social media case studiesPat Flynn of The Smart Passive Income Blog has parlayed his everyday-guy persona into a six-figure income supported heavily by podcasting.

“I’ve been able to make a much deeper connection with my audience,” Flynn said. “When I go to conferences, the first thing people who meet me say is, ‘I love listening to your podcast.’”

He has become an expert at connecting with his audience. Over 71,000 people subscribe to his blog, and thousands more follow his social media accounts and download his podcasts.

“Business isn’t B2B anymore, or B2C,” said Flynn, “It’s P2P—person to person,” attributing that insight to Chris Ducker.

marketing management podcast

Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income Podcast is currently number 1 in Business: Management & Marketing.

Flynn’s story goes something like this: Flynn starts a blog about studying for the LEED exam. He passes the exam, but then gets laid off. He writes his first ebook, a guide to passing the exam, and sells it on his site. People start buying it, and he is immediately hooked on the potential for making a living online.

He started The Smart Passive Income Blog in 2008 to bring readers along on his journey. In the process, the blog itself became his biggest moneymaker, primarily through affiliate programs.

Organization: Pat Flynn, of The Smart Passive Income Blog

Social Media Handles and Stats


  • Currently number 1 podcast in Business: Management & Marketing on iTunes
  • Since January 2013, between 10,000−14,000 podcast downloads per episode
  • Speaker at seven conferences since starting podcast, nine by end of 2013, including first keynote address
  • Over $40,000 per month in earnings from website traffic

Getting Over the Podcasting Fear Factor

Flynn wanted to do a podcast almost right from the start, purchasing equipment in December 2008. But he didn’t post his first episode until July 2010.

pats equipment

Pat Flynn checks out his new podcasting equipment in December 2008.

“It was scary to do it,” Flynn said. “I wasn’t really comfortable with my voice on the mic, and it wasn’t as simple as I thought it would be.” Uncertainty about the technical aspects of feeds, file enclosures, etc., made him keep putting it off.

“That first episode was a struggle, because I re-recorded it three times and tried to edit the crap out of it to make it perfect,” he said. It wasn’t perfect, he admits, but it was out.

Almost immediately, he started seeing results.

Podcasting Brings Increased Web Traffic

“Every week I’m getting emails from people who are telling me they found me through the podcast,” said Flynn, who noted that he saw an increase in website traffic as soon as he started to podcast.

“It’s hard to definitively tell [the traffic came from the podcast], since it’s audio so people can’t click a link,” he said. But Flynn is positive the podcast is a major factor in his increased traffic.

A month after starting, he posted an update to the blog showing some early results.

podcast influx

Flynn saw increased website traffic immediately after he started podcasting.

A little over a year later, he posted a survey on his blog asking people how they first found him. He was blown away by the results.

The largest percentage of blog readers had found him through his podcast.

blog survey

The largest percentage of Flynn’s blog readers said they found him through his podcast.

Since then, he has received about 7,500 responses to the survey, with percentages largely the same.

Flynn earns over $40,000 a month in affiliate links from his blog, so anything that increases blog traffic contributes directly to his bottom line.

At the beginning of 2013, he decided to start podcasting weekly instead of twice a month. Downloads of his podcasts increased significantly. He now consistently gets between 20,000 and 30,000 listeners per episode (with some exceeding 100,000!).

podcast downloads

Since Flynn started podcasting weekly in January 2013, downloads have increased significantly.

Again, he saw an uptick in blog traffic. “I know it’s from the podcast, because that’s the change I made,” he said.

Podcasting Develops Influential Relationships

Another benefit Flynn has seen from podcasting is the relationships he has developed with top influencers from interviewing them on the show.

I’m having an hour-long conversation with somebody influential whom I can contact later on,” Flynn said. “Some of them I’ve become really good friends with since then. That’s indirectly helped my business.”

Flynn interviewed Chris Guillebeau on the podcast in May 2012, just before The $100 Startup was released. The conversation turned to self-publishing vs. traditional publishing, a topic Flynn was very interested in.

“We talked on Skype a week later about all that stuff, and that’s something I wouldn’t have been able to do unless I had first established that relationship on the podcast,” Flynn said. “That was really the first time I talked to him, and we’ve been talking a lot ever since.”

A movie producer also found Flynn from his podcast on iTunes and approached him with an offer to manage social media for an independent film. Flynn accepted, and as part of the deal Flynn was an extra in the film. The movie, Crooked Arrows, was released in 2012.

crooked arrow poster

Flynn was director of social media for the 2012 film, Crooked Arrows.

Podcasting Brings Speaking Opportunities

“There aren’t a lot of books about how to improve your podcast,” Flynn said. “But there are a lot of books about how to be a good public speaker. Those all apply to podcasting as well.” One book he particularly recommends is Dale Carnegie’s Stand and Deliver.

Flynn has developed a natural, easygoing speaking style on the podcast. This has in turn led to multiple speaking opportunities.

The first conference he spoke at was the Financial Blogger Conference in November 2011, two years after he started podcasting. By May 2013, he has spoken at seven conferences, including BlogWorld Expo, the Platform Conference, CreateLive and Social Media Marketing World. He will give his first keynote address at the Financial Blogger conference in November 2013.

platform conference

Flynn warmed up his audience at the Platform conference by playing his trumpet.

Book publishers and literary agents have also found Flynn through his podcast.

“They are looking for people who not only can write, but also can go on book tours, and who can speak on the radio, and the podcast is proof of that,” he said.

The True Power of Podcasting

Flynn feels so strongly about the power of podcasting that he developed a podcasting tutorial to help others learn from his experience.

“Podcasting has helped me become a better communicator,” said Flynn. “Getting behind the microphone has helped me communicate with my audience and also in real life.”

Your Turn

What do you think? Do you see a way that podcasting can build your business? Have you started a podcast? What benefits have you seen? Leave your comments and questions in the space below.

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  • I love Flynn podcast as many others do. I really enjoyed reading this post about him and his podcast.

    Something similar to him is what John Lee Dumas do with his podcast “EntrepreneurOnFire” that is having a great success. I love both!

    I think what makes podcast great is the possibilty to listen to them in spare time. For example I used to run and listen music but I soon changed in podcast because it allows me to run and learn.

    Another fact that I really like (and I see through my blog) is the chance you get to get in touch with interesting people and learn from them.

    Have a wonderful day everyone!


  • Great write up on Pat. He does a lot of things right but he’s not perfect. In fact people think Pat does no wrong but I think Pat’s secret is that he does a LOT of stuff, measures it, learns and adjusts quickly.

    Pat ships a lot of great content and he genuinely cares about his community. He helps first and sells close to last. People trust Pat Flynn and that’s why he’s successful. Congrats to you Pat. You deserve it.

  • Dara Khajavi

    Thanks for this great breakdown on podcasting! I listen to Flynn’s podcast, but I never thought about making my own. I definitely plan on tapping into that outlet. Thanks again for the post!

  • Thanks Andy – I agree fully with your assessment 🙂

  • You should go for it Dara

  • Hey Leo – Yep, for sure podcasts are so great for connecting with listeners in their spare time

  • Mike Jeffries

    Pat Flynn is inspiring – that is why I launched my podcast this month – this is a lot bigger challenge than blogging – Pat’s How to Start a Podcast was invaluable

  • Great study, Louise! I’m first in line when it comes to encouraging others to start a podcast and standing behind the statement that podcasting WILL benefit your business. I love that you’ve noted the connection you’re able to make with your audience through podcasting because it truly is so powerful. When your audience can hear your voice and get to know more about the type of person you are, it’s unlike any other virtual platform out there for building relationships and a strong following.

  • Thanks, Leo! Love to hear that you’re finding value in listening to EntrepreneurOnFire! That’s another great thing about podcasts: they don’t require that you be anywhere special at any specific time – it’s on-demand content ready when you want it.

  • You are welcome!
    Yes you are right, there are so many great things about podcasts..

  • Louise Julig

    Glad you enjoyed the article. Something Pat mentioned in the interview but that didn’t make it into the piece was that a podcast seems more intimate because he is now a part of his listeners’ everyday lives, while they’re taking a walk, commuting, etc.

  • That’s so true too!
    I listen more to John Dumas then Flynn and I actually feel like I “know” him” 🙂

  • Louise Julig

    Glad you liked the piece. Pat made it very easy for me to show the direct and indirect links that podcasting has made to his business because he keeps such good track of everything he does.

  • Louise Julig

    Be sure to check out Pat’s podcasting tutorial — he really has a lot of great info there.

  • Sarah Bauer

    This is such an inspiring story, especially when Flynn describes getting over the podcasting ‘fear factor’, as I know this is a huge barrier for many business owners and bloggers. But I think people are also discouraged to join the sheer volume of podcasts out there. We need practical strategies for differentiating ourselves from the rest and committing ourselves to high quality material and delivery!

    Thanks for this

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  • Annabelle Drumm

    Wow, that’s really inspiring. Thanks for the great article. I’ve been tossing up between doing more with my YouTube or hitting an internet radio station to do a show. I guess the good thing about podcasts is they replace the CD for commuting. That’s the most spare time most people have these days.

  • Vivek G Maudgalya

    Nice blog! Can you give me top Podcast publishing sites? which give us better searchability ?

  • Really enjoyed this. I had Pat on my podcast show a few months back and loved hearing his story and we talked all about the power of podcasting for him too. At the time he had just over 2 million downloads so you can see how fast it’s growing. I personally have loved starting mine and am coming up to episode 50 (not quite as big as Pat’s yet 😉 but it’s really helped me to connect and engage with my Suitcase Entrepreneur audience and I get way more genuine feedback and feel I’m making a bigger impact through my interviews and episodes. It’s easier to tangibly track the results and impact which I like. I learn something new every time I do one too!

  • Oli Lewington

    I love Pat Flynn and his podcast, but I’m still not sure I can apply the value metrics he’s talking about to the business I work in without knowing more about audiences that engage with podcasts, that’s where the data is lacking – for me at least.

    I’d love to see someone do some research (especially in the UK) about who listens to what type of podcasts etc. That would show that it’s worth the organisational investment to get one rolling.

  • Louise Julig

    I suggest you check out Pat’s Podcasting Tutorial (linked at the end of the article) because he has a lot of information there. If you can’t fins what you are looking for you could try emailing him directly – he is generally very responsive to his audience. Good luck.

  • Vivek G Maudgalya


  • A friend of mine just recently recommended that I start a podcast. It sounded like a good idea and after reading this, I’m even more convinced that I need to get started down this path.

    Thanks for sharing this great story!

  • Mike

    Flynn’s podcasting tutorial consumes over 2 hours of your time and you will find you have more questions than answers if you actually try to learn podcasting. I am going through the whole shabang now so I should know. He basically just dumps you off by saying “Go check out podcastanswerman”, and unless you either pay – substantially – with your time or money, you still do not get many answers from podcastanswerman either.

  • Louise Julig

    In my interview with Pat he did say that he got most of the best information about podcasting from podcastanswerman when he was starting out. It seems reasonable that if there is good information somewhere, it eventually will cost something, either in time or money.

  • There’s no doubt about the effectiveness of podcasts to build a brand and a reputation… if it’s done well. The problem is that too many don’t do a good job at it. Out of the hundreds of thousands of podcasts out there, so many are terrible quality. I produce podcasts for clients and know, there is a HUGE difference made by quality. Thanks for the article on Pat… he’s a great example of your point… perfect.

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  • Heard his story before, but still like reading it anyways!

  • Hey this is great info – I’m using it in a report I’m working on for my college class!

  • Oh – and by the way… I foundout about the following brands/people through iTunes or Stitcher: Chris Brogan, Michael Hyatt, Stelzner, EOFire, EntreLeadership, Good Job Brain, Social Triggers, Beyond the To-Do List,Dan Miller, Pat Flynn, ArtofManliness, Under the Influence, Mad Marketing, Eventual Millionaire, and Stuff You Should Know. What a world I would have missed out on!

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