Project 24, formally known in a previous version as “Niche Site School”, is an course led by Jim Harmer and Ricky Kesler.
Why is it called project 24? The goal of the course is to teach you how to replace your current 9-5 income with passive income within 24 months.
Does this system really work?
Income School has a TON of quality content to learn from, so there is no shortage of information.
But how does it hold up against other methods of creating passive income online? Is it worth the cost of the course?
Jim and Ricky are from Idaho. They began making niche websites back in 2010 and in 2015 they decided to launch Income School.
You may have seen their popular YouTube Channel that has a ton of videos on SEO and online marketing.
Jim was flat broke when he started listening to a podcast on how to make money online. He started learning about niche sites, and created one on his own about photography.
The website took off, and he became very popular for his photography e-book which taught the basics of photography.
He became so well known that he was listed as one of the top 40 photographers in the world.
His niche site made him a millionaire by 32.
Ricky was a manager at HP for a few years prior to linking up with Jim and working with him on Income School. He is a father of 4.
Jim and Ricky’s knowledge on advanced SEO has been questioned, and some have called them out saying that most of their followers are beginners making no money online.
There are going to be haters for ANY course. Here is a snippet from a reddit thread that contains some pretty strong opinions.
Despite inevitable criticism, the duo maintains a very large and dedicated audience.
Project 24 teaches you how to create your own websites and leverage them to make you money through affiliate links.
This is no simple or fast process.
There is a LOT of content included with this course, and for some, that can be a huge plus.
As you will see, I don't have an affiliate link to Brian's course.
If you end up buying them, I will not be making a dime, but since you guys asked me to write an updated review, I thought I'd try and give you one.
So in the following review, I'm going to go into details and be answering the questions that you really want to know the answer to.
No messing around.
But before I start this in-depth review that will cover every module, a bit about me..
Until 2014, like many of the people I review, I was working in a corporate job from 9 to 5.
Not only was it soul-crushing, but it didn't give me any time to pursue my bigger goals.
That was until I discovered a method to rank sites organically, generating free leads for my clients.
That website you see above, for the tree care company, I created that site in 2015, and since then I haven't had to touch or update it:
It has gained me a passive income of $2000 a month.
That's more than $100,000 for one site, in 5 years.
That's the magic of the Lead Generation business, it's by far the best model to generate passive income. If you want to know more, just hop over here!
But enough about me: time for an in-depth review of the Project 24 course!
Project 24 contains a bundle of courses that are constantly being updated, with 60 Steps to a Successful Site being the flagship course, that I will be covering in more detail.
But there are almost ten more courses, from Picking Profitable Niches to an SEO Course, from Email Marketing to a Traffic Online Course. These guys really have all their bases covered!
Project 24 Course
For others that have trouble getting through a massive amount of content, it might discourage efficient progress just because it seems so daunting.
In addition, monetization comes in pretty late towards the end of all of the modules.
The cool thing is, Jim & Ricky make a pretty likable and entertaining duo, and they do a great job of explaining everything clearly in their videos.
A lot of extras are included in the course, which makes it seem like a very good value, but it could be seen as a con because it may sidetrack some students.
They’ve made it as digestible as possible however, by breaking the course down into 60 steps that walk you through the system.
The 60 Step Checklist
Through the 60 step checklist, Jim & Ricky make it very easy even for a complete newcomer to the world of blog-building and content-creation what must be done and in what order.
There is no way you can go wrong!
Here is a breakdown of their 60 step checklist by subject:
The Very First Actions (Steps 1-2)
Jim and Ricky begin the course where every course should begin: picking your niche that you will stick to through thick and thin.
Until your site becomes a source of income.
They provide you with a list of 1011 (yep, 1k+) potential niches to choose from, with a comment next to each one on what might be the pitfalls and strong-points for each.
To be honest, I've never seen such a complete list, I was shocked!
Just to give you an idea, I'll just 15 out of the hundreds of niches starting with the letter A provide you with a list of juicy topics.
The guys really go in depth with their research:
The duo makes a point that you have to follow these core ideas when choosing a niche for your blog:
- Choose something you love and are passionate about
- Choose something that you are above average at
- Choose a topic people come to you for advice about
- Choose something that you've spent time researching
- Choose something you see misrepresented and want to set straight
Jim & Ricky then go through the elements of a successful niche, to be super sure you make the right choice:
- Search the volume: Are there any magazines on the topic? Are there more than one successful YT channels on the topic? If so, you're good to go!
- Focus on a topic and not to a product: a site on a product becomes obsolete very very quickly.
- When you niche down, beware of artificial distinctions, ie. things that you think will niche down your interest, but in reality don't in Google search.
- You need the future proof of the niche to be on the uprise in Google Trends.
- Google promotes YMYL Sites less: YMYL means your money, your life, and is about subjects that could bring harm to potential readers of your blog: ie. financial advise, heart surgery, mental health...
- Diverse Monetization Opportunities: Will your blog make you money through traffic coming to your blog? Will you be able to monetize with ads or affiliate marketing?
WordPress (Steps 3-6)
Ok, you now have your niche nailed down:
Time to make things happen and make your ideas become true online.
That's what these steps are for, to create your WordPress blog and set it up.
The steps are
1. Sign up for Hosting and Install WordPress.
2. Get a Logo to Brand Your Site.
3. Sort out Your Themes and Plugins
4. Calibrate Your WordPress Settings
While signing up to a host and installing WordPress isn't anything to get excited about, Jim & Ricky's opinion for the choice of your logo are pretty interesting.
In fact, the provide you with more options than that:
- 99 Designs if you have the cash to splash.
- 48 Hours Logo if you go with the suggestion.
- Stock Image method choosing an image from VectorStock.com.
- DIY if you are a graphic designer and can do it yourself.
- The No Logo Method: think about it when you earn your first cash.
Next comes the choice of the theme: the first one was actually designed for Project 24 Students just starting out, so that's the one that is recommended:
- Acabado: Acabado isn’t designed to be the most customizeable theme, but it’s incredibly fast and the simplest WordPress theme among the 3.
- X Theme: It works well with tons of plugins. It has a nice visual builder called Cornerstone that once you’re used to, works great for building great webpages. And it’s got a lot of built-in shortcodes that make it easy to add buttons, boxes, accordions, maps, and a wide variety of other features.
- Divi: Divi has become really popular in the last few years. In fact, it’s the theme we’re using right now on Income School. One of their key features is the drag and drop nature of their page builders. While the majority of the content we create is in posts and we don’t build a lot of highly visual pages, it’s still really nice to be able to build pages in such an easy way.
At the end of the day according to Jim & Ricky, you're good to go with any of the 3: Acabado for newbies, X Theme for Intermediates, and Divi for experts.
When it comes to plug ins, the guys are much more strict.
The more plugins you install on your WordPress, the slower everything will be, and you really don't want that to happen when you're starting a brand new site!
Here are the essentials:
- Short Pixel Image Optimizer: This plugin will speed up your site 10x more than just about anything else you could do. Images take up MOST of the time it takes to load a page, and this plugin is fantastic at compressing them.
- Google Analytics for WordPress: This plugin will provide a simple way for you to paste in your Google Analytics code to track the visitors to your site.
- Anti-Spam by CreativeMotion: Spam comments in WordPress often run rampant, and this plugin will help. Ricky and Jim just turn off comments completely so they don’t have to worry about spam or moderating comments.
- All In One SEO Pack by Michael Torbert: This plugin will do a couple basic technical SEO things on your site, but the most important thing is that it gives you tools for changing your meta description.
- Really Simple SSL by Rogier Lankhorst: This encrypts your traffic to keep the site secure. Only activate this plugin after you’ve installed SSL on your site.
Once you've installed your plug ins and you've tweaked some very simple settings you are almost ready to start writing content for your blog!
SEO Methods (Steps 7-9)
When dealing with SEO, Jim & Ricky have studied the causes of what makes a post go on the first page of Google and realized that the longer the post, the better the ranking.
Of course, that is not only caused by length alone, but, ideally, if you've posted a long post, it's been more researched and more curated, and therefore Google finds more value in it.
For J&R then, the two main factors in successful ranking of blog posts is:
- Length of the post
- Quality of the research
But is that it?
J&R focus on 6 specific points to favor the SEO of their blog posts, and to get them ranking on the first page of Google.
Following these simple 6 rules should be enough even for beginners to see good results with SEO:
- Helpful Content Wins: there more engaging and helpful the content is for the readers, the more the Google algorithm is going to push the post up the ranks.
- Sizing the Content to the Research: Writing response posts, replying to a specific question with a post of 1350 on average, going after specific search terms.
- E.A.T.: Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness are the quality your posts have to have, especially if you are writing about YMYL topics. Show Google you know what you are talking about.
- On Page SEO: Make use of 1) Introduction 2) Answer Paragraph 3) Multiple Subheadings on the Topic 4) Conclusion.
- The Headline: Your post needs to be clicked to get picked up by Google. So your headline really has to be top notch: keep people's interest, add value, communicate what your content is, and be crystal clear.
- What NOT to do: Link Building (!) and Key Word Tools, because of their inaccuracy: seems counter-intuitive to me, but not to J&R!
J&R then move onto Search Analysis, which they consider to be the most important aspect of the whole Project 24:
What topics will you write on? What is the search analysis that you will utilize?
According to J&R, keyword research is a thing of the past, because their research volumes are not correct and because a different phrasing could bring similar results.
Are they crazy? Does it make sense? Let's carry on reading.
There are specific tasks in making a correct and fruitful search analysis, and that is what is discussed in the videos that comprise these steps.
Steps for a fruitful Search Analysis:
- Brand Plan: Write a list of possible categories to write down on your blog. Plan ahead, don't pigeon-hole yourself into a small topic.
- Ideation: Come up with specific things people type in Google, esp. with the Google Alphabet Soup Method, where you use your niche and every letter of the alphabet, using Googles auto-suggest ideas for your posts.
- Selection: Now it's time to whittle down the number from your spreadsheet of possible topics: dump subjects that are too niche, and those that are too broad. Do this through the concept of the inverted pyramid, where you start from the very broad and niche down until the desired result.
- Hit List: Choose what articles you're going to write, choose the first, choose the title: the title should ideally be shorter than 70 characters so it doesn't get truncated by Google.
- Over the Shoulder Demo: The minicourse on Search Analysis finishes with an example of over the shoulder research, so you'll be sure to get it right from the first article.
This is the part of the course that had me thinking:
'I've agreed with everything these guys have been teaching until now, but boy do we have a different opinion on keywords and backlinks!'
I know from experience, and I've been building countless websites from 2014 to today, that backlinks will allow your site to rank much faster to that number 1 spot.
In fact it is probably the most important factor once a site is build and you want to rank it, and I go out of my way to ensure that all the stuff I create has enough backlinks to rank on page one.
If you know what you are doing and with the right training, you can learn how to do that yourself without too much hassle.
And believe me, it does. Through my lead generation biz I am able to rank local sites to the first page of Google much faster than in the time-frame given by J&R.
And the sites I'm talking about have minimal amount of content, around 3 or 4 pages.
It's funny, Jim says that keywords and backlinks are 'so 1995', but they really have been working wonders for me and my associates, since I started my business.
Response Posts (Steps 10-19)
Steps 10 to 19 are all about implementation and all about how to write the perfect response post.
Let's remind ourselves that a response post is a post that answers to a direct question that someone interested in your niche might type into Google.
As J&R say, 'We recently audited one of our niche sites and found that a whopping 73% of the articles (some on very competitive topics) were ranked #1 on Google. That’s an INCREDIBLE stat and it’s 100% because of the quality of response posts'.
Income School also has a post recipe course that you will be able to take to increase your chances!
Things to take care of when posting your first response posts are:
- Do not be predictable, you want to outsmart your competition. More research will guarantee a better reception from Google.
- Strive to write it in a clear English in order to help Google help you rank: writing well, you will be attracting 1000 views a month on average.
- To write a 1350 in less than 90 minutes you must 1) use your voice, don't be academic 2) use low research time, the bare necessary 3) write a quick reply, then go in for a longer answer 4) use Google's 'People Also Ask' to add 3-5 subheadings 5) edit as you go.
- At the beginning, don't think about the result, just write and create content for your blog.
- Divide your writing time from your research time and keep them separated.
- Don't give up at this stage, do not change niche and follow the program to the end.
Response posts will have a great place in the future of your website, they are the foundations to the blog according to J&R, and answering to questions that are always going to be asked is the best way to build this foundation.
Pictures and Legal Misc. (Steps 21-22)
These are just 2 very small and inconsequential steps on how to resize pics and what to put in the legal disclaimer section of your blog.
Very little info and very very random placing.
Resource Pages (Steps 22-26)
In order to not overcrowd your article with affiliate links, you want to have a resource page and keep all of your product recommendations there, to keep Google at bay.
You will then be able to link mentions of your products on normal posts, but the link will be internal to your blog, and will not go out to affiliate sites like Amazon or ClickBank.
It is important to remember to use pages and not posts when you create them on WordPress:
You'll be able to then customize the URL and other small things.
Once you have created your resource page, you will just need to update it regularly.
Things to make sure you do or don't do:
- Don't make the resource page spammy, treat it like a blog post.
- Know what you are selling: don't sell something only because it has a high affiliate margin.
- Keep affiliate items around the $200 range, the commission is high enough and the buyer won't doubt whether to buy or not.
- Check out other affiliate companies, not only Amazon. In fact Amazon's commission's fees are the lowest around.
- Contact private companies in your niche and ask them if you can affiliate with them even if they don't have an affiliate program.
How to Use Acabado (Step 27)
A short tutorial on how to use the theme created by J&R for their students.
Nothing much to see here.
Staple Posts (Steps 28-37)
After the shorter response posts, staple posts are the second out of three kinds of posts that J&R teach you to write.
They are the bread and butter of every content creator and constitute the majority of blog posts.
Characteristics of staple posts are:
- The length of such posts is usually around the 2500 words mark.
- The topic of such posts usually has a wide appeal in the niche.
- The competition on the post is medium to low.
- List articles are usually very good staple articles.
- Most staple posts are sub-headings rich.
Promoting via YouTube (Steps 38-43)
In order to bring traffic to your spankin' new website, you have to now take care of promotion.
Every step of the way is all up to your implementation, and promotion is absolutely no exception.
Some of the pitfalls to avoid, especially when dealing with Social Media are:
- Going straight to Facebook to promote your blog: you'll spend most of your day trying to get engagement, and not many people will be coming from SM. SM doesn't want you to leave them for another website.
- Not all sites necessitate of a Social Media Community for your blog, there is no ROI when dealing with traffic to your blog.
What to do then?
- You need to own your community and the resource you host it on.
- Never use a Social Media site that doesn't give back.
- If the time that it takes you to create a community doesn't provide ROI, don't waste your time.
- The content needs to be evergreen.
J&R then suggest you don't use FB but rather Pinterest and YouTube, because you just upload your pins and videos and wait for the people to come!
Out of the two, though, YouTube is far superior and our two gurus give us a recipe of what should be in every video to be successful as a promoter for your blog.
- Your posts have to be good, if you are going to send your YT audience to your blog.
- You must be answering a question on video, no rant-videos to begin with.
- Videos should be around 10 minutes long.
- Always make a clear call to action at least once during the video.
- Create a short link to favor share-ability.
- Tell people in the video to Google the exact title of an article of yours.
- YouTube loves consistency, so batch your videos, upload them and schedule to post them at regular interval.
J&R's videos have become quite iconic on YT, and they suggest you follow them in styling them their way:
- Post contrarian videos going against the common viewpoint, like the duo's keyword video.
- Mimic a popular video, while at the same time giving more info than the original.
- Create contests, make people subscribe and give something related to your brand in exchange.
- Don't worry too much about the quality of the video, using a phone is better than not making videos at all.
Pillar Posts (Steps 44-54)
Pillar posts, after the response posts and the staple posts, are the third kind of writing you are going to be doing on your blog.
A pillar post is going to be one of the foundations of your websites, and therefore is going to be longer and better researched than any staple post you might have written.
- Are an opportunity to expand into another keyword.
- They are posts that are going to take longer to rank, but are the ones that are going to bring in the most traffic .
- They stand next to 0% chance of getting outranked.
- Sometimes have added value, like downloadable infographics and cheat-sheets all the readers can benefit from.
Pillar posts are going to be your flagship content, so you should really go in the research and provide the reader with something that nobody else is going to be able to give.
Going overboard is ok, the organization and quality of the writing must be perfect, as should the choice of pictures to go with the words.
Most times, scouting the competition is also a great idea, because you can easily learn how to outrank them through content quality and quantity (most pillar posts are around 4k to 6k long).
Step 54 is another randomly placed section on how to promote your site on Pinterest.
Very little new material, nothing of interest there.
Promoting via YouTube 2 (Steps 55-59)
In the last stretch of the 60 steps, Jim and Ricky come back to YT promotion and how to conduct competitive analysis.
The idea is that on YT it is much easier to recognize what is working and what niche is saturated, or what you could add to your niche in the form of video.
The reason is that you can clearly see the views for every video and the subscribers to every channel, and this gives you a great opportunity to position yourself better in your market.
Ideally you are looking for YT posts that have gone viral from channels that have a low sub count, so that you can model your videos on those right from the start, when you have very little subs to your own channel.
The duo then teaches how to create staple videos, pillar, and resource videos, very much in the same style as the blog posts:
- The recommended staple video is a list video, where you shorten a list post you have on your blog by 50% and you then refer the viewers to your blog for the additional 50% of the list you have left out. This is a great way of generating traffic to your blog, and the length of the vid doesn't need to be that long at all.
- The pillar video, as you can imagine, should be 30 to 45 minutes long, and should aim at establishing you as an authority in your niche. It should be a reference video that people in your niche are going to come back to through the years. The research should be so good that the video could seem like a webinar more than the average staple post.
- For resource or gear videos, you need to make your blog post more spicy and interesting: a best of doesn't really cut it. You need to motivate why you have chosen that gear as your favorite gear, adding interest so the viewer will come to your video rather than choose one of the other thousands of similar videos.
Set up Amazon Associates (Step 60)
The final video is just a short goodbye video by Jim and Ricky, reminding you to set up your Amazon Associates account on your site.
There really isn't much to add to this single vid, other than it caps a very impressive and complete set of instructions that anybody wanting to start a blog should really follow.
There are many other courses inside the Project 24 Bundle, but I thought it would be good to go through the main one, because it really gives you all the tools to get started in your first 2 months (60 days) in.
Everything else is complementary:
You suck at SEO? Go for the No Nonsense SEO course, it's all included in the price.
You are a really bad writer? Learn how to outsource your material with a dedicated course.
There is something fo everybody, and frankly, it's pretty awesome.
The Verdict: The Good & The Bad
The two have claimed that the website makes them 7 figures a year.
Project 24 packs a ton of value within their course, and if you can follow the steps, 24 months later, you just may have a passive income stream working in your favor.
Obviously, nothing happens overnight, and you should extensively research ANY course that requires a time and money investment.
But let's go back and try to answer the main questions we asked ourselves at the beginning of the review:
The level of expertize offered in the bundle of courses offered by Project 24 is amazing.
You can really come out on the other side with a solid webisite that really does give you some passive income.
How much is entirely up to you, but in terms of what it offers, it totally overdelivers:
There is almost too much stuff that could sidetrick those suffering from shiny object syndrome, but having all these courses and a very active facebook group really point towards a successful experience.
The guys are not scammers, they've been doing this for almost 20 years, earn 7 figure income from their sites alone and one of them has been recognized as one of the best 40 photographers in the world thanks to his blog.
What more proof do you want?
Whether you succeed will depend much more on the niche you choose, how you implement your writing and what affiliate resources you decide to sell.
The 60 step process is a great way for you to start being hand held by J&R, but after a while you're on your own, and that is the crux of the matter:
Like in every enterprize, you reap what you sow.
The course costs $499 for the first year, and $199 for all following years, to stay in the FB group and take part in all the new courses that are added for free.
I think that if that is what you really want, then that's a hell of an offer!
If you want to start a blog and market your products, Project 24 could be the right one for you.
However, these days I don't really recommend going down the path of building a blog like J&R are teaching.
Lead Generation, where you rank your own website, is a far superior model to monetize your skills.
Let me explain, keep reading...
Why I Don't Do Niche Blogs... Lead Generation Proved to be a Much Better Biz Model, Here's Why...
I run a $50K per month lead generation business but all of my leads are generating through free traffic or SEO.
So it's pretty much passive income, I don’t have to worry about the performance of any ads or anything.
The website I create ranks on the first page of Google, in the so-called map pack, and the leads just start pouring in.
So, you see, it's passive income, I don’t have to worry about the performance of my blog or anything.
Once my site ranks it generally keeps its rank with very little to no maintenance.
Don’t get me wrong you can still make a living creating a niche blog and writing a post a day, but it's a hard route very challenging to do so.
If things go wrong, it's back to tweaking, choosing a new niche, or trying a different approach.
This is why I still recommend people look into doing lead generation.
Income School's Project 24 course is well executed, everything is there to learn how to create your blog and grow it in 2 years.
Let me tell you, there are niches that work with this kind of method, but the problem is there are many niches that really struggle too.
Unlike ssettlig for niche blogs, if you know how to generate leads with free traffic, you can go into any niche and create an incredible level of results for clients.
That’s how 90% of my multiple 6 figure income is generated. And I should add that it's passive income: see free traffic never stops.
In 2020, even during Covid-19, I continue to build more lead gen sites and I write at least 1 blog post a day for this site, because I’ve come to realize that these are the high-income producing activities because it directly increases my free traffic every month.
But this site is defininitely not niche, and I spend thousands of dollars a month to make sure that every post has backlinks that make them rank number one in Google without the hit and miss approach that J&R teach.
Their idea of SEO is so bizarre and I'm not sure where they got it from.
On my side, my heavily backlinked blog and my lead gen sites are what are making me my multiple six figure income:
It's so much faster than writing 100's of articles on 1 niche topic that may or may not rank.
And it's much, much easier and also very cheap to start!
Click here Learn more about our coaching program that's now coached over 5000 students on how to quit their jobs by ranking simple local websites.