How my 18 Year Old SEO Intern Generated $35,364 in Revenue in 30 Days

This post begins with a story. If you want to go directly to the actual marketing plan, the lead generation landing page and the results, scroll down.

Wil Reynolds wrote a post about hiring two SEOs who got his attention. But unknown to Wil, both of those gents turned out to be 17-years-old and still in school.

One was Jon Cooper and the other was Ed Fry. Jon’s got a legit link building blog and Ed came out of nowhere with this masterpiece: SEO Guide to Creating Viral Linkbait and Infographics.

After reading Wil’s story, I knew I had to write a post about my SEO intern, Kelsey Kamentz. During her internship Kelsey did something significant – she quantifiably generated revenue for our company.

How Kelsey found me


This is Kelsey, my amazing SEO intern. Photo credit: Ruthie Kreidler.

I wrote a post about hiring an SEO intern, Kelsey found the post (it was briefly in spot 7 for the keyword ‘Paid SEO internship’) and she followed the application instructions, flawlessly.

Why Kelsey got hired

Kelsey had zero SEO experience and never worked at a so-called ‘real company’. During our Skype interview Kelsey was low-key, but sharp and well-spoken. But it was Kelsey’s story about how she earned her undergrad that made me hire her.

TL;DR version:

Kelsey started earning college credit in high school. She also started her own business in high school. Through distance learning and flat out hustle, Kelsey earned her undergrad at age 18. She bankrolled her way through college and graduated 100% debt-free. Crazy Millennial.

Create content. Market. Generate leads. Generate revenue.

A few weeks after Kelsey joined the team I gave her a content creation project so she could understand that SEO is about more than just building links or doing keyword research, and that although she was technically an SEO intern, she was also a marketing intern.

The project I gave Kelsey was to write an eBook, for our target audience, which gave them legit and actionable information about how to use the new iPad for educational and learning breakthroughs.

The exact marketing plan

Here’s a copy-and-paste of the marketing plan (if you can call it that) that I put together over a cup of nasty coffee from a sketchy gas station convenience store:

  • Design and build a lead generation landing page
  • Build a simple scraper to find some homeschool bloggers to do link building
  • Connect with the bloggers through email, use a storytelling approach to get buy in from the bloggers – basic call to actions:
  • Would you blog about this eBook and include a link to the free download?
    Would you let me write a guest post about the eBook that includes a link to the free download?

  • Reach 120K homeschool moms through outbound email blasts
  • Nurture leads through a mini drip campaign
  • I know, you’re mind is blown by the sheer awesomeness of this oh-so-deep marketing plan, especially the outbound email marketing loveliness.

    But seriously, we spent $1500 and a week creating the content and building everything we needed to launch. My target net revenue goal was $15,000.

    The lead generation landing page and the eBook

    Here’s the eBook landing page:


    Here’s the cover of the eBook:


    The email marketing template

    Here’s the email that went to an email list of 120,000:


    The numbers and results

    Email clickthrough rate: 5.8% (email’s not dead, suckaz)
    Number of people that clicked-through: 6,960
    Landing page conversion rate: 57%
    Total number of leads: 4,273 (3,967 leads through email and 306 through Facebook, Twitter and blogs)
    Total marketing spend: $1500
    Cost-per-lead: $2.85
    Net revenue: $35,364

    For a person to become a lead, they had to download the eBook and willingly give us their email or phone number. The leads who came into our sales funnel by directly downloading the eBook, from the landing page, spent $35,364 on our products after 30 days of nurturing.

    Why this worked so well

    Kelsey wrote great content that added value for the reader, and through this, the reader gained enough trust for our brand and products to take the action to buy. I credit Kelsey for the win on this one because her content delivered what was promised to the reader.

    Kelsey doesn't have her own site (yet, right Kelsey?) and she’s not active on Twitter (yet, right Kelsey?) but my guess is this isn't the last you've heard of Kelsey Kamentz because she’s a true gem.

    So, this post is a public recognition of Kelsey's awesomeness, and hopefully you've gotten a few ideas you can take action on. If you have any questions or if there's anything I can help you with, please leave a comment or email me at explorionary[at]

    This entry was posted in Inbound Marketing. Bookmark the permalink.
    • Dev Leibowitz

      Dude it’s OK to be really smart … love the story and the how to stuff here. Thanks dude.

    • Ryan L.

      Hi David. Thoroughly enjoyed this post. I heard through a friend of a friend that you have just recently left College Plus is that correct? If this is the case may I email you about an idea? Cheers.

      • David Cohen

        Thanks, Ryan. Yes, last Friday was my last official day at CollegePlus. Please feel free to email me if there’s anything I can help you with. I’ve also updated my LinkedIn:

    • Bryan Hart

      Great post. Also, thanks for the link to the linkbait article.

      • David Cohen

        Thanks, Bryan. Ed Fry and Distilled did some absolutely amazing work with that linkbait guide. One of the best pieces of actionable SEO content I’ve ever used.

    • SmittyWheeler

      Hey Dave, Kelsey really did a great job on this project. I wish you had mentioned that Kelsey earned her degree as a CollegePlus student and at least given CollegePlus credit for the links to the CP designed materials shown. Those are two items that always used to irritate our old Marketing Director…now, what was his name…Dave something? Seriously, keep up the good work. Love the blog.

      • David Cohen

        Link request granted. And I think I’d prefer to ‘no comment’ on what really irritated the old Marketing Director…

        • SmittyWheeler

          Appreciated…on both counts ;^)

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    • Nick Eubanks

      David – This is a wonderful REAL example of talent and hard work, also very inspirational for young writers/marketers who may feel lost in a sea of technology and experts. Thanks!

      • David Cohen

        Great thoughts, Nick. And being able to mentor young marketers who really want to learn and market with excellence helps keep us sharp and grounded. Being able to work with Kelsey was one of the best experiences in my professional career. I think I got way more out of it than she did.

    • James Deer

      Interesting post! The “reach 120K homeschool moms”— Did you purchase that list or build it previously?

      • David Cohen

        Hi James. We rented the list. Theat particular list has a history of producing well for us and I had trust in the company that built the list. The CPM was a little high, but well worth paying more for quality.

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    • Sean Smith

      Great story! I love that simple 5-10 bullet point content strategy that is easily actionable. This inspires many ideas for good content strategies for my clients and business ventures, as a young SEO myself that was brought into a business with hardly any experience and given the tools to succeed I always love hearing storys of success like this!

      • David Cohen

        Awesome to hear. I’m all about sharing ideas people can and will take action on. If there’s anything I can do for you as you’re learning your way through marketing and content creation, please let me know.

    • GlassWings media

      great story, the focus for the future has to be on content. Content is king and is still in charge! thanks for sharing!

      • David Cohen

        Thanks for stopping by to read the story. Appreciate it.

    • Anthony Pensabene

      This is really cool of you to share, David. And I’m more than sure Kelsey appreciates your recognition (encouragement is so incredibly important). Seems like Kelsey’s ‘got it.’ Buy her rookie card now! Great reference point for younger people (of all academic backgrounds) to take a look our industry’s way.

      • David Cohen

        Thanks, Anthony. Totally agree about the recognition and encouragement stuff. A few years ago one of my mentors pointed out I was pretty weak in this area. And it really helped me to see that success doesn’t really come from ideas or how you spend your marketing budget, it’s people, it’s always people … so, recognize them and praise their efforts.

    • KRIS3D

      where do you find 120K homeschool moms emails for free ? All the strategy is based on the targeted volume.

      • David Cohen

        The list wasn’t free. Part of the $1500 marketing expense I reference in the story was spent on renting the list. And it was our main marketing tactic, for several reasons, but a big one is that it would drive immediate action to be taken.

        • KRIS3D

          Thanks for the tip, David !

    • JasonManion

      That’s a really cool story! Best wishes to Kelsey as she moves on to whatever’s next.

    • Young

      David, thank you for all these interesting articles. I’ve learned so much from this website.

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    • Slava

      David, thank you for sharing this interesting case study.
      So, now, will you hire Kelsey full-time as a reward for what she has done?

      • David Cohen

        I would hire Kelsey in a heartbeat, for anything. But we were kind of in an interesting situation. I resigned from the company last Friday and Kelsey decided not to continue with the company and will be leaving tomorrow.

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    • SEODude

      Dude, this case study is a joke. Drop a mail to 120K targeted list, get $30K in sales. You need to be a complete idiot to blew it. If you case-study included the part of building said list, it would worth reading.

      • David Cohen

        I never called this a case study, and I never said I/we built the list. The point of the post wasn’t to throw numbers around, it was to recognize an intern for doing outstanding work and tell her story, you know, a bit of humanity.

        • Ian Howells

          If the title was different, I wouldn’t agree with this guy’s point. (Though, his method is an exercise in jackassery).

          Your intern didn’t generate 35k in 30 days. She contributed a key marketing piece to a process that made 35k.

          It also needed that list of 120k emails, and an existing product/conversion funnel to turn those leads into actual sales.

          It doesn’t look like, from this description anyway, your intern had anything to do with the primary traffic generation piece (the email list), or the funnel that closed the sale after they became a lead. It also looks like she wasn’t the one who wrote the plan/came up with the idea in the first place.

          That’s not to say she didn’t work hard – or isn’t an incredible assest. You cover her contribution nicely in the first paragraph of the final section.

          But – the title’s grossly misleading and more of the typical industry clickbait/socialbait that creates undue hype to get attention.

          All that said – the numbers and results section is *exactly* what we need more of in blog posts. Actual stuff, and actual results – not hypothesis and conjecture.

          • David Cohen

            Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Ian. I can’t say I disagree with any of your points here. Yes, the headline was clickbaity, but that was by design because in addition to recognizing the efforts of a young team member, I wanted the readers to see that it’s OK to show your plan and your results, which you very nicely hit on at the end of your comments.

            Kelsey didn’t come up with the idea or the plan, that was me, but I don’t put much value in ideas or plans, for me it’s all about the execution and in my view, the eBook was the most critical component and was the catalyst which drove the lead to become a client.

            My hope is that readers didn’t walk away from this post feeling like they got scammed by the headline but that they got an idea they can take action on.

            • Ian Howells

              …I should point out. I’m also probably not the guy to take headline advice from, based on blog post titles like “A Note on Hosting” and “Podcast #5 – On Outing”.

            • David Cohen

              Ha! You’re right about the clickbaity headline issue in the industry. In one way a headline is like the first promise you make to the reader. And broken promises will result in less readers.

    • Anthony Moore

      David, Thanks for sharing yours and Kelsey’s story. Goes to show what some great content (and elbow grease) can accomplish. To Nick’s point above, this is definitely great inspiration for anyone getting into the content marketing game. I briefly did some search marketing for a home school curriculum and it would have been great to have a Kelsey back then! Great Job to you both!

      • David Cohen

        Thanks, Anthony. I think one of the things that made the content great is that it was written by somebody the target audience could relate to – one of them. It’s a great way to build trust through affinity.

    • Jimmy Moncrief

      Awesome Story! Could you tell me who you recomend for renting an email list? I target the wedding industry.

      • David Cohen

        Hi Jimmy. For this marketing initiative, I didn’t go through a list broker, I went directly to a company that has a homeschool magazine and their own in-house list. Their list is a double opt-in and the subscribers to the list have the understanding they will receive direct marketing.

        I can’t give you a list broker recommendation, but I would encourage you to see if there is a similar way to reach a list in the wedding industry. And if there’s anything I can do to help please let me know.

    • Matt Medeiros

      Did Kelsey also write the scraper tool as well?

      • David Cohen

        She did. Jason Acidre wrote an awesome post about building a simple scraper, so I had Kelsey read the post and follow his instructions. Here it is:

        If you have any other questions or there’s anything I can help you out with, please let me know.

        • Matt Medeiros

          awesome tip. In the process of training my own in-house part timer doing some inbound and content marketing for us.

          • David Cohen

            Very cool. The other thing that I would add to this is that there is tremendous power in writing to your audience exactly in a way they can relate to and connect with. It builds a lot of trust.

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    • Jimmy Moncrief

      Just dropped you an email. Would love to learn more about the services you offer.

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    • sercan kalkan

      Nice job.
      I am trying to find an email list. Is there any specific way to have it?
      Can I buy it from somewhere or Do i have to build for myself?

      • David Cohen

        Sure, there are list brokers you can get email lists from. My preferred method is to work with an entity that rents its list so long as their list is filled with people who willingly and knowingly subscribed to it with the expectation they will get pitched products.

    • TimothyAlcock

      Thanks for the share, Brilliant peice of marketing, did you do anything special to nurture?

      • David Cohen

        Great question. We didn’t have the human resources to call the leads who gave us their phone number, so our tactical approach to nurturing was all done through email.

        They got 1 issue of our monthly newsletter and a couple of emails that were more story-driven to further present the idea that the iPad could be used in education … and oh by the way, we can also help you with the educational stuff :)

        The prime call to action through the nurturing campaign was to contact one of our team to take the step of purchasing a product. This approach worked well, but had the eBook content been crappy, I think even an ‘amazing’ nurturing campaign would have been mostly ineffective.

    • Dan

      David – What did you use to create your squeeze page? Do you have a template i can use and also who are you using for sending out your emails, or are a company doing it for you?

      • David Cohen

        Hi Dan. Everything is custom. I wireframed the page and had one of my designers create it in Illustrator. I’ve always preferred to do my own custom design for lead gen landing pages.

        I rented the email list from a large magazine who had a list of double opt-in people who subscribed to that list knowing they would get promo emails from time to time. So we designed the email, I wrote the copy and the magazine sent it to their list.

        If you have any other questions or there’s anything I can help with please let me know.

    • Angela

      Wow this is very impressive. Congratulations to Kelsey for doing such an amazing job! This is really inspirational. At the moment I work for a company selling online marketing services however the work is dead boring so this is really giving me some inspiration to do something fun as an experiment for myself. Thanks for sharing!

      • David Cohen

        Go for it, Angela! If you find the work to be boring it could be that you’re not connecting with the vision and mission of the company.

        There’s plenty of opportunities and plenty of room in the marketing world for people who want to do awesome things and want to be excellent at what they do.

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    • Sean

      Can I just say that Kelsey is my new crush? Lol. Great job with the marketing plan. Perhaps I should do something as such with my new product.

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    • Johan Woods

      Very inspiring. I’m always thrilled to read stories like these, were real, actual results are achieved and measured.

      And, a CPL of $2.85? I’ll take that any day. Have you guys tried this again, and if so, what would you do differently?

      Also, I’m guessing the purchase of the list is part of the $1,500 spent?