When No Hat Digital (NHD) published its “Back from the Dead” post last May, I was intrigued. To begin with, I had not heard from the NHD team for some time. Another item that caught my attention was NHD’s newest business-building/internship venture called Partnership Gauntlet.
In the spirit of full transparency, I am personally considering signing up for the Partnership Gauntlet. Currently, I am still going through the application process with NHD.
What is the Partnership Gauntlet?
In brief, the NHD Partnership Gauntlet consists of intern recruitment and training in SEO, content creation, social media marketing, etc., followed by retention of the best interns as partners. Thus, you sign up to the program as an intern, learn about the aforementioned techniques and, if found to be an apt student, become an NHD partner.
What do NHD partners do?
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NHD states that its partners participate in site management and marketing of the 100+ websites created over the last 2 years via 20 past internships. This includes the following tasks:
- Social media management and daily updates
- Newsletter management
- Content creation
- Potential customer/lead outreach
The goal of these tasks is site monetization, which NHD estimates should occur within 90 days. The revenue goal for each monetized site is $10,000/month. The exact profit split between the partner and NHD is specified as 50/50.
The NHD Partnership process
Becoming an NHD partner is a six month process that begins with a 30-day internship. During those 30 days, you work with NHD on content creation, SEO, marketing techniques, etc. On its Partnership Gauntlet web page, NHD states that the time frame is actually 14 days; during this time you work with a single NHD team member on a single “micro authority business.”
When this internship/trial period is complete, the interns that show promise and compatibility with the NHD staff are asked to stay on an additional five months as partners-in-training.
For the next five months, these partners-in-training have access to and can use the following resources to help them monetize their sites:
- Meetings and calls with an “accountability group,” plus a work calendar
- Contributor accounts and software for SEO, content creation, etc.
- NHD team members well-versed in website programming, design and content generation
- Guest post opportunities with fellow online entrepreneurs, bloggers, etc.
Additionally, partners learn how to perform NHD-style keyword research, try out exclusive software platforms, generate cornerstone content, and obtain links from high domain authority sites.
At the conclusion of those six months, the NHD partners-in-training that show exceptional promise are vetted and become full NHD partners. As full partners, they now manage several websites for NHD and split the profits 50/50 with the NHD team. It is my assumption that these partners may also use their newly acquired knowledge and software tools to generate and monetize new websites.
The internship and partner vetting processes both occur remotely (mostly via Skype). You therefore do not need to travel anywhere, except to your computer.
Where does the $3,000 come into play?
All of the training, time and materials that NHD provides to its interns doesn’t come free. Furthermore, the NHD team believes that interns and partners-in-training are more motivated to succeed if they have some skin in the game.
To this end, NHD requests that interns pay $500 for their first 30 days of internship. If those interns are selected for the partnership vetting process, they will need to plunk down $500/month until their vetting ends. So:
($500 x 1 internship month) + ($500 x 5 partnership vetting months) = $3,000
To be fair, NHD will refund the $500 internship payment if the intern is not asked to stay on for partnership vetting. However, partners-in-training who reach the end of their six month vetting process and are not deemed worthy of being called full partners are out of luck in terms of the money they paid.
Is the NHD Partnership Gauntlet worth the investment?
It’s difficult to find actual Partnership Gauntlet reviews because the program is still fairly new. However, the information presented in the Partnership Gauntlet has been around in other NHD trainings, including its previously priced $2,000 SEO internship.
In this SEO internship, it appears that the interns built, monetized and marketed several websites and kept roughly half of them. During this time, the interns used various keyword research and other software tools and also engaged in link-building via NHD’s Rank Hero, which is a private blog network (PBN).
These early interns, some of which go back to mid-2012, have reviewed the general NHD training program. Overall, the feedback is positive and can be read in full here.
However, there are some concerns too. To begin with, the PBNs operated by NHD were de-indexed by Google in late 2014. To its credit, NHD addressed this issue and has found ways to perform SEO outside of depending largely on links.
Another concern is whether or not the information provided in the NHD training is truly not available elsewhere (and for free). Some critics have stated that NHD already provides the majority of its SEO, content creation and traffic-building tactics on its website and blog.
Other individuals have pointed out that other (i.e., competitor) SEO and marketing training programs are better equipped, less riddled with Google landmines, and far less expensive to boot.
There is also the “far too expensive” peanut gallery, which seems to naturally spawn in the shadow of any training program that requires money. However, as stated by one astute observer:
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If you can’t see the value in knowledge, let me ask you this: Why are people willing to pay tuition fees for schools/colleges/universities? People are willing to go into massive debt for a long time, but when it comes to paying for knowledge that will actually create direct revenue for you, you have a problem? Doesn’t that seem backwards to you?
A final criticism of the Partnership Gauntlet, as well as the other programs that NHD offers and has offered, is that there is insufficient follow-through on many of NHD’s “big ideas.”
As noted by Hayden himself, who is one of NHD’s founders, he and the NHD team are big on ideas but challenged by complete follow-through on those ideas. One example of this issue has been the initial and promising analysis of Pat Flynn’s website, Security Guard Training HQ, followed by…the sound of crickets.
In some circles, this issue is known as “shiny object syndrome.”
Thus, the Partnership Gauntlet might also start off big and wonderful and then get sidelined as newer and shinier business ideas are explored.
Should I sign up for NHD’s Partnership Gauntlet?
Although I’m still in the application process with NHD, I’m also undecided about whether this internship will be a good investment for me. To begin with, there is the $3,000 to think about. However, it’s more than just the money- my time will also be spread fairly thin because I’ll be spending most of it on NHD training. That means I’ll have less time to write and to pursue other (ahem, paid) business opportunities.
Based on what I’ve discovered so far about the NHD Partnership Gauntlet, would you recommend this program to someone looking to start an online business? Would you take this kind of training program for yourself? Thank you for your feedback!