How to Pick a Profitable Niche Even If Your Past Attempts Have Failed - with Pat Flynn

How to Pick a Profitable Niche Even If Your Past Attempts Have Failed - with Pat Flynn

You’ve probably heard the phrase “the riches are in the niches.” It’s simple. It’s catchy. It’s got this cool rhyming thing going on. And it’s true. If you’ve ever doubted that solving a big problem for a small market will result in huge rewards, today’s guest will challenge you.

Pat Flynn is the host of the Smart Passive Income podcast and the best selling author of the book “Let Go.” He’s also our guest today on the Starting from Nothing podcast. His website, Smart Passive Income, is where he shows you step by step how to make money online. And he does it all for FREE!

This is a great interview and even if you know Pat’s story, there’s plenty in this one for you. One of the highlights comes at the top with Andy’s first question - I think he may have caught Pat off guard a little. What do you think?

In this interview you’ll learn...

  • 2:00  Why Pat shares his income each month
  • 7:19  The podcast that introduced Pat to the marketing world
  • 23:38  The strategy Pat used to get traffic to Smart Passive Income when he launched
  • 30:33  How to pick a profitable niche
  • 44:07  How to get the most results in the least amount of time


Show Notes

Podcast transcript:

Andy: All right. Welcome everyone. This is Andy Drish
with another episode of The Foundation podcast and today with me
I have Pat Flynn. Pat is the leader in online entrepreneurship, digital
marketing and lifestyle business. His blog, Smart Passive Income, is
where he shows readers how he generates passive income online so
they can apply the same strategies to their businesses.He has one of
the top podcast in iTunes. It had been downloaded over 3 million
times and as of recently he’s now a bestselling author, thanks to his
new book Let Go which is awesome. The coolest part about Pat I
think in my own opinion is we got to hang out at blog world for the
first time in person this year and … Pat has some … you have like
this weird unique gift to make everybody feel like a close friend
around you. He’s extremely humble, extremely honest, extremely
friendly and I think he’s going to make a great episode for us. Pat,
thanks for coming man.Pat: Thanks for having me and
thanks for the kind words. I’m blessed.
Andy: Absolutely.
Along that line of you being very open and humble and honest with
people, you reveal your income online every single month. You can
go to Pat’s website and you can see that last month he made about
$55,000. You can see he had about $8,000 in expenses; and every
single month you break this out. Why you do that?Pat:
Well, it’s a great question and I love how you just jump right into it
Andy. The reason I feel like I should do this is because on my
website,, I’m giving people tips and
strategies and examples of what to do and what not to do with online
business and so they’re following me for advice. In this space I feel
like if you’re going to be teaching people how to make money you
got to show people that you’re also making money. Not just talk the
talk but you got to walk the walk too.When I first started doing this
in 2008 nobody was doing this. Apparently I heard that some other
people had used to do it but they stopped. I think it’s the perfect
thing to do in order to be transparent and honest and build the
relationship with people and have people follow you for the right
reasons because you are legit. Yes, I could make up the numbers
and … although I don’t do that and it’s illegal to do that or it’s
against [CMTC 00:02:06]. Somebody could. That’s why in addition
to all those numbers that I include there I include all the lessons and
things people … things I have done during the month to help me
reach to that point. Things I did right, things I did wrong.
A lot of other examples of how I’ve been proving myself, not just
income but search engine rankings and number of social proofs and
number of downloads for this and that and things like that. It’s not
just about the numbers although I know from experience that that’s
what people look for.
I actually recorded people through a tool called Click Tale. I’ve
watched people who go to my income reports, just scroll right down
at the bottom to see how much I earned even before reading a single
word and then they scroll back up. I know it’s really interesting
Probably the best way I can explain it is … companies in the stock
market for example, they share their earnings every quarter to their
investors so that their investors can make a … well-educated
decision to continue investing with them or not or new investors to
start investing with them. Now, people aren’t coming to my site to
invest money with me but they’re investing their time. In the same
way I want to give people the understanding that this is where your
time should be spent.
Andy: So I noticed this … as I was just doing some research
and talking with Chris, our producer, you don’t sell any information
products around how to make passive income.
Pat: Yeah, I don’t.
Andy: That really surprised me.
Pat: [Laughs].
Andy: Yeah, why not?
Pat: For one I know I totally could just blow it out of the
water. People will have told me just their credit card numbers. I
swear, people have sent me their credit card numbers saying … just
whatever you come out with, just charge it to us. I tell them to delete
the emails and delete the archive because that’s just wrong. I don’t
know why people do that. The point is, people are there and they’re
waiting for me to come out with a product.
Now, I’ve always wanted to do one but I didn’t want to rush it
because the income is good, I don’t feel like I have to tap into my
audience that much. I can continue to help them by providing all this
information for free on the blog. I’m earning an income primarily on
Smart Passive Income by affiliate marketing. I’m sharing
information for free but along the way I’m showing tools, services,
products and other things like that which may or may not have an
affiliate program but when they do and people go through those
links and they make a purchase I get a cut of that sale and I love
That’s sort of why it become known as sort of the good affiliate
marketer, someone who’s doing it in a way that’s sort of honest. The
way I’m sharing and selling other people’s products for them.
They’re not my own. I’m selling other people’s products but as a
result I’m actually strengthening the relationship I have with my
audience. I’m getting thank yous from people for sharing other
people’s stuff. When it comes to affiliate marketing I take a great
deal and I take pride in promoting only the products that I’ve used,
that I’m extremely familiar with, and really that I do treat like they
are my own products.
Officially I don’t have my own products yet. Potentially going to
work toward them but in the sense that I’m promoting other
people’s stuff as if they were my own then I actually have a lot of
Andy: Got it. That’s something I’ve always found really
interesting is because most affiliate marketers, when you talk to
them, they won’t tell you anything. They won’t tell you what niches
they’re doing or what websites they have or … just anything.
You’re so transparent with it. It’s awesome. Super cool man.
Pat: Thank you.
Andy: Okay, so … have you always been this interested in
business? Like, what were you doing during college? Were you
selling candy when you’re seven years old? That type of stuff.
Pat: Well, when I was in middle school I remember selling
candy just for the band because we are forced to raise money
because we had to.
Andy: I remember that stuff.
Pat: Yeah, right? Then we sold beef jerky. That was really
Andy: Yeah.
Pat: In high school I sort of became interested but not
really. I didn’t really have any notions of becoming an entrepreneur
back then. It was in college when I start to see other people who
were sort of doing things on their own where I got really excited
with it. I was just like trying to live my curiosity through those
Andy: Yeah.
Pat: I wasn’t ever trying to do it on my own. I just thought
it was really interesting. I was really interested in it but I was set on
this path to become an architect. I went to school at UC Berkeley for
Architecture; went there for five years. I was also doing the
marching band. Those were the things I was interested in:
architecture and marching band. Not really … doing stuff as an
Andy: Yeah.
Pat: Although for like … I think for like two months I
tried to resell concert tickets that got sold out on eBay and that was
just like way too boring for me. I was like, “Okay, well, I’m
definitely not cut out to be an entrepreneur.”
Andy: Ticket scalper.
Pat: Yeah right, exactly.
I did architecture thing. It was only when I got laid off in October …
well, that was officially when it happened. I learned I was going to
get laid off in summer of 2008. That’s when sort of my eyes opened
up and I started to discover all these things that other people were
doing to make a living online as an entrepreneur.
I got hooked up with podcast actually called Internet Business
Mastery and I listened to an episode on there with a guy named
Cornelius Fitchner. It was a couple episodes actually. One with the
guy named Shaun Noonan who is talking about how he was
teaching … he and his wife were teaching people how to speak
Indonesian. That’s how they were making living off of the selfmade
website that they made. I was like, “That’s so interesting.”
But then I heard this other story about a guy named Cornelius
Fitchner on the podcast that was making living by teaching people
how to pass the project management exam. Now I had experience
with an exam in the architecture industry called the LEED Exam
and that sort of when I heard that story, that’s when the light bulb
went off for me and I thought maybe there’s a way I could teach
people how to pass this exam. That’s really when everything started
happening for me as an entrepreneur.
Andy: So that happened in summer of 2008 you said?
Pat: That’s when I learned I was getting … Yeah. That’s
when I started listening to the podcast after I had learned I was
going to get laid off. I actually had like a three-month buffer
because I was a job captain for some projects that I need to finish up
so I actually had about three months till I was going to get laid off
which sucked because I was … I could see every day the calendar
getting smaller and smaller between now and when I was getting
laid off.
But then by the end of it, when I started getting really interested in
online business and stuffs aren’t happening, I couldn’t wait for that
day. Once that day happened and I started earning an income on my
own and there’s obviously lots of the story which we can get into if
you like.
Andy: Yeah.
Pat: But that’s when everything changed from me. When I
sold to my first customer, that’s when everything changed for me
mentally. Like, I’m never going to go back to working on for some
[males 00:08:47] anymore.
Andy: Let’s talk about that because one of our … beliefs in
the Foundation is that we have a vision in over the next five years of
helping a million people get their first customer because getting the
first customer like everything shifts; your beliefs about yourself,
your beliefs about what’s possible. It’s so critical and so important.
Take me back to the day you found out that you were going to get
laid off.
Pat: Sure.
Andy: What happened? Walk me through the process of
what it was like. I’ve never been through anything like that. I can
only imagine.
Pat: Yeah, well, it’s interesting. For a while we started
having more and more consistent meetings in the office. No one had
gotten laid off yet but they were just sort of talking about the
economy and how people were struggling, how we’re going to have
to … how some clients that we had weren’t going to be working
with us anymore; just some small negative stuff. Then, few people
in the office started to drop out or get laid off and we were like,
“Whoa! This is weird.” But we’re like “Okay. Well, they weren’t
doing much work anyways like the other. They’re probably just
cutting the overhead.” But then some of the higher up people who
had been there for a while started getting let go. That’s when it was
like, “Whoa! This is seriously happening now.”
First they actually cut our pay in half and then they had us work less
hours. They’re keeping us there as long as possible. Wasn’t a
surprise as much as it really was a surprise because I had been
working my butt off to impress my bosses, I was taking all these
exams and doing extra work and classes that I didn’t even need to,
just to show them that I was meant to climb the corporate ladder a
lot faster than anybody else.
Andy: Yeah.
Pat: I actually got a call into the office and I remember
sitting down. He’s like, “Pat, go ahead and sit down.” So I sit down
and he says, “Pat, I have to tell you. You’re one of the best guys we
have. Best, youngest and brightest guys we have.” And that was like
a little glimpse of hope for me. I was like, “Okay. Maybe he’s going
to say it’s going to be a small team of people. We’re going to stick
around and work through it.” So he’s like, “Pat, you’re one of the
smartest, youngest, brightest guys we have.” Then he followed it up
with, “Well, I’m sorry I have to let you go.”
And that was just like a knife to the gut. It just was like “Oh my
gosh!” I had just proposed to my girlfriend and she said yes a few
months prior to that. What was I going to say to her? What was I
going to say to my parents? I was disappointed in myself for
whatever reason. I just, for some reason, was angry at myself for
maybe not doing enough work or doing something that I shouldn’t
have to put me in that position. I don’t know.
Then I also got really angry because I did do everything I was
supposed to. I had gotten good grades, I had done all the extra
curriculars, I got that job that I needed to do. I was doing all the
extra work and trying to impress my boss. I climbed the corporate
ladder, I was getting promoted and then I still got kicked out.
After a couple of days it really set with me that, you know what? I
need to take control. I need to … if I fail I want it to be because of
something that I didn’t do myself. Not something that … I didn’t
want to have anybody else control what I was doing. I wanted to be
in control. If I succeed, I want to be rewarded for my efforts. That’s
when it really shifted for me and that’s when I discovered the
Luckily, when I was still working 9:00 to 5:00 I had created a blog
that help me pass this exam because it was just impossible for me to
study the traditional way. After college I just sort of left that part of
my life behind me and I couldn’t figure out how to study for this
exam. What I did was I created a website. It was originally called and it just …
Andy: When did you start building this website?
Pat: This was near the end of 2007.
Andy: So about six months, seven, eight months prior?
Pat: No. End of 2006 I believe. I’m sorry.
Andy: Got it.
Pat: It was out for about a year and a half until I was laid
I had poured about a year of content into the site. Just posting my
notes, charts ... anything I could do to help me memorize this really
think guide that I was supposed to memorize. It was really helpful.
The way that blog was able to manage that content. It’s a content
management system. It made it so much easier for me to study on
the go, to see relationships between different things, to link the
things and … other external things that would have help me
understand the exam. I ended up passing in March of 2008.
I just let the site sit there but it was when I heard that story about the
guy who was teaching people how to do project management where
I was, “Hey, I have this website. Maybe I can do something with it.”
I ended up putting an analytical tool in the site just to get ready for
whatever potential traffic I could scrape up. The next day, literally
thousands of people I saw were registering as visits on the site.
From 50 countries around the world. They were already visiting my
site and I had absolutely no idea.
Andy: So you put this content online just to study for
Pat: For myself and for a couple of my co-workers who
are sort of studying along with me. Yeah.
Andy: And you had no analytics. You really had no
knowledge of like this world, of like internet marketing and they’re
like stuff that exist.
Pat: No. No. None of it. I just did whatever sort of made
sense for me as someone who is going to use the site. I know now
that it’s always good to put keywords in the title of your post for
example. That’s what I was doing because that’s what sort of made
Andy: Yeah.
Pat: When you think about how Google works now and
how they really want things to be more natural, I was doing
everything natural because I had no frequency of notion of any of
these strategies. I was just doing what was natural.
What happened was I ended up getting picked up in ranking number
one for several thousand keywords. A lot of main keywords and
plus a lot of long tail keywords, and when people found me they just
saw this goldmine of information and shared it on blogs and forums.
Again, I had no idea this was happening. When I dived into
analytics after I saw all the forums that were linking to me; the
blogs. I was even mentioned in a lot of United States Green
Building Council chapter websites as a resource. I was even a
resource in Wikipedia for a while. It was crazy.
I had no idea this was happening and that’s when I turned around
and found a good group of peers to help me and guide me and
eventually have me write an E-book study guide for the site which is
my first product where I landed my first customer and really just
changed everything.
Andy: Another thing I think is critical for people is finding
that group of peers who’s like one or two steps ahead of you. Right?
Pat: Yeah. Absolutely.
Andy: It’s hard to relate. If they hear that you’re making 50
grand a month right now and their goal is to make three grand a
month, it’s hard to relate and see that. But I you see somebody
who’s making two grand a month or four grand a month all of the
sudden you believe it’s possible. Who is that group for you and how
did you find them?
Pat: Well for me I was initially a part of a group called
Internet Business Mastery. Again, it’s that podcast I listen to. They
also had a course called the Internet Business Mastery Academy.
Within that course there was a forum and in that forum there was …
you could see where people were located and I got hooked up with a
good group of people who were in the Southern California region;
Some in Diego, some around the LA area.
Andy: Yeah.
Pat: We just started talking on the forums and all of the
sudden Jeremy, who is one of the host of the show, he moved to San
Diego and he mentioned, “Hey guys, I’m going to be in San Diego.
Let’s all meet up.” I was scared to death because I never met
anybody who did online business on the other side of the world in
person before. In here everybody was sort of congregating here in
San Diego in my hometown. Literally a couple mile.
We decided to just have a meeting at Panera Bread which is like a
couple miles from my house. I went there and there was a group of
guys there. I only recognize a couple of them from their avatars. A
lot of them had like their logos or company symbols or whatever so
I didn’t even know who they were exactly. I met them and they
were really nice. They were really interested in what I was doing.
I didn’t know where I was on the sort of totem pole there but ones I
told them what I was doing, what niche I was in they’re like, “Oh,
that’s really interesting. I never heard of that before.” I was like,
“Yeah. A lot of people haven’t.” They were like, “Well, how much
traffic are you getting? How far along are you?” I was like, “Oh, I’m
getting four or five thousand visits.” and they were like, “Oh, that’s
pretty good for a month.” I was like, “No, no. It’s like every day.”
They’re like, “What?” “Whoa! Are you serious?” They’re like,
“What are you doing to monetize?” I was like, “Oh well, I had
learned to just put Adsense on my site.” They’re like “Dude …”
Everybody started getting all excited for me. These are people I just
met for the first time. They’re getting excited for me because they
were in my position before. Someone who is just on the brink of
starting something really cool.
You’ll find that when you go out there and talk to people who are a
little bit ahead of where you were, they’re going to remember where
they were and where you are and they’re going to want to help you
and that happens all the time. You just simply have to ask. I think
that’s the best strategy in the world. When you need something just
ask. A lot of people are too prideful or they’re too scared to ask.
What’s the worst that can happen though? Just say no and then you
can move and ask somebody else. I really think asking is huge.
I got advise from like four people to write an E-book and I didn’t
even know what that meant and so I asked and they told me and
they gave me the instructions on … just put the information on
Word, get it all out there and then you’ll figure out how to format it
and then I ended up making into a PDF, selling it on e-Junkie which
is a digital information product delivery system. It was like magic
I put that on the site. I didn’t know about launches so I didn’t do any
sort of biggie. I didn’t even have an email list or anything, I just sold
it and put like an icon on the bottom of every post and on the
sidebar. That first month I had made $7,905.88 from a $19.99 ebook
in the LEED exam industry.
Andy: Wow!
Pat: Just blew my mind. Blew my mind. Go ahead.
Andy: Walk me through because I remember reading this in
your book. Walk me through what it was like getting your first sale.
Pat: Oh god.
Andy: I remember like the first launch I ever did was we
made like seven grand in a week or something and I was just on
Cloud 9, man. Just like … on top (crosstalk).
Pat: Yeah. That whole month. I was actually still working
when I had launched my e-book and I was just about to get laid off.
It was just so poetic that it happened the way it did.
I remember it was really early in the morning when I launched my
book and I just put those icons up there. I woke up because I was
taking the train everyday to Irvine from San Diego; I was living
with my parents to save money. I remember waking up and just
checking my email to see if I had gotten any Paypal notifications
and I didn’t. I was like, “Oh, well it’s still early. It’s like 5:00 in the
morning. I just only slept for three hours. Maybe people just need
more time. I took the train, got up to work, check my computer.
Again, my personal email at work; no notifications at all. I was like
getting really bummed. I was like, “Wow, maybe … Maybe this just
wasn’t meant to be.
Then I think it was 8:40 in the morning, an email came in and said
“notification from Paypal” and I opened it up and said $19.99 minus
30 cents or something, whatever the fee was, was deposited into my
account. Somebody had bought my e-book and then I got really
scared actually. My first reaction was I was framed because I was
like … this is real. This guy has my book now, what if he comes
back and he’s angry, it’s not good enough. It’s so funny how we just
go through all these doubts. That’s the one thing I learned. Right
before something awesome happens, that resistance comes into play.
It’s like a dude who just comes in to try to just mess you up every
time you try to do something cool.
Andy: Yeah.
Pat: That person, that thing, the resistance always shows
up. That’s how I know now that that’s a sign that what I’m about to
do is going to be awesome. That’s the same feeling I got before I
started my podcast, before I started my YouTube my channel,
before I started public speaking.
Andy: Yeah.
Pat: Ever since punching that thing in the face and just …
getting rid of it, so many amazing things have happened as a result
of each of those things that I was initially scared of.
After getting initial … over that initial fear and not getting an email
within 20 minutes from somebody who was angry, another email
came in. I had actually walked outside because after I got over the
fear I was just really … I was doing fist pumps like Tiger Woods,
just … gosh. I vividly remember walking and then going back to my
computer again and seeing another sale in there. I was outside and I
made another sale and that’s when I was like, “Wow!” That really
showed me the power of being online, providing something
awesome and also the power of setting up the systems of automation
which is sort of what a lot of my businesses are based off of the idea
that you don’t have to be there. You could be walking outside or
playing with your kids or taking vacation or going dirt biking. You
can still be making sales.
Andy: Man! It’s incredible dude. It’s such an incredible like
… I remember reading the 4-Hour Workweek and it see me in such
a mystery.
Pat: Right.
Andy: And then it happens and its … it just becomes real
and it’s like what the hell?
Okay, so … you did that, you made like $200 in the first day,
continued to focus on that for … Did you focus on this for a long
time and grow it or did you get like … start doing other stuff or …
What did you do next?
Pat: The first month of sales on which later
got changed to because I got a cease and
desist letter for using LEED in the domain name. Apparently I
wasn’t supposed to do that. But again, I didn’t create the site for
business initially. That was okay, I did a 301 to redirect everything;
that’s fine. I focused on that for a while but after that first month of
launching the book and just how excited I was and how eye opening
this experience was I started which is
where most people know me from now.
Andy: Yup.
Pat: Just talk about first. Everything that had happened
there and how awesome it was. With the idea that … it took me
getting laid off to understand what opportunities were out there.
Andy: Yeah.
Pat: It was somebody else’s success story that got me
moving. I wanted to be a success story for other people. That’s what
I tried to do and that’s why I’m here on podcast and why I’m happy
to share my story. I started Smart Passive Income and that didn’t
really do anything for the first year actually. A lot of people don’t
know but I wanted to give up like four or five times because the
traffic wasn’t there. Every time I push the publish button I was just
like why am I doing this? But there are a few cool people who were
leaving comments every time, who were reading my stuff who were
really inspired.
Andy: This is what Smart Passive Income.
Pat: Yeah, that’s what Smart Passive Income.
Andy: How long did it take till you made traffic? Until
you’re having the traffic?
Pat: Well, the thing I got spoiled from just all the sudden
one day turning on analytics and then having four or five thousand
people on my site. When I would get like 20 to a hundred people a
day, this is like after months of work and posting, it was like …
okay. There was only a hundred people here. But then that’s a
hundred people who can be inspired [inaudible 00:23:51] that way
as well.
It was when I just kept going, kept creating epic content when I
finally got in touch with a guy named Yaro Stark from and he loved my story and loved the
content that I was producing. I don’t remember how we found each
other but he asked me to be on his podcast and talk and … that
really sort of skyrocketed a lot of the stuff that was happening and
then they started noticing other people mention my site and sort of
discovering me along the way. It took about a year and a half before
I got to a point where it was obvious that this was really going
It was at that point where I eventually start to make money from it.
Again, the intention wasn’t ever to start making money from it, it
was just to share my story and be honest with people. What it end up
happening was now Smart Passive Income makes all these
incredible money through affiliate marketing and all the stuff that
I’m doing to help other people which is awesome. So I found that
the more I give away the more I get back in return.
I feel like maybe that’s partly the reason why I haven’t forced
myself to create a product yet because everything’s been going so
well by getting everything away for free. Even when I give stuff
away for free people are looking for ways to pay me back. With
Green Exam Academy it sort of expand … like going back to
October of 2008, after that first month of sales for about $8,000 and
it grew to about ten and then 12 and then it was when I created a
new product that it took the income on that site to a whole another
level. I actually created an audio guide to go along with it.
The funny story about this is I took about three days to record the
book. Just … all the information that was in it, I just set it to myself,
recorded it. I started listening to it and it was just terrible. The audio
quality was terrible. I don’t know how that … when I was reading
something off of the screen I would still say um. That was just … it
was just really bad audio. I was like I can’t put this out there. What
can I do?
I go back to my mastermind group, again, a great resource for
information because these guys are more experienced. I go, what
can I do? How am I going to create this audio guide like they
suggest that I do before? They started laughing like “Hahaha! You
tried to do it yourself? I can’t believe that.” I’m like, “Yeah. What
am I supposed to do?” They’re like, “Oh, well, get in touch with a
VA or a voice talent that can help you do this.” I was like, “They
have those?” “Yeah. You got to get other people to do stuff that you
know can help your business that you can’t do yourself or that you
don’t think you should be putting your own time into.” I was like,
“Wow! That’s like totally a four-hour work week, right?”
So, I got to, I find a voice talent on there for 1400 bucks
and … I had never spent that kind of money on anything except
[inaudible 00:26:30] rent before. It was kind of … I had been
making thousands a month but to spend 1400 on my own business
was a little scary for me at first. I spent 1400 bucks, she gave me the
audio in about two weeks. It was very high quality, very
professionally done. Way better than ever I could do and I ended up
making up the costs. I actually made $1400 within the first two days
of selling that product.
Andy: Wow!
Pat: That along with the e-book at a discounted rate
together is the most popular product and that’s what shot my income
to 20 to 30 thousand dollars a month. Again, just from this little
exam. Yeah.
Andy: Talking about the mastermind group. I know you’re
part of one now.
Pat: Three actually.
Andy: You’re part of three now.
Pat: Yeah.
Andy: Wow!
Pat: I love them. I love them.
Andy: How often do you meet with the groups?
Pat: Once a week.
Andy: With all three of them?
Pat: With all three of them. Yeah. Actually … scratch that.
One of them is not formal. One of them is just like an email one
where we’re all hooked up on an email group together whenever
anybody has a question or find something cool that thinks the rest of
the group can benefit from. We just share that. That’s one of them.
That’s somewhat of a mastermind group but I have two formal ones
that I meet with every week: one’s on Monday and one’s on
Wednesday. Now, they’re not in person, they are virtual which is …
a lot of people think that the mastermind groups have to be met in
person like my first one at the Panera Bread here a couple miles
Andy: Yeah.
Pat: But I found that actually, I love the virtual ones
better. They are structured like this. We meet, we talk about wins.
Andy: Yeah.
Pat: Everybody goes down the line, talks about something
really awesome that happened to just sort of inspire the group and
share something that was cool just to get us going. One person is
designated in the hot seat every time. That person will go out there
and they’ll either do … they’ll do some sort of small presentation
about something that they’ve been doing in their own business that
can help everybody else. And/or they will present a problem or an
issue that they’re having or something that they’re working on that
they want the rest of the group to have input on.
The rest of the group will do whatever they can to help using their
own experiences and everybody in every group I’m in is all different
niches. And so it’s really cool because you get these outside
perspectives, things that you wouldn’t have understood or thought
of if you were just sort of … in your own sort of niche or market or
obviously if you were just doing it by yourself. It’s been amazing.
And then at the end of the group we finish up by talking about what
we want to accomplish by the next week. We have that
accountability factor and that’s how it is in those two formal groups.
One of them is the teleconference, and the
other one meets via go-to meeting every week. We can actually see
each other on video.
Andy: With the groups, how do you … did you pick the
people? Did you get ask to join it? How did you go about getting
this group started?
Pat: One of the groups I was asked to join. And then
there’s a lot of other groups out there that you could pay to be a part
of and those are very valuable too obviously and they’re going to be
really structured and really good because there’s obviously money
involved. But the one I’m in isn’t a paid one but it’s still very
structured and very good. They just don’t … nobody pays for
anything. It’s just we’re all friends and … they ask me to join and I
came in and sort of tested it out and I loved it.
The second one, me and my buddy Cliff Ravenscraft from, we just were like “Hey, let’s start one up.”
So we started one up and start to invite a couple of other people and
that’s how we created one. If you can’t find one on your own it’s
good to create one of your own.
Andy: Cool. Let’s shift and talk a little bit about like getting
started in a niche. So if somebody wanted to start and kind of go on
a path that you have with … your Mixergy interview talked about
the riches that are in the niches. I love that quote. But if somebody
wanted to get started how do you advise them to pick niches? Where
should they start with this?
Pat: Well I would absolutely start with something that
you’re interested in. It doesn’t have to be a passion. It’s cool to start
with something you’re incredibly passionate about. For me, when I
really think about it like Green Exam Academy which is what it’s
called now, I’m not super passionate about the LEED exam. I’m
interested in it because I’m experienced with it and I took the exam
and I’m happy to help other people but I’m not like worshipping it
or whatever. I don’t think about it every day.
Andy: Yeah.
Pat: The same thing goes with one of my other sites which
is the security guard training industry. I don’t think … I don’t
worship security guard and stuff but it is something I’m interested in
because my mom is a security guard. And also, I’m interested in the
idea of building something that can help people and sort of curate
information for them because I found that there was a hole in that
particular niche.
There’s a couple of ways you can approach sort of niche selection
and I would absolutely start with something that you’re …
somewhat interested in at least. Really going in there and finding all
the other websites out there, all the top websites out there that are
talking about the same thing. All the other applications out there that
are doing the same thing or something similar to what you …
whatever it is that you might be interested in and seeing if you can
find any holes in what they’re doing.
Actually, one of the best thing to do is put yourself … actually,
become a customer and go through that experience with those
different companies and products that are out there, to see what your
experience is like and see if you can go into it, not just as a
consumer but someone who may potentially be a producer for other
people in that niche too with the mindset of okay, well, what’s
wrong with this? Or what needs additional work? Or what do I like
by this? That way you can sort of …
Andy: Yeah, go ahead.
Pat: Go ahead.
Andy: I was going to say have you done that with any of
your … any of the sites that you’ve been involved with? Like going
through the sales process from some competitor or somebody in the
Pat: Yeah.
Andy: What did you learn from it?
Pat: Well, I did that with Green Exam Academy because
when I was studying for the exam I was actually purchasing other
people’s products. I was purchasing practice exams and it’s going
through the process. When I created my product eventually in that
industry it was everything that I had wished existed already that
wasn’t there. That’s how the competitiveness and the other
competitors out there and other products, how that can guide you
along the way. I think a lot of people … they want to do something
and they go out there and see that there’s all these other sites out
there doing it and they get afraid or they’re like, “Ah, well, those
guys are already doing it already. They probably have a head start.”
Well, yeah, they’re there already. That’s a good sign that there’s a
market out there but it’s also good and it gives you an edge as
someone who’s new because times are always changing and people
want new things and you can go in there with mindset of going in
there to see what’s missing or what they’re doing wrong. A lot of
times now you can sort of data hunt what people wish was available.
You can go to Twitter, you can go to Facebook, you can go … do
Google searches to see what is missing from particular industry.
You can go to Amazon for a particular product for example if it’s
there and look at the reviews. Go look at negative reviews and see
what people dislike. But also go to the positive ones and see what
they like as well so you can sort of incorporate those things into
whatever it is that you might be working on.
That’s one way to do is to sort of put yourself in there as a customer
with the mindset of creating something different later on that can
potentially help. Really opening your mind and your brain to
potential things out there and look at things differently. A lot of
opportunities exist in our everyday lives. We just aren’t open to
them or we don’t think about it that way. Sometimes when you put
yourself in the right mindset of “I’m going to start a business. I got
to look for opportunities,” you’ll start to notice things. One of the
best things to do is just have a note pad and whenever some weird,
random thought comes across your head, something that might
potentially be a business idea, as crazy as it sounds, just write it
down because you never know when you go and conduct your
research on that and see what’s out there already. You might see that
that idea wasn’t actually that crazy.
Andy: Yeah. When you put on those lenses it seems like …
Pat: Everywhere.
Andy: Yeah. You become overwhelmed with the amount of
opportunity that there is.
Pat: Absolutely. Now when you get an idea, a lot of
people will try and keep that idea to themselves.
Andy: Yeah.
Pat: Because they’re afraid of other people stealing it or
they’re scared of how other people might think of it.
I got this tip from John Saddington in episode 61 in the Smart
Passive Income podcast. It’s probably one of the best hits I’ve ever
gotten. If you’re working on a web app or software or anything, talk
about it with people. Talk about it. Because you’re going to get
different people’s perspectives; potentially people who may
potentially be customers who are going to tell you exactly how they
feel about it. And so there’s no more guessing involved.
Yes, someone hypothetically cold steal that idea but they’re not
going to. They’re not in the same mindset as you are; someone who
is going to build something and execute. They’re just somebody
you’re randomly talking to and they might be like, “Oh, that’s a
good idea. Maybe I should do it.” But they’re not really going to do
it; you’re going to do it because you’re acting on it right now while
conducting that research.
Talk to people about it. You’re going to find out some amazing
things about whatever it is you’re interested in. New things might
come up that … new features that you didn’t even think of or things
to worry about that you didn’t even think of. It’s going to help you
shape the product the way it should be shaped as oppose to you
creating something out there that you feel like is going to work and
then having people tell you, “Well, this part I like but this part I
don’t.” It’s a very … sort of Dane Maxwell lean startup sort of
fashion to building something.
Andy: Very much. Somebody told me once this idea of …
the people who could steal your idea are busy doing their own.
Pat: Yeah. That’s true too.
Andy: I love that. It was really comforting to hear. How did
you come up with the security guard niche?
Pat: Well, this is a sort of different strategy I use for
picking a niche and this is based more scientifically through
keyword research. This is actually base off of a challenge that
somebody gave me. One of my buddies was like, “Hey Pat, none of
us know how to build niche sites. We have our blogs and we have
our products sites but let’s see if we could do this together. Let’s
like battle each other. We’ll go head to head. We’ll see who can
build a website from scratch in an industry we don’t know much
about, get it to rank in Google and start making money from it. Let’s
do it. And let’s post our findings and our results in the case studies
on the blog.”
So that’s what I did and that’s where this thing called the Niche Site
Duel came about and it’s become some of the most popular post in
my site. If you go to, you could see a list of all
those post there. There’s like 20 of them going from start to finish
from when I decided to pick security guard training and I’ll tell you
how I did that in second. All the way down to putting content on the
site, monetizing it, getting it number one in Google, everything.
Step by step. Step by step. Again, all free.
Andy: Completely ...
Pat: That’s some of the most profitable post on the site
because of the affiliate stuff. I’ve made since over $200,000 as a
result of that free case study through …
Andy: Wow!
Pat: … affiliate marketing which is pretty insane when
you think about it.
But, as far as how I select that niche, the way I approached it in
Niche Site Duel 1.0, I’m actually doing a Niche Site Duel 2.0 in the
next coming months which I’m really excited about because Google
has obviously changed a lot of things in the algorithm and it’s a new
environment, so it’s going to be fun to do it again. It might even add
another passive income stream for me, we’ll see. But as far as how I
picked security guard training …
I did this thing I learn from Glenn Allsopp from and
it’s where you pick cash-ins that you have, fears that you have and
problems that you have. Those will help you create a list of seed
keywords that you can put into a keyword research tool such as
Market Sumarai or Long Tail Pro. What that does is for each seed
keyword you put in there it will spit out potentially 800 other
keywords where you can get data from related to that and you can
see which keywords are being searched for and also which ones
have low amounts of competition in the first page of Google. The
idea is you want to find the keyword … this is what I was doing.
You want to find a keyword with a high search volume but low
My seed keyword that help me discover security guard training was
actually police training. Because my mom was sort of … my mom is
… interestingly enough she’s a security guard at the local mall here
in San Diego. She was interested in potentially getting her police;
moving it from security guard to police officer. So I looked up
police training in Market Samurai. That was one of the seed
keywords for … I think it was [inaudible 00:39:08] or something
because I couldn’t think of seven, I just was going through other
people I knew.
So police training I put in there, it spit out all these other keywords
using filters like too little … like getting rid of the ones with two
little searches or getting rid of the ones with too much competition.
Security guard training was there and it seem to have high enough
sort of cost per click in adsense which means that every time
someone clicks an ad a certain percentage of that income will go to
you if you have [inaudible 00:39:33]. It also means there’s a market
out there for it. I built the site and security guard training base off of
that research and … did really well.
Andy: It got to number one in how many days?
Pat: In 73 days.
Andy: And for what keyword?
Pat: For security guard training. Actually if you look up
security guard training right now it will be number in Google. But
it’s funny now that the site’s a couple years old and it has since
grossed over $50,000. I’ve only put in about an hour of work into it
every month since I got it to number one. Back then I was putting a
lot of work into it. But since then about an hour of work every
month just to upkeep it and to maybe do some AB testing on ad and
things like that. It’s just so cool how this evolved into what it has
Andy: Have you thought of doing some sort of training or
information product for security guards like you have with the
LEED exam?
Pat: The interesting thing about the security guard training
is that every state has a different set of requirements. They have
different tests. Some states don’t even have tests; they just have you
go through a particular amount of hours of training.
So, if it was universal, if it was just one particular test for all of
United States I would totally … I would absolutely have that. But
it’s proving to be a little bit difficult and I have to go state by state
and I just haven’t had the time to create training programs. And you
have to get those certified by the board to be able to properly do that
in a way where someone can actually earn a certificate from it and
move on to getting on the field.
Andy: Cool. I’d ask more questions about that but it sounds
like everyone can go check that out at and …
Pat: Yeah, thanks man.
Andy: (Crosstalk) themselves. Yeah.
For the second one coming up, I’m really glad you’re doing the
second one because that’s kind of a thing that … you do that in 2010
I think I saw. Is that right?
Pat: Yeah. End of 2010 which obviously is a long time
Andy: Yeah. Like three years ago is like an eternity in
internet world. In my mind … my inner skeptic, if I were watching
this and didn’t have any experience I would be thinking like …
yeah, that was like three years ago. Like does that still work? Right?
Pat: Right. I’ve been testing some of the exchange
strategies that I used back then that had a lot of people test them for
Andy: Yeah.
Pat: It still work but not as much. They work like half the
time and for whatever reason they do they work half the time and
sometimes they don’t. There’s no way to pinpoint and Google just
pinpoints whoever they want to pinpoint. It seems there’s no
obvious correlation between the ones that do and don’t get ranked in
Google. Some of them gets slapped by Google which is what we
don’t want.
The approach I’m going to take with Niche Site Duel 2.0 is I’m
going to take a more longer term, safer approach when it comes to
the back linking and the content creation and stuff like that. It’s
going to be a more white hat approach if that even exists since guest
posting is a way of manipulating search engine results but things
like that as oppose to … there’s other people out there who buy
expiring domains and then point links from those sites to their
money sites. That for me is a little bit too manipulative.
I’m going to take an approach where I feel like I’m going to be
leading by example; I’m trying to help do it the right way. If there is
even a right way to do it.
Andy: Cool. Even if it takes little longer it sounds like it
will be more stable over time.
Pat: Yeah. And I want to do it in the more … a little bit
more of a competitive niche.
Andy: Oh really?
Pat: Security guard training … yeah. I want challenge. I
really want a challenge. I want to show people … this could totally
fall on its face. It can totally fail. I’m sure it’s going to be
educational either way. If I did it in a somewhat competitive niche
… obviously I couldn’t do like dog training or whatever everyone
else says something competitive like that. If I chose one that seemed
relatively tough and I did it then nobody has an excuse anymore to
not try something on their own.
Andy: Totally man.
When people are just getting started with this stuff online … I
remember being super overwhelmed. There’s so much stuff to read
and there’s so much stuff to consume. Where do you see …
Pat: (Crosstalk)
Andy: Did you really? Why?
Pat: I did. I’m training for half marathon.
Andy: When is the half marathon?
Pat: In August. I totally apologize I cut you off but I was
just moving and I felt bad about that.
Andy: For an entrepreneur who is just getting started like
where … where do you think their energy should be spent on …
what are the things they should be studying that will give them the
biggest results with the least amount of time? And where do you see
people screwing up the most in terms of where they wasting a lot of
time? When they’re just getting started.
Pat: Yeah, that’s fantastic question. I remembered when I
first got started … there was just so many bright lights out there.
You know what they say. There’s this and then that, there’s
Pinterest and there’s Google+. How do you know what’s … Yeah.
It’s not shining object syndrome. I learned this from Internet
Business Mastery [inaudible 00:44:32]. They have this thing called
Just In Time Marketing. Basically what that means is whatever your
next step is just focus on that and just that. Do everything you can to
just get that done and then focus on the next thing and then the next
thing, one step at a time. Really, that has changed my way of
thinking because whatever I’m focusing on … this book, it was
recently … that’s what I was focusing on. That’s where all my
energy was spent, that’s when I learned about Kindle formatting and
Kindle marketplace and Kindle marketing strategies. I could have
learn that maybe couple of years back but I learned it when I needed
to learn it.
Andy: Yeah.
Pat: So, that may mean just focus on that and not get
worried and destructed about everything else. Now that that’s done
… where it’s actually still in the works a little bit, I can move on …
or I am moving on to something else for instance the Niche Site
Duel 2.0 right now. Right now I’m focusing on that.
Andy: Yup.
Pat: I’ve been doing interviews with people and
everything that I need to do to prepare for that. I’m not worried
about Pinterest right now or Google+. As much as those were there
and they could possibly help my business, that’s not what I’m
focusing on right now. You need to really be diligent and
understand that the more you spread yourself thin the less certain
things in your business are going to get done. You have to realize
that when you put 20% into five things which equals 100%, those
things that are 20% are 0% to whoever is going to be the end user
for them. You just have to realize that you got to focus, put all your
A part of that comes with understanding that, well, what is the path
that you’re going to be on? What is it that you want to do next? I
think that’s also where a lot of people get hung up. Well, they’re at a
point where they can choose to do something new. What do I do
next? What’s going to be the next best decision for me? I think that
goes along with finding other people. The peers in your mastermind
group getting their recommendations obviously is the best way to
go. I think. If you don’t have that, finding a trusted mentor or an
advisor … they don’t even have to be an official one, just somebody
who sort of jives with the way you do things or who is where you
want to be. Seeing what they’re doing and using that as a starting
point and then you can sort of dip your toe into certain things, see
how they’re working out. If they don’t fit for you, then fine. You
actually gave it a chance.
Andy: Yup.
Pat: Just put it aside, move on to something else. That
would be sort of my advice there.
Andy: Cool man. Before we wrap up, tell me about your
new book. I flipped through it, awesome. It went really, really in
depth into your story. It was cool to … I loved how detailed you got
with it.
Pat: Thank you.
Andy: Tell me a little bit about it and I also want to know
why did you title it Let Go.
Pat: Sure. Did you pick it up on Snippet App or on
Andy: Kindle.
Pat: Okay. Well, I actually came out with the book on a
brand new platform called Snippet App which is on iOS for iPhone
and iPad and its … I chose to launch it on that platform because it’s
a brand new platform that allowed me to incorporate video, audio,
images and also social media right in the book. I’m actually one of
the first publishers on this brand new platform. Actually, the top
selling publisher on it right now which is really interesting. But,
there was a lot …
Andy: Real quick on that. I clicked on the Snippet link and
then it like launched iTunes and then my stuff was outdated or
something so I didn’t get it. I was like, “Oh, [inaudible 00:47:55].”
Pat: No, thank you for telling me that. That’s one of the
things. You have to download the Snippet App, it’s free. If you go
to … it’s sort of like iBooks. There’s other
books in there, you can find my book in one of the featured authors
at the top.
Andy: Awesome.
Pat: You can download the book there for $2.99, it’s
really cheap. A lot of people love this story because … people have
heard my story before and I’ve shared it on the blog and in several
other interviews. But I get really in-depth with it, really deep into
what was going through my head.
Also, I do a lot of things with the video capabilities of Snippet App
which is like doing video interviews with my wife. Actually, I have
a video interview with my wife there who talks about what was
going through her head when I had gotten laid off and what she did
to kind of support me in my journey as an entrepreneur which I
think is really important for people to hear.
Also, interview with my dad who when I got laid off said I should
just go back to school. That it was a perfect time to go back to grad
school. He had work the same job for 45 years so obviously he
would say that. Now, we ask him questions … the team behind the
camera and myself, we talk about how it feels about where I’m at
now and how that makes him feel. It’s really interesting.
We shoot on location, where I got my architecture job. We shoot on
location at the Panera Bread where we had that mastermind meeting,
what was going through my head. It’s really cool way to tell my
Now, once again on Snippet App means that people who had
Android or Kindles and didn’t have iPhones or iPads couldn’t get it;
or people with outdated iPads. That’s why we reformatted it for
Kindle. You can still get sort of the same multimedia experience. It
still links to the videos at the end. I don’t know if you saw the
videos Andy but …
Andy: I saw the links. I didn’t click on them though.
Pat: Okay. Yeah. They are really important to the story
and it really gets you even deeper into what’s going on.
It got to number one in Amazon for all books. Not number one in all
books but number one for electronic and physical books in the small
business and entrepreneurship section which is really cool.
The reason it’s called Let Go … it’s sort of two-fold. It’s called Let
Go because it talks about how I was let go from architecture and
things like that. But it’s also talking about the fact that … in order to
get to where I’m at now I had to sort of let go of everything I was
conditioned to learn. About living the American dream or working a
job like 9:00 to 5:00 job and working hard at that for four years until
retire. I also had to let go of a lot of the fears that I had in order to
write that in a book or go out there and start producing podcast and
things like that.
Andy: Yeah.
Pat: The cover … you’ll notice on the cover there’s an
elephant and really quickly going to tell you why. When they train
baby elephants … the way they do that is they tie a steak in chain to
their leg that’s strong enough for them so they can’t pull it out.
Eventually the baby elephant will keep pulling and pulling until
their legs starts to hurt and they just … they just know they can’t do
it anymore so they just sit there.
Andy: Yeah.
Pat: Then the elephants would grow up but that same
steak and chain is there. That’s how they train them. Because the
elephant has been conditioned to learn that pulling away and trying
is painful. They don’t even … the trainers don’t even need to worry
about the elephants anymore just because of the way that they were
brought up.
Now, I feel like that’s where I was. I was that elephant with the
chain on and I was conditioned to sort of be okay with where life
was headed. It was only when that chain was broken, when I was
laid off, that I discovered all these other opportunities that were out
there. I really think that we all are, in a way, this giant elephant that
maybe sort of steak to the ground in one way or another. Whether
that steak is the fact that you’re just oblivious to what’s out there
because you’re working so hard in a 9:00 to 5:00 job which is my
case. Maybe the chain is … other people around you who are trying
to pull you back, maybe it’s just the lack of time, I don’t know. But
I feel like once we understand that that’s there we could break free
and discover everything else that’s out there for us.
Andy: Incredible man. That’s awesome. So, to check you out, where can they get the
book at?
Pat: You can go to, you’ll have the link
there for the book on Kindle, on the Snippet App and also it just
came out on Nook as well if you’re a Nooker.
Andy: Awesome dude. Well … thank you so much for
coming on the show today. Anything else before we go?
Pat: No, just say hi to me on Twitter at patflynn. I’d love
to say hi back.
Andy: Awesome. Thanks brother.
Pat: [inaudible 00:52:30].