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Welcome to the Authority Site Project!

Over the past few months, Perrin have been working on a project to build out a gigantic web property.  I've shared brief updates on this project, but only as an aside…the “authority” project has never been the core focus on this blog.

However, its finally time to give this new project and case study the attention it deserves!

So, today I want to cover a few topics, such as, why we are doing an “authority site”, what an authority site is, what we've done so far, and what are plans are moving forward.

Overall, this project represents a small pivot in my business away from smaller niche sites and so I hope this post acts as a good introduction to what I expect to be doing long term.

What's the Project All About?

If you have been following the story of Perrin and I, you will now that we have been building sites together for about a year and a half now. We went through the Niche Site Project 2 and shared how to build a niche site from the ground up.

Then when I hired Perrin at the beginning of this year, we kept building out more niche sites on our own.  However, due to the fact that it becomes increasingly difficult to build and manage a large portfolio of sites and truly give them the love and attention that they deserve; we decided to focus on just one site.

In fact, it was in June of this year that we decided we would no longer build out any additional small niche sites.  And in July we starting building our authority site.

Our decision to move away from quicker small niche sites to a longer term business was validated last month when many of our small niche sites were hit with the PBN penalty.  This was extremely painful because many of our sites tanked in Google; including aPennyShaved.com (the site from Niche Site Project 2).

However, it also gave us the confidence that the shift in our business was a smart one.  So, the Authority Site Project is all about sharing everything we are doing to build out our new authority site.  We'll be sharing the tactics and tools we use, the lessons learned, the earnings, and perhaps someday even the domain name. 🙂

What is an Authority Site?

I'll be honest, I hate the phrase “authority site”.  I only use it because its a phrase that a few in our community use and understand.  Rather than calling it an authority site, I'd rather just call it a site I actually care about; or a site I expect to actually make a full-time income with someday.

Perhaps its easier to define an authority site by what it's not.  It's not a churn and burn site.  It's not a site I hope to get up to $100 a month in earnings and then quickly move onto my next project.  It's not the kind of site I would ever risk using shady tactics to rank in Google.

Overall, it's the kind of site that will require a lot of time and attention and is expected to become a huge property with content added regularly for the life of the site.

I was just asked yesterday via email if I thought aPennyShaved.com had become an authority site rather than a niche site.  Again, I hate the definitions of “niche” vs. “authority”…I think its a dumb game to play.  However, my answer was yes, aPennyShaved.com was becoming an authority site.

Perrin was adding regular content, and he was actively working on the site to make it into a real business.  This is not something you would do on a micro niche site.

In fact, as I look back on the Niche Site Project 2 posts, most of that still applies to an authority site!  The process of finding a market, picking keywords, writing content, and even promoting that content is still essentially the same at its core.  So, the good news is that the only blog posts that no longer apply are some (not all) of the link building posts…and if you look, I actually wrote very few posts regarding link building.

However, there ARE some differences and some additions that are required to build a truly great web property.  That's what this project is all about…exploring some of those additional tactics to take a website to the next level.

Progress So Far?

Since we are already a few months in, I can't give a step by step detail of everything we've done.  However, I do hope to provide many more detailed posts for each step of the process so that you can go back and replicate the authority site process on your own.

Here's just some quick bullet points on things we've done for our site so far:

Overall, you can see we've done quite a bit, and even this list doesn't really do justice to the time and energy we've already put into the site.

So, how much money have we made?  None!

That's right, none.  We've haven't even tried to make any money yet.  We have no ads or any possible way to monetize our traffic at this point.  It's all part of the plan.  We are more concerned with building a great resource before we worry too much about the money.

However, we do plan on monetizing within the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned.

Although we don't have any income to share just yet; perhaps you will be interested in seeing our traffic!

Traffic Stats

New sites take a little while to get traction.  In fact, Perrin and I have publicly discussed that we fully expect it to take a year before we make much money.  So, we are going to put a ton of effort up front for 12 months, with the hopes that it starts paying off after that.

This can be a long waiting game, but seeing traffic increases can give you confidence.

Here's a screenshot from when our site was created until Oct. 8th:

oct8

Slow traffic growth with lots of fluctuation…pretty normal for a new site.

However, we started doing something interesting earlier this month, we started submitting some of our best content to Reddit.

This has significantly increased our traffic after Oct. 8th:

oct22

Note that the scale is 1000 to 2000 rather than 25 to 50 visitors!  We are now regularly getting a few hundred visitors a day when we submit something to Reddit.

Now here's the entire traffic history of the site:

2014-10-22_1050

This screenshot makes it look like we weren't getting any traffic until October!  The spikes are now so much larger, that you can barely detect the 25 or 30 unique visitors a day we were getting previously.

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Check out the growth on a monthly basis:

2014-10-22_1051

This is my favorite graph.  You can clearly see that we were growing in July, August, and September.  However, you can see the huge jump in traffic we are experiencing this month; and there is still over a week left in October.

Overall, I'm pleased with the progress of our new authority site!

The Goal and Plans Moving Forward

We have lots of plans for our site down the road.  We'll continue to add content daily and we'll continue to promote our more shareable articles.

The purpose of this is to eventually catch the eye of Google and hopefully we'll start ranking for all the content we've been adding daily.  This is a long term process, but that's the eventual goal.

In addition, we are just starting to dive into building our email list.  This is really where most of our focus is going to be over the life of the business.  Sure, Google traffic is nice, but we want to build our email list and core audience.  Once we have this audience in place, we can produce products or promote relevant affiliate products much easier.

So, our immediate plans going forward are to focus on capturing visitors to our site with an opt in form.  In addition, we are also spending money on Facebook ads to test our ad titles, offers, and overall the fastest and cheapest way to add quality leads to our email list.

The eventual goal will be to create several useful products that we can promote and perhaps even a membership site.  Again, this is a long term goal.

We are starting with our Kindle eBook and depending on how it goes we could be writing several more.  We don't know the exact direction our business will take, but we hope to replicate some of the success that Steve Scott has experienced with his Kindle books.

The Vision

Overall, we have significant plans for the site and we are quite excited for the project.  We really do believe that this site has the potential to grow into a stand alone business with its own employees and management.  No that's not going to happen in the next 12 months.  However, with the right type of planning and continued success that is the long term future that we hope for.

That should make it pretty clear why I wouldn't risk using PBNs or some other short term strategy to rank my site.  Google is part of our traffic strategy, but it could eventually be only a minor portion of our traffic (kinda like Matt Paulson and his sites discussed in our podcast interview).

We are in this for the long haul.  That's what an authority site is all about.

Your Thoughts

Overall, I felt like it was finally time to share what our authority site project is all about!  We've been working on it for months, but not really given it the time and attention it deserves here on NichePursuits.com.

This new project is going to make up a significant portion of the content on Niche Pursuits for at least the next 12 months.  So, hopefully you are interested in following along!

As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts, comments, or questions below.  Today was just a quick introduction to our project; so if you have anything specific that you would like me to address in a future post, please let me know in the comments.


Strategy and Mindset

By Spencer Haws
175 Comments

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IMPromoCoder

Very, Very interesting post Spencer!
Could you give some more details about Reddit posting (perhaps it requires a whole separate post). You can’t just throw these big numbers in our face and let go of it..
Would this fit any niche? any specific recommendations as for what type of content gets the most traffic from there?
Thanks!

Perrin

Sharing content on Reddit is very, very tricky.

If you try to do anything even remotely fake/spammy/not cool, it’s incredibly easy to get your account banned.

Also, the traffic doesn’t seem to be worth much. We’re basically hoping that thousands of visitors will net us a few links and some emails.

I’m sure I’ll write a post on this at some point.

Will

Reddit traffic is massively valuable if you know how to connect with Reddit users.

I have been using Reddit traffic as one of my top 3 social channels for the past 18 months now and I can see from GA and the events/goals that I have set up that conversion rates based on getting people to sign up from Reddit are between 15% and this is without heavily promoting the sign up button (side bar opt in box) and dependant on the content I sometimes mention subscribing to the site at the end of an article.

I have to admit, Reddit is an extremely intimidating platform, everyone speaks their mind and if a Reddit user doesn’t like your content they are not afraid to say so which can easily and often lead to a bashing.

The key I have found is to simply not post everything, really focus on the BEST content you have and to ensure that the reader really will benefit from the information and that it’s new information and not just re-written crap.

It sounds simple, but remember Reddit users are usually quite internet savvy, they are sometimes as smart as us marketers and they know exactly when your just trying to market to them.

Spencer Haws

Thanks for sharing Will! I agree with your tips. Also good to hear that you are able to convert reddit traffic fairly well. We are about to start experimenting more with what to do with the traffic. We know we can get lots of Reddit traffic fairly regularly now, we just need to work on getting opt ins and monetizing.

Perrin Carrell

Awesome!

I’d love to learn more about what you’re doing with your traffic. Mind if we connect via email?

My contact info’s on our About page. 🙂

Spencer Haws

Yep, we’ll have to do a full post on Reddit (and other) strategies…today was just an overview.

Virgin Dave

I’ve never used Reddit in my life, for personal or business purposes, but after reading this post I started messing around with it. I literally received instant traffic boosts.

Something I noticed is that some people actually link the title of their post to their website, and if it’s quality content people don’t seem to mind. This is not how I did it, but I saw some posts related to mine that had a lot of “up-votes” and were just links to blog posts.

The best way to learn is just by doing it and figuring things out on your own, and I think you’ll get the hang of Reddit pretty easily.

Thanks for the Reddit tip Spencer/Perrin. Very helpful resource.

Cheers,
Dave

Spencer Haws

Awesome to hear your instant results! You are right, that a great resource can simply be a link in the title to your blog post. We’ve done this and other methods as well. Our site looks very professional, so that helps to keep Reddit users happy.

Virgin Dave

Yeah being professional looking would be nice, but as my name implies (and as you know from our conversations) I’m pretty new to the game.

I still think (and I’m sure you agree) that providing value trumps everything.

BTW, on pace for a record # of pageviews all from 2 or 3 Reddit posts. Nice to validate the hard work.

Spencer Haws

Awesome..congrats!

Taylor Hendricksen

Stoked to follow along with another case study! Authority sites are taking off in popularity, so I’m curious to see how well you guys can make it work and monetize things.

Spencer Haws

Thanks Taylor, should be a lot of fun and hopefully profitable.

james mccallum

Always interested to know what you guys are doing.
Just a couple of thoughts.
It might be interesting for us to know how much content you have added so for, assuming your keeping count.

And I wonder in say 6 or 12 months time the site is not quite getting the traffic you were hoping for you will ever be tempted to build some of your own links. Even after all you have said about manual link building. Time will tell.
Thanks.

Perrin

So far, we’ve added ~160 articles.

Here’s a break down:
– 55 x 3,000-word SEO, keyword-optimized articles
– 100+ shorter news articles
– A handful of major linkable assets (we’ll be boosting this soon)

Don’t let that scare you off, though. You can create an authority site with MUCH less content. The Wirecutter, for example, launched a site with 2 long articles per month.

Spencer Haws

We won’t be using PBNs or other shady link building tactics…I’ve been on that roller coaster long enough.

Sam

James, as you know, authority sites do not need to build their own links. Instead, they “earn” links. And those links are much much better than any PBN link.

marbles

A magazine, awesome. You’re a publisher now.

A 3,000 word piece every day?
Your content costs must be through the roof.
At a typical content shop, 7 cents a word, that’d be more than six grand a month.

Perrin

Yep! We’re starting to think like a publisher, too. 🙂

Our content costs aren’t bad, actually.

We pay a part-time writer $1000/mo. She finishes her writing in about 3-4 hours each day in the morning. She makes about $26/hr, and she’s free to do other stuff/jobs/hangout with her kids.

I try very hard to monitor her time to make sure she’s being paid well per hour. If her hourly rate drops, we immediately meet to strategize/remove obstacles/improve sources/etc. so she continues to earn well.

Obviously, this only works if you can:
– Find a good, fast, professional writer
– Offer a longer contract

I wrote about how I find and manage writers in this post: https://www.nichepursuits.com/how-to-manage-writers-effectively-and-skyrocket-your-roi/

Perrin

However, we just gave her a raise b/c she’s kicking so much butt.

Mike

What’s the domain URL?

Tough to follow along when we can’t see what’s actually being produced.

Perrin

I know it’s a bit frustrating. We just want to give ourselves a head start before the site is copied 500 times, and we have to send out a bunch of takedown requests (happens a lot with our projects). We’ll reveal it eventually, just not yet.

Sam

Mr. President, I am not going to copy that site. 🙂

Spencer Haws

All in good time my friend.

Kelly J.

Very interesting. Will follow the progress. Don’t show your domain until 12 months pass (to avoid the situation like “survival knives” site). But can you please tell the niche you entered? Just curious what do you mean under “profitable market with nearly limitless content potential”
Anyways, thanks for the great post.

Perrin Carrell

We may reveal the niche soon; who knows.

“A profitable market with limitless content potential” more or less means a broader market in which it’s obvious there’s a lot of money being spent.

Easy examples of these types of markets are:
* Skin care
* Personal finance
* Yoga

…you get the idea. These are well-established markets, and there are a number of different ways you could go in any of them.

If, say, you were going to build an authority website, you could do yoga videos, yoga product reviews, yoga routines and inspirational photos.

Or whatever.

For us, the market we decided on is in a market with good ad revenue and several big affiliate providers. It was also a market with which we thought we could get on Google News. Plus, we’ve seen lots of products being sold in the niche, and it was relatively easy for us to find 1,000+ keywords to develop a core of content.

It’ll be different in different markets, though.

Hope that helps at least a little, and I’m sorry to keep you in suspense!

Raj Vasireddy

All the very best Spencer and Perrin. Can you write an article on Reddit submission?

Perrin Carrell

Yep! I’ll do that at some point. 🙂

Higgins

Exciting! The site is actually getting traffic. Nice to hear

Can you maybe tell us how many links are pointing to the site at the moment? and also, Which i’m wondering about anyways, Are the links pointing to the pages that get the traffic or are those pointing to pages you made for link attractiion – the shareable content without monitization purpose.

In other words,.. are links pointing to the shareable content good enough to help rank your keyword content, perhaps even rank some of your keyword content without any backlinks pointing to that content,… at all?

Perrin Carrell

Thanks 🙂

Not many so far. There are only about 25 dofollow links. However, some of those are insanely good links. Two are PA55+ from highly authoritative sites, and we mentioned on the podcast that we have links from The Huffington Post and Harvard.

All of that came from hustling and emailing. Still, we’re not as organized as I’d like to be. I actually just gave our writer a raise, so she could spend more time building links for us.

joe

The problem with reddit is that they are very much like Digg users of years ago – they don’t click ads and they don’t buy anything ( I could be wrong on this) . Also, they are a young demographic overall.

Perrin Carrell

You’re correct on the first point. It’s extremely difficult to monetize Reddit traffic, which is why (so far) we’re not trying to.

We’re mostly just going for exposure and residual links. Reddit also has incredible potential for virality. If you are sharing good content consistently and correctly, the chances of getting a viral post are actually pretty decent (I’ve gotten 17,000 visits in a day to a site before).

For our site, we’ve only been consistently sharing for a week and a half, and we’ve already had a few days over 1,000 visitors (you can see one above, and the other is today).

Plus, it’s fun to see some actual numbers, which can keep a team motivated.

The demographic may be a bit younger, but not by much, and our market is a younger market anyway.

Thanks for chiming in 🙂

Brian

A younger market huh?

I guess that takes whiskey barrels off the list of guessing your possible niche. =)

Joseph Ho

Hey Spencer,

I try to the following method and tested myself it is working great for me.

you can try to run contest giveaway on your site and use facebook to drive the traffic. This is one method i use to build up my list fast.

Instead of 3000 words article you can try using “list” post of content (example top 5 seo tools you must use) and internal link to your other blog post. This will make the post more viral friendly.

Perrin Carrell

Hey Joseph 🙂

I was actually supposed to create some sort of contest this week. I should get on that!

rajkanwarbatra

I have tried facebook ads and found them to be pretty much useless.

Here is the reason why:
I set up a campaign so far so good.
I started advertising. Zero results extremely high bounce rate. Trouble they were sending most of my ads to mobile and my site was not mobile optimized. OK. My fault moving on.
I deselect the mobile option and start with ads again. I get some traffic but very very low conversion. Not worth the time.
I keep running the ads the CPS goes down 60% however 90% of people who were supposed to come to my site never showed up in google analytics. The other 2 bounced back in 1 second.
Quite clearly these were just bots and not real users.
For me facebook ads are a simple waste of time and money.
You might have different experience.

Spencer Haws

Sorry to hear you haven’t had any success with FB ads.

Jennifer Bland

Nice to see the shift from niche to authority sites. Always felt people were trying to game the system with the smaller niche sites so it is interesting to see how the authority model stacks up in the long run.

Do you feel that positing multiple times a day helps the authority site grow faster? Would be interested to see if posting just once a day or even three times a week would still get an authority site growing since most people don’t have the funds to hire a full time writer.

Jennifer

Spencer Haws

The multiple news posts a day is really just to get into Google news. The longer keyword based articles produced once a day are for the long term SEO benefit. You can certainly do much less content (a couple times a week) and do just fine.

MMD

Spencer – Finally! This is the series I have been waiting for lately every time I visit the site. I have a feeling that this project is going to be like Niche Site Project 2 but even better and more mature as a business strategy. I’m very curious to see how this content-mostly strategy works out and how it ranks in Google over time. Already I want to know more specifically about how you were able to leverage Reddit so well. Please consider that as its own topic at some point.

Spencer Haws

Thanks MMD…its finally here! Yes, sounds like there is lots of interest in the reddit strategy; we’ll definitely hare more.

Mark

Hi Spencer & Perrin

Sounds great, looking forward to seeing the progress!

I’ve had an “authority site” going for some time and I always seem to struggle to find free stock photos that you are legally allowed to use.

Any tips on where you get your images from?

Cheers

Perrin

My philosophy is not to worry about it. Absolute worst case scenario is that someone asks you to take it down, and then you do.

It’s much better to focus on the big picture.

Sandy

I don’t know about that. In my experience content creators are almost more rabid about protecting their photos than their content lol. Stay away from Getty. They will sue you for using their images even by mistake, On my sites I use free stock photos, my own photos or repost with permission and attribution from the content provider. Good luck on this project! It’s what I was waiting for too 🙂

Mark

I’ve heard a few horror stories of people being sued by the owners of the images they had used without permission, even after they had taken those images down because they had already used the images without permission and the image owners were after compensation.

Ken

If you don’t own the license to the photo, be very careful with this. Quite a few internet photographers retain copyright trolling law firms to come after webmasters who use their photographs without license or permission.

And they won’t just ask you to take down the photo. They will claim that the copyright infringement has already taken place and demand you contact them to arrange settlement. If you don’t, they’ll actually go ahead and file a lawsuit.

They know you’re more likely to pony up the $750-$1k per infringement than spend $thousands on legal fees to defend yourself.

This just happened to me just last week despite having a license for a particular image through Shutterstock. They requested proof and backed off once they received it.

Chris

Careful guys,

Sure, if this was a crappy little niche site or personal blog, nobody would bother suing. But if it’s an authority site with money invested and it’s a real business talked about in Google news, etc…now THAT is a site worth suing over copyright infringement.

Easy money.

Larry

What do you think about Flickr? I’ve had decent luck finding usable images there. I guess it really depends on the subject =)

Kim Slater

Hey Spencer and Perrin,

Newbie question – I currently own 10 micro niche websites that are ranking in the top 10 just from on page seo. I haven’t started backlinking and I was wondering if I could just do social media posting like creating Facebook, twitter, and youtube profiles and get some followers to my websites. Would that cause a adense ban?

Many Thanks,
KIm

Spencer Haws

That’s great! I see no reason why you can’t do social media posting and keep your adsense account in good standing.

Yaro

Great job guys!
I am also creating website which hopefully will transform to full time online business.
And then there is good possibility to open offline businesses too. But it will far from the start. At least 2 years.

Reid Yamamoto

This is going to be fun to watch and you’re already making great progress with it. You offer so much value in your posts and podcasts and I appreciate the work you put into them.

If someone studied all your posts and put them into action they’d have a nice portfolio of sites.

Spencer Haws

Thanks Reid!

Benjamin

This is great. Looking forward to more updates on this one.

I just started my first niche site on October 3rd (tomorrow will be 3 weeks,) and am nearing 10,000 visitors to date.

~33% from Reddit
~31% “Direct” (no referrer provided)
~27% from Organic Search Traffic
~5% from Social Media (Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus)
~4% from link building

I haven’t done any PBN stuff, guest posts, etc.

I did get lucky as 60% of my traffic is seasonal traffic and I’m expecting a equal drop in traffic next month. But, December should show another increase in traffic.

~17% of my traffic is clicking through to my Amazon links and there’s so far a ~5% conversion on those clicks.

This has all been thanks to Spencer and Perrin. I came across Niche Pursuits after Perrin completed Niche Site Project 2. So, I was lucky enough to be able to go through all the posts without having to wait for updates. The success shown and advice given in those posts were the push I needed to get started on my own.

I set a goal for myself similar to the one that Perrin started with. I’m trying to build a site that will bring in ~$500/month within 6 months and only up to a $500 investment. So far, I’ve invested about $125 into the site – that’s including the domain, hosting, logo design, and a first attempt at outsourcing some content.

I have an idea for an authority site as well – have already grabbed a good domain name for it. So, I’m really looking forward to follow these posts.

I do have a question for Spencer & Perrin. With my niche site, I’ve already noticed about a dozen things I could do better – including: layout, theme, consolidating content, etc. Do you think I would be better off switching my theme (likely to a Thesis or Genesis theme), consolidating my “old” content (and 301 Redirecting to the new posts), and fixing my categories/layout now or should I continue how I’ve been going and just focus on improving the content going forward only?

Sorry for the long comment – just my way of saying thanks.

Perrin Carrell

Thanks for the kind words 🙂

As for your question, if you’re going to make changes to the site, now’s the time. However, having that much organic traffic 3 weeks in is basically unheard of in the current SEO landscape. So you may not want to change anything.

If you do decide to change categories, I certainly wouldn’t change the URL structure. Etc.

Basically, your site is working better than 90% of other sites right now, so don’t go fiddling with it! 🙂

Benjamin

Hey Perrin,

Thanks for the reply.

I’m aware I got super lucky with my organic traffic. But it will die down a lot at the end of the month, as it’s all Halloween related. I’m thinking I’ll make my changes come the start of November. URL structure shouldn’t change as I don’t include my categories in my URLs

Spencer Haws

Congrats Benjamin! Glad you were able to apply the advice from the 2nd niche site project.

As for your question, you can slowly change these things over time. If you really want a new theme, you can do that…but its not critical probably. I would indeed fix your categories and content structure if possible. I’m not sure about the “consilidating” content and 301. Not sure I fully understand, but its probably not necessary. Just create new or better content.

Benjamin

Thanks for the reply Spencer. Let me explain the consolidation part:

I started a “series” of posts on a topic covering the basics:
– What it is
– The best X
– How to use X
etc

There is a top level page (with thin content) linking to all the posts in the series, and each post in the series has 300-500 words only. Should I make them all into 1 longer post at the top level link, and then 301 redirect the “series” pages back to the top level? I broke them up originally to try to cover the keywords on separate pages that had separate meta descriptions.

Spencer Haws

I see. That’s a tough call. I DO think its much better to have the one longer article with sub-titles, etc in the article to cover each topic. I would almost recommend just doing that going forward with different content/new keywords. However, if the traffic is not significant to the existing pages, you can try the 301 idea.

インタネト

Wow so much work flowed in the process already. finally a new series on which i can follow from the beginning.
unfortunately my 2 month old sites are still at 3 visitors a day but as you said keyword research is everything.
wish you guys good luck.
ps: how important would you say i linkbuildinpdriod?g when posting new content on a tridaily period?
crazy how this guy benjamin id gettin so much traffkc already but always good when people seeing some succes.

Benjamin

I just got lucky with my choice of niche – not a ton of competition, and most are other niche sites and blogs with low authority.

Bruce

Thank you Spencer and Perrin for sharing your authority project with us. I’ve to admit I am really excited for the your future post related to this authority site project. I followed your niche site case studies back then,created my own niche sites and I’m happy to say that it paid off!! The case studies that you shared with us is truly priceless. Anyway I wish the both of you the best of luck for this journey and I hope to learn a lot from this. I look forward to the next post!

Perrin Carrell

Thanks for following along, Bruce, and congrats on your site. 🙂

Naveen

This is great post Spencer and Perrin ! Can’t wait to see the site . Hope you will reveal the domain soon 🙂

Jenda

Love it!

I have also moved from small sites to big sites. It makes even more sense in my country – There is a few million of people, so small sites doesn’t make that much money and if you compare work for each website (finding niche, setting up site, writing content, linkbuilding and again and again vs. one time finding niche and setting up site, then writing content and promoting it) it’s just so better to have one big site than several small sites. Definitely in the long run.
Actually, you said it, Spencer, in one article, but back then I wasn’t paying too much attention to it, I guess 🙂

Anyway, great work as always. I definitely want to read more about your site, soon!

Keep it up!

Perrin Carrell

Thanks, Jenda, and very interesting about the differences in strategy in countries with lower populations. I’d never thought about that before!

Spencer Haws

Thanks Jenda!

Ash

It’s really cool what you guys are doing, I know with Reddit that the niche plays a big part in how the people on there will receive your posts it helps if your niche is a bit odd or weird like those ViralNova type sites and your gaming software got 6000 sign ups so it all depends really.

It’s going to be very interesting to see what you guys do in the next 12 months, I’m building an authority website along with you. I really started it seriously around Augustus too and it’s getting 40-50 visits a day so far but with 50 articles not 160!!

Perrin Carrell

Thanks Ash,

However, I’ve found that with Reddit, you can promote most stuff as long as the content is actually interesting (which, by the way, is totally in your control no matter what niche you choose) and the title is good.

I think you’d be surprised how “boring” our niche is judging by the Reddit traffic we’re getting.

And nice visits!

Spencer Haws

Awesome progress Ash! Should be a fun ride for sure.

Andy

Very inspiring! I think a lot of us are looking towards doing something in this direction.

I was wondering, how competitive are the keywords you are targeting? All less than KC of 35?

Perrin Carrell

This is a really great question.

We’ll be writing a post on this, too, probably. But, basically, you indeed want to find a bunch of keywords under KC35. I’m usually more comfortable if I can find a bunch under KC30. For our site, we have several hundred keywords under KC30, which will last us at least until next year.

HOWEVER. However… the cool thing about authority sites (and I was just talking about this with our intern) is that eventually, they should have a lot more authority than a smaller site, so you CAN go after tastier keywords.

When we were doing our research, we took anything under KC40. And if, several years from now, we’re still making money and we’re out of keywords, our site should be authoritative enough to go after even bigger ones.

In other words, treat keyword research like you’d treat anything else with an authority site:

…start small and scale.

Spencer Haws

Most of them, yes.

John

Thats a long list… i wonder if ill be able to get there too…

Authority site hmmm im still on the niche site creation….

anyway im following… and thanks for sharing…

Mart

What was the mistake that you made with Google News?

Perrin Carrell

I THINK it was having a broken link to our contact page in the menu.

It was a very small, dumb mistake on my part. And it was unfortunate because Google News cares a lot about your contact page.

Could have been any number of things, but we’d been talking to a G.News consultant, and everything else seemed to be mostly in order.

Super dumb of me, but we all make mistakes. 🙂

Spencer Haws

A link to our contributors page was not set up properly.

Stuart Walker

I like this idea Spencer and Perrin. It’s solid.

The Kindle book idea is good too, that’s something I briefly looked into as I’m planning on adding further monetizing methods to NicheHacks.

Could be a solid way to bring in income and tap into new audiences.

Launched 5 info products last month and a membership area this week.

Going to continue to look for new ways to monetize the site and bring in new audiences – Kindle makes sense.

Will you be revealing the niche at all for this or even giving some hints?

I know you probably don’t want to give too much away understandably and revealing the domain would be risky but knowing the niche would be cool (or at least the wider market)

Spencer Haws

I’m sure at some point we’ll reveal the niche.

Sam

People usually need five things in life and its one of those.

Avi

What’s your Google rankings look like? With all the articles your cracking out I am sure Google sees your site for something

Spencer Haws

We are starting to show up for a few queries in Google, but nothing spectacular yet…too early. 2nd or 3rd page on some queries is about all.

Velin Naydenov

Guys, great job, congratulations! Keep up the good work and I’m sure that you will have huge success with your new website. Newbie question, what are the benefits of adding a website to Google News and why were you rejected?

Perrin Carrell

Thanks, Velin 🙂

Google News is just great for traffic. We have several friends doing really well with news-only sites.

It’s hard to get all the rules right, though, and it seems that you need several months worth of content.

The RPMs are also low. However, in the right niche, it can still be profitable.

There are other benefits, too, like looking much more legitimate because you’re publishing content so often (we just publish 2 short news articles per day; our writer knocks them out in 15 min). That, in turn, can make it easier to create partnerships and talk to real organizations.

But it’s just one of the revenue/traffic strategies we’re pursuing.

Spencer Haws

Google news can send TONS of traffic. Its a different search engine basically. We didn’t have contributors page set up and link to properly.

Virgin Dave

This is awesome, I’m pumped to follow this project.

One quick question: would I be correct in saying that part of the reason you hired this writer is because your niche is not something you consider yourselves experts in? I mean, I understand you don’t have the time to write that much yourselves, but my hunch is that you’ve picked a niche based more on profitability than your personal interest in it. Is that true?

Just curious because I’m doing the same thing, but writing all the content myself. It’s a challenge to say the least.

Cheers,
Dave

Perrin Carrell

I actually am an expert in this niche–more so than our writer. I’ve published many, many articles in this market.

And that’s one of the reasons we chose it. I knew the market, had a list of great sources/resources, and I even had a few small industry connections.

The major benefit of my expertise in this market was just that it was easy to train our writer correctly.

In other words, our writer was hired so that we wouldn’t spend so much time writing. 🙂

Spencer Haws

Your reasoning is valid, although Perrin and I actually could consider ourselves experts in the niche. We really hired someone because of the time. We want to focus our time on strategy, planning, and promoting the site.

Virgin Dave

Gotcha, thanks for clarifying, and sorry if that came off as accusatory. Didn’t mean it to be.

Spencer Haws

No worries…I enjoy the discussion.

Evo

Very impressive on getting links from Huffington post and Harvard! Any chance you could share more details (or link if you’ve talked about it before) on your strategy for the hustle and just getting out there and researching and contacting sites and pitching whatever it was? I’ve really struggled with this, and got much less favourable results than you guys seem to have. Thanks

Perrin Carrell

Yep!

We’ll be doing a linkbuilding post as part of the authority project, I believe. Spencer’s call, though. 🙂

Spencer Haws

Yes, I’m sure we will get around to sharing our strategies for getting these links. In a nutshell, it really was about creating a unique resource and then emailing people to tell them about it.

Julie

Hi Spencer and Perrin. I have been following you for quite some time now and what I learned from you got me started online. I tried out a few niche sites, but quickly decided (last year about this time) that an authority site about something that I was actually an authority on was the way to go. I built a food blog. Hugely competitive, but its my passion and millions of recipes are shared online every day!

Your post today is validating my decision as you make the switch as well. (as well as my site growth)

I have done all the work myself. Writing content, learning food photography, building my website, setting up an email subscription, designing my site… its endless!

My site has been live since January and I am pretty excited that this month will probably be a $250 – 300 month for me! Traffic is steady around 750 visits a day with a few fun spikes here and there.

I am looking forward to reading your posts on authority sites now! I havent done that much strategizing with my site and Im looking forward to watching what you do and learning some tips!

Perrin Carrell

Nice! That’s a tough but fun market.

I watch Chef John from Foodwishes almost daily!

Spencer Haws

That’s awesome, Julie! Building a site around a passion is a different mindset, and it really can pay off in the long run. 750 visits a day is an excellent start!

Vishal

Excellent Work on your food site, Julie. That is an awesome site for food lovers. 750 visitors a day is an excellent stat for your site.

Just like you I also started my authority site in Jan and currently it is getting about 200 visitors a day. But my niche is heavily based on product reviews; my site is earning around $350 a month.

I wish you good luck with your site.

Regards

Vishal

marbles

So I guess it’s time for a rebrand?

authoritypursuits.com?

Spencer Haws

Not in the least. Niche Pursuits is all about pursuing niche business ideas; I’ve said that since 2011. Also, our “authority” site still is a niche site…read this (under “what is a niche site?”: https://www.nichepursuits.com/should-i-build-large-or-small-taking-a-portfolio-approach-with-niche-sites/

Tommy

Hey Spencer,

Great post! I’ve just launched a website and I am doing a case study in passive income techniques. I am likely going to compare and contrast niche and authority websites. As usual, thanks for all of the great info.

Sincerely,
Tommy

Rob

Hi Spencer and Perrin. I have been building up my site and as the content increases so does the traffic without looking for links. But it has been a slow process and I am about 3 months in and will be very interested in your latest venture to help me crank up the sites progress.

One thing I would ask is for more basic detail on some of your tactics so that those starting out can really understand what they need to do.

I use Longtail pro Platinum and have found it invaluable for finding keywords that I would never have thought of. It’s quite amazing how many variations there are and it has actually helped me in finding additional topics for content – so its a two way street as it finds keywords and content for me- its a great tool.

Keep up the good work and good luck with the new site.

Fred

Thanks guys. What is the monthly search volume and LTP score of the keywords you target. Fred.

Perrin Carrell

Hey Fred,

Anything over 100 LMS and under KC40.

Here’s an example of one of our best ones:

* 2900 LMS
* KC24
* Ad comp: high
* CPC: ~$5

Mostly, though, they have an LMS of a couple hundred and are under KC30 (many are under KC20).

Ian

Great post Spencer. You guys are doing an awesome job and I look forward to watching this site become THE authority in its niche.

Dave

Spencer/Perrin, I noticed in the article your looking for designers for your ebooks. Not sure if your outsourcing to cheaper countries or your looking for higher quality native english speaking designers as your working on a higher quality authority site. If the case is the latter please drop me an email, I’ve been follow your site and articles for a long time now and can give you a really good price on my services as a thank you.

Dave

Perrin Carrell

Hey Dave,

We’ve already hired one for our first eBook, but pass along your portfolio. My contact info is on our About page.

Spencer Haws

Thanks Dave! We may indeed contact you down the road.

Paul Hill

This is an interesting approach guys and I am looking forward to seeing how it turns out….

It seems to me like you are outsourcing the authority element of the site – if this is going to be the watering hole for your chosen subject then it will be interesting to see how you build a relationship with your audience without creating any of the content yourselves…

not surprising you have given your writer a raise, she might realise how important she is to the whole project now!

Jon

Hey Spencer/Perrin

I came across your website from dumbpassiveincome.com a few days ago and have been totally blown away by the content. I’ve been struggling with my first niche site (very competitive space, selling digital click bank products) and I just don’t really understand link building. The manual side of link building seems tortuously long and boring and I don’t really have a budget for purchasing expensive software.

Anyway, my question to you guys is would you say that the niche site case study 2 is now null and void to a large degree when it comes to the link building strategies you used, seeing as it got punished badly by Google recently? I like the idea of building authority sites, but I really am interested in setting up one or two small niche sites bringing in a small amount and then scaling, using your case study as an example. As Perrin said above, start small, then scale.

Really glad I came across this again, thanks!

Jon

Spencer Haws

No, its not null and void. If you look back at the NSP 2, we talked a great deal about outreach, guest posting, and link bait. That’s all still applicable. The parts of link building to avoid are the PBNs and perhaps the heavy reliance on web 2.0s and blog comments.

Jon

Great – I’ll take that on board. Looking forward to starting it and bet of luck with the new project!

Perrin Carrell

Also, John, I highly recommend this post on Authority Hacker for white hat link-earning: http://www.authorityhacker.com/buzzstream-review/

I’ve just started learning these techniques, but they’re very powerful.

Andries

If I had to guess what the Authority site is about, I would guess it is in the running/jogging niche…that is my prediction 🙂

Spencer Haws

I won’t say yes or no for now.

I. C. Daniel

Picking great domains is very hard, I’m glad you find the perfect one Spencer.

So far looks good. It will be harder to rank a website with genuine or so-called editorial backlinks but it well worth it.

For sure I’ll follow you. Kind regards!

Spencer Haws

Thanks IC

Stefan

Damn, what you’re doing sounds so cool. I’d LOVE to see a post explaining how to use Reddit as a traffic source. I figure you create a topic and link to your site, but the question is: how to do it without looking like you’re begging for visits?
I hope you’ll cover it in some of your upcoming posts.
Also the strategy for building an authority site looks awesome! I definitely hope you’ll explain some of those strategies in your future posts.
Shame to see aPennyShaved plummeting 🙁 can’t you remove the penalty by removing links from the PBN, disavowing PBN links and then applying for a manual review?
I know how much work Perrin put into this site, it’d be a shame if you had to kill it completely :/

Spencer Haws

Thanks Stefan, we’ll cover these tactics. Perrin has disavowed links and manual review rejected. Its not easy.

Stefan

I think that the next time Google refreshes its results(as it has done recently), aPennyShaved will be back in the saddle 😀 Until then there isn’t much you can do about traffic, aside from guest posting, PPC and building(or utilizing) an email list.

Regarding the strategy for your new site, you wrote:
“Developed an overall vision for what we want to accomplish with the site, and how we can stand out.”

This evening I looked back at a website that I created a few months ago. I realized that I completely screwed up this step.
I was rushing to create the site without ever asking myself: what’s my endgame? What do I want this website to represent in its niche?

So thanks a lot for mentioning this in the strategy, I really needed it. I just never felt like my website was “right”, everything seemed misaligned and now I realize that my website’s content, design and functions don’t fully support the end goal.

Spencer Haws

Thanks Stefan! Glad the post helped out 🙂

Perrin Carrell

Hey Stephan,

To give you a super quick rundown of the strategy, here’s basically what you do:

* Create an interesting piece of content that is genuinely a good resource
* Post it in different, relevant subreddits over the course of 1-5 days
* Do it in the format of that subreddit

The most important thing is to not just post your own stuff all the time. As a general rule, Reddit’s definition of “spammer” is anyone who posts their own content more than 1/10th of the time. So, when people go to look at your account, they should not see more than one or two of your posts in your submission history.

I’ve figured out a way to get around that (kind of), but you still can’t post super frequently from one account.

There are also ways you can use Reddit to get some decent links, which I’ll share if they end up working.

Aaron

Hey another great project to follow. I see this one as a google algorithm bulletproof site. I would suggest not to review the domain at all. I would hate to see a big project like this get hammered by negative seo. Btw Can you guys do a post on submitting to google news?

Spencer Haws

Yes, if we get approved, then we’ll share how to do it.

TRENDS

Awesome Spencer and Perrin I’ve been looking forward to this series.

I’ve wanted to build a GNews site. I have some friends crushing it with their site and in 12-18 months it has all paid off for them.

I would love to know how your site set up will go, in balancing the news content vs general article content. Seeing as though the home page has to be a certain way, news and content feed separated, etc.

So your setting up to pass GNews compliance is what I’m looking forward to.

Keep on trucking guys!

Spencer Haws

Thanks man!

Morgan Feeney

I loved reading this, however when I read the words ‘premium theme’ I just thought eww! What is your idea of premium in this case? Usually they are all singing and dancing, and come with lots of bloat. Especially WordPress themes.

Spencer Haws

Premium means we paid for it. It cost less than $50 and was purchased for the look; didn’t have any fancy bells and whistles really.

Morgan Feeney

Sounds about right as per the typical premium WordPress theme. Ok so it’s low cost, do you introduce customisation or use as-is? Are you only Investing $50 in the design and development (theme look and feel)?

Perrin Carrell

Just a $50 theme from WordPress. We build all our sites this way, believe it or not.

Will

It would be good to see some engagement metrics, it’s nice to see almost 2,000 visitors in just 1 day but what happened to those visitors when they reached your website.

How many bounced, how many signed up, how many left a comment, bookmarked a page e.t.c

Perrin Carrell

Ha. That’s the thing about Reddit traffic: right now, from my point of view, it seems to be pretty low quality. We haven’t tried to monetize it yet, and we will, but my hopes aren’t incredibly high.

The time-on-site, pages-per-visit, and bounce rate are all really bad with Reddit traffic.

I’m mostly just hoping for a bit of exposure for our brand and some residual links.

john from Tampa

Does long tail pro work to find and analyze keywords in Spanish?

Spencer Haws

Yes. Works in any language supported by Google adwords (most languages).

Eve Overeem

Is Reddit only for US base sites ? or can one post about non US base sites as well?

Spencer Haws

Site can be from anywhere, but Reddit is primarily English based.

Keri

Great Job Guys!! I’m sure you mentioned it before but what do you guys use for web analytics? I don’t know if I want to use the big G. Thanks

Spencer Haws

Google analytics.

Sigal

How do you explain the increase in traffic in October? Does the traffic comes from other sites, or is it due to increased Google traffic? (Or another explanation?)

Spencer Haws

Reddit traffic (as discussed in the post).

Stacy R Ruggieri

Hello Spencer, Is it OK to add articles to my website with different IPs. I have my article writer add them in. Also, sometimes I check my Analytics and earnings with different Ips… is that fine?

john from Tampa

Hey Guys,

Thanks for all the info you provide. I want to find a writer to help me put out articles. I want to offer a fair amount to pay for an article.

You have mentioned the average cost of $20 pr. 1K words for an article. Is this what you are paying your writer or are you paying something different? I want to make sure to budget a fair amount and most importantly want to keep a great writer happy.

Spencer Haws

That’s what we are paying.

Vishal

Yes I am full on with this authority project and will closely follow with Perrin and Spencer.

I have already started my first authority site in Jan 2014 and within 4-5 months it has started getting good traffic.

Now I am looking for additional link building and content writing techniques. Here, your posts will definitely help us all who are building their own authority sites.

One thing is true as Perrin mentioned in one of the replies that once your site starts getting good rankings in Google, your new posts also quickly raises to the top spots without much link building.

Thanks to Perrin and Spencer for motivating thousands of other fellow entrepreneurs like me out there to start their own long term legitimate online venture.

Regards

Vishal

Spencer Haws

Thanks Vishal, glad you are excited about the project!

Jessica

In my opinion, an ‘authority website’ can be build only with great and fresh content, with hundreds or thousand of links because usually it will compete on very populated niches with its internal article pages.
So, such an authority website will have thousand or tens of thousands of keywords and will reach high levels of organic traffic but only after months of heavy work for it.

Perrin Carrell

Do you need great content? Yes.

Do you need thousands of links? No.

We know plenty of people who are kicking tons of butt with DA30-40 sites. And we know a few who are doing very well with sites that have DAs in the 20s.

Noah

Thanks for the post! I’ve had a cheeky peek at the new site (wasn’t too hard to work out, but I respect you guys don’t want it spread round just yet).

Not sure on the design, but I have to say that your key writer is doing really great work, and the on-page site structure is top-notch, so I’m sure this is gonna take off.

Thanks Perrin for the podcast on managing writers- it seems to be working for you, and I hope to implement it on my own project. I’m now thinking about roping my siblings into the game!

Perrin Carrell

Thanks!

Funny that you’ve found it. And yea, our writer is just crushing our long money articles. I’ll let her know you said so 🙂

Tim

I found it too; wasn’t hard at all. BTW…there’s a problem with the navigation menu on mobile devices.

Philip

i have looked at the design, but looks pretty and the content is awesome. That writer that done some cool job.

Philip

I have just revised my approach and I’m working on an authority site too, It’s not easy to develop but rewards seem to be good in the long-run.

Since I write by my self, I will do 1 long tail per week and then interlink it with small posts of about 1300 words. Will also follow up your updates and see how things go.

I once sold an authority site because I was hit by Google Panda, so I gave away the site at $1000, after 6 months, I Googled the site and it was doing well, It got so many links from school blogs and .gov domains. I will never panic again, because I asked the buyer what he did, ( he pretty told me, I did nothing), It pains to loss 3000 visitors a day at $1000….but this time, I will target more and choose a good niche.

Philip

Wild Guess of your niche site, Is it called {snip}, i see a text …, I have done some research on Reddit, also found some of the posts which did well. Content is cool, can you borrow some Ideas on how to rank long tail posts from these guys , when i went on the site, I discovered that they breakdown mega posts into Libraries, and Google loves such pages.

Give it a try and see.

Spencer Haws

I removed some of your comment…your guess is incorrect.

Philip

ok spencer, but that is your project, I can see your picture on that site, let me keep on following its growth.

Higgins

That’s not the authority Project, It has posts from 2013 while this project started in juli 2014. . There are also a few hundred links pointing to that site while the äuthority project” only has about 25.sofar.

I’m cutious too Philip, but thats not it

Philip

Cool man. Let’s wait for Spencer to tell us, I will keep on working on my project as well.

R J Rogers

Bought Long Tail Pro over a year ago and never done much with it. Time to change that! Have an authority site that I’ve played with for a couple of years and get several hundred visitors a month. Sell some info products but really excited about converting my books for Kindle.

I’ll be watching and learning as this site progresses.

Spencer Haws

Sounds great RJ!

Jen

Hi spencer, i am building Web 2.0 to my website. Should I point the main page or inner pages to the Web 2.0. Should I use the main keywords or LSI any advice would be appreciated

Matt

Hey Guys – quick question.

What are you using to organize your KWs? I’m sure you are using LTP to find and evaluate them, but are you using another tool to keep everything organized? Maybe a Google doc?

I would assume your writer has access to the doc, they go in and pick a topic/KW and the write about it…then mark it off as completed?

I would love to learn more about this part of your process.

Good luck and loving the new content direction.

Matt

Spencer Haws

Yes, we use a Google spreadsheet. The writer has access to it, and basically marks it as complete. We can share more about this process…good idea!

Colbie

Aloha my friends! Thanks for always keeping us in loop. Looking forward to following along. Sounds fun and good luck!!!

Jay

Hi Spencer,

I’ve been a spectator for niche site building for a few months now, but I took the plunge a few weeks ago and purchased longtail platinum – I was all set up and ready to go with my first niche, and then you announced that you were sort of stepping away from niche websites and concentrating on a main authority site.

In your opinion, is it still worth me pursuing niches? I mean, risks with PBNs aside, would it still be worth me building a niche portfolio to get a decent amount of monthly income, and also to use it to invest in a long-term authority site?

Thanks.

Spencer Haws

For sure. I still recommend people start out with one or two smaller sites. These could eventually grow into a larger authority site anyway.

yskan

Hi Spencer and Perrin,

congrats on the new design of Niche Pursuits, I havent noticed it before.

I hope your project will do well in the future. I hope you can keep this project private as I believe that will be a key to succes too. When the project will go public you will get lots of competitors and copycats…

Lucio

Congrats for your wonderful job, Spencer and Perrin.
Would it be possible to get back the dates of the comments?
Thanks.

Spencer Haws

Yes, in fact take a look…dates are back!

Matt

Hey Guys,

Are you using a persona for the site and are you writing the articles as informative or first person experience?

Thanks!
Matt

Spencer Haws

More informative than first person.

Mel

Seems like it takes forever and a day to build a good authority site! However, good to see that you’re making some serious headway in building a huge asset, Spencer. 🙂

Spencer Haws

Thanks Mel!

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