Our guest today is none other than the mastermind behind SPI himself, Pat Flynn! But Pat's on the show to talk about something kind of unusual today … his Pokemon card-collecting YouTube channel.
You heard that right. What started out as a hobby for Pat turned into an experiment: building a YouTube channel and community completely from scratch. What's particularly interesting about that is that a lot of the strategies and mindsets Pat carried into his new YouTube channel are similar to the approach that helped him stake a claim in the online business world back in 2008. Those strategies are as relevant as ever. At the time of this recording, Deep Pocket Monster was approaching 50,000 subscribers on YouTube, and that's within the first six months! The channel is now up well past 75,000 subscribers . . . and counting.
If you want to learn some practical approaches for breaking into a niche community or building a successful community through YouTube, this is the episode for you.
Don't forget to subscribe and leave a review!
Pat Flynn is a father, husband, and entrepreneur who lives and works in San Diego, CA. He owns several successful online businesses and is a professional blogger, keynote speaker, Wall Street Journal bestselling author, and host of the Smart Passive Income and AskPat podcasts, which have earned a combined total of over 65 million downloads, multiple awards, and features in publications such as the New York Times and Forbes. He is also an advisor to ConvertKit, LeadPages, Teachable, and other companies in the digital marketing arena.
In This Episode
- The rise in popularity of Pokemon card-collecting, plus an explanation of micro-niches within the space
- How Pat ventured into the Pokemon card space on YouTube in a new and organic way
- The strategies Pat uses to create a strong sense of community on Deep Pocket Monster
- Why a serve first mentality is a gamechanger when creating a new community in a niche space
- How Pat has adjusted and pivoted with his community as the channel has grown
- Why Pat's YouTube channel mirrors his approach to online business in 2008
- Tips on connecting with and rewarding members of a YouTube channel community
- How Pat's celebrating as his channel approaches 50,000 subscribers
- Putting your authentic, unique voice into a community and why “attention with authenticity” is the best form of currency
- Pat's personal definition of community
- Pokemon's influence on Pat's travel aspirations
- The one book Pat reads every year
The CX 002: Unboxing Community in the Pokemon Card Niche with Pat Flynn
Jillian Benbow: Do you have a catch phrase you just love? Like “Just Do It.” Pat Flynn has several, but one of his favorites is “the riches are in the niches.” And while Pat is well known in podcasting and in the online business world, we're actually going to talk to him today about something you might not have expected. And that is his Pokemon trading card YouTube channel. Yep, Pat Flynn has one of those too. Today, we're going to learn how Pat turned one of his personal hobbies into a YouTube sensation and a seemingly overnight community and how you can carve out a super niche of your own. Let's get into it this week on the Community Experience.
Tony Bacigalupo: You're listening to the Community Experience. We're here to explore all the ways you can learn how to cultivate genuine sense of belonging for yourself and those around you. I'm Tony Bacigalupo, and I'm here with Jill Benbow.
Jillian: What are we talking about today, Tony?
Tony: I'm so glad you asked, Jill. In today's episode, we talk about the value of niche communities with a fellow you may have heard of by the name of Pat Flynn, creator of Deep Pocket Monster, a YouTube channel dedicated to the exploding Pokemon trading card community. You may also recognize his name as the founder of Smart Passive Income, now known as SPI Media and the company that we happen to work for. For this episode, you're going to hear Pat's tips, not from his usual hat as a guy from Smart Passive Income, but as a guy who broke into a niche community, and how being of service is one of the best ways to really build community and why your unique voice matters more than just following the crowd in your niche space. He's got a really cool story for how he was able to break in.
Jillian: It's pretty amazing to talk to Pat about something that we don't normally talk to him about, which is Pokemon. We both learned a lot about the deep underbelly of the Pokemon trading card world, which neither Tony and I are currently a part of. So we learned a lot about that, but also just talking about something that most community builders and most small business owners looking to start a community relate to, which is when you're looking at starting a community about a topic, there's already so many people doing it and seemingly doing it well. So it can be a little bit intimidating to say, "Hey, I'm going to do this too," and start from zero.
Tony: Yeah, and I think Pokemon is a great example because it's so involved. There's already so many people, so it's very easy, you can imagine for somebody who would be enthusiastic about something like that to say, "Well, anybody who could be saying anything about this is already saying that there's no way I could contribute something myself." But the truth is that every person has a unique voice. Everybody has something to contribute. Ultimately, if you tap into finding where you have something to say that maybe you're not hearing other people say it quite the same way, that's where you might be able to actually find a lot of excitement and a lot of interest. And in Pat's case, he saw that there was a consistency among the people in that world that wasn't working for him in terms of the way that they were engaging their audiences, and he wanted to have a conversation in a different style.
And I think that made a huge difference.
Jillian: Without further ado, let's get into the episode with Pat and find out why his channel is called Deep Pocket Monster, something Tony and I learned all about at the end of the episode. Here we go.
All right, thank you for joining us. We are so excited. We have a very special guest today that we know quite well as he is the reason we work at SPI, and his name is Pat Flynn. Hi, Pat.
Pat Flynn: What's up? This is weird.
Jillian: This is weird.
Pat: I'm being interviewed on SPI. That's cool.
Jillian: Right? Yeah, we're flipping the switch a little bit here. If anyone joined and is not aware of the whole Smart Passive Income empire that we are a part of, Pat started it. And Pat, I will kind of — if you want to do just a quick intro of how it all came to be and how we all now know each other, that would be fantastic.
Pat: Yeah. I mean, quick rundown, 2008, I started a business online after getting laid off from an architecture job that I had, and that business was helping people pass an architectural exam that went very well, so well in fact that everybody around me just kept asking me, "Well, how did you do that? How did you do that?" So I built a website in late 2008 called SmartPassiveIncome.com to just fully disclose how I had built this architecture thing online and all the ins and outs, the ups and downs and things I wish I'd done differently. And I was just trying to pass on as much information as possible. And then that began to explode and it's now turned into, like you said, this empire of a podcast and a YouTube channel, books and speaking career and all this stuff where now it's not just me, it's the team, including both of you. And we help entrepreneurs realize their dreams and help them take the talents that they have, the knowledge that they have, and package it in a way that helps others.
And when you serve first, you get rewarded and that's what we teach. That's what we practice, and here we are helping people with community today. And I have recently, as we'll talk about today, been taking the very same approach in a brand new space and building a community there in a really fun area, which we're, I'm sure, going to dive into today.
Jillian: So for everyone listening, it's funny because collectibles in general is kind of always been a niche community and collectible cards, I've always thought of it as sports trading cards and things like that. But lo and behold, there's this entire niche about Pokemon-specific trading cards. And it's one of those things that to me, I'm like, "Oh, this is a niche community.", but somebody who's deep into it would be like, "No, this is huge." It is actually quite large. It's the community you may not have heard of, but if you're in it, you know it's huge, so much in fact that right now, it's so popular that both Target and Walmart recently pulled the cards from their physical locations because people were fighting and just crazy things. So for safety concerns for both staff and employees, both stores pulled the cards and you can no longer get them there.
Pat: Yeah. It's pretty intense. I mean it got to the point where somebody pulled out a gun somewhere to — it's just kind of ridiculous. I think, especially during the pandemic, a lot of people were saving their money and had nothing else to do, so they went to collectibles. There's a lot of nostalgia in it. And we're seeing the same thing with sports cards as well, but in the Pokemon space — I mean Pokemon, I don't know if you know this, but it's the largest media franchise in the world. It's number one. And it's kind of insane because it's actually been around for 25 years. This year's the 25th year anniversary, which makes it even more popular right now. But a lot of the kids who had access to the stuff when we were little, who played the game and who saw the cartoon every Saturday morning, that kind of thing, now we're older. We have jobs. We have money to spend. So this money is now-
Jillian: Disposable income.
Pat: Exactly. And that's being put into these things. Now Pokemon in and of itself is huge. Within there, there are several niches. There are people who play the game. I'm not a game player. I'm a collector of the cards and that's a niche. And then within the collectibles space within Pokemon, there are sub-niches. There are people who collect vintage cards and they're known for their vintage collections. There's people who collect and invest in modern cards, the sets that have come out recently. There's even these cards that are so rare that there are only a few dozen in the world that people collect. We call them trophy cards in this space. And there's a whole group of people who are experts and collect and do six figure deals for cards in that world.
And there are people who collect a specific character, like people who collect Charizard, which is like the main card that people want. It's the most expensive, the most powerful. I collect graded cards, I collect sealed booster packs. And I don't know, it's just kind of, it's so interesting when you're in it, but when you're in it, it's like, "Wow, this is neat." And you can find other people who speak the same language as you. And this is why niching down is so great because you have now somebody who can talk to you and you can talk to them and you don't feel weird about it because you're kind of both weird together. And it's true, people on the outside, a lot of people who know me for my business stuff are like, "Pokemon? Are you serious for real? That's so weird and strange. Isn't that a kid's game?"
Yeah, on the outside, it might seem that way. But on the inside, there are big deals happening. There's a lot of money flowing. There's a lot of nostalgia and communities that are being connected. And I've now made friends who I didn't know six months ago, literally now having private conversations with them and meals and stuff.
Tony: Okay, Pat, I really want to dive deeper into that, the friendship side of it. How have friendships emerged from your passion for this? What's the story behind how that became possible and how that kind of blossomed?
Pat: Yeah. Well, first of all, I have to credit my kids for getting me into Pokemon. I was actually a Magic the Gathering player back in the day. And I always thought Pokemon was just for kids, but when my kids got into it, I got into it and got excited about it. And then I kind of just kept going and they've moved on to something else and I've just kind of kept it going. If I kept going, one thing I love to do when I get immersed in something is to see who else is out there, who is also immersed in this and to see who I can learn from, who I can trust, who are the cool people, who are the not so cool people in this space, just so I can sort of immerse myself and understand more. And one thing that I knew early on was like, I knew that I was going to be creating some sort of a YouTube channel about this because once I started to learn about who was out there, I started to notice that a lot of them were all doing the kind of same thing.
They were different personalities, but they were all doing essentially the same thing, opening up packs on their videos, talking about the most expensive cards, shipping them off to a grading service, and then flipping them and selling them for more money. And I was like, "Everybody's doing this, but what could I bring different?" And before just turning on YouTube and starting to create, I started to go to these people and asking them what they need help with. This is something I always do. I always try to get into communities and see where I can offer service and be of help. And there was one person in particular, actually I brought him on the show, the Smart Passive Income podcast as a guest, his name is Nick from a channel called PokeRev. And I just started to get involved in his live stream and started to go.
And I actually reached out to him and I said, "Hey, I love your live stream. I'm also an entrepreneur. I have a couple ideas that I think would help your business. I'm not asking for anything in return." And he really appreciated that and kind of a weird story, he actually listened to the Smart Passive Income podcast before all the Pokemon stuff happened for him. So he actually wanted to give back to me and was like, "Hey, how can I help you?" And I said, "Well, I'm thinking about creating a YouTube channel." And he's like, "Dude, whatever you do, I'll be there for you. You've already helped me out so much." I was like, "Okay, cool." And then I went into another community. I reached out to that person. I said, "Hey, your microphone doesn't sound super great, but I love your stuff. So here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to send you my favorite microphone."
And I sent it to him and he was just blown away. He couldn't believe that this random person sent him something. And it actually helped me too because it made my experience watching his stream much better. And of course, he in turn was just like, "Yo, this has been incredible. This is so helpful. What can I do for you?" Again, same thing, "I'll reach out to you when I have something going on." And of course, a couple of months later, I created the Deep Pocket Monster YouTube channel in December of 2020. And on my first video, they were all very supportive and shared it with their communities, and I became a part of each of those communities there and I was able to create my own after that.
So these people have now become friends and we chat with each other. We're on text message strings together and helping each other. Hey, my last video performed very well. I think you should do this too, that kind of thing. And each of these people that I've become friends with have the same kind of approach that I have, which is this is a world of abundance. There's so much for everybody. It's not like we're at a poker table and it's like, "Hey, if I get chips, I'm taking from you." And there's only a finite amount of chips to be had. No, this is like a plentiful space where there's enough chips for everybody and then some. And so they've all just been so welcoming. And then now it's funny because I've found that I've inspired others now to create their own Pokemon YouTube channels. I've become sort of a mentor to some of them. And it's great because I can help them cut through a lot of the hard parts in the beginning and have them bring their own style, like I have.
Tony: I just love how much some of these principles of community building, how universal they are. And just in your story, I'm seeing you started out as a member of this community, as an explorer, as somebody new, who was just coming in curious. You found other people who are already active, and then you looked for ways to get involved and to add value. And you have experience with this. You knew some particularly clever ways of doing it, but you were able to get yourself into the same room with these people and build a relationship with them.
And then now you've become a community leader and you have a community that has grown, I imagine largely out of kind of these other communities that other people were a part of previously, which I think is great.
Pat: For sure. I'll always try to add value. No matter what I do, I always try to add value because it always comes back in one way, shape or form. And the other thing that was really important with the growth of my channel now has been the purposeful approach to the way I do the videos. So, like I said, many of these people were opening packs and it was all about the numbers, all about money. And I took a different approach. I wanted to go back into the history a little bit, which was something I was going to do or was doing anyway. I can just now capture it.
I'm also bringing over my unfair advantage of just storytelling that I've done for years on podcasts and bringing this into this space that didn't exist, as well as some really high-end sort of cinematography. And a lot of people see the cinematography and they're like, "Oh, well, that's the only reason why your channel is doing well." I mean, it's a part of it. It helps me stand out, but it's the overall package and bringing something different. So that, and also approaching my videos in a way where it's like, even if you're not into Pokemon, you're going to be interested in my videos because there's a story. There is a mystery. There's a, “Are we going to get it or not?” For example, one of the videos that I did that's been really popular recently was a video where I buy a mystery box of Pokemon cards on eBay and we see if we even get our money back or not.
And whether you are into Pokemon or not, you're just like, "Okay, did this guy like lose a bunch of money just now, or is he going to come out on the other end positive?" And if I can create a video that people who don't even care about Pokemon are interested in, what's that going to do to the people who actually do care about Pokemon stuff? I mean, they're going to be thrilled about it. And some of these videos, again, have only been up for less than six months and some of these videos have a quarter million views. I have one video that has 4.6 million views. It's just kind of insane. And so I saw an opportunity, I took it, but it always comes from a place of value and never trying to say, "I'm better than anybody."
I'm not pretending like I'm an expert. I say straight up, "I've only been in this for six months, but here's what I learned. And here's what I think. And please do your own due diligence," that kind of stuff. And I think people appreciate that. The other thing was that a lot of these people on YouTube yelled a lot. They get a card and they yell and they scream, they shout, and that's become sort of synonymous with Poke Tubers. So I took again the opposite approach, the cool, calm, collective, smart approach. And all those things combined has allowed me to now, not just here, but in several places, get featured and be interviewed about the Pokemon channel, which is, people are like, "Oh, there's all the good business ideas are taken already. All the good communities are already there." It's not true because nobody's done it in the way that you can do it. You just got to do it in a unique way that's different.
Jillian: I think there's a lot to say too, about the style of videos you bring to the space. For someone who knows your other videos, there's a similarity, there's a familiarity about them, but to bring them into this whole niche, and like you said, instead of doing the yelling and kind of what everyone, maybe if someone new comes in, they might feel obligated to do, you took a totally different approach.
I did want to talk a little bit about, because when we talk about community, there's always this, well, what is a community? And you found a way to leverage YouTube to kind of nurture and grow your own community about Deep Pocket Monster and about Pokemon with by using the tools available to you from YouTube, can you speak a little bit to that, how you've gone about that?
Pat: Yeah, I mean, we're at a point now where we have, we just crossed 337 or we got our 337th member of our YouTube channel on YouTube. And it's not preferred that you build a community on another platform like this, because I mean, what if YouTube goes away? And plus I'm sharing 30 percent of that income that comes in with YouTube. So that's not ideal. I mean, eventually I could create something on Circle or another platform, if I'd like, and that might end up being the goal, or very common in the Pokemon spaces is a Discord channel, because people in that space are used to kind of that more gamer feel of things, but it doesn't matter. I mean, what matters is we've got hundreds of people now paying to want to be a part of something. And it's like, how did you even make that happen?
Well, part of that happens with first of all, again providing value, showing up, whether it's entertaining information or combination of both, people often will become members of something because they just want to give back. So if you're starting from scratch and you haven't added any value, you haven't created anything, it's going to be very difficult for people to, unless they know that on the other end of that membership, they're getting something, to get members. So a lot of the initial members came because I finally gave them a way to offer something back for all that I've offered them. But in addition to that on YouTube, it's really neat because I do a lot of live streams and on live streams, it's really cool because — and this is a great way to nurture your community is to interact and to interact with them live and to call them by name and stuff.
And what's really cool is on YouTube, just like on Twitch, when you become a member, you get access to emojis and emotes and other fun, little things that not everybody can do. And whether it's an email or an emoji that you get access to because you're a member or some other perk, it doesn't matter where your membership is or what it's about. When members get something that others don't, it makes them feel special. And that's really what having membership is all about is to have people feel like they're being heard, they're being listened to, or they're a part of something. It's almost as if, if you ever go to a baseball game and you're there with your home team and they hit the winning grand slam, iIt's like everybody around you, you're high fiving, you're cheersing with, you're celebrating with, even though you've never met them before, because you're all there for the same reason. You have the same wants and you have the same culture and the inside of the Deep Pocket Monster brand, I've definitely built a culture of giving back, of anti-scalper, even to a point where I've developed a term, like I literally made it up, called replacs, which is actually scalper spelled backwards.
And it's just become like something that the community says now, like, "Replacs, like I'm a part of the replacs crew." We all give back and any extra cards we have, we try to give away, things like that. And so it's become a part of the nature, and it's getting to the point now it's not even close to this yet, but it's getting toward this level of MrBeast status, MrBeast being somebody who, he'll spend a lot of money to give away a bunch of things on a video and make a lot of people feel really good. And to the tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars he's given away, I'm not there yet.
I've given away, I think nearly $10,000 worth of stuff. Some of that stuff, actually the community sent to me to give to others in need, which is so cool. So they're kind of using the platform to offer some to the people who don't get access to cards. Anyway, it's kind of close to getting to that point where I'll film a video, and I've actually gotten to the point where we've had $4,000 or $5,000 worth of sponsorships on those videos as well. So that money, I can just give back to the community and do something fun with. And then that video, because it makes people feel good, it makes people feel excited, it gets a whole bunch of ad revenue and even more sponsorship, which then I can buy some really cool cards with to then give away on a bigger video, to make even more money with, with ads and sponsorship, to give away on another — it's just this cycle can keep going.
Jillian: Pat, you're a modern day Robinhood in a way. It's like you leverage these things that you're good at to then give back. It's so cute.
Pat: Yeah, but it's not even like stealing from the rich, right? It's just utilizing the tools that are there. Everybody wins. YouTube is winning because they're getting more views and their advertisers are happy because they're getting in front of audiences. Sponsors are happy because they got a trusted audience who I've earned that trust with, with my endorsement to go to their company or product. And then my audience is happy because they're getting entertained. They're getting free stuff. And I'm happy because all along, I'm building my audience. We're at 42,000 subscribers now within five months, and that's growing a platform and it's really cool because there's a lot of people now finding me there, who now go, "Oh wait, this isn't your main thing?" And I'm like, "No, not even close." And they're like, "What is your main thing?"
And then they hear about Smart Passive Income. Some of them have become students of ours now. Some of them have read my books and are like, "Wow, you've opened me up to this other thing. And it was just the Pokemon stuff." And I have a lot of drive to help kids in the future. And I have a book and some programs in the future in my head about helping kids learn about entrepreneurship. I mean the Pokemon stuff could be an amazing gateway and connector for that in the future.
And most of all, like what we're talking about today, it's so fun because it is completely new. I didn't know anything about this space in this regard in six months ago. And it's a great case study. And hopefully an example for those of you listening are people on the SPI side of stuff who are like, "How do I do this?" And whenever I teach stuff now, it's hard because people are like, "Oh, but you're Pat Flynn, of course it's going to work. You have the biggest network in the world and you have all this —” this was completely from scratch. And yet I was still able to make it work. So it just shows you, and I'm hopefully being an example that when you approach from a serve first mentality, when you get involved in communities first to figure out what are the needs there, you can succeed. You can succeed.
Jillian: I think it's important to also point out that this is not, I mean, a lot of the things we do at SPI, it's like, "Oh, well you have a whole team doing it. I'm just one person." But this venture for you is literally like a side passion project. It's not part of our business at all.
Pat: It's just me and an editor. And as a result of this now, literally every week I get people going like, "Hey, can I help you? Can I be your intern?" It's just like, wow, this could become a full-time thing if I wanted to go down that route. Right now, it's still going to be something on the side. It's something I do probably 20m percent of the week because I want to make sure I do create boundaries, because I know there's a lot of people out there who might have opportunities like this to go into something new and then they let everything else go that they once said yes to. And that wouldn't be good for my business, my team, and my family, because the Pokemon stuff, although it's making money, it's not the main thing I do, but it could. I got to be careful about bright lights syndrome and the typical thing that entrepreneurs go through when they try new things.
Jillian: Yeah. That's so true. I do want to talk about just in this niche community space — and we can talk about YouTube in particular. So there's creators that are doing similar things to you. Do you find that when you came into the space and just the type of your personality and how you're doing things, do you find that that is kind of different . . . were you, a trailblazer in a way in this Pokemon niche too, like you said, like as I called Robinhood mentality of very, very helpful to other people, very supportive, are you kind of blowing away the other creators in a way, because you're coming in with this fresh perspective?
Pat: I am. I mean I don't want to say I'm blowing them away, but I'm definitely bringing something new and it's been cool because a lot of the established creators in this space have come out to me and go, "Wow, you've really inspired me to level up. You've inspired me to change my game a little bit because I've just been getting complacent." And a lot of people talk about Deep Pocket Monster as like a fresh new look at Pokemon in the space, which is great. That's exactly what I wanted to happen. I wanted it to be fresh, I wanted it to be new, but I also didn't want to bring down anybody else along the way. And in fact, I had a Instagram conversation the other day with somebody who's been in the space for two years and he came up and he was like, "Pat, when you first came on the scene, I was very jealous."
Understandably, right? Somebody new coming in and then already having more subscribers than you after having done it for a while. But he said, "I started to watch your videos and now I understand why, because you're doing something different. So can you help me figure out what I can do differently?" And so we had a chat. His last two videos have had three times more views than he's had in the last year, because he's just adding — he did a great thing. He asked for help. And I think that's one thing that a lot of entrepreneurs don't want to do because it's a sign of weakness perhaps, or failure, or you don't want to lower yourself at all. And so it took him a lot of guts to reach out to somebody new like me and go, "Hey, can you help me?"
But the truth is, that's exactly what I did when I started in business in 2008. And I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for those people who helped me. So I'm always looking to pass it forward. And what's the worst that can happen when you ask? No? Okay, well, what's the best thing that can happen? You can get the exact advice you need or the right connections you need to take you where you want to go.
Tony: And those relationships and community are so important. I think it's true in all business, but I'm seeing it especially shifting in community-driven businesses that even people who are maybe direct competitors in a certain way of thinking, there's just so much value to be had in having some kind of a positive relationship, potentially a very prosperous one, because at the end of the day, you're all oriented around the same shared interest and shared passion.
So you all have something that you're kind of working towards together, but there's a lot that can go right for you down the line when you have those relationships, because hey, maybe you don't want to do this anymore at some point. Maybe you need to be able to move that community over. If you've got a good relationship with somebody else, maybe that person ends up being the person who inherits her community one day or there's a merger or a collaboration or any kind of opportunities down the line that come from the fact that you have this relationship with someone else who's similarly passionate enough to take leadership and work on this thing with you. So I'm sure it's going to lead to good things for you one way or another down the line. And as you said, what do you have to lose?
Pat: Yeah, exactly. And then always making sure people who do end up wanting to go further with you, like in a paid membership or so, making sure that they're always being heard, they're always being listened . . . I got to the point where I was doing these giveaways and somebody reached out and they were like, "Hey Pat, you've done a lot of these giveaways for the public, but might there be a chance to do a giveaway just for members only?" And I was like, "That's a great idea. I should totally do that because you guys are helping me here in the beginning, especially." And to pay attention to them, to listen to them, to give them things, even not give things away, even though I do, give them time, give them attention.
So on YouTube specifically, you can create community posts that are only available to members, so only members will see them. So once or twice a week at least I'll put some message in there that's just for them, giving them a little bit of a hint about what's coming next, a little bit of a behind the scenes of some of the shots that I'm doing, just to give them a little bit of a backstage pass to things as I talk about my book Superfans, and that again makes them feel really special because that's stuff that they cannot get anywhere else. In addition to that, rewarding a few of those members, calling them out, thanking them for their help in front of everybody — spotlighting members is a great way to encourage just overall feeling within a membership or community.
And then in addition to that, I do go live just for members every once in a while. And I'm at a point now where the live streams will have 3,000 or 4,000 people on at once. And it's very difficult to manage a live chat when you have that many people. And it's very difficult for a person to feel like they're being heard. It's more of a performance like I'm on stage and they're in the audience versus, "Hey, let's sit down around a campfire and let's just chat.", which that's what I want to have with my members. So every once in a while I'll go live just for the members. And even though there's significantly less people in there, it's always such a much better time for the members because they're getting seen, I'm addressing every question, we're having fun, it's more chill. And again, they feel heard and they feel like they got access to something that others don't normally get access to.
And it's only $2.99 a month. I mean, I could probably create a higher tier for more intimate situations or I'm at the point now where I'm thinking about what kind of swag to offer, and swag is something I was always not a fan of because it's like, "Oh, I don't want to be a teeshirt company." But at the same time, when you go to a ballgame, it's like, "What is everybody wearing?" The ball cap, because they want to show whose team they're on. They want to represent. And it's a great way for people to kind of meet and connect with each other.
We have our big 50,000 subscriber stream coming up once we pass 50,000. We're at 40,000 right now, but I have big plans to celebrate 50,000. And I had these coins created for people who are members at this time who are going to get a coin. It's like a metal coin that I had some friends create that says Deep Pocket Monster on one side, 50K on the other. And that's just a little token of appreciation. I mean, it's not worth anything. Maybe one day it would be, that would be crazy, but it's more of a token and appreciation of just being a part of the community and making them feel again, like they're part of something. And this is something that nobody else is doing. No other communities are doing this. And there's always things that you can do that others aren't. You just got to be creative and think about it a little bit.
Jillian: And I think it's important to do things that work for you, like you know how to do this, you've been in the game. And I think a good takeaway for someone who's considering curating a membership, whether it's on YouTube or not, I think some key takeaways that you said that are so valuable are giving people that attention. If people are there and want to be a part of the conversation, it should be a two-way conversation. So like you're doing with your more intimate member-only events and posts. But even just the public-facing YouTube, I've noticed you're very good about when people comment, you will at the very least like their comment so they see that you saw it, but also engage in conversation. And there's just so many things as a community maker or a community builder you can do that don't cost anything.
Pat: You don't want to have any handshake unshooken . . . unshook, if you will, when you're just starting out, because then eventually you can get to the point, like what we have now with SPI, where you can hire amazing people like Tony and Jillian, to do a lot of that handshaking and nurturing for you or with you — not for you, but with you. And it becomes a team effort, which then scales up how great the feeling is to be a part of something, because it's not just oh, that one creator, it's the creator and all the amazing people that they've associated with to help the community and me. So that's why I'm so grateful to have SPI Pro and the amazing members in there, and of course the team behind it as well.
Maybe one day we'll have something similar in the Pokemon space, but for right now, just because it's easy and simple and it’s on the side, the YouTube membership is where it's at and we'll see about the Discord later, but we could always get up to the point where, "Hey, let's run an annual event, a Deep Pocket Monster in-person event, where you get to see community members." And I don't know, it could go as big as we want it to go.
Jillian: It absolutely could. I mean, as the world opens up, even I'm like, “I want to go to that.”
Pat: That would be fun.
Jillian: I just want like one of those holographic cards with Pikachu on it. They're so cute.
So this has been fantastic. I think a good wrap for the conversation is just talking about something you mentioned earlier. So a lot of people are like, "Oh, but you're Pat Flynn. Of course you could launch anything and all these people will follow." But I think it's really important to go back to that concept, that when you came into the Pokemon space, you used your unique voice and your style instead of trying to copy or emulate what everyone else in the space was doing. And I think that's really important for smaller community builders to hear, because it's very easy to say, "Oh well, there's already a million communities out there that do what I want to do. I'm not sure I should also — why should I create one?" So I think it would be great if you could just share your perspective on the value of creating a community in your own unique voice.
Pat: If there's not something unique or special, then why would people be a part of it? Right? And the cool thing is nobody's like you, nobody has the same experiences or knowledge and the same mix of what you are. Nobody else has that. So it's always sad to me when I see somebody create something that is a replica or mimics something else. Yes, you should be inspired by others and you can take what they started and turn it into something that's yours. But if you just do what everybody else is doing and you don't put yourself in it, then you're losing out on the opportunity to create something much more than just a place of information, or much more than just a place for connection. You can have a place that's building its own culture and an identity. If there's no identity, if you don't have — if you don't identify that, then why would people identify with you? Just straight up.
Jillian: Straight up. I think it's also important to just go back to like — and you did this, so you understand YouTube, you already had a YouTube channel, you know how to video, edit it. You know how to like really have a high quality video from doing online courses, whatnot. So you took the skill set that you have and you created a community with that skill set. So someone might be listening and be like, "I'm not going on YouTube, I have no idea how that works." And I think it's important to point out like, that's okay, this is just an example. Your community might be in person, your community might be on a platform like Circle or Facebook or whatever. And the important part is to focus on what is your skill set and how can you leverage that in the community that you're trying to build?
Pat: There's communities being built on YouTube. And again, I have had experience on YouTube with my other channels so I know how the algorithm works. I know about thumbnails and titles that get clicked and whatnot, getting people to stay watching longer videos, but there are communities in this space that are crushing it on TikTok, for example. So people who are more bigger personality in terms of how extroverted they might be and how they're not as self-conscious because I'm not going to get in front of a camera and dance or do skits and stuff all the time. I mean, I have done that, but that's not like my expertise or where I want to live, but for some people, that's their forte. And they go, and they are able to find a platform that allows them to amplify who they are.
And that allows them to build a community exactly where they need to build it, that they can then take and do some amazing things with. You might be a writer, in which case okay. Let's start writing on different platforms and be a guest on different platforms or Medium, or what have you, or maybe you're more of a podcaster or it doesn't matter, but you need a place in a way for your message to get out there, to attract the people who you're going to attract. And again, it's when you put your full self into it that you attract the right people.
Because there also is the trap of, oh, I know what people like. They like Lamborghinis and mansions. So I'm going to rent a bunch of Lamborghinis and rent a mansion and hire a film crew and talk about them in my garage. And when you do that, sure you might attract some people, people's head turn, but those aren't people who follow you for you. They're following you because you were able to coordinate this effort to look and put up a front that isn't you. And when it comes to business now, to me, the best form of currency right now is attention with authenticity. And I wouldn't have it any other way.
Jillian: I love it. We so appreciate you joining us to talk about niche communities, Pokemon. I've learned so much about just everything I do. There's a whole fake market. There's the third-party seller markup and just authenticating is its own business. That's a whole other episode, like the niche community of authentication. But for now, I'm going to turn it over to Tony because it is time for the hot seat. Pat Flynn, are you ready?
Tony: All right, Pat. It's hot seat time, lightning round, last minute, quick questions. We know a little bit about your background. First question is what did you want to be when you were growing up? I know architecture was a part of your story. Was it always architecture? Were there other things in there?
Pat: I wanted to be a Major League Baseball pitcher actually. I was a Nolan Ryan fan, and I went to camps for it and I was good, I was great. And then I stopped growing and everybody else kept growing. And I was at a severe disadvantage as a result of that with my pitching speed. And so that career ended early on, but I did want to be a professional baseball player.
Jillian: Did you have a team in mind?
Pat: Any team that would take me, honestly. I just wanted to be in the game.
Jillian: I love it.
Tony: That's brilliant. Okay. Now we're going to switch gears drastically and ask you, how do you define community?
Pat: Community to me is connection through something very specific. Community in our neighborhoods, right? We all live in the same neighborhood, so therefore we're a community. What's the connection? We all live in the same neighborhood. Okay, so that's a community.
But to me online especially, it's a thing that people can have a shared language with, that they go to because they can't share that same language and understanding with anybody else. Similar to AFOLs, which are Adult Fans of Lego. That's a community. And they are adult fans of Lego who talk and nerd out about Lego, who cannot do it at home, who cannot do it in their locale, because they’re the only sort of adult nerds who talk about Lego. But when they go to AFOL meetups — there's 3,000 of them a year on Meetup.com, by the way — and events like that, you're with your people. So to me, community is the ability, it's a place where people can find their people.
Tony: I love that. All right.
Tony: Okay, let's talk to you about your bucket list. What is something that's on your bucket list that you have done?
Pat: That I have done? I have published a book and went to a bookstore with my kids and my kids found my book. That had been on my bucket list forever. And I remember blogging about that in 2010, 2011. It's like literally on the blogs still. One day, I hope that I can bring my kids to the bookstore and show them daddy's book on the bookshelf. And in 2017, I was able to get Will It Fly? into a Barnes and Noble and I turned on the camera, kids walked in, they spotted the book and it was a brilliant, brilliant bucket list moment for me.
Tony: That's beautiful. I definitely — I have a similar dream of finding my own book in the bookstore. Okay, something on your bucket list that you haven't done yet?
Pat: I want to go to Japan. I've always wanted to go to Japan, but now that I'm into Pokemon, I really want to go to Japan because that's where Pokemon started. And they got all the things like earlier, but I want to go there and eat. I want to go there and explore, and I want to go there and buy all the Pokemon.
Jillian: Is there a particular place besides Tokyo obviously, in Japan that you're interested in?
Pat: I want to visit the Pokemon centers, which are all over. There's a whole bunch, and in fact, there is something there that happens yearly called the JR Adventure Rally. JR stands for Japan Railway. And this is actually in coordination with the Pokemon Company International, where they have different stations, where you can go to a booth and get a stamp. And if you collect all the stamps, then you can redeem that booklet for a very, very special promotional card that is only available in that way. And that's been going on since 1999. And I have some of the old ones from back then, not as a participant, but as a collector. I've found them. And they're really amazing, but it would be really cool to actually be on one of those adventure rallies. And I'd have to brush up on my Japanese though.
Tony: Let's talk about books. I just love finding out what you're reading and what you're loving. This could be an all-time favorite or just something you're reading right now. What's a book that you're just loving that you want to share with the world?
Pat: Yeah, I mean, once a year, I read How to Win Friends and Influence People. And I usually read that around summer. So that's coming up next on my list. And that's just always a great refresher to keep me on point with a lot of the things that we talked about earlier, which was serve first and help others succeed and how to connect with others, especially now more important than ever as we're all, actually we all have access to each other. So then how do we even better stand out and show up for people? So How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
Tony: Rock solid. And finally, take this as far as you want, Pat. How do you want to be remembered?
Pat: I want to be remembered first and foremost by my kids as somebody who has done everything he could to put some good into the world. That's important to me. And I think that's a good barometer because I think if they appreciate that as kids of parents — and kids don't always like their parents. I'm assuming that when they're teenagers, they might not be as friendly with me and April as they are now, but we'll see. I'm imagining them sitting down in a cafe down the road. They have their own families and they're getting together and whether I'm still alive or not, they have a conversation about how much influence that I've had on other people's lives, and they have also been able to use that as an example for them in how they treat their families, how they treat their friends and colleagues, and put good into this world too.
So that's what's most important to me. I do want to be remembered for having been an agent of change in the world of education. This is sort of a long-term goal of mine. And I feel like every platform that I build is a stepping stone to this, but the ability for perhaps entrepreneurship to be taught in schools like a subject like math, reading, and science — whether a person becomes an entrepreneur or not is not what matters. What matters is they learn those skills because those soft skills even now are more important as robots are taking jobs that are more just rudimentary or whatever. These soft skills and these skills of entrepreneurship can help you succeed, whether you are an employee or an entrepreneur, an entrepreneur or in a relationship or anything.
The ability for you to find and solve problems for people, the ability for you to work in a cohesive manner with another group of people, the ability for you to present your ideas in front of a group of strangers, the ability for you to not feel so bad about yourself when you fail, but rather use that as energy to do it again but in a different way that's hopefully going to work, the ability to public speak, the ability to copyright. All these things are so key just for life in general. So it would be really amazing to have kids at imagine the second grade level — which is already happening in some communities — learn the skills of entrepreneurship. That's going to stick with them for life.
Tony: Whole other podcast conversation to be had there.
Jillian: I know, so many questions. Pat, this has been a delight. We could probably talk to you for another hour about all this. We really appreciate you taking the time. Where should people find you in the Pokemon world specifically?
Pat: Yeah. You can find me at Deep Pocket Monster on YouTube. I also have, or will eventually have a website where other things will be on at DeepPocketMonster.com, but that just might redirect to the next giveaway that I'm doing. So that could work. And then of course, on all things SPI, you can find me there, @PatFlynn on socials. I don't have any special Deep Pocket Monster socials. So it's all @PatFlynn.
Jillian: You're pretty easy to find on the interwebs.
Jillian: And just as a parting comment, do you care to explain what Deep Pocket Monster, how you came up with that name?
Pat: Yeah. So Pokemon is actually short for pocket monster and Deep Pocket Monster is sort of a double meaning, right? Deep Pocket Monster. We're going deep into Pokemon. I'm going to tell you more stories than anybody else will. I'm going to take you really close into the cards, look at the details. So we're going to go deep with the cards, but also deep pockets. I thankfully have some money to spend and I'm going to give that all away. So that's kind of what hopefully I can become known for in this space is the ability and it's already happening to offer some of the successes that I've had and pay it forward to those in need in this space too. So deep pockets and as far as money, sure. Maybe that's what attracts people, but as they get into the brand, it's wow, there's some deep level community. There's some deep level content and deep level things that I could learn here too.
Jillian: That is, it's such a like deep, for lack of a better word, such a deep meaning. I love it. Yeah well, thank you, Pat. We will give you back the rest of your day, but we appreciate you coming on to The Community Experience podcast.
Pat: Thank you. Thank you both for what you do.
Tony: Yay. Thanks Pat.
Jillian: All right. And that was Pat Flynn, Deep Pocket Monster himself.
Tony: So Pat, I just really respect and appreciate that he just isn't afraid to go out and try putting himself out into a new community. We're going to talk a little bit about that. A few other of our big takeaways, Jillian, where do you want to start?
Jillian: Props to Pat, the ultimate Pokemon trainer with his shiny-shinies because he doesn't have to do that, but you can tell, he's just innately curious and likes to try things and explore and poke around. And I think that's really set him up for success because you can't catch them all, but you can certainly try. I think the overall message that Pat had was it's just so excellent and can really help anybody looking to try something or get into something that maybe they're a little scared to get into.
So we'll just say the Pokemon in the room, which is Pat already has a huge following, at least in the online business world. He's a very well-known name and he could do anything and people will follow him. And I think it's an easy excuse for many of us to say like, "Well of course he got 60,000 followers on this random Pokemon trading card YouTube. He already has a huge following." I think it's really important to realize like yes, of course, but the things he talked about in the interview, what he did when he first started are the same things he did when he started Smart Passive Income, when he had no audience. It works, it's a proven formula, it’s why he does it the way he does it.
Tony: I think having that beginner's mind is super helpful if you've already got some success. You don't let that kind of get to your head. When you start over, you still have to start over like a total newbie. And I think Pat was unafraid to kind of do that in this space.
Jillian: Absolutely. And ultimately he didn't need to, he could have just opened Pokemon card packs on his own and not interacted on YouTube the way he does, but he loves YouTube. That's where he gets a sense of community. And so he leveraged that. And so he gets something out of it too.
I also wanted to just kind of highlight what he does and how he got started with the Pokemon crew on YouTube. And again, it's the same thing he's talked about with starting Smart Passive Income and when he started doing podcasting and all those things, and it's you find the people producing content that you identify with, you enjoy, and you reach out and you offer to help in any way if you see an opportunity where you could be of service to them, and then you create a deeper connection with that person. So when you do go out on your own, you have that support by someone who's already in the game. And I think that's huge.
Jillian: If that feels intimidating to anyone which I mean, it does to me, I think one of the best ways you can just kind of test the water and get started with something like that because not every creator or influencer will be open to it, but it's just to start participating on the platform or within the context of whatever that person is doing. So you're not asking for things, you're not trying to get one-on-one attention. You just support in a very genuine, authentic way and see if they're receptive to that. Like I commented on a TikToker's video that I really like, and I'm not really that person, but I just wanted to say, "I think you're really great.", because they were getting TikTok trolled, as it happens too often on that platform. And they responded with a little emoji, kind of a nod and sure, I don't need anything from that creator.
I just really liked them. And I wanted to give them a positive note of encouragement. It's something that simple that you can start with. It doesn't have to be this grand gesture of like, I'm going to come in and do all your email marketing for you, even just saying like, "Hey, I really appreciate your content."
Tony: Yeah, it helps to get in the comments. Go to where the people are and interact. And certainly, people who are already creating content are going to appreciate you enriching their channel with your perspective.
Jillian: Well, that's also a great shift to our final kind of takeaway that we found in the interview, which is whatever idea you have, it's been done. There are people in this space. There are experts, self-proclaimed and real, so don't let that stop you from pursuing something just because it's a busy space, it's a loud space.
Tony: That's right. There are lots of different ways of approaching very popular topics. And so even if it's a very crowded space, you can have your own approach. If you're finding that the existing voices in a crowded space are not doing it for you, then you're probably not the only one who feels that way. the most important thing is to not let the crowdedness of a given space intimidate you, if you truly feel that you do have something unique to contribute.
Tony: And talking specifically about niches as well, I think when you are looking at how to kind of carve out an independent voice for yourself, it also helps to think about how you can combine your interest in a given topic with perhaps some experience or interest that you have in something adjacent or just a style of delivery that maybe you haven't seen before.
Tony: I think it was so great to learn from Pat in a different way, not from his online business perspective, but from this other case study. I've learned so much from his other case studies that he's done, the food truck blog and all of those sites. So it was just great to get this experience from him. And I hope it was useful to everybody listening. Go niche it up, and send us what you are up to. If you are working on something that is super, super niche or thinking about doing so, we'd love to hear from you. We are @TeamSPI on Twitter, and we'd love to hear what you have to say.
Jillian: All right, take care everybody.
Tony: Thanks, y’all,bye.
You can find Pat all over the internet, but namely at SmartPassiveIncome.com, on basically every social media platform @PatFlynn, and of course don't forget, Deep Pocket Monster on YouTube.
Tony: This has been the Community Experience. For more information on this episode, including links and show notes, head to smartpassiveincome.com and click on listen.
Jillian: Your hosts are me, Jillian Benbow and Tony Bacigalupo. The Community Experience is a production of SPI Media.
Tony: Our executive producer is Matt Gartland. Our series producers are David Grabowski and senior producer Sara Jane Hess. Editing and sound designed by Duncan Brown, music by David Grabowski.
Jillian: See you next time.
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