Searching for a no BS Smart Blogger Content Marketing Certification review?
If so, you’re in the right place.
There’s a lot of buzz around Jon Morrow’s Content Marketing Certification (CMC)—especially his guarantee of finding well-paid freelance writing work within 60 days of graduating.
That’s a pretty ballsy guarantee!
So, does this Smart Blogger course live up to its expectations?
That’s exactly what I’ll help you decide today.
In this review, I’ll show you…
- A behind-the-scenes video of the course
- What type of people it’ll help most
- Who it’ll be a waste of time for
- What I like, and what I DON’T like
- Tips for getting the most out of the course
Ready Set Go!
👀 This is a Level 3 review. Read more about our in-depth course review process.
Table of Contents
- TL;DR – Is it Worth it?
- Inside Look at The CMC by Jon Morrow
- What’s Included In The Course
- Jon Morrow Review: Who Is This Guy Anyway?
- Smart Blogger Content Marketing Certification Review: Pros and Cons
- How Does CMC Compare to Other Smart Blogger Courses?
- The Verdict: Is CMC worth it?
- Does Becoming a Certified Content Marketing Specialist Actually Help?
- Smart Blogger Review Summary
- Where Can You Sign Up?
TL;DR – Is it Worth it?
So here’s the thing…
This is a hard course.
Most courses you buy online allow you to just binge-watch a bunch of material and finish in a day or less.
The CMC is not like that.
And if you expect it to be quick-n-easy, you’ll be disappointed.
On the other hand, if you’re ready to put in dedicated work and realize it will take at least a couple weeks (likely more) to graduate…
Then the CMC is hands-down the best way to go from zero-to-successful freelance writer and actually get paid what you’re worth.
That said, to help you make the right decision, this review will give you a behind-the-scenes look at…well…everything.
If you decide CMC is right for you, scroll to the bottom of this page to get a special sign-up bonus.
And if you’re still unsure after reading this review, consider taking his free mini-course before making any big commitments. This will give a taste of what the full course has to offer (+ some great tips).
Important disclaimer: As you’ll see, I don’t hold back in this review—mentioning the good AND the bad. That said, while I aim to be as brutally honest as possible, I am an affiliate for CMC, and I received access to the course in exchange for an honest review.
That means if you sign up through links on this page, I will earn a commission (at no extra charge to you). This helps keep the lights on here at Project Untethered, and some is donated to GiveWell charities.
As a CMC graduate, I can definitely say it’s not for everyone. My #1 goal of this article is to help you decide if it’s right for you.
Alrighty then! On to the nitty-grittys!
Let’s start with a behind-the-scenes look at the course itself…
Inside Look at The CMC by Jon Morrow
This video gives a sneak peek of what the course looks like from the inside, plus everything I liked (and didn’t like) about the CMC.
(Shoot me an email if this link isn’t working)
What’s Included In The Course
If you skipped the video above, here’s a recap of the four main parts of CMC (the video will give you a better feel of what to expect though):
#1.) The Training
The Content Marketing Certification is broken down into six modules:
Module 1: Your Path to Success – Foundational lessons that will help you get the most out of the course (and maximize your chances of actually passing).
Module 2: A Crash Course in SEO – Covers the Skyscraper Technique, the Content Brief, the most important Google ranking factors you need to know as a content writer, traffic hacks that’ll make your clients love you, and a master checklist that is super handy for staying organized.
Module 3: Writing Remarkable Posts – A step-by-step recipe for how to create blog posts that people can’t tear their eyes away from.
Module 4: Creating Your Sample Content – How to create an epic sample piece to show potential clients. To get certified, you must actually write this sample, then pass a theory exam and a practical exam.
Module 5: Getting Your First Clients – After creating your own professional-looking profile on writer.me, you’ll learn how to land your first clients, impress the pants off them, then gather testimonials.
Final Exam: Includes a theory test and a practical test.
Each module contains several lessons that include videos, text summaries, resources, and a quiz. At the end of each module, you have assignments to practice what you’ve learned.
In addition to the main training, the course also includes:
- Helpful resources (sample contracts, checklists, templates, etc.)
- Archived lessons (worth checking out)
- “Career Day” and case study bonus recordings where CMCs most successful freelancers share their secret tips
- A huge list of FAQs
- The Q&A Call Calendar (more on that later)
#2.) Live Q&A calls
The Content Marketing Certification includes two one-hour Q&A calls per month.
These are gold mines for those who take advantage of them.
You can get direct, personalized feedback on anything you’re struggling with—and trust me, you will have questions!
The best part is, most people don’t take advantage of these. I went through the call archive (which has a ton of gold nuggets btw), and normally only 3-5 people submit questions each call.
That means more time in the spotlight for you.
#3.) Private Circle Community
2023 UPDATE: The Facebook group has moved to a platform called Circle, which is way slicker (and less distracting) than Facebook. The Circle group has all the same great content I explain below, and it’s better organized.
The Circle group has a lot going on it as well.
First, are Workout Wednesdays. Workout Wednesdays are a weekly opportunity to get your questions answered if you can’t wait until the live Q&A call. You submit your question in the Facebook Group, then Robert (Smart Blogger’s Editor) posts a video answering them on Wednesdays.
For even faster responses, they have a Conversations and Discussions section where you can post your concerns and have them answered promptly.
Apart from that, the Circle group is also filled with motivation to keep you going. Students are constantly posting their wins. So if you’re ever feeling in a slump, it’s inspiring to see others—who are in the same position as you—landing big clients and making their freelancing dreams a reality.
It’s also cool to have a community to chat with other writers, share contacts and pricing strategies, and simply feel like you’re not all alone in this business.
Lastly, you can still access all the content that was in the Facebook group, including some extra training videos that I didn’t even know existed.
They are “hidden” in the Guides tab of the group. I wouldn’t have found them if I wouldn’t have been exploring to make this Content Marketing Course review. I’m not sure why they haven’t added these to the actual course itself.
Once you pass your exams, you’ll be invited to create your writer.me profile. This is SUPER useful for those who don’t yet have their own writer’s website. You can literally have a professional-looking profile up in like 3 minutes.
This profile is stamped with your Content Marketing Certification badge and can be used to send to potential clients.
In addition to your profile, there is also a job board on writer.me, but I only saw one job listing on there when I checked.
That said, as a CMC graduate, I do get periodic emails with some pretty juicy job opportunities.
These are from Jon’s contacts who specifically want CMC graduates, so you’re not competing with many people. For example, here is a recent email I received from CMC:
I’ve also had companies find my profile on writer.me and reach out to me directly. I can’t say for sure, but I’m willing to bet my profile stands out because it’s specialized in one niche (vs. being a general writer).
Everyone who has reached out to me is looking specifically for a personal finance writer. And I can’t name any names, but one of them was a pretty huge company with a pretty huge budget.
Those emails are always a pleasant surprise!
Jon Morrow Review: Who Is This Guy Anyway?
So before we get into what I liked/disliked about the course, you might be wondering…
Who is this Jon Morrow character anyway? And why should I trust him?
Well, Jon’s the guy who helped big sites like KISSmetrics and Copyblogger get off the ground by writing viral content for them.
His blog posts brought in so much business to these companies that, during this period, he was one of the highest-paid content writers on earth (earning $5k per post).
(This is according to him – but when you look at the traffic his posts brought in, it seems like a reasonable claim).
But the most impressive part is…
He achieved all this while only being able to move his eyes and lips.
Jon has since moved on to run Smart Blogger, where he’s sold millions of dollars worth of courses that have helped shape some of the internet’s top bloggers and content writers.
In my opinion, Jon is a rather aggressive marketer. This may raise red flags for some people. But after going through several of his courses (CMC, Freedom Machine, and Serious Bloggers Only), they are top-quality.
Are his claims sometimes a bit overhyped? Yeah, I think so.
But have the results I have been able to achieve been worth the money? Yes, without a doubt. They’ve played a vital role in getting me to where I am today.
Smart Blogger Content Marketing Certification Review: Pros and Cons
What I DIDN’T like
❌ CMC teaches you everything you need to know to land your first decent-paying client ($200 – $500/post). But in their marketing, I’m pretty sure I remember mentions of scaling to $1000 per post (and beyond) and becoming a 6-figure writer. However, there is no “scaling blueprint” that teaches how to get to that next level (but I also can’t seem to find where those claims were made, either, so maybe I’m going crazy). That said, earning $200-500/post is lightyears ahead of what most new freelance writers make. It’s enough to make a full-time income, and it’s certainly enough to justify the cost of the course.
❌ Some “bonus” lessons are hard to find. Maybe I missed the memo (this is actually highly probable—I’m known to miss details). But after finishing the course, I realized there’s a bunch of bonus material in the Facebook group under the “Guides” tab.
❌ The Ultimate Guide project is limited to 2,000 – 5,000 words. I found it impossible to write a true ultimate guide — that covers everything on the topic — in such few words. Mine ended up being 10,000 (check it out here), but I had to spend several extra hours creating a “watered-down” version just so I could pass my certification.
What I DID like
✅ If you don’t earn your investment back within 6 months of completing your certification, you get your money back. This essentially guarantees that the course will pay for itself and generate a positive ROI. Very few courses out there (if any at all) are willing to put their money where their mouth is and guarantee this.
✅ Gives you a SYSTEM for becoming a successful content writer. Being a good writer isn’t enough. I always thought I was a decent writer, but without a system to follow, I felt like an imposter. After graduating CMC, I feel like a professional, and I no longer feel guilty about charging professional prices.
✅ Live Q&A calls allow you to get in-depth personalized feedback (especially since most people don’t take advantage of it!)
✅ Unlike most courses where the info goes in one ear and out the other, CMC drills the fundamentals into your head with quizzes, assignments, projects, and exams.
✅ The included writer profile page saves tons of time (and money) trying to figure out how to put together your own website. In the past, I made my portfolio in Google docs, but Writer.me looks way more professional.
✅ Sophisticated email reminders help you stay on track. Their system is super savvy. If several days pass without finishing a new lesson, you’ll get emails motivating you to stay on course. Some even offer to set up a 1-in-1 call to go over any obstacles you’re facing. It’s like having a trainer behind you telling you to get back to work.
How Does CMC Compare to Other Smart Blogger Courses?
Before joining the Content Marketing Certification, I also went through Smart Blogger’s other courses—Freedom Machine and Serious Bloggers Only.
These two courses helped me get the Project Untethered blog off the ground.
That said, CMC is way more useful for people who want to start earning money online as quickly as possible.
It turns out, starting a profitable blog from scratch takes years. On the other hand, replacing your income as a freelance content marketer can be achieved in as little as a few months.
If you enjoy writing and are looking to quickly build a business you can do from home (or anywhere in the world), I would choose CMC over the other blogging courses.
(Although IMO, running my own blog is more fun and rewarding than writing for clients…but fun doesn’t pay the bills without tons of front-loaded effort. If you do want to build a blog that earns passive income, I recommend this course instead.)
The Verdict: Is CMC worth it?
You have to decide that for yourself.
If I would’ve had this course when I first started freelancing three years ago, I would’ve made a lot more money, a lot faster.
HOWEVER (and I feel like this goes without saying), you’ll get out of it what you put in.
I have an inkling that many students never end up finishing their certification. It takes time and effort, and nowadays “effort” isn’t a very sexy word.
So, if you power through, apply the teachings, and use them to start a brand new career — the CMC is worth it many times over.
But if you can’t commit to finishing, don’t waste your money.
This is for you if…
🟢 You are starting from scratch, want to start a freelance writing career, and prefer “skipping the line” and avoiding low-paying gigs.
🟢 You’re already freelancing, but aren’t earning at least $0.10/word.
🟢 You’re already freelancing, but you suffer from imposter syndrome, feel disorganized, or want a system that gives you confidence and makes you feel more like a professional.
This is NOT for you if…
🔴 You want to magically become a skilled writer with clients throwing money at you, but you don’t want to do any actual work.
🔴 You can’t spare an hour a day for the next 3-4 weeks.
🔴 You’re already consistently earning over $0.10/word and have a full pipeline of projects.
🔴 You don’t speak English.
🔴 You hate writing.
Does Becoming a Certified Content Marketing Specialist Actually Help?
The question you might be wondering is…
Did becoming a certified content marketing specialist make any difference? Did I find paying work within 60 days after graduation?
Well, not exactly…
I actually found paying work before I graduated!
While taking the program, I applied to a freelance content writing position paying $0.15/word on 2,000 to 5,000-word blog posts (in other words, $300 – $750 per article).
They also paid $2 per 1,000 views that my articles received each month, plus $45/hour for research needed to update the pieces as needed.
And the best part?
They said I can write as many (or as few) articles as my little heart desires.
Here’s exactly how I landed this job:
Step 1.) I applied to the job posting saying that I had a bunch of experience writing on the topics they were looking for (this is where building up your samples is important).
Step 2.) They then asked me to pitch them some article ideas to write as a sample. I just went over to AnswerThePublic.com, typed in a topic, picked a few interesting questions that their site didn’t already cover, and sent over a list of article ideas.
Step 3.) From there, they chose an article and asked me to write an outline. I sent them over a completed brief (exactly as taught in CMC). They were impressed that I went above and beyond.
Step 4.) I wrote the sample article, they loved it (and paid me for it), and I nabbed the position.
I ended up cranking out two 3500-word articles in a week, which more than paid for the cost of the CMC.
Not bad, eh?
Now, to be completely transparent, I wasn’t starting from complete scratch. I happened to already have relevant samples to send them showing I could do exactly what they were looking for.
But it just goes to show—as soon as you land that first client, you can use that sample/testimonial to continue propelling you forward.
Since landing that initial client while taking CMC, I’ve gone on to find even better ones. I now charge $0.40 per word, with a $400 minimum per article (if they are less than 1,000 words).
Smart Blogger Review Summary
The Smart Blogger Content Marketing Certification teaches you all the skills you need to go from zero to well-paid freelancer.
Are there some things they could improve on? Sure.
But do they fulfill their promise of helping you recoup your investment and start a new career within 6 months of earning your certification?
They sure do—And that’s exactly why I signed up!
Where Can You Sign Up?
At the time of writing, the cheapest way to join CMC is through this affiliate link.
At the time of writing, if you try to purchase directly through their website from their course listing page, the price is double. Don’t do that!
(Shoot me an email if this link isn’t working)
If you purchase using my affiliate link button above, shoot me an email letting me know (use subject line “CMC COURSE”). By doing so, you’ll have direct access to me if you ever have questions or want advice about getting your freelancing career off the ground. I will also send you a copy of my Work from Anywhere Toolkit (normally $25).
Mitch is your typical nomadic backpacker. Or at least, he was. But after stopping in Colombia to take “one week” of salsa lessons, his life took a sharp left turn. He met a cute Colombian girl in dance class, fell in love, and got married. Over half a decade has passed since he left his career to travel the world as a digital nomad, and he’s never looked back.
Nowadays, he’s the blogger behind Project Untethered — where he runs an awesome email newsletter and Youtube channel teaching adventure-craved wanderlusters how to escape the rat race, earn money from anywhere, and build an “untethered life”.
His advice has been featured in Forbes, USA Today, Yahoo, MSN, Reader’s Digest, Condé Nast Traveler, and more.
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Safetywing Insurance - This cheap travel insurance has saved me over $15,000 in medical bills.
Booking.com - Book accommodation without adding your credit card (in case you need to cancel).
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Flexjobs - Find remote jobs without having to sift through crappy ones.
Skillshare - Free trial to take unlimited classes that teach digital nomad skills.
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