Online Success Story: Keyword Research Report

Online Success Story:
Karon Thackston

Rather than a website or blog, I'd like to tell you about my success with a particular promotional method (free reports) that I use for a dual purpose: building my list and making affiliate income.

1. When did you set up your website?

The blog went up in 2008.  I did not have this free report at the time.

2. What gave you the idea for this particular niche & website?

Lynn Terry 🙂  I'd heard you talk about using free reports to generate passive affiliate income before so I studied what you offered on your blog, downloaded some of your free reports and followed your example.  Believe it or not, I never started my list until about 2 years ago.  And when I started it, I had no clue how to effectively build it.  (Long story short... was in the SEO world and they don't talk much about this stuff.) So I wanted to add names to my list and also make money doing it.

3. Did you have any experience with online business prior to creating this website?

I had about 20 years of copywriting experience, but ZERO experience with product creation of this type.

4. What did you do for work prior to setting up an online business?

I previously worked at various full-service and in-house advertising agencies.

5. How did you initially promote your website, and if different - how do you promote it now?

This particular report was added as a bonus to my blog.  When people signed up to receive email updates of blog posts, they got a free copy of my Demystifying Keyword Research ebook and were added to my list.  I sent copies of the free report to people who I thought might like something of quality to give away to folks for free.  It began to spread like wildfire.  I tweeted and posted on Facebook (being careful to set up automated posts during my sleeping hours so folks who follwed me and lived in other time zones would see the info, too).

It is now prominently displayed on my blog and also at I use it as a promotion, a giveaway and for other purposes.

6. Is your website profitable? Can you share some basic traffic & profit stats with us?

The ebook became instantly profitable.  I'm guessing it took me about a week to write it (only writing maybe 1-2 hours a day) then I paid to have it professionally formatted which was about $70 I think.  Now, this free report consistently brings me between $50 and $300 per month in passive income without me having to do a whole lot with it.

7. What are your plans for the site going forward?

Keep up the good work and find more places to give the ebook away.

8. What ONE piece of advice would you give someone interested in starting their own niche site or blog?

If you're going to give something away that you hope will generate passive income for you, it HAS to be of expectional quality.  Junky free reports are all over the place.  People don't trust them because the quality is so low and I'd venture to say they don't produce a lot of revenue for the authors.  When you give somebody something that they would have been willing to pay for, THEN you have a free report that's likely to go viral and make you some serious money.

Karon Thackston

-Thank you, Karon and congratulations on your success!

About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 17 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...more»


  1. Hi Karen - this is an interesting cast study. However, as your great report is free,I don't understand how you generate your monthly income. I'm obviously being dense! You last piece of advice is really sound.

  2. My favorite point:

    "5. How did you initially promote your website, and if different – how do you promote it now?
    This particular report was added as a bonus to my blog."

    The more I blog, the more I see that THAT is where the traffic is. Long ago, I decided to make my blogging script the script that occupied my root URL. Now, I am glad I did.

    IF continuously updated, they just draw so much traffic.

    Great interview, Lynn and congratulations to Karon on your success.


  3. Many people spend too much time persuading their readers into giving their details and actually less time writing their good and unique free report. This will probably get them a lot of emails, but they will lose their credibility in day ONE as i think that the first impression is our most important factor into attracting potential customers. From my own experience, people that i really got quality info from them, i still follow them today, and i will always do.

  4. Graham Lutz says

    You have to do something to stand out from the crowd when it comes to giving away a free report. The fre report just isn't good enough anymore because everyone is doing it.

    Have you seen any good examples of going above and beyond when it comes to getting email addresses?

  5. Karon Thackston says

    Caroline - Free reports usually have affiliate links embedded in them. Mine is no different. When people download the free report and read it, they click on the links included within the pages. That earns me a commission on the purchases they make. 🙂

    Mark - Thank you!

    Edgar - Spot on. Quality is where it's all at. If you create some shabby, half-slack report to give away, people will indeed write you off as someone who doesn't offer quality. What you're giving away has to be every bit as good as something a person would pay for or it won't be nearly as successful.

    Graham - I don't think I agree with your statement "The free report just isn't good enough anymore because everyone is doing it." Everyone is giving away crap 🙂 I'm not. That sets me apart. When others (like our lovely hostess Lynn Terry) write about, promote and give away my report it lends a great deal of credibility. When others who have downloaded my free report tweet about it or share comments on Facebook, that sets me apart. I started the flow of viral traffic with my own list (who already know and trust me) and a handful of other high-profile folks. From there it has really blossomed.

  6. Dennis Edell says

    The free report - one method that has truly stood the test of time...I just downloaded yours! 😉

  7. Karon Thackston says

    Thank you Dennis! There have been LOTS of downloads today. Don't forget, in order for it to do you any good, you have to actually read it 🙂 Too many people download every free ebook they can get their hands on and never do anything with them. (Used to be this way myself.)

    • Dennis Edell says

      Oh I know it Karen, this is one of the things I'm changing about myself this year. 😉

    • Dennis Edell says

      Do you have a blog I could check out?

    • I had the same question as Caroline, thanks for answering it. I'm embarrassed to admit that I know about the embedded affiliate link but just forgotten about it. I've been wanting to do something like what you did, but never found the time to. Goes to show that knowledge must be followed by action, no matter how much you learn.

      This is just the kick on the behind I needed. You've inspired me, thanks Karon!

  8. I was wondering the same thing with Caroline. I don't really know how this whole thing works but I think I get the idea now. I also agree with the last piece of advice. Quality product makes you stand out and can build good brand out of it. 🙂

  9. Karon Thackston says

    Yes, my blog is the Marketing Words Copywriting Blog at

  10. Karon Thackston says

    Lorna, I've been so pleased with the results of this report that I'm in the process of writing another one. I agree with Lynn that free reports are an excellent way to build lists and earn affiliate income. My new fav!

  11. Karon Thackston says

    Calli, as you write your free report, you'll insert affiliate links for products/services that will fill the reader's needs. For instance, part of what I do in my Demystifying Keyword Research guide is to explain why the heck the search count numbers are so radically different between Google, Wordtracker, Keyword Discovery, etc., etc. As I mention these companies, I include my affiliate link.

    So, please get exceptional information that is truly valuable to them and I get a possible affiliate commission if they click to Keyword Discovery (for example) and buy something.

  12. Vivian Assis says

    thank you for excellent article, I love your blog.

  13. Hi Lynn,
    I have been reading your posts and getting your updates for quite a while now and I have always enjoyed what you have to say. I have been in the SEO mostly but I really think it is changing so fast that it is time to look at different ideas.
    I have been toying with the idea of building a list and monetizing that but I haven't done it yet. I think interview is going to put me over the top and get me moving in that direction.
    Thank you for sharing this.

  14. Angelika says

    Great tips! Very valuable for me, thank you.

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