Pat Flynn Review: How Did This Architect Build a Multi-Million Dollar Online Business? (Plus Pat Flynn’s 3 Guiding Principles)

March 25, 2024

Pat Flynn is the owner of the popular Smart Passive Income blog and podcast. He is an entrepreneur with a background in architecture, and the owner of Flynndustries, LLC, a company founded in 2008. Pat Flynn does coaching and mentorship through his podcast and various online courses. He founded the Green Exam Academy, which caters to architects. The 1-2-3 Affiliate Marketing, Power Up Podcasting, and Smart from Scratch are some courses Pat Flynn launched. He regularly hosts the Smart Passive Income Podcast. 

Pat Flynn makes up to $170,000 a month if we base it on a 2022 interview with LADbible. He has diversified his income streams. His strategy includes promoting products through his podcasts and blogs. Pat Flynn makes money from subscriptions to his online courses, books, and affiliate marketing. 

Our Pat Flynn review will discuss more details about Pat Flynn's affiliate marketing business, podcasts, and books. I will also cover Pat Flynn's Smart Passive Income or SPI Academy courses. You'll learn more of his strategies to make money online and my recommended low-cost, low-risk passive income business.

Pat Flynn Review: Pros and Cons


Pat Flynn is a reputable digital marketer and online business coach, who has a huge following on YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook.

Individual courses come with a 15-day money-back guarantee.

He's transparent with his income and had consistently updated his report from 2008 until 2019. 

You can take the courses at your own pace.

His podcasts and social media channels are updated. 


There are so many Pat Flynn courses and it could be more overwhelming for beginners.

All-Access Pass does not offer a refund.

It's difficult to find his income report for 2020 until 2023 since it's not reflected on his web page.

There were commenters who found his books difficult to finish or full of fluff. Some said he reused podcast materials and offered nothing new.


Pat Flynn's SPI Academy courses and workshops cost from $49 to $499. The All-Access Pass quarterly billing costs $179 per quarter, while the annual billing is $599.

Refund policy

They offer 15-day money-back guarantee in some courses. However, there is no refund for All-Access Pass.


Pat Flynn started as an affiliate marketer in 2008.

How Did This Architect Build a Multi-Million Dollar Online Business?

  • Using YouTube ads
  • Publishing 3 books 
  • Selling digital products
  • Selling a physical product
  • Offering paid membership with SPI Pro
  • Coaching
  • Offering cohort-based courses
  • Affiliate marketing 
  • Monetizing podcast ad
  • Acting as an adviser for other companies

This architect built a multi-million dollar online business by diversifying his income streams in 10 different ways. The photo above shows the upward trend of Pat Flynn's monthly income from 2008 to 2014. It's an accompanying photo from the Forbes article by Laura Shin published in 2014. How does Pat Flynn have different income streams? Below are Pat Flynn's 3 guiding principles, which he said helped him succeed online.

Pat Flynn's 3 Guiding Principles

  • Learn from the bad things and take advantage of the good things. Pat Flynn said unplanned things could be the best and worst things. It's a reminder that whatever you are going through, you gain something from it. This principle helps you embrace all experiences - good or bad.
  • Take pride in owning your results. This one's connected to Pat's first principle. He explained that, in business, entrepreneurs should learn that failures naturally occur. So once you have accepted this, it helps you to appreciate and cherish the success that is the by-product of your hard work and lessons.
  • Forge your own path. Pat’s definition of success is when you own your version of happiness. The uniqueness of each person gives us different approaches to achieving success. While emulating successful people could help, Pat’s advice is to accept your uniqueness and your passion. 

Who Is Pat Flynn?

Pat Flynn is a serial entrepreneur who has built a successful online business as a course creator, affiliate marketer, podcaster, and author. Pat offers courses that help people to create online businesses and earn passive income. He studied architecture at the University of California in Berkeley, California and graduated magna cum laude in 2005.

In October 2008, Pat Flynn sold pdf copies of that study guide for $19.99 each. The PDF study guide gave birth to a website called He uses the website to offer exam software and people would pay $65 to access practice tests or $275 yearly for unlimited access to his study materials. Over time, Pat has earned $200,000 in commissions from that website alone.

Pat Flynn has made 10 courses since 2016 (although he only launched it in 2017). From these courses, his earnings amounted to over $4.4 million.

Pat is a family man. He’s married to April Flynn, and they have two children. The 40-year-old business coach was born in California, United States, on August 17, 1983. He worked as an architect from February 2007 until July 2008 before discovering that he could make money online. 

What Is Pat Flynn's Net Worth in 2023?

Pat Flynn’s net worth is about $250 million, according to an article on Medium. Articles online also show his net worth is between $2 million and $3 million. A Forbes article by Laura Shin 2014 revealed that Pat Flynn had earned $2.7 million. Pat Flynn makes money from YouTube ads, publishing books, selling digital and physical products (Switchpod), and offering paid memberships to SPI Pro. He also earns through coaching, cohort-based courses, affiliate marketing, podcast ad revenue, and serving as an adviser for other companies. He has diversified his income streams and promotes products through podcasts, blogs, and media channels. 

What Is Pat Flynn's Affiliate Marketing Business?

Pat Flynn’s affiliate marketing business is a revenue source integrated into other online businesses, including podcasting, physical products, coaching, courses, and webinars. Pat Flynn started affiliate marketing in 2008. I checked his monthly income report archives, and here are the screenshots of his October 2008 and November 2008 reports. Notice that the sales from affiliate marketing appeared in the November 2008 report.

Initially, he earned from his eBook sales, Google AdSense, and private advertising. If you click, it will lead you to his Smart Passive Income site. Several years later, he’d be recognized as one of the top affiliate marketers. In 2017, Pat Flynn’s goal was to earn 50% of his earnings from affiliate marketing and 50% from selling his products.

One brand that compensates Pat Flynn as an affiliate marketer is ConvertKit, a marketing platform founded by Nathan Barry. Pat also serves as an advisor for ConvertKit, Teachable, and SquadCast.

In his December 2007 Income Report, Pat listed 12 brands and companies from which he earned affiliate commissions that totaled $105,619.13 earnings for the month of November. The list includes:

  • AWeber
  • Best Year Ever by Michael Hyatt
  • Bluehost
  • ConvertKit
  • Create Awesome Online Courses
  • LeadPages
  • Market Samurai
  • SamCart
  • Social Media Marketing World
  • Teachable
  • WP-Wishlist
  • Bonjoro

What Is Pat Flynn's Podcast?

Pat Flynn’s podcast is one of the top-selling business podcasts on iTunes, with over 60 million downloads. You get on the Smart Passive Income podcast by accessing the link through a tab on their website’s upper left portion labeled “Podcasts.” Here are four podcasts you can find on the Smart Passive Income page:

  • SPI Podcast With Pat Flynn, aka the Smart Passive Income Podcast with Pat Flynn - Pat hosts a regular show with over 60 million downloads. It features his strategies and income sources. The SPI Podcast With Pat Flynn is also one of the top business podcasts on iTunes.
  • AskPat 2.0 - AskPat 2.0 features weekly coaching calls with online business owners, bloggers, and marketers. It has 12.5 million downloads. Its last episode was on August 14, 2014.
  • Flops: A Podcast About Failure - The Flops show only had 8 episodes. The last episode aired on May 19, 2021. The show hosts included SPI’s Senior Content Manager, Karen Beattie, and Senior Writer, Rey Sylvester.
  • The Community Experience - It is a weekly podcast hosted by Jillian Benbow, the Director of Community Experience for SPI Media. The podcast already has 76 episodes. However, they posted the last episode on February 21, 2023.

What Are Pat Flynn's Books?

Pat Flynn’s books are among his sources of passive income. Here are the three book titles you could find on Amazon under his name.


Pat Flynn narrates how you can turn the general audience into superfans in this book. Superfans was published by Get Smart Books on August 13, 2019. It has 717 ratings on Amazon. People think Superfans by Pat Flynn is a game-changer for those looking to build a solid fan base. However, critical reviews also rated the book 1-3 stars.

Will It Fly?

This book came out on March 21, 2016. SPI Publications published it. It promises to guide you on testing business ideas to help you save on resources and time. The book is tagged as a Wall Street Journal bestseller. It has 4.7 out of 5 stars. However, you’d find critical reviews of the book. Some said it’s not as good as his podcasts. Others find it a “mediocre synthesis” of existing or commonsensical ideas.

Let Go

In this book, Pat Flynn shares his journey towards becoming a successful online marketer. The original book was published on October 4, 2016, while the expanded edition was released on November 29, 2017. While some readers rated it 5 stars, Pat Flynn fans and followers also said there’s “something missing” in the book. Some said that if you have read Pat’s blog, you’ll probably find no value in this book.

What Is Pat Flynn's Reputation?

Pat Flynn's reputation is mainly positive. On Quora, you would find a thread titled "Is Pat Flynn a fraud? If he makes that much passive income, why would he tell everyone?" Most people answered that Pat Flynn's transparency of how much he earns from affiliate sales commissions, book sales, and other businesses proves he is legit.

Nigel Cook, an online accountability coach from Esquimalt, British Columbia, Canada, said Pat has businesses and physical products besides his affiliate sales. 

Pat Flynn can be very detailed with his income reports. Below is the last report he posted on his Income Reports Archive. It shows his earnings from his book, “Will It Fly?” The information includes the amount of royalties from Kindle, units sold, audiobook sales, and paperback sales, among others.

Pat Flynn has a 3.8 trust score on TrustPilot, while his Smart Passive Income blog has no ratings yet. 

However, I found negative comments about his books on Amazon. For Superfans, some commenters said the book was all fluff, that Pat tried to upsell some brands or products in his book, and that it was not for already established creators looking to overcome difficult niches.

For his book Will It Fly, I found a commenter named Javier Romero who said Pat only reused his podcast material and offered nothing new. Here’s a screenshot of that comment:

What Is Pat Flynn's Smart Passive Income (SPI)?

Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income (SPI) is a blog that Pat started in 2008. Smart Passive Income differentiates itself from competitors with its diversified pathway curriculum for online entrepreneurs. As it grew, SPI became a community supporting creators with resources for building a start-up, a personal brand, or a side hustle project. Pat Flynn’s SPI Media has 12 employees and a headquarters in Columbus, Ohio.

Who Is Pat Flynn's SPI For?

Pat Flynn’s SPI is for creators in various places, including podcasting, blogging, brands, start-ups, and book authors. It offers different courses for building online businesses and earning passive income. Smart Passive Income is best for intermediate online entrepreneurs because they have a community of experts who can help answer your questions about how to grow your business. 

What Is SPI Pro?

SPI Pro is an exclusive community that Pat Flynn founded for online entrepreneurs. If you subscribe to this community, you’ll get access to a platform where like-minded business owners can meet and collaborate. Here’s a photo showing what it looks like. There’s a home page where you can find the latest posts from other members. They also have a section listing the trending posts, a member center, an announcements tab, and an events tab.

You should consider joining SPI Pro at any stage of your business because they have different pathways for beginners and established business owners. SPI Pro costs $299 every quarter or $990 a year.

What Is the SPI Academy All-Access Pass?

SPI Academy All-Access Pass is your ticket to Pat Flynn’s complete collection of tools, courses, and workshops. Some might wonder whether they offer free trial access to SPI Academy. No, Smart Passive Income does not have a free trial. But if you are an SPI Pro member, you automatically get the All-Access Pass. 

If you only want to buy an individual course, it costs $499 for a onetime payment. The single course topic is best for those who want a more DIY approach. You’ll get lifetime access to the curriculum, a course space to meet other students, and sessions with Pat Flynn.

The All-Access Pass has two options for billing. The quarterly billing costs $179 per quarter. In comparison, annual billing is $599. With the All-Access Pass, you can access the entire course catalog, join monthly workshops, and get cohort-based accelerators. They will also match you with an accountability partner and get supplemental tutorials for all their courses. 

What Are the Popular SPI Academy Courses?

1-2-3 Affiliate Marketing, Power-Up Podcasting, and Smart From Scratch are the popular SPI Academy Courses.

1-2-3 Affiliate Marketing

The 1-2-3 Affiliate Marketing course is for those who have established their online presence, regardless of their target audience size. The key requirement is to be on social media with an email list or some traffic. 1-2-3 Affiliate Marketing costs $499.

How Does 1-2-3 Affiliate Marketing Help You Make Money?

The 1-2-3 Affiliate Marketing helps you make money by teaching you strategies and tools to establish relationships, find great products, and effectively share them with your network. In this course, Pat Flynn will help you build an action plan. You’ll get lifetime access to the video lectures you can take at your own pace.  

What Do You Get With 1-2-3 Affiliate Marketing?

  • At least 28 video lessons and notes
  • Affiliate Marketing Recipe Book
  • Lifetime access to video lectures
  • Private weekly Zoom call with Pat
  • Access to 1-2-3 Affiliate Marketing at SPI’s private circle
  • Dedicated work space in SPI academy
  • Messaging access to connect with other SPI academy members
  • Free checklist for podcast recording
  • 15-day money-back guarantee

Power-Up Podcasting

Power-Up Podcasting is a step-by-step guide to launching and growing a podcast. Pat Flynn is a popular podcaster and has made more than 1,500 podcast episodes since 2010. He's also helped start the Tim Ferris Show. His videos in this course will show you examples of engaging content and how to create them. Power-Up Podcasting costs $499.

How Does Power-Up Podcasting Help You Make Money?

Power-Up Podcasting helps you make money by showing you how to create, launch, and grow engaging shows. It’ll guide you from beginning to launch. Part of the module is Podcast Monetization, where you’ll learn how to advertise and find sponsors, including affiliate marketing.

What Do You Get With Power-Up Podcasting?

  • At least 59 video lessons and notes
  • 3 bonus lessons on growing your audience and podcast recording checklist
  • Lifetime access to video lectures
  • Private weekly Zoom call with a podcasting expert
  • Access to Power-Up Podcasting work space at SPI Academy
  • Messaging access to connect with other SPI academy members
  • 15-day money-back guarantee

Smart From Scratch

Smart From Scratch is a 3-stage course for aspiring entrepreneurs to conceptualize, refine, and test a business idea. Pat Flynn previously offered it to his selected students. Smart From Scratch costs $149. 

How Does Smart From Scratch Help You Make Money?

Smart From Scratch helps you make money by ensuring your business ideas are viable. Starting a business requires finding the right strategy, and this Pats course will teach you how to find, test, and build a business. 

What Do You Get With Smart From Scratch?

At least 21 video lessons

Weekly meeting with Pat Flynn

Replays to the last four calls

Access to SPI Academy community

Free course on website building

15-day money-back guarantee

What Are the Other SPI Academy Courses?

The other SPI Academy courses are categorized to cater to your different needs. Whether you need to learn about business fundamentals, audience building, podcasting, marketing, monetization or income boosting, or content creation, Pat Flynn has designed a course that could help you.

Heroic Online Courses

This course will help you create classes to sell to others. Pat has developed at least 10 courses since 2016. Heroic Online Courses costs $499. Here, he will show you how to:

  • Find a niche
  • Develop your course material
  • Make a sales page
  • Strategize your launch
  • Change your mindset
  • Film your course

Build Your Own Brand

The BYOB or Build Your Own Brand is a 5-day challenge that Pat offers for free. It aims to help you define, strategize, and build a branded site. Each day, you’ll learn one module. It covers brand name selection up to content planning. 

  • Day 1 - Choosing a brand
  • Day 2 - Setting up your website’s backend and learning SEO basic settings
  • Day 3 - Building your homepage
  • Day 4 - Promoting your brand
  • Day 5 - Planning content

Community Business Blueprint

This course will help you start your online community. If you already have one, it will teach you how to improve. You’ll learn to choose a community business model based on your goals. Pat will also teach you ways to identify the ideal member and market your community. Community Business Blueprint costs $499.

Email Marketing Magic

The Email Marketing Magic will provide you with a guide to know what emails create more engagement. You’ll learn to whom you should send it and when. This course comes with templates that you could use. Email Marketing Magic costs $499. It has at least 34 video lessons plus resources on ConvertKit.

  • Module 1 - Foundations
  • Module 2 - Optimization of Entry Points
  • Module 3 Part I - How To Grow Your List
  • Module 4 Part I - What To Send
  • Module 5 Part I - Email Optimization
  • Module 1 Part II - Tagging and Segmentation
  • Module 2 Part II - Integrations
  • Module 3 Part II - Automations

Traffic Booster Workshop

This workshop promises to teach you how to get traffic to your website, podcast, or social media channels. Traffic Booster is 90-minute long and costs $49. In this workshop you’ll learn about:

  • Your traffic type
  • Content creation
  • Collaborations
  • Strategies that Pat Flynn uses

Podcast Advertising Made Easy Workshop

In this workshop, Pat Flynn will teach you ways to pitch to sponsors, create relevant ads, and keep your podcast’s momentum after finding your first sponsors. Podcast Advertising Made Easy costs $49. Here are some things you’ll learn in this workshop:

  • Podcast monetization
  • Finding sponsors
  • Pitching to sponsors
  • Advertising your products
  • Working with an agency

Amp'd Up Podcasting

This course helps podcasters who feel stuck on what to do next. Pat Flynn offers 18 video lessons to help you automate your podcast production process, market your show, and increase profit. Amp'd Up Podcasting costs $499. Here are some things you'll learn from this course:

  • Setting up a content calendar
  • Using editing and publishing solutions
  • Podcasting marketing audit
  • Promoting your products
  • Building podcast funnel

Video Podcasting Playbook Workshop

Learn video and audio podcasting in this workshop. Pat Flynn will teach you how to repurpose your podcast to create video content that could help grow your followers. This workshop costs $49, and you’ll learn:

  • Video Podcasting
  • Different styles and formats
  • Best practices in recording and publishing
  • Video podcast promotion

A to Z Webinars

This course details creating, promoting, and delivering engaging webinars to help grow your business in at least 39 video lessons. For Pat Flynn, making webinars and workshops is a great way to connect with your audience. This course costs $499, and here’s what you are going to learn:

  • Different equipment and software
  • Ways to promote webinars
  • Preparing presentations
  • Going on live webinars

YouTube From Scratch

This course will teach you how to create a YouTube channel. But if you already have one, Pat Flynn and videographer Caleb Wojcik will show you different ways to optimize your channel. It costs $499. Here are some things you’ll learn from YouTube From Scratch:

  • Choosing a niche
  • Standing out from other creators targeting the same niche
  • Decoding analytics to understand YouTube
  • Discovering methods of monetization other than YouTube ads

Pricing for Profit Workshop

In this workshop, Matt Gartland, Co-CEO of SPI Media, will introduce innovative pricing methods to optimize your profits. Pricing for Profit workshop has 6 video lessons, including the 12-minute bonus Pricing Tactics. The Pricing for Profit workshop is only available for those who purchase the All-Access Pass, which costs $179 per quarter or $599 per year.

Cash Flow Fundamentals

Learn about building a healthy mindset, habits, and principles for managing cash flow. This is another workshop created by Matt Gartland, who founded 3 digital agencies. The Cash Flow Fundamentals aims to guide you in making sound business decisions. Similar to the Pricing for Profit workshop, it is only with the All-Access Pass. 

Click and Convert Workshop

Nail the essential elements for hooking your audience. Whether it’s a YouTube video or a blog post, the Click and Convert workshop helps you incorporate strategies to write an excellent copy and gain more audience. Good People Digital founder Darrell Vesterfelt joins Pat Flynn as an instructor in this workshop. Click and Convert costs $49.

Productivity with Purpose Workshop

Productivity with Purpose Workshop - Pat Flynn will teach you how to prioritize your tasks using various tools and strategies. This $49-workshop includes the following topics:

  • Tone and goal-setting
  • Prioritization
  • Time management 
  • Productivity tools and hacks
  • Hiring help

Is Affiliate Marketing Worth It?

Affiliate marketing is worth it if you have already established your expertise in a niche or built a solid number of followers as an influencer or content creator. In affiliate marketing, you earn commissions selling other people’s services or products. You don’t just sell a product. You find products valuable to your audience. But people buy from those whom they know or trust.

Building a community that will buy from you could take much time and effort for research, content, and scaling. In his article on Ahrefs, SEO expert Bill Widmer said the average time to make money as an affiliate marketer is 6 to 12 months. Even Pat Flynn explains that trust is the most significant factor to win in affiliate marketing.

Pat Flynn teaches that you can earn commissions through affiliate marketing through blogs, podcasts, email marketing, or your YouTube channel. However, a major downside of affiliate marketing is your lack of control over other people’s products. It could affect other people’s trust in you when the product does not meet the client’s expectations. This is why you must consistently research which products are valuable to your audience, not to mention the research and preparations you must do to create excellent content. 

Related Articles on Affiliate Marketing

  • Wealthy Affiliate - This course by Kyle Loudoun includes a module for choosing a niche, building websites, and rich affiliate compensation plans.
  • Savage Affiliates - Savage Affiliates by Franklin Hatchett will introduce you to various affiliate platforms where you can find potentially valuable products for your target audience. It also has a done-for-you affiliate system to help you save time.
  • Digital Worth Academy - Digital Worth Academy by Sara Young and Andrew Hansen is an all-in-one online training course, software suite, and coaching program. It provides you with a blueprint for making money online through affiliate marketing.

My Recommended Low-Cost Low-Risk Passive Income Business

Local lead generation is a more low-cost and low-risk passive income business model than affiliate marketing. In local lead generation, you build a website that you rent out to a local business in your area. Then, you rank your site using Google’s free organic traffic. But, in affiliate marketing, you purchase traffic. Otherwise, it will take you longer to get customers and earn commissions. You need to publish content multiple times a day to drive more traffic. Based on the 2023 HubSpot Blog’s Web Traffic & Analytics Report, 36% of sites that publish many times daily get 1K to 15K monthly visitors. 

Local lead generation is also low-risk because you control your online business more. You own the website. It is your digital asset, and you get to select the renters. But in affiliate marketing, you don’t own the product, and the product owner can decide anytime whether to continue offering it or pull it out from the market. Thus, there is a risk of not getting paid. 

The competition in affiliate marketing also makes it harder for new entrants to keep up with dominant players. The Forrester Report by Rakuten reported that 81% of marketers in the US are using affiliate marketing. 

Local lead generation

The best thing about local lead generation is earning a predictable income. I earn $2,000 monthly from this tree care site I made in 2015. Unlike in affiliate marketing, I don’t need to sell products and rely on commissions. I earn 100% of the profit. In affiliate marketing, you get only 5% to 30% in commission, according to Influencer Marketing Hub. Local lead generation is real passive income at work. Join our local lead generation program now. 

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Ippei Kanehara

$52K per month providing lead generation services to small businesses is for digital hustlers, industry leaders and online business owners.

His #1 online business recommendation in 2024, is to build your own lead generation business.

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