Authority Website Income

Month 9 Income Report – 44% Email Opt In Conversion Rate and over 2k in earnings!

Month 9 has seen a huge jump in income and my goal of making more than Pat Flynn’s security guard site came very close!!! But the best event of the month was me finally being able to get my email opt ins to work!! This took 9 months but I am now able to get around 10 opt ins per day (compared to 17 for 8 months).


I am very happy to announce that I have started creating my next larger niche “Authority” site about the Canadian Insurance industry

Several of the links below that link to the tools I have used over the last month are affiliate links. If you are just starting you don’t “need” any of them (except hosting and maybe ODesk)


Key Successes:


Content Creation – With my plan to put my student loan site on autopilot I needed to stock up on content and get it scheduled out for a few months. I worked double time getting content created and got 100 good articles all ready to go on the site now to carry me until the end of the year on the site.


Executing My Business Strategy – I have now launched my second website on my journey of building larger niche “authority” sites that earn over $1k/month. My overall plan is to build 3 of these sites per year and focus on them exclusively for a few months to build them up into $1k/month earners. By doing this I plan on building my passive income to a reliable $15k/month by my 35th birthday (6 years to go).  My overall online income is around $4k/month now.


Email Opt Ins – For those of you that have followed this case study since the beginning you know I have struggled to get email opt ins. Well with a change in strategy and using this incredibly high converting landing page (around 50%) I have gotten more sign ups in one day than I had in 6 months! LeadPages paid for itself in 1 month!


Amazing Video Creation – I hired someone on ODesk to create informational videos like the one below using PowToon. I really like the quality and they are fun to watch so I hope to see some success with them. I am still working out the bugs in my process(not uploaded to YouTube correctly – just uploaded today). But I look forward to sharing more details about the success these videos bring.  By outsourcing to ODesk the video below cost me a total of $6 to get produced!


Key Failures:

 Starting Too Many New Processes – There is a rule of thumb to only start one new habit per month or at a time. This goes for changes to businesses as well. This month I have made a lot of changes, most was managed well but some was not. Example – the process to upload the video above was not handled well and I will be giving up traffic as a result. So next month I will work to refine the new processes I started before any more change.


Authority Website Stats for May


Income = $2,341.41


–         CPA #1 (loan consolidation) – $552.00

–         CPA #2 (load consolidation) – $1,759.81

–         CPA #3 (credit check) = $22.40

–         CPA #4 (debt monitoring) = $7.20


CPA Offer #1  = $552

Although this affiliate is not main focus the conversions are great and I really like the ability to quickly judge the quality of traffic through the daily conversion reports here.



CPA Offer #2  = $1,759.81

 The number of leads continues to grow and since the average time for a lead to payout is 4 weeks it most likely means my income in May was due to the leads generated in April.

  • February = 54 Leads
  • March = 98 Leads
  • April = 151 Leads
  • May = 194 Leads


CPA Offer #3  = $22.4

This was the first confirmed sale via my new email marketing list. I am sure other sales converted from the email clicks I generated but I can not track through to the sale.


CPA Offer #4  = $7.20

From a post I wrote about this debt repayment service I generated a little income.


Costs = 706.11 (several one time costs)


Creating 100 articles costs a lot! The 100 articles cost me an average of $4/article + I had my usual costs for this site.


In May I followed the process I outlined to get “cheap” articles created and in the end I have 100 articles created.


The VA’s do a lot of things for me such as research post material, identify potential guest posting opportunities, publish content, modify graphics, upload and syndicate videos I make and other assignments as they come up.

All my team members are hired through ODesk

  • VA #1 – Content Publisher = $45 @  (posting/scheduling of created articles per my content calendar) – More than normal this month!
  • VA # 2 – Backlink/General = $25 (web 2.0 creation, Link Authority, blog carnival submission, Friday post creation)
  • VA #3 – Website Manager = $0 (he takes care of security/speed on all my sites – no work this month)
  • VA #4 – Social Media Manager = $0 (not going to use on this project)
  • VA #5 – Outreach – $0 (moved onto another assignement)
  • Content Creation (100 articles this month!) = $412.00
  • Hosting = $7.16 @ HostGator
  • LeadPages = $197 one time fee (well worth it!)
  • AWeber = $19.95 (for the size of list my student loan site has)


Next month I expect the costs to be minimal ~$50 or less while we all move onto our new Insurance Website project.


Running Net Income/Loss

Its still playoff time and so here is a little hockey stick graph for you…



Traffic =12,745 Unique Visitors

A very good month that almost doubled my traffic from last month!


Traffic From Day 1 to Now (9 months later)







At the end of Month 8 I had a total # of sign ups of 17!!


However after implementing a new strategy I now have a list of 190!! Split between people looking for private student loans and student loan consolidations.


Here is how I did it….


What I love about this strategy is that people self segment between people looking for a loan consolidation and a private student loan so that I can then target their needs in my email follow ups.


Conversion Rate of 44.3%!!!

You can use the same landing page or one of many others at LeadPages

  • Traffic To Landing Page = 201
  • Opt Ins to Landing Page = 89
  • Landing Page Conversion = 44.3%

Google Analytics for Landing Page


Email Opt Ins for Landing Page List
Aweber Sign Ups

From my preferred email service AWeber

Most importantly I have already realized at a minimum one sale.


Content, Promotion and Backlinks

In this section I will show exactly what I have done over the last month to continue to grow my site…


On Page Content = 17 Posts

A lot more great posts were published following my editorial calendar.


Outreach – Blog Commenting & Social Media (10hrs by VA @ start of month)

Blog commenting via a VA and then reaching out for guest posts is a strategy I want to keep using and improving on.


Guest Posts = 11 Posts on Quality Sites

The most guest posts I have had published happened this month. I have a few scheduled for next month but I am not going to focus as much on this now while I build up another site.

All of these guest posts were achieved using the method I talk about here.


Backlink Stats

I use majestic SEO (free) to track my link profile and help estimate how my link building efforts are being viewed by Google.

  • Referring Domains = 333 (+190)
  • Backlinks = 44,881 (+37,847)
  • Citation Flow 41 (+5)
  • Trust Flow 21 (+1)

Wow – I did not intent to build all these links if they are a result of my efforts.  I am happy the trust flow is reasonable and based on a quick look at my stats I don’t see anything that has me worried.



Image From –

Last Month’s Goals

  • Pursue Guest Posting – (guest post on 10 high quality sites) – SUCCESS
  • Blog Commenting – Restart blog commenting via VA – SUCCESS
  • Continue Content Creation at 16 posts/month – SUCCESS
  • Monetize –Earn over $1,000 per month – SUCESS


Next Month’s Goals

  • Automate Guest Posting – 1 VA working on her own to publish 4
  • Blog Commenting – 1 VA working on her own to publish 30
  • No Content Creation
  • Costs Reduced to $50
  • Monetize –Earn over $2,000 per month


2013 Website Goal Progress:

My website case study (My Case Study Website URL is Now Hidden) will earn more per month than Pat Flynn’s case study site for at least 3 months of the year

  • So far in 2013 I am 0 for 5 (but getting close!)
  • January (-$2,796.18)
    • $452.13 for (My Case Study Website URL is Now Hidden)
    • $3248.31 for – Report
  • February (-$1,675.35)
    • $1126.55 for (My Case Study Website URL is Now Hidden)
    • $2,801.90 for – Report
  • March (-$2,076.94)
    • 759.63 for (My Case Study Website URL is Now Hidden)
    • $2,836.57 for – Report
  • April (-$1,581.86)
    • $1,127.1 for (My Case Study Website URL is Now Hidden)
    • $2,708.96 for – Report
  • May (-$78.25) ONLY $78!!!
    • $2,341.41 for (My Case Study Website URL is Now Hidden)
    • $2,419.66 for – Report








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 says June 7, 2013

You are so close to reaching your goal and its still relatively early in the year. I wish you all the best to be able to beat your goal!

Because you share so much I was wondering if you would be willing to say what kind of open rate you have been getting on your email follow ups?

    Jon says June 7, 2013

    For my student loan site I get around 70% for the first three emails and then it starts declining until I get about 30% on the 7th email. This seems to be pretty consistent with other well treated lists.

Scott Jenkins says June 7, 2013

Split testing has treated you very well. It boggles my mind that everyone doesn’t do it. Affiliate marketing is not set and forget unless you want to leave money on the table.

44% is a sick conversion rate! That’s one hell of a job.

    Jon says June 7, 2013

    Hi Scott, thanks for the comment. Split testing has definitely treated me well…even though the split testing hasn’t been as scientific as it could be I have just been tweaking things and monitoring the stats.

    The 44% conversion is fantastic I am definitely happy with that!

Miki Vicioso says June 7, 2013

Wow john you are definitely going places. Those 100 articles will push your site even farer all the way to the end of the year. Congrats on another great month, the website seems to be just improving with time!

    Jon says June 7, 2013

    Thanks Miki, I am happy with the build up of content! Should allow me to focus exclusively on my next project.

Mike @ The Financial Blogger says June 7, 2013

Jon, you are simply blowing my mind!

Content on your insurance site is growing like crazy!

The success you have with (My Case Study Website URL is Now Hidden) is quite impressive as well! how many keywords did you target to generate your traffic?

Small typo on May’s Security Guard Training revenues 😉

    Jon says June 7, 2013

    Yah the insurance site is coming along. Still need to get some solid promotion into it though.

    I really only targetted about 10 keyword “groups” or “categories” and then balanced content around those categories. My goal was the long tail traffic…no one keyword accounts for more than 2-3% of my overall traffic but I get traffic from thousands of long tail keywords I would have never thought of targeting.

John Shea says June 7, 2013

This is awesome Jon, I’m also enjoying the content on your list. Interesting to see the results of the loan website. Also interesting to see how you are so close to beating Pat’s niche site income.

    Jon says June 7, 2013

    Hi John, I am glad you are liking the list….anything I can do to make it more useful for you?

    Hopefully a good month next month and I will have 1/3 months in the bag.

    Thanks for the comment.

Sebastian says June 7, 2013

Amazing month, Jon ! 🙂

100 articles is really a lot. How do you find title for your articles? Do you also do keyword research?
Yesterday, I used your method to find cheap articles (in french, because I’m french :)). I hired one person and I’ll probably hire a second one. I’ll see the quality of content next week 🙂 !

Thanks for sharing

    Jon says June 7, 2013

    Hi Sebastian, 100 is a lot…I need to use other sites as inpiration for the article titles. I often pick a topic and then go to a popular finance magazine site and spin the titles to be relevant to the topic I picked. Typically I try and think through titles around one topic and come at it from 10 unique angles using other sites titles for inspiration. This way I can produce a bunch of titles quickly. I do do keyword research but I am not as digital about it as others.

Dan Mac says June 7, 2013

Great success Jon! I’m sure you will reach your goal in no time. I really appreciate you being so open with your experiences here and I have learned alot.

I was curious where do you find your CPA offers to promote?

    Jon says June 7, 2013

    Hi Dan – I am glad you find me sharing my story helpful.

    I use a few CPA networks…1 2. 3. ClickBank 4. Contact/apply to companies directly

Tung Tran says June 8, 2013

Amazing month John! Your business strategy is solid.

Unfortunately for me this month my site was hit 🙁
I’m trying to recover and plan for the future 😀

    Jon says June 8, 2013

    Tung, too bad to hear about your site, I hope you can recover rankings! How has the drop in rankings affected your traffic/earnings?

      Tung Tran says June 8, 2013

      Yes 😀 All the traffic and earning is gone…

ceejay says June 9, 2013

Great to see how possible it is to earn with CPA, i have earn virtually nothing with cpa, Congratultion.
@tung tran, where you affected due to the seo service you ordered from bhw?

Chris Guthrie says June 12, 2013

Great results on the website Jon. I have been casually checking your updates from time to time and am impressed with your earnings (especially in the difficult loan niche). Keep up the good work and honestly I think you can reach your goal faster if you really get after it. If you haven’t already consider drastically cutting your costs, dumping the day job and making the plunge into full time with websites.

I’ve been at it full time since 2009 and in my experience each year I’ve been basically able to double my yearly income (it’s getting a bit more difficult now and I may need to start hiring people if I want to keep growing) but just tossing that out there.

Good luck

    Jon says June 12, 2013

    Hi Chris, thanks for checking in. I have definitely thought about dumping the day job and cutting personal living expenses to the bone…if it was just me I was responsible for I would more seriously consider it. However, with my wife and son I need to be a little more on the conservative side. I also don’t dislike my day job and find a lot of benefits between the two…my lean online project management approach makes me better at my large multi-million dollar day job project management and vice versa.

    I have been following your stuff for a few years, happy to see you comment here. Thanks!

    Congrats on being able to double your income yearly.

Nick LeRoy says June 13, 2013

great job Jon! It’s great to see that you weren’t effected by penguin 2.0 and other algorithm updates. Love your implementation for e-mail optins too. I take it your sending the “follow up” e-mail with a link directly to your CPA offer? Sounds pretty nifty to me.

Good luck with your insurance website too. I have one insurance site that i’ve been working on but its definitely a niche that requires long term attention. Payouts are good too for each lead generated. I’ll be curious to read more about that as link building requires a lot of creativity in that niche. 🙂

Norm says June 16, 2013

Hi Jon,

Just found your blog, very inspiring aspirations you have.
Quite interesting reading your experiences with CPA and email makerting.

Good luck

    Jon says June 16, 2013

    Hi Norm, thanks for commenting, best of luck with your site!

learnersreference says June 20, 2013


I happened to stumble on your case study and I’m excited to see your perseverance that gave you good growth

All I’ve tried so far is adsense and amazon affiliate that doesnt fetch me more though my traffic is really good

I see that you have affiliation with CPA networks. Could you discuss more on the options like which CPA network to look for etc? I would like to give it a try

Also, while choosing niche will you look for CPA commission before choosing niche?


    Jon says June 23, 2013

    Hi, I definitely look to make sure there are viable CPA offers with a very large overlapping value proposition(what I mean by this is I want to find a good affiliate program and make sure my site is set up to sell the offer)

Priyank says June 25, 2013

Hey Jon,

Great case study this and lovely post.

Filled with curiosity, I entered my email to student loan application on your site. Surprisingly, I didn’t received any confirmation mail from Aweber. How’s that?

Another thing, I received your first mail titled “The 5 Steps To Receive A Low Interest Student Loan” but in the SPAM folder.

BTW, I am from India. Is that a reason mail is going to SPAM? Can you throw some light on this part of email marketing.

Actually I have a 3 months old site in Hair Loss niche attracting 150 visitors a day, very targeted. Still not making much money. Thinking to do something similar as I am newbie and learning the ropes form you, Spencer, Pat, Tung and Alex Becker.

Hope you can help me out.

Priyank, Your Indian Fan & Follower.

Andy says June 27, 2013

Hi Jon,

Congrats on the success of the site this month. I’ve just started following you after “learning the ropes” with Spencer. Have to say, I appreciate your more down to earth style than the other “gurus”!

Looking forward to the next post.

    Jon says July 3, 2013

    Hi Andy, I am glad you find my style down to earth. It’s definitely the goal…I think the trick is I know I am not a guru :). But if you find my stuff helpful thats awesome!.

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