Pat Flynn: Passive Income Means Working Your Butt Off

Pat Flynn may have the only story—I mean, the world’s only story now and forever—of a rise to great entrepreneurial success that began from taking a test.

Lawyers and professors, maybe, though even in their case the credit probably goes to the work and creativity outside of the test that gave them their credentials.

For Pat Flynn, the almighty guru of passive income, the test in question was the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) exam.  Flynn was taking this test as a way of furthering his architecture career—it was a credential that very few of his colleagues had.

Finding the test to be very difficult, Flynn came up with a novel solution, one that shows his drive and

ingenuity.  He thought that if he developed a blog meant to explain how to prepare for the test, that would cause him to learn the material.

Learn the material, he did.  He passed the exam with flying colors, gaining himself a nice raise in the process. However, as is often the case, good news was followed by bad, and Flynn was actually laid off.

While figuring out his game plan to bounce back, he noticed that his blog was getting all sorts of hits.  Apparently, others out there who wanted to prep for the LEED exam appreciated the way Flynn laid out the information in a clear, effective way.  He’d satisfied a legitimate need.

From there, it was an e-book on preparing for the exam, which netted $8,000 for Flynn in his first month.  Hey, Flynn was as surprised as anyone.  He wasn’t trying to get rich with the book, just like he hadn’t started the blog to develop an adsense account, etc.

But now that Flynn knew he had a knack for explaining things and for acquiring passive income.  Therefore, he had a brand.  With it, he started   From there, it was similar educational sites on security guard training, how to create a clickable map, and how to start a food truck.  This latter site,, now has a podcast with advice on various topics from practicing pros.  The “resources” section goes so far as to list prices of food trucks and where to buy them.

Flynn’s model, in the early going and since then, has been to be thorough and comprehensive.  He started as a student of the LEED, and then became a student of other topics.  He didn’t need to be an expert at, say, food trucks, since he did the hard work to become one.

He also poured in long hours each week to build his audience for his various sites and e-books.  It was only then that the funds started to roll in.

One of the reasons that entrepreneurs should heed the story of Pat Flynn is that he had no intention of going through some get rich quick scheme.  In fact, he counsels that potential passive income experts do just what he did: focus on quality.  When he began putting together guides for the LEED exam, he had no profit motive.  Perhaps that is why his work was of high quality: the work itself was its only goal.

Another thing to take from Flynn’s passive income career is that it shows that without special training, access, or opportunities, one can become wealthy and successful.  What’s mostly required is hard work.