The Smart Passive Income Podcast is a big operation. I believe it just passed the 6.5 million download mark. The guy behind the show, Pat Flynn, is an online marketer who purportedly makes $40-50K a month—passively.

Hmm. I’m intimately familiar with Flynn’s line of work. And I know a lot of his claims can be substantiated. In fact, I work for a digital advertising agency, and I’ve contributed to several success stories not unlike his. But frankly, I smell a huckster.


Now I’m not saying Flynn is selling snake oil or anything. And I’m sure he’s a decent human being. But the whole “passive income” thing is a misnomer. It insinuates zero maintenance.

I realize this is just a hook, and even the host admits “earning any type of income online takes a lot of hard work, a lot of patience and a little bit of luck too,” I still feel like he has a “you too, can make millions without lifting a finger” thing going on.

Online marketing is heavily reliant on search engines, specifically Google, and ranking a site where people are going to see it gets harder by the day. As website creation approaches everyman utility, the number of competitors in organic (free) search for any given keyword will continue to grow exponentially.

Of course there are short cuts to that coveted first page of Google, but ill-gotten gains are typically temporary. And legitimate wins are usually hard won. Brass tacks: it ain’t easy to get your product in front of online shoppers.

Flynn gets his money through affiliate marketing—links on his “resources” page on his blog (or embedded live reads on his shows) that point to product pages on brand sites. Both he and his client, Blue Host for example, can see exactly how much traffic he’s driving. And he’s getting a taste of that traffic’s money. Each sale Flynn drives has an agreed up dollar figure associated with it.

Make no mistake, I’m not slighting Flynn. He’s a legitimate entrepreneur, and he has a clever thing going. But his venture is a complex web of social media optimization, studio production, online networking, and media buying. You’re not going to get where he is by simply listening to his podcast every day.

AskPat, Flynn’s new show, is the epitome of this approach. This new mini podcast features a question from a listener. And some of the advice is helpful, even for seasoned online marketers. The production quality is good, and Flynn is charismatic and intelligent.

But there’s no magic here. Even Flynn admits the real secret, like in any discipline, is many hours logged and vigilance. Maybe I’m just jealous. But I think this show a little reductive. And it’s certainly not going to make you 40K next month.