Authority Site Overhaul Case Study: Buying an Established Online Business and Ramping Up Earnings

By Spencer Haws |

The authority site project is back!  However, things have changed a bit since I last reported on the project. (You can read all past updates here).

I actually sold the site, as mentioned in this post here.  The primary reason for selling was opportunity cost.  Perrin and I were spending alot of time on the site and we weren’t seeing a huge return.  The earnings peaked at a little over $2,000 per month (mostly through Kindle eBooks sales). 

When I launched my first Amazon FBA product just a few months ago, the sales of that product surpassed the earnings of our authority site in about 30 days.  As a result, I made the decision that rather than spend more time on the authority site, I should focus on building my FBA business with my limited time.

The results have been phenomenal, and it was clearly a smart decision for my business.  It’s only been about 6 months since I launched my Amazon FBA business, and it just did a little over $40,000 in the past 30 days.

However, that still left me with a great authority site that I was no longer putting time and effort into.  I was chatting with a friend about business in general one day, and the subject of my authority site project came up.  I showed him the site, and he immediately expressed interest in buying the site!

I really hadn’t considered selling the site previously, but this friend made me an offer and we made a deal!

I’m now happy to reveal that the buyers of the Authority Site are Hayden Miyamoto (remember that guy!) and George Do.  They have gotten into the business of investing in websites and renovating them for profit.  They believe that my authority site is a perfect candidate for that model.

I agree.  In fact, I only sold 66% of the site to them, and I retain 34% ownership.  I believe that getting great individuals involved that are able to put more time into the site will yield some nice returns.

So, with that I’m actually turning over the rest of this blog post to George Do, one of the new owners of the authority site.  George will explain the plans for the authority site, and share a few other details.

Here’s George…

Remember Spencer’s Authority Site Project?

We’re bringing it back from the dead.

I’m George Do from WiredInvestors, a site dedicated to helping people learn about buying websites as investments. I’ve teamed up with Hayden Miyamoto from NoHatDigital (who you’re probably already familiar with) in order to work on this case study.

What We’re Doing

We pooled together our resources to buy 66% of the Education Authority Site that Spencer was working on before he shifted his focus to Amazon FBA. Spencer still owns 34% of the site but we’ve agreed that he’ll be a passive partner since he’s busy killing it on Amazon. We’re going to be running a case study on what it’s like to buy a website and revamp it to boost earnings.

This case study is going to be old school – we’re going to be revealing everything – the domain name, the site, and all the tactics and strategies that we use to improve it. You will literally be able to visit the site and see what we’re doing, and then read about what worked and what didn’t in the weekly update.

We know that Spencer has been burned before with regards to publicly revealing the domains of sites that he’s working on, so Hayden and I came up with what we think is a good compromise – we’ll be revealing the site that we’re working on exclusively through a newsletter. You can choose to follow along and get all the details by signing up for updates below:


tutorizeInit(“id”, “560ec1a7abbff41300cf0036”, “impactful-tutorial-01”);

If you’re only interested in the broad strokes of what we’re doing and you’re not too fussed about seeing the specific strategies that we use or live changes on the site itself (which you’ll be able to follow along with), we will be providing more general updates on a monthly basis on NichePursuits where we go over what we’ve done to the site and whether or not it’s been effective.

Why are we Doing This?

Hayden and I both believe strongly that given the current climate in online business, buying a site and making improvements is a model that makes much more sense than building a site from scratch. We also believe that investing in websites has the potential to be extremely lucrative (for those who know what they’re doing).

The Google Sandbox (and constantly changing SEO landscape) make it difficult to rapidly validate website ideas. While it is certainly possible to build a profitable authority site from scratch, it will generally take about 6 to 12 month’s worth of work to truly find out whether a site is ‘hit or miss’.

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It therefore makes more sense to buy a site that is already a ‘hit’ and try to ramp up earnings instead. If you’ve done your due diligence, the worst case scenario is that you’ve bought an income generating asset that provides pretty good returns. The best case scenario is that you can significantly increase the earnings of the site and end up with an asset that provides you with outstanding return on your investment, regardless of whether you choose to hold or sell.

About the Purchase

Just a couple of notes about our purchase of Spencer’s Authority Site Project. Right now, a large part of the value of the site comes from the Kindle Library – I would say that about 85% of the valuation comes from Kindle sales. We view the Kindle Library and the website itself almost as two separate assets (although there are obvious cross-promotion opportunities available).

The Kindle library is a nice cash-flow purchase and I think we can grow it modestly with very little effort.  We also want to do some testing in using Kindle for lead-gen.

That being said, our primary focus in this case study will be on making improvements on the website side – that’s the area that both Hayden and I are most familiar with and where we feel there’s most room for massive growth.

The Case Study

These are the goals of the case study:

The Project Itself

Now, don’t get us wrong. This project is not purely educational. It’s equally, if not more important to us that the site itself is successful since we’ve both got money on the line. We’re taking the success of this site pretty seriously and we have both short term and long term plans laid out for it.

Everybody has their own style when it comes to investing in websites (find out which style you fit into here). For this site, Hayden and I plan to apply the 80/20 approach (Pareto Portfolio) in the short term, and we will attempt to validate some longer term monetization ideas (the three models Hayden uses most are Info Products, Productized Services and Lead Gen).  If this validation is successful, we’ll be overhaul experts in the long term.

How will we Validate our Monetization Plan?

Because the site already has some traffic, we will create a couple landing pages and an email funnel there.  We’ll also invest in some FB traffic.

Here are the two scenarios that we foresee for the project:

Scenario A: We manage to validate our long term monetization strategy

Scenario B: We can’t validate our long term strategy

As we progress week by week, we’ll be bringing in various experts to help us on specific aspects of the site.

You know those heist movies where they round up a group of specialists to break into an impenetrable vault? That’s exactly what we’ll be doing. Hopefully, some of you will find it just as riveting (it’ll be tough though – a good heist movie is hard to top).

Now, if any of this sounds remotely interesting to you (or if you’re just dying for a fully transparent case study – they’re rare these days), you should definitely sign up to receive our weekly newsletter updates. Each week, we’ll go over the changes we made on the site, what we’re testing, and our overall thoughts on how the case study is going.  You can do that below:


tutorizeInit(“id”, “560ec1a7abbff41300cf0036”, “impactful-tutorial-02”);

If you guys have any questions or comments about this case study, website investing in general, or anything else online business related, both Hayden and I will be doing a quasi-AMA over the next week or so in the comments section.

Feel free to Ask Us Anything and we’ll do our best to answer any questions you might have.

Stories & Projects | 50 comments

By Spencer Haws

Spencer Haws is the founder of After getting a degree in Business Finance from BYU (2002) and an MBA from ASU (2007) he worked for 8 years in Business Banking and Finance at both Merril Lynch and Wells Fargo Bank.

While consulting with other small business owners as a business banker, Spencer finally had the desire to start his own business. He successfully built a portfolio of niche sites using SEO and online marketing that allowed him to quit his job in 2011. Since then he's been involved in dozens of online business ventures including: creating and exiting Long Tail Pro, running an Amazon FBA business for over 3 years and selling that business, founding, and co-founding You can learn more about Spencer here.

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Hey guys this sounds very very interesting! Do you also reveal how your way of determining a websites value is? Or how you find a project which fits your needs? Keep up the good work, I like your way to write and think (e.g. ROI).

A guy from germany 😉


Yup, if you sign up that’s all covered in the first post which will be mailed to you 🙂

George Do

Hi Kamin,

Good to hear that you enjoyed the post! We did go over valuation in the post, but it’s pretty specific.
More generally, website valuations are tricky because there’s no real ‘framework’ to go by and it’s relatively difficult to find comps as there’s not all that much data out there on the subject. If you have any questions about valuation, I’d be happy to answer them to the best of my ability though.

As for how I/we find projects, it’s honestly pretty difficult once you get past the $10K mark. I’d say monitoring Flippa and various brokers has been helpful, but the very best sites tend to sell pretty quickly – it’s happened a couple of times where I was doing due diligence on a site and it got sold.

Basically, keep an eye out in all the regular places (marketplaces and brokers) and also maybe see if anyone in your network has sites they want to sell. Private transactions (like this case study) can work well if you trust the counterparty.

You can also try direct outreach, but honestly it’s yielded little results for me so far. I’m still experimenting with this though, so we’ll see what happens.


Thanks for your reply! The market in germany is much much smaller than yours (english speaking countries). Therefore it’s much harder to find projects.

But anyway our way of website valuation seems to be similar except I don’t like monetization by digital products (e.g. ebooks, courses).

I’m looking forward to read your next article!

Thanks a lot!


I can imagine it would be difficult to find good sites to acquire in languages outside of English. Not sure if there are any specialty brokers that do that.

I’m actually on the opposite end – I think that ebooks and digital products are probably the best monetization options when you consider A) it’s relatively easy to test/validate an idea and B) logistical simplicity.

Obviously if you’re comfortable managing physical inventory/etc or you have a software development background, then Ecommerce or SAAS are also very attractive.

But i definitely prefer digital product creation to monetizing with ads where possible.

George Do

Whoops, that comment above was mine – I put your name instead of mine by accident.


This is going to be a very interesting case study indeed! I already subscribed. I’m looking forward to all the updates and learn a lot along the process. I wish you the best with this project and hopefully you can reach that amazing ROI of 535%! 🙂


Thanks Cesar!

Prasad Rane

Thanks for sharing this case study bro….Awesome


Where did you buy the site from?

George Do

Hi Dan,

We bought this site (66% of it) from Spencer. This is the authority site project that he was working on previously before he shifted his focus to FBA.


I have signed up for the authority site project, I’m building an authority site myself and i’m looking forward to the case study, maybe it can help with my site.

I have about 50 pages as of now but have decided to build out to 100 pages or so, it’s been live for about a year, not much success yet. I’m receiving traffic from the major SE’s and I also advertise on the bing/yahoo content network, it takes lot’s of work and focus. Good luck on your project.

Jim E. Novak

George Do

Hi Jim.

Thanks for following along. Authority sites can tough – you put in tons of work and often see very little return, at least for the first 6-12 months. It’s definitely a ton of work.

That’s one of the reasons why Hayden and I decided to focus our efforts on buying vs building. Taking something that already exists and already works and running with it tends to be more straightforward than creating something totally new.


That email optin at the bottom is lame.

George Do

Hi Bob,

Sorry you feel that way. (Although I guess the one at the top is perfectly fine? =p).

Truth is, we were on the fence about revealing vs not revealing the domain on this one. We thought this was a reasonably good compromise – it makes it so that (mostly) only people who are genuinely interested in the case study will get to see the domain.


Hey guys, I’m interested to finally see the site. I signed up and went to your post, but the password you sent me didn’t unlock it. Did the password get changed?

George Do

Hi Chris,

I just tested the PW given and it seems to work fine for me (I used incognito mode). If you still have problems with this, you mind emailing me at [email protected] and I’ll try and fix this for you?


The email option option is not working

George Do

Hi Al,

Which portion of the opt-in doesn’t work for you? I just retested it and it seems to be operational. If you give me a little bit more detail I’ll look into it.



Louie Luc

Hi guys!

Incredibly thorough article and planning details you posted here, with every little detail on both case scenarios. You showed you do know what you’re getting into.

As I told Spencer before (sorry, if it seems I keep repeating myself, but George and Hayden don’t know about it), I’m following Spencer’s Niche Site Project #2 and building a niche site from scratch and documenting all the steps I take publicly on my blog. To see if those tactics, strategies and techniques still apply today.

I can already tell you that it’ll be an authority site (my dedication and effort in every project nearly forces me to make it like so).

The point here is: I’ve just learned from your words that it will take me much longer to confirm if it is a ‘hit’ or a ‘miss’. (That’s the first lesson, back then it was way faster.)

But let’s say it’s a ‘bullseye’ and maybe in the future I would consider selling it, are you guys potentially open into buying authority sites from other people (not just from gurus like Spencer)?

I.e, will you guys be considering creating some sort service/resource where people can show you their websites to see if you’re interested in doing business?

Thank you a lot and best of luck!
I’ll be following along,

George Do

Hi Louie,

Yup, we’re very open to buying sites from people. When your site is up and running and doing well, reach out to me at [email protected] with some basic info and I’ll definitely take a look.



Louie Luc

Wow! I’ll definitely think about it some months from now!
Thanks for the reply George!

Good luck,



great i can’t wait for the updates and to follow along.

George Do or Hayden, i was wondering i have a site that i build but didnt really add any more content i get some traffic here and there io was wondering if your interested in buy it from me. i dont have the time for it. if your interested please get back to me or tell me where to email i can send you all the info any money i get is good. FYI i am also doing amazon and want to build that up 🙂

Thank You

George Do

Hi Avi,

You can email me at [email protected]

Potentially interested, but both Hayden and I tend to be pretty specific in what we’re looking for – just keep that in mind.




I haven’t commented on here before but have been avidly following Spencer and the Authority Site Project to get some tips. I am soooo glad I can get to see the website; I’ve been chomping at the bit to know what it is. Thanks for this and can’t wait to get your updates on taking it further 😀

George Do

Hi Nigel,

Thanks for following along!


All the best George & Hayden. Appreciate the transparency!


i love the email optin at the bottom


Nice post, although I don’t agree with the 6-12 months comment you’ve made. The Sandbox isn’t that hard to bypass, plenty of people in the know are launching sites and ranking in a month.

George Do

Hi Simon,

The 6-12 months thing more or less comes from my first hand experience. That being said, I’m not any kind of SEO wizard so who knows. All I know is that I haven’t been able to consistently beat the sandbox, and the people I know in the space have also been having trouble.

If you could link me to a few case studies where people are beating the sandbox on a consistent basis, I’d be really interested. Especially if the sites that they’re case studying are A) not local seo focused and B) not churn-and-burn sites.


Just wanted to let you know, the email field for the opt-in form does not seem to render correctly in Safari (8.08) on OS X (Yosemite 10.10.5). It just looks like a button (Sign Me Up) , with nowhere to put your email address. It seems to be some javascript focus problem. Pressing the button does nothing (as no email address has been entered). It might be a bit confusing for some readers, so you may want to consider using a simpler (html only) form to make sure people can sign up. Wishing you guys all the best and thanks for all the great content!

George Do

Hi John – appreciate the heads up and we’ll look into fixing this. Thanks!


Looks good. I spent a while looking at sites to buy but was never really good at how to improve their returns.

What optin plugin on this page does the surveys after optin. Cool

George Do

Hi Brian,

Thanks for your interest!

The Opt-In is using some proprietary stuff that Hayden had built. I’m not sure what his plans are for it exactly. I do think it’s pretty cool though =).


Hi guys,
Great to finally learn who you are.Your project sounds like it will be ultra helpful for me and lots of other marketers,Looking forward to the updates and to your success.
Thanks for sharing and being so open about what you have planned.
Good luck,Scott

George Do

Hi Scott,

Thanks for your interest! We were actually pretty on the fence about revealing everything vs just describing what we’re doing, but in the end we decided that when we read case studies ourselves, it’s SO much better when all the details are revealed, so we figured we’d be transparent about it even if it does pose a risk to our investment.


The wired investors site has an ICAN error, it’s been suspended!

George Do

Hi Paul,

Yup, I’m aware of the issue. Trying to resolve it ASAP, never got the ICANN email and am talking to support now.

Bad timing, huh. Anyways, sorry for the inconvenience and I’m sure it’ll be fixed soon.


This is a very interesting move for Both Spencer and Hayden and George.
I’m looking forward to get your updates.
Good luck!


I’ve tried a couple times to add my email to the weekly updates list.

After entering my email in the form in the post, I answered the survey questions. I haven’t received any welcome email. That was yesterday.

I thought you’d want to know there might be an issue. Also, I’m eager to follow along.

George Do

Hi Eric,

You should’ve gotten two emails, one with the subject “And the Domain of the Authority Site Project is…” and one with the subject “Thanks for filling out the Authority Site Overhaul Questionnaire!” I just rechecked the opt-in and it seems to work on my end.

If you didn’t get either of those, try checking your spam folder? If you still can’t find it, reply me here or email me at [email protected] and I’ll get you sorted by adding you to the list manually.

Thanks for your interest in the case study and sorry for the technical issues that you’re having.




Hi Guys,
thank you for the value you are bringing to the table 🙂


George Do

Thanks for following along Carlo!


hey guys!
very very interesting!
i’m gonna write about it in my website!

George Do

Hi Amin,

Thanks for the support and we really appreciate any mentions we get about this case study. We just ask that you don’t publicly release the name of the site since we’d like to keep in to people who’re following in the newsletter.




Very interesting case study. I’m looking forward to read more updates.


I have always thought website flipping is interesting. I once bought an adsense site and I didn’t know what to do with it. I still held on to it till date. Now maybe I can use this case study to get an idea. This is going to be interesting to see how you can take somebody’s project and ramp it up for greater profits.
Excited and looking forward to this.
Thanks guys


Hey Spencer, nice content man. This website is pretty awesome. All your advice and success want me to start my own business. I wish I could steal your brain like right now.

Well, I do need your brain right now because I have a question. If you are building a niche website and when you plan to earn from Amazon Associate. Does it really matter if the product based keyword you are targeting is low priced? Not really talking about keyword CPC here but product price itself. I mean, will there be any major difference in earning on Amazon if I am targeting for expensive pens or inexpensive pencils. Do you understand what I am saying?

Because I think, our job is to only make them go on Amazon website from our link. And regardless of what they buy, we will earn commission as they make a purchase.

Spencer Haws

Thanks Robert! If there is not much of a price difference between expensive pens and cheap pencils, then no your earnings might not be that much difference. Adwords CPC is not as important for amazon associates.

You are correct, that you get a commission regardless of what they buy; however, people will mostly buy similar products for what you refer them, so it can make a difference.


nice too. giving the authority site still performs well.

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