Passive Income Unlocked Review: Is it Worth Buying?

Welcome to my Passive Income Unlocked Review - a course by Jeff Bridenstine and Ben Esman.

I spent a week going over all the content in this course and evaluated it based on the quality of training, the reputation of the creators, the strategies taught, and the value for your money. (And if you should buy it or not!)

So if you are considering this course, I am going to give you my honest take on what I thought of it before you buy.

So, let's jump right in!

How Does Passive Income Unlocked Make You Money?

Passive Income Unlocked teaches you how to build "simple informational websites". These sites are all built with one purpose - to help people get the information they are looking for when searching online through Google or other search engines.

There are 3 ways Passive Income Unlocked teaches you how to make money from your website:

  • Display Ads
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Your Own Digital Product

Let's briefly go through all 3.

1. Display Ads

A lot of courses like this teach you how to make passive income with affiliate marketing. However, PIU focuses mostly on display ads. You've seen display ads before, they are everywhere on webpages usually in the form of clickable images.

The concept is simple - Generate a lot of traffic and get paid for page views. Passive income Unlocked focuses on 4 different networks - Google Adsense, Ezoic, Mediavine, and AdThrive.

When you subscribe to one of these networks, they will place display ads on your individual posts. You make money from page views which is called RPM (revenue per 1000 sessions) but each network has different payouts and the niche can also be a factor in how much is paid out.

Here is a screenshot from their YouTube channel showing you their pageviews from their 5 websites. For November alone, they had 1.039, 177 page views and made $46,446. Not bad at all! This comes mostly from display ads.

2. Affiliate Marketing

Their second way to make money is with affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is where you promote other people's products. If someone purchases from your link, you will earn a commission. Most focus is on Amazon Associates.

3. Your Own Digital Product

They show you how you can create your own product to sell on your site. You can create an ebook or even other downloads like checklists. You can use a payment processor like Sendowl to process the payment and deliver the product. 

As stated earlier, the main focus here is on display ads but there is also money to be made with affiliate marketing and display ads.

The key is to get traffic to your pages organically through the search engines. You accomplish this by writing articles that are topically relevant with the right keywords as outlined in the course.

Are Jeff and Ben from Passive Income Unlocked Legit?

These guys seem to be the real deal. 

This is because they aren't your typical "make money online gurus". They don't flash expensive cars or make outlandish promises. 

Instead, they show you real results in numbers and even reveal one of their sites in their channel, If you buy the course, you'll also see the other two sites they are working on.

Even in their training, they tell you that building a site and getting traffic takes time. They tell you flat out to not expect any results within the first 6 months. Rewards come to those who wait but still do the grind. I can personally attest to this when building sites.

So yes, these guys are legit. They are honest up-front and will even tell you that if you are looking for a much more technically advanced course, there might be better options for you. I can safely say that the trust factor is high.

Who is This Course for?

Passive Income Unlocked is mainly for beginners. You don't need to have any skills building a website. You are taught to build one in WordPress from the ground up. You don't need to learn to code.

It's for those that are patient. You will likely not see any results in your first 6 months. During these first six months, you should be writing at least 1-2 articles a week. If you can do that without getting discouraged, you should see success after some time.

It's for those that don't want to spend a significant amount of money. PIU does not require you to purchase any expensive tools. The only cost is your domain name and hosting, which is dirt cheap. Learn more about website costs here. The only other cost would be if you outsource your written content to a writer.

Finally, it's also for those that are looking to quit their day job and work from whatever location they want. And yes, that includes the beach!

Who is the Course NOT For?

Passive Income Unlocked is NOT for:

Those that need to make money right away. PIU teaches a legit business model, not some get-rich-quick scheme. Sure, there are ways to make money online faster, and here are some other online business ideas to choose from.

Those That Lack Patience: Similar to above, if you are the impatient type and want to see results sooner than later and lack perseverance, you might have some difficulty executing the work needed for this course.

How Much Does Passive Income Unlocked Cost?

There are 3 options to choose from:

  • 6 Month Subscription: $90 - renews every 6 months
  • Annual subscription: $150 - renews every 12 months
  • Lifetime membership: $350 - one time payment and get access for life

You can pay with either PayPal or credit card for each plan.

Are There Any Discount Coupons Available?

To my knowledge there are no discount coupons available. There does not seem to be a spot to enter a coupon code on the check out page either.

What Is the Refund Policy?

You're backed with a 30-day refund for any of the above plans. If for some reason you are unhappy with the course, just email Jeff or Ben and you'll get a prompt refund. It does not look like this is a performance-based refund either. So there's no worry on your part.

Are There Any Student Success Stories?

At this point the training in Passive Income Unlocked is new so there hasn't been a significant number of students that went through the program. Not only that, but since this isn't a get-rich-quick scheme, it's just too new to tell.

What I can say is that I'm very confident that there will be many success stories in the not so distant future based on what I have seen in the course.

What Does the Course Teach That the YouTube Channel Does Not?

On their YouTube Channel, you'll find a lot of helpful training. While you can get a lot of info from their free videos, it's really just an overview. 

The course goes into a LOT of detail that you won't find in their free videos. Clearly, they are not going to give away all their secrets for free (and they shouldn't) so you're going to have to buy the course if you want a real shot at making this work.

What's in the Passive Income Unlocked Course?

The format of training is all done through video with "over-the-shoulder" type training. This is by far the best format to learn. 

Here is a snippet of the course after I completed it. I can't fit it all but at least you can see what the member's area looks like. It's hosted on Teachable which is a great platform so you'll never have issues with streaming the videos.

Currently, there are 69 videos with 19 modules. 

The longest video is 71:41 and the shortest 1:58. Most of the videos are between 5 and 15 minutes long.

The course curriculum is listed on the sales page so you can see all the modules there.

I found the training to be very comprehensive and easy to follow. Most of the training is done by Jeff with Ben taking over for a few modules.

A lot of detail has gone into each section, which is what really separates the course from the free training on their YouTube channel. 

I like that they provide downloadable spreadsheets to help you track your work and manage your business. It makes it a lot easier to manage what you are doing and to make updates to your site. 

For such a low-priced course, I was pretty impressed with how in-depth the content goes.

What I Like About Passive Income Unlocked (The Pros)

After taking the course, here are all the things I liked:

1. Jeff and Ben are Honest & Legit

There are many course creators out there that make courses just to make money.

I get the impression that these guys are the opposite. Sure they make money from selling their course, but after reviewing it I get the impression they are really trying to help people make passive income and not just doing it for the money. (I don't think they need it because they do pretty well otherwise!).

So, I give full points to them for creating a legit course and having a good reputation. There's no fluff, no false promises and no BS!

2. They Reveal Their Websites

Many course creators will show you stats but not actually show you the sites they have. Jeff and Ben reveal one of their sites on their YouTube channel ( and two others in the course. 

This shows that they not only talk the talk but walk the walk. It's not always a good thing to reveal your site because others will just try to copy it if they know it's making money, so I commend them for doing so.

This also helps a lot to see how the site is structured and they also use a couple of sites in the course as a case study so you can follow along a lot easier.

3. They Help You Find a Niche

One of the reasons why people never start a website is because they don't know what niche to get into. In Passive Income Unlocked Protocol, you'll be taught how to find a niche. They suggest you don't go too broad or too narrow, but somewhere in between.

There are many videos on niche finding, so if you don't have the foggiest idea of what to do, don't worry - you'll get plenty of ideas from the training.

4. Learn How to Create a Topical Map and Avoid Keyword Cannibalism

One of the hot topics these days in on-page SEO is building topical authority by creating a topical map. A topical map is where you find topics in a niche and all the relevant clusters that go with it. Essentially it's a guide on what to write about - and what NOT to write about.

The end result is trust with Google which helps you rank higher - and also trust from your readers.

You'll learn all about this strategy along with ensuring you avoid "keyword cannibalism" which is where you create two or more articles that are essentially the same thing. This is bad because Google will not know which one to index for a given keyword.

5. Unique Strategy For Finding Keywords Without Needing Expensive Tools

Many courses will tell you that you need expensive keyword tools like Ahrefs for keyword research.

Not in this course.

In fact, they teach you some free methods on how to find a huge list of very good keywords and how to group them together for an individual article. 

I was pretty impressed with their keyword finding strategy and I am going to use it going forward for my info-based keywords on all my sites.

6. You'll Learn How to Create a Website From Scratch

Don't know how to code?

No problem! There's a whole module dedicated to showing you how to create a WordPress website from scratch. They even use Generate Press which is the same theme I am using for this site. It's fast and light - a good choice! 

7. Shows You How to Get Free Traffic

Although this section was a little light, you are given some free methods on how to drive traffic to your site from places like Facebook, Quora, Pinterest, etc.

8. Their Strategy of Writing Info-Based Articles Makes it Super Easy!

Passive Income Unlocked does not teach you to make bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) articles. These are review type articles, or "best of" type articles which are very hard to rank, especially in competitive niches. 

Instead, you will go after long tail keywords that are info based. This makes it a WHOLE LOT EASIER to write than review-type articles. These are referred to as TOFU, Top-of-the-funnel type articles.

I can spend an entire week writing a review-type article (like this one here!) while I can write an info-based article in an hour or two. 

This is going to allow you to pump out content at a very high rate. That's a huge bonus. As an aside, AI writers are perfect for writing info-based articles.

9. Learn the Proper Format For Creating Articles

Along with finding out WHAT to write, you'll also learn HOW to write. Since your articles are going to be supported by display ads, you will learn how to structure them to get the most out of your display ads.

But it doesn't stop there. You'll learn how to create catchy headlines that stand out from the rest to get more clicks, You'll learn proper article structure such as what to write about and how to place H2, H3, H4 headings and so on.

If writing isn't your thing - you're taught how to outsource to a writer properly. And I should also mention again, AI writing software is perfect for info type articles so you won't need to outsource! Get 10 articles written by AI for free here!

10. Lots of Downloadable Checklists and Spreadsheets

With your subscription to Passive Income Unlocked, you will be provided with many downloadable checklists and spreadsheets. 

This is something that the course creators didn't have to create, but they really went above and beyond to help their students stay on track with these documents. You can either download them in excel or make a copy from Google Docs which is what is recommended. You'll spend less time working and get things done a lot quicker, stay on track and so on. They are great.

11. The Course is Frequently Updated

I contacted Jeff and here is what he told me about updates to the course:

"Yeah, we've done some updates already and have plenty more planned. There's a section in our forum where we let people know about new/updated content, so you can see what we've added since launch if you want to. I actually have a couple of videos planned to shoot within the next few days to add some new content. We don't have a set plan going forward, but do have a pretty long list of topics for new videos that we're going to shoot and drip out over time."

12. The Community Forum is Not on Facebook

Some of you might prefer the community forum be on Facebook but I am glad it is not! The forum is built within the course and you can sign up from there. 

This is great for people that don't like Facebook or would rather sign up anonymously. You don't even have to use your real name. You can even hide yourself from even displaying in the forum if you wish.

The forum isn't too active at the moment because the course is fairly new, but over time I expect it to grow.

Here you can get help for any issues that you encounter. So there's never a need to be confused with anything. Just ask!

13. You Won't Get Slapped by the Google "Affiliate" Algorithm Update

Google introduced an affiliate update that destroyed rankings on many affiliate sites. If you only have promotional (affiliate) type content, your site could be impacted. I've had a few sites hit with this update so trust me, I know it's real. 😒

The great part about PIU is that their teaching allows your site to completely avoid getting slammed by this update. This is because they teach you to post info content only - which Google loves. 

What I Didn't Like About Passive Income Unlocked (The Cons)

No course is perfect. Here are some things that I felt lacked with this course:

1. No Off-Page SEO Training

It's no secret that sites that have a lot of powerful backlinks rank better than sites that don't. So it was a bit disappointing not to see any training on how to get links. 

However, this is something that you can do on your own - it's not really that difficult. Once your site has content, your first step should be to register with HARO. which stands for Help a Reporter Out.

Here, you simply answer questions and if your answer gets chosen, you'll get a backlink from an article that is typically in your niche. Here is a guide I created for Haro link building.

It's free to use and the links, for the most part, are very high authority so you'll get a good boost in rankings. The other way is manual outreach, where you reach out to other sites in your niche and offer them a well-written guest post that will link back to your site.

2. No Email Marketing Strategies Taught

I can understand why email marketing wasn't taught in this course because the main focus is making money from display ads, but there was also an affiliate marketing component too.

With affiliate marketing, it's a good idea to get people to sign up for an email list. You can send out helpful emails and provide links to products they are likely interested in buying - which will include your affiliate link. 

If you get the course and want to implement email marketing, you can follow my guide here on how to do it.

3. Affiliate Marketing and Digital Product Section a Little Light

With the main focus of this course on helpful content and just getting views to make money from display ads, I wasn't surprised the affiliate and digital product sections were a little light.

For affiliate marketing, you are taught how to use the Amazon Associates program and how and where to place links within articles. There wasn't much beyond that besides mentioning some other networks like Shareasale, CJ, and so on. 

Do I Recommend Passive Income Unlocked?

Absolutely! I was very impressed by the quality of training for such a low price. If you're a complete beginner you will benefit from this course. A passive revenue-producing website is within your reach - you just need to do the work.

Even if you're not a complete beginner, you'll find a lot of value in Passive Income Unlocked. Their keyword research strategy I found to be very useful and will be implementing it myself on all my sites, along with some other helpful tactics that I learned in this course.

So yes, it gets a passing grade from me. I give it an A. 

Are There Alternatives to Passive Income Unlocked Protocol?

There are some suitable alternatives, however, these come at a premium cost.

Alternative #1 - The Authority Site System

The Authority Site System is brought to you by Authority Hacker. You may have seen their podcast on YouTube.

Their course is pricier, but it teaches you how to target keywords with buyer intent, along with info-based articles. It includes both on and off-page SEO. The focus is making money from affiliate marketing, but does teach some methods for display ads.

You can read my TASS review here.

Alternative #2 - Affiliate Lab

Affiliate Lab is by Matt Diggity, who also has a YouTube Channel. He's a very respected affiliate marketer and although his course is much pricier than Passive Income Unlocked, it has a lot of SEO training in both on & off page. The focus is affiliate marketing and how to even sell your site for a huge return. 

Read my Affiliate Lab review here

Alternative #3 - Blog Growth Engine

This course is by Adam Enfroy, a blogger that built a website that started earning over 300K per month in just 2 years. The focus is on building a blog that focuses on buyer-rich keywords for affiliate marketing and off-page SEO. Like Passive Income Unlocked, you'll also learn about Display advertising. This is the most expensive of the bunch though.

Read my Blog Growth Engine Review Here


Feel free to email me or leave a comment below!

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Drew Mann

12 thoughts on “Passive Income Unlocked Review: Is it Worth Buying?”

  1. Great Review! Just had a few questions.

    1.) What kind of info article does one write under this system? I read somewhere that it is the question kind of post only (mostly). Would it be a problem not writing so many other types of posts – lists, how-tos, etc. that courses like Passive Income Geek teach?

    2.) Can I succeed with this course using a fake/alias author name, made-up story & background, and animated cover photo in the about me page? I have zero expertise, knowledge, or education in anything and don’t want to use my real photo.

    3.) Also, here are two tweets that Gael from Authority Hacker recently made –

    ‘This means that ads-based sites are probably the most at risk with this SERP change. They often rely on common questions being answered in blog post formats plastered with ads to make money. Users don’t like this experience, and AI will do a decent job at these queries.’

    ‘I know ad sites are all the rage, but they’re also the most likely to be disrupted. They answer queries AI answers easily. They make low revenue per visitor.’

    Since this course aims at building an ads focused site and limited style of info posts, what do you think about these tweets in the coming AI and SEO scenario? Should I buy this course and start building such a website? 😕

    • Hi Ajinkya, great questions. I’ll do my best to tackle these. 1) The course focuses on posts that solve a particular problem, think like a how-to type of post. They teach you the exact process of how to find keywords for these types of posts but you can also write review type posts as well. You would use their strategy which is great as it focuses on topical authority. 2) Yes, you can use an alias. You will build E-E-A-T through your content and citing high authority posts for any stats, etc. 3) We don’t know what the future will look like with Google + Ai, but for answers to questions that require a few sentences I imagine AI can handle this. However, the posts you write will contain a lot more information on related terms. As far as ads go, I don’t think they will ever go away, I mean Google makes money off them too. You can always limit the ads on your page so the experience isn’t poor and focus more on affiliate marketing. PIU also teaches affiliate marketing as well, and I think they might start to focus on this more in the near future from what I have seen in the course. Updates are free of course. Hope that helps!

  2. Hi Drew Mann,
    Crisp and nice review of PIU. I am a beginner with some doubts about this model.
    1. Can we really make money by display ads in informational sites as more people are using ad blocking apps?
    2. How much can we earn per month by display ads on an informational site if we get about 5000 visitors per month?

    Awaiting your guidance.

    • Hi Sam, glad you liked my review. Many sites are still making a lot of money with display ads, including the guys at PIU so I don’t ever see that going away despite adblockers. There is no way this billion-dollar industry is going to get wiped out. As for income, it depends on many factors like which display ads you are using (Adsense, Ezoic, Mediavine, etc.) but to take an example, users on Ezoic have seen income anywhere from $10 to $50 per 1000 views. So on the high end, at just 5000 views per month, that site could make $250 /m. Personally, I would focus 50/50 on ads and affiliate links. Just do experiments to see what brings in more money. And if ads should ever fall off the cliff, you can just go full out with affiliate links.

  3. Hi Drew, Nice review and straight to the point. Is the niche selection criteria same for both informational and affiliate sites? (For example, if terrace gardening fares well under the affiliate niche selection criteria ..does that mean that we can create an informational website about terrace gardening?) And are there any other alternative courses specifically tailored for display ads for informational sites?

    • Hi Christopher, yes, the niche selection process would be the same. The basic idea is to ensure you have enough to write about and that there is traffic. You should always do informational posts (especially due to affiliate guidelines set by Google) but can incorporate commercial content as well. PIU is the best course I’ve seen for this type of content and it’s super easy to write commercial content on your own. Reviews and ‘best of’ articles work best. I think in the future they will update the course to include commercial content as well I believe.

  4. Hi Drew, thanks for your review. I work with Weebly sites rather than Wordpress. Will this course be worthwhile using Weebly sites? Thanks!

    • Hi Barbara, yes you can still use Weebly if you don’t want to switch to WordPress. The training is done using WordPress but a lot can be carried over to Weebly.

    • Hi John, I haven’t reviewed that course yet so can’t give you an honest answer. I can only tell you that I am very impressed with Passive Income Unlocked.

  5. Hello Drew,
    I am a newbie to the world of SEO, display ads and affiliate marketing. Can I get started off with PIU course (considering the low price) , build one informational site with display ads, understand the process before moving on to more advanced courses like TASS, Lab or BGE?
    Also, how long will it take to monetise an informational site with display ads only?
    Your views will help me take the right step forward.

    • Hi Sunny, absolutely you can start with Passive Income Unlocked. In fact, all new sites should start out with how they teach. This is because Google will love this non-promotional type of content. Google had an “affiliate” algorithm introduced that slammed a lot of sites that only had promotional content. So building your site the PIU way makes a ton of sense. You can then start introducing reviews, “best of” type posts, etc. to promote products but always have more info content than promotional. You might not need another course but it’s an option if you want to accelerate the affiliate marketing side. As for display ads, you can start with Adsense straight away, then move to other higher-paying networks when you meet their views threshold. Hope that helps!

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