In 2012, still navigating the impact of the financial crisis, Sarah Powers saw her wife struggling to keep up with demand for career counseling at the community college she worked at in Florida. "It was people from the community who lost their jobs,’ Sarah recalls; "they’d have a high school diploma and worked at the paper mill that recently closed down and they didn’t know what to do next. Many people weren't willing or able to pay for a career test tool, so Sarah’s wife used a public domain spreadsheet from the 1980s. "I looked at the questions and immediately knew there was room for improvement," says Sarah, who has experience as an instructional designer and web developer. She decided to make it her winter project to develop a better career calculator tool. "I wanted to help my wife save time and make a better test."
Your Free Career Test
Sarah Powers, Founder
How Sarah got started
Why ad revenue?
How Sarah makes an impact
Sarah got to work identifying improvements and devising a test that’s more relevant to today’s job market. She adjusted the test structure to focus more on the most common community college subjects, like science, business, and health, and cleaned up the question phrasing to simplify language for people who speak English as a second language. The result was a new test aimed at helping people learn about themselves and potential careers. "You could score 100% in three different categories and find a career or area of study that blends all those areas," she recalls. And once she’d created the test, "I thought I might as well put it on a website for everyone." And so YourFreeCareerTest.com launched.
Teachers started sharing the site with each other and word got out into a network of schools, counselors, and individuals exploring new paths. Today the site reaches two million career seekers per year. But with the increased traffic came greater, expenses for hosting services and site maintenance. "To earn some money to fund the site," Sarah explains, "I started earning ad revenue with Google AdSense and launched a referral program for college leads."
With AdSense bringing in thousands of dollars in ad revenue each month, Sarah has the capital to maintain and grow the site. "With our ad revenue I’ve been able to re-invest and re-energize the content on the site," she says. "I used our earnings to hire my nephew to make videos and was able to provide him with a computer to do the production. My dad retired from the Air Force and my mom also offered to help, so I hired her to help write new articles. The ad revenue from AdSense pays for all of our content, funds the site maintenance and hosting, helps pay for programmers to develop new features, and allows us to stay true to our initial mission of keeping it a free tool."
Ease of use and reliability also helps Sarah save time. "I love working with AdSense because it’s super easy and provides great controls," she shares. "With an audience of students and educators, I can block certain categories of ads and placement of ads, which gives me peace of mind that the ads visitors see are most relevant. Plus it’s reliable – I know what I’m going to make and I always get paid on time."
Since the launch, YourFreeCareerTest.com has blossomed into a business and tool that’s bigger than Sarah ever imagined. "It’s been incredible to see the base of learners grow," she says. "Every country has used it. A few years ago the Prime Minister of Education in Brazil asked if we could translate into Portuguese, so I started offering that. An organization in India reached out to include Hindi and other languages. I love helping people everywhere get excited about their future and what they want to do – and sometimes it’s the free, scrappy resources like YourFreeCareerTest.com that can be a game changer for people."