Pat Flynn’s Breakthrough Blogging Review: BIG Waste of Money

UPDATE: I consider the Breakthrough Blogging materials a waste of money.  DO NOT pay to part of the community if Pat Flynn opens it up again.

For those that follow my blog you might remember the Podcast Answer Man Review I did for the Only72 course a couple months ago.   Since that was only 1 part of the 6 courses you got when you bought the Only72 course package I thought I'd post another review of a different course.

This time I will be reviewing the private Breakthrough Blogging community which is run by Pat Flynn.  He's well known in the internet marketing space and included a membership to this community in the Only72 package.  So let's see what's good, what's bad, and what is ugly.

Breakthrough Blogging Review

The Breakthrough Blogging site is divided up into a few different sections.  There is a forum, a Library with video and audio content, and you can also send questions via Ask Pat.

Breakthrough Blogging Library

breakthrough blogging reviewThe Library is essentially a section with videos of Pat Flynn talking about different topics related to blogging and running a website on WordPress.  What I like about the setup is that the are videos, downloadable MP3 files, and PDF transcripts.  If you'd rather listen to the audio instead of watching a video or read the transcript it's nice that is provided.  Not ever tutorial has a PDF though.

You might remember one of my complaints about the Podcast Answer Man course was that it was only a video course.  A bit odd since Cliff Ravenscraft calls himself the “Podcast Answer Man.”  I like how Breakthrough Blogging makes the content available in different ways since some people prefer reading vs listening or vice versa.  If you want to download the audio files and put them on an MP3 player, you can do that.

With each tutorial you can click and leave a comment if you want.  Some people seem to be quite active commentators in this section.  Most of the topics are questions or issues that were submitted by readers of the Breakthrough Blogging community.

Pat Flynn offers some solid advice in his Library but some of the advice in my opinion feels a bit surface level.  What do I mean by that?  Well it's not bad advice but it isn't anything which I feel like is really killer.  Hope that makes sense.

Breakthrough Blogging Forum

 breakthrough blogging forumWhoever the developer was for the Breakthrough Blogging forum (and website) kudos to them.  The forum is one of the cleanest phpBB forums I have ever seen.  He must have had to do a fair amount of work to get it to look that nice and to integrate with WordPress.

I also respected he elected to use forum software instead of BuddyPress and bbPress.  Even though both of those are built by Automattic, the company behind WordPress, if there is even a moderate amount of forum users posting in bbPress it will crash.  (The typically response you get from a WordPress developer is, “Hire a PHP developer to fix it.”)

Honestly the biggest reason you would revisit Breakthrough Blogging is the forum.  It's a nice community of people who want to build full-time online incomes.  The Breakthrough Blogging forum has a “Challenges” section where Pat Flynn lays down different challenges for site owners.  For instance, in November he wanted people to call a member of their audience to understand more about them.  The forum also has a Resources, General Discussion, Introductions, and other sections as well.

To be honest the forum could be more useful, but it is not that active.  If you notice in the picture a lot of threads are  dormant.  I asked a question on there the other day and it didn't get a response.  The nice thing about a private forum is that not everyone sees it, but that can be a double-edge sword.

UPDATE 4-1-14: Checked the forum yesterday.  Seems to be even more barren and inactive now.  Also I don't see Pat Flynn posting at all or the community manager he hired for Breakthrough Blogging there.  A public forum that is inactive is sad but a private forum that is not getting updated is even sadder. 

Another issue with the forum is that it lacks functionality, like the ability to search threads.  For those that like to private message other users there is no way to do that and you can't change or customize your profiles if you want.  Your stick with the original settings which is really annoying.  I assume this might have to do with the way the developer integrated WordPress with phpBB.

It seemed like the idea behind Breakthrough Blogging was to mainly to build out this forum.  If that was the case it would have been a better idea to go with MyBB, which I prefer, but I guess you can't have everything.

Still the forum aspect of the site was good idea, it's just not that active.  Remember despite what social media “gurus” might tell you about forums they are still quite useful in many circumstances.  When I asked whether forums were better than social media, it was rhetorical question.

Ask Pat

ask pat flynnThe “Ask Pat” section is pretty simple.  You can submit a question that you want Pat Flynn to talk about or answer.  The community will vote up a question if they think it is relevant and something they are curios to hear about too.  If you click the “See Questions We've Answered” you will see questions that were answered by Pat Flynn and his team.

News

There is also a news section with updates regarding the Breakthrough Blogging community.  Again pretty basic and not much to say other than check it if you want to see what is going on in the community.

Breakthrough Blogging Pros

Breakthrough Blogging is a nice private community of people who all have a goal to build a successful website or several online businesses.  Some of the resources you might find helpful depending on where you are in your internet career.

One thing I like about Breakthrough Blogging is that there is no recurring cost to be part of the community.  With most private forums and membership communities there is usually a monthly or yearly fee to stay a member.  You only pay once, $200, for the Only72 set of courses and it seems you are a member for life.  Unless I am missing something, which I don't believe I am.

A nice giveaway Pat Flynn provides when are part of Breakthrough Blogging is his book “Let Go” in a downloadable PDF.  I haven't had a chance to read it though so I couldn't really say whether this is a positive add-on.

Breakthrough Blogging Cons

Like I said above it would be nice if the forum was more active as there would be a reason to revisit the site.  Currently there really is no reason for me log onto Breakthrough Blogging.  It does not seem like Pat Flynn and the people behind it care that much about keeping the forum threads current.

Kind of ironic since it is his community and he wrote a whole blog post about getting a forum started and keeping people active on the Smart Passive Income blog.  I can you from personal experience from running my own forum that I try to not let any post or thread go unanswered for more than 24 hours, 48 hours maximum.  I want people to feel like their questions or thoughts are being heard even if it is only by 1 person.  If let things a thread site dormant it is unlikely that person will come back again to post.

Probably what they should do is pay moderators and people that are really knowledgeable to post in the forum.  This suggestion might make some people cringe but it is not a uncommon way to get a forum started.  Besides Pat Flynn is already paying someone to handle the community anyway and he makes plenty of money via affiliate marketing.

Some of the advice is a bit iffy in my opinion in the forum.  I'm impressed by the work some of the people do with certain niche topics in blogging. but the reality is that not every topic is going to be profitable or provide full-time income no matter what you do.  Nobody wants to say this to someone publicly though.

Also I don't know who started this myth of “passive income” but it honestly does not exist.  Sure, the internet is great for earning income a lot faster than you could otherwise and you can make money while you sleep, but don't be fooled.  Most people that make a full-time living online actually work long hours but they like what they do.

I guess you won't agree with all the advice given anywhere, but this will be true of any other online community you join.

Breakthrough Blogging Review Conclusion

I guess the real question in this Breakthrough Blogging review comes down this, Would I pay to be part of the community separately from the Only72 pacakge?  Mmm… No, probably not.

If you love Pat Flynn and and shit bricks anytime he puts up a new post or podcast on his Smart Passive Income blog then probably no matter what I say about Breakthrough Blogging you will want to join anyway.

Most internet marketers would probably sell an organ to have as many raving fans as this guy.  He makes roughly $40,000+ a month with his affiliate links, so I seriously doubt he cares what my Breakthrough Blogging review says.

Still, I hope this Breakthrough Blogging review has helped people out there that were considering joining the community.  If you are part of the community please leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts about it.  If you have any additional questions about feel free to contact me privately via email as well.

Only72 Podcast Answer Man Course Review

podcast answer man

A few weeks ago I purchased a set of courses via Only72.com.  The courses were from various internet gurus that specializes in different fields.  One of the main reasons I bought this Only72 set of courses was that one of them was a podcasting course by Cliff Ravenscraft, aka the Podcast Answer Man.  Cliff is pretty well known for providing great free podcasting advice and has a few paid courses.  Since Only72 was $200 and most of his courses go for $100 I thought it was a pretty good deal to jump on.  (The Only72 set of courses ran for only 3 days at the beginning of July.  It is “Only72!”)

I thought the Podcast Answer Man course would be useful for me since I am embarking on podcasting with my CarNewsCafe colleagues and have other audio content that I would like to make for other websites.  I am going to share my thoughts about the Podcast Answer Man Course in a review here.  This should help other if you are thinking of paying for another one of these Only72 set of courses in the future or if you are considering buying a podcasting course from Cliff Ravenscraft.

Before your Record your First Podcast

This is a MP3 download you can listen to and a PDF file that you can read.  Basically it is Cliff Ravenscraft talking about how you need to have a clear vision and set goals for what your podcast wants to accomplish before you start investing time, money, and effort in it.

If you think you can just start a podcast, you really need to think again.  It is not something that will be easy and not something and you should have an interest and passion for whatever you are going to talk about since an audience will be able to feel that.  Your podcast should have a “Mission Statement” essentially before you even think of buying equipment or recording anything.

Like a lot of businesses and websites these days the most successful ones cater to a certain group of people with a certain interest, aka a niche.  He encourages people to figure what audience you want to appeal to and how you will make your show engaging.  If you don't have a clear idea or set goals, you probably will not be able to start and keep a podcast going.  Cliff mentions you need, “Focus, Focus and more Focus” which I agree with.

While this might surprise some people I think this was the very useful part of this Only72 Podcast AnswerMan course.  Essentially this is what you should do before you start a new website or blog too but it is good to hear it again in audio format.  There was great advice in that 30 minute MP3 even though I knew most of what he was saying.  Sometimes you just need to hear the same thing again.

WordPress for Podcasters

The Podcast Anwer Man broke these part of the podcasting course into 8 short videos that varied 10-20 minutes in length.  Let me just say if you know how to use WordPress then the first 2 videos are a complete waste of your time.  Kind of felt like a way to get you to sign-up for BlueHost, using his affiliate link obviously.  This made me flashback to going to the BlogPaws conference recently.  If you don't know how to use WordPress why would you show-up to a blog conference?  If you don't know how to use WordPress why would you buy the Only72 courses?  I don't know seems weird to me but I guess you have to try to cater to a wide audience with these Internet products.

Also the 7th video was a Q&A that was a bit basic for my taste.  There was a first question about HostGator vs BlueHost.  FYI for anyone else they are owned by the same company (Endurance International Group) and as of 2 weeks ago share the datacenter, which isn't a good thing.    

I found the other part of the course useful though as the Podcast Anwer Man explains how to use and setup the PowerPress WordPress plugin which is for podcasting.  I will use it in the future as I have searched around and honestly don't see anything better.  The videos that show how he setups the podcasts with PowerPress are useful in my opinion.

In one of the videos he  explains why you need to get media hosting and not use your own or current shared hosting provider.  You probably can get away with storing the MP3 files on a shard hosting server but you don't want to do that for the long haul.  If a lot of people are listening to your podcast online and downloading it your account with get shutdown for excessive resource usage.  Cliff uses Libsyn, Liberated Syndication, and video 5 shows how it works and what the backend looks like.

Video 6 is useful since he shows how to setup Feedburner for podcasts so people can access your podcast from RSS feeds and so it will push out out out to iTunes.  Since I don't know how to do this I obviously found this informative.  I didn't really like video 8 since that is basically another basic WordPress video.

No PDF was included with the “WordPress for Podcasters” videos.

Equipment Options for Every Budget

This video goes though what equipment that Cliff Ravenscraft uses to record his podcasts.  The video is a bit long at 1 hour and 44 minutes long but it was useful to watch.  (Well you might listen to parts of it like I did.)  This gave me an idea of where I could possibly go with my audio equipment when I get really professional and serious about recording podcasts and videos.

Cliff talks about his setup and some of the equipment he uses but he does not think are required for recording a podcast.  This includes a Compressor Limiter Gate which helps make it so that if someone is calling into your show the audio recording quality is better.  He goes through explaining everything in pretty good detail.

I like how he explains how to setup and configure some of the equipment in the video, and he clearly knows a lot about setting up and configuring audio equipment.  The Podcast Anwer Man also clearly explains what the benefits are of getting certain pieces of equipment.

It doesn't necessarily make sense to me though that he would make this video part of the paid podcasting A to Z series.  I guess Cliff doesn't like to reveal all his tricks and tips for free, which I understand.  He does sell Podcast Answer Man equipment packages so you can get the same basic setup he has.  I think he would probably make more using affiliate links for these products rather though.

2 PDF downloads were included with this showing you the different setups and another was on the slides in the video.

Mixer Basics

This video was really useful to me since I had no idea how audio mixers worked.  The Podcast Answer Man clearly shows what is what on a mixer and describes what the  settings mean.  This is part of the course has given me a lot of more confidence in mixer shopping now that I know what to look for and what not look for.  Also I know how to work and setup a mixer.  I thought this was the most useful part of the Only72 Podcast Answer Man course.

The video runs 1 hour and 14 minutes and is there is a PDF you can download showing the slides.

Guide to Recording Co-Hosts, Guests and Telephone Interviews

This talks about the different people you can have on a show and the various situations where you record them.  So obviously there is live “in the studio” and remote.  Cliff again goes different equipment options and setups you can use to record different people.

This was useful to hear about the different possibilities and equipment.  I sort of wish he talked about how to deal with slow or bad internet connections but I am not sure there is a way.

This was 1 hour and 5 minutes and there was PDF.

Passive Income Strategies for Podcasters

This was a set of 4 videos done with Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income.  For those that don't know Pat Flynn is a internet marketer's wet dream.  He has an extremely loyal audience that will readily buy anything he says.  He makes $30,000 a month just from his BlueHost affiliate links.

While some of what Pat Flynn and Cliff Ravencraft talked about in this course were useful, such as email marketing, I found it a bit annoying.  It felt like webinar that is designed to get you to buy something.  I mostly skipped through the videos.   Most of what they went over about affiliate marketing I know.

A PDF was included.

Conclusion

While certain people will take away more or less from this Only72 podcasting course depending on their skill level and knowledge, I do feel like I got my money's worth.  The Podcast Anwer Man's Podcating A to Z course runs $2,000.  Since I definitely have that type of money (right now but I will someday) it was nice to be able to get some of the information a little less.

I wish the course was designed more for experienced writers, like myself, who are interested in getting into podcasting.  This seems like the largest and best segment to market to in my opinion.  Of course like I said before I get he wants to have a course for a wide range of people.

What I really do not understand is why Cliff didn't record some of the shows and make them available as MP3s so you can listen to them on the go.  Seriously?  He is the Podcast Answer Man after all and I assume a lot of his audience and fans prefer listening to shows.  This is probably my biggest complaint about the course.  Even if the some of the videos are not ideal to listen to, it still would have been nice to have a downloadable MP3.

It should be noted I didn't review the first part of the course “Learn How to Podcast” since that is available for free via the Podcast Answer Man website here.  Since that is something anyone can view I didn't feel a need to include it in this review.

I will be reviewing the other courses part of the Only72 package as well so make sure to follow this blog via RSS feed if you want to make sure to catch the other reviews.

You can also follow me on Twitter @AdamYamada