In Defense Of Income School (Review): Why It's Not A Scam

Written by Donovan Nagel
Aug 12th, 2019
In Defense Of Income School (Review): Why It's Not A Scam

In looking for an Income School Project 24 review, you’ve probably seen this question asked a lot in forums:

Is Income School (run by Ricky Kesler and Jim Harmer) legit?

Well, the answer to that question is kind of.

I’ll explain what I mean by this in a moment.

But first, I discovered Income School in a review after I announced my epic niche site experiment not too long ago.

In case you’re new here, my niche site experiment involves (in a nutshell):

  • Purchasing several very unique domains on topics I’m already familiar with (i.e. niches I know and care about).
  • UPDATE: I stepped things up a notch and revamped some Flippa sites too.
  • Developing a custom static (GatsbyJS) template with MDX, optimized for straight 100 Lighthouse results (esp. SEO) and mass duplication.
  • Netlify for free and rapid deployment with CDN and Let’s Encrypt (also Vultr).
  • Content milling the bare bones of several dozen articles on each site, then rewriting and optimizing the articles in my own words (some of my Flippa buys have come with dozens or even hundreds of original articles).
  • Designing and setting up social media branding for each site + email lead capture and funnels.
  • Set it all up, submit to simmer in the Google soup, wait 6-12 months.
  • Gradually incorporate a mixture of ads and affiliate products when traffic movement starts.
  • Measure results.

The key here for me is getting away from sloppy, security hole-ridden Wordpress bloat, and instead using the power and simplicity of static GatsbyJS.

This enables rapid reduplication, deployment and perfect performance (+ zero maintenance headache).

I’ve already begun to see some results on several of these niche sites (2 sites are already earning daily revenue) but it’s still early days.

As for Income School and this review, I only heard about these guys recently while doing some research (I found them by accident).

I was instantly impressed.

It turns out that their content and SEO strategies are very similar to what I’m doing which is why I took a keen interest in their approach.

I binge watched most of their YouTube channel.

They’re using Wordpress but have since developed their own “optimized” theme called Acabado (I put optimized in quotation marks because I ran a Lighthouse test and got 2% on performance the first time, 26% the second time!).

Acabado doesn’t even come close to my GatsbyJS scores.

I dare you to run a Lighthouse test on this blog to see what I mean. :smile:

SEO site speed with Gatsby

Seriously though, I can understand the appeal of Income School’s Acabado theme for many people (particularly non-technical people who just want to focus on building content).

I would personally never go back to Wordpress after migrating to Gatsby and seeing how powerful it is for beautiful, performant niche sites but I get that it’s not for everyone.

Anyway, let’s focus on reviewing Income School’s Project 24 for now (if you’re interested in seeing my niche site experiments and learn what I know, subscribe by email using the form below).

A lot of SEO guys openly despise Income School

I also noticed something else that seems to be coinciding with the rise of Income School’s popularity.

A lot of people hate them.

I’m talking legitimate hate too.

One subreddit even went so far as to completely ban any member mentioning the words ‘Income School’ on their sub (post or comment).


Instant ban for mentioning two words in a sentence!

I think this is ridiculous even if you disagree with what they teach.

What can men do against such reckless hate?

One legitimate criticism of Income School that nobody seems to be talking about

First, let me raise a legitimate concern about Income School’s results/claims that nobody seems to be mentioning.


They make a tonne of money on passive ad revenue on their niche sites (which they share openly).

Campervans, dirt bikes and so on.

Here’s what they don’t tell you (and nobody seems to point out):

Income School is already an authority site and YouTube channel directing traffic to their niche sites.

They get tonnes of traffic and views as an established authority.

Because they talk openly about their niche sites and direct traffic to these niche sites from their channel, they are earning high revenue in ads and affiliate sales.

Not organically.

That means, the bulk of their revenue is coming from curious SEO guys like you and I checking out their niche projects from their channel or authority blog.

So on top of their traffic and revenue to Income School, they are then making additional pageview revenue from viewers who click through to take a look.

Organic traffic to their niche projects is likely a smaller source of their total earnings than they let on.

That’s my primary criticism of Income School.

I have a niche site that follows the Income School model and is earning me an income

I’m not going so far as to say that Income School is a scam.

It definitely is not.

But they’re just not completely clear about the sources of their traffic and ad revenue, and the fact that if they didn’t have their position as an SEO authority and popular YouTube channel, they’d have much less traffic and ad earnings.

Their dirt bike and campervan blogs would be making a fraction of what they’re currently earning.

In saying all this, their method actually does work.

Following the advice from the Income School guys (forgetting about backlinks, and focusing 100% on quality content and user intent) is hands down the best SEO strategy you can employ in 2020.

I know this because I’m literally looking at an old blog I created where I did the exact same thing.

It’s still making money every month and I never once worked for a single backlink.

As of now, it has all kinds of backlinks to it but these were obtained organically when my blog started gaining traction on search engines and other sites would link to my articles.

I’ll share the details of the blog I’m talking about in a future post.

I can confirm in this review that the Income School strategy works 100%.

I have proof right in front of me.

I also have come to believe that backlinks are totally overrated.

Go into SEO forums and it’s all they talk about - how to generate backlinks.

Forget about it!

The reason why I take this position now is that for my language niche (where I’m an established authority with some incredibly strong backlinks), there are new sites with almost zero backlinks effortlessly beating some of my pages.

Backlinks appear to be irrelevant in these cases.

I’ve also seen many cases of other people succeeding with no backlinks and just great content (+ on-page SEO optimization).

Those who criticize the Income School guys in subreddits and reviews either don’t want to invest the time and money, or are just plain envious

It’s easy to hate on people who are succeeding.

Rickey and Jim are obviously happy with their lives and producing good results from their time and financial investment in their SEO strategy.

Many people (especially Redditors) don’t like this.

They’d rather obsess over backlinks and vent rage at anyone who says otherwise.

It’s pure jealousy.

SEO self-appointed gurus also don’t like being made to look stupid when they’re pushing the ‘backlink narrative’ and guys like Rickey and Jim show them up.

Review summary: Is Income School (Project 24) worth it?

I would never pay for the Income School ‘Acabado’ Wordpress theme.

It’s poorly optimized and the highest speed I achieved with Lighthouse was 26% - an embarassing result.

That being said, Wordpress is for losers no matter which theme is being used. :smile:

It’s a bloated mess and a security headache no matter how much you optimize it.

If you were really determined to use Wordpress, I’m sure there are minimalist themes out there that would give you a slightly higher score than Acabado (or you could code your own).

As for reviewing Income School (Project 24), these guys know what they’re talking about.

Project 24 is pricey (about $450 for the year) but it’s still low compared to other high-ticket alternatives.

Also, for what it’s worth, I believe they’re Mormons so I’d be very surprised if they were running a deliberately deceitful operation based on lies (I’m not a Mormon but they seem to take their faith seriously).

The Income School method works and is common sense.

Just write high quality, long-form content that answers questions. Let Google find it and provide it to searchers.

Be patient and let your site simmer in the Google soup.

If it’s legitimately good with unique, well-researched content, people will naturally backlink to you over time.

Donovan Nagel

Written by Donovan Nagel

Christian, husband, dad, entrepreneur, dev, linguist, theologian and clown world survivalist. Follow on X.

Filed under: niche sites