Crafting a Life Changing Authority Website

As you may be aware, last week I decided to experiment with laser focus on one project, cutting out all distractions (to the best of my ability).  It was difficult to stay away from reading e-mail and @ messages on Twitter, but there were a lot of distractions I successfully avoided.  This project, as I’ve mentioned in the past, will be an authority website that’s going to allow me to share the knowledge and wisdom I’ve accumulated throughout my career, and hopefully help people by addressing real problems, issues, and concerns that I know are prevalent in most people’s lives.

Although I’m not ready to share the very specific details and the exact site URL with you yet (this is more for my own protection), I want to talk about what I’ve done and the plans I’ve come up with over the past couple of weeks.

When I refer to this site as “life changing” I am thinking of it as a life changing site for both myself and the site’s readers.  I’ve done a bit of research to see the site’s competition, and while there is definitely a lot out there that has similar content to what I have planned, I can’t quite find something that organizes it and presents it the way I want to.  Most sites in this niche are very “commercial” or business-driven instead of being community-focused.

As for myself, the site will be life changing because I intend for this to eventually be, by far, my greatest source of income online.  I have a few monetization plans in mind that I think will be very effective.

Let’s Start with the Basics

Just getting the basics of a site configured takes some time, not because it takes more than a few minutes to buy a domain and set up WordPress, but because there are a lot of important decisions that need to be made regarding domain name, theme style, etc.

The Domain

Although I’m not yet sharing the specific domain I selected, I will say that it’s a “.me” domain.  The reasoning is two-fold.  First, it allowed me to select a domain with a keyword that receives 40,500 exact searches per month (but I will explain below why I don’t care too much about this right now).  Second, I think the .me extension has a branding element to it that makes the site sound more user-centric, which is important to me.

It’s debatable whether or not this was a good idea – perhaps a .com/.net/.org would have been a better choice for SEO purposes.  I do own two other .me niche sites, and I’ve had mixed results, but I don’t think it’s due to the domain extension (it’s more a result of my backlinking).

The Theme

Wow, I always seem to spend (or waste) so much time at this step.  I didn’t want to use a free WordPress theme because I wanted the design to be more unique (yet, I wasn’t willing to spend the money on a completely unique design by having someone custom design one for me).  I originally looked at WooThemes because I had previously purchased all of those (and it’s what I use for this blog), but I decided that none of them was going to be a good fit for this new site.

I settled on a theme from Theme Forest, but not before spending hours looking through hundreds and hundreds of themes.  They have so many different themes there, and you can test out demos and read comments from others who have downloaded the themes, which makes it all a very time consuming process if you’re picky.  Most of the themes are reasonably priced, around $35 each.  Due to my indecisiveness, I actually purchased 3 different themes before deciding I liked one enough (as it turns out, it was the first one I purchased – doh!).

The Logo

Right now, I’m using something I put together in Photoshop (it looks pretty bad), but my plans are to eventually have the logo professionally designed by a site like 99Designs.  I know this is going to set me back $295, but I think the logo a crucial element to a site that aims to be viewed as an “authority.”  A worthwhile investment, in my opinion.

Where’s the Traffic Going to Come From?

This is obviously an important consideration for any website – perhaps, the most important.  After all, what’s the point of high quality content if no one sees it?

Ignoring SEO

You read that correctly – initially, I’m not going to worry much about SEO.  Obviously my domain and title will be optimized for search engines, and I’ll keep SEO in mind when creating titles for articles, but I’m much more concerned with getting traffic through people’s genuine interest in the content.  It’ll be no different than the only other authority site I’ve built – this blog (My4HWW).

I built this blog with virtually zero attention paid to SEO.  I built it with everything else – social media, blog commenting (this was a big one), and guest posts.  Although organic Google traffic is now my largest source of traffic, it all happened naturally.  I’ve never sat down and built backlinks to this blog and rarely do I do any sort of keyword research before writing posts.

That’s not to say I will ignore SEO forever on the new site.  I have a lot of keywords in mind that I want to target, and will eventually build backlinks as needed (hopefully outsourcing this piece).

Focusing on “Viral” Content

There’s never a guarantee that any content will go “viral,” but there’s a lot you can do to help make that happen.  The most important thing being the titles you use.  Rather than rehash a topic that many have written about, I’ll point you to this awesome article from ViperChill: Get Hundreds of Links to Your Next Blog Post, Guaranteed.

Becoming an Actual Resource

My ultimate goal is to create a site that people not only view as a place for interesting reading material, but an actual resource that they will bookmark, share, and come back to throughout their careers.  The “make money online” niche is filled with lots of blogs that are strong, legitimate resources.  One reason is because the owners of these sites know that being a valuable resource = money in their pockets.  Few people want to admit it because it sounds shady, but it’s true, and most people have no problems with it.  If you’re providing me with valuable information and I ultimately take an action that earns you money, it’s a fair trade, right?

In other niches, however, people don’t realize this seemingly basic concept.  It doesn’t mean people aren’t making money, but it does mean that there may not be as many solid resources.  I’m not in this just for the money, but I recognize that there is earning potential that comes along with providing high quality content.

One of the Bigger Challenges: Creating Frequent, High Quality Content

I’ll be honest – I don’t believe I have the time to write regularly updated content on two different authority blogs.  For My4HWW, it’s important that I keep this blog in my voice.  The purpose of this blog is to document my journey and experiences.  Although I will publish a guest post on rare occasions (it’s only happened twice), I strongly prefer to be the sole author of this blog.

For my new site, however, this won’t be possible, nor will it be necessary.  Although I will be writing all the content early on, I plan to hire a writer at some point, to blog regularly.  I’m not going to take this lightly though. I’m going to treat it like a real business hiring an employee, so I will be picky about who I hire, to make sure that they are the right fit for the site.  Hiring a writer doesn’t mean I won’t write anymore – it just means I won’t need to write as frequently.  My long-term goal would be to have 2 or more writers working for me on this site.

I don’t have all the details yet on how I will go about doing this, but it’s definitely something I’ll write about later when I get to that point.

What Everyone Wants to Know: How I’ll Make Money

I believe that there will be several ways to monetize this site, and thinking of the possibilities really excites me.

Advertisements

This is pretty boring and standard, and it’s how I will initially monetize the site (because it’s the easiest way to do it).  I actually think Google Adsense will perform well on a site like this, but in the grand scheme of things, I don’t want it to be the focus of my monetization strategy.  My long-term plan will be to approach some of the bigger players in this niche and have them advertise on the site.  Once the site is receiving massive traffic, I expect there will be certain potential advertisers approaching me (I’ve already had this happen on a couple of my smaller niche sites that only receive 20-50 visitors per day).

Affiliate Income

I’m not sure yet how large of a role affiliate income will be with this site.  I expect I’ll have Amazon affiliate links used contextually from time to time, but it will likely be a very small piece of my overall earnings.  There are probably several info products in this niche that I could sell as an affiliate, but there’s a good chance I’ll stay away from this (you’ll see why below).

Creating My Own Product

This is something I’m very excited to do, because I’ve never done it before.  This is a subject that deserves it’s own post, so I’ll only touch on it briefly here.  Essentially, my plan is to create two informational products: One to give away as an incentive to join an Aweber mailing list, and one to sell as a result of a series of e-mail that eventually funnel into the product’s sale’s page.

This tactic is hardly revolutionary, but outside of the internet marketing niche, you actually don’t see it used as frequently.  That’s the main reason why I believe it will be successful.  This is going to take a lot of hard work, as I plan to write both products myself.  The giveaway product will probably only be 10-15 pages, whereas the product I actually sell will probably be 100+ pages.  I haven’t decided on a price point yet, but I’d expect it to be something like $27.

The List

Although the primary objective with the mailing list will be to funnel its subscriber to my product, the value goes far beyond there.  Depending on the success of my first product, the door could be open for several future products.  It’s going to be extremely important that my first products (the free one and the premium one) are high quality, because that will set the stage for any future products I develop.

My Timeline & The Impact on Other Projects

Obviously, I have a lot of work ahead of me.  This authority site is going to require a substantial amount of focus and energy, and I already know I will be faced with obstacles that are going to tempt me to give up.  With that in mind, I’m not going to rush anything.  While I know deadlines are important, I don’t want to sacrifice quality or risk “burning out.”

[Note:  This timeline is subject to change, and knowing me, it will change!]

May 31st, 2011: By the end of May, I want the site to be fully functional.  I want the logo to be done, the structure/layout in place, and a few articles written (I’ve already written one).  This is the point where I hope to start seeing some traffic trickle in (as few as 3-4 visitors per day).

June 30th, 2011: I want my writer to be identified, and ready to get started with adding new content.

July 31st, 2011: I want my free informational product to be complete, and the list fully functional.  Because my premium product won’t be done yet, the early subscribers to my list won’t see the “funnel” operating correctly.

August 31st, 2011: By this point, the site should be receiving between 50-100 unique visitors per day, and have over 50 RSS subscribers and 50 e-mail list subscribers.  While my writer is adding content, I will be focused on promoting the site with blog comments and guest posts.

December 31st, 2011: The premium information product will be complete, as will the e-mail list “funnel.”  Traffic by this point should be at 100+ unique visitors per day, 150+ RSS subscribers, and 150+ e-mail list subscribers.

Impact on Other Projects

It’s important to me that I still have time to write on My4HWW and work on other niche sites.  Although I haven’t created any new Amazon niche sites lately, I want to create 3-5 more by the end of September, so that they will be ranking and ready for the 2011 holiday season.  My authority site is the priority, however, so we’ll see how it all plays out.

Time management is going to be put to the test, as I continue to find myself putting very little time into my ongoing projects when I get home from work each day.  One of the major reasons behind my lack of work is that I enjoy spending time with my girlfriend after work everyday, so I’m lucky if I get even 30 minutes of work done each evening before going to bed.  I’m okay with this (and I’m in no hurry) as long as I’m moving a few steps forward each week.

What do you think about my plans?  I look forward to sharing more detail about this project in the future.  The best way for you to make sure you don’t miss any future updates is to subscribe to my RSS feed!

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25 Responses to “Crafting a Life Changing Authority Website”

  1. That was quite a read, Eric…and, thanks for the in-depth, candid and transparent look into your thought process when it comes to this mammoth project (lol…now, I kinda feel bad for the long-winded emails I’ve been sending you lately…lol)

    You have a pretty solid game plan here, Eric. I can give a little advice/insight into LOGO design, though. I’ve literally spent thousands on various logos, from various companies, over the years (not 99designs, though). Each respective business model has pros and cons, of course.

    I’m familiar with ‘crowdsourcing’ sites like 99Designs, and I’ve spent alot at CrowdSPRING, as well. By far, THE best and cheapest site I’ve used is the Logo Company. (thelogocompany.net). If money is an issue at all, or you’d entertain the idea of just going a little cheaper, they have exceptional quality and service. I’ve used them at least 4 times.

    They do have an affiliate program, but I wouldn’t expect you to use my affiliate link if you did use them. I genuinely LOVE that company. If you have a second, go through their portfolio and check out the quality of their LOGOS.

    Hope that helps. Let me know if you’d entertain the idea…it would at least save you SOME money (if that’s an issue).
    Howie recently posted… Why I Disagree with Pat Flynn and Yaro Starak…and- Where Do We Go From Here

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment, Howie, I appreciate it. I will definitely check out the Logo Company – I am by no means loyal toward any particular logo design site at this point, so I’m very open to trying whatever’s recommended to me. Shoot me an e-mail with your affiliate link and if I do decide to use them, I’ll go through your link.

    [Reply]

    Howie Reply:

    I’ve literally spent thousands using different logo companies and services, and I’ve noticed pros and cons of each one, in relation to price. CrowdSPRING ended up being the steepest in price because I found myself liking more than one logo design–so, I ended up introducing like 2 additional awards. On one hand, I received a TON of people who submitted design candidates, however, my own design contest revealed a bit of a “darker side” to crowdsourcing design.

    Where there is generally only one winner, and a whole multitude of losers, in my particular contest, I had noticed some of the creatives engaged in some pretty shady tactics–it felt as if many were fighting for their livelihood and NEEDED to win. One creative accused another of stealing his idea/design/concept….it put me, as the project holder, in a bit of an awkward situation.

    I’d recommend to anyone, who does crowdsourcing for logo design or any other kind of design, to keep tight reigns over their project. Be VERY specific and resolute in what you want from the get go. I’ve never used 99designs, however crowdSPRING’s system, at that time (not sure if it changed), actually allowed every creative to see every other creatives submissions–theoretically, someone who wanted to win real badly could just wait until the very end, and submit a design concept that meshed essentially what everyone else had submitted.

    So, with the logo company, you won’t receive hundreds of designs, however, I did find that the 5-person design team that they design to you will do ANYTHING to make you happy, even if that means completely redoing your design concepts from the ground up if you aren’t happy with them. One thing to think about, also, is what actual LOGO formats you need…the logo company has a page that shows any possible logo format, that can be used for anything from online design to t-shirts/bumper stickers, etc. It just all depends on what you would actually use the logo for.

    Just some things to think about… :) Wish you the best, Eric…
    Howie recently posted… Why I Disagree with Pat Flynn and Yaro Starak…and- Where Do We Go From Here

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for all the info. Howie. I will most likely give The Logo Company a shot, mainly because it seems like I could get the same quality logo as I would from a place like 99Designs, for over $100 less.

    Howie Reply:

    I was really quite surprised by the LOGO produced by Fiverr, posted by Ralph below, Eric. It wasn’t THAT bad. There are many routes you could go, and it’s certainly up to you what you feel would serve your best interest. In whatever route you choose, be sure to be as DETAILED and SPECIFIC about every aspect of the project while giving your project briefing. Best of luck…and, let us know how it turns out!
    Howie recently posted… Why I Disagree with Pat Flynn and Yaro Starak…and- Where Do We Go From Here

  2. Eric – Great game plan and run down. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how it goes and am particularly excited about 2 pieces:
    1) Seeing if you can find a reasonably priced writer that can produce high enough quality content such that your site will actually become a valuable resource for your visitors, and
    2) Seeing if you can get that .me domain to rank for a 40k exact term

    Partic if #1 goes well it’s something I’d definitely consider doing for my own biz. Good luck,

    dinesh
    dinesh recently posted… Free Shipping Starts April 18th for all Viv Biz Club Members!

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks Dinesh. Finding good quality writers will be a challenge, but I know some people have had some luck using Problogger’s job board. I realize I will probably need to pay a premium for a good writer (I’m hoping to stay within $5-10 per blog post), but if everything goes as planned, this should be a worthwhile investment.

    As for ranking the .me domain, I will be thrilled if I can get it on the first page for the 40k exact term, but as I wrote before, I’m not going to obsess over SEO in the early stages of this project. I’m hoping the quality of the site will attract natural links, allowing me to not have to spend much time or money on SEO (similar to how I did it with this blog).

    [Reply]

  3. I’ll be very interested to see if you can get the.me to rank as well. I’ve done a lot of keyword tests and it’s rare to see anything other than a .com .net or .org to rank on the first page.

    Regarding the content – I think $5 to $10 is a bit low unless you plan to heavily edit the content yourself. In my experience you have to pay around $25 for articles that get 1 minute + view times – which is what I assume you want.

    I’ll be interested to check out the site if/when you release it. Good luck!
    Rich Kent recently posted… One Hour Backlinks Review

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    I agree that you don’t often see sites outside of .com/.net/.org on the 1st page. I think that’s partially a function of geographic location – I’m sure for US-based websites, there are far more .com/.net/.org sites than any other type. Since most of the authority sites that rank well tend to use .com/.net/.org, it makes sense to see those the vast majority of the time. Most of the other domain extensions are country-specific, so I think that plays a part it in. I guess we’ll see what happens there!

    You’re right that $5-10 could be too low. I’ll need to experiment with this to see what I can find. I’m hoping I find someone who is not only a good writer, but is interested in being a part of a growing authority site. Sometimes that extra motivation could cause someone to be willing to accept only $10/post. Take a look at guest blogging, for example – people gladly do it for free (of course, it’s usually in exchange for “link juice”).

    [Reply]

  4. Very well thought out plan! Enjoyed reading your thought process.

    I’m with you about choosing a theme. I went with my current theme cause it’s free but looked nice. Very simple and clean. However I’ve seen a few other bloggers with it and though it’s not a big deal, I do want to eventually change the design to be unique. I spend way too much time on looking at themes and trying to decide.

    About the logo, I want to get a logo done for my site too so I have been looking around. If you do go with 99designs, do a closed contest. Meaning the designers can’t see each other’s work. I read that tip somewhere.

    When I was looking around for a logo I did come across thelogocompany.net as well. Looked really nice. Whatever you do, don’t go to Fiverr and get it done! I got one just to see and it’s bad. I won’t even use it.

    Yes the best way to make money is definitely sell your own product. Then get affiliates to do help you sell your product. I do want to create a small pdf as well to grab emails as well. Brainstorming ideas of what to put out there. Then later create my own product as well.

    Look forward to seeing the site go live. Is is something in the lifestyle design niche? Or more personal development or something different? Either way let me know if I can help you in anyway or share things I’ve learned so far. :)

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Yeah, Howie suggested The Logo Company to me (see comment above), which I think I may try out, especially due to the cost comparison to 99Designs.

    You raise a good point about having affiliates help sell your product – that wasn’t even something I thought much about, but you’re right, that could be an additional source of income with any products I create.

    The site isn’t within the lifestyle design or personal development niches – it’s actually within what I would maybe call the “employment” or “career” niche.

    [Reply]

  5. Hey man,

    I’ve been coming onto your site quite often over the last few weeks, and thought it’s about time I commented. It’s fantastic to find a passive income blogger who’s more at the ‘beginner’ stages, rather than the ‘I earn $10k + per month’ stages. It’s so much easier to relate to.

    Anyway, your authority site sounds very intriguing. Sounds like you’re going into a similar area to a friend of mine. If so, best of luck, as there’s a mountain of competition, but also a mountain of cash!

    I’ve got an authority site that I contribute to when I’m a bit bored, but there’s not really any money in it at the moment. When all these other projects that I’m working on have calmed down a little, I’ll work on finding a profitable authority site to work on. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy following your journey!

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Hey Rob, thanks for stopping by and commenting! Although I do wish I was earning $10k/month, I’m glad my lower earnings make me easier to relate to. :P

    [Reply]

  6. Hey Eric,

    I bought a Logo of Fiver for one of my sites. At the time I just wanted something there and got 3 (or 5) different logo’s for 5 bucks.

    This is the guy I used:
    http://www.fiverr.com/users/designinc/gigs/create-4-original-vectorized-logos-logo-for-your-company

    And the site is http://www.myrun.com.au where one of those logo’s is currently used. I am crap at design work so this was an easy and fast way out (or in however you want to call it).

    For adsense, you might want to have a read on this site: http://www.nichepursuits.com/ there is a lot of content about adsense and how you compare this with other types of advertisements.

    Best of luck!

    Ralph

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks Ralph – I may stay away from Fiverr on this project just because I will probably be very picky with my logo design, so I’ll want to work with a more professional site where I can have timely revisions made to the logo. It looks like you got a pretty nice logo from there though, which is awesome.

    As for using AdSense, I am very familiar with Niche Pursuits – you may have noticed, Spencer (the owner of that blog) wrote a guest post here on My4HWW last week. :P

    [Reply]

    Ralph Reply:

    Haha I totally forgot! (I did read it:))

    [Reply]

  7. Hey Eric,

    Your plan for your authority site is kinda how I handled my 1st site except I didn’t really have a plan. I just wrote blog posts related to equipment/projects in my 9 to 5 job. In Jan 2011, my site was just over a year old and what I didn’t realize was that I was getting 1500 unique views/mo with no SEO as I’m still a beginner at internet marketing. This traffic came purely from the posts I wrote. I finally monetized the site and that first month made almost $200. I’m slowly backlinking now to rank the site. 3 months later, it has 2500 uniques.

    Regarding your own product, good luck with that! It’s going to take a lot of work as I just created my first virtual product which took all my free time and prevented me from making any blog posts in April to my sites. Unfortunately, it still needs a couple more weeks (or more) of testing before I feel comfortable releasing it for sale. And I did take the approach of offering a free version to entice people to sign up for my email list. I’m excited to hear more about the progression of your authority site. Like Rob said in an earlier comment, I too enjoy reading your blog because you’re more relatable to what I’m doing at this point. Hopefully I’ll be trailing right behind you!

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Hey Harlan, $200 after your first month of monetizing the site is awesome. That’s a good sign that further work in building up the site WILL pay off for you.

    Hopefully 6 months from now we can both look back and marvel at how successful our authority sites and products are. :P

    [Reply]

  8. Well, it looks like you have done quite a research and took your time to explain all the eerie detail of your endeavour. Better still, after reading many would have got an idea as what it exactly takes to build a website right from scratch.
    James@Chainsaw reviews recently posted… Black &amp Decker LCS120 20-Volt Lithium-Ion Cordless Chain Saw

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment, James.

    [Reply]

  9. Great post, Eric! Very motivational. This is totally the way to go. My top authority site earns about 2/3 of my online income. I am now focusing over half my IM time on it vs. about 25% last year.
    Best,
    Ian

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks Ian! Wow, your authority site must be making pretty good money – definitely makes sense to focus a lot of time on it!

    [Reply]

  10. Getting a website working and having traffic flocked to it then is a great deal. Starting with a unique design accompanied by unique content, and then plenty of SEO once you get it started, but do design it in a SEO friendly way.
    Adam Gardner recently posted… Victorian Furniture History

    [Reply]

  11. Well done Eric! I always support entrepreneurs who try to create something that can actually help other people and, hopefully, generate an income. Way too often it’s the other way round…
    I’ll try to do the same with by transforming my personal blog into a more complete source of information, and I can tell how much of a hard work it will be.
    Thumbs up, definitely!
    Diego recently posted… We are just like Fire Extinguishers

    [Reply]

  12. Great idea, hope it works out for you.

    I’m doing a new site like this and am ‘ignoring SEO’ as 100s of other people in the MMO sector are doing.

    I have ‘ignoring SEO’ doesn’t come back to haunt us a few months down the line.
    Joe recently posted… Nice and Free Pinterest Plugin

    [Reply]

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