I’ve got an itch.
It’s been a few years since I launched a new site, and the “builder” in me can’t wait another second to dig into a fresh project.
Starting today, we’re launching a new authority site case study!
We’ll be sharing regular updates that include:
- The strategies, frameworks, and tools we use to build and manage the website
- Any roadblocks we hit along the way, and the steps we take to resolve them
- Traffic and income updates as we progress
This is going to be a team effort. The WordAgents crew (David, Tommy, and Vin) will be taking a “divide and conquer” approach to all of the tasks necessary to get the site to break even as quickly as we can.
We’re firmly committed to earning $1,000 in monthly revenue by the end of 2023.
If we’re able to hit that goal, we’ll look to scale further until we’re a dominant brand in our niche.
Case Study Overview
Here’s a breakdown of our approach to launching the revenue-generating website and a preview of what you can expect to learn in future updates.
It’s important for us to share our goals for the authority site with you.
It wouldn’t be much of a case study if we failed to define what success looks like.
After several deep, heady conversations about where we wanted to take this project, we came up with several S.M.A.R.T. goals that we can use to hold ourselves accountable.
Here’s what we came up with for 2023:
- Publish 200,000 words of high-value content across 50-100 articles
- Earn at least 50 relevant backlinks using our link building framework
- Launch an email marketing funnel by the end of June 2023
- Earn $100 per month by the end of June 2023
- Earn $1,000 per month by the end of December 2023
We feel that these goals represent a healthy mix of challenges for us to reasonably overcome while being realistic about how much time and energy we can commit to this considering other business and personal obligations.
Beyond the first year, we have a single vision and mission to drive us forward. We want to become the most value-driven, useful website in our niche.
If you’ve ever built an affiliate website, you know that managing expenses is paramount to achieving success.
New tools, expensive contractors, and other unnecessary shiny objects can add up quickly and extend the time it takes to reach profitability by weeks, months, or even years.
Here’s a breakdown of our budget for 2023:
- Content Creation (200,000 words): $12,000
- Link Building: $10,000
- Tools & Services: $5,000
Based on our goals for the year, we should be able to stay within these boundaries plus or minus a few percentage points.
We’ll be using WordAgents writers and editors for content creation, but we still need to figure out graphic design and any experts we might need to hire for E-A-T purposes.
Link building will be done primarily in-house by David. We still need some budget here for any link prospects demanding compensation for a placement. If we come up short on our goal for links in-house, we’ll use any excess link budget to outsource link acquisition to a high-quality service.
It’s looking like we’ll stay within our tools and services budget. Most of those expenses are front-loaded to the initial phases of the project and should be quite minimal once we reach our stride.
In full transparency, we won’t be including info product costs and some tool expenses in our budget or P&L. A lot of these things have already been purchased for previous projects. Some of them are covered by WordAgents. We’re going to leverage these items when we can to keep costs down.
It’s also worth noting that any revenue generated from the website will be reinvested into the project. It’ll be quite a while before we start putting earnings in our pockets. If we want this to be a dominant brand in the niche, we’ll need to reinvest for the foreseeable future.
Now, I’ve had some success building and flipping affiliate websites in the past. My old portfolio of niche websites afforded me quite a nice lifestyle as a twenty-something.
But, things change, strategies become commonplace (or obsolete), and industries consolidate.
In order to not “reinvent the wheel” in today’s SEO landscape, we’re going to supplement my existing set of processes with widely available frameworks to kickstart the project and reduce inefficiencies wherever we can.
Here are a few places I’m pulling information from:
- AuthorityHacker T.A.S.S. / Pro - Mark and Gael have been able to get the authority site creation process as close to “paint-by-numbers” as seemingly possible. They “walk the talk,” and I have full trust in their approach.
- TheAffiliateLab - I just recently joined Matt Diggity’s TheAffiliateLab to scope out the module on Topical Authority. There are a ton of frameworks in there that I plan on cherry-picking.
- TrafficThinkTank - Nick, Ian, and Matt have put together one of the best communities of professional digital marketers in the industry. I’ll be going here often for answers if we hit any roadblocks.
- Fat Graph Content Ops - Nick Jordan and the crew from Workello / Cluster.ai have a wonderful Facebook group that focuses on strategies related to operational systems, topical authority, content velocity, and minimal links. Their approach offers a fresh perspective that helps me think outside the box.
- ScottDelong.com - I’ve been following Scott since his ViralNova days. His approach to revenue-generating websites focuses on getting into profit as quickly as possible via paid social advertising and email marketing. We might try his Facebook strategy once we have some revenue to reinvest.
We’re going to select processes and strategies from these outlets that are relevant to us and combine them with our special sauce to develop our long-term operations documentation.
Tools & Services
We want to be managers of this business, not tacticians.
Between managing day-to-day operations at WordAgents, developing our product roadmap, and staying on top of a few other projects we’ve got in the works; it’s going to be essential to leverage tools and delegate to services whenever possible (within budget).
Here is our initial list of tools and services we’ll be using for the new authority site:
- Registrar: Namecheap
- CMS: WordPress
- WordPress Theme: GeneratePress
- Hosting: SiteGround
- Topical Map Creation: TopicalMap.com
- Keyword Research & Competitive Analysis: Ahrefs
- Content Creation: WordAgents
- Plagiarism & AI Content Detection: Originality.AI
- Content Optimization: SurferSEO
- Prospect List Cleaning: useArtemis
- Email Marketing & Link Building: MailWizz
- Contractors: Upwork
This list will expand and grow as we get deeper into the study. We’ll need more WordPress plug-ins. There may be a need for specialized contractors. If we’re not able to generate links at the volume we want, we may need to tag in a few buddies to help us out. We’ll let you know what we add to the list as we go.
We’re breaking this project down into distinct phases so that we can set clear milestones that will (should) help keep us on track.
Here’s a breakdown of the schedule we hope to keep in 2023:
- Phase 1: Preparation and Research - December ‘22: Includes niche brainstorming and selection, topical map creation, site & URL architecture, branding, and general keyword research.
- Phase 2: Infrastructure - December ‘22 - January ‘23: Includes selecting a domain name, setting up hosting and a CDN, applying branding, design and theme customization, applying site architecture, creating post/page templates, setting up tools and plug-ins, and optimizing MailWizz for link building campaigns.
- Phase 3: Editorial System Build-Out - January ‘23: Includes development of editorial roles, project management system setup, developing content templates, developing an editorial calendar, editorial operations documentation, “hiring” writers and editors, and QA checklists.
- Phase 4: Content Production & Link Building - February ‘23: Includes creation of content briefs, ordering initial content from the editorial team, publishing, creating and cleaning link building lists, developing an outreach email series, and running a link building campaign.
- Phase 5: Monetization - March ‘23: Includes applying to affiliate programs and display ad networks, updating existing content with affiliate links, and implementing display ads on the website.
- Phase 6: Email Marketing - March ‘23: Headed by Tommy (our resident marketing wizard), this includes the development of opt-in forms, lead magnets, an autoresponder series, and ongoing monetized email campaigns.
- Phase 7: Traffic Leaks & Social Marketing - June ‘23: Includes traffic generation strategies outside of link building and paid advertising.
- Phase 8: Scaling & Maintenance - July ‘23: Includes general maintenance of our operational systems, split testing, and otherwise tweaking processes for efficiency and scale.
In real life, it’s tough to stay on a linear schedule like this. Our proposed timelines are mostly for us to keep an eye on our progress, and to let us know if we’re grossly off-track with any of our efforts.
It’s more than likely that we’ll jump into parts of new phases before others are complete. That’s just the way it goes.
We’ve been chipping away at this since the beginning of December, so we’re already neck-deep in this project.
For the first few months, there will be a lot of action as we get the website off the ground. I anticipate weekly case study updates each Friday as we go through the initial phases.
Towards the Spring of ‘23, things will slow down a bit as we wait for rankings and chip away at our link building campaigns. At that point, we’ll probably slow updates down to once or twice per month.
For our update next week, we’ll be covering the process we went through to brainstorm and evaluate viable niches!
And, hey… life gets crazy. Make sure you drop us your email address so that we can send these updates to your inbox as soon as they’re released!
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