Making Money In SEO

People talk a lot, but very little actually do. I've case studied up 6 of the best successes in the SEO industry, that have made it for real.
Making money in SEO

[well]Warning: This post is HUGE and the majority is text, you will be reading considerable amounts of walls of text here.. but trust me, each and every success story will be well worth it and give you inspiration, hope and most of all: IDEAS. So stick with me, and enjoy.[/well]

One of the most frequently asked questions I get asked is “How can I make money, when I have no money OR I have “limited” knowledge” – The latter is semi-easy to accomplish… Keep on reading, there’s plenty of free resources out there.. I’ll have a post out soon with the best of the best SEO resources, as well.

However, if you don’t have any money NOW, then it can be pretty hard to actually get the capital together to take your business to the next level. I’ve already covered several ways in my Rags to Riches post on how you can make money without capital –

From Rags to Riches… and Being Realistic

But what I haven’t covered, is how you can actually turn your knowledge and no/small capital into a profitable organization. Don’t worry, these aren’t just theoretical ideas… I’ll be case studying up people in this industry that have actually gone out and done it themselves.

Table of Contents


Everyone featured in this post is someone I think you should be following in some way or another, they’re actual successes in SEO and not just those that say they’ve been successful. Not all of them will be super active when it comes to releasing info all the time, but I’m sure you’ll pick up some golden nuggets by doing a bit of stalking.

A lot of these people also built companies that’ll last a long, long time in comparison to most of the tactics taught in webinars and could be the basis for your very own multi-million dollar online empire.

Case Study #1 – Ryan Stewart (Client SEO)

There isn’t anyone quite like Ryan that’s hit the scene nearly as hard, and that’s why he’s taken the number 1 spot.. This isn’t in order, but I think this man’s recent rise to power deserves telling, properly. Especially as I’ve been asked by numerous agency owners, freelancers etc.. on how the best way for them to get a ton of clients is or get the high paying clients ringing on your agencies doorbell.

Well, Ryan’s pretty much perfected that now.

He started off with a small agency site on an expired domain , yes, his entire company is literally branded off an expired domain, though he highly regrets that now.

He didn’t do what most new agency owners would do and try and prove themselves in the local arena, battling for SERP positions around their locality. He did proper content marketing, with a work ethic that would rival Neil Patel’s army of interns, by himself..

He started out as a black/gray hat on a small scale but noticed the every increasing price to go about doing that, as well as the lack of feeling that he wasn’t actually building something long lasting. So, he dabbled his hand into the white hat world and started researching every piece of info he could learn on content marketing, with a speciality in guest posting.. but instead of doing it straight away for his clients, he did quite the opposite.. Went on a guest posting rampage, picking up gig after gig after gig but investing 10 – 50 hours in every post, as to make sure it was of the highest of quality but in very short amounts of time so his name would quickly be spread like wildfire, becoming an influencer in the content marketing world just a year into his agency’s life.

Not only did this attract him a large following, a metric sh*t ton of links to his agencies site and recognition in the community.. but it also brought a keen eye from businesses researching SEO and seeing this man’s name pop up time & time again, and those clients aren’t the kind of ones you’ll get for ranking in your 50,000 person town.. They were big business, bringing in 2 – 5 thousand dollars contracts on a weekly basis.

Whilst his guest posting spree was churning away in the background, Ryan also worked on perfecting the white hat scalability process by turning his SEO guest posting outreach campaign into a complete guest posting outreach strategy that he scaled up using VAs and a few inhouse staff, though the latter were mainly used for dealing with sales & handling the clients/reporting. The VAs were the ones in the background finding guest post opportunity after opportunity for his clients, whilst also smashing the technical OnPage himself by doing hugely detailed audits.

Ryan then turned his gathered SEO audience into yet another source of income with his very successful agency course that showed people how to scale massively effective white hat link building campaigns using VAs, the exact process which he had used himself.

Ryan is continuing to grow his agency using mostly word of mouth and clever re-marketing tactics, whilst also blogging at more targeted industries, his recent blog post –

Is Your Business Ready For What’s Coming?

Show’s exactly what I mean, gaining a ton of upvotes on both growth hackers and hackernews – 2 very profitable traffic sources for any agency.

Case Study #2 – Matt Diggity (Affiliate & Link Sales)

Matt’s the only 100% black hat to make it onto this list, though he’s had a stellar last 3 years growing his empire.

He started off building private blog networks for his own affiliate sites and quickly realized that it was a very costly process to build and maintain a large network. So, he opened his network for sale and quickly became the talk of the town having to quickly expand his current network and employ his own staff to handle the amount of orders coming in – This was an extremely clever business move as he’s been able to effectively drop his original link building costs into profits whilst still being able to use them for his own sites.

More recently he’s opened an affiliate JV platform and closed his PBN to new customers, with invitation waves going out every so often to those that apply.

Due to the success of his blog posts that were originally made to attract new PBN link customers, he’s opened an SEO consulting business at a rate of $499 per hour, with over 25 clients a month. 2016 will also be the first year he runs his own paid events with people flying across the world to do an SEO bootcamp in an extraordinary villa in Chang Mai, which is where Matt moved to when his SEO business really started to kick off.

Matt’s income has always predominantly been passive affiliate based, and his style of creating long term white hat looking sites, powered by very powerful PBN links has paid off in huge dividends. He’s also a master at crafting backlink profiles to have perfect anchor ratios, link velocity and variety which has resulted in some of the quickest page 1 rankings I’ve ever personally seen – This all shows in his blog writings, which is another reason his site and brand has quickly grown to be highly recognized in the SEO community.

[well]Interesting Fact: Matt was one of the few SEOs to rank for “Garcinia Cambogia” in the height of it’s popularity, pulling in over $50k/month.[/well]

Matt’s continuing the year by testing affiliate products on his sites and then looking to source the products and sell them himself – Taking affiliate SEO to a whole new level.

He’s also been promoting Chang Mai as (how he calls it) “the SEO capital of the world” by hosting monthly meetups, inviting up & coming SEOs to his apprenticeship bootcamps and JV’ing with a ton of people to grow out his affiliate empire even more, rather than having to build & manage his own sites.

Case Study #3 – Doug Cunnington (Niche Sites)

If you’re in the Amazon game it’s likely you’ve heard of Doug, he’s coming into the industry like a wrecking ball, only starting in IM in early 2013 after being in corporate management & consulting for 9 years. Like a lot of SEOs and internet marketers, he got laid off his cushy 9 to 5 job and looked into getting some quick cash online.

Within just 6 months of getting into SEO (in 2013) Doug had an Amazon affiliate site smashing over $10,000 a month.. That is until, like every good SEO story, he got penalized – He wrote his short term $10k build & rank methodology into one of the most popular posts on Empire Flippers ever –

case study

Doug started selling PBN links (that he used on his own sites) for a while, even though it was very profitable he quickly got bored of the mundane business venture and decided to clean up his act right at the peak of guest posting being the #1 “white hat” link building tactic. He started doing some heavy research into that method, eventually scaling it for his own sites and then launching the process into a full blown service that is arguably one of the best guest posting services in the world.

To promote said service, he built his own brand “Niche Site Project” and started guest posting all over the place, whilst building out his own blog & site – He eventually got round to investing a TON of time into learning email marketing & funnels, implementing them into his site to help promote his services.

As his blog gained traffic and recognition he started working on his own info products, first releasing a totally free blog network course that gained him a large following and added a nice amount of emails to his newsletter. Once he’d built the audience off his free content, he put out a complete Amazon niche site buiding course, which has since done over 5 figures in sales and led to him JV’ing with multiple course members – Further scaling his affiliate income.

Now-a-days Doug’s automated most of his processes, services and sites so that he can have a hands off relationship whilst still enjoy the cash. He’s also picked up a part time gig at a startup in the states where he can combine his digital marketing, project management & operations skills in a fun & (more healthy than affiliate) environment.

Case Study #4 – Rohit Palit (Blogging & Affiliate)

I’ve known Rohit for a long time now, and I’m happy to of trained him in 2013 and up to this point as well, he’s been a massive success and his recent Amazon case study has spread like wildfire across the industry, and with good reason.

Rohit’s built his empire upon 3 platforms: Web Hosting Affiliate, Amazon Affiliate & other affiliate programs.

His web hosting affiliate is based on his main blog called TechTage and the reviews he’s done (an example being his SiteGround review) for them have gained a ton of shares due to their ruthless, technical and extremely detailed approach.. Which has also garnered him some very solid, natural rankings for keywords most black hats would dream over –

rankings for techtage

These reviews have now netted him over $10,000 per month, with a combined affiliate revenue of over $30k/month.

His Amazon affiliate projects are all built around niche sites covering highly popular niches and ranking with large pieces of content, perfect OnPage strategy, speed times and solid link profiles – A mixture of black hat and white hat link building. I suggest checking out his guide I linked above to see a complete overview of how he builds and ranks these kind of niche Amazon affiliate sites.

Note: You can check out my black & white hat link building strategies here.

I also forgot to mention that Rohit is just 18 years old, Indian born and with English being his second language. Even though he may be young, his work ethic has been on-par with people twice his age and has paid off big time. He’s even faced the battle of having strict parents that don’t fully understand what he does, and wanted him to pursue traditional education, though his current business isn’t slowing down anytime soon and he’s moving onto being a fulltime SEO.

He’s recently incorporated his own company in India, been heavily working on his TechTage blog (and using a ton of white hat link building tactics on the site, picking up a really nice link profile) and continuing to build out & sell more Amazon sites.

Case Study #5 – Ryan Deiss (Blogging & Content Marketing)

Ryan is the biggest person on this list, I don’t have direct contact with him though did recently meet him at Dan Bradburys event.

Ryan’s premise is blogging, with an overall internet marketing campaign that all starts with SEO. He owns some of the biggest blogs in the world, including Survival Life & Makeup Tutorials, both of which have got some killer rankings in Google, not to mention his internet marketing site

Ryan’s strategy involves having his blogs on having cluttered designs, with really informative content that’s highly targeted and email “lead magnets” to funnel visitors into buying affiliate offers or products created by Ryan’s team.

He uses his large content pieces, user generated content (guest posts on his site) and white hat link building methods to gain tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of organic visitors a month. He then uses the new organic traffic to do retargeting campaigns to get even more people through his email funnels, as retargeting is a LOT cheaper than traditional targeting methods.

He also uses his organic traffic to get new writers for his sites, add additional followers to his sites social profiles, breed organic link opportunities and enroll users into his membership packs.

He monetizes his sites via digital download products (such as Survival eBooks & Audio Books) and physical products through Amazon or of his own companies creation. As I said above, he also offers memberships for his sites, such as his Survival Life $10/month membership which gets you virtual magazines, access to private posts/forums and more – It’s currently got over 5,000 paying members.

Ryan’s managed to forge an insanely large business doing tens of millions of dollars a year from his blogs and internet marketing training courses. He’s in my opinions one of the best content marketers in the world, and showcases how a real online empire should be forged.

Case Study #6 – Matthew Woodward (Blogging)

I’ve known Matthew for several years now, and his blog is one of the perfect examples of how to execute a growing blogging campaign in a matter of years to the point where it requires very little active attention from himself in comparison to the start. He’s got employed writers & guest posters now producing most of the content put out on the blog, whilst he focuses on growing it’s traffic and creating more income streams.

Matt started with a very simple goal: Create content that is helpful in an industry that hasn’t got extremely specific tutorials. Matt designed hugely complex YouTube series that had multiple softwares used (with his affiliate links) and offered very good SEO, link building & internet marketing strategies that worked when they were released – He then did a VERY good job of marketing these by hijacking forums, guest posts, interviews, comments and pretty much anywhere else he could get featured.. Working tirelessly to produce a never ending amount of content so that his site would then be completely sustainable by the old posts he’d already put out – It worked as just 4 years later he’s getting nearly 40,000 visits a month from organic, which in the IM/SEO niche is more than enough traffic to make you $10k/mo in affiliate earnings alone.

Matt doesn’t use link building to his site other than in his guest posts (which were extremely rare anyway) and instead uses his 300+ post count (all with rather long sizes) and user generated forums to gain a ton of traffic. He’s also the master of interlinking and has routinely done round-ups every month for 3 years which has pushed his site into influencers faces month after month, gaining him social shares & links threw the roof.

YouTube has also been a big part of Matt’s strategy, he produces long videos and optimizes each one to rank in YouTube’s SERPs as well – Further sending him and his affiliate links more traffic.

Matt’s main source of income is his massive amount of affiliate links, but he also runs an outsourced agency for a revenue share and offers banner advertising on his blog which make him a cool $1.6k/mo, even that pales in comparison to his affiliate and client income though.

Thanks For Reading

I hope you enjoyed this post, it took me a LONG time to put together and get all the facts from the individuals featured in this post.

If you liked this post leave a comment and I’ll also make sure everyone featured is made aware of the comment section for your guys (and gals) questions.

Don’t forget to join my Newsletter and get a free 7 day SEO course.

Regards, Charles.


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