• Brian D. Evans Brian D. Evans Founder/CEO, Influencive.

Have you ever wondered how digital marketers are able to create passive income streams for themselves? If you’ve done some searching on your own, then you’ve most likely stumbled across some of Pat Flynn’s material online. After all, he is the founder of Smart Passive Income, a resource library of valuable information about how you too can become a master digital marketer.

Pat is known to be an expert in the digital marketing industry, and speaks often at major events, conferences, and more. In fact, we both recently ranked together on the Top 25 Marketing Influencers to Watch in 2017 list on Forbes. I was fortunate to sit down with him to chat about how his empire, Smart Passive Income, came to be—as well as hear about its humble beginnings.

Want to know how he did it? Learn from the master, and implement some of these lessons to your own venture:

Smart Income Is The Result Of Sharing What You Know Best

As Pat tells it, he first dipped his toe into the digital marketing waters back in 2008. He was let go from his architectural firm (Pat went to UC Berkeley for architecture), and suddenly found himself without a job—and right on the heels of proposing to his girlfriend (and now wife).

“The timing couldn’t have been worse,” he said. “But obviously things worked out. Right after being let go, I was listening to a podcast called ‘Internet Business Mastery.’ In this particular episode, they interviewed a guy who was making six figures a year helping people pass a project management exam—and for me, that was the lightbulb moment. Because I had taken a number of different exams leading up to becoming an architect, and there was one exam in particular that I got so frustrated about because there was no information online about it.”

So what did Pat do? He built a site specifically for teaching people how to pass the very exam he had learned how to effectively pass himself. And according to Pat, he made precisely $7,908.55 selling a $19.99 eBook, which was a guide helping teach people with everything they needed to know about this particular exam.

This speaks to a crucial and much larger business lesson: Start with what you know. Sometimes, the best ideas are the result of your own knowledge. It’s just hard to see how valuable that knowledge can be when you already have it. But remember: What is familiar to you, might be very unfamiliar (and valuable) to someone else.

Teach How To Teach What You Know

This first eBook was Pat Flynn’s big lightbulb moment.

Shortly after, other friends (specifically architecture friends who were also laid off) started asking Pat how they could build something similar.

“That’s how the Smart Passive Income idea came about,” said Pat. “I just started to share everything—except now, instead of sharing information specific to say, architecture, I was sharing the process of sharing. I was teaching people how to teach.”

Even Pat had no idea how much of a demand there would be to learn the art of establishing smart, passive income online through the dissemination of knowledge. But it was his honesty and transparency about the process (and the finances) that drew people in. People weren’t used to seeing someone share so openly how much money they were making, and how.

Pat’s strategy was simple: Every time someone asked him a question about how to effectively share information and monetize online, he answered it on his website and blog. This strategy is what turned dozens of visitors into hundreds of thousands. Soon, Pat and Smart Passive Income was being featured in major publications.

Know All The Different Ways You Can Monetize

Part of the art of building smart, passive income for yourself is understanding all the different ways people are able to monetize their content and material online.

This is, essentially, what Pat Flynn’s primary value is to his audience: Education on the entire landscape, and all the different ways you can monetize.

“Another big lightbulb moment I had was in 2010, when I learned about Affiliate links. This is a domain that people new to digital marketing are extremely unfamiliar with—and as soon as they learn about it, they are amazed. You can build an entire business around being an Affiliate, and it’s important that people know that is an option.”

For Pat, one of the ways he is able to effectively monetize his personal brand is through Affiliate recommendations. With his content, he shares the tools and resources people need to know about in order to be successful digital marketers, and they are given convenient access to these tools through his own Affiliate links—of which he gets a referral commission.

This is just one example, but it goes to show that Pat Flynn has built a disruptive personal brand in the digital marketing space by being transparent with readers. In fact, it’s what he’s known best for.

If you want to know what works and doesn’t work, then Pat is your guy. His podcast is a must-listen on iTunes, and recently published the book, Will It Fly: How To Test Your Next Business Idea So You Don’t Waste Your Time And Money.

Brian D. Evans
Brian is the Founder/CEO/Editor-in-Chief at Influencive and the Founder at BDE Ventures. Brian is an Inc. 500 Entrepreneur, who built the 25th fastest growth marketing and advertising company in America. Brian is an advisor to many startups and mentor to many entrepreneurs. He is a columnist at Inc.com, Entrepreneur.com, Huffington Post, Forbes and others.