Pat and Matt share their stories on how Smart Passive Income came to be, partnering up as a team to scale the business, and insights on connecting with fans and listeners alike. From finding new listeners, to earning the ability to generate an income, this episode is packed with insights on how to scale, monetize, and take your podcast to new heights.
- 🖋 If podcasting is the new blogging, then guest podcasting is the new guest blogging. Your next listeners are already in the right app, they just need to change the channel.
- 🤑 Find existing communities that serve your niche and interview the owners. Make them heroes and they’ll share your content for you
- ❓ Use DMs to get direct feedback. Ask for Apple reviews with a 90% success rate!
- 🤔 How to validate new paid products
Get the bonus AMA with Pat & Matt
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For this episode, our bonus AMA with Pat & Matt covers how to get off the hamster wheel of feeling like you’re beholden to your content business and more.
Jason Sew Hoy: Hey everyone. Welcome to Supercasters. On this show, we interview world-class podcasters, deconstruct their growth strategies, and find out how they built sustainable independent businesses that thrive on a strong relationship with their listeners. I'm Jason Sew Hoy, co-founder and CEO of Supercast.
And today I'm speaking to Pat Flynn and Matt Gartland of Smart Passive Income. Now I'm sure many of you will have heard of Pat, but for those that haven't, here's a quick refresh: As a father, husband, an entrepreneur who lives and works in San Diego, he owns several successful online businesses and as well as being an OG podcaster. As a professional blogger, keynote speaker, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, he's the host of the Smart Passive Income and Ask Pat podcasts, which have earned a combined total of over 55 million downloads.
Matt Gartland is the Chief Operating Officer (CFO) and Head of Innovation at SPI, that's Smart Passive Income, and in Pat's own words, a man who's been instrumental in making SPI the brand it is today. You can find Pat and Matt on Twitter @patflynn, F L Y N N. And @MattGartland G A R T L A N D.
Pat and Matt. Hello, and thank you for joining me for this maiden episode of the Supercast podcast.
Pat Flynn: Excited to be here. Thank you. Fun fact, Matt and I both have the legit same birthday, like on the same year. Not in the same hospital though, but that's another fact.
Jason Sew Hoy: Wow. Incredible. Obviously made to be together.
Pat Flynn: Yes, exactly.
Matt Gartland: Precisely.
How did Pat Flynn get started with Smart Passive Income?
Jason Sew Hoy: Maybe just to kick us off, Pat, could you maybe wind back the clock and give us a little bit of an intro on how you got started with Smart Passive Income.
Pat Flynn: Yeah, happy to. I mean, I'll take you back to 2008, June 17th, in fact, which is when I was let go from my architecture job. It was a job that I loved, a dream job to be honest. And I was let go, didn't have a plan B, didn't know what I was going to do. And I eventually discovered this world of online business. In fact, it was a podcast in particular that introduced me to this world and that podcast, I always give them credit for my start, Internet Business Mastery is what it was called, hosted by Jeremy and Jason, very inspiring.
And in one particular episode, I listened to an interview where they were interviewing somebody who was making six figures a year in an online business, helping people pass the project management exam, PM exam, as it's known. And that's when a big light bulb went off for me because I had taken a number of different exams on my way to becoming an architect. And there was one in particular that was very difficult, that didn't have a lot of information online about. So I decided to step forward and actually create that resource. And even though I didn't pass that test with flying colors, I barely passed, I started to be seen as an expert in that space because I was showing up and providing value and trying to help answer people's questions.
And in fact, it didn't take very long for me to have a lot of people ask me for more and more information, for coaching, for books and whatnot. So I eventually turned that knowledge into a study guide that I launched as a PDF ebook that was sold for $19.99. And that was October of 2008. When I launched that and it blew me away, I ended up selling $7,908.55. I'm not sure if that includes or does not include PayPal fees, but whatever the case may be, it was two and a half times more than I was making as an architect at the time. And it introduced me to this world of online business to be able to serve people through the internet.
And what was most cool about this was I was getting thank you letters and notes of people who were getting raises and getting promotions because of the work that I was doing in this little space that most people have not heard of before. This exam was called the LEED exam. And that's what started. It inspired me to create smartpassiveincome.com, which was a place for me to just share and document all the things that I was doing in this other business. And that started to take hold and started to excite a lot of people. And then that eventually turned into new opportunities to create new businesses. I created an iPhone app company. I created other niche sites and websites, and now software company.
And I do speaking and I create books and whatnot, and I always share the process along the way. My latest experiment, if you want to call it that, is a physical product in the video space called a switchpod that has recently launched on Kickstarter to the tune of about a half million dollars. And that launch and that has been shared publicly as well in terms of how and what and why, and what went well, what doesn't go well.
And I just sort of see myself as this sort of experimental guinea pig, who just is the first to try different things so that I can share the lessons along the way. And along the way, I've picked up some amazing team members like Matt, who's now a partner, and we together are hoping to inspire others to achieve their dreams as well through leading by example and providing the best resources online to help them do that. So, yeah, that's kind of my quick story and podcasting is definitely a major part of that, if not the biggest part in terms of how people find out about me and how I can build a relationship, a deep relationship online. It’s the best thing in the world. I absolutely love it.
How did Matt Gartland meet Pat Flynn?
Jason Sew Hoy: And maybe just to add to that, Matt, you could just talk a little bit about what you were doing prior to SPI and how that eventually led to you joining forces with Pat?
Matt Gartland: It's fun to think back at all of those kind of butterfly moments, right? Where if you don't make that decision and you're not at that exact place and time, then some of these magical things, relationships and businesses, don't kind of come to be. I got started right out of school in a leadership career. Leadership has kind of always been, I guess my undercurrent. Studied technology. We got into a competitive 2-year leadership development program in corporate America. So Johnson and Johnson specifically, in health care and rotated around the country. Was actually out in the Bay area for one of my rotations in medical devices.
And all in, was with J & J for a little over six years. Had a fantastic career, really enjoyed my time there, learned a lot, but have always been an entrepreneur at heart. So I made a difficult decision to let go of that career so that I could pursue bigger and bolder and ultimately more exciting opportunities.
So I left and started a couple of different companies, some on my own, some with some partners, some fizzled out, some did well. Several were in just the agency world. So did a lot in the ecommerce arena, but the big one or one of the bigger ones was just a creative agency that worked with a lot of phenomenal creators. So whether they be authors or podcasters or different online business personas to help them advance their brands, to build audiences through the power of content. And Pat was one of those great people that, I think it's been about eight years, so going on a decade even, that Pat and I have worked together and it started out with a small project and it kept growing as I was building that company and building my team around that, Pat continued to exemplify the sort of creator that we so enjoyed working with.
Not just on the content, but his values were aligned with ours, the sort of community he was building was shared in terms of how we thought about the culture of our team. So at the end of 2018, that particular agency had grown really well. Pat was doing really well. We were sort of a de facto team already together and I was sort of a de facto business partner in a small way at that point. So we're like, Hey man, let's just join forces formally. And let's really kick this thing into gear. So that's what we did. So we joined forces formally at the end of 2018 and we're off to the races with a lot of big stuff.
We're doing more in podcasting. We're getting ready to launch our first private membership community. We want to do more events and support Pat with events. So coming out of ‘18 into ‘19, and now here we are in 2020, we're really going in full throttle.
How does Pat Flynn get podcast listeners?
Jason Sew Hoy: Perhaps we could start maybe with growing listeners. I'm sure that the strategies have evolved over time, but let's face it, whether you're big or small, this is always something that's on the top of your mind, right? How do you extend your reach? Pat, could you kind of describe what is it that you're thinking about and what's working today for getting more listeners.
Pat Flynn: Yeah, this is definitely the biggest challenge in podcasting right now, because unlike YouTube, unlike Google, there's not really a central hub or location to find podcasts. I mean, there is Apple obviously and Spotify is coming up in the world as well, but findability is very difficult and it's not like YouTube where there's algorithms at play and there's related videos that pop up and those kinds of things. It's very much still early days in terms of the technology that supports findability for podcasting.
So there's a couple of things that I want to share. Number one, just sort of mandatory. You need to have great content, stuff that is shared or the stuff that's noteworthy stuff. That's different than what else is out there. This is how we take advantage of the word of mouth capabilities within the world of podcasting. Podcasting, unlike some of these other channels, allow for more Netflix-like sharing. Hey, did you see that episode last night kind of thing. And or did you hear that episode or have you heard of this podcast before? We've seen this kind of thing happen in the, for example, Joe Rogan space. Joe Rogan might have a special guest on the show.
Something crazy happens and people start talking about it. This can happen to any of us in any of our niches. And I think that primarily, number one, you have to have great content, but obviously you can have the best content in the world, if you're not getting found or at least having people find you initially, then how else is it going to spread? But we definitely need to have that be sort of a mandatory item. Seth Godin recently said that podcasting is the new blogging. And I completely agree with that. Not as a way to create a business, but for a platform to build relationships on. And in my opinion, it does a better job than blogging of doing such thing.
And it's following very similar paths to blogging in terms of its growth trajectory and sort of early adopters and now sort of mass market coming into play. And if podcasting is the new blogging, then I say guest podcasting is the new guest blogging. And this is where I've been pointing a lot of my students to. To see how you might be able to be a guest on another person's podcast right now, because you're able to number one, get endorsed by that host and number two, show up with your voice, with the real emotion, with the real you in a way that's going to be a lot more a beneficial for you then just with text only like on a blog post.
And it's much more easy to get on to another person's podcast, similar to how we are on your show right now. It's a lot easier to set up then sort of a video studio in terms of the YouTube land. So being a guest on another person's show, I mean, when you think about it, I have a lot of people come to me and go, Pat I have even some money to spare. How can I grow my show? Can I do ads or something like that? And right now there's not really any great platform for doing ads. And when you think about it, especially on ad platforms that work for other things like Facebook or even YouTube right now, you gotta think about the experience that people have on those platforms.
They're not there to get interrupted to then go externally and find another podcast to then listen to you have to number one, interrupt them with really good copy, really good images. Number two, you have to capture their attention to get them to click through it. Number three, then you have to actually get them to click on an outside platform to click play, to then download and subscribe your show. There's a lot of friction there, as opposed to somebody is already listening to a podcast who is somebody who trusts that host, who then now is endorsing you. They're already on the app that they can go and find your show. There's much less friction and much higher chances of you getting on another person's show that way.
Then the other focus that I would recommend is focusing on where else might there be communities that exist where your target audience is? How might you showcase that community? How might you even bring to that forum owner or that group owner on Facebook, on your show either to leave a quick little tip or even be like an intense interview, because chances are, they don't get that opportunity very often. So they're more likely to say yes then say an A-lister that you try so hard to get on your show, and then doesn't share because they're sharing everything else already, or they don't have that attention. But these people are also more likely to take that episode and go into their groups and share it on your behalf because they're featured in it.
This is the one thing I love about podcasting, more than anything else. It's a perfect platform for creating a hero. You can invite these guests on, or even your students or clients onto these forum owners on and have them become the hero of the story. In which case they're more likely to share it. And it's not going to be you going into these groups and spamming your stuff. It's endorsed by the group owner. These two strategies alone are the top two strategies my students are using to grow their podcast. And that's where I would focus. I wouldn't even focus on repurposing in social media at this point, if you weren't doing that.
How do you pick which communities to collaborate with?
Jason Sew Hoy: Any thoughts on how you work at which communities and which podcasts are the right ones for you to be going out and seeking?
Pat Flynn: I mean, technically there are strategies that you can use. I think that starting with people who you already have a relationship with is always going to work out better because it's so much easier to ask or if you can get an introduction to somebody, but there are some mechanisms. For example, if you go to Apple and you go to your podcast, if it's been up for a while, you're going to see other podcasts that share the same listenership as you. It's sort of like on Amazon, when you see people who bought this product also bought this product. You can see legit the same thing with your podcast. People who listened to your show also listen to this show. That becomes a great starting point for conversation. Hey, your audience and my audience overlap, we should collaborate. We should do something together.
That becomes a great starting point versus a cold email that can often sound generic, even if it's not. Just to make sure that when you use the name of the podcast, you replace that with the name of the podcast, instead of I get this all the time. Hi, Pat, I love your show, name of show here. Like what? Okay. That's not a good first impression. So really it's again, all about relationships. Matt, I think you had some other ideas. I don't know if they're in alignment with this or what?
Matt Gartland: Yeah. I'd say they bolt in and sort of expand upon it. Great with everything that Pat said. There's a surge obviously in podcasting right now, the industry and all of its sort of components and the kind of community and network component of that is part of it. So if you think about Podcast Movement as maybe the forerunning sort of community for professional podcasters and people that are eager to get into podcasting, it's a great opportunity for people to spend time researching and starting to even get engaged and participate in some of those communities to build relationships, to find potential shows where they can seek out people to interview for their show or get on to other shows like Pat was mentioning. And there's even small local ones, that even Pat and I got plugged into about a month ago, I want to say Pat, the Outlier Festival, which kind of has a physical component, obviously in the era of COVID they weren't able to do a physical conference.
So Pat and I each led a different kind of track for their virtual conference all about podcasting. That conference, led by Ever Gonzalez, it was kind of targeting more, probably Jason folks maybe listening to this that are trying to get into podcasting for the first time. Maybe they have a show, a couple episodes, or maybe they're just about to click record on their first show. So trying to find these preexisting communities that are even potentially offline, that are starting to kind of corral around the art of podcasting is a great way to again, meet people as Pat was saying.
How did Smart Passive Income start monetizing?
Jason Sew Hoy: On the business side of podcasting, there's a lot of people out there that have discovered a niche. That's the great thing about the power of the internet, allows us to really dive deep into niches and particularly with podcasting, it allows you to have that intimate match between what it is that you're an expert in or what it is that you're passionate about and finding your people and having them to connect with. And yet for a lot of people, they just struggle with how do I actually turn this into something that goes beyond effectively charity or me just kind of like giving my time and organization skills away for free. Can you maybe talk a little bit about how you started off monetizing with SPI? Obviously, it sounded like money started flying right off the bat, but maybe a little bit of an overview of how your thinking around monetization has evolved over time?
Pat Flynn: Yeah. I mean, to be honest I haven't, I did not monetize the podcast for the first several years. It was mainly a indirect way of monetization, meaning building relationships, such that a person would be able to know, like, and trust me, and then take my recommendations primarily for products that were not mine in terms of a commission or an affiliate really, or partnership or referral program that I was a part of. And that was the crux of it for so long.
In 2014, that's when I started to inject ads to see what that was like and obviously podcast advertising is another form of monetization. Quite difficult if you're just starting out to have advertisers get interested. However, we are seeing trends currently of advertisers getting really excited about working with even smaller podcasters now, because they're starting to realize that podcasters have a really strong relationship with their listeners, much stronger than a lot of other platforms, even that have much larger numbers. So that's really cool and is really exciting, especially for us smaller creators. But eventually, we came out with our own products and then using the podcast as a way to promote our own products and events.
Then the one form of monetization we haven't really explored, but is an option and is a primary method for a lot of people, is through tools like Patreon where you can, without advertising, without having your audience spend money on products, it’s they're spending money on you, the creator, and to support you more like a PBS paid for by viewers like you type of model and that's been working out. I know some people in the tech space in particular that are making well over five figures a month from support from their communities, which is really neat. And so that's pretty cool. But those things aren't really built for specifically podcasting, which is why Supercast is so exciting.
These kinds of forms of monetization are really neat and are at the forefront here of what's to come, which is why I'm stoked to be chatting with you and to see these opportunities now coming out. But yeah, the idea of using the podcast to form relationships and build relationships with your audience to me is primary. Then secondary are the other options that people can use to choose how to support you, whether it's to buy one of your own products or to support you by taking one of your recommendations and going through affiliate links and things like that. There's so many different ways to do it, but I highly agree with you when you said niching down and finding your own little space in your own little community, that's really where it's at.
For example, it brings to mind a student of mine, his name is Phil Lichtenberger who has a podcast called Scanner School. He helps bring the community together who are hobbyists in the world of scanners like police scanners and radio scanners, like those handheld radios. And he was just not quite sure what was gonna happen when he started, but he's been able to become a leader in the space as a result of his podcasts. And in addition to new monetization opportunities and sponsorship opportunities, he has now partnership opportunities with other companies because they see him as somebody who is a leader in the space. And he now has super fans in this world of handheld scanners and radios. It's really neat. And it didn't take him that long to get there. It took about six months to get to that point where he had like super fans, but now companies are reaching out to him getting him early access to products and things like that, which is something that he didn't expect.
There's also another way that maybe as a fifth way, sort of an outlier opportunity. It reminds me of another one of our students, Sophie Walker, who has a podcast in Australia called Australian Birth Stories. She interviews moms, and soon to be moms who are going through pregnancy or have gone through pregnancy to ask them questions about what that's like, and it helps other moms feel comfortable. In fact, she's able to monetize because government agencies in Australia are actually allowing people to listen to her podcast who work in the health field to listen to her podcast as additional credits for their schooling and whatnot, which is like a really cool thing. Now she's just getting, I think she's over 5 million downloads now at this point. And she has this built-in audience through the education platforms that are out there in that world that she's in.
Just so many new opportunities, but the truth is if you don't get started for that, I'm speaking to those of you who are like, Ooh, this sounds really cool, but I'm so scared. Nothing happens unless you try and you put yourself out there and you gotta, got to take that action. And what's really cool is there's a lot of people out there who are willing to help you. The technology is easier now more than ever to do something like this. And if you get that really cool tribe, they're going to be willing to support you in all different kinds of ways to get access to you and your content and the solutions that you have to offer.
How do you start selling to your audience?
Jason Sew Hoy: Right. Maybe if we can dig into that a little bit more. I've just spoken with numerous podcasters who paint this scenario where they've got maybe 10, 15, 20,000 downloads per episode. It's like clearly they've got a good repeat audience that is really engaged with the show that they've created. And yet they're just really apprehensive about pushing product or asking for money and they might even have tried Patreon before in the past, for example, and just felt really awkward about holding out their hand and kind of asking for tips, is the feeling that they have from that experience. Yet they do need some way to be able to turn this into something that is sustainable over the long term. What advice would you have for someone like that?
Pat Flynn: Matt, I'll defer to you first because you do a really good job and you're very eloquent with typically how we can justify putting a price on something. Any thoughts there?
Matt Gartland: It's an evolution. We didn't just kind of rush into that space and startdoing ZipRecruiter ads, with all respect to ZipRecruiter. Great, great product, great company. But we started to slowly, we started to earn the trust from the listenership. And Pat delivering that obviously on the mic over time, starting with an audio ad experience about our own product, something that we created, but just to start to prepare the audience for those sorts of audio experiences on the podcast made it, I think, smoother and just a more sort of trusting experience down the road when we did actually choose to do some experimentation with paid sponsorships and we took a more narrative advertising angle. Pat tells you a personal story about the product and relates it to either the business that we're leading, or if it's a product that fits into his family or lifestyle, how that has added value to his everyday routines or things like that.
So not just reading cold copy from a script but being able to inject a really warm, personal anecdote on the heels of being a brand that has always tried to earn the trust of our listenership, day in and day out, one episode at a time always. Promoting our own products first, supporting our friends that we know with other podcasts, promoting of the tools that we use to lead our kind of digital first online business, other online platforms like ConvertKit or Teachable, we've brought those folks onto the show and had some audio ads to support some of their campaigns.
Now Jason even with Supercast and the campaign that you guys are running now, a phenomenal challenge to get people up and running with podcasting and treat it as a serious business endeavor. We hope to and plan to support that challenge also through ads on our show. So it's those sort of win-win audio experiences that I think have earned us over time, the opportunity to be more expansive now and bring other companies into the fold that do contribute to our business plan and our revenue growth. But we didn't just rush into that.
Pat Flynn: Yeah. I love that dude. You mentioned a keyword there which is earned. These are earned. You've earned the ability to generate an income. You don't just make money, right? And this ties into what are you doing to serve your audience? Your earnings are a byproduct of how well you serve your audience. And I can completely understand, trust me, the nervousness and the apprehension to feel like you're holding out your hand and you're like, please, sir, please. But you’ev got to also realize that you, as a content creator, you as somebody who's shared your own experiences and have had your own teachings and abilities to help others, there's value there.
Then when you start asking people to pay for money, you are offering additional ways to get more help. Instead of… here's the big mindset shift for me. When I started charging for things, you have to realize that you're not taking anything away from what you were already offering. This just becomes an additional way for people to go deeper with you. If it is your own products or you're asking people to pay for something, it's not — and I hope it's not — Hey, you had access to this for free for so long. Now I'm going to start charging you for it. This is different.
This is in addition to, for those of you who want to support. And for those of you who want more or want something done more conveniently or want access to something that you didn't have access to before that needs a little bit of a payment so that we can continue this and continue to serve you well, then that justifies the price point, but hey, If you can't pay right now, or that doesn't make sense for you, no worries. You're still going to get access to everything that you always had access to before. And then that can help people work their way up to that point where maybe they can support you in that way. Or at least maybe if they can't support you monetarily, they can support you with sharing or in all kinds of different ways.
Getting to that point where you feel confident of the fact that you are sharing something of value, that's really key. Those factors alone really help us understand that OK well, what we're offering is actually worth offering and if you can help people within that get results, then it becomes even more apparent. People pay for all different kinds of reasons. And I think that for podcasters in particular, we need to get paid so that we can serve more people. As long as we're not forcing it or taking things away, then I think it is justified. Especially if you know that you're helping people in a more deep kind of fashion.
Matt Gartland: I think it's helpful to also acknowledge that so much has changed in the industry even in the last six months and certainly within the last two years. When we think about getting comfortable putting ads onto a show, maybe for the first time, that experience two years ago was maybe a little less readily sort of standardized for all shows, including the smallest shows as maybe it is now because of the technology, because of the extreme popularity of podcasting and the boom that's happening right now.
Listeners have, at least from where I sit, become more accepting, more understanding of what happens now. That more podcasts do have ad experiences. Certainly the big boys coming out of Crooked Media or Gimlet or any of those major studios. So that standardization, I think is helpful too, to smaller creators in terms of building comfort and getting ready to do that because there are industry standards and expectations now around how that's done. And so long as you do it well, and with authenticity, I think that it's more normalized now from an industry standpoint than it's ever been in the past.
Pat Flynn: Yeah. I mean, you can get thanked for this. Imagine getting paid and then getting thanked for that. That's the idea. It's like Matt said earlier, it's a win for everybody. We've gotten thank you notes from people who go, Hey, thank you for having that advertiser on the show. Thank you for introducing me to Freshbooks for example, or what have you. And it's just like, Hey, we're sharing a resource. We're helping that company get more customers. We're building a relationship with them. That's cool. We are getting paid a commission ourselves at the same time and we're actually helping the customer through expert curation.
I think where the negativity or perhaps apprehension comes from is because we've always been on the receiving end of perhaps ads or promotions that don't match up to what our goals are. And it's obvious that the creator or the podcaster or the course owner or whatever is just trying to make more money as the primary goal versus your earnings being a byproduct of you serving your audience, and then everybody can win. That's where we like to play.
How do you know your audience will pay for your podcast?
Jason Sew Hoy: Got it, makes sense. And of course, one of the beautiful things about podcasting is that level of intimacy you have with your audience and yet I guess a podcast in itself is a one-way conversation. That's what the medium offers. How do you think about engaging with your community such that you're able to kind of have the opportunity to discover what it is that they might want to dive deeper in and potentially pay for?
Pat Flynn: Now you say it's a one way conversation. However, I think a great podcaster makes it a two-way conversation. A great podcaster can understand what is going through the heads of those listeners. And this is where you can collect some of this amazing… let's say for example you're doing an interview. One of my favorite comments to get on an interview is, ‘Pat you just seem to ask the same questions that I had. I felt like I was there with you.’ That is engaging. That is experiential versus just passive listening. So I do whatever I can to try to get myself in the same shoes as my listener and that turns it into a two-way conversation. Or I could even what I like to call, I don't know, break the fourth wall in the podcast, if that makes sense.
Even though it's audio. I don't know if there's walls per se, but anyway, the idea of just, hey really quick, before we go on, to the listener out there, if you're listening to this right now, I want you to X, Y, Z. And that just little break and pattern interrupt can go a very long way. Again, helping people understand that you are conscious that they're there on the other end. And if you can, match that up with the language that your target audience can respond to. For example, you know what their problems are. That's great. But if you know and understand the language that they can respond to you by having had conversations or have running surveys in the past and you know the words and the phrases that they will respond to because you know exactly where they're at. I mean, it might as well be a real life conversation. Because you know exactly that much about them.
I would encourage everybody listening to this, especially if you're just starting out, do whatever you can to do more research upfront, to know exactly what your audience needs help with and the kinds of words that they use to describe their problems. Jay Abraham, a very famous marketer once said, if you can define the problem better than your target customer, they will automatically assume you have the solution. This is how you can build trust factors within a quote unquote one-sided conversation. So that's number one, but number two, there is obviously outside of the podcast and I'll have Matt perhaps speak to this because we're building something like this right now, the ability to have you directly connect with listeners and people in your tribe and of course, a membership community, like we're building as a part of that. Facebook groups, social media, these become ways to have further conversations about episodes. Matt, would you like to sort of pick it up from here?
Matt Gartland: Yeah, perfect tee up. Maybe two things to emphasize before hitting either of them. The premise of trying to catalyze engagement, not just through the podcast itself, is to build a really integrated ecosystem, a digital ecosystem probably that allows for those relationships to transcend just the one channel. So we do a lot of hard work, a lot of intentional work to invite participation and engagement from the listeners of the show to engage us on the web, to engage us on some email-driven content, and to be able to provide us feedback, to share, to challenge us on our creations through this other technology means. So one thing to emphasize is Fusebox. Another company that Pat and I are partners in, and we build software for podcasters specifically, a collection of WordPress-based plugins to really amplify the listening power of a podcaster's podcast right on their website.
So one thing that's really cool, our second big plugin is for transcripts. So able to provide an interactive transcript of the show, right on your website. That is SEO-friendly by the way, that especially if someone is a little bit hearing impaired, they can read the transcript of your show and stay engaged that way and still then be able to consume your podcasts, even if there is a hearing impairment and give feedback and interact with you as a creator or as a brand. So we're trying really hard to solve some of those feedback loops and establish those feedback loops through web-based software for podcasters. So that's Fusebox and the mission of Fusebox is to really galvanize and amplify what a podcast can be through through the web.
The second thing is Pat was also starting to tee up and I hinted at previously is our membership community that we're in the early innings of launching for the first time ever, which is so exciting. And we have great intention and maybe breaking a little bit of news, no hard decisions, but Pat and I have the intention, thanks Jason, to your collaboration and partnership and support through Supercast, to provide a potential ad-free experience of our podcasts to our SPI pro members through a private feed and potentially even be able to inject into that feed bonus content that if you weren't a member with access to that feed, you wouldn't be able to get otherwise. So thinking again, in an expansive sense, thinking as much as we can from an innovation, as far as we can push the technology right now, and really reward heightened levels, deeper levels of engagement.
And that's what we're going forward with our SPI Pro community. It's a serious commitment on both sides, us and them, that we want to be rooted in conversation and discovery and networking and additive value. If they're going to commit to us, we're going to commit to them and being able to do this through podcasting thanks to Supercast is a perfect fit.
Pat Flynn: Now there might be listeners right now — This is me getting into the shoes of listeners — You might be hearing us about membership sites and stuff like that. That's a big tall order to create something like that, especially on a separate platform. I mean, there are groups and things that you can create where you can communicate with your audience, but still to get people from your podcast to that can be quite difficult sometimes. One strategy I love to use is to use social media, something we all have access to right, to further the conversation about particular episodes. So I'll either within an episode itself, say if you enjoyed something about this episode, let me know on either Twitter or Instagram, which I'm very active on.
Even letting people know that I'll respond and say hi, that's something that I love to do. And it allows me to connect directly with people. And that I know is something that a lot of other podcasters won't do. So that allows me to stand out and to also have that even small little touch point. What I love about Twitter in particular is that it forces a short moment. It's a moment nonetheless. And that way I can still make a quick connection with somebody. And what I do for social media management is I block out time during the day to actually do those interactions. I don't just kind of do it whenever they come in. I actually have it in my schedule or else I could be on it all day. So that's sort of a side productivity tip.
But what I love to do is also an Instagram, for example, I'll put up a post either on a story or on the main feed and maybe put up an image related to this week's episode and I'll ask a question about it. Like, what was your favorite part about last week's episode or what was, of the three tips that such and such guest shared, which one was the most impactful to you? And what happens is you have your people reply. You know that they've listened to the show or they either get reminded to listen to the show.
And what happens is then you can follow up in a direct message to those people. And I love this strategy because now you get into the personal touches, which is what I talk about in my book, Super Fans. So now I have people essentially raise their hand, go, ‘yeah. I love that episode. Or I listen to that or this is my favorite part.’ I can reach out and in a video, in a direct message on Instagram, I can be like, Hey George, thank you for listening to the episode. I saw your comment on the last post. Just want to say thank you so much for being a listener. I appreciate you. Is there anything I can do to help you right now? Or hey, look out next week, we have SPI Pro coming out. I want to make sure that you know that's coming. Or hey, I want to run an idea. I'm thinking about doing this episode in a couple of weeks. What do you think of that?
Now I'm getting direct feedback from somebody who I know has listened to. Or here's another thing you can do. Hey, by the way, if you have a quick second, can you leave a review for me on Apple? You get like a 90% takeup rate on that versus just a general ask on an episode or an email even that goes out because it's personalized. And I love using these sort of strategies on social media for a podcaster.
How does Pat Flynn get people to review his podcast?
Jason Sew Hoy: Just to give listeners a sense of how much time you devote to that, how many of those kinds of conversations are you having on a weekly basis, one-to-one?
Pat Flynn: Every Friday I take about an hour of time on a walk to have about 50 messages go out and that's basically it. Again, I have a lot of things to do, so I have to bake in that time on Friday to do that in order for it to happen. And I'm not able to reply to everybody. And honestly, some things, if you want to win in business, are not scalable just to be honest. And this is where you differentiate yourself. And even though it's only 50 people a week, I mean, 50 times or 200 times, this is a lot of people that I'm able to make a direct connection with, which then some of those people are going to, and some have taken a screenshot of that conversation and then shared it. And now it's to hundreds of more people because of that. Or some people when I come out with a course later, remember that one conversation I had with them and are more likely to know, like, and trust me, and be more inclined to transact with me in some way, shape, or form. It's just one of those things. I know some people who have tried to scale these things like, Ooh, I'm gonna make a video for all the Johns in the audience and for all the Matts in the audience. I mean no, don't do that. Just be personable, that's gonna help you so so much. And even big companies, big corporations do this.
I remember KLM, which is a Dutch airline, they do some really amazing things on social media to still have a direct connection to their audience. And I had a question and I had a conversation with somebody on the other end of this giant corporation. And I felt like I was talking to a real person on the other end and it felt so special. It felt so different then what I would get normally elsewhere. So sometimes, you just have to realize that you just can't scale these things, but if you bake them in they’re going to pay off for you.
What were Pat Flynn's key moments in his podcast journey?
Jason Sew Hoy: And just a segueway on that subject of scalability, I'm super interested in, I guess there's the concept of leveling up your team and your podcast and your business. Obviously SPI is now a team but in the beginning, and I've heard you talk about this, your story previously before Pat, you did everything on your own and you were very proud to do everything on your own. So I’d just love if you could summarize for us, what do you think those key moments yhat you've had kind of along, along your journey.
Pat Flynn: Yeah. I remember when I first started out, I was very adamant that I was going to be a solopreneur for life. I liked being behind the keyboard, not interacting, not managing people, but it came to a point with the growth and the trajectory and all the things that we wanted to accomplish or that I wanted to accomplish, that there was literally no way possible for me to do the things that I do now, if it wasn't for other people involved like Matt and the team.
So there comes a point in your business journey whereyou either start to flatline your growth in revenue and everything remains the same. And if that's where you want to be, that's cool. Many people enjoy that and they're fine and satisfied with it. I mean, I'd recommend you check out a book called Company of One by Paul Jarvis to actually question the idea of just growth, growth, growth, growth, growth all the time. And the reason why that's important to think about is because I've seen it, I've gotten there or close to there to the point where you continue to want to grow, but you want to continue to do it on your own because whether it's pride or you don't think that you can spend or invest money back in your business, you're going to burn out.
You either burn out or you hire a team or you stay stagnant. Those are sort of like the options. And I've seen people, even best friends of mine, who have gone to the hospital because there was just hustling and hustling and trying to put more of themselves and their time into this business that they wanted to grow. And they wanted to do ir on their own. And then of course, like lack of sleep, not eating well, all this stuff combined stress leads to just poor health quality. And of course, some of them ended up in the hospital and thankfully they're all better now because it's a big wake up period for them. But yeah, we don't want to get there.
So I think if you want to be smart about your business, there's a lot of things involved yet. You gotta think about, what are the priorities in your business? I think also another thing that we entrepreneurs go through is we want to try to do everything and say yes to everything. But when you keep saying yes to things, you're saying no to other things like your health or sleep or relationships, even, and we don't want to get to that point. So when you graduate from scrappy entrepreneur to thinking about your business as like a CEO of your company, you will have to make some sacrifices, but you will also have to make some smart decisions and planning and smart decisions on where else you might get support.
That support might come from in the form of software or tools and that support, depending on what it is, can and should probably come from in the form of people. People that you might hire slowly upfront to start, maybe on a contractual basis or project basis. Or like me, you find out that, Hey, in order to grow to where you want to go and serve more people, you're going to need some people who are going to come on this team with you, who share the same vision, who share the same kind of support for the audience that you have. This is where Matt came in in 2013, which then led to a hire with Mindy and then other people. It's just scaled up from there because we've continued to see, and this is where Matt really I'd love for you to speak because you are the expert at finding great help and finding out what you need help for. And that's been so important for me.
Matt Gartland: It starts with, and probably even ends with, vision. So understanding Pat's vision from the early days, being pretty in lockstep I think with Pat from just that first editorial project on his Let Go memoir book at that five year milestone of being let go of that Pat referenced in his story from his architecture job. And everything kind of bloomed from there. It's fascinating and yeah, fun and always challenging to lead with that vision forwhat does the organization want to accomplish? We write about that a little bit, Jason, that you referenced, our mission statement to elevate entrepreneurs to within reach of their dreams.
That was something that I wrote and was very careful in writing. Pat and I batted it around a good bit before we kind of really landed on that final framing. That mission sets the stage for what we want to accomplish and flows down into the organization to the people that we do want to hire and how we want to hire them, to their individual roles and responsibilities and how we measure performance on the inside for the team. How we think about culture and investing into that culture so that we have a really unified front of yeah, we have high standards and it's important that people perform and then hopefully even over-perform on expectations, but that we're all always nurturing, that we're always supporting each other's individual growth on the inside.
So when I think about the leadership that I love, it is that servant-based leadership model that you hear a lot even from military leaders, servant leadership. For my partner Pat, for the team that we have and the tean that we're going to continue to invest in and continue to grow. We have a couple full-time positions that we still hope to fill this year and hopefully maybe a couple more even next year. So leading with the vision and making sure that you're making the right business decisions around the components of your business plan and having the team in place to fulfill on that mission.
Pat Flynn: And dude vision is the right word, for sure. I love that, Matt. It reminds me of a quote, it’s a Japanese proverb: A vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare. And I know too many entrepreneurs who are action, work, work, work without any real vision or direction. And it's like you didn't put the address in the navigation menu and you're just driving around. Eventually you're going to lose gas or if you're driving a Tesla, you're gonna lose electricity. You need to find a supercharger. We need to have vision and that vision changes over time, too. Your plans and your goals change. I remember when I got laid off, my goal was just to survive. I'm starting a family. I had just proposed to my girlfriend and we were going to have a wedding and then I got laid off.
And so, okay, I just need to survive and be able to start this family and make it work. And we both moved in with our parents and we survived and I made enough money to survive. And then the next goal unlocked. It was like, okay, we're surviving now. What's next? Okay. Well, how can we start thriving in this? How can we build up our emergency funds now and our nest egg using what we have now. And then from there, I mean, and here we are now I'm able to grow and serve more people, but at the same time, even invest in and do a lot more philanthropy than I would have ever imagined before because now we're able to offer those kinds of things and the goals are now even bigger.
Now I want to make change in the world of education and be an agent of change there. And so we just keep leveling up and I think it's important to have big 10-year, 20-year life goal visions. In addition to what's really important is okay, well, what's the yearlong vision right now, or what's the three month vision for the next quarter and breaking them down, I think is really important too.
Matt Gartland: Yeahon the business side, Pat nailed it. Vision is something that, just like regular vision, human vision, when you look into the distance, things closer to the horizon get a little foggier and things closer up are just that much sharper. So what we do is frame out a three-year vision, a multi-generational plan being kind of the academic term, an MGP, where the first year of that three-year plan is pretty specific. We enter every year with a pretty buttoned up business plan for that year, enabling and supporting of that vision. And then that extends into year two and year three. So we have that right now, 2020 is year one of our three-year plan. We'll continue to kind of tweak the future years as we go along here. But that gives us orientation for Pat and me trying to co-lead the ship to be able to communicate that to the team, because they're looking to us for that leadership, for that direction.
And be able to even turn around and share a lot of that vision outward to our community. And that's another great way to continue to earn that trust is to be transparent and showcase, not just what we're working on today or tomorrow or for next quarter, but how this supports a larger vision of new services, new value, new content, new something that we want to do even whole new businesses. In our MGP that Pat and I have built, SPI Media is like the company name for what we do, it's doing really well and we'll continue to grow, but we have other companies on our MGP plan out in the horizon that we are excited to do, potentially in podcasting. Like straight up, Pat and I are very excited to just do more yes as a part of SPI, but potentially even as like a sister company yet another sister company on the side someday, just another sort of podcast-oriented company to help other podcasters network their shows and grow their shows together. So getting all that all started together into a plan that can evolve is important.
What was it like for Pat Flynn when he was working solo?
Jason Sew Hoy: I'm just thinking back to I guess where most of our listeners are going to be. And I think of you Pat, when it was just you and your lonesome and I'm kind of interested to see if you can cast your mind back to that time. What would your vision have looked like at that time.
Pat Flynn: I mean, back when I was on my own a lot of what was going through my head was I don't yet believe I am either qualified to hire help or can't afford to hire help, even though I could. I think it was much a sense of pride for me to do all this work myself. I remember even one time spending like eight hours a day to try and get my website up, even though I could have hired somebody and saved a lot more time.
But in terms of vision, it was just, let me get out there and build something that can compete with the others that are out there. And a lot of that was great, getting inspiration and motivated by other people who were where I wanted it to be. I think that's really important when you're starting out to find mentors. And for me initially, it was Jeremy and Jason from Internet Business Mastery and Darren Rowse from ProBlogger and several other people. Then, in addition to my visions having upgraded over time, my mentors have also upgraded over time. I think it's important to see, okay, where am I at now? Because what got you here won't get you there. And it's always sort of a reassessment of okay, like where are we now? And where do we want to go? What needs to change?
Matt and I like to do this exercise called stop, start, continue every year with, okay, well, what do we need to start doing that we haven't done to get to where we need to go? What do we need to continue to do? And what do we need to stop doing? Or what can we sunset now so that we can offer ourselves more time and space to do these things. But trying to get again, back into my head space back in the early days, it was very much to take it day by day sort of situation. Very reactive if you want to call it that.
Oh, I just finished this week's podcast episode, reaction, I got to now build next week's podcast episode. Who am I going to interview? What am I going to talk about versus now it's a much different picture. Now we are currently recorded all the way through September and it's only July right now because we've planned ahead. We plan to plan. We have moments during the year where we come together as a team now where we go, okay, what's coming in the pipeline? What are we going to launch? What courses, what programs? And then we can backtrack and almost reverse engineer. What podcast episodes can we now create that would lead up perfectly to that. Podcast episodes, for example, that might perhaps address objections that people would have that would then open them up to the possibility of working with us in that venture.
Or what episode can we create with a guest who maybe is a success story that relates to that particular thing that we're reaching out for? And these kinds of things now play a role in what we're doing because we're planning, we're more CEO and we're more proactive in terms of what we can create and why versus just, well, let me just do this because this is something I feel like I have to do right now. The goal setting has become a much different picture now for us, for sure.
Matt Gartland: So getting started, Jason, for again some of those folks that are in the scrappy hustler entrepreneurial phase that Pat has referenced, start making that maybe tactile and real as I know Pat did back then is you start thinking about your thousand dollars an hour stuff that you do, and you want to hold that sacred. That the creative vision for your podcast to things that you probably don't want to delegate or give up and then put that in contrast to arguably the $10 an hour or even $50 an hour sort of task. You think about all the post-production that goes into podcasting. It's a lot easier to do that now than it was two, three, four years ago, either through software or just the expansive kind of freelancer market of producers and audio engineers and little studios or even big studios that have popped up and being able to do that now. You want to hold onto the things that are really the magic of what you're creating, that is the vision, the strategy, the real sort of chutzpah that you bring into your show.
Those things you shouldn't delegate away. You want to hold on your core competencies, but when you find the right moment, based on time, based on available working capital, in your business, start looking at those postproduction like things to start delegating away and go smal. As I think Pat would attest to, correct me if I'm wrong, but hire a freelancer, try it out.
Managing talent and leading talent is a new skill for a lot of entrepreneurs that maybe you don't have a corporate background or something like I did or a military background where you're leading troops of people. So if that's you and you don't have a lot of that experience, start small, keep your risk profile low.
Definitely go on contract first. Don't just hire someone on staff like an employee. And learn and just continue to be open to feedback and humble in that process, much like creatives are sort of humble through the creation process. Be humble as a leader, as you learn those skills.
What would Pat Flynn do differently?
Jason Sew Hoy: Yeah, that's great advice. If you were to start over again and you were kind of at that juncture where you're like, okay, I'm busy and I'm just doing a ton of stuff and I don't feel like there's enough hours in the day. What do you think you would do differently and what might you let go faster if you could talk to your younger self?
Pat Flynn: Yeah, that's a great question. I think it would be take some space for me to literally put in the calendar, okay this is the time. Beause I think we always know we need to do this kind of stuff, but we don't create a space to do it. And I think that I would have set myself maybe a day, maybe even escape somewhere for a while just to kind of really nail this down to determine, okay, what are actually the priorities here? And I think that kind of conversation forces you to understand, where do we even want to go? What is the vision and what are we doing right now and what does and does not align with that? And that's where I would start.
I would start crossing things off that aren't must haves. We are likely all of us doing things every single day that aren't must-have for our next goal and our next work that we're doing.
There's a really good book out there called Virtual Freedom by a good friend of ours, Chris Ducker, that really outlines a really good process for creating a list of things that you can start handing off and letting go. And it's called three lists of freedom. Essentially, you create a list of a first column being things that are essential to do in the business to keep it running but you just don't like to do that. You do it but you don't like to. You could prefer to have somebody else do that. That's sort of like the obvious one
Number two would be things that you just can't do that could be done and could help, but you just don't have the skills or talents to do that. That's your second list. And then the third list, this is the big one nd this is where you start to really evolve from scrappy entrepreneur to CEO are the list of things that you can do that need to be done that you actually like to do, but you probably shouldn't do right. For me, a big one was editing my own podcast, doing my own graphical work, stuff that I have experience with back in my architecture days. Like I'm a Photoshop wizard, but even though I know I shouldn't do those things right now because I want to focus on the thousand dollar an hour things like Matt was talking about.
And so this is a lot to unpack. I think this also involves a conversation to determine well, what's unique about you? What are the things that only you can offer and how can you do more of that and potentially start to hand off these other things too. But yeah, in particular, I think I would have let go of my podcast editing sooner. I would have let go of my email sooner. I would have let go of a lot of the sort of post-production work sooner for both the podcast and the blog. Those sorts of things. I think I've done a good job of honing in on the things that I know only I can do or I should do right now, but it's taken a long time to get there. I think just even being open to that it should have happened sooner, honestly. Like, man, I waited way too long.
Matt Gartland: For a lot of us that are overly ambitious entrepreneurs, that skew creative that's skew business, that skew maybe all the things, at least for me not to put words in your mouth, Pat, just asking for help sooner in sort of any form is I think something of a truism. Asking for help again on those smaller tasks that can be more easily delegated away. I have yet to meet I don'tthink an entrepreneur that wouldn’t say just accelerating on that somehow and getting to that point faster. And Jason, I mean, you're running a startup, a tech startup. It's just in the podcasting world. You probably wear many hats, I would imagine still right now. You'll need to probably delegate some of those away as Supercast continues to grow and evolve, which is an exciting moment. But also, as I think we've explored from different angles, it's a challenge. It's a challenge to give away something that you love doing that you are good at.
But as Pat was mentioning, this is what made sense to do as a part of my time last week, last month, a year ago, but it's just not the right choice, the right prioritization of my time now. Help manifests in different ways. I guess my quick 2 cents on it, at least for me personally, is I’ve always really valued business partnerships, like actual business partners. And have had some that have been not so good and have had some, definitely, Pat included, at the top of the list that have been just phenomenal and life changing and in amazing ways. So I would say podcasts that are thinking really about their venture through a business lens, that are thinking about this, not just as a recreational project or something that's maybe on the side, but like, I want to actually build a real business around this and grow this thing, seriously, think about business partnership, really joining forces with someone that can be a compliment to you.
Business partnerships are like marriages, It's like a business marriage is sort of the cliche. There's a great book that Pat and I have both read called Rocket Fuel and there's a lot of books similar to that but Rocket Fuel was pretty cool. It's the whole yin and yang sort of idea. I think Pat and I have really kind of found that magic together and have earned that trust in a mutually back and forth over the last eight years together. So I'd say to podcasters that maybe even already have co-hosts cause that's sort of a growing trend as well, you know, cohost on shows, think about that through a business partnership lens. And if you can find the right partner, it can really unlock a lot of amazing stories.
Jason Sew Hoy: So Pat and Matt, amazing to chat. Thank you so much again for coming on, for our maiden episode of the Supercast podcast. Big fan of SPI and looking forward to SPI Pro and the rest of what's to come with your vision.
Pat Flynn: Thank you. Congrats on the new show, honored to be a part of it. And I'm looking forward to the AMA.
Matt Gartland: Thank you, Jason. A real pleasure.
- Internet Business Mastery
- Smart Passive Income
- Smart Passive Income Podcast
- Australian Birth Stories by Sophie Walker
- Scanner School by Phil Lichtenberger
- Superfans by Pat Flynn
- Company of One by Paul Jarvis
- Virtual Freedom by Chris Drucker
- Rocket Fuel by Gino Wickman
- Pat Flynn's Twitter
- Matthew Gartland's LinkedIn