Entrepreneur: Dave Evangelisti

Biz: Test-Guide

Tilt: Free practice tests and prep-course reviews

Primary Channel: Website (7M to 20M page views per month)

Other Channel: YouTube (1.4K)

Time to First Dollar: 2 months

Rev Streams: Affiliate sales, advertising, product sales 

Our Favorite Actionable Advice:

  • Work on one thing at a time: Dave is a master at prioritization. He focuses on content first, then traffic, then revenue. 
  • Create adjacent content: Test-Guide published content about the dates for the ACT because they knew the audience searching for the dates also might want to prepare for the ACT (their content product).
  • Don’t fall for “easy” ranking tips: Dave learned the hard way that sketchy backlink practices can be penalized by Google long after you stop them. 

The Story

Taking a test can be stressful but necessary for everything from a driver’s license to college entrance, allied health careers, and government jobs. To help test takers prepare, Test-Guide offers prep materials and practice exams for more than 100 tests. What is absolutely wild is that most of the test prep materials and practice exams they offer are free.  

Dave Evangelisti founded Test-Guide in 2009 while working a corporate job in education. At first, his content business earned revenue from AdSense advertising on the site. He set small monetary goals, such as enough to buy lunch. Slowly, Test-Guide grew, and in 2013, he was able to quit his job and be a full-time content entrepreneur.  

In 2009. Dave Evangelisti founded @TheTestGuide #ContentBusiness while working a corporate job in education. By 2013, he earned enough to quit that job and become a full-time #ContentEntrepreneur. #CreatorEconomy Click To Tweet

Now, Test-Guide supports a staff of eight. Roughly half of its revenue comes through advertising, with affiliate and product sales each at 25%. It has been a journey of ups and downs, but here is how he did it. 

Develop a CTR strategy that’s not about click-through rates

Test-Guide is laser-focused thanks to Dave’s exceptional prioritization skills. “I started this thing as a one-man shop, so prioritization was basically all that I had to focus on because there was just too much to do,” he says. 

“I developed an acronym that I use to stay on the straight and narrow path. It is CTR which typically stands for “click-through rate.” However, for me, it was content, traffic, and revenue,” he shares. 

Creators should follow the CTR method. Focus on content first, then traffic, and finally revenue, says #entrepreneur Dave Evangelisti of @TheTestGuide. #CreatorEconomy Click To Tweet

Here’s how he boils down his CTR: “I focus on content first, making sure I got the right type of content, and then worry about getting traffic to that content. Lastly, I worry about getting revenue from that traffic. I know if I have the right content, I will attract the right kind of traffic. Once I have the traffic, it is easy to figure out how to make money from it.”

Power up your search rankings

To create content that drives traffic and creates revenue, Dave has become a master of search engine optimization (SEO) for Test-Guide. And he has been successful, earning 7M to 20M page views per month. 

“I would say probably 75% to 80% is Google-idrected organic traffic, and then 15% to 20% is direct traffic. There’s a little bit of referral traffic and a little bit from social media, but most of its organic search traffic,” Dave explains. 

@TheTestGuide earns 7M to 20M page views a month – 75% comes from Google-directed organic traffic, says founder Dave Evangelisti. #SEO #CreatorEconomy Click To Tweet

But he didn’t start out with instant success. He had some hiccups as he learned along the way. Shortly after he was able to quit his day job, Dave saw the Test-Guide site lost significant search rankings on Google. Why? He had followed a sketchy link-building practice. 

Even though Dave stopped the bad strategy a year earlier, Google still penalized his content because the links still existed on the sketchy sites. Ultimately, he disavowed those links with Google and regained his great rankings. “I didn’t know what I didn’t know back then,” he says.  

Now, he has become a master at keeping his content relevant and at the top of search results. “There are really two things I focus on. One is always publishing new content. My niche is exams, and there are literally thousands of exams out there. Every weekend I’m publishing a new article, practice test, or different kind of exam,” Dave says. 

First-hand #SEO advice: Always publish new content. Establish authority by publishing 10 to 20 articles with unique angles on the same topic, says Dave Evangelisti of @TheTestGuide. #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

“The second thing is Google has become a lot more fixated on content authority. So for the really important exams, I’ve made sure to establish authority by publishing 10 to 20 different articles along with the exam. This establishes authority from Google’s perspective.”

Grow your content topics

Dave’s readers seek test prep materials and practice tests. But that content alone isn’t enough to drive traffic to his site. “When I first started off, I got a couple of (unexpected) early wins by targeting content that was easier to develop and rank for,” Dave says. “One article was on the ACT test dates, and I got a lot of traffic from it. I knew that if they’re looking for the dates of the test, they must be interested in preparing for it.”

To attract audiences interested in his ACT prep exam, Dave Evangelisti published an article on the ACT test dates because that's what people searched for. #SEO #ContentMarketing #CreatorEconomy Click To Tweet

Early traction on Google also continues to pay off. As Dave explains: “Once Google says, “Wow, this site ranks well for this ACT testing,’ for example, they think maybe this site knows something about the ACT.

“Look at questions that people are asking on Google and make sure we develop content around those questions.”

Dave and the Test-Guide team have evolved their original content over the years. “We started to diversify the niche that we’re in. So Test-Guide is about exam prep, but a lot of the exams that we have are career-oriented. For example, we cover exams to become a commercial driver, certified mechanic, or phlebotomist. So, we created content about how much phlebotomists make and how to become a certified nursing assistant,” he says. 

About the author

Kimmy Gustafson is a freelance writer with a passion for sharing stories of bravery. Her love for world traveling began when her family moved to Spain when she was 6 and since then, she has lived overseas extensively, visited six continents, and traveled to over 26 countries. She is fluent in Spanish and conversational in French. Currently, she is based on Maui and, when not writing or parenting, she can be found kiteboarding, hiking, or cooking.