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.
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).
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!).
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?
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.
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).
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.
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!