Authentic entrepreneur spotlight: Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income

I was super busy last week showing some family friends around beautiful Philadelphia and its surroundings so I kind of fell under the radar. While I missed writing, I got plenty of time to think (I love just having time to let my mind go into grasshopper mode – it’s so refreshing) and take a little break from being in front of a computer screen all day long. If I have been a little slow getting back to you – sorry! Now you know why. 😉

Authentic entrepreneur spotlights – a new feature

I was delighted to see that a lot of you found my last post on writing great content that gets noticed very helpful, so I decided to take this whole “authentic biz” theme a little further and take an in-depth look at the strategies some of the popular authentic bloggers are taking.

A lot of you were, like me, (let’s put it nicely) disenchanted with the slimy internet marketing strategies.

I have been studying several people who do internet marketing in a way that doesn’t make me want to run for the hills, so I figured the best place to start is to learn from what they are doing!

To start off, I will focus on the three main topics of an online business: the content strategy (blogging, video, podcasting), the e-mail list strategy (super important!), and the sales strategy (because we want to make money without having to feel like a used car salesperson to get it.)

Pat Flynn

Pat has a pretty cool story, and he is one of the first people I found in the online business world who was completely open and authentic.  His e-mails feel like they come from a friend (which has an added benefit – they seem to land in the “primary” Gmail tab more often than other newsletter e-mails), he is completely non-salesy, and he shares a crap ton of useful content and strategies for free (starting with his free ebook, Ebooks the $mart way – one of the best written opt-in freebies I’ve read.)

One of the awesome things Pat does is share his income report every single month. Aside from Kate and John’s monthly income reports on Entrepreneur on Fire and Denise Duffield-Thomas’s reports about her first years in business (year 1, year 2year 3), I don’t know of another person who does this (if you do, please link to it in the comments!). This is super valuable for people who are just starting out in online business, but from what Pat has shared in some of his podcasts it can also get you some serious haters. I guess you win some and you lose some!

An example of one of Pat's newsletter e-mails - short, sweet, honest, to the point.

An example of one of Pat’s newsletter e-mails – short, sweet, honest, to the point.

Pat’s communication strategy

Pat’s strategy is pretty unique. He calls it “Be everywhere“. Basically, he posts useful blog posts, podcasts, has a YouTube channel, and is all over social media as well.

But here’s the best part about it (and the hardest, too): he doesn’t post the same content everywhere! I’ve seen other entrepreneurs post a video on YouTube, include the transcript on the blog, and put the audio into their podcast. But by doing that, they are not differentiating between the different kinds of fans they have.

The reality is that some people will prefer to listen to interviews, others will prefer to just listen to your voice as you tell them about stuff, others will prefer to read blog posts because it’s quicker, and others yet will want to see you talk on the screen or watch a screenshare presentation like my 3 habit success framework.

What’s more, your biggest fans will want to consume your content on more than one of these mediums.

By putting the same content on all mediums you are catering to your basic, one-medium fans. But by being on all of them you are adding more value to your biggest fans, who in the end are also the ones who will help spread the word about you (sneezers as Seth Godin calls them) and buy from you.

Pat takes this philosophy even further with his podcasts. He has two of them- the Smart Passive Income podcast (which is long, usually an hour) and Ask Pat, a quick (2-5 min) Q&A podcast. They are both extremely valuable, and cater to different preferences people might have for a podcast.

He interviews some amazing people on his SPI podcast, and also shares a ton of valuable, authentic information when he has no guests. His Q&A podcast is just a treasure trove of useful information – I love listening to both of them!

At the core of Pat’s engagement philosophy seems to be creating trust by offering insanely useful content over and over again, without asking for anything in return.

In addition, he includes lots of links to useful articles or other entrepreneurs in his blog posts, driving traffic to them and building relationships with them. This is a great strategy that emphasizes collaboration between entrepreneurs rather than competition (which comes from the scarcity mindset – “why should I promote their work? I don’t want to send clients away.”)

When entrepreneurs share each other’s work and support each other beautiful things can happen, and I love how some of the best authentic entrepreneurs do that.

Useful links:

Take action:

Create your own blogging pyramid, and write down a list of topics that you could use as case studies for yourself. If you can’t think of anything from the past, start a “case study” project! Choose something you want to work on (related to your niche – something your readers will be interested in), choose a goal and a time frame, and go to town working on it, discovering what obstacles come up, and finding creative ways to overcome them. Then share your experience on your blog!

Pat’s email list strategy

Pat talks extensively about his e-mail strategy in his posts and podcast (I’m going to list some links below). He breaks down his e-mails between blog and podcast updates (which contain links) and autoresponder e-mails, which are like mini blog posts – he shares little stories, useful and actionable tips (a key feature of his listbuilding strategy).

A great strategy he uses in his autoresponder series is to prompt the reader to respond. In the first e-mail you can ask something like, “What are you struggling with?” or “What kind of content would you like to see?”. I personally use this one too, and have found that it increases engagement and trust when people respond (hint: respond back! I always do, even if it takes me a while.)

I have noticed that Pat keeps doing this periodically, asking people for links to articles they have loved around the web, for instance. All great ways to increase trust and start communication with your list subscribers (helping them feel like real people, not just wallet owners).

One thing Pat does very well is have opt-ins everywhere on his site, but not in a way that is pushy. He has no pop-up (Yay! I hate those. That’s why I don’t have one on this site either. And never will. You can hold me to that.) but he does strategically link to his opt-in when the content relates to it and includes an opt-in box at the end of every single post.

Useful links:

Take action:

Start an e-mail list autoresponder! And include a question in your first email and periodically throughout. I love how Pat just adds a new e-mail to the autoresponder every once in a while – keeps him from being overwhelmed (no need to write it all in one day), and keeps the readers constantly engaged with helpful and personal e-mails that don’t contain links – that’s rare in the online marketing world, right?

I have been bad about doing this as well so I’m also jumping on this task right away. You might want to consider creating an implementation schedule for all (or most) of Pat’s strategies – they work very well for him. He has a 60-70% e-mail open rate! Compare that to 20% industry standards. Wowzers!

Pat’s sales strategy

Pat makes most of his money through affiliate sales and ebook sales on his other niche websites. The affiliate links he just includes in his useful blog posts and podcasts as helpful resources, which never comes across as sales-y.

One thing I appreciate about him is that he never sends an e-mail just promoting something. This is made possible by his business model, but I’m not sure it can be 100% sustainable for those of us with a more direct revenue model.

When you sell coaching or ebooks and programs on your own site, it can be important to communicate this with your e-mail list – it’s pretty tough to just squeeze it into blog posts the way he does with affiliate links. So, as awesome as his 100% non-salesy approach is, I don’t it’s not fully sustainable for coaches, for instance. (You’ll see how his strategy slightly backfired when he finally did have something to sell in one of the links I listed below.)

However, I do believe it’s possible to sell to your list in a completely authentic and honest way.

In my opinion, this starts with letting some e-mails be just informational, to connect with your reader – I have to admit I’m tired of how many e-mails tug at my heartstrings just for me to discover the entire sob story was just to sell me something. Barf.

Pat has a brilliant affiliate marketing strategy too. Compared to many other marketers who promote their affiliate links shamelessly to their e-mail list (because it’s the-next-biggest-thing-you-absolutely-need-or-you-will-never-be-successful-period), Pat creates useful how-to articles that are helpful in and of themselves and reviews or promotes the product he’s an affiliate of throughout the post.

It’s a little bit of a sandwich strategy, but he does it in a way that is completely not sales-y, just helpful. Here is example 1 – a how to, example 2 – an in-depth case study, and example 3 – a huge tutorial. And let’s not forget his resources and start here pages – great website real estate for affiliate links, not to mention just how useful they are to a random person that first lands on his site.

Useful links:

  • The right way to add bonuses to your products – a great guide, and I love how he breaks down the mistakes he made and he has seen others make. Very useful for coaches and those selling online products.
  • Pat’s first course on SPI – a good way to see how he sells and promotes a course on the site. Totally non-scammy. However, since he doesn’t normally sell directly to that list, notice the heated discussion that took place in the comments. A reminder of why it’s good to keep a middle ground going between selling and sharing. However, also take notice to the authentic way Pat responds to those criticisms – great to learn from!
  • Are you taking advantage of your unfair advantage? – this is a great post especially for brand-spanking new entrepreneurs who feel like they have “nothing to offer”. Our connections, experience, personality, and unique perspectives give us the leverage we need in business – but first we need to open our eyes and see them, and then we need to get over our fear and use them. I got crickets on my site for a long time because I either didn’t know what made me stand out or was too scared to use it and share it (see my last post about being vulnerable – gulp!)
  • Analysis of his getting started page – Pat includes a lot of these case studies which are insanely useful and popular.
  • How to profit by giving it all away – a super helpful guest post on SPI detailing Pat’s strategy (that I explained a bit above)
  • Pat’s top 30 tips for successful affiliate marketing – all the way down to the most important thing: the mindset!

Take action:

Figure out what your unfair advantage is (hint: you have more than one!) Many creative grasshoppers feel like they’re “Jacks of all trades” with nothing they really excel in. But the reality is that being a creative grasshopper with a lot of passions puts us in a very unique perspective that gives us A LOT to offer! So I challenge you to figure out your “unfair advantages” and commit to an action plan!

Help me out!

This was a lot of fun for me to write, but to tell you the truth I’m nervous! For one, as much fun as it was compiling all of this information, I felt a bit like a stalker doing it 😉 and two, I want to make sure this is helpful to you!

I would love to hear what you think. Did you like it? Do you want more authentic entrepreneur spotlights? Are there any other categories you’d like me to cover? Are there any other authentic entrepreneurs you’d like me to “stalk” and feature? Tell me in the comments!

And I would love to hear the biggest takeaway for you from this spotlight. What strategy are you going to implement right away?

Finally, if you found this helpful please share this post to help other creative grasshoppers learn how to be successful without having to sacrifice their authenticity, honesty, and passions.

How to write great content that gets noticed (and the mistake you don’t want to make!)

My last post about being your own hero has beenHow to write great content that gets noticed (and the mistake you don't want to make) my most successful one so far. My biggest honor was the fact that Jonathan Fields took time out of his busy day to comment on my post. That meant a lot. (I bet JF is going to get a million karma points just from my gratitude alone!)

Some of you have asked me how I did it, and even though I didn’t want to write this post initially (it could have just been a one-off thing with this post), after thinking about it I realized that there were some strategies I applied this time that definitely helped. [Read more…]

3 ways to be your own hero today (I’m using #1 in this post)

How to be your own hero

There is a woman who has been living under immense burden. Her entire life she felt like a lonely outsider – someone who is different and will just never fit in.

No one likes or wants her and all she wants is to be someone else. She has talents, but life just never aligns itself so that she can showcase them in a way that will let her stand out. She speaks a language that somehow only lets her be misunderstood, and her good intentions never seem to matter.

No matter how hard she tries, at the end of the day overwhelm still comes over her along with the feeling that she just doesn’t have what it takes. Maybe she’s just reaching too far.

Not too far from her there is a woman who went through big experiences that taught her important lessons, because she was strong enough to learn them and brave enough to allow herself to burn to ashes and rise up on the other side.

This woman allows her sensitivity to be her guiding force that tells her where her energy and help is needed, and spends each day like a wonderful adventure, learning more and more about herself and the world, how they are alike and how they are different. She has the privilege of being imperfectly human and using her many imperfections to show others that they are not alone and to teach them how to embrace and make the most out of the parts of themselves they see as disadvantages.

She knows that her life experience and the wisdom she has gained from it is the biggest blessing she could have, and looks to every new challenge as an old friend who is returning to help her learn a new lesson – never with malice, only with love.

These two women know each other very, very well. And yet, they coexist, never changing each other, only changing from one to the other.

Yes, both of these women are me. Sometimes in the same day. Sometimes in the same hour.

[Read more…]

Excuses, obstacles, and the myth of the overnight success

What do you do when you want to do something awesome but your confidence is in the dumps?

You make excuses.

James Altucher says that excuses “are just as much our babies as our ideas are.

I believe that. From personal experience, from talking to friends and family, from observing people for the past 24 years.

My husband is a very matter-of-fact kind of guy. If you were to ask him what you should do when you make excuses, he would tell you to “suck it up and get over it.” To him, that’s common sense.

To me (and most women and creative grasshoppers) that sounds just about impossible. Because every time I try to “suck it up and get over it” something else seems to get in the way. There’s always some obstacle that is keeping me stuck in the same old excuse.

I recently wanted to start a podcast. I wanted to start interviewing people. I dreamed of being Kate Northrup with her spunk and openness in her Glimpse TV videos or the female version of Jonathan Fields’ Good Life Project, connecting soul to soul with amazing people.

But the trouble when you have such big visions for yourself is the moment when you look at the gap between where you are now and where you  want to be, it all seems just so… insurmountable.

So you worry, and you make excuses, and you keep telling yourself it’ll happen… when the time is right (which might not be until hell freezes over, ahem).

But…

[Read more…]

Make an impact doing work you love with Rebecca Beaton

I’m switching things up today and letting someone else share wisdom and advice. I’m very excited to introduce you to my friend Rebecca Beaton!

I first met Rebecca last year and we connected immediately over our mutual passion for helping people live out their purpose. I agreed to help her run the Impact Posse group, and the rest is history.

When she recently told me how much she has learned about failure and how important it is on the way to success, I thought that was a perfect topic for you success ninjas, so I asked her “out” for an interview 😉

Here’s what you’ll learn in this interview:

  • The most important skill you need to have as a brand-new entrepreneur
  • The mindset shift that can help you keep getting back up despite any obstacles you encounter on your way
  • The biggest way people who are stuck in their jobs self-sabotage and keep themselves stuck instead of helping themselves move forward
  • How to enjoy what you do now and still keep yourself motivated to make progress on your dreams
  • The job title you don’t want (but many of us have)
  • What to ask yourself if you feel like you’re going nowhere and are not sure whether you’ll find success or happiness along the way

Click HERE to download the transcript.

Visit Rebecca at RebeccaBeaton.com

Rebecca is holding a FREE webinar today on “3 Steps to Doing Work You Love.” No worries if you can’t make it – she’ll send out a recording to everyone who’s registered, so go sign up for it HERE.

Yes, I know the quality of video and audio on my end is crappy, and I did a poor job chopping the video in the beginning and in the end. In my next post I’m going to apply the success ninja techniques from my free training video to this interview to look at how I can improve in the future. With an authentic case study, you have no excuses to not apply the system yourself as well 🙂

In the comments, tell me: What is your definition of success?

Taking back my creativity

I’ve been on a blogging hiatus. In my last e-mail to my list, I shared:

Every time I wrote a blog post, I was confused about who I was writing to. With every post, I felt pressure to either impress or entertain in order to convince people to share and sign up to my list. Which made it really, really hard to write from an honest place of sharing.

It had gotten to the point where I resented sitting down to write blog posts. It felt like something I “had” to do because there was just no other way to communicate with people and get more brave souls in my tribe. I hated having to do this, because deep down I just knew that my writing wasn’t fully authentic.

Until the day I made up my mind: Enough is enough. This is not who I want to be. Not for the amazing people who give me their precious and valuable time every week. So I decided to make a change… even if it did fly in the face of conventionality (and it does).

I quit blogging. 

The only time I’m happy in my work is when I know I’m being of service… not because I want something out of it, but because I’m just giving to give. So I knew that, in order to deliver my best work, and create from my best mental space, I needed to give up those aspects of my writing that interrupted my authenticity.

My plan was to write a monthly newsletter and that’s it. But the more I thought about it, the less comfortable I felt with it. [Read more…]

If I die tomorrow, I want you to know this

It happened six years ago. The day I thought I would die. I still remember it to this day.

I walked into school like any other high school senior. I had gotten accepted into my dream college and was looking forward to passing the last few months of school being bored, pretending to work, and chatting my days away with my friends while we were still all in one place.

Instead, I was pulled into a separate room, to be interrogated.

“We have received an e-mail from your e-mail address that contains pictures of a document you didn’t have access to. We want to know what happened.”

1-20-14 if i dieI told them I didn’t know what they were talking about. That I hadn’t sent any e-mails. They refused to show me their copy of the e-mail. They only asked me if that was my e-mail address (it was).

They asked me if my final grades mattered for college. What college I was going to. If a phone call accusing me of fraud would make them revoke my admissions offer.

They pulled in every single other student in my class. Made several girls cry.

Parents came in, argued, threatened, all to no avail. The corrupt system was well defended.

Someone had hacked my e-mail address and sent an e-mail as if having been delivered from my address to the school principal and my homeroom teacher, as well as a few other students, containing pictures of a future test they had “found”.

For this, I was being punished.

I tried to prove my innocence – but the e-mail provider needed to have the original e-mail, and they refused to even let me see it, let alone have it.

I tried to bring a lawyer – they informed me that this was internal school business so the lawyer couldn’t interfere.

During those few months until I graduated, I experienced the most intense emotions. Fear, anger, fury, desperation, hope…

One day, I just broke down. [Read more…]

Take charge of your life: what’s your excuse?

Excuses, excuses… those pesky buggers.

I make them every day.

They successfully help me avoid cleaning up, put off cooking healthy foods that take time, and daring to step up my game in my business.

I’m not the only one, either: most of the people I talk to on a daily basis are constantly making excuses for why they can’t have the life they really want to have.

But there’s something very important I have to tell you about that: You can’t afford NOT to live a life you love. [Read more…]

4 lessons I learned in my first year of marriage

My husband and I got married on New Year’s Eve in 2012. In the spirit of focusing on the marriage rather than the wedding and saving our money, we had a small (and lovely!) ceremony at the courthouse. (We’re eventually planning a small wedding… for whenever the time will be right!)

1-9-14 marriageThis New Year’s Eve, we celebrated our first anniversary (as is our style, cooking up a fantastic meal in our sweatpants and chilling together).

Over the past week, I’ve been reflecting on our marriage and all that I’ve learned during this past year.

1. Marriage is not 50:50

This is something I learned from someone very wise, and that has proven to be one of the most important pieces of wisdom I’ve carried with me into my marriage.

The truth is, we always feel like we’re doing more. We always feel like the other person isn’t doing enough for us. That’s because we’re always focused on our needs, we know each other best, and we communicate our desires imperfectly.

Aside from learning to communicate and know each other better (I highly recommend the book “The Five Love Languages” for this), we needed to change our expectations. Instead of expecting it to feel like we’re both doing equal amounts of work, we’ve adjusted our expectations to feel like we’re doing 60% of the work and the other person is doing 40%, and that’s okay. That’s the way it should be.

Because that’s what 50:50 really feels like. [Read more…]

3 things you don’t know about your past that can change your future

The authentic change webinar is tomorrow! Woo hoo! I’m so excited for it and I hope you are too. I have so much to share with you and I can’t wait. If you haven’t signed up for it yet, do it here!

Whenever I get asked by people what coaches do that’s so different than therapy, I always tell them that we help the person move forward, get from where they are to where they want to be. We don’t dig as deeply into the past.

I recently realized that’s a bit of a lie, to be honest. Because you can’t change your future without digging into your past. We may do it far less than therapy, but it’s a necessary part of our inner work.

I was talking to my mom the other day – helping her understand why she had a negative judgment towards someone else. Even though we tried to avoid going into the past, in the end we had to go there – because it was related to something she hadn’t accepted about herself.

When I lost 20 lbs, I had to dig deep and understand how my story had created my current reality – and by realizing how I was trying to protect myself through the extra weight, I was able to let it go and lose the pounds fairly quickly.

In today’s episode, I’m showing you three simple truths about your past that can transform your future. [Read more…]