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August 14, 2012, 5:00 am

Become An Authority in 7 Lessons

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Authority Site



Yesterday, I wrote about why I wanted to replicate the authority site model on one of my new sites. After watching Google penalize websites that are playing the SEO game, I thought that building larger and more useful sites could be the best way to rank in search engines. Eventually, we will be able to let spiderbots determine what good content is and they won’t be far from the truth.


My quest to build an authority site is just starting and the official announcement will be done on August 31st along with other bloggers participating in this duel. I want to concentrate this week on my overall plan to build such a site. Being an authority is a big statement, if you are not prepared, you will definitely fail. I’ve actually been thinking about this project for the past 12 months and started to work on it just recently. Here’s what I’ve learned so far…


Lesson #1: Research In Depth


If you don’t know your topic inside out, you are obviously missing the point here! To become an authority, you must know a lot of things about and around your topic too. Sometimes, you are better off concentrating on a smaller niche and upgrading your knowledge in a very specific field. It’s not a secret for everyone that I love investing and that I know a lot about dividends. If I had to make a chart to identify all the fields that I must know (not be an expert, but understand), it would look like this:



dividend investing model

As you can see, in order to become an authority in dividend investing, I must not only know this topic inside out but I must also understand several other concepts as well. One of the reasons why I’ve chosen the dividend investing niche is definitely because it requires a lot of knowledge to be able to talk about it. It makes this niche harder to copy than if I was talking about budgeting. Almost every PF blogger talks about their budget. Since budgeting touches several “general topics”, it’s harder to compete in this field. If I would draw the same chart for “budgeting”, here’s what it would look like:




As you can see, there are a lot of surrounding topics that are common to several personal finance bloggers. In fact, you don’t even have to be a PF blogger to know about those things. While most can write about budgeting, it becomes harder to write about dividend investing. If you can restrain your level of competition, then you will have a better chance to become an authority.


Lesson #2: Measure Yourself


Speaking of competition, this is definitely the second step: where are you right now compared to the current authorities in place? It’s important to determine who the current authorities are and to establish what you need to do in order to reach them and eventually surpass them. This is definitely not an easy task as we always think that we are better than most people in our niche. Reality check: unless you have a five digit RSS counter, you are not the authority in your niche ;-).


I use several techniques to determine who the authorities are in the niche I am aiming at. The first one is quite easy. I pull out a keyword search with Market Samurai and look at the top 10 sites coming out for the specific keywords (I suggest you read how to use Market Samurai). Regardless of what people think, the top ranking site in search engines will have a better shot at being the top earning sites in that niche too. When you see how many backlinks these sites have, it gives you an idea of the competition you have.


Another great technique is to explore top ranking sites. Are they linking to other similar sites? Do they have a resource or blog roll section? Are they part of a group? If you want to determine who the authorities are in dividend investing, chances are that you will find them by looking at the Div-Net members. This is a small group of dividend bloggers who pretty much set the tone in the dividend investing world. One suggestion is to try to incorporate these groups if you want to establish your own site as an “elite” member. Using a smooth approach (such as commenting on their sites, linking to them from yours and sending “hello” emails is a good start!).


The last technique I’ve used in this case was to look at paid/premium sites. They are not direct competitors since my site will be free. However, it’s important to understand what a paid site will offer as compared to you. If you want to become an authority, you might want to offer a part of what is being offered by premium site. This will definitely make your site AWESOME!


Lesson #3: Find Your Own Angle


The easiest way to stand out from the crowd is probably to be yourself. By adding your tone, you become unique. In the dividend investing world, I’m one of the only bloggers to make jokes on a regular basis. This is not enough to become an authority, but it’s enough to stand out.


In the buying blogs business, I’ve found my own angle as I use leverage and have built a system where I don’t work many hours on my sites and still earn some decent money. This is my own angle, my own voice.


If you know your topic inside out, you will need to find a twist to present it a different way. This will bring more attention to your site and people will want to discover what you have to say. This lesson will enable you to get enough traction so you can prove to your new readers that you are worth reading on a regular basis.


Lesson #4: Write Tons of Content


Another way to prove yourself is to write tons of content. If you document every single angle there is about a topic, you will eventually be recognized as an authority. Being passionate about your topic will also help you write even more. For example, when I write on TFB, I never look at the time I spend typing or on the number of words my article will have. I just keep typing on my laptop until my hands hurt ;-).


The problem with a lot of content is that you don’t want your site being too cluttered. I always write down all my ideas before starting to write any content. Then I regroup my ideas into sub-topics that will eventually become my categories. I try to have a similar pattern for most of my sites so I feel comfortable when I start writing for any of them.


At that stage, I also have to do some further research. I’m always asking myself questions about what I’m writing in order to know more about the topic. It’s important to go even one step further. Everybody writes about what they know. Everybody will basically be able to write your first post, but if you go further and write 3-4 posts about the same topic covering all angles, then it becomes harder to copy your site!


Lesson #5: Become Extraordinary


Yeah… this part is easier said than done! Being extraordinary is not an easy task and I fail at it most of the time. You can be good, you can be great but being extraordinary is pretty tough. I guess you can reach it when you give so much that you can’t even believe your own eyes!


When I think of my eBook; Dividend Investing, I think I reached extraordinary. In 12 months, I hit 22,907 downloads! With this eBook, I was able to grow a huge investing newsletter and create a real community of dividend investors. I’ve received many thank you emails and questions regarding investing. When you achieve an extraordinary work, you can aim at extraordinary results. On the other hand, creating this eBook took a lot of time and I’ve also invested a few bucks in the process. The fact that I was offering it for free helped to get the book “viral” in a very small niche. This was also a great tool to be recognized as an authority in this field.


Lesson #6: Tweak Everything


Once you are done and happy with your site, it’s not over yet! If you reach the highest level of authority, other people (that read this post 😉 ) will have a look at what you do and will try to replicate it. Real authority sites are always one step ahead of everybody else. While others are copying their current methods, they are already working on something else.


Once in a while, it’s important to go back to your site and look at it. Browse the site and read some of your old articles. Eventually, you will find new areas to develop. You will be in a better position to tweak the design or add a few resources. A similar search through affiliate groups is also beneficial. You can get better products to advertise on your site and better ways to merchandise them.


Think of adding, videos, podcasts, a newsletter, forum, an eBook, online support, etc. There is always something to add to your site. You’re never done with tweaking and this is what will make your site the coolest site around!


One Last Lesson: Invest


In the end, I don’t think you can reach a high level of quality without investing a few bucks. Your site doesn’t have to cost $5,000 but investing in a good design and in a few pieces of crucial software to help you monetize it won’t hurt at all!


The more “little things” you add, the harder it will become to copy your site and the faster you will become an authority. This is one of the reasons why I’ve been working “in the dark” for so long with my new “authority-to-be” site; I wanted to improve it before it goes live. We have recently paid for a programmer in order to add a few features in addition to have a professional designer to work on the current layout. I want to start this challenge with a big bang ;-).


When it comes to the internet, most people make the same mistake of not investing money on their site. They think that everything can be run with a $10 monthly budget. It is possible and you will have a hard time standing out of the crowd if you do so!


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August 13, 2012, 5:00 am

I Want to Become an Authority

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Authority Site

authority site model

Ah man… not another buzz word article!?!… Not quite yet. I’m pretty sure that you have heard the buzz words authority site? Besides niche sites, this is probably the other big flavor for those who aim to make a buck off of their site. You read elsewhere: the authority site model is the most performing in terms of traffic, passive income and sustainability. Yeah… I guess that goes along with writing compelling content and connecting with other bloggers, huh?


While the concept of authority site has been growing due to the popularity of blogs, the main concept of being an authority is much older. Each time we think the internet has reinvented the wheel; we find out that it has just copied/pasted a concept existing in the “real world”. Being an authority gives you a lot of advantages. Not just on the internet, but in the real world too. In fact, you are better off being an authority at work ;-).


I can say that I’m an authority at work. At least, in my field ;-). How do I know if I’m an authority or not? Because people seek my advice and they follow it. Because I am cited for what I do and my peers use my examples. Because each time there is a tricky file to close, I am called upon. What is interesting about being an authority is that you get the first pick on all windows of opportunities. Most opportunities are presented to authority people before others. I guess this is why it gets easier for those who succeed and harder for those who fail. Each success brings you to a higher level of authority … while each failure drags you down.


While it works pretty well in the real world, when I go back to the internet world; this is much harder to become one. Why? Simply because the competition level is much larger. If I had to compete against all financial advisers in the world, I would probably not be an authority. But because my playground is smaller, it’s easier to shine in the crowd. When you want to establish your site as an authority, you are competing against the world. Considering that there are now hundreds of personal finance blogs, it gets pretty hard to stand out in the crowd. Just checking the Wise Bread Top PF Blogs, there are 753 listed there. Out of my entire network, only 4 of them break the top 200 and I don’t even have 1 breaking the top 100!


All right, there is more than just ranking to be considered an authority. And rankings are worth what they are worth. From a traffic and monetization perspective, my four blogs in the top 200 are not even ranked properly if I only consider my own sites!


What is an Authority Site Anyway?


Here’s my homemade definition of an authority site:


An authority site is a reference used by new readers, regular readers and peers (other bloggers) for a specific niche. It’s a site that is mentioned all over the place and cited as an example of success. It requires the owner of the site to master a topic and identify trends before they become one. The owner doesn’t have to be the best player but he must be among them.



Being an authority is first and foremost being a reference. If your site is cited as an example by others for this and that, then you become an authority in these fields. For example, The Financial Blogger is definitely an authority when it comes to buying and selling blogs. I’ve almost created the market for PF blogs! I didn’t decide to become an authority, my readers did. There are several signs of this:


–          I receive a lot of questions on how to market and sell a blog.

–          I am asked if I want to buy blogs all the time.

–          People ask me how to buy blogs and if this or that site is a good purchase.

–          Most bloggers know TFB because they know that I own “half of the blogosphere” as they usually say (it’s actually one third to be exact, hahaha!).

–          My business model has been copied by several other bloggers.


I’m pretty happy to be considered an authority in this niche. Unfortunately, this is quite a small niche! The advantage I got out of it is that I get the first shot on many transactions which have enabled me to buy important blogs. I was also able to use my reputation to make serious offers on other websites as well. On the other hand, having a copycat is also hurting my own business model since I had to put more cash on the table a few times in order to be the last bidder!


In about a month from now, I’ll be launching an authority site. I call it an authority site because I want it to become one. My mission is simple: I want to create the ultimate resource for a specific topic. We have been working on this site in the dark for the past 12 months. There are still a lot of things to develop and work on but we will launch the “beta” version of the site in a few weeks. The goal is to start creating a buzz, getting links and optimizing our platform with your feedback.


Why Do You Care to Become an Authority Anyway?


One word: This guy was able to pull-out hundreds of thousands of dollars from his multiple internet projects. Why? Because he is a huge authority. He would not be able to generate between $40,000 and $50,000 per month (yup, this is not a typo) without being on the top of the authority food chain. If someone wants to start making money online,SPI articles will appear everywhere:

–          In search engines

–          On iTunes

–          On other blogs

–          In conferences

–          On Facebook

–          On Twitter

–          Everywhere!

Therefore, chances are that by seeing the number of comments, retweets, downloads and likes SPIhas all over the internet, new readers will read carefully what Pat writes. If he says that BlueHost is the way to go to host your domain, you will most probably sign-up through his affiliate link. Here’s what happen when you create an authority site:


authority site


You basically get everything you need without asking for it! This is definitely the most effective passive income model you can reach on the internet.


The trick is that the higher authority you become, the higher your chances are to stay at the top of the mountain. This is why you should care about becoming an authority. Because it ensures the sustainability of your business model. I’m not thinking of just a business model for internet entrepreneurs, I’m thinking of a business model as a ME Inc. If you are the authority at work, you ensure the sustainability of your main source of income; your job! If you are an entrepreneur, you ensure the sustainability of your company. And if you are an internet mogul to be, this is your survival ticket for the next five, ten years in an environment evolving at light speed.


In order to be successful at becoming an authority, you must find your own voice. It doesn’t matter if your niche is small, in fact, it’s even better. What matters is that you are passionate about your niche. If you are not, it will be darn hard to know a lot of things and be ahead of most people in the same niche as you. You must be able to teach others a few things. You don’t have to be THE expert, you just have to know more than the average monkey. Once you get there, the ball will start to roll and you will climb the authority ladder one step at a time.

Tell me, in which field do you want to become an authority?





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