakPipe and you can go and ask us questions.” Eventually, we did get some. How do you get them to do that? How do you encourage that engagement?
There are a number of ways to do it. I think that it’s a smart thing especially if you’re starting out to show what it might be like to get a question answered by you, and then continuously opening up those channels. A lot of people don’t want to be first either. What you could do is utilize your network or friends to have and use them as examples of different ways. That way, people aren’t first. A lot of people don’t want to be first for something like that, especially if it’s new and different. Another way to do this is to manually, in a not scalable way, reach out and ask people personally. What I love to do sometimes is use my social channels to directly connect with people through direct messages. This is a great strategy that I love to share with my students for connecting with your audience and also asking them for help.
What I often recommend to do is not ask directly, randomly reach out to your followers on Instagram and say, “Can you leave a review for my show?” or, “Can you ask a question for the podcast?” I like to start by having people raise their hands and go, “I am a listener and I enjoy it.” The way that I do that is I’ll post something on Instagram. For example, about a recent episode or about my podcast, “This podcast came out last week. Let me know if you heard it. If you did, what was your favorite tip?” That way, the comments itself, they’re valuable for people. It announces that the podcast came out in case they missed it. They can go back and they’ll also see the value in that episode from the comments, so that’s cool in and of itself.
What I’ll then do is for every person who comments who I know had listened to the show, I’ll reach back out to them in a direct message with a video. I will personally thank them for listening to the show. That is a perfect opportunity to say, “By the way, if you have a quick moment, if you could leave a review on Apple Podcast, that would be massively valuable. Thank you, Tracy. I appreciate you so much.” Username, by the way, that way they know it’s personal, and it gets a 90% take rate. It literally does. The video is personal and it’s special for a host to take that time out to do that.
It makes them feel great. This is how you start building super fans. In the manner of getting people to engage, to leave a question, it’s the same thing, “Tracy, Pat here. By the way, I don’t know if you know this, but I have an open forum on AskPat. I’d love to personally ask if you have any questions or struggles that you’re having in business, go to this webpage, SpeakPipe.com/patflynn, and leave a question there for me. I’d love to answer it on the show.” They’re like, “Pat Flynn asked me to be on the show.” That personal reach out, it’s not scalable. Honestly, I schedule a time, 30 minutes every Friday in my calendar to have these moments with my audience.
You talk about it in Will It Fly?, and I’m assuming in Superfans that it’s the same number. I don’t remember off the top of my head, but you talk about those key 1,000 fans that tip everything over, but you could start with a key 100 or a dozen and move it forward. That’s a great suggestion. We talked about monetization and everything, but which method has been the most effective for you personally and for your shows.
Affiliate marketing, to be honest. It’s still the number one and biggest slice of that pie if you will. It’s because there are many great products out there that can serve your audience, products that I could never create myself. They’re in-line with what my audience has said they needed help with. I’m playing expert curator and what’s cool is you can do this even from episode one. You’re not going to have any audience click on those links or buy anything yet, but podcast listeners love to go back and listen to older episodes that relate. What happens is it’s planting seeds. I love planting seeds in my episodes that can then sprout later. You can pick those fruit when you want.
Affiliate marketing is great because I have a bank of not every episode is something that includes something like an affiliate link, but many do. I would say there are hundreds of episodes out there in the interwebs that at any moment in time a person can listen to without me having to lift a finger because it’s already been done. They’ll hear a story or see a ten-step process where step five is you get this product that can help you do this in less time. I’m helping and serving my audience through the evergreeness of a podcast with affiliate links and mentions within those episodes or mentions of my products.Guest podcasting is the new guest blogging. Click To Tweet
Some of the strengths of your affiliate links though are these are products that you’re using, that you are a big fan of. You use them.
It seems like requirement, but you don’t often have to use the product in order to share it. Imagine this scenario, Tracy, you recommend a product. A person goes, “That’s cool. Do you use this?” You go, “No.” You’re out. You’ve even lost their trust after that point. I love to recommend products that I use because I can almost represent that company. I want questions coming in about that product because if I can answer them, first of all, if they’re asking questions about it, you know that they’re close to buying or at least thinking about it. If you can answer those questions, they’re going to see you as somebody they can trust and are likely to go through your affiliate link to pay you back for that reward.
Be sure that when you’re doing affiliate marketing that you’re upfront and open about the fact that it is an affiliate link that is required by FTC in the US and even more stringently in Europe and other places too. Keep that in mind, but it is by far the easiest. However, too many people are taking advantage of how easy it is. This is why it has a bad rep. You can go to places that are networks of different products that you could pull from a catalog and get an affiliate link for it and have hundreds of dollars of commission. If they don’t align with your audience and if you’ve never used them, you’re going to lose that trust with your audience. That’s the biggest asset that you have especially as a podcaster and with the trust that you can earn. You need to nurture the trust that you’ve earned. First, you need to earn that trust and then you need to keep it. Be careful when you do affiliate marketing, make sure you’re promoting products that you know will serve your audience and almost represent them as if they were your own.
I know you’ve got a deadline, so we’ve got to get you out the door, but I want an open invitation to bring you back. Before we go, we want to talk about your binge factor. When did you first realize your show was bingeable? What do you believe your binge factor is?
I want to go back into your archive and listen. Do you ask this question to every guest?
Yes, every guest.
My moment was after having a podcast for about a year, podcasting only every other week. That’s all I had time for. I wasn’t quite as efficient as I am. I was blogging three times a week. I went to a conference. It was called Blog World Expo and this conference no longer exists. I met some people who had been following me. Every conversation I had was about something that I mentioned on the podcast. “I love that story you told about this,” or “I learned this happened,” or “In that episode, you did about this or this guest that you had on. Tell me more.” I was like, “What about the blog?” I blog three times a week. What about those?” I’m like, “That’s fine,” but like, “Let’s talk more about this story.” This is how I know people are listening. They start remembering things that I forgot. That was when I understood then. You then get the people who are like, “I found you and I’ve listened to all 100 episodes in the last three days.” I’m like, “You’re crazy. Why would you do that?” You need to take action. Stop consuming it but I appreciate it.
I think that the big binge factor is two things. One, I take things that are complicated especially in the business world that are helpful and I make them much easier to consume. I’m not that smart, in my opinion. I need to, for myself, dumb things down and make things easier. I then share that. I try to lead by example. The other thing especially in entrepreneurship space that I know is a big advantage that I have is I am not one of those entrepreneurs who is a Lamb bro. Somebody who’s riches, pushbutton riches like, “I’ve got all the secrets for you. Here’s my mansion.” No, my Lamborghini is my 2012 Toyota Sienna. I can relate to the people who are in this for their families. This is why my family shows up, this is why I have a show with my son. That’s something that immediately connects with any parents out there. I have a large audience of people who are not parents, but I step into that because that’s who I am, what I’m about, and why I do this. When I started stepping into that more, people started binge-listening more because they finally found somebody who was relatable. I believe those are big factors.
Those are the big factors and I’m going to add one more because sometimes it takes a binge listener to identify that. For you, in particular, it is that you simplify things and you put things in an order that’s understandable and make us feel like we can do this and you’re relatable. The biggest part of it is that you can’t fake passion for something you’re excited about. You get excited about something that’s working, I believe and I know that it must be working because you’re not one of the podcasters who’s doing the interviews, following a formula, phoning it in a way, and recording it in. You’re like, “This is the hottest thing since sliced bread.” You are passionate about something because you know it’s working and when you get excited about something, “I want to go and try it.” I think that is the key for you.
I think that speaks to just be you. If you’re not excited about it, then don’t podcast about it. If you are, put all of you into it. The other thing is embracing your weird would be the final thing to mention, I’m weird. I have these quirks. I love Back to the Future. I am me. My favorite thing to hear when I see people in person who listened to the show is, “You’re just like you are on the show,” and that’s how it should be in my opinion. Step into yourself and show up more. It would be my advice.
Pat, thank you for being on the show. This is exciting and I’ve enjoyed every bit of it. I would love to have you back at any time, so anytime you’re ready you can come right back and we’ll talk about more binge factors, more podcasts tips, and more audience matching. I love all of that. You have an open invitation anytime.
Thank you, Tracy. Thank you, everybody. I appreciate your time.
Beyond The Smart Passive Income Podcast And Into Building An Online Business That Works — Final Thoughts
I told you it was going to be wow. I told you he was going to have many beautiful nuggets for us. Didn’t he? There are many different things about know, like, and trust and overcoming all of this overwhelm that we all get when we’re trying to be consistent about our shows. There’s a lot of alternative monetization that he talked about. Looking at your growth and your engagement and all of those things are valuable in the process. One of the things that resonated the most with me and I’ve already repeated it.
When he was saying that Seth Godin said, “Podcasting is the new blogging.” He was saying that instead, he felt that guest podcasting is the new guest blogging. I thought that’s such an interesting concept and it already got my wheels spinning and thinking about how that applies here and why I hear it go wrong often with people who go out there and have this guest strategy that’s not working for them. A lot of it comes from traditional thinking about guesting as being on a radio show. Remember that podcasts and your show are different. We have an intimacy with our audience. We have an obligation to being clear with our audience, that we are providing them someone and something of value. To allow guests to come on that are in sense going across and doing show after show and not caring what show they’re on or only doing shows because of the number of downloads does a disservice to you and your audience.
Fight that from a podcaster side and we’ll change the way that industry works altogether. As we shift and we saw guest blogging go wrong at one time when it was all about backlinks and it wasn’t about the quality of blogs. It’s shifted to being a much higher quality blogging and guesting strategy which still works to some extent. I want to see guest podcasting happen that same way. That’s why I love that Pat was free to share his criteria with you about how he looks at that, how he judges that, and who he decides is going to come on his show.
I’m going to give a shout-out because I’m on his show and it was such an honor to be on his show. Especially give a shout-out to checking out his YouTube channel. If you want to step away from your podcast player and scroll right over to YouTube because I know many of you are in there. Subscribe to Pat Flynn there and check out what he’s doing because it’s not the same as his podcast. It’s not the same as his blog. He’s testing out some new ideas and new strategies there.
He inspired me to keep going and to plugging away, changing, keep improving what we’re doing and what I’m doing here on the show. You’re going to be seeing some changes coming forward that I’ve gotten inspired by listening to a few more of his episodes. I’ve had time because I had to catch up because I wanted to be prepared for this interview. It got me excited about some other things that I can do better on my show as well. Always upping the game and Pat is one of those who raises the bar for all of us. Thanks, Pat Flynn, for being on my show. Thanks to all of you for reading. If you are interested in having your binge factor analyzed, you can reach out to me on TheBingeFactor.com. We have an application page there, so you can go right in there and apply. I look forward to listening to your shows and I look forward to you all reaching out to me anywhere on social media @TheBingeFactor and @TracyHazzard. We’ll be back next time with another great Binge Factor.
Don’t miss Tracy Hazzard’s Authority Magazine article about Pat Flynn too!
- Will It Fly?
- Pat Flynn – YouTube channel
- Internet Business Mastery
- Entrepreneur’s Journey
- All Of Your Beeswax
- 1 Day Business Breakthrough
- 122 – Smart Passive Income previous episode
- Cory Huff – Smart Passive Income previous episode
- Power-Up Podcasting
- @TheBingeFactor – Facebook
- @TracyHazzard – LinkedIn
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