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AP 0773: I Want to Create a Website Like Green Exam Academy. How Do I Start?

AP 0773: I Want to Create a Website Like Green Exam Academy. How Do I Start?

By Pat Flynn on

AskPat 773 Episode Transcript

Pat Flynn: Hey, what’s up everybody? Pat Flynn here and welcome to Episode 773 of AskPat. Thank you so much for joining me today. As always, I’m here to help you by answering your online business questions, five days a week. We have a great question today from Gabriel, but before we get to that I do want to mention that next month I’m going to be opening enrollment to my brand new course called Smart From Scratch. It’s for those of you who are just starting out in business, or maybe you started, it just wasn’t going the way you thought it was supposed to go. Smart From Scratch is going to walk you through the process of honing in on an idea. Maybe you have a bazillion ideas, and you need to find that one. Maybe you don’t have any ideas, and you’re still looking for the one.

We’re going to nail down one, then we’re going to validate it and set its position in the marketplace, and then actually get to a point where you can share it and potentially even make money, and your first customers from it. I’m going to walk you through that entire process. If you read Will it Fly? you know the process. However, I know many of you have read Will it Fly? and still want the handholding through the process. We’re going to open enrollment some time next month. I don’t know the exact date at the moment that I’m recording this, but if you go to you might be able to get more information about the date, but there’s all kinds of information about the course available to you there. You can sign up to the waitlist so that you can hear first thing when it becomes available. Again, that’s Over 120 students have already gone through it, and super stoked to finally open it up out of beta, out of the sort of test period, and into public. It’s going to be fun.

Okay, here we go. Today’s question from Gabriel.

Gabriel: Hey Pat, thanks for taking my question. First I want to start off by saying thank you for all the content you’ve been putting out. I recently came across your site in the last couple of months, and I’ve just been consuming everything that you’ve been putting out like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Now to my question. I’m wanting to come up with a website similar to Green Exam Academy, in the sense that it’s going to be a supplemental course to help someone pass something. I don’t know exactly what is the best way to go about doing that. For example, what content, or is there any guidelines, or do you just look at the similar websites, and kind of speak into that. Is it basically a gut feeling where this is what I think they would need, and go from there.

If you could speak into that a little more, maybe throw out some resources that you used, I would appreciate it. Thank you.

Pat Flynn: Hey Gabriel, thank you so much for the question, and also the kind words. I really appreciate that. I’m loving this because I’m going to go back into time, Back To The Future reference, and I love your Reese’s reference by the way. I’m going to go back into time and talk a little bit about how Green Exam Academy got started, and where I think people can go today if they want to create sort of coursework, or exam study guides, and practice exams, and those sorts of things. Obviously I have some experience with that.

I started Green Exam Academy not even knowing that it was going to be something that I was going to be turning into a business. I had set it up simply to keep track of my own notes for myself, and a few of my co-workers when I was in the architecture industry. This site did help me pass the exam, I wrote in it every single day. Uploading new content, tips, things like that to help me keep track of things. That exercise alone was really helpful for me because in a way I was sort of like teaching myself. The best way to learn is actually through regurgitating the information that you pick up, and maybe even reshaping it in a way that’s easier to understand. That’s what that site was doing for me.

I didn’t know that it was actually doing it for the entire world, who was searching for similar key terms in Google. Eventually people found my site, my notes, and at some point I flipped a switch after I learned about online business, and that happened after I got let go. Then I turned on the comments, and I became seen as this expert, and this site was my tool for proving that I had expertise in this industry, and the information that people needed to pass. People did start to pass with a lot of the free information that I shared. Mind you, this journey was a long time period. I mean, we’re talking at this point now that the comments are open, and now that I’m sort of making the decision to see if I can turn this into a business, this is already a year after I started the site. Google has had a lot of time to pick up on the fact that this is a very extremely valuable resource for people looking for information about this particular test.

Then I ended up selling a study guide in October of 2008, and then later an audio version of that, and then multiple versions of different guides, and courses. I was an affiliate for a practice exam company who sold practice exams for this exam too. Green Exam Academy is still up there, and still today generating passive income. Not nearly as much as it was when it was hot back in 2008 to 2011, but still doing a couple thousand dollars a month without me having to touch it at all. It’s proven to be a really cool site, and a really fun one, and a very profitable one too.

One of the reasons why I think it was very profitable, especially for me in the beginning, was because I was taking the exam material, and reshaping it in a way that wasn’t ever shaped before. I was actually one of the only ones to start really openly blogging about it. I was also one of the only ones to share my own personal experience with the exam, and the material. That was different than what other people were doing in the space, which they were looking, trying to look more like corporate professions who were selling these study guides that were much more expensive, trying to look like architecture firms, and contractor firms, and all those kinds of things. While I was just, I had this cruddy looking little website, that all I could do stand out was share my own experience. That’s what worked.

With whatever you do, I feel like that’s going to be your advantage. That’s the reason why you stand out is because you’re being you on your site. Now, the other thing you have to do is go into the marketplace for whatever exam you end up picking, and hopefully it’s going to be one based on your own experience. I’ve tried building sites on other exams that I do not have experience with, and for whatever reason I just, it just doesn’t feel right. You would either have to partner with somebody who has taken that exam, or knows about it enough. I feel like if you’re going to help people pass an exam. . .I mean, studying for an exam is a very frustrating process, very effort-driven process. One where you definitely want to be using the best information to pass.

I felt like that because I didn’t have experience in these other exams that I was kind of exploring, I was using keyword research, and actually looking at other marketplaces to see what I could potentially get into, to try to sort of cookie cutter Green Exam Academy across the board. It just didn’t feel right. I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to create the best content for those people. For Green Exam Academy, I knew I could, because I had experienced that. Many other people didn’t, including the exam creators themselves. I was a taker of the test, not the creator of the test.

Okay, so actionable advice. One thing I would do is pick an exam that you have taken before, that you know very well, that you would be able to offer advice for. That’s kind of the first litmus test. The second part of it is I would go into Google, and start to find every other guide, practice exams, influencers, people, companies, publications, about this particular exam. See what else is out there, because you don’t want to create anything less than, or similar to what’s already out there. You want to come at it from a different angle. Are there online courses about it? I don’t know. You’ll have to find that out. This is a lot of what is mentioned in Will It Fly?, and also part of the exercises we do together in Smart From Scratch, a lot of this market research, and validation, and positioning.

Once you find your position, then you have to put yourself out there and get exposure, and that depends on again, what is everybody else doing, and what could you do differently? Also, what is everybody else doing that is working? You want to do that as well. There are different ways to get noticed, especially related to sort of exam type stuff. The one thing you want to do is establish yourself as an expert. One of the easiest ways to do this and quickly get feedback for some of the stuff that you could potentially be offering, or just your idea in general even before you create it, is to go into a forum, or a blog, or a Facebook group, or a LinkedIn group where these people are together, and they’re learning from each other, and they’re asking questions.

If you can go in there and start providing a ton of value, not asking for anything in return, and you do this for even just a couple weeks on a day to day basis. People start to see your name pop up over and over and over again, and you’re answering these questions. You will start to be seen as an expert, and people are going to start asking you more and more questions. This is what I did in a forum related to the LEED exam, and I started to be seen as an expert, because I was answering all these questions, and helping people, and providing these resources that were coming out of left field. That were blowing people’s minds.

Then when people said, “Pat, do you have anymore information about this?” I said, “Well yeah, by the way I have this website. I have these things that I sell.” As you could see I wasn’t just coming in and saying, “Hey guys, look at me.” I was saying, “Hey guys, how can I help?” Then that turned into, “Hey Pat, what else you got going on? How else might you be able to help me?” That’s what you want to do.

Creating a website is going to be really important at some point, but I would validate the ideas that you have, and the course that you want to create, or the tool that you want to provide, or the supplemental material that you want to create. You could even create just a snippet of it, or a segment of it. Maybe you want to write a book about it, or something. Just write the first chapter, and share that for free, and get responses to it. Maybe you want to do a course. Well, do the first lesson only, and record that on video and see what that’s like, see what the response is like. Then that will give you a good idea on whether or not you’re doing it right, or if this is something people are interested in, or if you’re going to get flack for it because it’s not useful.

You won’t know until you do it, but you can start small and make these little litmus tests that will help guide you into the bigger and better, and more awesome things related to this. Gabriel, hopefully this is answering your question, a least a little bit. Or helping those gears turn in your head. I would definitely check out Smart From Scratch, or Will it Fly? if you’re a reader, and you know how to take action from the books you read., also is where you would go for that.

Gabriel, either way I’m going to send you an AskPat t-shirt for having your question featured here on the show. Thank you so much for taking the time to send that over. For those of you who are listening, if you have a question that you would like potentially featured here on the show, just head on over to and you could ask right there on that page. Ask away.

Thank you so much, and here’s a quote to finish off the day by Goethe. That quote is, “Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness had genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now. Do it.” All right guys, take care. I’ll see you in the next episode of AskPat. Bye.

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