SPI 035: Standing Out in an Already Crowded Niche—Success Story, Interview Series 1

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In this session of the Smart Passive Income Podcast we begin a back-to-back-to-back series of success story interviews where we get inside the heads of people who are running successful online businesses and learn about how they’re making it happen.

These interviews get deep into the start-up stories and business models of people who are specifically NOT making a living online by teaching other how to make money online, social media or blogging. These are amazing people doing some amazing work and making a living in niches you wouldn’t really expect.

I ran a series of success stories on the podcast before (with multiple success stories per episode), and it was a major hit, so I’m excited to come back and start sharing new success stories with you today.

This time, however, I wanted to spend a little more time with each story, so each session contains just one but it goes deeper into it than if I were to only spend 10 to 15 minutes like I did before.

To be honest, it wasn’t planned that way, but the interviews were just so good that I had to keep asking more questions—so 10 to 15 minutes wasn’t nearly enough time.

Featured in Today’s Session…

Today I’m excited to share the story of Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, two friends who started a blog, The Minimalists, without really knowing what they were getting into: an extremely crowded and saturated niche.

Impressively, in about a year, they’ve each left their corporate jobs, obtained over 100,000 subscribers, published 3 books—and the list goes on and on.

I won’t get into too much detail here (I’ll leave that to the audio or transcript), but the story illustrates that you don’t need to avoid overly crowded niches—you can take them on full steam and use the crowded space to your advantage.

In this session you’ll hear:

  • Why Joshua and Ryan, who were both extremely successful in the corporate world, decided to change gears and go on a completely different path in life and in business.
  • How they were able to create a business online through a blog that was about their journey.
  • What their primary source of income is and the business model behind it.
  • How their blog was able grow so fast in a short period of time.
  • Specific strategies for selling eBooks and getting exposure in the Amazon Marketplace.
  • A discussion about whether or not all passions are profitable.
  • The top things to consider when getting into an extremely popular niche.
  • Plus more…

Right click here to download the MP3

Items mentioned in this podcast include:

I hope you enjoy this session of the SPI podcast! Please leave your comments for Joshua and Ryan below and if you haven’t done so already please check out my free eBook how-to guide, eBooks the Smart Way.

Cheers, and all the best!

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Click Here to Download the Transcript for Session 35 (PDF)

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  • http://optima-lifestyle.com Cristina Ansbjerg

    Wow Pat, 35 Podcast sessions already! I started listening to you around session 11, I can believe how fast time flies.

    • http://keywordscout-review.blogspot.com/2012/03/keyword-scout-vs-market-samurai.html Andrew

      Im still at the 18th since i started following Pat, should i be ashamed of it or proud, doing things my own pace ? I just got into creating nich sites the right way with 5 failed websites and around 600$ down the drain for 3 years. :( these podcasts motivate me. Pat gives us the right tools and guidance.

      Also your productivity and positive articles (that i just discovered) will help staying on track :)

      from montreal,

      • http://www.wealthyminimalist.com kenneth

        I share your feelings Andrew. Pat’s content is superb. I’ve benefited from it tremendously as I go on my journey to pursue wealth and minimalism.
        Great content!

  • http://www.brutal31.net sadli

    Hello Pat, I found inspiration from your blog with stories you shared. It make me take action. Still, I got issue with self belief. But never mind, I keep learning from smartpassiveincome.com. Thanks a lot Pat.

  • http://www.doessizegeneticsreallywork.com/ Gerald

    Another great success story motivation, im downloading now. Thanks !

    • http://tutoriales-equipo.blogspot.com Machfudz

      I’m downloading too…

  • http://www.77workathomejobs.com/ Owais

    “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

    Pat you are one of those people.Your words are always the source of motivation and This is another interesting and motivational for
    me.Hatts off.That is quite inspirational .I remember once Vince Lombardi said:”The spirit, the will to win, and the will to excel are the things that endure. These qualities are so much more important than the events that occur.”

  • http://www.howyoucanmakemoneytoday.com Rory

    Thanks Pat,

    This post is a much needed listen for me, as I am attempting to jump into a niche often times saturated with useless or irrelevant information. My problem is trying to create the format that will be users friendly yet informative.

  • http://ways-to-invest-money.com/ Thomas

    This is only the 2nd podcast that I have listened to Pat the first was the one on your annual income report. I really enjoy the podcasts since it allows me to listen at work or on the train ride to work.

    Thanks again!

  • http://talesofwork.com Kimanzi Constable

    Is it bad that I’m like a little kid with a Chriatmas gift waiting for these podcast? I love listening in the morning to start my day off right.

  • http://MarriedWithDebt.com John | Married (with Debt)

    Can’t wait to listen to this. I’m in a crowded niche, personal finance blogging, but I see so many opportunities to differentiate myself with strong content and 100% devotion to readers. Thanks for sharing this.

  • http://www.thehomeforsurvival.com Survivor Mike

    Downloading now sir! Still working on setting up my podcast – getting there.

  • http://www.blueglobalmedia.com/blog Christelle Hobby

    This was a really inspiring podcast! I’m starting a blog in a niche I know is competitive, but I’m passionate about it and I’m trying to tackle it in a different way that is unique to me and my perspective. In the same way novelists and screenwriters are told that there is no such thing as an untold story, the same can be true in blogging. However, it is the point of view that is unique and if you have a strong one that a group of people can feel a connection with, you’ll find an audience.

  • http://coconutoilforhaircare.com/ Cheryl@Coconut Oil For Hair

    Thanks for this great podcast. I think you are right on target that bringing unique value to a niche is a good way to go. There is so much unintelligible writing out there that when I find good writing with real information it is so refreshing to read!

  • http://www.potatovine.com Tyler

    Hey Pat, nice podcast. Sounds like THE WAY to get started in a busier niche you’re truly passionate about is to just do it because you love it and good content will follow. I like getting introduced to people like Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus who are genuine and live meaningful lives; it rubs off!
    Thanks Pat

  • http://planeters.com/recommended-nomads/ Joe Wong

    Can’t wait to listen to it once I get home. I’m sure it’ll be very interesting to hear from these guys. I saw them once in another interview somewhere else and their story is awesome….

  • http://www.beachtimemarketing.com/online-marketing-course Jason @ Affiliate Marketing Training

    Great Podcast Pat! I appreciate the help. I have a pretty difficult niche but a profitable one :) Thanks Dude!

  • Kirk


    The program that Joshua and Ryan referenced to help folks convert their writing to the Kindle format is actually “Scrivener” not “Scribner” as you have it in the links. The website to purchase it is: http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php

    I can highly recommend the program. It’s only about 40 buck, and as a tool to outline and write it is truly unique. The Kindle formatting is a bonus.

    Thanks for all you do, Pat.

    • Pat

      Thanks Kirk! I appreciate the heads up. Just updated the link :)

  • http://www.moolahblogger.com Faith

    Definitely, great insight. I’ve noticed that a most of the top sites in my passive income niches are just horrible writing and autoblogs, so hopefully mine can stand out with real (and fun to read) content.

  • http://www.enoughcashflow.com Samuel

    Great interview Pat. Just checkout out their blog – these guys are doing good work!

  • http://www.bjjinchicago.com Brendan

    Gerat podcast as always Pat!

  • http://www.ilovefrenchmovies.com Will

    Pat, I love that you’re going more in-depth in these interviews.

  • http://www.loganthompson.me Logan Thompson

    Another great podcast. I listen to podcasts every day when I run. I save SPI for my long runs as they make them go by a lot faster. Thanks Pat.

    • http://smallhouselife.com/4052/mortgage-refinance-dont-make-my-dumb-mistake Dee@ Small Houses

      Logan, I had to jump in here because that’s exactly what I do!

      It does make the time go faster but the side benefit is that generally the podcast is so awesome that I’m super charged and ready to start my day uplifted.

  • http://www.jonwiggens.com Jon

    Another great session Pat – I had never heard of Joshua and Ryan before but am now looking forward to giving their book a read. This session was pure inspiration.

  • http://howtosellyourmusiconline.co.uk/ Dave G

    Good stuff as always, thank Pat – liking the PIN IT button, first one I’ve seen!

  • Matt Johnson

    Thanks Pat, great interview. Would be great to hear from more that don’t make their living in “Make Money Online” and maybe those with successful membership sites. Membership sites represent what I believe to be one of the most solid ways to generate income online today.


  • http://www.kfm24.com Kenny Fabre


    I enjoyed the podcast, being a crowded niche market is definitely competitive but I know knowledge is absolute key to conquer any niche market

  • http://www.tridoshawellness.com Manu


    Another great podcast. Have gone through all your material, truly inspirational. I published my first eBook recently and have you to thank for providing a great resource (your free eBook writing guide) to help me through the process. Thanks.



  • http://www.experimentincome.com/5-ways-to-drive-traffic-without-seo Ramy Khuffash

    I feel like I’ve heard these guys get interviewed before. Maybe it was on Think Traffic?

    I look forward to seeing you put your interviewing skills to practice! Something to listen to on the way home later :-)

  • http://redinternetmarketing.com Alex

    This is a source I happen to know about from some other guide I read, which has to do with where to go to get your eBook into different market places. The link is not an affiliate link, though I wish it was. Just finished listening via the website and thought this would be helpful.

    For the Amazon Kindle it is recommended to use their publishing platform, here’s the non-affiliate link as well: https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/signin

  • http://onlinebanking-options.com Miggy

    Hey Pat, thanks for another awesome podcast. Been learning a lot from you and this definitely ties in with your Be Everywhere motto! cheers!

  • http://www.HuntWildPig.com Greg Cheatham


    I agree with Matt Johnson, in the fact that the “Proof” happens when you interview people outside of “making money online” site entrepreneurs. Not that you need it, it’s just that when you hear them, you have more confidence to start your own. I think you should make a testimonial podcast more often with different niche site owners. (I’m also greedy, and want more episodes to listen to. I re-listen everyday on the way to work)

  • http://www.ivblogger.com Sheyi

    My take is this, have a special way of deliverance your message to the right audience. Even if it is the same message, you can remold it and deliver it to same audience and they will accept it.


  • http://thepolicetrainingacademy.com Ryan Sprout

    Great podcast, learned a lot of awesome stuff!

  • http://theminimalists.com Joshua Fields Millburn

    Great comments, all. Thank you for listening.


  • http://www.jeffbullins.com Jeff Bullins

    I love to hear success stories, but I guess the hard ones for me to understand are the ones that seem to happen accidentally. These guess didn’t really understand how they got their success other than just searching within themselves, changing their lives accordingly, and writing about it. I am not saying this is a bad thing, it is just hard to learn from.

  • http://www.comptalks.com Bishwajeet @Comptalks

    Nice success story out there. Creating a name for oneself in already crowded market is too tough.

  • http://CashFlowsToo.com Monty Campbell

    @PatFlynn this is another exceptional story. The fact remains your site is and inspiration. This message about being a success in a crowed niche is an important one because many people will be discouraged to act on their passion feeling its already been done so why do it. Most important point I saw in this Podcast was “You can make money in any passion” The minimalist have shown that if you believe in it, God willing you through congruency can make it happen.

  • http://www.jdgamedev.com Jeremiah

    I just started listening to the podcast, I just had to be the first one to mention that your little intro made me actually laugh out loud.

    If I had a dollar for every time my son said Kachow!

    Haha, as always, you’re the man Pat.

    • http://www.freshphotographer.com Richard Neckar

      You need to watch Cars with your Son! It might answer your question.

  • http://www.trafficpowerhouse.com/readallaboutit/ Spatch Merlin

    I’ve heard a couple of podcasts from smartpassiveincome and find them worth my time. Great ideas Pat!

    Spatch MErlin
    More Web Site Traffic Guide

  • http://www.extramoneyblog.com Sunil from The Extra Money Blog

    excellent as always. as a minimalist myself (in most aspects of life at least), this particular site / topic is even more so close/relevant to my interests. I’ve known about the site, but not the history behind it. thanks for taking the time (all three of you guys) for shedding light on the story. keep inspiring

  • http://rolledankle.org Tomek

    During listning it’s appeard idea for online buisness conected with my biggest passion. Great:)

  • http://www.rightmixmarketing.com/ Tom Treanor

    Pat, awesome podcast. I’m a big fan of Josh and Ryan I interviewed them late last year and even made their in person meetup tour. They didn’t talk about it on the podcast (but you guys covered a lot of important topics), but they had an awesome tour around the US visitings cafes and bars all around the country and meeting with their community, building stronger relationships, and connecting with bloggers in those cities at the same time. Awesome idea and great commitment to making their cause/project/business grow and succeed!

  • http://www.paleodietandexercise.com/ Joe

    Excellent interview Pat! You’re such an inspiration! I started a blog this year after reading yours and it’s now on page 1 of Google search for my keywords and 6th from the top. I’m so excited your techniques work!

    Keep up the good work and inspiration!

  • http://www.jobsinayurveda.com Bill


    Awesome stuff again. I think the stars are aligning for me because I’ve been hammering away on my own ebook wondering if all that work is gonna pay off. And I see this morning that you’ve interviewed a couple of guys that are making it happen through Amazon, which is something that I never imagined.

    One question, are you or any of your other readers making ebooks strictly for Amazon? Like, checking keywords to see if there’s anything Amazon doesn’t already have and creating books for those topics? Maybe that should be your next monthly challenge.

  • http://www.tomacedonia.com Kenneth Ashley


    I have been listening and reading your stuff since day one, and only you. I use to listen to other bloggers who teach how to make money online. However, i think this is a downfall. Listening to too many people telling you how to make money online will lead you nowhere because there is no one way to do it. For example, if your going to times square and you seek directions from different people more then likely you will get different stories and different ways to reach your goal and you’ll never arrive. Listening to one person who knows what they are doing is a sure and clear way to help you reach your goal. I find that listening to one blogger will help you reach your goal. My one blogger is Pat Flynn. Hoorah!


    Kenneth Ashley

  • http://www.michealooi.com Micheal Ooi

    Hey Pat,
    I must say: that minimalist book is a must read for anyone want to simplified thier life.

  • http://www.bloggercasestudy.com Tony Chou

    Great podcast, Pat! I’m trying exactly what they did: starting out in a really populated niche (make money online blogging niche). Hopefully it works out!

  • http://www.performbettergolf.com Mike

    Just bought the their book on my Kindle. I could afford to implement some minimalism into my life (and office).

  • http://www.passivelyearning.com Chris

    Pat, thank you for pointing out the minimalists blog. I’ve been having a lot of discussions lately about ‘Inbox-itis’ and how everything is turning into an Inbox (social media, email, RSS feeds, podcasts).

    We are all stuck on the treadmill of “Zero Inbox”. I think taking a few lessons from the peopled you mentioned will really help us feel less stressed and more successful in achieving our goals.

  • http://www.freebrowsinglink.com/2012/03/2012-2013-post-umeutme-cut-off-marks.html Post utme 2012

    This is interesting, going to buy their book sooner…

  • http://www.cheap5fingers.us Michael Scofield

    that is great success !!!
    I’m downloading too. Thanks very much !!!

  • http://smallhouselife.com/4052/mortgage-refinance-dont-make-my-dumb-mistake Dee@ Small Houses

    OMGosh.. apparently I am as ignorant as the minimalist guys because I just started in a semi-same niche a few months ago. Thankfully, I didn’t know it was saturated either… because it’s definitely my ‘passion’ site.

    And here’s the thing.. After four years of internet (affiliate) marketing strictly to make money, I decided to create a site about a topic I personally live, breathe, and love.

    I thought my other sites took off fast but this ‘passion’ site is moving at about three times the growth rate. Took me four years to finally do what I knew from Day 1 (define your passion and create a site around that), but I’m glad I did.

    Major takeaway from your podcast: The minimalist guys said visitors stay on their site average six minutes. Whoa!! THAT resonated for me. I’ve decided rather than focus on increasing traffic and list, I’m going to work towards increasing the time spent on my site.. Because that is a direct indicator that visitors are finding value!

    Love it.. Thanks! Dee
    p.s. just what I needed this beautiful Monday morning.. :)

  • http://www.thinkentrepreneurship.com Pete Sveen

    Awesome podcast Pat. I listened to it on my run in the snowy Montana weather yesterday. I’ve listened to every podcast you’ve made so far and get so much out of them. Thanks for taking the time to share your knowledge and inspiration with other entrepreneurs! – Pete

  • http://whataremangroves.com Tansey Louis

    John Melley is such a great talent, Pat! How did you find him?

  • http://www.newbloggerexperiment.com Rich Ryan

    Hey Pat- Thanks for providing more awesome information. I’m new to this whole area of blogging for income and have found the information you provide to be very helpful as I have started developing a couple of sites.

  • http://www.himterest.net Daniel

    This was great, Pat! I think you finally got me convinced to start a podcast myself 😉

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  • http://www.icu-india.com ontwerp website

    good blog, i like it

  • http://www.simonhaestoe.com Simon

    “and making a living in niches you wouldn’t really expect.”<—-when people think about what niche to enter, I think most are approaching it the wrong way. At least those who, upon hearing something ridiculous as "this niche is good" rush right into a niche. That niche might not be one in which they have something unique to offer(so why enter?). There might not be a lot of people in it; and, regardless of everything else, if the people in the niche don't want to spend money on solving the problems they have in it, it's worthless to spend time in.

  • http://www.declutterprogram.com/ John Jackson

    Lot of great tips. I checkout there site lots of great articles. THANKS!!!

  • http://www.77onlinejobs.com/2012/02/8-generous-gpt-get-paid-to-sites-like.html farhan

    Hey nice to look it. Your blog is always intersting as ever.

  • http://pazer.blog.com/ Andreas Pazer

    Wow Pat, 35 Podcast sessions already! I started listening to you around session 11, I can believe how fast time flies.

  • Steve

    Great Podcast…I’ve kept up with these two and they are dynamic individuals…#35…I remember No. 1…times moves fast

  • http://cantankerousoldcoots.com ralph@cantankerousoldcoots

    Interesting guys. Thanks for doing that interview. What comes across to me is that they were just following their hearts. Along the way they learned ways to communicate and share their trip but the big take away is that they aren’t doing it for the money.

  • http://www.freshphotographer.com Richard Neckar

    I liked the interview but I really did not take that they were genuine. I don’t know just my opinion. I don’t think you did either by your questions. Like when you asked how they reconcile asking people to give up stuff but “buy my book” which they didn’t really answer. I’m not saying they don’t have good ideas, but…