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:
- Picked a profitable market with nearly limitless content potential
- Spent way too much time picking a brandable domain. I'm happy with it though 🙂
- Developed an overall vision for what we want to accomplish with the site, and how we can stand out.
- Used Long Tail Pro to research and pick hundreds of long tail keywords that fit our target market.
- Purchased a premium theme and hired someone to design a logo.
- Hired an author to start writing out 3000 word articles for each of our chosen keywords. We add 1 of these articles each weekday.
- We also post 2 to 3 shorter news articles a day.
- Created a Facebook and Twitter account to establish a social presence.
- Brainstormed ideas for content that may not be keyword based, but is highly shareable and useful.
- Created a unique page on our site that related sites in our industry will mention. (I'll go into more detail on this in the future).
- Manually via email reached out to hundreds of organizations to essentially ask for links to our unique page. We've received dozens of great links already using this method.
- Published a massive resource that we expect to use as “link bait”.
- Used Reddit and other resources to get exposure to this massive resource. This method is working well for us.
- We are continuing to brainstorm additional “resource” ideas or highly shareable content that we can use to get attention, traffic, and links.
- Brainstormed kindle eBook ideas for our market. We came up with half a dozen potential titles. I taught how to self publish on Amazon Kindle here.
- Perrin has now written our first Kindle eBook. We are now hiring people to format and create a book cover. We will likely start selling the book in the next few weeks.
- Created a lead magnet and got email opt in forms all set up. Creating an email list is going to be key for us.
- Submitted our site to Google news, but got rejected. We are certain we know the reason and it was due to a simple mistake on our end. We'll resubmit as soon as we are allowed to (December).
- We've also started testing Facebook ads. We are looking to build our email list.
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!
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:
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:
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:
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.
Check out the growth on a monthly basis:
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.
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.
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.