Authority Website Case Study: Month 0 Update

First steps to setting up an authority site

My goal with this project is to document every step of the process from ground zero (no domain, no website) all the way up to when the site is making real income.

In this post I'm going to do a brief outline of the steps I took to get my site up and running.

I am not going to go into detail on each one of these steps.  There are a ton of websites/videos out there that do a much more in depth tutorial and step by step explanation of the nuts and bolts on how to execute each of these steps.

My goal in this post is just to outline what I did, why I did it that way, and lay out an easy to follow playbook so you can emulate this process.

Come up with a domain name

This first step is really important.  You want to have a domain name that's easy to remember and also easy to spell.  I failed at that with this site since the name is a little gibberish-y but I grew to love it and didn't want to change domains.

I actually ran a competition on a website called Namestation.  This site lets you run competitions where you explain what kind of a site you are building and people can submit ideas for domain names with the winner taking the prize money.

Namestation charges $35 to run the contest and you can expect about 150-250 submissions.

Out of the 193 submissions I received, 140 or so were complete garbage and were immediately downvoted/removed.

Out of the remaining 53 I had about 5 that I really liked.  Ultimately I ended up choosing the domain name that was the one I had originally came up with on my own before starting the contest. 

I want to document every step of the process so rewinding to 2 weeks ago when I first got my site setup, here's what I did.

Register the domain name with your registrar

Personally I use NameSilo because they're cheap, easy to use and I've had good experiences with them in the past. I also have accounts with Namecheap, BlueHost, and WPX hosting.  They all offer the same services to register your domains and they cost about the same so it just comes down to personal preference.

The next step after buying the domain is to get hosting set up.  I already host a handful of my websites on WPX hosting. They cost about $40 per month which is a lot more than Bluehost or Hostgator, but they're speed is easily 10x faster.  The $40 per month plan lets you host up to 15 domains so on a per site basis it's less than $3 per month if you can fill it up with 15 different sites.

One of the factors Google uses to determine how high your site ranks in their search results is your site loading speed.

If you use a cheap host like Bluehost, your site will rank lower due to the long load time and people may even bounce off the page before it even loads because they get sick of waiting.

You'll see a lot of personal finance/how to run a blog websites recommend Bluehost and it's just because of the fat commission they offer.  You can make $50-$100 if you get someone to sign up to Bluehost so there are a lot of people pushing their services even though they're inferior to other hosting companies.

Set up cloudflare

This isn't something I've ever done on any of my websites before.  Cloudflare is basically a service that will host copies of your website in different servers all over the world.

This means that your website will load from a server located closer to the person trying to access your site which will further reduce your load time.  This was a tip I picked up from the Authority Site System I joined over on Authorityhacker.com.

Setting up Cloudflare on your site is quick and easy, even for a non technical person.  They have a short video that tells you the steps, then walks you through the changes you have to make to your nameservers (easier than it sounds).

Install wordpress and thrive themes page builder

WordPress is really the only option when you're building a website.  Technically Squarespace and Wix do exist, but almost everybody uses WordPress because....everybody else uses it.

If you ever have a problem with WordPress, you can be guaranteed that someone else has had that exact issue, posted it on a forum, and has received a solution.  This makes it super easy to troubleshoot if you ever have a problem with your website.

The other awesome thing about WordPress is that you can get plugins that add a TON of functionality to your website.  You can make a WordPress website do almost anything if you just find the right plugin for it.

Most hosts will offer a 1 click wordpress install.  Your host may do it slightly differently but they know everyone uses WordPress and they probably have videos or guides that will allow you to get this done quickly and easily.

The next step is to get some type of a page builder.  This makes it so you can build attractive pages and not rely on the stock WordPress editor.

The stock WordPress editor is really basic and doesn't allow you to do anything that looks visually impressive.

If you're on a budget, I'd recommend starting out with a plugin called Elementor.  This is a free page builder plugin that does a fine job and is pretty easy to use.  It will allow you to do most of the customization you'd need to do and for most use cases, does a fine job.

If you can afford to spend $25 per month, I'd highly recommend using the Thrive Page Architect.  This thing is awesome.  You can do so many things with the Thrive page builder and it's even easier to use than Elementor.

The price is a little steep; I personally don't like paying subscriptions for things that feel like they should be one time purchases, but you can always subscribe to the lowest offer which is 3 months for $75, then just cancel after the 3 months is up.

Your plugin will continue to work on whatever sites you have it installed on, you just won't be able to install it on any new sites or get updates.

That might be a little unethical so if you can afford to pay the money you probably should, but if you want to start your site on the cheap, that's one way to do it.

buy a logo on fiverr

I always use Fiverr for my logos when I'm starting a site because it's just not worth spending hundreds of dollars on a real designer until your website starts making money.

The seller I used for my logo can be found here.

The cost was only $5 (some Fiverr gigs can run into the hundreds of dollars, despite the name of the website) and the turnaround time was just under 24 hours.

I've also used Logojoy in the past for one website but it costs significantly more than Fiverr and I've never been able to get quality logos when trying to use their AI tool.

Get your logo on Fiverr and don't spend a lot of time trying to get it perfected.  Just get something that's good enough and move on.  You can always update it later when you have earnings rolling in from your website.

start finding keywords

Keyword research is a huuuge beast and can be done a million different ways, but it is VITAL that you do this.  Without keyword research, you'll have no true compass guiding your website and you'll find it tough to make progress in growing your site.

I followed the keyword research system laid out in the Authority Site System and it was super easy to follow along with.

I've always struggled with keyword research and I found out it's because I was being cheap.  

Once I subscribed to Ahrefs for $99 per month, I was able to get a TON of insight into what my competitors were ranking for and I was able to quickly hone in on keywords with high traffic and low difficulty.

From there, I compiled all of them into a Google sheet and sorted them in order of traffic so I had my list of keywords to go after.

I'll detail my keyword research strategy in a separate post coming up soon because it's that important.  If you don't have your keyword research strategy nailed down you'll just be floundering as you bounce from topic to topic without any logic to it.

create good content

After I had a list of keywords, I started writing articles.  My first set of articles were product reviews but they were focused on comparisons like Product X vs Product Y or 'How to choose between item A and item B'.

The Authority Site System focuses on two types of content. Affiliate content and 'skyscraper' content.

The affiliate content is made up of product reviews, buyer guides, item round ups, etc.  Anything with a commercial intent where you're trying to inform the reader of how an item works and get them to click through to Amazon (or whatever the affiliate site is) so they will make a purchase and you'll earn a commission.

The skyscraper content is informational and is used for building backlinks.  The idea is to build a really awesome article that's better than anything else out there so when you email other sites in your niche to let them know about your article, they can't help but link out to your site.

The Authority Site System gameplan is to publish 10-15 affiliate articles first, then focus on the skyscraper content to build backlinks.

They don't go in depth explaining why they suggest you do it in this order, but it makes sense. If your site is full of informational content only, then it will never earn money when you start gaining traffic.

But if your site is entirely full of affiliate articles and doesn't have any non-commercial content, other sites in your niche will be hesitant to link out to you since your site looks like a pure money grab.

My Content progress to date

Creating content has always been the bane of my online hustles.  This site only has about 50 articles on it and I've been working on it for over a year.  Honestly it's just laziness and it's something I'm going to stop with this project.

If you want to see results on a website, the best thing you can do is create good content, consistently.

You'll see advice all the time online about creating AMAZING content or pumping out 5 articles per day.  Between these two extremes, I think there's a happy medium of producing 3-5 pieces of content per week that are 1,000+ words in length.

My focus so far has been to stick to this schedule of 3-5 pieces of content per week and make sure they are all exceptional in quality.

The way I do this is by Googling the topic of my article and reading all the articles that are ranking on the first page of the search results.

Once you do that, you'll be an expert on the topic.  Seriously, that's all it takes.  Once you've spent 15 minutes reading about something and going through every detail on every article on that first page of search results, you will know more about the topic than 99% of the people out there.  This is enough to write an article and give people good advice that they can trust.

So here's where I'm at so far:

My first article was published on January 21st.

Since then I've published a total of 9 articles.  Today is February 7th so in 17 days I've published 9 articles which is around 3-4 per week.

My total word count is 6,644 words which is an average of 740 words per article.

The Page wordcount in that picture is not correct, not really sure why it's showing such a high number but that's not anything that will be ranking in the search engines.

Some of my affiliate content is shorter, closer to 300-400 words because that's all it took to explain it.  I have 8 articles focusing on products, both reviews and X vs Y comparisons.

I also have 1 piece of informational content which is super long and to be humble, really freaking impressive.  This is literally the best piece of content that exists on the internet around this topic.  It's a comprehensive guide on the subject and covers everything you could every want to know, has pictures I took on my own, and awesome diagrams I created.

My plan is to use that informational content for outreach and gain backlinks from influential sites in my niche.

First I'm going to focus on content and work on getting more articles up.  Right now my website looks pretty bare and if someone came across it I'd be kind of embarassed because of how ugly it works and because half of the links on it are broken.

Once I've got about 20-30 articles written and all of the site design done, I'll start working on outreach and building backlinks.

This is another area that I've struggled with on this site but I'm going to suck it up and just get it done.  Getting links to your site is one of the most important factors that Google looks at to rank your site so if I ever want to make real money with this site, I have no choice but to do it.

Questions? comments?

I'm really hoping I'll get some people to follow along with this and do it themselves.  My Amazon FBA side hustle has been pretty profitable but unfortunately you have to be really secretive about it because it's so easy for people to rip off your idea.  It's also pretty capital intensive and intimidating for people to start.

Building an authority website is much easier and cheaper to do.  I think this is a viable sidehustle for anyone that can speak English and can dedicate an hour a day to writing articles for their site.

Sign up below to follow along on this journey and feel free to leave a comment or send an email to [email protected] if you have any questions or need help getting started.

Some links on this website may earn me a small commission if you click on them at no extra cost to you. For more information please click this text to see the full affiliate disclosure.

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