MD02: Pat Flynn Talks – How to do Research to Create a Niche Website – Step by Step
This is the first official interview episode of The Moneydiver Podcast, and it’s with no other than Pat Flynn from SPI (smart passive income) who takes us through the step by step process of how to create a niche website from scratch.
What I love about this process is the structure, it’s so methodical that it takes the guessing and speculation away.
Pat Flynn has done millions online (really, he proves it month after month with reports at his blog) thanks to having “master” the process of how to create a niche website.
And I like to think of two main reasons as to why you would want to create a niche site.
1. To make a business out of the site itself.
2. To rank for keywords in the search engines like Google and drive organic traffic, customers and leads back to your main business using this website or blog.
I used to own 5 niche websites in the period of 2011 to late 2012 when Google released an algorithm called “Panda“and another one called “Penguin” that knocked down websites that were building backlinks in certain ways, which is when I parted away from those link-building but that’s another story.
Pat Flynn is mostly known for his blog/podcast and brand SmartPassiveIncome.com but his has a portfolio of niche websites that are listed on the resources and links section by the end of this show notes page. His has created sites that range from how to become a security guard to food trucks and the architecture industry.
On the episode Pat also mentions a variety of ways to monetize his niche sites, from creating eBooks and training programs to affiliate marketing (his favorite).
“Your earnings are a bi-product of how well you serve your audience” – Pat Flynn
Things You Will Learn on This Episode With Pat Flynn
How to decide what to blog (or create your niche website) about
How to perform industry research
How to examine your competition
What to tools to use
Finding the keywords you will want to rank for
What keywords qualify to be selected
How to structure your initial posts
Strategies to monetize your website
Links and Resources Mentioned
SecurityGuardTrainingHQ.com (Pat Flynn’s Niche Site)
FoodTruckr.com (Pat Flynn’s 2nd Niche Site)
Here’s The Interview Put Into Words
Borja: Hey, hey, hey. What is up guys? Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for taking some time and listening to another episode of the Money Diver podcast. I am super excited for today’s episode because we’re going to be talking about the step by step process of creating a niche website with Pat Flynn Flynn from SmartPassiveIncome.com. Pat Flynn is a true expert in creating niche websites that generate revenue for him and you might want to create a niche website to promote your existing business, to market your existing business or to create a website that will bring you some passive income and make a business out of that website itself and we’re going to get straight into the interview with Pat Flynn because it’s full of valuable content, but before we get to that, I want to let you know about a contest that I’m doing where you have the opportunity to win a lifetime premium membership to smartduu.com which is a provider of intelligent WordPress themes and plugins that allow you to display different versions of your website, create your conversion rates and increase your revenue. In order to particiPat Flynne, 1) subscribe to the podcast. Leave a review then answer to the question what does Pat Flynn say is a qualifying key word to build your website around? You’ll have to listen to this episode in order to answer that question and to answer that question, you have to go to SmartPassiveIncome.com/Borja. Again, SmartPassiveIncome.com/Borja. At that page you’ll be able to see the contest guidelines and answer to the question as a comment right there. So let’s get right into the interview with Pat Flynn.
Borja: Hey what is up? What is up divers? I am super pumped for today’s episode because I have with me someone who I believe has revolutionized the way people are branding themselves. He is such an inspiration to the masses of entrepreneurs who are doing business online. He is the one and only Pat Flynn Flynn. Hey, what’s up Pat Flynn? Thanks for coming on the show. I really appreciate that. It’s going to be a lot of fun. Let’s dive right in. So Pat Flynn, I doubt there’s anyone listening right now that doesn’t know a lot about you, but for those who might not have heard about you before, let’s tell them a little. How did you get started with online business and as a marketer?
Pat Flynn: Yeah. There’s a lot of people who don’t know who I am so I am definitely not worldly famous. I know in the kind of space we are in a lot of people know me but for those of you who are being introduced to me for the first time, nice to meet you. Kind of how I got started online was after I got laid off from the architecture industry. I then started my own online business helping people pass an exam in the architecture industry that I took myself. That was really difficult and actually kind of rewinding a little bit, when I was studying for that exam, to help me study I put up a blog and just started posting my notes and I did that essentially just for myself and my coworkers so we could keep track of everything so I could study during my lunch hour without having to bring all of my big books with me so I could study while I travel for the same reason and then I passed the test and I just let the site sit there. I had no reason to come back to it until I got laid off and then I discovered that there is this world of online business and people were providing information to other people in terms of ebooks and courses and I was like “maybe I could do this too” so I went back to my old website that I initially created for myself and I put a plug in on it to help keep track of those I was eventually hoping to get somehow. Again, I didn’t know how I was going to do that or what I was going to do and then I noticed that thousands of people every single day were already visiting my site to help them pass the exam too. To make a long story short, in October 2008 I published a new ebook study guide that was my first foray into selling something online and that made $7,908.55 in that first month of selling that which was so amazing and life changing for me because I had just gotten laid off and it kind of changed my whole perception of what online marketing and online business could be because before that, I thought of this whole world as scam-my, very just sort of hype-y and very exaggerated things to make me do more divings. You might remember those advertisements that say “you’re the millionth visitor to this website. Click here for your prize”. That’s what I thought the whole internet was like and it still is like that in some corners of it and major parts of it, but here I was building a successful online business, creating products, selling them and getting paid in return. Not only that, but getting incredible notes of thank you, people writing hand written letters to me saying “thank you for helping me pass those exams” and “you made it so easy” and that’s what gave me the whole business model that I use now in all of my businesses. I have several now, which is essentially your earnings are a by-product of how well you serve your audience. You have to first get in front of your audience, but then secondly serve them in a way that is meek and different from everyone else out there and make them feel special and want to do business with you. I just really grasped onto that particular business model and I tried to share that with as many people as possible through my blog, at Smartpassiveincome which is where most people know me from. I also have a podcast that goes along with that as well. Actually two podcasts there. And I have a number of other niche sites from the food truck industry to the security guard training. I have some software projects too. Just launched my first major software product. I have a couple of smaller ones as well and I’m just doing as much as I can to experiment and then use Smart Passive Income the audience I built there to share my results and the results are not always positive, but there’s always a lesson involved so I share my wins, my failures, my successes, my mistakes. It’s always a learning lesson and that’s sort of where I’m at today. I’m just really happy to be here and thanks for having me on.
Borja: Thank you for coming on and also you had a launch last week for another Podcast with Chris Ducker is that Correct?
Pat Flynn: Yeah, we just launched our 1 Day Business Breakthrough podcast.
Borja: congratulations man.
Pat Flynn: Thank you. We got up to the number 12 podcast in the whole world.
Borja: Number 12.
Pat Flynn: Yeah, once you get up there it’s kind of hard to surpass the NPR and all those people with millions of listeners, but we got pretty close. We got up to number 12 in the world and we’ve kind of sunken back down, but that’s okay. We had a great launch and we’re really proud of the brand we built that one day, 1DayBB.com
Borja: Would you mind dropping the URL to people who might not have heard about 1DayBB?
Pat Flynn: Yeah, it’s 1DayBB.com and it started out as a live event and Borja was one of the attendees at one of the live events and we just recently taken that live event, scaled it in a way that can change the entire world on 1DayBB.com so there you’ll see a podcast. You’ll also see information about our upcoming live event, which is going to be both live in person and streaming online as well.
Borja: Excellent man. Let’s go through the step by step process you have crafted on created niche websites because there might be people who will want to create a niche website as a business in itself and there are also people who already have an established business, maybe online or maybe off line, and they want to create perhaps a blog to advertise their business. Either way, what do you think would be the first step for someone to take if they want to create a niche website to start a new kind of marketing and try to target visitors?
Pat Flynn: If you have a website already and you have a set of customers or set of readers already, that’s where I would start. I would tap into who was already using your stuff or reading your stuff or listening to it or buying your stuff and just figure out why and get into their brains so you can understand what is working with them and then do more of that. That’s where I would start. A lot of times people who already have something up and going, they want to keep going out into these new directions and try something new, this new thing, this new thing and the bright shiny object syndrome or whatever they call it and that can be hurtful because they are marketing that could be working already. You just need to do more of and that’s where I would start. If you’re starting from scratch, then you have to figure out what are you going to do and the thing you have to understand is you can’t build a website for everybody and if you try to build a website for everybody, you’re actually going to help nobody. The focus is you want to become the ultimate resource for specific set of people when they have a specific set of problems and then you can branch out from there. If you want, you really have to niche down and find that target market, to serve and become that ultimate resource to a point to where people start talking about that thing, whatever that thing is, you want people who know that space already to bring up your website, to bring up your resource, to have them pop you into that conversation like it’s just part of the conversation and that’s kind of your goal. Knowing that that’s a goal, where do you start? Well, there are a lot of different ways to figure out what niches you can serve. First and foremost, you want to start with the stuff that you’re familiar with I think and then not just start there, but validate there might be a need for something more and for me when I got started with my online business, there was obviously a lot of people who were already talking about starting an online business, blogging, entrepreneurship and things like that, but I felt that there was a big need, a big hole in that space for somebody to just come in and tell the truth and be completely honest and transparent and talk about failures and reveal their income so I became that person and so I was able to through my own experience in a niche, not that I was familiar with as a reader and subscriber in other sites that I was able to come in and fill that gap myself. That’s one way to go about it and that’s where I would start if you are starting from scratch because you have some sort of familiarity with that space. Do you have to have complete familiarity with that space? No and did I have know everything going into that? No absolutely not and I still don’t know everything, but I’ve chosen and I’ve committed to that niche and that’s where I’ve kind of gone now. You don’t need to even be a part of that niche however to succeed. With that one, I was successful because I have some, I walked the walk. I didn’t just talk the talk, but I had experience with my architecture site that helped me with presenting case studies and numbers that were actually real and that’s when a lot of people gravitated toward, but I have a couple of sites that you might know of if you know who I am that are in industries that I am not a part of myself personally. One of them for example, SecurityGuardTrainingHQ.com which helps people start their own security guard career and find out the requirements and steps that are needed to become a security guard and I have another one in the food truck industry. I don’t have a food truck myself, but I have a website that helps food truck owners with their marketing and their businesses and helping them maximize their time as somebody in a food truck serving food and it’s also helping people start the food truck as well if they don’t have one yet. That one just came out with a product a few months ago and is now selling and doing very well and earning a few hundred, if not a couple thousand dollars a month. Again, I’m not even in that space.
Borja: What was that, set up? An eBook?
Pat Flynn: Yeah, with that and that’s the primary monetization model on that particular site, the food truck site. You can see that at FoodTruckR.com and then the other one is SecurityGuardTrainingHQ.com and is primarily making money through advertisements and Adsense although we are potentially going to add some products on that site. It is also involved in affiliate marketing or earning a commission by selling other people’s products to certain particular niches as well so the thing that might be on your mind is “okay well how can I provide value in a particular market if I’m not even in that market myself” and the interesting thing about that is you totally can because you just have to find where those holes are and be committed to being the person to figure out how those things work and for security guard training for example, I discovered through a key word research, I’ll talk more about that in a second, that there was a lot of people searching for information about how to become a security guard and there was nobody online even in the top ranking sites on Google that was really serving that audience and really helping them understand a clear way how to do that and so I said “okay, even though I’m not a security guard, I’m going to build that site and I’m going to do the research that’s required to have the information that people are looking for to be able to connect those dots for them”. What did I do? I built that website and then when I began generating content, I called security guard companies in each of the states in the US and I said “how do I become a security guard? What are the steps involved?” and they just told me and I started to report and put that information.
Borja: They just told you?
Pat Flynn: Yeah, why not? They are there to hire people who are wanting to be security guards and if I am interested in becoming a security guard, they’re going to tell me how to do that and if there was a solution out there already, they would have said “oh, we’ll go visit this page”, but nobody said that so that’s how I knew that there was a good opportunity there. It’s interesting because after 73 days after posting 15 posts on that blog, that site got to number one in Google and it started with a few thousand dollars a month at that point, which is really cool. Now I made the unfortunate mistake of stopping at that point because I had reached my goal and I was sort of building this publicly on SmartPassiveIncome.com to show people how it’s done. I made the big mistake of just stopping at 15 or 17 states when I could have done all 50 and made even more money. I eventually hired somebody to fill in all those holes for me and do all 50 states and I hired that same person to write another 50 articles to do armed security guard training, so initially it was unarmed security guard training, meaning without weapons. Then 50 more with a gun. How do you become an armed security guard, which is a whole new set of requirements and that site still after 4 years is the number one source on how to become a security guard and it’s because I put in the time and effort to do the proper research stuff and find that information people were looking for. Again, I wasn’t a security guard, but I put myself in the shoes of someone who wanted to become one and did the right research and just posted that information, the same thing kind of goes for FoodTruckR.com. I am not a food truck owner, but through conversations that I had with real food truck owners, I’ve been able to discover a lot of things people should know before they get into that industry and have been able to create a hub for people that I talk to that are sharing information with me. I can then go on and share that information with everyone else and I do that through blog posts and I also do that through a podcast on FoodTruckR.com as well.
Borja: Do you interview people?
Pat Flynn: Yeah, oh yeah. Totally, and that is such a great way to get information that you need. If you don’t know that information yourself, you get the experts to come on and have them do all the talking for you and provide all the information. This is how people like John Lee Gibbs became so widely popular.
Borja: That’s John Lee Dumas from Entrepreneur on Fire just so people know. He didn’t have a business before. Entrepreneur on Fire is his business.
Pat Flynn Flynn: Yeah and he’s interviewing people who share their business advice and that model is absolutely working for him and it’s working for me at FoodTruckR.com as well. So if you’re worried about making a niche and you’re feeling like what you’re involved with in your own life isn’t necessarily going to become a good website or resource for somebody or a group of people out there, then you don’t have to stick with what you know. You can stick with what you’re interested in that you can do research on and so that’s been working out really well for me and again a lot of it starts with key word research just because it sort of validates and becomes that first step to know. Okay, there are a group of people out there who are typing these key words into Google who are looking for information and there are obviously billions of key words that are typed into Google every day. There are various tools out there that will tell you what key words are being searched for, how often and then some of those tools go even further and tell you here are the sites that rank in Google to serve that audience who is searching for those key words and if you happen to stumble upon a particular key word that has searched for a good amount of searches and you see that there are sites out there ranking on Google that aren’t doing so well in providing that solution or you feel like you can do better than those sites, then it’s open game. Then that’s a good starting point. There’s a lot of things involved.
Borja: Step one would be selecting the industry which we just covered. You have to do your competitive research and then you go about selecting and finding the keywords that you want to rank for.
Pat Flynn Flynn: Well the key words, you can even start with key word research and that will help you determine the industry. It can go both ways, but I think after that the key important thing is to continue to validate that there is a need for another website or another position in that particular market to serve that particular audience. Just because there’s people there already serving that audience, that doesn’t mean that you’re too late because it only validates that yes there is a market there and then you have to find your position. You have to figure out what you can do differently than what everybody else is doing out there and that’s your advantage. That’s your advantage of going in late and you’re not actually going in late. You’re going in seeing and validating that this is a market that you can go into, but also from a bird’s eye perspective seeing everybody in the space who is already in this market and trying to understand and make connections and see nobody’s talking about this or I can’t believe there’s all these people doing this and they’re not covering this thing or they all have the same position. What about somebody who’s doing something else and that bird’s eye perspective is really important too and then you can come in and that can help with the branding of your website and the tone of your articles and podcasts if you choose to do that and then a lot of other things as well. Another thing you want to validate even before you get started is there a potential to make money in that particular niche? You might stumble upon a niche where there’s a lot of people searching, there’s very under served sites and you might discover through research that they’re under served because there’s no money there. A very obvious example are any keywords that have the word ‘free’ in it. I hate those. They get highly searched for and there are a lot of opportunities to build a website for those people.
Borja: Something regarding the word ‘free’. Everyone uses the word ‘free’ on their sign up forms. We’re not talking about email marketing today specifically, but a lot of people use the word ‘free’ on their sign up forms and something that I want to experiment on is removing the word ‘free’ on the sign up forms. I’m not saying changing it for ‘paid’ or something. Just removing it because at the end, it is a business what we’re doing and in the end, eventually there are going to be people we want to be faced with a buying opportunity so predetermine that they’re signing up for free, free stuff. I think it’s the wrong way. You might get lower conversion rates, but they’re going to be honest conversion rates of people that are more qualified in the end. It’s just something that I’ve been thinking about doing lately. Let’s carry on with key word research. Any particular tools you like about doing key word research?
Pat Flynn: Yeah, there’s a number of tools that I’m familiar with. My top two would be Long Tail Pro by Spencer Haws over at NichePursuits.com. He created a software called Long Tail Pro, which is really awesome and I like that because it’s a very low barrier to intricate terms of understanding how to use. It’s very intuitive and there’s a lot of parts to key word research and he makes it really easy with the software and it works really well. He also has an analytical tool with an algorithm in there that shows you sort of the key word competitiveness. There’s actually a number you can use to compare other key words. The number itself doesn’t mean anything if you’re just looking to find stuff, but when you compare that number, the key word competitiveness number to other key words, you can see which ones have a higher opportunity based on a number of different factors, including search numbers, inquiries, the volume, the competitiveness of each of the sites in the top ten in Google and how many pages rank and all this stuff together. It just makes it really easy to be like this one’s good, this one’s good, this one’s not good, this one’s better than that one. Another tool that’s really good is Market Samurai. That’s one that is the very first one I used and that’s great as well. That has some advanced features, but it has also a little bit of higher barriers and intricate terms of certain learning to use. They’re both great. They both have some special deals I believe if you get in early on the free trials and those will work if you’re willing to pay for those and I highly recommend them if this is something that you’re going to do. There’s also a free key word tool from Google. You go to Google AdWords and look up their key word planner, you’ll see that you can get some of that information. Mostly the volume of searches, which will help give you a good start.
Borja: It is called key word planner now. I apologize to a lot of my listeners who I have been getting an old eBook of mine that says that keyword tool and I’ve corrected that now. Sorry for that. It’s now called key word planner guys and I promise that I didn’t mean to that on purpose. What makes a good key word Pat Flynnh?
Pat Flynn: A good key word is one that is searched for I would say at least, it’s hard to give you numbers here because it kind of depends on a lot of factors because you can have a word that is not searched for very often, but maybe it’s a very prominent word, but I would say a minimum of 3,000-3,500 key word searches per month and that’s on the very low end remember so something higher is better, but you also want to have something that in terms of competition doesn’t have authority sites already ranking top ten in Google. Authority sites meaning really big sites that it would just be obvious that you could not compete with them. Now if you do key word research and you find words that have a good search volume and you do further research and look at the competition in the top ten in Google for those key words and you find that there are some sites that look like normal people put them together and the content is sort of thin, but they’re still ranking really high and there’s a lot of opportunity there, by all means, it’s a good sign of something you can go for. If those sites also have products that they’re selling or if you look on other sites like Amazon or maybe ClickBank or a bunch of other sites and see that there are products being sold to that particular audience or related to that niche, then that’s another good sign that there could be a lot of money involved if you were provide something awesome for those people.
Borja: Also what do you say like key words with buying signals, make like good choices? Something like review or buy?
Pat Flynn: Yeah I mean those are good ones. Reviewed by if you were to see those in key words as well you know that those people are going to buy or they’re looking. They’re people who are potentially going to pay for something. That’s sort of the opposite of the free key word like we talked about and that’s really important. That’s why I also like Amazon.com as a search engine to search through too. If you find a key word that works for you in these tools, go and search that key word in Amazon too because Amazon is a search engine and it’s a search engine where people go to buy stuff. If you find some good stuff that is a related product that you could maybe sell as an affiliate, you go into the reviews, you see these people talking to each other while reviewing those items and then you know there are buyers on that industry and it’s something to keep going with.
Borja: These are a number of key words you want to start ranking for.
Pat Flynn: I start with one key word and build out from there.
Borja: Just one main key word?
Pat Flynn: One main key word as sort of central focus of what you’re doing. Now times have changed in terms of building your website. You don’t want to just build a key word or a site that’s all around one key word. You want to know what your key word is. For instance, security guard key word is my primary key word at SecurityGuardTrainingHQ.com, but there are a lot of other secondary and tertiary key words in terms related to that as well and you can use these tools actually to plug in that primary key word that you find to see what other key words come up related to it. You can even do that in the Google key word planner as well and then that sort of begins to help you create a structure for the site that you’re going to create. Okay, here’s your primary key word. Maybe it’s going to be in your domain name, maybe not. That’s not important anymore, but it is going to be the central focus of your resource that you’re creating, but then here are all these other topics that you can talk about and create as well. That way when you start to build out your site and create content and tag things and categorize things using each of these different things, it kind of becomes that ultimate resource and Google begins to see that you’re not just some person trying to create a site to game Google, you’re a site that is considering all the other related terms and being able to provide information for people who find those terms and what’s cool is if you start to generate your content around all of those other key words as well and not just your main key word, you’re going to get a lot of long tail traffic as well. What that means is you’re going to get a lot of hits for one or two things, but those will add up and they’re all going to be based off of those other things you might be writing for that you might not even know about. I can’t tell you how many, well I can tell you actually. I can go into Google Analytics, but I would say the last time I checked, SecurityGuardTrainingHQ.com drove traffic, there were over 7,000 key words that drove traffic to that site last month. I think the last time I checked. Seven thousand different key words.
Borja: I think like 90% of them are not primary key words that you are
Pat Flynn: Ninety nine percent of them are not primary key words and I would say that only 95% of them have one or two hits, but those things add up and that’s only there because I’ve written a lot of content about other things related to the security guard training industry. Definitely security guard training is by far the number one key word, but there are a lot of other key words in there as well that together can add up to a lot of traffic for you.
Borja: For example, if you’re looking for I don’t know for the word ‘coffee’, a related key word or a long tail key word could be like Colombian coffee or best Colombian coffee.
Pat Flynn: Yeah and it doesn’t have to have coffee in it. It could be brew. It could be called brew. It could be grinders. Everything related to it. You again are creating something for a human being. I don’t want anybody to forget that because yes, Google is important and you want to create things and do SEO and do things that make Google happy, but ultimately you want to make the people who come to your site happy and that is something if you’re trying to build the ultimate resource, you want to eventually have all these things that are related so when people land on your site on any key word, they’re going to be like “this is a lot of good stuff here. I’m going to explore around” and what happens is people go from page to page, that produces your bounce rate, which helps you climb Google and people spend more time on the site, which helps you climb Google as well because they look at those metrics and then ultimately people are going to find value from your site and they’re going to talk about it with their friends and their family who are also interested or who ask questions about that same thing.
Borja: I think with the way that Google algorithms are going, providing value is going to be more important. Like making sure that your visitors are having a good experience on your site is going to be more important and they’re going to have to focus less on making Google happy because they are the one that focus more on making sure that you are making your visitors happy because that’s what they ultimately want.
Pat Flynn: Absolutely. Just make your visitors happy. If I could teach them in the proper way to build a website, we wouldn’t even talk about Google because everything we would build for the audience, which would make Google happy anyway.
Borja: Unfortunately Google is still just a machine and there are certain things that you as a marketer have to do to make sure that you’re making the most out of that machine.
Pat Flynn: That is correct.
Borja: Now we have the industry, we have the key words and we’re going to start creating our site and my bet is the first blades, the first thing we’re going to do is get a domain name, correct?
Pat Flynn: Yeah, you definitely want to build a domain name and get a domain name, but I think the first thing is you want to brainstorm what your brand is going to be. The domain is just one part of your brand, but not even just the logo either. What does this brand mean? Think about the why behind what you’re doing, what it’s actually going to mean to people and to you as the owner of this brand and also run some self tests on yourself too. A lot of times one thing people forget to do is be like “okay, can I imagine myself doing this and writing for this or posting comments into it and focusing on it a year from now”. Sometimes just asking yourself that one question gets rid of a whole mess of potential ideas that if you were to go through now because you’re chasing money or because you’re just not thinking ahead, you might give up on later. It’s important to think ahead. Can you do this in three years from now? Can you imagine yourself going on a late night show? Maybe it gets really popular. Would you be embarrassed by going on the Jimmy Fallon show and talking about your website or would you be proud of it? Those types of things are really important tasks that a lot of people overlook and there’s also one thing I like to do. The grandma test. I know this is sort of , everybody has a different grandma, but the grandma test is would I be okay sharing this site with my grandma because there are obviously niches out there that may not be so family friendly that can make you a lot of money, but you know, that’s up to you if you want to do the grandma test or not, but for me I want to do something that my kids would be proud of it they talked about what I’m doing with somebody else in the future. That sort of thing. You’re taking all of those things into consideration, but then you want to discover what your brand is and kind of, you want to develop sort of your mission statement or the purpose behind what you do that will help you with any decisions that you have to make in the future and once you go there, you can build out. What’s this domain going to be? All those things you’re doing, it’s all going to help make these decisions easier for you down the road and then you’re going to have an easier time in terms of design and whether you get that done on something like 99Designs.com or maybe you have a designer of your own that you use. All of this information are things that you think of before hand to help you make these decisions easier instead of doing here we are at this phase. What do we start with? Moving on to the next phase. What do we do? Having it all be cohesive and put together like a story, you’re telling a story. You’re putting together this experience for people and it’s going to make a lot of sense once you do the initial planning exercises down the road as well. Once you build that website, you have your domain, your branding, I would focus more on content more so than what it looks like at first. A lot of people get hung up on what the site looks like, what themes to use. I would just put something up and I will tell you my site at greenexamacademy.com was the most disgusting looking site at first, but it’s still helpful to people. It did its job and people found it and then once I got the resources and discovered what people wanted, I then redesigned the site to what it needed to be later. You don’t have to be perfect. You just need to choose your brand eventually and put the site up, choose your theme and then go. Just go. At that point, it’s about building relationships in and around that space as well and what I would do and this is something very specific. You can learn more about this if you go to SPI podcast episode 67, that’s what Neil Patel, who is just a genius with all things websites, he came up with a strategy called the 200 list or 200 spreadsheet. What you do is you create an Excel file or something on Google Draft where you start to list 200 different websites in and around that space that you selected and that will help show you who else is in this space with you who you can then potentially reach out to and create connections with, who can potentially get a post on. Maybe you go on and read their articles and start to reference them in your own articles. You’ve been following them on Twitter and following their Facebook groups and you don’t want to think about these people as competition. You want to think about these people as places where you can help each other. A lot of times, especially with the food truck, I’ve done the same thing. It’s helped out tremendously to do this exercise of creating this spreadsheet before hand so you just know who is there so you don’t have to go and search around later. It’s just there for you whether you create it yourself or you have a VA do it for you.
Borja: I’ll try to include that. I’ll try to find that, Pat Flynnel’s 200 list and include it on the show notes for sure. Do you, after you select a domain, how do you go about creating content? Do you create like big articles that will hold your side or something like that, like pillar articles I’ve heard they’re called?
Pat Flynn: Yes, pillar articles are evergreen articles. That’s what you definitely want to start out with. You want to have and launch with four or five in the bag first and one big one that you want the one to be that everyone can see it first and I did this on FoodTruckR.com. I launched it in this smart way where I started a ‘coming soon’ page using a lead page where I hooked onto the domain name to get people excited. Whenever I emailed people asking for information or quotes or just sharing that this new thing was coming, they had a web page to go to and they could sign up their email so I actually had an email list of about 300 people before the site even launched so when it launched, there were 300 people there already reading the blog posts instead of just myself and my family and that’s it, which is usually the case in launching a new site, but the post that I launched with that I made the primary focus was a post that was made up of 50 different quotes from other food truck owners saying what they wished they would have known before they got started.
Borja: That’s so good.
Pat Flynn: That became the number one article and is still the number one article. If you look up how to start a food truck, that might be the first article that pops up, even before my own main website because that’s
Borja: That’s very similar to how Money Diver got started. My first article, which is one of the articles that still drives most traffic to my site is about the 40 top earning websites in the world and I have to update that every year because it’s super popular and I don’t want to get the numbers wrong and it’s sort of the same concept.
Pat Flynn: Exactly. Put in a little work ahead of time. People want to pull the trigger before the bullets are loaded so you want to make sure you get the articles up there and get that pillar article, especially that big one and the reason why it’s cool to get those other people on that article too is that when you come out with that article, they’ll likely, not all of them, but some of them will share it and then immediately you have these people who are already sharing your new site and if you’re doing the job, people will subscribe and they’ll look forward to the next article that you have and then from there it’s just about building more relationships, pumping more content and then you get into monetization later and that’s really easy. I say that because when you build this audience, they’re going to tell you what to make for them. That’s always the case and a lot of people try to force things on them. You just listen. You listen and that’s why opening up communication on your site is really important or what I like to do and this is where I got a lot of the ideas for potential monetization models for FoodTruckR, you just talk to them on Skype or on a phone call and surveys are okay, but they give you very surface level answers. Some of the best information comes from real conversations where when people tell you an answer to a question, you say “well how come” or you say “why do you feel that way”. The answers to that, the fourth, fifth, sixth level questions, that’s where you can understand. Now I see what product I need to create or now I see what the real problem is that is common between everybody. I’m going to build absolution and then you could even work with those people to build absolution like we did with FoodTruckR and to be like “what do you think of this chapter? Is this something that, is there anything missing here?” and it just starts to make itself. Again, it takes time and it takes that proper research upfront and you’re going to make mistakes. I’ve made mistakes too and it’s just about knowing that those happen and you’ve got to learn from your mistakes and keep moving forward.
Borja: Right. What would you say are the most important pages that people have to include on their site when they’re just creating it?
Pat Flynn: Yeah, you want to create the page that has all of your best content on it. I think a ‘best of’ page is really appropriate. I think more than anything you have a getting started page and this is something I can accept just from a lot of research by asking my own audience and SPI is you want to have a getting started page and I can still work on this from my niche site, but if you go to SmartPassiveIncome.com on the front page you’ll see a big green button that says “get started here”, it’s very clear for brand new users what to do as opposed to typically just doing a blog which is just made up of archive and just blog post after blog post after blog post, which shouldn’t be read in that order really. It just tells them what to do and what to start with and what articles are most important before they get into everything else.
Borja: People might get overwhelmed when they land on your site the first time and you want to like have clear, concise steps to take when they land on your site and that’s definitely something that I believe is important on getting started page and what else? Do you include an about page or things that are very basic and still important, right?
Pat Flynn: Yeah, that page is really important because I want to know who is there and I think it’s really important to understand who is writing that content, if that is something they can trust. They want to know that it’s a real person and that’s again another way to stand out is using you because nobody is like you and a lot of people will connect with you over competitors because they just can connect with you better so it’s important to have that as well and any other sort of significant pages that are going to be relevant for people looking to understand that. I can’t tell you because it’s dependent on each niche, but yeah.
Borja: What are your thoughts on outsourcing content because you said you don’t have to be an expert on a specific niche in order to create a website around that niche so I would guess that for some issues it would be okay to outsource content or get hired specific writers, like a staff and you can be like the editor or like the owner of this of the site. What do you think about it?
Pat Flynn: I think outsourcing is fine as long as the person doing the writing is doing the proper research. It’s really tempting to go to an article type site where you can just pay $75 and they come back with an article for you, but that’s only going to bite you in the butt later because that content is not going to be enough. It’s really easy to go to Fiverr.com and find somebody to write an article for you, but is it going to be good? Is it actually going to be helpful? In most cases not and you can actually get into trouble because maybe they found that article on another site. How can you validate that?
Borja: Sorry to interrupt. For our readers, there is a tool called CopyScape.com that will tell you if there is an article that has been already published with your content or if someone has copied your content and it will notify you and that’s one of the tools I use the most whenever I hire writers for whatever purposes.
Pat Flynn: I think that’s smart.
Borja: What to you feel about the side structures? I’ve got to tell you, I love your sites, how they’re designed, SmartPassiveIncome has amazing designs. They follow the latest design trends and just a huge debate among marketers as to which is king. Some say design is king. Some say content is king. What are your feelings about design structure?
Pat Flynn: I think again it just comes down to what’s most helpful for your audience. I think content is important obviously. People go onto your site and they find there’s nothing helpful for them, then they’re going to leave, but design is important because design is sort of going to help people discover that content and if the design is terrible even before they get in to your content, they’re going to leave too so I think they’re equally important and as long as they’re both working, then that’s fine. If you have a theme that works for you whether you get it custom designed or you find one that is a template that works for you, as long as it’s not pushing people away, then it works. I wouldn’t focus too much on the design right up front.
Borja: Right. I particularly focus on design too much, but because I enjoy designing, but definitely you have to focus on what’s going to get people on your side. Now Pat Flynn, we’ve come to a point in the show where I want to ask you a very important question that I ask all of my guests because Money Dive as a normally marketing brand has a very strong focus on the audience part of thing, research, segmentation, personalization. My question is as a business owner of SmartPassiveIncome, who is your avatar? Who is your customer and do you have several avatars? Do you do any sort of segmentation?
Pat Flynn: It’s interesting because over time the site has grown to have and encompass several avatars so I do have several different avatars who are interested in different things and it would be silly of me to feel like there is one avatar who is interested in all of those things. It’s like we talked about earlier. Trying to build the site that serves everybody serves nobody so my site, which is unique because I talk about a lot of different things and I have several different avatars and I think about it and when I write different articles or I post a new blog post, I have to do that or my content is going to serve nobody and yes, I have to pick and choose for each article or podcast and that means I leave a particular set of avatars out, but that’s just it. I would recommend for everybody out there to pick one or two avatars and getting very, very descriptive on who they and what their likes and dislikes are. If I were to give myself one though that I could focus on and kind of where it started out with, it’s myself. I think this is common for a lot of people. They choose their younger selves or earlier selves as their own avatar and this was the case for greenexamacademy.com as well. Even security guard training and food truck. I put myself in the shoes of somebody who was looking to move forward and discover more and find solutions in that industry and I think that’s a unique ability that I have, but I think we can all learn, but we sort of have to get familiar with and practice putting yourself in the shoes of your own audience. It’s really hard to do that. There’s this thing called the curse of knowledge where once you know something, it’s hard to not know that thing. Chip and Dan Heath talked about this in their book “Made To Stick” and I highly recommend that book.
Borja: Naked Stick?
Pat Flynn: Made To Stick. It’s an orange book and it looks like duct tape on it. It’s my younger self, somebody who was very doubtful about what’s possible online, somebody who feels like everybody who is online is just a complete fraud, which is what I thought so I do things on my site that help that person, the younger person who disbelieves what everybody says to have all that stuff and I hope you can see how important the avatar is because it can help you discover what to do to serve that particular avatar based on what they feel, not just necessarily who they are and what they do, but how do they feel about what’s already out there and what you need to do to make them feel better about what you do.
Borja: Right. For example, you provide your income reports.
Pat Flynn: Yeah and I did that because that’s what I wanted to see on other sites.
Borja: You also don’t promote on your email directly and again
Pat Flynn: I don’t want that to happen.
Borja: Yeah, yeah and that’s so powerful because it says a lot about understanding your, how you understand your avatar and that’s something that I feel people have to get more and more because a lot of times, even though people know what they would like, it’s not what they implement.
Pat Flynn: Yeah, that’s marketers.
Borja: So you’re writing a book, right? Before we close, I want you to tell us a bit about your book, the book that you are writing.
Pat Flynn: I can’t reveal much ab out it yet because
Borja: Of course. Just how has your experience been in writing a book?
Pat Flynn: You know, I’ve had trouble writing books in the past because I approached it like I read blog posts. I’m really good at writing blog posts and terrible at writing books just because my brain gets in the way and I start editing and I can stare at the screen for hours and come up with nothing, but lately I’ve been doing a really cool strategy where I use post it notes combined with actually dictating the book and so I’m actually using my new skills that I’ve gained over the past two years as a podcaster to say what I want to be in the book. This is for the first chapter only, like what comes back in the transcript because I actually get these audio files transcribed, is not book ready, but it does give me the opportunity to just share what’s in my head really easily without giving me time to edit and so I just share all the stories and things that come to mind and it’s very, very messy when it comes back, but it’s there and the next phase is just going to be filtering through all of that and what I have in those transcripts and putting them in the right order and then I’ll eventually be able to see the book form all on its own.
Borja: I’m pretty sure that you’ll have a lot of success with the book, best of luck with that for sure.
Pat Flynn: Thanks, I appreciate it.
Borja: Once again, thank you very much for coming on the show. I really appreciate that. I know your time is hectic just like mine and every other entrepreneur listening, so thank you. Thank you so much man. I really appreciate that.
Pat Flynn: Thank you.
Borja: Alright! I hope you enjoyed that interview with Pat Flynn. I know I did because as you can see, Pat Flynn has mastered the processes creating niche websites so he really is someone you can learn the process from effectively and again I want to remind you that you can win a lifetime membership through SmartVUU.com. That’s SmartVUU.com and in order to particiPat Flynne in the contest, head on over to SmartPassiveIncome.com/Borja where you will be able to read the contest guidelines. Also you can read the show notes for this episode at rebelgrowth.com/episode2. I would be extremely grateful if you could subscribe and leave a review of the show on iTunes. It will be a huge help for me. Once again, thank you so much for listening. I hope to see you next time. Keep it real.
Thanks a lot for listening to this episode with Pat Flynn, if you have any questions feel free to post them below or click here and send a tweet with your question