Business Overview

Getting good information on the Internet is tricky. Anyone can publish anything with a cheap hosting account and a domain name. An authority website stands above the noise by providing detailed, honest, and trustworthy information about a specific topic.

It makes money through affiliate products and promotions and by advertisements on the site. A model authority site, such as Dr. Axe, provides people looking for health advice with articles, workout routines, healthy recipes, and more. This is not to be confused with a niche website, which has much less content, and may or may not have the same level of quality.

Who is this business right for?

This kind of business is ideal for individuals who are passionate about a subject, love writing and reading about it, and have good managerial skills. Since authority sites are so large, they are rarely run by just one person. Usually, the owner delegates a variety of tasks to other people, with many of the tasks outsourced to independent contractors and content creators.

This business is very flexible due to the fact that content scheduling, and all business-related activities, can be done on a flexible schedule. Most authority site owners don't have to meet face-to-face with clients or customers on a daily basis, if ever.

What happens during a typical day at an authority website?

A typical business day is spent creating content and managing the editorial calendar. When the site is just starting, the owner may be directly involved in creating the content. As the site grows, however, the owner will become less involved in the day-to-day operations and will instead oversee an operations manager.

What is the target market?

The target market is the general population and specifically Internet users. Since authority websites make money primarily through ad revenue and affiliate sales, it's doubtful you'll ever have to speak to any of your site visitors or "customers."

How does an authority website make money?

Authority websites make money through a combination of selling affiliate products, in-house products, and direct-placement advertisements or media placements.

Affiliate products and online media ads are the most common.

An authority site owner signs up to become an affiliate with a major brand or website so that it can resell its products or services. The authority website never handles customer information. Instead, it simply refers business to its partner business.

The authority site receives a credit for every purchase made by a referral. Affiliates typically earn money as a commission or percentage of the total sales price of products or services they're reselling. Commissions vary by company and industry.

For example, a product that sells for $100 may have a commission rate of 10%. This means whenever the authority site refers business to a partner business, and that referral buys something from the partner business, the authority site receives a commission in the amount of $10.

Another way authority sites make money is by selling their own products. Usually, a product will be an online product, like an ebook or ecourse that can be easily downloaded from the website. In some instances, the authority website will sell services, however, this is rare.

A third way authority websites make money is by hosting ads on the site. These ads can be in the form of pay-per-click ads (e.g. Google AdSense) or in the form of direct media placements. A media placement is when an authority website negotiates for the placement of an ad either directly with an advertiser, bypassing third-party promoters, or with an established media ad agency that works directly with a company or advertiser. Direct media placements can be very lucrative for authority sites. However, most ad agencies and companies will only consider direct media placements on sites with established high-volume traffic patterns.

What is the growth potential for an authority website?

Growth potential for an authority site is good, provided the site can secure the content, revenue streams, and affiliate products to make the site work. Since everything is hosted and handled online, the theoretical upper limit for growth is infinite.

Authority sites, by definition, are large websites. They cover a wide range of topics in an industry. For example, an authority site may cover a variety of topics on health and fitness. Or, it may cover topics on personal finance. Or, it may cover travel topics.