Website Income

All posts by Jon

How to Use MarketMuse – Our Procedure

This step by step guide will show and explain how to use the tool MarketMuse to create better, more valuable and in depth content for our content marketing clients.

See our MarketMuse review and our comparison of Market Muse alternatives such as PageOptimizerPro or SurferSEO in terms of which tool produces the largest increase in traffic.

This procedure was created by the team at who use MarketMuse heavily to optimize content for clients resulting in the ability to predictably rank in Google. 

NOTE: Some changes have been made to the appearance of MarketMuse since this procedure was created.  The functionality is the same.

Step 1: 

Go to MarketMuse

Click to sign in with your unique credentials 

Step 2: 

Once you sign in, you will see your dashboard.  On the left hand column, go down to the ‘Optimize’ function.

The screen that opens will look something like this.

Step 3: Take the article that you will be editing and simply copy and paste the focus Topic, the Title and the article in the correct areas. The click the “analyze” button

Hint: The focus topic will be the Keyword which is always in the title of the article  

Step 4:

It might take a minute or two to analyze, but at the Final analysis should look like this. I’ve circled the Content Depth Score, the Average Content Score Target and the Best Content Score. 

NOTE: take a screenshot of this page to record the improvement achieved. 

We generally want our articles to be above the content score target. So for this one, we can clearly see that it needs some work. 

Step 5: 

Read the Article from start to finish

Step 6: 

If you feel like the article is well written and written by a Native English Speaker, then please edit the basic/normal grammar and spelling errors in the article. If it needs more work (ie a complete rewrite please contact your editor). 

Step 7: 

After you’ve read the article and corrected the errors in the articles, you’re going to look on the right side of the page and look at some of the keywords + topics listed.

Step 8: 

Without “ Keyword Stuffing” or inserting Keywords that are unrelated, start going through the article and adding suggested keywords where they fit or adding sections. You will see that it is really easy to get the article up to well above average by just using strategic Keyword placement.

In this screenshot, I simply replaced words like “new windshield” to “Replacement windshield” or “windshield crack” to “windshield damage” and it booted my score to 17, which is above average.

NOTE: It is best to add words to your DOCUMENT instead of right in the MarketMuse box.  Then re-copy and re-paste the entire text. This will ensure that you don’t lose your formatting.

Step 9: 

Now that we’ve got our content up to a reasonable standard by just using different words, take a look at the missing words on the list of keywords. They will generally identify a missing subject from the article. Here you can see that the writer didn’t think to include anything about insurance, which is clearly an important thing to mention if the keyword is the “second most important” on the list. 

Step 10: 

This is where your chance to do some content writing fits in. Simply add in a small paragraph that talks about windshield insurance. It doesn’t have to be extensive. I simply added 4 sentences talking about insurance with your windshield and it bumped it up to 24.

If MarketMuse’s analysis tells you to add more content (i.e. it does not hit the suggested word count), this is also a good strategy to use to add more words. Please try and hit the suggested word count that MarketMuse suggests. 

Step 12: 

You’re done! Please take a screenshot of the final content score and page.

Please try and boost the score as much as you can while ensuring that the article are still fluid. 

We will only deliver articles to a client if they are above the average content score

Step 13: 

Deliver the edited article back to your editor, along with a screenshot of the MarketMuse page from before the edits were made and a screenshot of the MarketMuse page from after the edits were made. 

MarketMuse Review and Alternatives:

Here is a post reviewing the performance of MarketMuse and comparing it to alternatives.

Surfer SEO vs POP vs MarketMuse – Correlation SEO Tool Review (With DATA)

Geeking out on SEO tools that help us predictably rank in Google is a lot of fun… so much so that a few years ago, we started a business centered around that as a core competency –

Today we dig in deep and review the explosion of amazing tools over the last couple of years that help give us an unfair advantage to rank in Google.

In this post, we have signed up for, used, reviewed, and analyzed the performance of the most popular content marketing SEO tools. Plus, what would be a post at AuthorityWebsiteIncome if I didn’t share the SOPs we used for each tool (keep reading to get access to the SOPs – free of course). 

Here is what we are going to look at for each tool…

  • Performance – Which tool, if used correctly, will result in the largest increase in traffic/rankings
  • Value – What is the pricing model and cost for each. What tool provides the best value. 
  • Usability – Which tool is the most user-friendly

The 3 tools we will be testing are…

Other tools that are similar that we didn’t test…

These tools primarily fall into 2 buckets using one of 2 core strategies to provide actionable insights to improve an article and help it rank better in the search engines…

  • Correlation SEO
  • Semantic AI

What is Correlation SEO?

With correlation SEO, you identify what Google is already ranking on the first page and emulate that content. You can emulate the keywords, length, features, and headings. Find out what Google wants to rank and mimic those factors. 

CORA, SurferSEO, and POP all fall into correlation SEO with Surfer rolling out a Natural Language Processing (NLP) tool covering both correlated and predictive content ranking factors. 

What is Semantic SEO? 

Semantic SEO involves producing content that is semantically relevant (includes other relevant keywords) that helps show Google that your content best matches the searcher’s intent and covers the topic in more depth than competitors pages. With semantic SEO tools, they predict all related keywords/questions that should be covered for a given topic. 

ClearScope and MarketMuse tools use this often AI-enabled technology.

Semantic content marketing tools look at all keywords around the given topic and use AI to generate a map of what keywords and questions an article that best matches the searcher’s intent would include. 

Ready to see which tool recommendation provides the biggest traffic lift?

How We Tested these 3 Content Marketing Tools:

The only way to do a review of these awesome data-crunching tools justice is to crunch some data ourselves! A light touch review where we signup and give some general thoughts would be an insult to all of these epic tools. 

A larger sample size would have been ideal, but here is how we approached the test in a reasonably efficient way. 

We identified 3 different pages at 3 different sites and updated them using the 3 tools all at the same time trying to control for as many other variables as possible. After modifying the content, we monitored the initial results (2 weeks after publishing).

The tool whose pages have the largest % increase in traffic and ranking keywords/position is what we want to identify.

Steps to Compare SEO Tools:

  1. Identified 3 similar articles (traffic/rankings/trajectory) on 3 different sites of mine (eCommerce, affiliate, service) 
  2. Use a standard SOP for each tool (link to each SOP below) and update each article based on the tools recommendation
  3. Publish the updated articles all at the same time
  4. Compare results 2 weeks after publishing
  5. Update our content marketing procedures at ContentRefined or test further

See how we set up the test below where the “x” represents the tool we will use on which article.

See how we set up the test below where the “x” represents the tool we will use on which article. 

Site & Page SurferSEO POP MarketMuse
Site 1 – Page 1X

Site 2 – Page 1X

Site 3 – Page 1X

Site 1 – Page 2
Site 2 – Page 2
Site 3 – Page 2
Site 1 – Page 3

Site 2 – Page 2

Site 3 – Page 3


Let’s dig into how each one performed…

Performance – Search Traffic and Ranking Changes:

This is what matters! 

Which content marketing SEO tool provided the largest increase in traffic? 

The results were impressive across the board with all articles showing a meaningful lift in traffic. 

We will dig through the data here, but if you are looking for a summary on which tool performed the best, look at the graph at the bottom of this section comparing the traffic increase generated by SurferSEO, POP, and MarketMuse.

Traffic Change:

Every article had an increase in traffic. With an average across the entire study of a 71% increase in traffic! 

To be honest, I am very impressed with the traffic lift! To achieve an average of 71% lift in 2 weeks, it is very exciting!

To have every page see a lift in traffic and an average increase of 71%… very impressed! We have been seeing the benefit of updating content for years at Content Refined leveraging the Pareto content upgrade strategy, but seeing it continue to work is great validation!

In the graph below, the blue column is the traffic before the upgrade for each page, and the green bar is the traffic after the content was updated based on the tools instructions. The orange line shows the % improvement on the second y-axis. 


Ranking Change:

Traffic is what matters, but it is interesting to see the ranking change in order to confirm the lift in traffic isn’t seasonal or from another reason but is, in fact, due to ranking higher in Google. 

The graph below shows the ranking for each article’s main keyword before the update, and the green is the ranking after. Looking at the target keyword instead of total number of keywords was chosen because a couple of the tools POP and Surfer are built with that as the main objective… telling you what to do to get a page to rank higher.


Tool Performance Comparison:

Now the important question… what tool performed the best? 

The graph below shows the weighted average traffic increase by tool. 

In the end, Surfer and POP achieved similar results while MarketMuse outperformed both. 

  • Surfer SEO – 61% traffic increase
  • POP – 63% traffic increase
  • MarketMuse – 78% traffic increase

These results are not entirely surprising as POP and Surfer use a similar correlation SEO approach while MarketMuse uses the semantic AI engine to identify opportunities to improve a piece of content. 

With this sample size of only 9 articles (3 articles per tool), I would say that a similar study could certainly result in a different outcome. However, in the online world where we need to act on correlation without the ability to confirm causation, these results certainly point us in the right direction! 


The performance of all these tools were in the same ball-park… the price point is not! 

MarketMuse Price

Annual contracts in the 5 figure range but provides functionality that goes well beyond optimizer, which is what was used for this study. They are testing less expensive, metered usage options. So, if your hang-up is with your budget with MarketMuse, then it might be worth still reaching out to them. 

SurferSEO Price

Starting at $59/month, it is a much more budget-friendly option. There are limits placed on the number of times you can use Content Editor per month, which will likely trigger the need for upgrading.  

PageOptimizerPro Price

Starting at $10/month with significant limitations in terms of the number of reports you can get. We would likely be using the $79/month solution if it was used for my portfolio.  

If you are an active user, both POP and Surfer will end up around $100/month with POP a little less expensive with MarketMuse far more expensive. 


This section is completed by the lead editor at who used each of the tools to execute these updates using these procedures:

How to Use Market Muse

See our in depth MarketMuse Review and Tutorial

See our video review of MarketMuse below:

When it comes to usability, MarketMuse definitely tops the list. It is an incredibly easy to use and straightforward program that helps take a lot of the guesswork out of optimizing content. Again, it is very similar to SurferSEO but has its own perks. To get started with this program, you simply enter the keyword phrase you are focusing on and then paste the content into the window and hit run.

All the information you can use to help you optimize the content is going to generate and can be found on the right-hand side. It offers a list of competitor pages as well as their ranks, provides you with a list of suggested keywords and keyword variants that should be used, along with the number of times they should appear within the content.

They also provide you with the current word count and score alongside the target word count and score that you want to achieve for higher ranking on Google. You can edit and work right within the window on the program, or you can work in a separate document and then copy and paste your changes into the program to run everything again. You can also use the questions tab on the left-hand side for more guidance on subheadings and additional topics you can use to add and optimize the content.

This program is helpful for those who may be new to SEO keyword research because it lays everything out simply. While it may not offer as in-depth results as you can find with the other two programs, it gives you a basic idea on how to pursue those higher Google rankings without taking much time to learn.

How to Use SurferSEO

Get our in depth Surfer SEO review and Tutorial

View our Surfer SEO Video Review below…

When logging into this program, you will see the dashboard. This is where you can input your keyword or keyword phrase. The guidelines here are based on the main keyword as well as localization. Once you have entered the keyword you want to rank for, press create. 

The guidelines will take a little time to generate because SurferSEO analyzes up to ten competitors and their content. When complete, you will have access to tips and information to help with the length, structure, and the words you use in your content so as to get the content to rank higher. 

It also allows you the chance to customize and adjust the guidelines, which is helpful when you try to rank for more difficult phrases. You can download a spreadsheet containing all of the keyword suggestions including the number of times the keyword appears and if you should add or cut specific keywords and phrases.

This program is very similar to MarketMuse. They offer a list of suggested subheadings that can be used in the content to help with the keywords and ranking of the article. You are also not limited to one window. You can work in a different window and then paste your revised work in to run everything through.

SurferSEO fills you in on some other vital information you need to pay attention to, including how many bold words you should be using and if the content length is too long. This program helps you find the balance between the content, finding enough valuable information to include, and avoiding keyword stuffing. It is straightforward and not hard to navigate.

How to Use Page Optimizer Pro

See our Page Optimizer Pro Review and Tutorial

When it comes to usability and being user-friendly, this program is definitely not at the top of the list. They provide you with a fair amount of valuable information to help your content rank, but it is given to you in a crowded spreadsheet that isn’t always easy to read and follow. However, it does offer suggestions on headings, which words should be eliminated because they are overused, provides keyword variations, and offers tips on changing the subheadings. 

To get started with POP, you simply insert the URL of the page you want to optimize. When doing this, you must make sure that the domain for the URL matches the domain you are using for the project. It then prompts you to name your page. When inserting keywords, you need to type them in exactly as a searcher would type it into a Google search. It only considers what you type into the field. You can then choose your region and then fetch variations. Once done, you can then review those variations, enter the competitors, and edit your content according to the suggestions in the spreadsheet that you had downloaded.

All of the changes and edits you make using this program need to be done within their editing window. As we were working with the program, we realized it would not allow you to copy and paste content from another document. 

This program takes a bit longer to get used to and can prove difficult to navigate at times, but it still provides you with valuable information to get your articles ranking better on Google. 


Below is a summary of the results based on the 3 dimensions we were testing with each of these tools.

Ability to Increase TrafficEase of UseCost
MarketMuse1st 1st3rd
Surfer SEO2nd1st2nd

MarketMuse Review:

Right Choice For You If… you have one or a few significant sites that are your main livelihood and have the budget, MarketMuse produces the largest traffic increase. Plus, MarketMuse has other tools like inventory that help provide additional unfair advantages for content marketing a website. 

SurferSEO Review

Right Choice For You If… you are value-conscious and want an easy to use tool that will deliver solid traffic and ranking improvement. If you are a portfolio owner looking to systematize the upgrade process Surfer and its ease of use is a great tool that can be handled with minimal training. 

PageOptimizerPro Review

Right Choice For You If… you are very cost-conscious and don’t mind using a tool that isn’t super refined. Or if you want to be able to turn the dials a little more yourself to customize.

How Much is My Website Worth? The Complete Income Store List and Analysis

The purpose of this article is to provide a quick update on what has happened with the Income Store. Most importantly, I want to provide what I hope are some useful insights into the value of every site in the IncomeStore Portfolio. If you are needing to find out how much your website is worth I hope this article will provide enough information for you to be able to do that.

Hang on because we go deep… exploring the value of each site, looking at the ECommerce portfolio and if there is any value there.


  • Everything below is alleged by the SEC and the receiver but not proven in court.
  • None of this is legal or financial advice

My team with the help of several tools SpamZilla, ahrefs and SEMRush among others has done an analysis that looks at every income store website and estimated its current value.

The specific sites value and TONS of metrics for each domain is shown in the spreadsheet below…

Access the Spreadsheet: Download Here

With the latest news release from the receiver a lot of new information has come to light.

Background on the Income Store Scam:

  • Emilia is doing a fantastic job covering this from a legal perspective, hopefully me and my team can help provide some operational clarity on what was happening to the 3012 domains.
  • Richard Patey did a great high level analysis of the portfolio value here although the numbers I get are significantly different below.
  • Receivers Website – The latest official information –
    • I realize it shouldn’t matter but it is still very nerve wracking that whoever is in charge of that 2000’s era with no https website is currently responsible for the entire IncomeStore portfolio.

Feb 2020 Income Store Receivership Update:

The Receivers Initial report has provided a lot of very digestible information. If you have not yet read it and are interested in the topic you should!

Claim Your Website or Roll the Dice on Liquidation?

One of the potentially most important items and part of the reason for this post is that the receiver is proposing a solution that will require each site partner to evaluate the value of their website and decide if they want it.

The Receiver will propose a hybrid claims process that permits investors to make a claim for the domain(s)/website(s) “assigned” to them in the Consulting Performance Agreement in exchange for releasing any claim against the Receivership Estate under certain parameters 5 and those investors who do not want their site could participate in a later distribution process from a pool of liquidated assets and recovered funds. The Receiver will make such proposal by separate motion on or before February 28, 2020. This expedited process will permit the Receiver to transfer and/or liquidate the remaining domains/websites in the next 90 to 120 days, preserving the Receivership assets required to maintain the domains and websites.” Page 8

For site partners faced with this decision I hope this analysis will be of value in both determining the value of their site but from a portfolio / game theory standpoint what others will likely choose ultimately helping you make the most educated decision.

Claim or Don’t Claim Example:

The decision is easy if you have a site worth more than what you invested however thinking through what the final value of the portfolio/recovered assets will be once the winners (and others with decent sites) choose to claim their website gets very tricky. You can’t simply take the recoverable value divided by the total $’s owing investors since some of the recoverable value is going to disappear as people choose to take their websites. You don’t want to be the person that chose to not claim their website but your website ends being the most valuable one left in the pool to be liquidated. I hope the data shared in this post helps make a terrible situation slightly better by having the data to make the decision. 

Ponzi Scheme?

One takeaway from the Receivers Initial Report that is different from previous SEC communication is that it had terms of “Ponzi like” and now the receiver explicitly calls it a Ponzi scheme mentioning it 3 times in the report including the clear description of what happened below.

Quote from the Receiver:

“The Receiver’s review of the books and records of the company confirm the SEC’s allegations that new investor funds and loans were used to pay the investors/”website partners”, not website revenue. For example, in 2018 website revenue was under $2m and website payout to investors was approximately $12.7m and likewise in 2019 website revenue was under $4m and website investor payout was $16.5m. In short, this was a Ponzi scheme.” Page 6

“making the business a classic Ponzi scheme” Page 21

“TGC’s business depended on the use of new investors’ up-front payments (and perhaps loan Case: 1:19-cv-08454 Document #: 45 Filed: 01/30/20 Page 21 of 28 PageID #:678 22 proceeds) to cover its obligations to earlier investors much in the vain of a Ponzi scheme” Page 22

So where did some of the money go? According to the receivers report several luxury items have been seized including the following (stock images)…

1972 Chevrolet C3 Corvette Convertible

1972 Corvette

2014 Moomba Outback

2019 Mercedes GLE

IncomeStore Portfolio Value

For the next phase of the IncomeStore journey it is critical to get a sense of the value of each of the websites and the portfolio as a whole.

If you are a site partner what is the value of the site you have the option to take?

There are several ways to approach the portfolio value I will walk through the 2 I think provide the best number and then generate an overall range of value for the portfolio.

  • Method 1 Traffic Estimate: (Traffic x CPM – Expenses) x Multiple Range Businesses Sell For (2x-3x range) = $1.5M – $2.25M
    • Traffic from ahrefs for all 3000+ domains
    • CPM (value per 1,000 visitors) used is $15
    • Expenses for each I account for in the multiple at 2x vs a more typical 3x for simplicity sake
  • Method 2 Historical Earnings: (Site Revenue from 2019 – Estimated Expenses) x Multiple Range Businesses Sell For (2x-3x range) = 2.3M – $3.5M
    • According to the PnL Website Advertising revenue in 2019 is $1.24M
    • Bare minimum expenses for maintaining the 562 sites all worth more than 100 is ($10/yr for the domain + $5/month hosting + 40k for 1 full time manager) is ~$80k/yr

Others have generated a higher number for the portfolio value but I struggle to get to those favourable numbers (no offense Richard 🙂 ).


Now what would the market tolerate if all ~200 sites with an estimated value of over 1k got dumped on the market in 90 days from Feb 28th as the receiver is suggesting? My assumption would be that despite there being insatiable demand for less expensive content sites (the leader in smaller content sites MotionInvest sells out <$10k sites in minutes with thousands on the waitlist!) the receiver would want to be efficient and move them in bulk at a significant discount.

Typically a fast site sale in the lower end of the market will go for 1x-2x which could bring the valuation down as low as under $1M!

Shopify ECommerce Portfolio Value = $0?

2.5M in E Commerce Revenue in 2019 But the Sites are Completely Worthless? How…

There had been a lot of publicity about IncomeStore shifting to ECommerce launching 400+ Shopify sites. I want to run the list of 3k+ domains through a tool to tell me the tech they are each on and then the organic traffic for the shopify portion of the portfolio (another day). So why do I think they are worthless…

  • Inventory – based on the inventory list their ecommerce businesses are either exclusively dropshipping or dead (most have inventory numbers under 10).
  • Expenses are more than Revenue – The PnL does have $2.5M in Revenue in 2019 from Product Sales (assume 100% is ecommerce)…however there is also a few expense line items to note such as $3.4M in advertising, $2.7M in ecommerce fees to an ecommerce digital advertising agency and internal ecommerce fees of $1.7M. I don’t blame the digital advertising partner since their mandate was likely given to maximize revenue. If you weren’t keeping track it is AT LEAST $4.4M in confirmed ECommerce expenses which greatly outstrip the $2.5M in ECommerce Revenue!

My Theory – Based on the lengths they went to in order to focus on their priority (new investor money in the door) they used the paid traffic Shopify drop shipping model to generate big revenue numbers fast in order to help entice new money in. If you wanted to scale revenue numbers FAST and didn’t care about profitability then running facebook ads to a dropship shopify site would be the strategy I would recommend.

Destruction of Value Analysis

It would be great to have someone with a forensic accounting background who also has content site experience to comment on the PnL but here are the numbers that jump out to me:

These numbers are primarily pulled from Exhibit D which I have turned into a Google Sheet here if you want to get a copy.

  • Total Investor Money In = $134,411,656
  • Total Money Paid Out to Investors = $43,070,635
  • Amount Owed to Make Investors Whole = $91,342,537
  • Cash & Receivables – Receivers Costs to Date = ~$240,000 (page 7)
  • Portfolio Value = ~$2,500,000 (see analysis above)
  • Destruction of Value by IncomeStore = (investors money in – money sent to investors – cash & receivables – portfolio value) = $88,601,021

Visualization of Value Destruction:


I don’t swear on this blog but I don’t know an appropriate alternative WTF!

66% of every dollar in or $88.6M of value has been destroyed in what must be one of the most inefficient Ponzi schemes ever.

Earlier – I said I doubted it started as a ponzi but Google updates in 2016 (or earlier) must have either forced them to close down or embrace a ponzi scheme and certainly it looks like they fully embraced it taking it a step further and operating not just in a situation to not be able to cover the 15% but running the existing portfolio in a money losing situation!

It also seems that meaningful recovery for site partners will unfortunately not come from the value of the portfolio.

Other Take away From Analysis

  • How did they have THAT many people working there?
    • Salary & subcontractor expenses of $7.4M to manage a content site portfolio generating $1.24M in advertising revenue and a worthless ecommerce portfolio? This angers the operational geek in me the most, why did they need to burn money on an inefficient head count? Running a ponzi scheme is obviously worse but running a portfolio at these kind of losses just seems needlessly inefficient & unnecessary.
  • Year over Year Advertising Revenue declined despite an ever increasing amount of funds being raised! They must have slowed the acquisition engine. It would be interesting to see the % of investor money going into site acquisition vs repaying investors vs burning within an inefficient business vs going to the alleged masterminds year over year.
    • 2017 – $2.7M
    • 2018 – $1.0M
    • 2019 –  $1.2M
  • Number of Websites = 3000+ with only ~500 worth anything (several in the list are clearly incorrect such as udemy) – why did so many stay active?
  • $500k in charitable donations from IncomeStore in 2019 while the business was imploding?? This seems to be part of the Ponzi Scheme playbook that hurts charities as well according to this article at times requiring them to payback the donation even if it had already been spent.

IncomeStore Site by Site Analysis

As promised if you are a website partner with IncomeStore and know which website is yours this table is meant to start providing you some information on the value of your site.

This is of course not a perfect analysis but should give you an idea if there is any value associated with the site.

3012 Domains!!! That is a lot of sites. My team has been cranking away on this analysis.

In addition to the analysis I used the tool at SpamZilla to help pull in a LOT of data for each domain.

List of IncomeStore Domains and Their Value:

Access the Spreadsheet Here

My hope is that this sheet will be the most useful and updated list of sites with relevant information to help website partners.


It is a very unfortunate situation. The loss in value and inefficiency of operation is astounding.

  • 3000+ domains
  • $134M invested
  • ~66% of every dollar invested gone?

It has felt like a slow painful reveal over the last 2 months from the IncomeStore announcing it was postponing website partner payments (temporarily) to then the SEC raid to now seeing the extent of the value destruction.

I hope for site partners sake that the picture is not as bleak as the current data shows and that good news will be the next data point.

If you would like to do any additional analysis on the sites that could be helpful to the website partners I would be happy to include that analysis in the spreadsheet for everyone to benefit from. Please reach out if you have anything to add to help website partners when evaluating their site.

If you are a website partner and have any questions I would be happy to try and help answer anything, please don’t hesitate to contact me and my team.

Income Report Roundup – Dec 2019

December is often a slow month for online business. Unless you are in an industry that can take advantage of the Christmas shopping period, you might see traffic dip quite significantly. But slow traffic doesn’t mean you have to slow down, just be sure to take some time to enjoy the holiday season as well! 

The team internally has been pushing hard to finish up Q4 and get ready for a big year in 2020! 

There are a few growth opportunities the team is busy working away on and I am very excited about! More on these will be revealed over the coming months. 

#1 Takeaway – Goals – Several of the websites on our list saw revenue and traffic (expectedly) dip during December. This is why our number #1 tip for December is to stay focused on your growth goals. Use these slow periods to invest in your future, instead of becoming discouraged. Don’t be complacent, here are a few ways you can set yourself up for the future:  

  • Accountability and Specifics – One of the most important parts of setting goals is to be specific and hold yourself accountable. Be very specific about the amount of traffic and revenue you are aiming toward. If you have clear metrics and numbers, you will find it easier to focus in on what you want. A big reason many of these entrepreneurs write these income reports is to hold themselves accountable!
  • Short and Long Term – It is important to separate your goals into long-term projects and short-term achievable goals. Have an idea of what you want from your business in the long run, but also give yourself goals that you can reach any given day. As an online entrepreneur, there is always something you can do in the short term to improve – whether it is generating content, working on SEO, narrowing in on a niche, or more! 

Quick December Update on my End:

  • Posts at (more to come!)
  • Family trip before skiing takes over our lives for the winter
  • ContentRefined is set to beta-test a new service – something big is coming!
  • user base has grown nicely – see dashboard
  • MotionInvest is continuing to see very large demand for its services
  • Ski Hills opened the earliest they ever have! 

My Reason for This Round Up:

When I started my online entrepreneurship journey I took a lot of inspiration from others that were sharing everything they did online. Seeing that people like me were making REAL money and that the opportunity to replace my day job was possible. 

It has been 3 years since I left my day job –

The more transparent the report the more I appreciated and was motivated by it. 

Over the years I have tried to be as transparent as possible sharing along the way my goals, business successes/failures and the ultimate results(profits). 

After years of sharing monthly income posts I decided that it made sense to stop these… a decision I actually regret as I wish I had found a way to keep sharing some of what I was doing. 

My reason for stopping was my online world and “real” worlds became more connected and it was becoming very odd to share these numbers.  

Looking at many of the people that originally had an income round up posts they have also stopped. Namely the most famous in the space Pat Flynn no longer does income round ups. 

In this post I will cover…

  1. List of inspiring income report posts and how they earned their profits
  2. Recognize motivating people showing not just telling people the results they are achieving
  3. Learn from others – What the key learning is from the people

Last Month Profit – $20,757.55

Name – Ron Stefanski

Website –

Business Model – Authority Affiliate Site      

Income Report –

Key Lesson(s):

  • Ron finds December to be a stressful month, as traffic tends to dip. 
  • A competitor was stealing some of the top terms from Ron’s most successful website. Ron sees this as a big drawback of having one main point of failure (one website that makes the most money). Ron has some fixes in mind to fix these problems in 2020. 
  • Overall, 2019 was a big success! Ron has been able to surpass his goals in traffic and revenue each year. 
  • The overall growth rate has been great! (look at the graph below)


Checkout the video I did with Ron and be sure to read his gripping story here!

Last Month Profit – $4,051

Name – Lidiya

Website –

Business Model – Blogging

Income Report –

Key Lesson(s):

  • Lidiya focused on SEO this month, including deleting a substantial amount of old, outdated content. This way, Google can stop crawling thin content and focus on the long form content she wants to promote. 
  • Lidiya created a new freebie for subscribers, a comprehensive blogging guide! Hopefully this will incentivize even more subscribers.  
  • Lidiya saw her traffic drop pretty significantly this month, but she knows this is pretty normal for December and January. 
  • She published 23 new articles on the blog this month. 

Last Month Profit – no update this month

Name – Spencer Haws

Website –

Business Model – Authority Affiliate Site

Income Report –

Key Lesson(s):

  • No income report published this month.

Last Month Profit – $3,178.22

Name – Johnny FD

Website –

Business Model – Mixed – Dropshipping & Investing

Income Report

Key Lesson(s):

  • Johnny spent the month in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and attempted to live on a tight budget. 
  • Johnny earned less this month, but spent a lot less as well. 
  • Johnny invested a lot of money that he made from selling his dropshipping stores, and his investments performed quite well this year. He invested 90% of the income he made in the past two years. 
  • Johnny mainly works on his passion projects these days, including two podcasts and a Nomad Summit. 

Last Month Profit – $28,665

Name – Jon Dykstra

Website –

Business Model – Authority Website (display ads)

Income Report –

Key Lesson(s):

  • Revenue dropped in December due to lower traffic, but this was expected. 
  • Jon hired a new writer that he was quite happy with. 
  • Jon made the usual investments in content, but otherwise “coasted” through the month. 
  • Jon picked a new niche for one of his websites. He hired some new writers and will keep us updated as this goes on.  

Ryan Robinson

Last Month Profit – $22,344.89

Name – Ryan Robinson

Website –

Business Model – Authority Website (affiliate earnings)

Income Report –

Key Lesson(s):

  • Ryan saw traffic stay roughly the same for December. Income dropped a bit but he was expecting this. 
  • Ryan spent time generating fresh content, publishing 2 long-form articles. He also focused on updating top-performing content. 
  • Ryan took a two-week vacation where he stepped away from any work whatsoever.  
  • Ryan wrapped up his website redesign project

Honourable Mentions:

Although they don’t do exactly income reports, there are a few reports that are worth mentioning and when they publish new reports I will be sure to include.

Last Month Profit – $8,101

Name – Jonathan Holmes

Website –

Business Model – Authority Website (affiliate earnings)

Income Report –

Key Lesson(s):

  • Jonathan has shown impressive earning and traffic growth since starting his site 2 years ago. 
  • It is unique to see the income report for an authority site on the authority site itself. Provides a great opportunity to really see how he has gone about achieving the results he has. 
  • Google core updates in December caused a large traffic impact (-30%)
  • Jonathan has some big content goals! 2,000 articles published by 2021

Am I missing any I should include? Please drop a message in the comment section below with anyone I should include next month!

Content Writing vs Content Marketing – Case Study

We have likely all been there… crushing out content for a project and just not getting the results that we’re after. I would argue that it is often because the process of content writing is disconnected or even mistaken for content marketing.

In this post I am going to show you a case study (URL revealed) with advanced content marketing (page 1 results for target 10k/month volume keyword in under 90 days) and discuss the difference between content writing and content marketing

Waitlist – Advanced Content Marketing and Link Building Solution

ContentRefined (a popular content writing service) has been executing the strategy below including strategy, copywriting and link building for potential customers. We are opening it up in the near future to anyone. Join the waitlist here to be the first to find out more about the service. 

This is how we should – but often don’t – think about content marketing and the results we have been able to achieve when a congruent content marketing strategy is proof.

Content Writing vs. Content Marketing – What is the Difference?

Content writing is one of the steps that has to happen within content marketing. Content marketing consists of a series of steps, including digital marketing strategy, keyword research, content writing, publishing, and marketing the created content. Too often, the process of content writing gets mistaken for a business doing content marketing.

How Online Entrepreneurs Often Get the 2 Confused…

Content marketing and content writing are not the same. Without “marketing,” it is just content.

If you are a good content writer that just wants to crank out great content in the form of blog posts or social media posts for the search engines that is great. But, it won’t be enough for you to generate the inbound marketing or brand awareness results you are trying to drive.

As the Content Marketing Institute is better at communicating content is not the same as Content Marketing. They argue this point for larger companies where the brand is an important consideration. However, for those of us building online businesses, our strategy needs to go beyond simply crushing words out and copywriting.

How does the process of the 2 differ?

Typical Content “Marketing” Process for Online Businesses

content writing vs content marketing

The typical process, which definitely works but is not optimal, is a very linear approach where the input to the content creation method is an almost random approach to keyword research.

Too often, the keyword strategy is not defined at the start in a structured way resulting in a random approach that cannibalizes keywords and leaves the site without a great structure. The focus on this process is typically around the copywriting with a good content writer and not on the marketing strategy.

This can and does work but leaves a lot of opportunity on the table.

Ideal Process for Advanced Content MARKETING of an Online Businesses

I firmly believe in the saying, “done is better than perfect,” and that is very true when growing a website. If the strategy below is too intense to be able to execute efficiently, then you are way better to execute the simpler strategy above, then do nothing!

Let’s break each of these steps down into a little more detail.


In the strategy stage, the key is to execute an iterative process that identifies…

●      Target keyword and cluster of supporting keywords to create articles around

●      Identify possible content assets that can be created that go beyond words which will help the audience (infographic, video, tool/aid)

●      Identify the marketing strategy, specifically the promotion and link building strategy. Most importantly, ensure the written content and other assets will support/enable the marketing strategy.

These 3 steps can’t happen in a linear process and are required to be an iterative process where an optimal link building opportunity might shift the focus of the target keyword to better capitalize on the opportunity.

An example of how this might change would be if you identify a target KW to go after but then as you are working through the promotion strategy you find a link building strategy that will perform well in the niche, but you need to shift the article to better capitalize on the link building strategy.

content writing vs content marketing

Create Content:

A high-quality brief leveraging advanced tools like MarketMuse, SurferSEO, and other Keyword Research tools are required. This brief will help ensure that the best content is created which will have the best chance possible of ranking for the target keywords.

In addition to the written words, additional assets can and should be created if the strategy calls for it. Video, infographics or simple tools can all play a significant role in the content marketing strategy. 


This is the simplest step in the process, make all the assets that have been created published.

In an ideal world, the advanced strategy involved a topic cluster structure and the interlinking adheres to that strategy. 

content writing vs content marketing

Execute Promotion Strategy:

The strategy for promoting is now congruent with the content that has been created. If it is a broken link building strategy, the content has been created to best mirror the content no longer available. If the purgatory link building strategy is used again, the content is created to maximize the chance of getting a link on outreach. 

Content Marketing Case Study

Below is a case study as an illustration of how much of the principles above can be applied. In this case study we focus on content writing and promotion with less of a focus on social media or influencer marketing. The content writer here needed to have some specialized knowledge in the field to create a piece for the marketing campaign to resonate with the target audience.


Page 1 Rankings in under 90 days for our ideal target keyword with 12k monthly searches in a competitive niche

content writing vs content marketing
From SerpBook


Spencer Haws, Kelley Van Boxmeer, and I launched MotionInvest in Q4 of 2019.

We wanted to not just rely on our audiences but lay the content strategy foundation for a 10yr+ business.

Because of this, a couple of content pieces were identified to be created. This case study summarizes the strategy and execution of one.

Below is the process we used to achieve the results shown above…

content writing vs content marketing

First – Strategy:

Keyword Research:

Keyword Identified – buying websites, website for sale online

Intent & Opportunity Identified – Although there is a lot of content online around this topic, there was limited content that was squarely focused on helping someone looking to buy a content-based website in the under 100k price range. Specifically, a complete resource to guide someone through the entire process including advanced due diligence.

We believe there are no articles that match a searcher’s intent of looking to educate themselves on the website buying process better then what we knew we were capable of creating (with the help of ContentRefined).

Content Asset Creation Plan

In addition to an epic guide helping people buy an online business, we identified 2 additional content assets which would help the user and play into the promotion strategy:

●      Infographic of Website Buying and Selling Landscape – As the landscape in the online buying/selling world has gotten more complex, there was a need for a map of all the players in the industry to help educate someone new to the space who each of the players were and when it would make sense to work with them vs. alternatives.

●      SOP for Due Diligence – All due diligence guides were focused on doing due diligence for larger businesses and therefore covered too many things (taxes, entity setup) and didn’t cover the specific requirements in enough detail (how to analyze backlinks). Therefore, we included in the article the complete SOP on executing due diligence.

●      Tips from Industry Experts – An additional content asset we intended to include were tips from industry experts.

Promotion and Link Building Plan

The strategy that was decided upon focused on a 2 part link building and promotion plan…

●      Skyscraper Technique – Simply create the most epic piece of content for the given searchers intent and reach out to people to get them to link to it

●      “Ego Bait” – Since we are not competitive with almost all brokers (dealing with smaller sites then brokers touch), we have the opportunity to get their involvement in the post sharing their tip. Including their tip helps them with exposure, improves the quality of the article and is an opportunity for them to share

Content Creation:

The outline and this entire strategy were created with the help of the team at ContentRefined leveraging the tools used there.

Between the MotionInvest SOPs, some content provided by the founders, and then the combination of everything into a monster guide, we believe the best BOOK on the topic of buying content websites for profit is the result!

The additional content assets of the infographic were created with a designer. I then executed the industry outreach.


Publishing such a long post is surprisingly challenging and time consuming!

In addition, we have a lot of pages that all rank for some related keywords, which is not ideal but as the site gets built out further it will all make sense to both the visitor and Google.


This is the part that is often left off and the difference maker between a content writer and a content marketing writer! Here was the basic promotion strategy that we have leveraged, including our own assets, to help push this piece of content to page 1. 

●      Skyscraper Technique – Based on the length and depth of what we created, people have been happy to link to us. The main outreach effort has only begun and the results already are promising with links such as this one from Matthew Woodward’s blog.

●      “Ego Bait” – By including people in the post and then letting them know once it is live, it is in there interest to share with their audience if we are not competitive with them and the asset piece helps their audience while demonstrating they are an authority in the space. Such as links from Jean Aglea or Richard Patey.

Hopefully, this case study was insightful in how to approach content marketing more strategically.

If the next time you see a piece of content that is killing it for a competitive keyword, try and reverse engineer their strategy. It is highly unlikely that they stumbled into the keyword or how they promoted it. When you look at top posts under this lens (Strategy, Copywriting, Publish & Promote), on Google, online success becomes far less mysterious.

How Can You Execute:

If you have a site, think about what piece of content you could rank for that would disrupt your industry. What if you ranked on the first page for a would-be trajectory that could then change the outcome for your business?

Imagine what just one of these content surges can do for your business once per quarter or once per month!

Need Help Executing? A Complete Done for You Solution?

The process is underway to combine all parts of what is outlined above under one offering executed by ContentRefined. Early beta testers are already in and the team is building the waitlist now. You can signup here.