The History of Themes for The Smart Passive Income Blog (The Good, The Bad and The Ugly!)

A month ago, the new design of The Smart Passive Income Blog was finally unveiled! This is the 7th major redesign the site has gone through, and I’d love to take you on a tour and show you why things are the way the are on the new site.

Before the (very detailed) tour, which will be published in a couple of days, I thought it would be interesting to show you some of the previous design iterations the site has gone through since its launch in October of 2008. The design has come a very long way, and I hope this history shows you that you don’t have to start out with the perfect website.

You just have to start and you can work your way there.

Keep in mind, however, that there is no such thing as a perfect website because you can always do things to improve it. Even in this latest design, adjustments have been made since it first came out. I’ll share what those adjustments were and the comments, data and reasoning behind them in my next post.

In the meantime, let’s see what the site used to look like…

1. October 23, 2008

When SPI first launched, I actually built it on the Thesis Theme framework. I was familiar with setting up a blog from my experience with (which over the years has had it’s fair share of design iterations too) and I just wanted to get something up quickly so I could start writing content from Day 1.


Colorful, right?

I had never used Thesis before this, but I gave it a shot because I had read so many good things about it from others. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that those who were saying that knew a little bit about design and coding already, which I did not. It was easy to use right out of the box and I was able to get a few articles up, but as soon as I wanted to customize it a bit, it became too complicated for me at that point.

2. October 26th, 2008

That’s when I downloaded a free theme from the WordPress theme repository that made it easy for anyone to change the look of the header. After a quick dip into Photoshop (which I had experience using from my work in the architecture field), here’s what the site became…


That subscriber box in the upper right hand corner – the orange box –  that took me 4 hours to create, and I remember trying to make it look like one I saw on At this point, I was still under the impression that I should figure everything out on my own. I watched a lot of videos and tried to muscle through basic CSS just to “get things right” on my own, and I was never quite happy with it.

It’s also interesting to look at my old Twitter feed in the sidebar. I had just officially been laid off at this point, but apparently I was still able to participate in Fantasy Football.

3. November 3, 2008

A day after the previous design, which I wasn’t happy with, I put a job on Elance to help me custom design a theme for SPI. I knew (after the 4 hour subscriber box fiasco, plus many other similar experiences) that it was time to hire someone to do the work for me.

Within 24 hours, I chose the winning developer (whose bid was only $175) to create a basic theme and logo for me. I went with the absolute  lowest bidder (which is risky and I’ve been screwed many times before), but I got lucky that this person knew what they were doing. Here’s the theme that was created and went live less than a week later:


A lot of elements from this design inspired what you still see today on SPI: the logo, the color scheme and the “Hello My Name is” nametag, amongst a few other things.

Just wait until you see what happened next…

4. June 9, 2009

Seven months has passed and I figured it was time for a new design. The goals in this next update were to switch from a 2-column scheme to a 3-column scheme, update the logo a bit and add some advertisements on the site.

Take a look and see if your reaction aligned with the reaction from the SPI audience:


If you’re thinking I took a step backwards, then you are absolutely right.

Even through I didn’t see it at the time, I made the site a lot more confusing and I introduced ads – a lot of them – which didn’t even convert very well.

In the lower left hand side, you can even see a section for Google Adsense advertisements. The ads that were auto-generated were for “get rich quick” type schemes and just totally diluted my site. Just look at how much of my actual content is shown here above the fold – hardly any at all.

This design was inspired by what I saw a lot of other successful people were doing on their sites, but I learned that doesn’t mean it’ll work for me too.

Here is the general reaction from some of the audience members, including one from one of my best friends online, Glen Allsopp from


So what happened?

I got greedy.

I started to see a few affiliate commissions come in for certain things, and then I got money hungry and polluted the site just to make a few extra dollars. I polluted my content, I polluted the design and I polluted my ability to really serve my audience, and it ended up hurting me quite a bit.

The next 6 months are what I like to call The Dark Days of SPI. Traffic plateaued, growth and engagement were minimal and nothing really interesting happened during this time. In October of 2009, I hooked up with a Texas-based, 2-person design company (BlazerSix) that made-over my site at, and they agreed to help me clean up SPI for me.

It was going to take a few months to really get it right and go back in the other direction again, so all I has to do was be patient.

5. January 4th, 2010

After a few months, the new design was ready to go live. It would be the biggest update for SPI ever, complete with a brand new eBook (eBooks the Smart Way), which I created as incentive for subscribing to my new newsletter.


I hadn’t started my email list yet, which was a huge mistake and something I always wish I could take back.

And here’s what went live:


You’ll see a new version of the old logo, I reverted back to the old color scheme and the nametag came back too – this time with a picture of me and my son, instead of me looking cool (but not really at all) with my hand on my chin like before.

The navigation bar at the top was another huge addition, and you see a variation of it still on the site today. Everything was more purposeful, cleaner and more organized.

I also included a “message bar” at the top, which was inspired by the homepage of, and I minimized the subscriber area to make it look like the one on Tim Ferriss’ blog.

It was at this point that I was more conscious about sharing more about myself with my audience, hence the image of my son and that message you see in the “message bar” about me having a bad case of arachnophobia. I did this because I learned that it’s those little personal things that people connect with. Even though they have nothing to do with passive income or building an online business, they have everything to do with building a real relationship with people, and since then I’ve been continuing to do the same thing.

6. April 27, 2011

No major design changes were made to the site until a year and a half later when I discovered a hole on my blog (and many other sites) that I needed to fill.

That hole was the idea of a getting started point – something deliberate to serve brand new visitors to the site.

Out of that discovery was a getting started page, as well as a call to action on the homepage that looked like this:


The getting started page went on to become one of the most visited pages on the site, and one of the most profitable too. Actually, it was the 2nd most profitable page behind the resources page, and it’s still that way today too.

In August of 2011, the site switched over to the Thesis Theme framework (the front end stayed the same) to optimize page load time and search engine optimization. Unlike before (when I first launched), I had help to put my existing theme onto the Thesis framework, which I definitely wouldn’t have been able to do on my own.

Here are the results of that switch, and I’ve been on Thesis ever since.

Since then, no design changes were made until the latest iteration that came out in November of 2013, which is what you see now.

In the next post, I’ll go over exactly how it all happened, and in detail explain the thought process behind every little piece of the site.

From what it sounds like, most of you are enjoying the new look (thank you!), and the numbers are proving it too. I will share all of that in the next post, and you’ll be surprised to hear that even though the 2013 redesign just went live last month, work on it started exactly one year ago when Corbett Barr and Chase Reeves flew down to San Diego and we locked ourselves in a downtown conference room.

It’ll be a post you won’t want to miss. Until then…

I’m curious: what’s your biggest takeaway from all of this?

I hope you enjoyed this history lesson! 😉


  • David X Christensen

    Way to evolve Pat! Really diggin’ the new look BTW.

    • Pat Flynn

      Thanks David! Writing this post was fun, although at times very disturbing, lol.

  • Jamie Alexander

    Good job, Pat.

    I think this post was definitely needed. Some people in the Niche Site Duel community seem a little intimidated by the design on FoodTruckr, so I think it could really help them realize you just need to start. Once you have a base you can easily change things.

    • Pat Flynn

      Thanks Jamie! I’m sure will evolve over time too – but yes just getting something up is the most important thing!

  • Alvin Chadwick

    That’s a pretty interesting evolution path you’ve put together, Pat!

    • Pat Flynn

      Thanks Alvin – definitely interesting to say the least!

  • Nick

    Wow! Patt you are my idol. If you only tell me “You can do it,” then I’m gonna really get inspired. I hope you could reply this.

    • Pat Flynn

      As long as you focus, keep pushing forward and take bold actions, you can make anything happen. You rock Nick!

  • RLazazzera

    Thanks Pat. You just made me realize how stupid it was of me to add Google Adsense to my blog. I just added it a few weeks ago, and it didn’t feel right from the beginning.

    This helped me confirm it.

    • Pat Flynn

      On some sites Adsense makes sense, but for some it doesn’t. Glad this post helped you consider it one way or another!

  • Karen Lee

    I don’t know if I should be impressed that you took screenshots of your past themes or worried that you are this meticulous. I’m a recent Thesis defector myself. And love LOVE your current theme. Bigger fonts and no ads. And absolutely adorable Hello Nametag box. Sorry but your son steals the show on that one. Great new design!

    • Pat Flynn

      Thanks Karen! I appreciate the kind words! And I agree – my son always steals the show!

  • The Garageband Guide

    Really awesome seeing the evolution of SPI over the years! I’d be interested to know why it took so long between you and Chase finishing the re design and it going live?

    Love love love it Pat!

    • Pat Flynn

      Yep! I’ll go over that for sure! A year is a long time, lol.

  • Don McAllister

    Love the evolution! Super slick looking design right now!

    • Pat Flynn

      Thanks Don! I appreciate that!

  • Ruan Carvalho

    Very good!

    Biggest takeaway: start it, and make it better along the way.
    I was always trying to begin with the perfect theme or structure. Now I might be “feedback driven”.

    Thanks for the inspiration, Pat!

    • Pat Flynn

      Thanks Ruan, you’re awesome!

    • freevivek

      Just like Ruan Carvalho , I was also desparate to find the perfect design for my blog , but soon I realized that it is not at all possible and we need to follow the blog design improvement in iterative manner. Anyways Pat, it was an excellent description on SPI theme evolution.

  • Jorrell Scott

    Talking about starting from the bottom. This blog has really came a long way, but continues to get better. I have not even launched my site yet and I’m already on my 20th theme.

  • Naveen Kulkarni

    Hi Pat,
    Awesome evolution. I think 6 themes in 5 years is really a controlled tweak I would say. I sometimes hit 6 changes in a day (oh, that free WordPress theme directory) !!

    Now, your current theme looks stunning, however I personally liked your old theme (previous before your current theme) because it was easy to “consume” content. And lots of white space for reading and absorbing.

    Current theme is great in design (very appealing) aspects, however I feel the fonts are bit bold and big which makes consuming content a bit tougher. Or may be I need to yet adapt to this “change”

    Being a loyal reader and admirer of your blog, I hope I can pass on these suggestions :-)

  • Naveen Kulkarni

    Hi Pat,

    I am also curious to know how the traffic levels changed after the each redesign? Did they drop after tweaking? I am sure, each WordPress theme has it’s own structure and CSS,

  • Anthony Tran

    Hi Pat, this is a great post… I really liked the progression and the lessons learned along the way. My biggest take away is just start… and fine tune along the way. Also, I like how you learned that all the advertisements diluted your website and your greed got the best of you and you wanted to go back and focus on your audience. I also noticed you didn’t redesign your site since April 2011… I guess at that point you were just focusing on content and other projects.

  • Katie Lake

    I can’t wait until I can afford a really nice design. My current design serves its purpose and is fairly attractive but far from optimal.


      Looks great Katie. Let see you new design soon.

  • Business Plan Mentor

    My takeaway…if you are trying to build trust and credibility it can’t be all about $$$. Skip Adsense if it dilutes your message and distracts from your content. I deliberately chose no advertisements with the exception of one affiliate box in the sidebar. I’m not sure if even that is too much.

    Love this look back! Thanks Pat.

  • Michael Ofei

    Pat, I am pumped to see your next post!

    Biggest takeaway for me: get it out there and be prepared to change it as you grow.

    I am a huge fan of the latest redesign. It’s hard to fault it. It would of been a challenge present all of your content in concisely without much ‘noise’.



  • Michael Ofei

    Hey Pat, I am pumped for your next post!

    My biggest take away: don’t be afraid to get your design out there and develop it over time.

    I am a huge fan of the redesign. It’s hard to fault! Keep at the good work dude.



  • Benny Hsu

    I found your blog at #6 so I missed all the sexiness before. :)

    What I’ve learned is that we never get it perfect. We think it’s great at the time, but when we look back, we will cringe. Reminds me of our school photos. We thought we looked good and our hair was perfect, but now we don’t ever want those photos to see the light of day!

  • Amy Byrd Thompson

    I was already giving myself the “pep talk” about how to take my time, not feel so bad about spending $87 on a theme that is plain, and so on because I know it takes time to become good at anything, I mean right? It is nice though, Pat, to hear you say this and my site right now looks like your first one, but I still get passionate when it is time to get together another idea for a podcast. Thanks so much for the inspiration!

    • Pat Flynn

      I recorded my first podcast session 3 times because I wanted it to be perfect, and I wanted to sound as good as possible because it is a scary thing to put out there – but I finally just said I can’t record 3 times per episode, I have to just do it, and I got better over time, as will you! You got this!

  • Ian Dawson Mackay

    Hi Pat,

    Great post and nice to see the pro’s struggle too! I have just revamped my ‘Next Level Guy’ website for what seems the bazillionith time and still things I want/need to change.

    This post has given me a lot to consider.

    BTW, I’d love to feature you as a ‘Next Level Guy’ as I think you don’t realise just how many people you actually help!

    Anyway, I will stop waffling! I just wanted to say I enjoyed the post, been a major fan of the podcast since I found it ‘donkeys’ ago and one day hope to interview you.

    Hope you and your family have a brilliant Christmas!

    All the best,

  • Manthan Thakar

    Hey Pat! Again a great post. I love how you’ve managed to get to this new design which is truly awesome!

    I also had a question! This new social share buttons that you’ve added to your site, what plug-in it is? or have you made them manually? Please let me know.

    Thank you.

    • Ray

      Would love to know as well, these social buttons really look good.

      Great to see the evolution of your blog Pat.

  • Aaron Goh

    Love the new design Pat. I love it how it still has the same colour theme from the past. The blog’s layout looks much wider now, menu images and banners are now much bigger. Makes the contents clear and easy to read. Very professional look! Look forward to your next posts on how this design started a year ago.

  • Crystal Foth

    I enjoyed the history lesson – thanks for the ride in the DeLorean ;). I love the new design, it’s slick and easy to read. My biggest takeaway from all of this is: Just get started and keep moving forward!

  • Aqilah Norazman

    I love how much the site has grown in line with your career too Pat. This is inspiring, thanks for this. :)

  • A.j. Van Blerk

    Hey Pat!!
    I found your blog by the June ’09 design. By the time of the following design in 2010, I had already made my first tiny amount of online income and was so stoked, been using your advice ever since to build up an online empire… By your 2013 design, all I can say is that if people take your content and advice and make it work for them, there’s absolutely no way you can’t get ahead in some form or another!!
    After years of scouring the web, the SPI blog is one of the few I consistently visit and learn from! Not just you and the content, but the people I’ve discovered through your recommendations as well!!

    My Biggest takeaway here is what you’ve mentioned a thousand times and which has helped to make my websites out there to actually make a passive income, and that is:

    Thank you for everything Pat!! Too many BS out there, so it’s awesome to have at least one spot on the Net where I can come and chill with some coffee and soak up some real info!!

    A.J. Van Blerk

    • A.j. Van Blerk

      My 2014 Goal is to use more Pat Affiliate Links as my way to thank you further!! 😉

  • Abhik

    This new design is awesome, Pat. Me also thinking of a makeover of my blog using Genesis and looking for some design ideas.

    Looking forward to your next post.

  • Travis

    Enjoyed your article, was a little confused on a statement you made though. You said …

    “In August of 2011, the site switched over to the Thesis Theme framework (the front end stayed the same) to optimize…”

    What was the front end made out of if not Thesis? Anyway the article was a
    good read, will be looking forward to the next part. This article will
    save me time, whenever I start up another website, I will remember some
    of the things you mentioned and reflect on it and apply to myself.

    • Pat Flynn

      Thesis is a framework that comes with it’s own skins, but you can make a site build on Thesis look like anything, it’s just coded differently. So when I installed Thesis in August of 2011, I made sure it looked exactly the same as it did before. Before, it was just a regular wordpress theme NOT built on the thesis framework.

  • Ron Kelleher

    Key learning is well described in these two proverbs: “If you wait for perfect conditions, you’ll never get anything done,” “The beginning is half of any action.”

  • Matt Schmidt

    Listen to your audience. Trying the three column scheme was obviously a way to try something new but the people in your audience are the ultimate deciders!

  • Kashif

    Love #3.

  • thebeginnersbrew

    This “case study” is exactly what I was looking for. I always want to start off with the end result but don’t realize that everyone, including successful blogs like yours, have to start somewhere and build up.

    Many problems won’t get realized until it’s dived in. I hope to have a successful transition into a working design as well.


  • Malene from Paleolivet

    The point about the “The getting started”-page

  • Emil Pakarklis

    Hey Pat, great story with quite a few valuable lessons.

    Quick question: how did you make Optin Skin look like it does on your site now? I got your old OptinSkin template on my blog, but the two-step optin is way better according to Clay Collins. Thanks!

    • Pat Flynn

      You can create custom skins in Opt-in skin, and Leadpages now has a two-step opt-in link (LeadBoxed) that you can create yourself). Some custom coding to put it into Opt-In skin will be required, whether you or someone else does it.

      • Emil Pakarklis

        Thank you!

  • Masterzeek

    I agree with others that the biggest takeaway is that you just need to start and let it grow and change as you do! I’ve notice other sites using what you do Pat (Income Reports, etc.). Does this bother you or do you just change you mindset into thinking you can make it better and appreciate the fact that so many people want to be like you? Thanks for all you do!

    • Pat Flynn

      Doesn’t bother me one bit – I wasn’t the first to do it either. I think imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and there’s no claim on who can do these types of things. I just think it helps validate my thoughts to do it, while also helping me understand that I should always look to do what I can to be on the front edge of what type of content is produced in this space.

  • John Kenney

    Thanks for sharing these Pat. Your brand always sticks out. I’m thinking of a custom design myself. Any advice on posting the job on elance? Or would you recommend another service? Thanks again! Very cool!

    • Pat Flynn

      Elance could work, or you could use a site like, or even and get a bunch of people to design a solution, although a lot of people have mixed feelings about that.

      My advice is be as detailed as possible with what you want, so as not to leave any stone unturned because any freedoms you give your designers they will take and more than likely it will not align with what you want and then it’ll take some back and forth. Expect the back and forth and things taking longer than expected, but at least if you’re detailed up front you can minimize that.

      Also, be sure to communicate with the bidders beforehand to see how responsive they are and if you get a good vibe from your communication with them, and check their feedback from other clients and their reputation on those sites before committing to one.

      • John Kenney

        Thanks Pat! I really appreciate the detail. Happy holidays!

  • Jill Wilson

    I personally have been looking at themes. I don’t think you ever have the “right time” when you get a theme. I found it ironic that you went to a free theme after you had a paid them. I think I am going to simplify my website so it looks cleaner to the reader! Thanks for sharing!

    • Pat Flynn

      Heh yeah I didn’t even think of that but that is interesting Jill – thanks for the comment!

  • Steve Sagovac

    Really looking forward to the next post.

    In the beginning, how often did you plan to write a post. Once a week, once every few days…? And how closely did you stick to the original plan?

    • Pat Flynn

      In the beginning, I wrote 3 posts a week, and I stuck to the schedule 90% of the time. I’ve since adjusted since including the podcast and YouTube videos on the site.

      • David Prochaska

        You write pretty long articles. Did you start out writing them that long? I know that having length can be beneficial, but sometimes short an to the point has it’s benefits. I guess it’s whoever your audience is and the value the article gives them.

        • Pat Flynn

          It depends on the content – sometimes it’s long, and sometimes it short, but I don’t think one should write for a specific length of an article. Length doesn’t matter, it just happens that often I write about things that take a long time to write. The main point is do you get your point across in a way that’s going to leave an impact, and sometimes that is a long post, and sometimes that’s a short post:

  • James Hahn II

    #4 is such a valuable lesson learned:

    “I started to see a few affiliate commissions come in for certain things, and then I got money hungry and polluted the site just to make a few extra dollars. I polluted my content, I polluted the design and I polluted my ability to really serve my audience, and it ended up hurting me quite a bit.”

    Reminds me of a classic Jim Rohn quote:

    “Don’t sell out your virtue and your value for something you think you want. Judas got the money, but he threw it all away and hung himself because he was so unhappy with himself.”

    • Pat Flynn

      Thanks for sharing this James!

  • David Prochaska

    Wow, Pat, that was super throwback. I actually checked out all your old designs before through a link at Alexa. I forget what it’s called now. I’ve looked at quite a few old websites from different people.

    I like that you took action though, just to get something up. I’m sort of in the same position. I’m just trying to get something up and going, and I’ll tweak it later.
    That was funny about the box that took you 4 hours to make. I have a coming soon page on my website, and it’s actually a plugin that comes with a “subscribe now” form. But the “subscribe now” form only came with a spot to leave an email address. Well, I wanted their first name too, and it took me 2 or 3 hours to figure out how to put that extra box on there. I’m fairly decent with it all, too, but doing a custom Aweber sign up form was a little tricky since I hadn’t messed with it before. Awesome stuff Pat!

    • Pat Flynn

      Oh man, I can even imagine trying to figure that out now and spending a ton of time on it. Glad to know we’re not alone David! Do you mean WayBackMachine for the archive site?

      • David Prochaska

        Yes, that’s it! I like seeing what old websites look like, and it actually gives me some motivation because I know that I don’t have to be perfect. My website layout will probably change just like everyone else’s has over the years.

  • Stefan

    Interesting potted history of the design evolution of SPI!

    One observation: you’ve never used categories or tags for the blog, right? Why’s that?

    • Pat Flynn

      I do put my posts into specific categories and tag them as well, but I like having more control over how my content is shared with my audience instead of just having a link of categories or tags for people to choose from. For example, on the homepage, I link to this page – which is a resource page specifically for affiliate marketing articles that I’ve written. I could have gone to the category page for affiliate marketing instead but I like the “landing page” effect here:

  • Lou Vang

    Wow, biggest takeaway from this is step #4. I love that you told us you got a little greedy and started polluting your site with ads. We forget that the quality of our site can go down if we focus on the receiving end instead of the giving.

  • Steve West

    Hey Pat,

    Great post, I really enjoyed reading that! Yeah it defo took a step back in step 4 but got back onto awesomeness again in the next step 😉

    I was thinking too to do a ‘getting started’ page on my blog, then I saw you also had one so I thought this must be a good way to go. I was surprised that this page turned out to be so profitable! I too have a resource page and it’s easy to see how a page like this can generate income.

    As for your new design, yes it looks really good Pat! It’s clear to see from the get go it’s very professional and easy to navigate.



  • Nick Loper

    Cool to see the see iterations along the way! This latest version is beautiful — and the post is perfect timing as I’m looking for new themes this week too.

  • Vittorio Rinaldo

    I really love this new theme of SPI, when I saw that for the first time I was really shocked and I said ” oh god it’s absolutely stunning and professional”.
    Pat I have to thank you from the bottom of my heart because with your advice I had the strenght to open a new website. Failure is not a good thing especially when you work nights and days for 3 months to find a design to your website and find also key and marketing related stuffs.
    I remember that I discovered this site in August and me and my father were impressed of your capability and earnings too :-)
    Anyway you give me something that I lost when I failed with my first site ” the desire to do”.
    Thanks so much Pat!!

  • Sigal

    I like the design. Something happened with the RSS feed, though. I normally read your content on my reader, and today the lines were too long and I had to scroll sideways, to be able to read.

    • Pat Flynn

      That’s weird, thanks for letting me know Sigal. What feed reader are you using if you don’t mind me asking.

  • John @ Our Home from Scratch

    My biggest take away… it’s a “living” site; changing and evolving with you and your readers. There’s no “final” design.
    I’m in the process of adding additional features to our site and it’s much easier to just post what I have done so far rather than waiting until I’m 100% happy with it, since it seems like that’s never going to happen.

  • manzarek75

    Awesome post Pat! I would love to know what solution you use for your social media icons on the side and footer of your posts? Looks very simple yet effective.

  • Michal

    I don’t suffer from perfectionism very much, I’ve changed the theme 3 times during 3 months :)

    The biggest takeaway: “I got greedy”.
    Some food for mind.

  • Schloz Wöllenstein Autohaus

    Thanks for the inspiration, Pat!

  • Heather Bayer

    There were a couple of AHA moments for me in this post and it was interesting to read the history and evolution of the blog. Seeking perfection from the get-go is almost guaranteed to generate paralysis by analysis for me, so it was good to see that it’s OK to put it out there and then listen to feedback before making changes. I hadn’t seen the earlier designs that included ads and it was interesting to read your take on ‘clutter’ and your message being lost in the ‘get rich quick’ period. Great stuff as ever Pat!

  • Melvin Varghese

    Hey Pat. Great article. I respect your vulnerability. My biggest takeaways are:

    -life is too short to wait to create the “perfect product.”
    -realize you’ll make mistakes along the way, but something those “mistakes” can be the biggest learning opportunities.

  • Yennan

    I love how you can actually see as how the trend in web design changes over time. 😛 I really like the latest design though. Great article! It’s always a treat to look back on memory lane and see the progression of something awesome. :)

  • Loz James

    Hi Pat

    This has to be one of my favourite posts you’ve shared recently on SPI.


    Well for one it makes me realise how far on your journey I’ve come with you, and it certainly is years since I first came across your site.

    Secondly, this inspires people who are still striving online (like me) – and proves you can create something amazing from humble beginnings.

    Like many people who visit your site, I’ve had my ups and downs with all this online business stuff – but it’s posts like this that keep me going :-)

    That’s why I’m still up at 2 a.m working on my blog after my day job.

    Thanks for the inspiration Pat!

    PS – I’ve just realised I need to go to bed :-)



  • Pratik Unadkat

    I perfectly agree with you Pat. Out of all the sites I’ve ran, improvements or the “amazing” just doesn’t come right out of the box. There’s always room to improve. As technology is evolving, today’s best will be tomorrow’s “could use a change”.

    I’m digging new design btw.

  • Samuel Hatton

    Awesome analysis. Great for us just getting started with something.

  • Troy Delaney

    What kind of things do you consider before purchasing a theme?

  • Paul Kirtley

    Hey Pat,

    Nice retrospective and interesting insight into your journey. I’ve been following your blog since 2010, so it was good to be able to see the origins of the blog and how it looked back then…

    My biggest takeaway is to keep moving but ask for help when you need it (something I’m very bad at doing).

    The 4-hour sign-up box (Tim Ferriss’ new book title?) fiasco definitely resonates with me!

    That said, I’ve persevered with Thesis after a successful implementation on one of my business sites.

    So, one of the big things I did with my blog this year was to switch to Thesis from a Woo Themes premium theme, and I’m so glad I did. Thesis is much easier to manage from the back end – the layout was a breeze to set up, custom CSS is all on one stylesheet and the typography/spacing just works.

    Also, publishing a blog post is much easier – before there was more fiddling around with manual excerpts, links and separate image files to get the front page looking right.

    Overall, the result is that it looks cleaner, tidyer and less raggy round the edges plus I can spend more time on generating content with the workflow to get it on the site streamlined.

    All these things add up to make a significant difference…

    Thanks for sharing!



  • Guest
  • Manual Joseph

    This is SuperB makeover sir!! Totally a great design.

    1. I would suggest a Prev & a Next post button at the end of the post making it easy to move!!

    2. The share buttons below the post (as you can see in the image) is not looking proper, small buttons would look better than this overflowing “big gorilla” buttons

  • Dr. Jason Cabler

    Thanks for the insights Pat! I definitely need to a redesign soon. I think I could make my site look much more polished, but I have to find the time to get it done. I’ll definitely use some of the strategies I’ve seen you use.

    I especially like the message bar at the top of your previous design to post personal blurbs. I think that will help form a more personal connection. Is that a plugin?

  • Joe Matejcek

    I’ve noticed by looking at your blog in it’s many incarnations, and by listening to almost all of your podcast, you place content first over advertisement. Pat you are truly a breath of fresh air in a web world that stinks, your real world examples of transparency set you apart as a leader that many would be wise to copy.

  • daoxuat

    In the meantime, let’s see what the site used to look like…


    Great details and inspires me to redesign to increase the earning and captures people deeply. Reallt like the new deisgn Pat.

  • Hitesh K

    Hey Pat, its just a pure feedback. The best thing about your site is that it is a great place of resource for new bloggers like me. I visit your site many times in a week. With the prev view of the site I got to see the latest post of your right on the front page, but with this new view I see your details first. Buddy… but more than half of the bloggers world know you. Want they want to know is your new thoughts converted to posts. People revisit your site to see new stuffs. I like the new look but prev was better.

    Hitesh K

  • Alia Jan

    This is a great article. I have always said that you are broke if you
    spend everything (or more) than you make, even if you make over a
    million dollars per month/year

  • Chris Palmer

    “Evolutionary Design”. At some point, you need to publish. Then TEST TEST TEST and optimize it constantly. It’s the Pat Flynn way!

  • Cheyenne Christine Naegler

    There are SO many takeaways! KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) resounds in my mind. Make it an extension of who you are & what I stand for. Have OPT INS! Not to mention make it aesthetically pleasing. And last of all – don’t be afraid to hire some one :)

  • Ron Green

    It’s good to see that your blog did not always look as awesome as it does today. I just started a new blog ( and I think it looks ok, but it’s far from being awesome. I really like the actual design of your blog and may take some inspiration from it. Btw I really like your share buttons, which plugin did you use for them?

  • Nick Kizirnis

    Wow, somehow I missed this post until now. Thanks for sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly as this is a great case study for anyone working on a redesign, or just trying to get moving. “progress not perfection” and getting feedback are my takeaways here, great examples of both here!

  • Christine

    A history that encourages and motivates more people to get
    into blogging and on-line business. Thanks for sharing it to us!

  • Jun Han

    I really like this post.
    What a history!
    Happy New Year!

  • Michael Lee Pasha

    Hey Pat, thanks for this post. I’m trying to start my first blog and have been sifting through all the opinions about which theme to pick and why. Although it seems obvious, knowing that you started off with a free theme and worked your way into more complicated themes, while making mistakes along the way, helps because I feel more comfortable just picking something and knowing I can always change it if it doesn’t work out.

  • Vern Lovic

    Hi Pat, I wonder why you think another re-design is in order. I think currently this is the best designed site I’ve ever seen. Super clear, easy to read, large spaced font, great photos, good call to action on home page. I have about 30 sites, and re-designs are great fun and all, but I think once you have one that works – stick with it! Just 2 cents.

    Visit my IncZen site when get a chance, I’m blowing up in 2015!

  • Keith Tanner

    My biggest takeaway is that you must journal everything. Maybe this is a question for ask Pat… what’s your method for journaling? of course other than the 5 minute journal. Do you have a number of different journals for different topics?
    I also think for people starting out this is great info and it confirms “take action” and make improvements while moving forward.

  • Stephen

    Great post Pat. Awesome info. Amazing how you sometimes have to take a step in the wrong direction then go back. I sometimes feel that a lot!

  • TFStrength

    My biggest takeaway is that there is still hope for my theme. I was curious what theme did you use for the foodtruckr site?

  • Adrien

    Very nice article! My biggest takaway: give people a great place to get started. I’m getting my site started now, but based on your advice and that of Yaro from Entrepreneur’s Journey, creating a nice starting orientation to help people start off getting the maximum value from your content is key!


  • Traci

    I really love that you share your trials along the way. The 4-hour subscriber bar…I can relate! Pat, you continue to inspire, and remind me that to bumble, struggle is human.

  • Jaymee Sison

    Haha it’s like looking through a “growing up” photo album of SPI :) this is awesome! As I look through the SPI transitions, I see some similarities with how my own blog is “growing up” – like finding the voids, making mistakes and then fixing them. Except now that I see where your mistakes have been, I will be avoiding those.. For example, not too many ads!

  • michoupitchou

    What I take away is: Just do it… Oops, is that advertising?

  • Michelle Philbrook

    Hi, Pat! Just curious, since this post is a couple years old now: are you still using Thesis?

  • Mono Wind

    Pat, I did laugh and I’m quite amazed (every time I read your blog) with your honesty and transparency. I learn a lot from the way I FEEL when I ready your blog. You jump out of this screen and go right into my heart. And I decide again – yes, I’m a fan of this guy. I make the same kinds of mistakes along my path and I learn so much from them. That’s how you become an expert, I believe. I’m subscribed to a lot of marketing “gurus” but you are one of the few I just can’t delete an email message from without feeling as if I’ve missed something interesting and important. Thanks so much, you do inspire me.

  • Kyle Lougnot

    This is one of the best and most encoraging post I have read in a long time. I would love it if you could do a sister post on tool use. Thank you.