“You just don’t make money if you don’t care about people first,” Pat Flynn says in his book Will It Fly?, “Putting cash over caring has never rewarded me, and I’ve since learned that your earnings become a byproduct of how well you serve your audience.”
Did you know that Pat Flynn made over $7,900 with his blog just one month after launching his first product? All this in passive income, too; meaning the product sold itself while he was doing something else.
The very next month, he reported having made over $9,700 in passive income. Now, his online business is generating over $2 million in passive income per year!
- 1 Learn How to Build, Grow, and Monetize a Blog
- 2 Introduction - Pat Flynn’s Story
- 3 Pat’s Targeted Web Traffic Breakdown
- 4 Monetizing Traffic
- 5 Conclusion
Learn How to Build, Grow, and Monetize a Blog
Where should I send the lessons?
How in the world did he manage to do this?!
Today, we’ll let you in on how Pat Flynn went from knowing zero about blogging and online businesses to becoming the smart passive income whiz he is today. We’ll get into the details of how he managed to start an online business that now makes him millions of dollars in passive income each year.
We’ll review Pat’s inspiring story and identify the key steps he took to monetize his blog with the hope of getting you all pumped-up and in the right mindset to make your own blog a success, too!
Let’s do this!
Table of Contents
- 1 Introduction – Pat Flynn’s Story
- 2 Pat’s Targeted Web Traffic Breakdown
- 3 Monetizing Traffic
- 4 Conclusion
Introduction - Pat Flynn’s Story
Before we get into the details of how Pat built the successful online business he runs today, let’s take a look at what he was doing before becoming a smart passive income whiz.
Life Before Blogging
Like many bloggers today, Pat Flynn had no idea he would end up setting his career aside to make money from blogs. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, where he received a B.A. degree in Architecture. In February of 2007, he was working as a young senior drafter in an architecture firm in the California Bay Area, earning around $38k per year.
As one would have it, he was motivated to advance his career by expanding his resume with something that would help him stand out. At the time, more and more companies were understanding the many benefits of going “green”, and there were no accredited professionals in environmentally-friendly design in his department.
The Leed Exam
“There’s an exam people can take to become a LEED Accredited Professional which allows one to manage projects under the LEED rating system, and because everything else was “going green” at this time, I figured it would be smart of me to “go green” as well and work toward my accreditation.”
He decided to take an exam to become a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Accredited Professional. After finding out about the exam, he found out it was quite difficult to pass and that there was an impressive amount of information to learn. On top of this, there weren’t a lot of help courses or study guides for the LEED exam. But he was up to the challenge, so he signed up to take the exam.
At first, study sessions weren’t going well and he wasn’t making any progress.
“I wasn’t making any progress. I was studying at most just a few hours a week, and none of it was sticking.”
He needed to step-up his game and do more than just Jotting notes down, creating flash cards, and spending hours reading the boring reference guide he had been given if he wanted to pass the exam.
The key to a successful business is to help people find practical solutions to real-life problems.
The Birth of the Blog that Started it All
He needed a simple way to classify the information, link to internal and external references, highlight relationships between different concepts, and tag essential keyword phrases. He also wanted to be able to access his notes wherever he was without having to carry a bunch of papers and notepads around.
That’s when it hit him: he needed to convert his notes into a blog.
“It just all made sense to create this exam framework on a website to help me wrap my brain around everything, without ever having to carry reams of paper.”
He taught himself how to start a blog on WordPress and started adding content to his blog during his study sessions. He shared his blog with his peers and even joined several forums to help resolve the doubts of others who were also struggling to study for that test.
He shared his blog with anyone and everyone who could use it —not because he wanted their money, he sincerely wanted to help them out. At the time, Pat had no idea what SEO was or that he could make money with his blog.
Educate yourself as much as possible and write your first pieces of content yourself to know exactly how you want the rest of the content on your blog to be.
A Dramatic Turn of Events
Months went by and Pat finally took the LEED exam. Needless to say, he did exceptionally well. Very soon after, he got a promotion and a nice raise at the architecture firm. Not only this, but he and his girlfriend had just gotten engaged.
Life was good!
Nonetheless, the U.S. economy was bad and the demand for architects was rapidly falling. At his firm, they had already dismissed around 50% of their workforce and Pat knew that he would soon be next. He was right. A few months later, his boss informed him that he would have to let him go after he was done with his current projects.
He would still be on payroll for a few months and had a bit of money saved up, but he knew he had to do something quickly in order to secure his and his future wife’s financial stability. He called several firms asking if they could give him at least an entry-level position, but there were no job openings at all.
“Aside from my wife, the only bright spots after the bad news were the notification emails from the LEED exam forum threads, most of which comprised people thanking me or asking questions as though I was expert who knew the answers. The good news, after all that study and hard work, I did know the answers, most of the time—and that’s when the entrepreneurial Pat Flynn you all know today was born.”
Blog about something that you are already good at or are already helping people with.
Pat Flynn had worked on creating great, useful content and spreading the word about his blog a full year and a half before he even thought about monetizing it.
I mention this to highlight the fact that things don’t just magically happen overnight. Building a successful online business requires loads of dedication and hard work in its initial stages.
Now that we’ve made that clear, let’s get on with our story…
Pat had dedicated a lot of time to studying for the LEED exam and adding useful content to his blog. He had become very skilled at helping others prepare for the exam, and he had a great resource with the blog he had created. He just had to figure out a way to turn all of this into an online business.
He took a couple of online courses and read a few books to educate himself. He learned something very important during this time: all successful online businesses had targeted web traffic.
He setup Google analytics to get an idea of what his traffic looked like and was blown away by the results.
“Once the data started to collect, I could see that hundreds (often thousands, depending on the day) of people were already visiting my site every single day.”
Pat’s Targeted Web Traffic Breakdown
By good ol’ fashioned word of mouth, and by posting links on forums, Pat had spread the word widely about his blog without knowing it. He had visitors coming from across the globe through Google searches, direct traffic, and referral traffic.
Most of the search traffic he was getting was from long-tail keywords relevant to the LEED exam. Blogs are SEO-friendly by nature, and because his content had exactly what people were looking for, Google had ranked his blog at the top of result pages for a lot of those terms.
One third of his traffic was coming from bookmarks, desktop shortcuts, links in emails, and people typing the name of his domain directly in the search bar of their browsers. This meant that he had built a powerful and authoritative brand by creating useful content and sharing it with others.
Finally, the links he was posting on the forums he participated in when helping to resolve doubts, the links from his peers’ personal blogs, and the links he received from authoritative sites, like the USGBC (powerful ally that found his resource very helpful!), helped boost his traffic with authoritative and highly relevant backlinks.
“The mind blowing statistic, across the board, is that an overwhelming number of visitors were spending hours on my site.”
Creating useful, high-quality content and spreading the word about it is the best form of SEO.
Okay. Pat had created a useful resource with lots of demand and spread the word about it without knowing that this would generate tons of traffic for his blog. But how could he turn this traffic into dollars?
The very first thing he did to monetize his blog was to set up Google AdSense on his site. He had learned that the setup was fairly easy. By adding Google AdSense to his blog, he was able to serve highly relevant ads to his visitors.
If you don’t know this yet, Google AdSense is “a program run by Google that allows publishers in the Google Network of content sites to serve automatic text, image, video, or interactive media advertisements, that are targeted to site content and audience.” (Wikipedia). You get paid for every click that you get or for the amount of people that see these ads.
“The first day I had earned just over $5.00, and then next it turned into $7.00, and when I added more ad units and learned more about the best places to put ads, the income grew to $15 to 30 per day, and more.”
If you cater your blog content around your targeted audience’s needs, you’ll have good chances of making money with Google AdSense.
Pat continued to educate himself in internet business and he soon learned that he could also do private advertising. He did research and found out that there were many third-party companies that specialized in practice exams and live training for the LEED exam.
“A couple phone calls and a deal later, I had my first advertiser on a 3-month contract for $50.00 per month. More phone calls and a couple emails later, I eventually had four 125 x 125 pixel banner ads embedded in the sidebar of my site, earning a total of about $600 per month.”
By this time, Pat Flynn’s blog was making him about $1,500 per month —this money was pretty much being made automatically, without him having to work for it.
Once you have a good amount of traffic coming to your site, find out if there are companies selling products directly related to your content, and reach out to them to negotiate private advertising deals.
The First Product Launch
To save money for his upcoming wedding, Pat and his fiancée moved to their parents houses in San Diego, which meant Pat would have to take the train to work every day.
He took advantage of this opportunity to listen to the Internet Business Mastery Podcast, and then eventually, he joined their Academy.
Sterling, one of the hosts of the show and a few other members that lived in San Diego decided to start having local meetings. After sharing his story with the group during their first meeting, Sterling and everyone else convinced Pat to write an eBook and sell it on his blog.
“So when I wasn’t sleeping or on the train (or sleeping on the train), I was in front of my computer writing a study guide for the LEED exam in Microsoft Word. Four to eight hours a day (on top of work and travel) were dedicated to making this guide amazing, organized, and beautiful. (…) My goal was to create the guide that I wish I had when I first started studying for the exam back in early 2007.”
After a few months, the guide was done. He exported it as a PDF and created a cover for it in Photoshop. In order to automate the checkout and delivery process from start to finish, he used a digital delivery service called E-Junkie.
Once he had made sure that everything was working fine, he designed and published his sales page. He put a link to that sales page on the header of his site and at the bottom of each and every post.
“I had earned more that day online than I ever have in any day working my architecture job, and when October finished up and I was officially laid off and didn’t have to take the train anymore, I had sold 309 copies of my ebook, and combined with my Adsense income and pro-rated private advertiser payments, I had grossed a total of $7,906.55.”
After building your blog’s authority and increasing its traffic, create a digital product that can help solve one or more of your audience’s problems, and use a digital delivery service like E-Junkie to automate the entire sales and delivery process.
Now you know exactly what Pat Flynn did to create a successful blog and then monetize it to generate over $7k just one month after having launched his first product ever!
Key Takeaways for this Case Study
Here are the main takeaways we can highlight in Pat Flynn’s case study:
Well, there you have it. I truly hope Pat’s story will inspire you to create your blog today and reach your passive income goals. Share this case study to inspire your friends and family to take action!
If you haven’t started your blog already, check out this step-by-step guide that will take you through the process of setting up your self-hosted WordPress blog, just like Pat Flynn did!
I’ll leave you with one last quote from Pat:
“Sure, I was scared a lot of the time, but one phrase sums it all up for me: I had nothing to lose, but an opportunity.“