Authority Website Income

Pick a Problem and Build a Team – Phase 1 Six Figure Website Challenge

Our challenge to build a six figure website in 2015 is off to a good start with Phase 1 complete. Phase 1 is all about picking a niche and building a team…

  • The group I selected to be in the small mastermind with are all off to a great start! Very impressive group!
  • The public group has 273 members and every question someone has posted has received multiple fantastic answers from some of the active members of the group who also happen to be experts in their fields… Gael from AuthorityHacker, John den Haan head of SEO at Switched on Media, Philip Kleudgen, Jeff Fruhwirth and Dominic Wells from Human Proof Designs plus many more I didn’t mention. A big thank you to all of you who are making that group a success!
  • My project is well underway and the attack plan document (I shared the early details of here) is getting more and more details added to it with specific procedures for the different steps.

This post will cover both an update on how the project is going so far and what you can expect from me over the duration of the project.

What I Have Done to Date on My Project:

Following my “Attack Plan” document I have completed up to Phase 4.

This post will provide an overview of the set up Phase 1

Phase 1 – Set Up & Core Problem Identification

  1. Copy Attack Plan Document – Simple enough…to get early access to my attack plan go here to be notified as soon as I release the full version
    • six figure attack plan phase 1
  2. Identify a Core Problem to Solve – One change from a traditional niche site is that I am looking to focus on a core problem not focus on a main keyword. The keys for this core problem is that it is…
    1. Highly Competitive – The more competitive the better in my opinion (insurance, health, education etc are all great options)
    2. Clear Path to Monetization – The core problem you are looking to solve should easily solved with a product or service sold online that you can sign up for an affiliate program for. In addition the larger dollar value problem the better.
    3. Successful similar sites that can be beat – This is analogous to when we used to do when picking a keyword to go after and we wanted to see a thin niche site with weak backlinks on page 1. Now, we want to see highly successful sites that can be used for inspiration on posts, promotion and monetization.
    4. Content will help solve the problem – Since the sites are going to be so heavily focused on content it is important that the sites are able to provide value with that content. The core problem should be able to be partially solved with content and then ideally to finish solving the problem the purchase of a key product/service is required.
    5. Content advantage (able to produce better, cheaper or more then competitors systematically) – Will you have a content advantage? What I mean by this is are you able to leverage your team to create better/cheaper content (VA’s researching to produce EPIC posts, graphic designer to make custom images etc)
    6. Community exists to tap into white-hat link building opportunities. Without a community outreach will be impossible. So even if you can’t identify a perfect community it may make sense to adjust your angle so that you hover between your core problem and a community you can work with to generate links from.
    7. Able to grow into a business selling a service – This to me is not a must but it is worth thinking about. What kind of business or service can you turn your website into once you are generating the traffic we all want to be.
    8. TIP – Do not get held up at this stage! Pick a general niche and then you can refine your angle later. If you pick a competitive niche the selection of the perfect niche/problem is not going to make or break you it will be the execution! Save your mental energy for coming up with a unique angle and setting up the systems to ensure relentless execution of your strategy! This is no


  1. Start Org Chart – Based on the size of this project this is actually one of the most important parts to this project. Without the systems and a quality team to execute this whole project would fall apart.

My planned org chart is shown below. One thing you will notice is that this is no small website this is looking like a small business.


Some questions that came up at this stage that could be helpful for others…

  • How do you hire writers? See this post and you can follow it but increase rate to $5 to attract better writers?
  • How many writers work out? I would aim to have a 50% success rate.
  • Do non-native English writers produce quality articles? I am sure there are some but I have not had good luck with them. Stick with native English speaking writers whenever possible.
  • Should you have 1 writer do everything if they are willing? This is everyone’s call but my take is that I choose to set up a team with interchangeable parts so that ideally no one person if they quit could bring down the whole system!
  • Do I need a project manager? For me with a day job and other projects I definitely do. Other people could pull off being the PM themselves for awhile. This is a role which is somewhat new for my business and I was blown away with the quality of applicants that applied for this job. I am very pumped about the PM I have and am sure we will. In fact one of the other applicants was so good I am working to carve out a role for him in my team. Another benefit to using a PM is that when the project is successful and you wanted to replicate you would have someone who could help replicate.


How Much is my Six Figure Website Going to Cost?

I plan to produce high quality content daily, publish it with custom graphics and formatted to provide a WOW factor every time plus do some highly intensive manual outreach.

With all of the work I am planning on this project my burn rate is expected to be between $20-$30/day or roughly $500-$1000/month and at a minimum I am planning on running with this burn rate for 6 months. I hope to see success before then but I am mentally prepared to see no benefit for at least six months.

  • 1 article per day = $10/day (some will be less)
  • 1 hr management 5 days a week = $10/day (won’t work every day but some days more than 1hr)
  • 1 hr promotion = $5/day
  • 1hr graphic = $3/day
  • 1hr research/other VA tasks = $3/day
  • TOTAL = $31/day + 10% contingency = $1,000/month

How To Participate and Succeed in Building a Six Figure Website in 2015!

  1. Read the articles so far in the Six Figure Challenge
  2. Apply to join the Free Private Google Plus Group – Six Figure Website Challenge
  3. Sign up to be notified when the full attack plan is published and each Six Figure Challenge post is published
  4. Set up your own mastermind within the Google Plus Group members

Questions for you…

  1. How is your progress going?
  2. What do you want to see more of from me regarding this project?

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:

Philip Kleudgen says January 2, 2015

Hey Jon,

Thanks for this great update. I am also on my way to take the next step, but will only go with one writer for now.

It will be key to work consistently and I also hope to see results after six months.

Good luck to everybody!

    Jon says January 2, 2015

    Glad to hear things are going well with you!

Kristof says January 2, 2015

Hi Jon,
Sounds like a plan! Thanks for sharing
One question though, I currently pay my writers a minimum of 2$/100 words and that’s only after we told them we are just starting out. So how do you manage to find writers that do the research and produce quality, epic content for even less? Do you still use Filipino writers? Because we usually go for US, UK or Australian writers..

    Jon says January 2, 2015

    Hi Kristof, you will need to go through a lot of writers to find ones that are a good fit and wanting to work for the lower prices. It takes time and I as well go for US, Canada, UK or Australian writers.

Tito says January 2, 2015

Good article Jon.
You are one of the few people i do follow in my industry.
This year i will focus on one thing and that is make my site an authority.
One of my main target us build my tribe and build a list.
I am facing issue to be motivated so i keep coming back to your blog.
Its hard as so many shiny products are out there.
The real challenge is making the most out of this shiny products by integrating those products into your niche.

    Jon says January 2, 2015

    The shiny objects is always a challenge. I like using challenges like this to keep me focused on only a limited number of goals.

michael says January 2, 2015

Thanks for the update,
I am in the Google group and I look forward to seeing everything that everybody does and how this collaboration will benefit everybody. I was just looking to hire writers and a VA to help me on my other projects when you started this challenge. My question with this article is you mention each person for around 1 hour a day. Are these people that you already work with and you allocate time to this project or is this a completely new team that only gets 1 hour of work a day? As somebody starting out would you recommend hiring 1 VA work 4 hours a day or 3-4 different people with different skill sets?

    Jon says January 3, 2015

    Some of the people are new while some have been with me for awhile. Most of the key positions are all new Project Manager and Outreach in particular.

    For you I would recommend hiring 4 and then firing three and keeping 1 that works 4hrs/day to keep your life simple and then expand as you need to in the future.

Josh says January 2, 2015

Another great post Jon! Good to see you getting content out regularly again and this EPIC challenge is great!

The more I read you posts, the more I realize I need to build a team and the fact I have a handful of articles I have yet to publish (aiming for 1 a week right now).

Any tips for hiring someone to post the articles? Are you providing sample articles of what you want your post to look like, providing a video, or a detailed written plan for the VA?

Do you test the VA out a site like a free blog to make sure they meet your standards before posting on the authority site?

    Jon says January 3, 2015

    Hey Joshn, glad to be back posting regularly. Regarding the VA to post articles I definitely provide examples of what I want them to look like. I want to get to the point where each post type has its own procedure but I am not there yet.

    Also, testing with is a great strategy that I have done in the past.

      Josh says January 3, 2015

      Thanks for the reply! Posted my job! Going to follow your chart and see if I can’t build a small team out.

      Any plans on sharing the VA task plans that you will be using?

kent_cool says January 2, 2015

Hi Jon,

Great to see things are going smooth at your end. My main issue right now is whether I should turn one of my existing niche site into an authority site by following your plan or whether I should start everything from scratch…?
But as you said, execution matters…the only issue is that I don’t want to end up in june with the feeling I should have chosen this instead of that….

    Jon says January 3, 2015

    Hi Kent, this is definitely a valid question. If you have a site you are passionate about that is broad enough to turn into an authority site that hasn’t been damaged by bad backlinks then it is not a bad idea. A new project is inspiring and also provides me with an open slate to test my strategies from start to finish.

MSI Sakib says January 2, 2015

Hey Jon,
I got inspired from you to start my won niche blog. I have successfully launched my blog and working for it. However, I am working alone with my project as I can’t bear high cost. My aim is not building 6 figure blog but to build a 4 figure blog. Let’s see what happens.

Have a nice weekend. Cheers!
MSI Sakib

    Jon says January 3, 2015

    Good luck with your site!

Stuart Walker says January 3, 2015

Nice to see some progress with this. Have also been talking to Dom Wells about his project recently.

One thing I’m unable to understand is how you can possibly be getting authority website content using cheap ODesk / $10 writers.

I’ve paid for a fair bit of content and hired a fair bit of writers for everything from cheap keyword based content to high quality authority content.

In my experience you just cannot get anywhere near the quality for $10 per article that you require for a serious authority site that provides content those in the niche actually want to read and enjoy.

What you usually end up with is generic, often poorly written content, that isn’t fooling anyone with any experience in the niche, in my experience.

You need people with actual experience in the niche who can write with passion and authority on it to get content people want to share, link to, comment on and believe is written with real authority, again in my experience.

And that doesn’t come cheap.

I’m spending approx $1,500 per month on an average of 10 article for NicheHacks.

All my writers are experienced online marketers / freelance writers who know what they are talking about. When I’ve tried the cheaper writers it doesn’t work out.

Are you really going to be able to get the quality you need for the site to be seen as an authority site?

If you are then I’d love to know more about your process because it would be very worthwhile to know.

    Jon says January 3, 2015

    Quality of articleis an interesting concept.

    I think a lot of people believe it is the grammatical quality. If we had to break down what makes an article quality I believe it would be 1. Is it useful 2. Does it read well 3. Is it attractive easy to read (just making this up as I type so it could change). But my take is that if that generic writer who produces accurate information is given the research up front, emphasize that the article MUST solve the problem and then a lot of custom formatting and graphics is done to make it look like a high quality post…then it will be a quality post…even if on one measure grammar it isn’t magazine ready.

    Outsourcing articles for NicheHacks would be VERY hard to pull off because you are dealing with some complex problems so it makes sense that you are having to pay a large amount for them.

      Chance says January 3, 2015

      Jon, am struggling with understanding how you can pay such low rates for your writers. But I think your reply may have hit on the part that many of us fail to understand. Could you expand on what value your researcher provides, especially when it comes to the quality of the writers work?




      Stuart Walker says January 4, 2015

      For me a high quality and authoritative article looks like the following:

      1. Well written with good English and grammar.
      2. Can be backed up with facts and figures if need be
      3. Written by someone with experience in and passion for the niche so it can shine through in the content.
      4. Solves a problem above and beyond any other topics out there on the subject (e.g.
      5. Good formatting / easy to read / good use of images etc

      You talk about making it ‘look’ like a high quality post. Articles can look high quality on the surface but the article it’s self actually has to convince those in the niche, not just look good when skimming over it.

      I think this is where a generic, cheap, writer is going to fall down.

      Outsourcing articles for NicheHacks is NOT hard. It’s just that I have to pay for the quality (and I don’t have a problem doing so as it’s worth it).

      There’s no difference between NicheHacks and any other website, that I can see?

      There’s a thousand and one generic IM writers out there who’ll write ‘wishy washy’ articles on topics they’ve very limited real life experience in doing what they write about, I know because most of them applied for the job I posted on ProBlogger.

      I had guys applying who “specialized” in SEO who had clearly never ranked a site in their life and “list building expert writers” who didn’t have an email list.

      They could write articles that would convince a complete newbie or someone who didn’t know the niche but they aren’t fooling anyone else.

      I feel this is a problem you’ll run into too even with all the research and making the post look good. It’s hard without knowing your topic but with most niches there’s insider knowledge and stuff only known by those with experience and if you’ve got that experience you know almost instantly when reading an article whether the writer does or doesn’t.

      Plus the time it will take someone with little experience in the niche to find the problems people have and come up with real solutions will be sizable. All that research + writing is going to take a long time.

      I want to be proved wrong here because maybe my strategy for finding writers just needs refined.

      Personally I think you guys should have went the SurvivalLife authority blog model (it generates a million dollars a month in sales)….

        Jon says January 4, 2015

        Stuart thanks for the detailed feedback.

        One thing to clarify is that each article is to be useful to the reader…that is priority 1. It may not go as deep into the topic as an experts article would or be in publishing quality english but I aim to try and compensate as much as possible with better then any competitor formatting/look.

        Your point of view is very valid…I guess it ultimately comes down to cost and expected return.

        I believe the site would have a higher chance of success if I hired writers like SurvivalLife did…however as you experience with NicheHacks it is very expensive.

        My monthly burn rate would change from $1,000/month to 2x or 3x that.

        Eventually I aim to either turn my staff writers into experts (which will naturally happen if they are deeply involved in the topic) or bring on other staff writers with more experience in the space. But initially I believe the approach of keeping costs manageable and still producing useful but not industry leading quality articles is the right approach for me.

        Thanks for your insights with outsourcing articles for nichehacks.

          Stuart Walker says January 4, 2015

          I’ve been thinking about this / my own content needs today and a few post type that people love and could more easily be outsourced to a generic writer are list style posts, expert round ups and link round ups.

          Link round up post examples:

          They are really just a collection of links made to look nice with a brief description and some images / quotes from experts.

          Anyone can find the content to link to on Google. They both have several hundred social shares.

          List style posts you know well enough, the 34 ways to grow your email list post i linked to earlier as an example.

          Maybe that’s a bit more in depth than a generic writer coukd create but i based both those posts on much more basic posts that had ton of social shares and links so people would share them.

          And expert round up post you’ll know well enough from being featured in them. Most bloggers are willing to answer if someone outreaches to then properly so i think this cou l d be outsourced and compiled into a post easy enough. Its not hard to put the answers into a p I st and make it look nice.

          Are these type of posts part of your plan?

          I think I’ll look to get someone to do these type posts on a regular basis.

          Jon says January 5, 2015

          Stuart the niche dominating round up post is definitely a big part of the plan.

          I have completely outsourced succesfully in the past and will be using the procedure extensively on the six figure website challenge.

          Have a look at this post where I go into a lot of detail on the exact process and tool my VA uses to create these posts…

Haque says January 3, 2015

Thanks for sharing the plan and progress. I expect a good grip and understanding being in the know from beginning of the project. Will keep following the progress with keen interest.

    Jon says January 3, 2015

    Great…I hope to share all the details.

Viral says January 3, 2015

Hi Jon,
Great post – I am eagerly looking forward towards the results of this challenge! Question – what will the average length of the articles you post on the site be?

    Jon says January 3, 2015

    Average length will be 1,000 words with the occasional Niche Dominating post being 3,000+ words.

Larry says January 4, 2015

Nice outline Jon!
Can you outline what the promoter does, (i.e. the daily 1 hr promotion)

Thanks… looking forward to seeing how this goes.

John P. says January 9, 2015

Hey John

You did it again 🙂 This time im in.

I already applied to the google group and for the attack plan.I will be watching this closely and going along with you guys.I do have little time so i will outsource some of the stuff.

Can’t wait to see how this will unfold.Thank for doing this.

Michael T. says February 5, 2015

Hello John,

I just applied to join this challenge. I look forward to it.

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