Interviews with Successful Online Marketers & Entrepreneurs

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Building Authority Websites With Part Time Ted

Today I am sharing another written interview with part time Ted who runs the blog I ask him several questions about authority websites and what’s working for him today.

Checkout the interview:

1.    What got you interested in online marketing? Share your story.

I can’t remember the year exactly, but it was in the mid to late 1990’s when doing business on the web really began capturing my interest.  I was already involved in running my own traditional brick and mortar business (computer sales and service) in my local community.   Because of that full time involvement in that business, I really did not have the time to fully pursue the ideas I had come up with for any website based businesses.

As the desktop computer industry continued to mature (around 2003-2005), I began seeing the writing on the wall.  The computer industry was changing in a bad way due to the constant falling prices of consumer electronics.  It was putting pressure on profit margins for hardware and for selling services.   Employees demanded higher wages, yet consumers demanded lower prices.   It was a collision course that resulted in the death of many small mom and pop IT businesses over the next 6-8 years. 

Fortunately, because my business specialized more on service than on sales, we survived.  I realized the writing was on the wall though.  You either had to get into specialized IT services or else be forced out of business.  There was no way I was going to allow myself to become the equivalent of a television repairman.  That is not how I want to make a living.

So, I made a decision to start exploring the possibility of branching off into some kind of online business as a way to diversify my business operations.    At first I thought about running a content farm similar to what and other article directory sites were doing.   That looked like easy money.   Publish articles from anyone decent.  Monetize organic website traffic using Google Adsense.

I tried to build a website based on that model but fell way short on execution.   The next thing I tried was building niche sites.   The niche sites were small article bank style websites centered around one core niche.   I would produce ten articles all around one general topic idea and publish them on a domain.   I would build links to the pages and make money by monetizing the sites with Google Adsense and organic search engine traffic.

That business model worked to some extent, but I wasn’t making much money compared to the amount of work I put into it.   I was investing huge amounts of time and getting paid pretty lousy based on that time investment.  I kept doing it though because it did make some money.

One day I decided to build a website that had to do with my regular line of work as an IT guy.   People respected my opinion about computer equipment because I had so much experience in the field.  And business owners respected my opinion about what equipment they needed in certain specific situations.   I was constantly answering their questions for free and offering them advice that I didn’t get compensated for.   So, the thought occurred to me that I could build a website that would answer those questions for them.   My idea was that this website was going to save me time and aggravation at work because I could tell people to go visit that website for the information they wanted.  At the time I honestly had no intent on making money with that site; none whatsoever.

Once the site had been up and running for a while, the thought occurred to me that I should throw Adsense on it.  I figured it would at least pay for my hosting costs on that site and maybe a little more.

That is when I had the most pleasant surprise ever.  My Adsense earnings from that site skyrocketed compared to what I had been making.   This one little site that I had built, purely out of necessity, began making about one thousand dollars per month.   I thought I had hit the jackpot.  

The key difference between the lousy sites I had been building and this one great earning site was that the good site was built with the intent to educate people about something they really wanted to learn about.   I didn’t realize how much demand had existed for that information.  That little site got over 1,000 unique visitors per day and made that kind of money.   The site wasn’t even monetized very well.   That is when I knew I had a winner.

Even if I had not come across that business model, I probably would still be building crappy little niche sites taking whatever I could get.   But I am glad that I found something that worked so much better.   That is what really hooked me into this online business world.   That is what led me to the discovery of the business model that I show people on my website called   I build small authority sites now instead of trying to make money with the old fashioned article bank niche site business model.   The authority sites are still niche based article websites, but they are created in a certain way using a certain mindset that allows them to succeed where other niche sites fail.

2. What are your thoughts today on people who decide to build “Niche Sites” vs. “Authority sites”? 

I don’t blame people for building niche sites the old fashioned way because I would probably still be doing that if I hadn’t discovered an easy way to build authority sites.    But, now that I know about authority sites, I can’t imagine ever building those old “untargeted” niche sites ever again.

You see, people think that niche sites are targeted well enough because they are about one niche.   But, they are not targeted well enough.   In order to really attract an audience you have to solve a problem for that audience.  You have to actually help the reader.  If your site just talks about a topic without actually solving a problem for someone, then there is no reason for a person to want to come to your site.  And there is certainly no reason for someone to tell their friends about your site.

In order for a site to succeed with free traffic these days, the site has to provide an important benefit that people are out there looking for.  If you can identify something very important to them that they are looking for; something that they really want; then you can build a site that gives them whatever that is.

That makes the visitor happy.  That makes them spend time on the site.  That makes them tell their friends about it.   That results in lots of free traffic from referrals and from search engines.   That is the recipe for niche website success.  It can’t just be a niche site.  It has to be a site that honestly solves a problem by focusing on that as the primary goal of the site.   It has to be a site that has enough perceived authority about that topic to instill a sense of trust and appreciation in the person who visits it.  

If your site doesn’t do that, then you are stuck trying to force traffic to the site somehow.  You will fight a never ending uphill battle trying to get traffic to the site.  You won’t make money.  It will drive you crazy.

That is why I quit building plain old fashioned article bank style niche websites and starting building authority sites that solve problems for people.

3. What are some of your top tactics for growing an authority website? SEO, Paid Search etc..?

If an authority site is well built where it actually conveys the benefit to the visitor as soon as the visitor arrives on the website and actually delivers that benefit, then that site is almost destined for success no matter how hard you promote it or which methods you use to start promoting it.  It will just be a matter of time and determination on your part.

I personally like to rely on search engine optimization a lot, but I do it a bit differently than most people do.  The first thing I do is try to build a website that I believe search engines will want to rank high and one that people will want to find in the search results.

You can do that by making sure you get the on-page SEO stuff right.  Be thorough with each page as you cover a different related topic.  Do a lot of internal linking within the site itself to horde a lot of the site’s PageRank.   Build some inbound links doing guest blogging without going crazy about it.   That sets the site up for success once it starts gaining popularity.

Then you can start bringing in a little traffic with the intent for them to generate referrals.   One way to do that is to visit a few forums where the target audience already hangs out so you can introduce the website to that audience.   Participate in interviews like I am doing right now.   Meet some bloggers who write about your industry and get them to mention your site to their audience if you can.  That is about it.  You do a little bit here and there over a period of time.  I almost never buy paid traffic to an authority site.   You don’t have to if the site is built properly.

You see, when someone who wanted that information (badly enough) actually comes across the ultimate source of information about that topic, then they tend to share that information with other people they know who want that information.  

If you pick your niche right, then the information spreads like wildfire.   It spreads very rapidly and the site becomes successful in a matter of months.   If you pick a niche where people don’t want the information badly enough, then you are stuck doing lots and lots of website promotion to get people to come to the site.

So naturally I try to find the hotter niches that are untapped.  And believe me, there are lots of untapped micro-niches.   You just have to have an eye for spotting demand.  You have to find situations where people just can’t find the real information they are looking for.   Then give it to them.  If you get that right, then your site is really, really easy to promote.

4. Can you share some example authority sites you have built and the results you accomplished with them so far in terms of traffic and revenue?

Well, this is a bit of a conundrum.   I know that the best earning websites are a secret in this industry.   It happens that way for a reason.  The reason is because the site owner likes making that money.   If you discovered a secret farm that sold geese who lay golden eggs, would you run around telling everyone about it?

I do share a non-monetized website that is a perfect example of how I build money making websites.   That website is my website.   It serves as a perfect example of the way I like to build sites.  You can download my entire business model for free by visiting that site.   I show you exactly how I do it.  I teach you exactly how I do it.  And I do that completely free of charge without any tricks or gimmicks.  I just give the knowledge away.

As far as traffic and money goes, I have learned that the intent and mindset behind the traffic that arrives at your site is far (far) far (far) more important than almost anything else.  There are a lot of people out there still focusing on things like search volume when picking out niches.   I let them go compete with other people for that.  I will happily take on a lower volume niche with very highly motivated visitors who will buy what you sell.  You do not need very much traffic to build a profitable website.

I have also learned that a relatively small website can be made extremely profitable, (four figures per month), just by getting one page on the website to rank well for a highly commercial, higher volume search phrase.   That one page alone can make a site a huge winner when it would be a total loser otherwise.

The amount of money you make will depend on how well you selected your niche.   It also depends on luck to some extent.  I have had niches turn into winners that I thought would never earn squat.  And I have had sites I was convinced would be winners end up not even earning a measly ten dollars per month.   It all depends on the niche.  It depends on how bad people want that information.  It depends on how many people want that information.  It depends on how well your monetization method matches the audience your website attracts.   All of those things can make or break a site.

5. What are your future plans for 2014 and beyond?

You would think I would just go on building niche sites like I have been.   And I probably will to some extent.  So far I still am building them.   But, I am looking for ways to build leverage into my business model as my ambition to keep churning out new sites is beginning to wane a bit.

With my existing business model it is literally a one man operation.  I could outsource a lot of it, but I usually don’t.  I like being very hands on.  When I outsource I tend to micro-manage my people and end up unhappy with the outsourced work.   There are certain things I am very picky about because of my knowledge about converting website traffic from lookers into buyers.   You have to be picky about certain things to get conversions.   By outsourcing you lose some control over being really picky.

I am trying to build systems into my business model that can be duplicated more easily and consistently by other people.   I am also looking for ways that I can bring other people into my business under the right circumstances where everyone’s purpose is fully aligned.

Part of the reason I launched the Authority Blog Starter Kit website and even my website is because I wanted to expand my social circle on the internet.   I like to meet other business minded people.   Even though I am quite introverted most of the time, I do honestly like to meet and chat with other smart people.  So, I am hoping that as I meet more and more other people in this online business world, that opportunities are going to present themselves where I can work with other people for mutual benefit.

It has always been a dream of mine that one day I would work myself into a position where I can go work with my best friends every day.  What workplace scenario could possibly be better than that?   And if I can find a way to leverage it at the same time so that my income goes up by a factor for 2x, 3x or 10x then I will be that much happier.

Those are the things I really hope to accomplish in the future.   I invite you and everyone else reading this interview to pop by one of the websites I mentioned and say hi.  Let’s connect.  If you think the idea of building authority sites sounds promising, jump over to my website and download my starter kit.  If nothing else, you will get to see exactly how I do it.  You are bound to pick up something useful from doing that.  Who knows, maybe you and I will hit it off and end up working together one day.

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About John-Shea

Internet Marketing Entrepreneur