Today, I’m ending this short 3 part series on authority sites with a few of my favorite tools. If you missed the beginning of this week, be sure to go back and read about the Authority Site Model and 7 Lessons to Become an Authority. Once I announce my new authority site on August 31st, I’ll be able to go into specific details with regards to my promotion, monetization and site creation techniques. Every single projects starts with a piece of paper and a pen. I’m very old school for my creativity process ;-).
However, once the project is literally drawn on a piece of paper, I need several techniques to make it live. I decided to make a list of things we will use or have used to create our latest authority site.
It seems that you can find tools for everything these days; even to find what to write about. In order to determine which topic to choose for an authority site, I used a similar strategy as that to choose a niche website topic. It needs to fill the most important criteria:
1- Sizeable Market
2- With People Ready To Spend
3- Be Able to help this market in some ways (find the benefits)
Let’s start with point #3. You need to find something you are good at before going anywhere with your ideas. How can you become an authority in something you don’t know much about? Those projects are good for niche sites, but for authority site, you must enjoy the topic. The first step is therefore making a list of your interests/passions and what you are good at. Let’s see what mine look like:
- Golf (interest, not good at hahaha!)
- Sports in general (watching!)
- Personal Finance
- Strong interest regarding investments
- Good food and wine (I definitely spend too much on that!)
- Video games (this interest is fading though… darn kids! Haha!)
From this list, you need a sizeable market and that will be willing to pay for something. Both can be answered by logic. It’s obvious that there is a market for all my interests. However, I can remove a few topics off my list when I ask the following question: “how can I earn money from people with these topics?”. If the only answer is “adding adsense”… do yourself a favor and work on something else. Then again, this answer would be good enough for a niche site, not an authority site.
An easy way to know if people are spending money on the internet for the topic you want to discuss is to use Market Samurai. In a few minutes, you get exactly what you are looking for: the level of search (which tells you if there is a sizeable market), the level of competition (which tells you if you can make it or not in that niche) and the amount of dollars spent by advertiser (which tells you if people are willing to spend money on this topic). Let’s take a look at Dividend Investing Vs Personal Finance:
and personal finance….
I’ve simply pull out a few keywords from both dividend investing and personal finance. If you look at the column AWCPC and AWV you will see how #1 you are expecting to pay to appear on the first rank of Google if you are using adwords (AWCPC) and #2 how much you are expecting to earn (daily value) in a day (AWV). You can tell that dividend investing related keywords worth a lot more even though the market is smaller (the SEOT column tells you how many visitors/day you can expect if you rank #1).
Once you have past this process, you have a solid topic where you know you can make money from. This is a great start to your authority site! Now, you need to find a domain name that is available ;-). But you know all of this already, so I’ll skip the domain name and keyword research part (you can still read how to use Market Samurai though!).
When I create a new site, I like to pay to get a custom design. Yeah, you read this right: I like to pay. I like to pay for two reasons;
1- I don’t have to do it (I’m a pretty bad designer anyway! Lol!)
2- It forces me to truly think of what I want
When you pay a few hundred dollars to get a blog theme done, you really don’t want to mess it up. It’s a way for me to get a unique blog theme at the same time as taking the project very seriously. In addition to that, I can use an existing theme for smaller niche sites later on. We have been working with the same team of designers since the very beginning. This allows us to get free gigs and more modifications for the same price. We can then “let them go” and use their first pitch as a starting point. It’s easier to see what you want to have or not once you have a live example.
Before creating the design, you must answer a very specific answer: what do you want your new visitors to do when they get to your site?
For niche sites, it’s often to click on Adsense ;-). This is why you put ads all over the place and try to blend them in as much as possible. But for an authority site, you don’t want to lose your readers for a few dollars. This is why you will probably change your approach (for the homepage at least). For my new site, I’ve decided to include adsense within articles but not above the fold on the first page. I wanted new visitors to either sign up for my newsletter or to explore my sites. I wanted to make sure they would at least see two pages before they leave.
Once you have answered this question, make sure your designer understands it. You want to put the focus of your site on the action you want your visitors to take. It can be buying a product, registering for your newsletter, clicking on Adsense, comments, etc. Just make sure that your goal is clear and that your design reflects it.
The communication / promotion of your site is crucial. You want to be able to spread the word and keep in contact with your new readers. As you know by now, I am a big fan of my newsletter. I expect to make a third of my income in 2013 from my newsletter just to show you how strong it can be.
The newsletter is not only the best way to communicate directly with your visitors but it’s also the best way to bypass Google in terms of traffic source. Each time I send a newsletter, I get hundreds of clicks towards my sites. Search engine is still my biggest source of traffic but I can create my own base for a new site by using my newsletter.
In order to manage my newsletters, I use Aweber. This is an awesome service that enables you to send follow-up email and live broadcasts. You can also decide the exact time of your broadcast. For example, I’ve already prepared my email for the launch of my dividend investing eBook. It is currently pending in draft. When I am ready to send it, I’ll just have to set a date and time. It’s usually better if you communicate with your audience during work days and I like sending my email early in the morning. This gives enough time to people to either read it while they browse their email in the morning or save it for lunch time.
The new design features from Aweber make my life so much easier. The look is better and I can create them within a few minutes. Check out all the options you can easily add to your newsletter:
The Article block creates a headline, a text area, and a “read more” link. Click the text to edit it, and set the URL of the link in the window to the right. Note that some templates may include an image as well – if that’s the case, you can edit the image via the window to the right as well.
The Image block allows you to insert an image within your message. The window to the right allows you to enter the URL of the image you’d like to display. You can also have the image link to another page when clicked, and provide the text that will appear when someone hovers their cursor over the image.
The Product block creates an image which you can replace with an image of your product, along with text for the product’s name, description, and price. Finally, it comes with a button that can take customers to your order page. The image and button can be edited via the right side window.
The Coupon block is ideal for special offers or discounts, with a text area and a dashed border (think of a cut-out coupon) by default. On the right, you can add a background image or change the border.
Similar to the Image block, the Logo block inserts an image, but automatically loads your logo if you’ve set one up on the List Settings page.
You can also access a lot of stats on your most recent broadcast (opening rate, when they open it, who opened it, clicking rate, the ability to send an email to those who clicked, unsubscribe rate, etc.):
This is definitely the best tool around to keep a close contact with your readers.
As for external promotion, I think this is where your network becomes the most important tool. Ask your fellow bloggers if you can do guest post about your new site. Pick the best post you have written and offer them to publish it with a single link toward your new site. It does take a lot of time to do that but it’s the best way to gain readers rapidly along with building natural links back to your site! If you provide your best articles, you will show how strong your site is and why people should go and take a look. If you read an amazing article somewhere, chances are that you will want to go further and find more articles written by the same guy, right?
The use of Twitter and Facebook could also help but I’m not a big user of social network so I won’t tell you how to do it ;-).
I just can’t wait to officially announce my site and start this challenge! We will basically be battling around traffic and income generated from brand new sites. The difference from a niche site is that we can’t build this in a few weeks and let it ride. Authority sites need constant updates, strong content and, ultimately, lead to a product.
If you want to join the challenge, I’ll be following and referring to all readers that want to follow us and do a similar project with us. We start our engines on August 31st…. be ready!!!!
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