Jim Harmer and Ricky Kesler's "Project 24" program promises to show you how to turn your passions into a revenue generating website; one that will replace your salaried job in 24 months.
Unlike their more aggressive competition, the duo inhabit personas more in resemblance of a helpful IT support guy. But is it all fluff behind their "nice guy" attitudes - or is there real substance to what they have to offer?
I have taken many courses (including this one) and I'll tell you, Project 24 is one of the best - but there are glaring problems with the affiliate business model, which we'll discuss later in this review. For this reason, I have shifted the majority of my focus towards lead generation, which unlike affiliate marketing, has real potential for passive income and nearly infinite scalability. If you're interested in learning more, click the link below.
There is a ton to cover in this review - and I genuinely hope that I can provide you with insights to help you decide whether or not Project 24 is right for you. Let's get started!
Inside look at how over 6300 students are learning to generate passive income online by building, ranking, and licensing websites for local businesses.
1. What is Income School?
Income School is an internet marketing company that teaches people how to create an internet business through blogging and creating YouTube channels.
Their flagship course is called Project 24, which teaches its students how to build passive income websites to replace their current income in 24 months.
This review will be spent mostly covering Project 24, as it is Income School’s paid course.
However, Income school has a really large YouTube following with over 138k subscribers.
They started the YouTube channel in February 2014, and at the time of this writing have uploaded 228 videos and have had 8,289,486 views!
In 2015, they started IncomeSchool.com, and launched Project 24 in 2018.
2. Who are Jim Harmer and Ricky Kesler?
Jim Harmer and Ricky Kesler are internet marketers and life-long friends who have been earning an income online together since 2014.
Their journeys into online entrepreneurship are interesting.
In 2009, Jim was working nights at a dollar store in Naples, FL to provide for his wife and infant son and trying to get into law school.
While he was stocking the shelves, he listened to internet marketing podcasts.
After finally getting into law school, he made his first website, ImprovePhotography.com, at night.
By the time he had graduated and started his law career, his blog was making more money than he was as a lawyer!
Fast forward to 2014, Jim and his family were back living in Idaho, and he reached out to his long-time friend Ricky about a business proposition…
Up until that phone call, Ricky had earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering and was working on an MBA.
He had worked through various career-oriented positions, but never felt fulfilled in them.
For Ricky, this opportunity represented something special, and he wanted in.
So in 2015, Income School LLC was formed.
Just a few months after starting to write some blog posts, Ricky was actually laid off from his full time job.
This was the push he needed to move back to Idaho, get a day job, and really focus on building Income School with Jim.
It took 3 years of hard work as a side gig before Income School was ready to launch Project 24, and Ricky finally left his day job.
Jim & Ricky have been working together full-time since 2018, building the Income School platform and brand.
3. How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
Affiliate marketing is an online business model often referred to as performance-based marketing.
An online retailer or service provider will pay a marketer based on their promotional performance.
This could be based on traffic or sales generated.
It is the marketer’s job to promote the product or service, and they are paid for the results.
Affiliate marketing can be done using either free traffic or paid traffic methods.
Free Traffic Methods Include:
- Creating a Blog Website with Engaging Content (Income School's Method)
- Ranking that Website on Google by using Search Engine Optimization
- Using Email Marketing
- Creating Content on Social Media Platforms (not ads)
- Plus More
Paid Traffic Methods Include:
- Display Ads
- Social Media Ads
- Native Ads
- Video Ads
- Plus More
4. Is Affiliate Marketing Legit or a Scam? What About Income School?
Affiliate marketing is a very legit way to build a business online.
The business model is sound and actually predates the internet (aka referrals).
Income School is also a legit platform, even though there are some within the internet marketing community who dislike their approach…
Even being banned by some… or were they?
On the Reddit thread r/juststart (community of 76.6k affiliate marketers), a moderator grew tired of seeing people post positively about Income School.
So, u/MeekSeller decided to place a lid on any mention of “income school,” in order to help keep affiliate newbies on that platform from going to them for training.
This lead to the idea of creating a list of black listed “furus” (fake gurus).
However, the r/juststart community did not approve of such censoring.
So, pictured above, is one of the many follow up posts that MeekSeeker has had to make.
What’s the big beef some marketers have with Jim & Ricky’s methods?
They found success in affiliate marketing without learning backlinking or using keyword tools, and they teach others the same.
This will be covered in more depth in the pros and cons section later on.
5. How Much Does Jim & Ricky's Project 24 Cost? Do They Offer Discounts?
Project 24 costs $449 for the first year, and then the annual membership renewal is $199.
Project 24 is more than a simple course, but is the membership portion of Income School.
Project 24 is broken down into several different courses, a private podcast, private videos, and access to a private online community.
The primary course that students focus on is “60 Steps to a Successful Niche Site.”
Even though there are 18 other courses, including courses titled:
- "Build an Internet Marketing Business with YouTube”
- “E-A-T for SEO: A Step by Step Guide for Online Credibility”
- “Monetize with Info-Products”
- “The Battleship Method”
- “Picking Profitable Niches”
- “No Nonsense SEO”
- “Pinterest Results - How to Get Traffic”
- Much More
However, there are also currently over 200 videos of free content on the Income School YouTube channel.
So, if you didn’t want to invest yet, there is a lot of good fundamental content available for free.
There is one thing that is very different about how Jim and Ricky operate Income School compared to a lot of other marketers, it is their transparency.
Typically, marketers with courses hide behind an internet persona of fancy cars, watches, jetting around the world, etc.
However, you are never actually sure if their success was legitimately earned.
Jim & Ricky do something completely different, and have for a long time.
Before 2020, you could find a list of their actual niche websites like the image above.
You can technically still find it now, but what changed in 2020? (Besides everything else in the world.)
They decided to sell these projects in order to make room for more projects in the future.
Projects that would be both under the brand of Income School, and that would be new niche websites.
Here is where the transparency is in full 10K definition…
They provided all of the details of the website for anyone to see, AND they updated the posting to show what the website sold for!
If that weren’t enough transparency, they typically post a bi-yearly or yearly income report video for Income School on their Facebook page.
Last year’s is the featured video, and it auto plays when someone visits their channel.
7. Beginner Focused
Another positive of Jim & Ricky’s methods at Income School is it is beginner focused.
They do a really good job of teaching to the level that they were at when they first started.
They provide a step-by-step guide from starting to completing your first niche website.
This is seen best in their featured course “60 Steps to a Successful Site.”
In this course, they literally break down exactly what you need to accomplish into 60 action steps.
Here are Action Steps 1-10:
- Action 1: Watch the Video Course on Choosing a Topic
- Action 2: Choose Your Topic and Domain
- Action 3: Sign Up for Hosting and Install WordPress
- Action 4: Get a Logo to Brand Your Site
- Action 5: Themes and Plugins
- Action 6: WordPress Settings
- Action 7: Watch the No Nonsense SEO video course
- Action 8: Search Analysis and the Article Hit List
- Action 9: Watch the Video on Formatting Posts
- Action 10: Write Your First Response Post
But each one of these are broken down with supporting videos, pdfs, and/or spreadsheet tools.
It is very easy for someone completely new to blogging to jump in and be able to progress through the training.
Plus, there is a very active Project 24 community that can be very helpful too.
Both Jim and Ricky are active on there too.
8. Foundation of Integrity
If you didn’t pick up on this from the transparency pro, these guys operate on a different level of integrity than most other marketers seem to.
The prime example I will share was actually going to be a con that was addressed.
One of the biggest reasons that someone with the influence that these guys have might publicly disclose their affiliate websites would be to funnel more traffic to it.
This was my suspicion early on, and has been a critique of other in-depth reviews.
That all changed after I discovered the information about selling the sites, and this…
As they had redesigned the layout of their sites page (incomeschool.com/sites), the top section is now their “Current and Upcoming Sites.”
Now, if they were wanting to make money and create bloated success numbers, then they would simply introduce any new project to their audience.
However, they wanted to get real results.
Jim & Ricky are constantly learning and testing to see how effective their strategies are today.
As search engines continue to evolve, these guys are working diligently to make sure that their students are at least on pace with progress, if not well in front of the curve.
By this 1 example of not leveraging their traffic sources in order to get a more authentic understanding of the new site’s progression…
They are demonstrating they operate in a higher degree of integrity.
Plus, this is just one of dozens of other examples that could be given to support this claim.
9. Jim and Ricky Seem Like Genuinely Good Guys
Another pro for Income School is that Jim Harmer and Ricky Kesler are genuinely likable guys.
They have this normal-ness to them that really places people at ease.
These guys aren’t trying to be anyone else other than themselves.
This authenticity really translates through their videos.
Jim & Ricky are midwestern dads who are life-long friends.
It seems like they truly enjoy making the content and teaching others this skillset.
And yeah, it seems like they are slightly nerdy and have that slightly uncool thing going on that most dads have…
But that’s cool because it's authentic.
In an ocean of posers, pretending to be something just to make money, these guys are a breath of fresh air.
10. Negativity From SEO "Traditionalists"
When you are looking around on the internet trying to figure out if Income School or Project 24 are right for you…
You’re going to find a lot of complaining from the SEO community.
Mostly because the methodology that Jim and Ricky teach is not in line with what others teach.
Specifically, they don’t teach backlink building or promote using keyword tools.
But, we’ll cover those later.
This negative perspective is a snub of the nose from the “real SEO experts.”
Yes, the teaching that Project 24 provides is built and formatted for a slightly more inexperienced audience…
But is their actual content less valuable because of that?
I would actually say no.
They teach in accordance with Google best practice guidelines, which is no surprise because Jim has a law degree.
The SEO community thinks that the lack of advanced teaching, or at least acknowledgement during their courses is setting newer marketers up for failure.
I think in some ways it might, but ultimately I think they are making conscious decisions on a methodology that they believe will stand the test of time.
Much like their long-term approach to niche site ROI, I think they are playing the long game with their online education platform’s instructional content.
11. Overly Reliant on Intuition
"Keyword tools are wrong 100% of the time."
-Ricky Kesler // Income School
This one might be a pretty big negative, so let me explain.
There are going to be 2 types of people who approach this training:
- Those who know what niche they are going to build a website about
- Those who do not know what niche they will pursue
The guys do a really great job of walking you through the process of how they think about and approach niche selection.
This could certainly help to validate the idea that you already had, but what about the people who have no clue?
They do their best to provide the tips necessary to accomplishing this, but ultimately a lot is left up to your intuition.
You shouldn’t blindly go into a niche because of a hunch, but they also don’t really like utilizing search tools that could provide helpful insight.
However, to combat this, you have access to the Project 24 community to ask questions and get situational answers.
There is one tool that they do recommend using to help aid your niche selection process, and that is Google Trends.
They suggest using this tool as a way to gauge the overall trending of a niche.
Other than that, you are to use a series of search results on platforms to gauge if it’s viable or not.
Which could really cause problems for those needing decisive clarity.
12. No Training on Backlink Building
This is another huge negative… or is it?
Many from the traditionalist SEO camp complain that there is no backlink training.
Or that there is not a depth of training there should be in order to succeed in affiliate marketing today.
It’s actually a rather loaded question, because they do in fact teach link building…
Only white hat techniques though.
How Project 24 teaches SEO is heavily focused on what Google calls EAT.
That is Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.
These standards are how Google are building their algorithms to work.
Consequently, anyone trying to do work arounds on their platform will be penalized if caught.
This means that a lot what works now in the SEO community for ranking purposes isn’t what Google wants.
Big G refers to these practices as either black hat or gray hat techniques, otherwise referenced as “unnatural links” by Google’s webmaster guidelines.
Typically, a black hat practice today was once a gray hat practice in the past.
Do they still work?
Yes, but they come with a lot of risk.
Income School teaches link building methods without actually saying “these are our link building methods.”
A few of these different methods for building a backlink profile include:
- Leveraging the Project 24 community for an authoritative source in a content piece (attributing backlinks are optional; less like link sharing and more like HARO- “Help A Reporter Out”)
- Getting featured as an author in text… aka backlink
- Getting mentioned in multi-media such as podcasts or YouTube videos… aka backlink
- Getting a Wikipedia page (merely stated that is is beneficial, but you cannot create one yourself)... aka citation/backlink
- Getting your brand featured in a text article… aka backlink
- Actually doing something newsworthy to be covered in the news… aka backlink
Are these methods the most difficult to accomplish in SEO?
You bet, but they don’t come with a warning label of jeopardizing your website, brand, or i.p. address.
So to say Jim and Ricky don’t teach backlink building is incorrect…
They only teach the methods that Google has authorized and outlined in its standards and guidelines.
13. No Course Refunds
Income School does not issue any refunds for Project 24 new sign ups.
The stated reason on their refund policy page is due to the nature of the product.
Also, due to some early experiences of people signing up for the program, then ripping off the course material...
Or worse, using the info provided in the Project 24 community to steal the work of others.
However, they do have a 30-day, no questions asked refund policy for their custom WordPress theme Acabado.
14. Do Jim & Ricky's Students Actually Make Money?
There are several examples online of people who have stuck it out with the processes taught by Project 24, and have made money.
But, like anything, there is no guarantee that you will make money.
Their goal is that hopefully you will be making decent monthly income in 24 months or less, hence the name of the program.
There are success stories posted on their YouTube channel, like this one from 2 years ago.
Or these other videos from the search:
But rarely do we ever get a chance to see if their work actually works.
In January of 2020, Jim and Ricky sold 6 niche websites in their portfolio.
About 7 months later, the Income School team caught up with the new owners to see what the progress looked like.
All 6 of the websites saw increases in both page views and income in just a short amount of time.
Some of this was due to the work that was put into the sites by the new owners, but mostly it was due to the work that was already established.
15. Who's a Good Fit for Income School's Project 24
Income School says that Project 24 is good for three types of people…
For beginners, for those who have tried and failed, and for advanced internet marketers.
A person must be willing to put in the hard work, and anticipate delayed gratification for that effort.
They would need to be committed to the process, and that means committed to accomplishing actions...
Not making money.
By focusing on the actions, it is hoped that eventually, the money will come.
16. What Alternatives Are There to Income School & Project 24?
There are other courses out there, but very few actually compare to the quality that you are getting here.
Perhaps you could take some additional SEO courses to help round out those skills…
But for an affiliate marketing course, there really isn’t any better for the price.
Plus, the community can be an absolute gamechanger.
Jim and Ricky have done a good job building a great program.
Pros & Cons of Income School's Project 24
Parting Thoughts on Income School
Overall, I think this a solid platform to learn a lot of the fundamentals of affiliate marketing.
There is a ton of free material available on their YouTube channel, and Project 24 really goes in depth beyond what’s covered there.
The true secret weapon is the access to the community.
For those who might feel like this training doesn’t provide the right value, I would say it is because they under utilized the community and attempted learning this in a bubble.
I think the entire structure of Income School allows the community to sort of fill in the gaps found in the training.
Whether that is an actual educational gap in the material, or it is a learning gap that presents a hurdle to your progress.
Plus, Ricky and Jim are active in helping to serve their community.
In fact, #1 of 10 rules on a hidden page on their site called “manifesto” states that they believe “ten minutes serving your tribe is worth ten hours improving your business.”
I think it is very evident that this is exactly what Jim Harmer and Ricky Kesler strive to do.
This is a big one, especially if you are looking to start generating an income online before 2-3 years.
I really appreciate that Project 24 is honest about the longevity necessary to start making an income…
But, for those who don’t want to wait for 24 months to start making $7,875 (as proposed in the suggested timeline)...
By taking a lot of the same skills, you can start generating an income with lead generation.
Let’s say you just focused on local lead generation, and you could add at least 1 client per month to pay you $500 per month to generate leads for them.
By the end of the first year, you could be making $6k.
And that’s if you didn’t charge more and only signed 1 client per month.
Imagine what is possible if you acquired the skills to bring on 3-4 clients per month AND could deliver at a level to charge $1k per client.
To follow the process outlined by Project 24, it takes a massive amount of content.
If you wanted to scale up to a couple of different sites, this could get very tricky very quickly.
Soon, you’re either investing a lot of money into content writers, or you’ve got a full-time job cranking out content.
Oh, and if you’re just starting a new site, you’re not getting paid for it either.
2-3 years of diligent, time consuming work for the hope of a payday in the future.
Lead generation is a bit more scalable because it can provide the working capital to cash flow the expenses of adding extra help.
Or, it could at least pay you for your efforts… Perhaps you could even quit your day job early?
Hey I hope you enjoyed this deep dive into one of affiliate marketing's best courses for beginners, Income School's Project 24.
Jim and Ricky have done a good job of teaching the fundamentals of making money with an affiliate site, even though they catch a lot of grief from the SEO traditionalists.
I've made my fair share of $$$ with affiliate marketing but after grinding at it for almost 2 years I've realized that this biz model is not that great long-term because anyone with a computer can get started today. Plus, I spent more money in that time than I made.
I have invested in a lot of courses but regardless of all the tips & tricks from these coaches, there's nothing you can do about the fact that affiliate marketing can take upwards of 2 years to become profitable with all of the competition worldwide.
This is why today, I have quit affiliate marketing altogether and do local lead generation instead. Click on the button below where I go in-depth on the main reasons why I believe local lead gen is a better business model than affiliate marketing...
MARKET SATURATION & COMPETITION
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Ad prices have doubled in price over the last year. When you factor in ad development, split testing, and monitoring, a single ad campaign can easily cost thousands of dollars.
Effective ads are easily copied - and Facebook has little to no protection against plagiarism.
The key to long term wealth is in building and owning valuable assets, but with Facebook advertising, you own nothing. You're bound to the confines of an aging social media platform with an advertising system that is increasingly ineffective.
Facebook is quick to shut down advertising accounts - and their terms of service are ever changing. If 2 people report a single ad (for every 5000 impressions), it is likely your account will be suspended.
Facebook advertising does not provide passive income. You will work for every penny.
Facebook ads have grown increasingly ineffective, especially with Gen X, Gen Y, and Millennials. Ad blockers are becoming a standard feature of web browsers, too. Ask yourself: When was the last time you clicked on a Facebook ad?
Apple users will no longer see Facebook ads. They also can no longer be re-targeted by Facebook Pixel. To advertisers, this means that their potential reach has been cut by nearly 60% (Apple's mobile market share).
Local Lead Generation
Click the button below to find out how you can get started with Lead Generation today!