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The Smart Passive Income Podcast

AP 0889: How Hard Was It to Learn Internet Marketing on Your Own?

AP 0889: How Hard Was It to Learn Internet Marketing on Your Own?

By Pat Flynn on

AskPat 889 Episode Transcript

Pat Flynn: Hey, what’s up everybody? Pat Flynn here and welcome to Episode 889 of AskPat. Thank you so much for joining me here today. As always, I’m here to help you by answering your online business questions, five days a week.

We have a great question coming in today from Tina, but before we get to her question, I do want to thank today’s sponsor, which is FreshBooks. One of my favorite companies, not only because they’ve been a huge supporter of AskPat ever since the beginning, but because they’re an amazing company. I wouldn’t have them here if they weren’t, and they help people manage their business finances. Doesn’t matter what state your at: If you’re making money, or you’re spending money, it’s a great tool to have in your corner. Especially come tax season, right, so that you can have all the forms and the balance sheets, and the profit and loss statements, all right at your fingertips. Plus they help make invoicing really easy. In less than thirty seconds, you can create a professional-looking invoice to bill your students, that company that you’re working with, or whatever, and you can also keep track of who has paid you, but not only that, who owes, or who has yet to open that invoice, which makes it really easy to follow-up. Anyway, just super cool, and you can actually check it out for thirty days for free by going to, and just make sure you enter “Ask Pat” in the “How did you hear about us?” section. Sweet.

Now, here’s today’s question coming in from Tina.

Tina: Hey Pat, I just want to start off by saying that I’m following you for some time now, and I think your story is truly inspiring. My name is Tina, and I’m a senior in college. I hope that someday I can live in financial freedom, but I know it’ll take lots of time and hard work to get there.

At the moment, I’m working on a niche site. I also have another idea in mind, but I realize that there’s so much content I need to create on my own before I can even begin to market it and build traffic. I’m really struggling to decide which direction I should take after I graduate. I think it might be wise to work at a digital marketing agency to get full exposure so I can apply the knowledge and skills that I gain to my own project, but I also want to explore other fields.

My greatest concern is, that once I start working full-time I won’t be able to dedicate much time to my entrepreneurial pursuits. I know you started off with a career in architecture. So, from your experience, how difficult was it to learn internet marketing on your own, and what advice would you give to a college grad interested in generating passive income online? Really appreciate any suggestions or advice you can give. Thank you.

Pat Flynn: Hey Tina, thank you so much for the question. I appreciate you. I have a lot of things to say about this, and the first thing I want to say is that I wouldn’t expect to make a passive income right away. Doesn’t matter what level your at, if you’re a college graduate or if you’re starting out on online business and you’ve been working it nine to five for year: Passive income doesn’t come right away. Passive income comes as a result of the time you’ve invested into creating a product, or solutions for a particular market that needs that solution, right? And they have that problem, they find your solution and you automate the delivery of that. You automate processes that take you out of it, eventually. Depending on what niche your in and what you’re serving, I mean, that can be done sooner than later. Other times, things will always be requiring a human touch for some markets. But, does that human touch have to be yours?

So, there are ways to go about it, and I want to give you a little bit of a framework. This is for a lot of people who are starting out, who want to understand the process and what I teach. You know, there are four P’s that are really important here.

The first one is purpose. You want to understand, Tina and everybody else out there listening, like, what is it that you want to do and what is that, ideally, in five years from now, that would make you say, “Life is awesome?” This goes along with some experiments and tests that I have you do when you pick up my book Will It Fly? and you run through them. Really big, eye-opening things, because it helps you frame exactly where you want to go, and it’s like if you were to go into a plane, and I’m using Will It Fly? references, and plane reference here, because it just makes sense to me. You know, imagine flying a plane, right? How awesome is that. That’s like entrepreneurship; you’re flying a plane. You can go any which way you want. You go up, down, left, right, sideways, backwards, depending on how risky you are, but eventually, if you don’t have a destination, if you don’t know where you’re going or what direction you have, you’re going to run out of gas. And you’re going to be grounded again. And, you know, if you finally find out where you want to be, you might end up further away from where you end up, where you found what you wanted to be. So, it’s really important to understand your purpose. Where is it that you want to go, and what kind of market, or industry, do you want to serve, right? So, I think it’s important to understand those things first.

And then, the next P is your platform. So, picking a platform that works for you, whether it’s blogging, podcasting, video or whatever, live streaming, whatever it might be. That’s going to be your platform to share your message so that you can get your purpose out there and be purposeful, and serve that audience, serve that market. If you want to get experience in that, I think, you know, your idea of learning skills in a digital marketing agency, it could work if the kinds of things that they do and teach are things that are interesting to you in terms of businesses that you want to create in the future. Maybe it is, maybe it’s not. If it’s not, I wouldn’t do it.

What I would do, actually, is look for a way to freelance, and use some of the skills that you have to serve people in a market that you’re interested in. That way, you’re putting yourself in a market that you’re eventually going to get into. You’re going to be understanding how that market works, who the main players are, how to work those relationship, build those relationships, and utilize those things as you then start to create your own business out of that. All whilst . . . Whilst—I don’t know if that’s the right way to use it, but all while, potentially, earning an income from the freelance work that you do. And that way, you also gain business experience at the same time as a freelancer. Yes, it’s not passive, not passive at all, but the passive stuff, that’s P number four.

The third P is products. So, from the platform that you create and the audience that you build, then you can create the products on top of that so that you can then serve that audience, get paid for it at the same time, and that’s where the sort of freelancing comes into play, but then also, online courses, other things. You might be able to product-ize that service that you’re offering as well, like we’ve talked about on the SPI podcast before. At which point, you can then begin to earn the final P, which is passive income.

So, that’s like the last step, right? And then, you know, there’s like a fifth P in there, which kinda circles back to purpose. So, having a bigger, higher purpose as a result of finding success. But, that doesn’t typically come until much later. But yeah, Tina, hopefully that framework gives you an idea, sort of; not necessarily the order of operations, if you will, but just an order of understanding of exactly what you want to do and where you want to go.

So yes, after college, there’s a lot of ways you can go. You’re flying in that plane, but I think it’s important for you to understand internally, like, what’s important to you? What do you imagine yourself doing five years from now that would make you feel, deeply inside, that you are in a place of happiness, right? What market would you be serving? I mean, you have your choice right now, which is really awesome. That’s the cool thing about entrepreneurship. You can choose any which way you want to go. You’re in a plane. You can fly anywhere, but you have to put that thing on the radar. Just so, at least, if you get off course, you can get on course, or you can find people who have flown that path before, if you will, and who can help guide you through the turbulence that’s going to . . . I can go all day with these aerial analogies.

But anyway, the advice that I would give a college grad student, is focus on what is truly meaningful to you, and utilize the skills that you have, or that you want to have, build them out, and utilize them to better serve that market that you are interested in becoming a part of. You’re going to start from the bottom, and that’s okay. I mean, you’re going to start, actually, probably, in the middle because you have that college education to go along with it and a little bit of real life experience as well. But at the same time, what’s going to help you proceed and move further are the experiments, the trials, the errors, the trying, the putting yourself out there, the building of those relationships, like I said earlier, and the failures that you learn and gain insight from along the way.

So, there you go, Tina, wishing you all the best of luck. Thank you so much for your question today, and I want to send you an AskPat teeshirt for having your question featured here on the show. And for those of you listening, if you have a question that you’d like potentially featured here on the show as well, all you have to do is head on over to and you can ask right there on that page.

Thank you so much, I appreciate you. Also, I appreciate you, FreshBooks for being awesome and supporting the show. All you have to do is go to and make sure you enter “Ask Pat” in the “How did you hear about us?” section so you can get your thirty-day free trial.

And then finally, as always, here’s a quote to finish off the day, and this is by Edgar Watson Howe. “If a friend is in trouble, don’t annoy him by asking if there’s anything you can do. Think up something appropriate and do it.” Thanks guys, appreciate you. Take care, see you in the next episode, bye.

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