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Many budding business owners want to make money online, but it can be confusing to know where to start. From drop shipping to sales funnels to business coaching, there are many ways to earn a buck.
One method for generating traffic and sales online is growing quickly. Authority sites are rapidly becoming one of the most popular ways to earn an online income – even helping site owners earn money passively over time.
What are authority sites? What makes authority sites so profitable? In this guide, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about affiliate sites and how to start one on your own.
What is an Authority Site?
An authority site is a high-quality website that is respected as one of the most authoritative websites for a particular topic or industry. The content on the websites contains so much value that the site begins attracting traffic, driving social shares, and generating sales.
Authority site owners aim to 1) publish valuable, trustworthy content, 2) attract new readers to their site, 3) increase their website’s overall authority, and 4) generate an income through the site.
Why Start an Authority Site?
Many people are used to traditional “niche” websites and are therefore skeptical of going the authority site route. While niche sites have their place, they pale in comparison to the income-earning potential for authority sites.
Here are several reasons why you should consider starting an authority website:
- Rewarding. Authority sites are highly rewarding because you are creating content that provides a significant amount of value to your readers.
- SEO. Search engines are inclined to rank high-value, high-authority sites, so your job of ranking your website in the search results becomes much easier.
- Backlinks. High-quality sites are more likely to attract high-quality backlinks from other websites, which will naturally improve your site’s SEO (and traffic).
- Easy. Authority websites are often easier to create than other sites because the “information hub” structure (explained in a later section) is relatively simple to follow.
- Shareable. Great content drives social shares, so readers will help market your content for you.
- Income Potential. Authority sites have greater long-term earning potential that traditional niche sites because search-engines will naturally rank them and drive traffic to them for months or even years to come.
- Passive Income. You can monetize your authority site through affiliate partnerships, using Google Adsense, selling your own products, re-selling your website, and more. You can diversify your income streams and generate sales on autopilot.
Clearly, there are many reasons why someone might choose to start an authority site over a traditional website. Now, it’s time to understand the business model that makes an authority site work.
Authority Site Business Model
A great motto for authority sites would be “Create great content, they will come”.
That’s because the key to launching a successful authority site is creating high-value content your audience wants to read. Great content will attract readers and those readers will then turn into paying customers or help you earn an income through display ads.
Here’s a breakdown of the standard authority site business model:
- Publish high-quality content on a particular topic. Try to provide the most value possible.
- Launch a website that targets a specific audience – one that’s interested in your chosen topic.
- Design an attractive, user-friendly website your audience enjoys.
- Optimize your website for search engine traffic by following SEO best practices.
- Focus on generating traffic through 1) SEO and 2) referral traffic from when readers share your content online.
- Monetize your website to begin earning a passive income.
- Track your progress and improve your website over time.
You don’t have to be an expert writer or marketing pro to launch a successful authority site. All you need is the knowledge to create valuable content for your readers and the right tools to help you attract traffic over time.
How to Make Money with an Authority Site
Considering starting an authority site of your own? The good news is, getting started is easy. Simply follow the steps below and you’ll be well on your way to creating your own profitable authority site.
Choose a Niche
When starting your authority site, we highly recommend choosing a niche that you are knowledgable and passionate about. This will make it much easier for you to create valuable, accurate content and stick with your website for the long-term.
Many authority site owners get burnt out because they choose a niche they aren’t interested in. They get stuck creating content they don’t want to write and marketing products they don’t care about. Know that gaining momentum for your site can take time, so you’ll want to be sure that you can stick with it during the beginning stages.
Don’t be discouraged by the idea of your chosen niche being “dominated” by other websites. There is always an opportunity to add your own unique spin.
For example, the “travel” niche is rather broad, but you might find success creating an authority site for:
- Travel for solo women
- Southeast Asia travel
- Travel on a budget
- High-end travel
Remember, you will be creating content for a particular audience. Identify what you want your main niche to be and what types of people would be interested in reading your content. The more specific you are, the easier it will be for you to carve out your own unique space on the web.
Conduct SEO Keyword Research
Once you have chosen the niche (or theme) for your authority site, it’s time to identify the best keyword opportunities.
Keywords are what people use to search for information in search engines like Google. Your goal is to find keywords your target audience is searching for and create content around these topics in order to generate traffic.
You can use SEO keyword research tools like SEMrush to find high search volume, low competition for your niche.
For example, if your website is about BMX riding, some possible keywords you could target include:
- “What is BMX” (480 searches per month)
- “What is the best BMX bike” (110 searches per month)
- “Cheap BMX riding helmets” (39 searches per month)
Then, you can write content like “What is BMX: Everything You Need to Know”, “Review: 10 Best BMX Bikes”, or “Where to Find Cheap BMX Riding Helmets”, respectively.
If anyone searches for your target keywords, you’ll have a chance of ranking in the search engine results and attracting new readers to your site.
Create an Information “Hub”
We highly recommend creating a blog-style, information-based authority site that serves as an information “hub”. With this structure, your goal is to become the #1 source of information for your chosen niche/topic.
In order to provide the most value possible, consider taking a top-down approach. This involves creating high-level “pillar” pages that then break off into more detailed blog posts.
For example, if your site is about fly fishing, you may have a pillar page about “What is Fly Fishing?” that then links out to additional blog posts about “Fly Fishing Techniques for Beginners”, “Where to Find Fly Fishing Equipment”, and “10 Steps to Planning Your First Fly Fishing Trip”.
This way, you direct readers to additional pages on your site, keeping them on-site for longer and solidifying your site as an authoritative source of information on your topic.
Publish High-Value, SEO-Friendly Content
More than just “creating content”, you should aim to create GREAT content that your readers are excited to read. This content should also provide information they’re unlikely to find anywhere else. Additionally, you should write with keywords in mind in order to attract organic traffic.
First, brainstorm what it is that your hypothetical reader would want to learn about your particular topic. What questions do they have? What do they need to know? Work this information into your articles.
Second, use your focus keyword in the title of your post, as well as throughout the body content as naturally as possible. You want to inform search engines on what your content is about, but not overdo it so much that it comes across as spammy. Search engine algorithms are getting much smarter about understanding the context of words in your content.
Promote Your Content
If you optimize your content correctly (following SEO best practices), you should start generating organic traffic after a few months or even as early as a few weeks. But you don’t have to wait for traffic to start rolling in.
Feel free to launch your social media pages and start promoting your content that way. As new visitors come to your site, include forms where they can sign up to join your email list. Then, promote your latest posts to your email list.
You may also want to consider starting a niche Facebook Group to grow your audience. This can help you build a friendly community of people that want to talk about your chosen topics. These members may visit your site and even become a source of new content ideas for your blog.
I recently started this facebook mastermind group with the goal of not just building a “community,” but I’ll be sharing the journey of building a new authority site in “real time.” You can join and follow along as I launch and grow the new website from scratch.
Monetize Your Authority Site
Now the best part: monetizing your site.
There are many ways to do this and the “right” method depends on what makes the most sense for your audience. Are they looking to buy products? Hire you for your services? Consider what it is that they want most.
One method involves setting your site up with Google Adsense. With Adsense, you display ads on your site and earn money for views and clicks on your ads. However, many sites only earn a few pennies on the dollar, especially if they have low traffic numbers.
Another method is to add affiliate links to your site. You can partner with brands, promote their products on your site, and earn a commission on every sale. You typically earn a higher percentage compared to display ads, but it can take some finesse to convince readers to buy.
Another idea is to sell your own products or services. Once you grow a following, readers are likely to trust you and will want to buy what you offer. You can offer info products like courses, physical products, coaching services, done-for-you services, etc. This is a good way to earn a lot of money, but it’s less passive than the other two methods.
As your following grows, you can start generating sales through your site on autopilot. High traffic + great content + great sales copy = more sales. Focus on providing value, include compelling calls-to-action, and watch the sales roll in.
Starting Your Own Affiliate Site – Resources
As with any new business, the hardest part is often taking that first step. Don’t be afraid to start small.
You can launch your first authority site in as little as a few hours and start creating content right away. Improve your content over time, grow your readership, monetize your site, and see the sales come in over time. You’d be surprised how quickly your site can take off if you just stick with it.
To help you get started, we’ve included an additional list of (free) resources for you to check out:
- 5 Steps to Start a Profitable Authority Sites: This is a free webinar put together by Gael Breton and Mark Webster of Authority Hacker. The two have built multiple six-figure authority sites over the years and provide a ton of value in their free training.
- Web Design For Beginners – Free Course: “Super Affiliate” Spencer Mecham has put together a few free training courses that are enough to get you started building a profitable affiliate site now.
- FreedomRep Mastermind Group: Being a solo-preneur can be challenging. Do you want a partner? Someone to hold you accountable? and vice versa? Join our new MasterMind group on facebook and connect with other like-minded entrepreneurs.
With the right tools at your disposal, you’ll be better prepared to find high-traffic keywords, craft content your audience wants to read, and attract more traffic to your site. Plus, you’ll be able to compare different options for monetizing your site.
What niche would you choose for your authority site? Get started and create your own authority site today.