Platform Conference Recap: 10/10 – Pat Flynn

Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income blog was the 10th presentation at Platform Conference.  Tough room to work too – mid-morning, just before the coffee break, the last speaker at the conference, and coming on after the super dynamic Stu McLaren.  Well, he nailed it.  How?  Why he did a trumpet solo of course.  Seriously.  It turns out that Pat played trumpet in the famous University of California, Berkley, marching band.  In fact, he ended his band career as their leader.  The tie in becomes clear later as he wrapped up his presentation on “Platform to Profit: How to Earn an Income Online Without Selling Your Soul.”  So how did this self-described ‘marching band nerd’ get to close out the Platform Conference?  Read on.


Pat threw out one word at us – CARE.  To him this word is what makes all the difference in life, in work.  Care in the quality of your content.  Care in the impact of the first impression.  Care about your audience.  If you can nail this aspect with authenticity and sustainability you are probably going to be ok.  In fact, the better you are at this caring approach is the better you will be at earning revenue.  Pat pointed out that earnings in this business is a byproduct of how well an audience, a tribe, is served.  You must always be considering how you can add value to your followers.

Pat’s first internet success came from his site It offers a study plan for the LEED exam.  This site had been built initially as a study guide for his own personal use as he studied for this exam as a beginning architect.  Once he was certified the site sat dormant until he was made redundant from his firm in the recession and took another look at the site.  He immediately realized that around 6,000 people per day were visiting it.  From that point he became much more intentional about monetizing the site, not just to receive payment for his intellectual capital that had been deployed online, but also through affiliate links that took advantage of the high and growing and very specific niche traffic to the site.  Over the past few years, and with the goal of always sharing his knowledge, he has grown the site and its affiliated podcast into the #1 business podcast on iTunes.

In addition to the LEED exam site, Pat runs another site that was initially set up to prove how to take a niche site from zero to the top ranking on Google.  He did that on and blogged about the step by step process he used.  Now the site is consistently top ranked and serves up ads relevant to the locale the visitor is in.

Both of these sites are fairly well running on autopilot now.  Income is earned as his blog states, passively.  In fact, while at Platform Conference I barely saw Pat glance at his phone or reply to an email on a computer (unlike the rest of us).  However, for an insight into the income earned on these sites and others run by Pat visit his income page.  Its impressive.

So, while it may take a while, how do you get there?  Pat outlined two areas of income generation that he uses.  They are:

  1. ADVERTISING – He really got the ‘bug’ for online advertising with the completion of the first sale on his Green Exam Academy site.  His income on sites comes from elements such as Pay Per Click (Google Adsense), Ad Marketplaces (BuySellAds, Beacon, Cranky Ads), and Direct Advertising (WP125).  The problems associated with these forms of advertising are that you have a lack of control over the ad that is placed, the income potential is limited, and it means that your site visitors leave to go to the advertiser.  Key in this ad area is not to go overboard and ads that are served up should be relevant.
  2. AFFILIATE MARKETING – This type of advertising was added later into Pat’s mix.  Essentially you provide links to the sales pages of products or services you use or recommend and if your visitor clicks through or uses your promo code you get a commission for ‘brokering’ the sale.  Unfortunately there is also often a negative connotation in the online world around affiliate programmes due to the numerous ‘get rich quick’ schemes out there.  Because of this history you really have to be careful with the companies you get into a relationship with and promote.  You are not just blindly sending a visitor to your site on to another.  You are staking your reputation on the other site and its value to your tribe members that may take you up on the referral.

How do you make it all work?  A five step ‘soft pitch’ model was presented:

  1. RELATIONSHIP – This matters more than anything else.  Tell stories.  Stop being interesting and start being interested.  Be personal and personable.
  2. PRODUCTS – What do you want your tribe of followers to achieve?  You can’s start with this.  You must start with building the relationship in step 1 and the products you will ‘push’ will speak to you from the goals of your audience.  If you start at product you will be answering your question, not your potential followers.
  3. EXPERIENCE – Recommendations matter.  You are doing your blog or website or product as you want to be known as an authority or impact in a specific niche area.  Don’t recommend any and everything out there.  If you use the product you can become a resource to your tribe who has bought on your recommendation – you can unbox the mystery of the item.
  4. SHOW – You must give your audience proof that you really do use, like, appreciate, and need the product that you have chosen to recommend.  Anything less seems hollow and fake and is soon detected and turned upon.
  5. PITCH – Be honest about what you are doing.  Say that it is an affiliate link (only my BlueHost and Amazon links on this blog as of this writing are affiliate links).

Support the goals you have for advertising revenue by the only reason that anyone wants to come to your site anyway – CONTENT.  Don’t create blindly.  Listen to what your tribe is asking you for.  What are they struggling with?  What do they want you to write or podcast about?  Use whatever unfair advantage you may have (professional qualifications, knowledge, time, etc) to get to your unique selling proposition.  Figure out where your talents lie and where that intersects with the needs of your audience.  Powerful material resides at that intersection point!

I promised at the start that the instrument metaphor would reappear at the end so here it is.


Pretty cool how these ideas around caring, sharing, changing lives, and doing good in the world through a platform has woven its way through these 10 presentations.  Now, what do you do with all this information?  Go and reexamine what you are doing on your platform.  If you don’t have one yet, think about what you want it to be and why.  Mainly, go forward with purpose.

If you have read all of these posts you are probably someone who really cares about expanding your personal knowledge.  Short of going to the conference yourself (which I highly recommend as the writeup is a pale shadow of the live presentations and meeting these folks), these 10 recaps and their collective +/1 12,000 words give you a ton of information, a roadmap of what to go to achieve the success you deserve.  Don’t stop here.  Write down your key goals – heck – email them to me if you want so you are held accountable – but just START.  Consider attending the next Platform Conference.  Study the work of the speakers that I have recapped.  They all give so generously of their information.  Lastly, buy a print, audio, or ebook version of Michael Hyatt’s book, Platform.  If you have not read the earlier nine posts I wrote get on it.  Time waits for no one.

Now, give me some feedback.  Have you developed a website that incorporated advertising?  How did it work out?  Reflecting on this series have you found it useful?  Do you have any action steps on putting your goals and dreams into motion?  What areas would you want me to write on more now that this 10 part series is complete?  I would love to hear from you in a comment on the post.

And subscribe to my blog also.

Mainly, thanks for reading.

I live in the Cayman Islands and I'm married to Christina. We have two incredible children, Ryan, attending Northeastern University in Boston, MA, and Taylor, attending Trinity College School, in Port Hope, Ontario, Canada. I own several businesses in Cayman. My list of 'pasts' include past chairman of the Cayman Islands Special Economic Zone Authority, past president of the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman, and past president of the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce.

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2 thoughts on “Platform Conference Recap: 10/10 – Pat Flynn

  1. David, thank you so much for the beautiful recap and summary, not just of my presentation, but of the entire conference. It was a pleasure to meet you, and I hope we can cross paths again in the future! If there’s anything I can do for you, please let me know. Cheers! :)

    • Thanks, Pat. I really appreciate the feedback and your kind words. Furious note taking gave me almost too much material but the process of re-ordering the notes into these posts has been a great learning reinforcement tool. Lets make sure those paths cross again. Perhaps in Cayman? I have some ideas around that.