Authority Website Income

Month 1 Update – Cost To Start an Authority Website

I have great news I can now share with everyone…my wife and I are expecting our first child on March 24, 2013. The news that I will be a father shortly is extremely exciting and has given me a  lot of passion to really make my online business more successful and provide for my family! Luckily for everyone reading this I hope that means to provide more value and transparency on my success than I ever have before.

Here is my first monthly update where I will try and stay true to my promise to you and “share everything but my passwords” when it comes to how I am building my authority website.

The month started off with Sunil from the starting the Authority Website Duel which I have been happy to join! I was happy to launch my website the day the challenge was announced so my site can be a completely transparent start to success (hopefully) example. There are lots of sites already in the challenge that are doing remarkably well, following along on what they are doing has already been a great inspiration.

One twist I am going to put on my monthly reports is to share every discovery and the key takeaway I learned from it.

This Months Highlights…

  1. Defined my reason for starting this project (providing for my wife and soon my child)
  2. Identified my target niche (students looking to pay off student loans)
  3. Completed Keyword Research for an Authority Website
  4. Picked a domain name (My Case Study Website URL is Now Hidden)
  5. Created lots of cheap and QUALITY content (40 articles created)
  6. Built my authority website.
  7. Started my content marketing and backlink strategy (more on this strategy to follow next month)

Insight – Sharing publicly the work you are doing helps keep you focused!
My Take Away – To increase my accountability in each monthly report I will outline my plan for the next month!

Breaking News – Google’s EMD Update Provides More Reason to Focus on Higher Quality Larger Websites

Its also worth sharing the significant change that has occurred within Google at the end of September where an algorithm change has resulted in exact match domains no longer providing a significant SEO boost. This change has reinforced my belief that “authority” websites will be more robust to Googles changes.

A couple of the leaders in the niche site business model are also moving more towards an authority website model, see…

My Main Accomplishment This Month – Lots of Quality Articles Created for Cheap!

This month’s focus was on setting my website up for success and creating a quality body of work. To that end I think I have succeeded. I have gotten 53 original articles created by native English speakers for $126, most of these articles are 500 word articles while 8 are 2000 word articles.

However, some of the content on the website definitely got through my quality control checks and I had to go in and change out some of the articles.

I was happy to be able to get lots of quality articles for $2 created like these…

  • Stafford Loan Limits
  • Student Loan Default Explained

For some of my pillar articles I was able to get really helpful articles for $5 using my cheap article creation strategy.

  • Grants to Pay Off Student Loans
  • Student Loan Forgiveness

All of the above articles provide a lot of value to a reader and I am not embarrassed to share them with everyone.

I had a team manager who I empowered by sharing this (AuthorityWebsiteIncome) site with him and describing the special importance of (My Case Study Website URL is Now Hidden) compared to the other websites he works on with me. By showing him this website and getting him to feel apart of a bigger project he really embraced the idea and brought his “A” game this month.

Insight – Empowering my team member by showing him the bigger picture resulted in additional motivation and results!
My Take Away – Give all my outsourcing team members a better idea of the big picture of what they are working on and how it can/will impact peoples lives.

This Months Results

This is what really matters!

So as an engineer I love my numbers and here they are, as raw and transparent as I can be…


I have not set up any monetization yet, but that will follow over the next 1-2 months.


An ok start, I know this is going to be a competitive niche to get into and I want to be patient.

Total Visitors( launched Sep 8 ) = 268

Avg Visitors Per Day = 12

What I have been happy to see is a slow but sure increase in search engine traffic and specifically on long tail keywords. Some websites I have made have had a much faster increase in search traffic but its often due to exact match domain traffic and it can be more variable. A traffic strategy based on longer tailed keywords is more robust to algorithm changes.

Traffic overview

The bounce rate on search traffic is 22% higher than the site average, this is something I will have to keep an eye on as I get more data.

Authority Website Costs

Below is a summary of the costs, I will keep running a total each month. Several of the links below are affiliate links.

  1. Domain Registration = $10.69 @ NameCheap
  2. Hostgator = $7.16/month for 2 years @ HostGator
  3. Content Creation 53 articles = $126 @ ODesk
  4. Content Creation Management = $19.34 @ ODesk
  5. Uploading Content = $8.26 @ ODesk
  6. Virtual Assistant = $21.53 @ ODesk

TOTAL = $192.98

My VA does a lot of tasks for me like uploading the YouTube videos I make to youtube and other sites. She also

Profit/Loss To Date= -$192.98

# On Page Posts/Pages

  • Posts = 13
  • Pages = 14

# of Backlinks

  • Refering Domains = 24
  • External Backlinks = 79
  • Citation Flow = 20
  • Trust Flow = 15


Backlinking/Content Marketing Strategy – Just a Teaser

I won’t share the details of my backlinking plan just yet but don’t worry I will be! Expect a massive section of this website dedicated to my content marketing/backlinking strategy in the near future.

But to give an overview of what activities I have been doing this month it involves…

  • Targeted Blog Commenting
  • Guest Posts
  • YouTube Videos and Video/Presentation Syndication
  • Unique Content Only Blog/Guest Post Network
  • Expired Domains

IPs & Don’t Like My Slogan

I received an email from the plugin Limit Login Attempts that these IP addresses were trying to login to my website.

Both IP’s are shown to be from Ukraine, so maybe my slogan translates I will share my password…

IPs from Ukraine
Insight –I don’t believe someone from Ukraine is reading my blog and uniquely targeted my website. The attacks on my website are part of a larger blast approach to hack WordPress websites

Take Away – None of my websites are safe without the best protection – Limit login attempt plugin is great and its easy to lookup an IP address with

Move Offices to Make Room for the Nursery

The best room in the house for the nursery is the room my office was in. So over the last couple days I had to paint my new office and move everything over. This took a remarkably long time but I am happy with how it is coming along…

New Office – Mid Move
New Office – Mid Move

Next Month

Start Testing Monetization (Goal = Start with adsense, loan consolidation CPA, credit check CPA)

Continue Content Creation (Goal = 20 more on page articles)

Content Marketing / Backlink Strategy Continue  (Goal = 20 more off page articles)

Logo Design (Goal = new logo)

Test New Theme (Goal = Test new theme to potentially lower bounce rate from search traffic)


As this is the first of many monthly updates please provide feedback on what details you would like me to share. As my slogan goes I hope to share with you everything that you would find valuable!

If you want to see more of something just include what it is in the comments below…

About the Author Jon

I am a 33 year old husband, father of 3, engineer and a huge fan of developing systems to build useful and profitable websites. The reason I build online businesses is to provide financial independence for my family and yours AND so I can spend time outside skiing and biking with my family.
Jon Gillham, Online Entrepreneur

Leave a Comment:

Kristy - Mommy Money says October 4, 2012

Congrats on the great news for you and your wife!
Kids are a great motivator. I started my site when I was off on maternity leave!
Best of luck, I will be cheering for you!

    Jon says October 5, 2012

    Hi Kristy
    Thanks for the congrats. I am already much more motivated knowing I have a kid arriving soon. But just wondering if the extra motivation will be counteracted by less sleep!


Jas says October 4, 2012

Good job! Content is the future in all aspects.

    Jon says October 5, 2012

    Thanks Jas
    I think any really successful niche site has had to have good content but it is becoming more and more important!

Joe @ How I Got Rich says October 5, 2012

This is a really great post! Congrats on the baby news too.

I’m starting on my authority site but am writing the content for it myself as I want it to be good and haven’t found anyone who can write well enough for it (at the rates I am offering). Although doing the writing myself takes a lot of time.

I think I will setup a second site using the method you outline to find cheap writers and see how that goes.

Have you written anything about your VA and what they do for you in terms of managing the content? That would be of interest to me.

Are you making money from other websites too?

Good luck with the site!

    Jon says October 5, 2012

    Hi Joe
    Thanks for the congrats. Good luck with your authority site as well!

    That’s a good idea to include something about how I do my outsourcing, I will definitely include that on my post ideas. For the short version it is something like this…

    1. I identify keywords to be written and put them in a column on a google doc
    2. My VA/Manager is responsible for (posting jobs on ODesk, hiring english speaking writers, assigning them articles, copyscape testing and word count testing articles, paying writer, uploading article to Google Documents, dropping the link to the google doc article in my content management spreadsheet – mentioned in step 1)
    3. I proof the article and assign it to be used either on a money site or another location online (web 2.0, article directory etc)
    4. Another VA uses that article wherever I have specified it to be used

    Yes I have a bunch (50sh) of other websites that make money but most are niche sites and my average income from the niche site portion of my portfolio took a 25% income hit over the last year. While most of my more authoritative sites have earned more.

    Good luck with your sites!


Duncan says October 6, 2012


Great progress in the first month! Do you think you made any mistakes? It great to learn from peoples successes but also their failures so I am wondering if you ran into any problems along the way.

Cheers Man

    Jon says October 12, 2012

    Hi Duncan
    Thanks for stopping bye. Mistakes sure I made some. Because I was getting so much content up quickly I ended up having a few articles go up that are of “poor” quality. Luckily I was able to remove them quick enough and use them at web 2.0 properties instead.



Miki Vicioso says October 7, 2012

Keep it up Jon! With the new theme you will probably get a lower bounce rate.

    Jon says October 12, 2012

    Thanks for your design eye Miki! Its appreciated.

James Wilson says October 12, 2012

That is a really good start. I started a site a month ago and have had no traffic. Like 10 people total. I don’t understand what I am doing wrong I followed what other people have done to make money.

    Jon says October 12, 2012

    If you are just starting out don’t feel bad about not getting much traction. Stick with it you will learn lots…the main thing I wish I knew when I was really new was to make sure to add value to your reader. I am no expert/guru but if you want to send me a message with your URL I could have a look and maybe help you.


James says October 12, 2012

Congrats Jon on the news.

I’ve seen you on my blog a few times and left a comment so I thought I would stop by your blog and check it out. I’ve also been over to Sunil’s website and read about the authority website duel. I was thinking about joining but I am horrible at making official updates about my websites and sometimes I get lazy and don’t update my websites for weeks. I know its horrible but I really need to stay focused and motivated to earn more online. Anyways I am rambling.

Looks like your site is promising and can possibly get some great results. Keep up the good work with your authority website!

Theodore Nwangene says October 20, 2012

Kudos to your success so far Jon,
I wanted to join the challange then but had so many things on my hand.

I will soon join anyway.

I’m more than happy to hear that you will soon became a father, it will still take me like 4-6 yrs to go that road.

Congrats and good luck.

    Jon says October 26, 2012

    Thanks Theodore

    Focus is definitely hard to keep when there are so many exciting opportunities to chase/join. If you do join best of luck!


Kevin Watts says November 5, 2012


I am loving the content so far. Thank so much sharing this information it has help me get started on my site.

I have a question regarding the images you use on your site. Do you use stock free images and pay for them? Or do you look for them on the web and don’t pay for them? I noticed that they were not listed under expenses…

    Jon says November 5, 2012

    I use free images from or Flickr images with credit provided and use this search tool…

    Thanks for the question and glad you are enjoying the content!

Travis at Rossome Marketing says November 13, 2012

Dude, congrats! So excited for you! I’ve got 5 kiddos myself and know the joy of watching one enter the world.

Regarding EMD’s, I was also decimated by Google this year and lost about 85% of my income. I nearly threw in the towel. However, I’m excited to begin the next chapter and see if I can make a supplemental (if not full time) income that doesn’t depend on Google.

Any thoughts on diversifying you’d like to share?

    Jon says November 13, 2012

    Thanks for the congrats! I am definitely excited.

    Glad you decided not to throw in the towel, there is definitely opportunity that exists.

    As far as diversification, I have not decided to move away from Google just diversify within the sites that I own that get traffic from Google. Having lots of very similar sites is a risk or having only 1 site is a risk so I am trying to maintain the sites that haven’t been hit and build out an authority site (this sites case study). Having a diversified portfolio of sites should help protect against google slaps in my mind.

    What are your plans as far as diversification goes?

Travis at Rossome Marketing says November 13, 2012

Well, I’ve decided to get into the Kindle game, for one. The thing I like about Kindle is that its something you can do WHILE you’re doing other things. I’ll still try and target a few keywords in Google for my books, but that won’t be my only traffic source.

Additionally, I’m attempting to make YouTube a viable traffic source for my sites, as well. I’ve already seen a small amount of traffic and I can only hope it will increase as I create more content. Plus, I’m kind of looking forward to learning about video production. So far, my videos have all be behind the camera (keynote presentations) but I’m beginning to make plans to do some on camera stuff. Fun!

    Jon says November 13, 2012

    Travis, I had a look at your videos and think they are really well put together and can tell you are trying to share some valuable information.

    For others have a look at his SEO basics videos here –

Andy says November 15, 2012

Hey Jon,

Great update! I think we have a lot of the same strategies, such as video creation and the original content/guest post network. I can’t wait to see how well your site does.

Also, I really appreciate that the increase in search traffic is giving you some uplift. I was starting to get a little disappointed with my authority site – all the work and money going into it – and then I looked at my webmaster tools results for search engine queries and clicks, and I immediately felt a bit better. It’s picking up, and even if visitors to my site isn’t picking up largely, I’m certain that once those impressions get onto the first page of Google, the visitors to my site will increase hugely.

Keep it up!

    Jon says November 15, 2012

    Hi Andy

    Thanks for the comment, best of luck with your authority site! Are you doing anything in particular that you have found to work for driving traffic?

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