If you’ve been thinking about investing in my course, SEO Made Simple, you may have had a few reservations about the investment. 

And yes, it is an investment! Enrollment in my course currently costs around $1k, which is a big step for a lot of people, especially if you’re newer to business or the online space. 

I do offer a payment plan to make it more affordable, but still, the bottom line investment is the same. 

And a question that I sometimes get from people before they enroll is – how long might it take for me to recoup my investment in this course?

And of course, there is no one universal answer for this, since it really depends on where your business is currently at and what your ultimate monetization goals are, but I thought on the podcast today I’d talk you through 6 potential ways you can make $1,000 after enrolling in my course and learning about SEO.

Hope you enjoy!

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Episode Transcript

If you’ve been thinking about investing in my course, SEO Made Simple, you may have had a few reservations about the investment. 

And yes, it is an investment! Enrollment in my course currently costs around $1,000, and is likely going up in price in 2023, which is a big step for a lot of people, especially if you’re newer to business or the online space. 

I do offer a payment plan to make it more affordable, but still, the bottom line investment is the same. 

And a question that I sometimes get from people before they enroll is – how long might it take for me to recoup my investment in this course?

And of course, there is no one universal answer for this, since it really depends on where your business is currently at and what your ultimate monetization goals are, but I thought on the podcast today I’d talk you through 6 potential ways you can make $1,000 after enrolling in my course and learning about SEO.

Method #1: Sell Something

If you have something to sell (whether that be 1:1 services, digital goods, courses, a membership site, or even physical goods), you can SELL to your audience to earn back your investment in SEO. 

SEO is an excellent FREE way to grow your audience in an evergreen fashion. 

Once you create a blog post that ranks at the top of Google, you can expect to get a good number of visitors to your website every single month for as long as that post maintains its rankings. 

And if you can get some of those people to join your email list, then you had a good shot at eventually converting some of them to paying customers in the future if you know how to do your email marketing 🙂 

So depending on the pricepoint of whatever you’re selling, you could potentially earn back your $1k pretty quickly with this method.

Of course, I’m being sort of intentionally vague here about numbers and timelines because there are sooooo many factors that go into this. 

For example, it can depend on the types of keywords you’re targeting (i.e. how many times they’re searched each month), the competition on page one, the overall competitiveness of your niche, your own brand’s authority in your niche, how long you’ve been blogging, how well you’ve done your on-page SEO and included internal links on your site, how many backlinks you have, how dialed in your technical SEO is, etc. etc. 

Generally speaking though, if you are trying to sell something, your goal will be to publish content that attracts your ideal customer right to you via Google searches, convert as many of those people as possible into email subscribers, genuinely help them with consistent high quality emails, and then pitch them to purchase something from you on a consistent basis. 

Some of this is a number game, so the better you get at SEO, the more authority you build, and the more traffic you get, the better results you will see. 

From a GENERAL standpoint, if you are starting from absolute scratch with no website, no business, no niche, and no audience, it will likely take you at least a year to get tens of thousands of visitors to your site and start being able to make good money from your online business. 

If you already have an audience somewhere, like maybe on social media, but you would love to start blogging so that you can create a more evergreen customer attraction mechanism, then sure, you could experience some success more quickly by converting people from that other channel onto your email list as well. 

If you already have a website but it’s just been sitting around for years without much well-optimized content on it, then you might see success a little faster as well, maybe in 6 months or so, since you have likely built up some backlinks and authority online without even really knowing it. 

But just for fun, let’s go through some theoretical examples of what it might look like to earn money online and how long it might take to earn back your investment in something like my SEO course. 

Example #1: You run an intuitive eating virtual PP and are selling packages worth $1k+

Then you just need to sell ONE PACKAGE in order to recoup your investment. If just ONE new person finds you via your blog instead of another channel you were previously focused on, you’ve earned back your investment. 

Of course, most people won’t purchase a premium offer straight from a blog post, you will likely need to run discovery calls or have a really good email funnel, but the point is, once you get your sales systems dialed in (or if you already have those systems created and you are just using SEO to funnel more people into them) then you are sitting on a golden opportunity. 

If you’re starting from scratch and have not had ANY online presence at all, I’d give yourself at least a solid year to learn and implement all these new skills. 

It’s A LOT of work to build your audience through SEO and see clients 1:1. And to be frank, it will take time and probably a few flops along the way to figure it all out. That is totally normal and part of the process. The key is to stay consistent and keep going and learning from each thing you try. 

Example #2: You sell a PCOS online course for $599

If you run an online course, then the potential is even sweeter because you’re NOT limited by your personal 1:1 time. 

Theoretically, you could enroll 100 people in your course at one time if there was enough interest!

Of course, launching and selling an online course is a whole bunch of work and is a whole nother can of worms, but the point is that you can use SEO to grow your audience, which you can then funnel into your sales system for your course. 

Once you nail down this system, SEO can provide you with a nice evergreen stream of leads that you can then convert into customers if you know what you’re doing. 

If you don’t have any audience at all yet and you’re relying on SEO to build your brand, note that this WILL take time. Probably at least 1 year to really find your footing, get on Google’s good side, and start getting tens of thousands of people to your site each month. 

But once you’re there, oh man, it’s such a sweet sweet method for routinely getting eyeballs on your brand without having to hustle on social media all day. All the hard work you put in up front to create lots of helpful content for your audience will continue to snowball and serve you for literal years to come. 

I didn’t use SEO to grow The Unconventional RD brand, but I DO use an evergreen email funnel to sell my SEO course. With a list of just about 6,000 people (mostly grown from my free Facebook group and this podcast), I am making over $200k per year in online course sales (and like I said earlier, my course currently sells for about $1,000 dollars, for reference.)

For comparison, my old nutrition blog ALSO has an email list of about 6,000 people that I grew 100% through SEO, with less than 20 blogs published on my site. I shut that business down a few years ago, so I haven’t tried selling any high-ticket items to those people, but I’m just using that as an example of how well SEO can work to grow your email list in an evergreen and very passive way. If I had kept that business going, I am confident that I could have created online courses that would have sold well if I had wanted to. 

Example #3: You have BLW meal plans that you sell on your site for $20. 

Let’s pretend you a BLW dietitian and you have meal plans that you sell on your site for $20. 

In this scenario, you would need to sell 50 copies of your meal plan in order to recoup your initial investment in SEO. 

Now… chances are, you aren’t running an entire business around a $20 one-time download, so you likely have other opportunities to recoup your investment, but if you JUST want to to try and earn that $1k back from a digital good, you definitely could!

Again, if you’re starting from scratch, this will be a slower play. But I’ll use an example from one of my past podcast guests here – Katie Dodd. 

Katie runs thegeriatricdietitian.com and she has a few ebooks for sale on her site. 

When Katie first started her site, she only made about $60 in ebook sales in the first 6 months. 

However, flash forward to the next calendar year, she made over $2,200 in ebook sales directly from her website without really promoting them anywhere else outside of her website and content. Not even doing any email marketing, just mentioning the ebooks on her website!

And this income stream has not dropped off with time. In fact, the year after that she made $3k from her ebooks, ALL from the work she had initially done years prior. Pretty sweet deal huh?

So yes, just from ebooks alone, katie has earned back her initial investment 5x over within a few years (and of course she now has many other more lucrative income streams as well, but the point is that you could technically say she was able to earn back her investment just via ebook sales in about 1 year!)

Example #4: You run a nutrition membership site that charges $14.99 per month. 

Okay, I’m going to use myself as an example here! 

If you’ve been listening to this podcast for a while, you know that I used to run a nutrition membership site called the Functional Nutrition Library, where I would upload helpful nutrition notes once every 2 weeks to the membership site. 

In late 2018, I decided to start a blog to help promote this offer and that was super successful! After about 8 months, I was able to get about 50% of my new subscribers per month via SEO, only posting 1 new blog post per month. 

It’s been awhile since I looked back at the stats on this, but if I remember correctly, I was getting maybe 5 new subscribers every month purely from SEO. Like not even doing any email marketing. JUST simply mentioning the membership site within some of my blog posts and linking to the sign up page. 

If you do the math on that, that’s about $75 per month in recurring revenue (that stacks on itself every month) added directly from blog posts WITHOUT any accompanying email marketing. If I simply maintained that level of subscribership (which honestly it likely would have grown, especially if I had started doing some email marketing), then that would equate to 60 new subscribers over the course of the year. If each person remained a subscriber for 1 year, that’s over $10,000 in earned income that year from posting 1 blog per month. That breaks down to each new blog post bringing in around $900 in membership revenue, on average, throughout the year. 

I mean… if you compared that to what you might earn from freelance writing, that’s a pretty freaking good return on investment! When I finally retired from freelance writing a few years ago I was earning $500 per post for a lot of my work, so that’s nearly double my freelance earnings. 

(And again, when I was running that membership site I was still pretty new at blogging with an SEO strategy, and if I had kept going, I believe that my efforts would have continued to compound over time.)

So I really like this as an example of how you can use blogging to build additional recurring revenue streams, like gaining new subscribers for a membership site. 

In this example, I would have earned back my initial investment in SEO after just about 1 year, but from then on, I was on track to earn back my investment nearly every month. It just takes some time to get the ball rolling and get your site to actually start ranking. 

Example #5: Sell physical goods

Okay, for this scenario, you would be selling an actual physical product to your audience. Like t-shirts, or a journal, or mugs, or whatever you think your audience would like!

I don’t actually have any experience with this type of revenue stream, but I know some dietitians have successfully done so. 

For example, McKel from NutritionStripped.com currently sells a physical journal for $17.99 and a tote bag for $27.99 directly on her website. And in the past I know she has also sold clothing, like cute foodie themed tshirts.

Again, just like any scenario where you are selling something, you could totally use SEO to attract people to your site and then get them interested in purchasing a physical good from you. 

I imagine that this pathway might be one of the slower ones for recouping your investment, since profit margins are probably on the smaller side for physical goods, but it still might be something that excites you and could be worth pursuing!

So long story short… you can definitely recoup your investment in SEO training by selling something directly to your audience. If you’re starting from scratch, I would expect it to take about 1 year to really pick up steam and start becoming profitable. If you’ve had a website for awhile, but just haven’t really known anything about SEO, then maybe 6 months. 

Then, depending on what you’re selling, you could recoup your investment in a few months after that once your traffic and conversions pick up. 


So what if you’re listening to this and you’re like ugh, Erica, I don’t want to work with people 1:1 and man, creating a course or a membership site or products sounds like sooooooo much work. 

I’m not sure if I can commit to something like that on top of all the work it takes to blog successfully in the first place. 

Well hey, no worries, then you might consider monetizing not by creating your own products, but by recommending other people’s products to your audience with affiliate links inside your blog content. 

Then if people click your links and make a purchase, you can earn a commission. 

This is a much more passive monetization stream, but it still requires some intention to be done well. 

It’s not enough to just slap a bunch of affiliate links on a recommended products page or hyperlink things you casually mention inside a blog post. 99% of the time, people won’t click those links because they aren’t necessarily looking to buy anything when they happen upon your site through your informational content.

The people who make good money from affiliate marketing often focus on creating content for people who they know are ready to buy. 

For example, rather than writing an informational blog post about instant pots and how awesome they are, can you write a product review post for a specific product instead?

The keyword phrase “sur la table air fryer review” is search 1,300 times per month and only has a difficulty score of 35 in semrush, which is pretty moderate and probably something that a newer blogger has potential to rank for if they’re really good at writing review posts in the way that Google wants. 

And most likely, the people looking up reviews of this product are considering buying it… they just want to be convinced that this is a smart purchase decision. 

So if your post provides an honest review that helps them make that decision, there is a good chance that some % of your readers will click through to buy the air fryer via your affiliate link and you can earn a commission. 

(Or, if you don’t really recommend that product after doing a thorough review, you could also point them in the direction of the product you DO recommend, and they may purchase that one instead.)

Just to flesh this out a bit more, the sur la table air fryer is currently selling for $130 on Amazon. At the time of this recording, Amazon is currently offering 9.5% commission on kitchen products, which means that you could earn $12.35 per sale made through the affiliate links in your post. 

Let’s pretend you grab the top spot in the search results and get about 650 clicks per month to that post. 

Let’s also pretend that you have a 1.5% conversion rate from those visitors, meaning you make about 10 air fryer sales per month. That’s $123.50 per month from ONE blog post. 

Over the course of a year, that would be nearly $1,500 in commissions from just ONE post that you wrote. That’s pretty freaking awesome, right?? Imagine if you wrote 10 posts that performed that well. That’s $15k per year in affiliate commissions just from understanding how to write high quality review posts. 

Pretty sweet, right???

So again, affiliate marketing IS a bit of a numbers game. You won’t start earning big until your site started to rank well, and most likely that will start happening around 1 to 1.5 years into your blogging journey. 

So you do have to put in the leg work up front, but you are building yourself a future passive income machine where that hard work you put in initially pays off for years to come. 


Some of you listening STILL might not be that excited about any of the monetization methods I mentioned so far. They still all involve creating and selling something yourself or recommending something for sale to your audience. And maybe that’s not your jam. Maybe you want nothing to do at all with selling anything. 

Well hey, there is still a viable monetization stream available for you – display ads!

Yep, you can earn money from your blog just by putting ads on it. And don’t worry, YOU don’t really have to do much to set this all up. 

Your job is just to publish as much high quality, SEO optimized content that targets high-volume, low-difficulty keywords in your niche so that you can grow your traffic as quickly as possible, because you DO need a lot of traffic in order to start running ads. 

The ad network that I really like and recommend is called Mediavine and they require 50,000 monthly sessions in order to apply. Yep. That means you basically need to get 50,000 people visiting your blog every single month in order to get into their ad network. 

Once you’re in, they will help you add some code to your site that will automatically insert ads into your content. Companies will bid for the ad space on your site and you will earn a % of the earnings. All of this is managed by Mediavine and they will just direct-deposit your earnings into your account every month. 

Earnings can vary widely, depending on your niche, the length and format of your content, and what countries you’re getting traffic from, but on average, you can expect to earn $1k in ad revenue within the first two months of being with the network and it should only grow from there. 

I’ve mentioned this before on my podcast, but it usually takes the students in my course anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 years to accomplish this goal. So it IS definitely a long game, but once you’re in, you can definitely earn thousands of dollars per month from the content that you worked so hard to create. 

You put in the work up front and you get paid out for it month after month moving forward. Remember Katie, that blogger that I mentioned a little bit ago? She consistently earns $4k per month in ad revenue from her site now, which adds up to roughly $50k in income JUST from running ads on her site. (Thats in addition to her other revenue streams like her ebooks, courses, and coaching that she now offers.)


There is a whole world out there of website owners who ONLY make money from display ads and/or affiliate links, so if these monetization streams speak to you, know that it is totally possible to replace your fulltime income by blogging (without needing to jump into the social media rat race!). 

But if that is your plan, you should expect it to take a couple years to get there, especially if you’re starting from complete scratch.


 The 4th way you could recoup your investment in SEO is to work directly with brands. 

Essentially, you would create a piece of content that features a brand or brand’s product and would be paid in return. This is known as sponsored content and it lives on your blog for either a set amount of time or in perpetuity, depending on how you set up your contract.  

I will say that sponsored blog posts used to be much bigger back in the day, especially in the food and lifestyle blogger world, but a lot of people have started moving away from them in favor of display ads or affiliate links so that they can have 100% control over their content at all times. 

However, if you have a very niched audience that certain brands would love to get in front of, paid sponsorships are definitely still a potentially lucrative option. 

In addition, you can always collaborate with brands in other ways, beyond blog posts as well, but use your website as a way to establish authority when pitching yourself. 

I only did one sponsored post back in the day, on my food blog, that I got via a network that connects bloggers with brands. I only earned a little over $100 bucks I believe, for creating a recipe that featured a certain brand of quinoa, but at the time, that felt like such a huge win!

However, know that you can definitely earn much more than that for all of your hard work. Especially if you’re good at SEO and can explain the value of a high-ranking post over the long term.

Since I personally didn’t really dive into this revenue stream, I’ll give an example from Kristina Todini’s income reports. 

Back when she was first getting serious about growing her blog with SEO, she didn’t have enough traffic to qualify for Mediavine, so she focused on doing sponsored content instead. 

In 2018, the first year that Kristina started taking her food blog seriously, she was able to earn $7,500 from sponsored brand work on her blog, even though she was only getting an average of about 10,000 visitors to her site every month. 

That breaks down to $625 per month if she did sponsored content all 12 months of the year. Not too shabby, eh?? 

In her income report for the year, Kristina admits that she wasn’t even actively seeking these sponsorships and that brands had approached her. She believed that her food photography on Instagram is what initially drew people in, in addition to the fact that she was an RD, so definitely don’t sleep on the power of high-quality visuals and promoting your credential!

So the point here is that even if your traffic is low, you may have skills or credentials that are attractive and valuable to brands and you can leverage that to earn income. 

If you decide to go this route, you could earn your investment back in just a few posts, so it’s definitely something to consider if earning a return on your investment is important to you. 

Note that brands will likely want to see at least some level of connection with an audience, even if it’s small, in order to want to work with you, so if you are starting at square one with no audience on any platform, it may take some time to build yourself up into a “influencer” that a brand may want to work with. 

If you already have an audience somewhere but are just new to the world of SEO, then you are at an advantage and may have an easier time landing these types of sponsorships if it’s something you’re interested in. 


The 5th way to earn back your investment in SEO is to leverage your authority and newfound SEO / writing skills to land additional opportunities outside of just brand work. 

For example, several students in my SEO course have shared recently that they have been approached with paid speaking opportunities simply from people finding them on Google (thanks to their good SEO). 

Other people in my course leverage their RD credential to work as paid reviewers for other health sites. This involves reviewing and fact-checking articles usually written by non-healthcare professionals and putting your name on the post as a reviewer. 

This type of work is usually freelance, but it can pay very well. It’s not uncommon to earn over $100 per hour to review content as an expert for someone’s site. 

And finally, some people decide to delve into freelance writing once they learn the ropes about SEO and know how to write high quality blog posts. 

Freelance blog writing is a valuable and in-demand skill, especially if you have a credential on top of it. Rates vary widely, depending on the types of sites you write for, but you can usually expect to earn at least a few hundred dollars per post you write for another person’s website. 

So depending on how quickly you need to earn back your money, freelancing, especially by working as an expert reviewer or freelance writer can be an excellent way to make money 100% virtually in your spare time. 

If you go this route, you can probably earn your money back in just a few months, and even better, you can use your own high quality blog posts as writing samples to land some of these gigs. 

Freelancing for other platforms can also be a good way to get backlinks if your site is new and needs an authority boost and you can list those major publications as places that you’ve been featured or worked for on your about page to establish even more authority and expertise. It can definitely be a win-win! 

Although personally, if your ultimate goal is to grow your OWN blog and business and not to freelance forever for someone else, I would set a cap on how much time you will dedicate towards freelancing vs your own biz. 

Otherwise it can be easy to keep taking on more and more freelancing work (I know, the money is enticing) and let your own projects fall to the side for a lot longer than you intended. 

When I was freelancing and also growing my own businesses, I looked at my finances and said okay X number of dollars is the bare minimum I need to survive each month, so that’s how much freelancing I’m going to do each month and nothing beyond that so that I could spend the rest of my time dedicated to my own business and projects. 

It may take you a little longer to reach your goals if your time is split in this way, but hey, at least your bills are paid in the meantime, which can take away some of the stress and pressure and make this whole online business adventure a lot more enjoyable.


Okay, to cap off this podcast episode today, I want to mention one last way that you could recoup your investment in SEO that not a lot of people think about right away. 

Once you have gone through my course and learned how to do everything hands-on with your own website, chances are, you know more about SEO than A LOT of other people out there in the world. 

If you end up really loving this type of stuff like I do, you could totally pitch yourself to offer SEO services to other online business owners as well. 

Maybe you can help other people do keyword research or plan their content calendars, or maybe you can get paid to go back and revamp or refresh people’s older content to help it rank better. Maybe you’ve gotten super good at food photography and you can do freelance recipe development or food photography for other bloggers using your SEO skills. Maybe you can put time in to help other business owners gain backlinks or media interviews. Or maybe you manage the Google Business Profile listsing for other dietitians. You’re really only limited by your imagination here, so don’t sell yourself short. 

And again, SEO skills are valuable, so you can charge accordingly for your services, knowing that you will really be helping someone move the needle in their online business. 


Today we talked about 6 ways you could recoup your investment in my SEO course and earn $1,000 online. 

The 6 ways were:

  1. Sell something
    • Services
    • Digital goods
    • Courses
    • Membership site
    • Physical goods
  2. Recommend something
    • Affiliate income
  3. Use display advertisements
    • Ad Revenue
  4. Work with brands
    • Sponsored Content
  5. Leverage your authority
    • Speaking engagements
    • Reviewer
    • Freelance writer
  6. Do SEO for others

I feel VERY confident that at least one of these income streams speaks to you and sounds exciting. And I hope that by talking about this and going over some real life examples, you get inspired to see all the potential that exists in the online space and how you can DEFINITELY recoup your investment in my SEO course if you are intentional about doing so. 

You don’t need to fear that you are throwing your money into a black hole by investing in SEO. You’ll be learning extremely valuable skills that can help you earn money online in a myriad of ways. 

The fastest route is by offering services of some kind, where you are trading your time for money. That is usually the quickest sell. The next fastest method is probably by selling digital goods, followed by the more passive income streams like ad revenue and affiliate income. 

The cool thing is that you can, over time, layer these income streams on top of eachother so you have multiple arms of income supporting your business. 

As you probably know, I’m a huge proponent of focus on and mastering one stream at a time before adding another, but hey, long term, maybe 5 years down the road, you could definitely be earning 6 figures online through several of these income streams.

And of course, if you’re interested in joining my SEO Made Simple course and learning how to grow your audience through blogging, just head over to seowaitlist.com and add you name to the list. 

I offer a rolling enrollment to my course based on when you added your name to the list. So once you add your name, you should get an invite via email in a few weeks. Yay!

Hope you enjoyed this episode and are extra inspired to dive into the world of SEO. 

Erica Julson is a registered dietitian turned digital marketing pro. She has over 12 years of experience blogging and building online businesses and has taught over 900 wellness professionals inside her signature program, SEO Made Simple.