There's a lot of talk about ‘authority sites' vs. ‘niche sites.' And quite a bit of confusion as well.
Can a blog be an authority site? Can a site be ‘niche' and also an ‘authority?'
And does being an authority mean you have to be an expert?
The short answer to the last question: no. (Don't worry, there's more on this below).
To help clarify all these questions, we're going to analyze a site that is:
- A blog
- In a niche market
- That's also an authority in their market
Here's how one blog has grown to become a major authority in their niche, WITHOUT actually being experts on their topic:
What is Survival Life?
SurvivalLife.com is an authority blog in the ‘prepper' or survivalist niche by Ryan Deiss and the DigitalMarketer.com team.
Some people think a blog cannot also be an authority site. Not true and this is proof!
Survival Life IS a blog but it's also one of the number one sites in it's niche and considered an authority.
Some people also think a site cannot be ‘niche' AND authority too. Of course it can be, you can be an authority site in your niche!
The interesting thing about this Survival Life is it wasn't created out of passion for the niche but instead because the Digital Marketer team saw an opportunity to create an authority site that had huge profit potential.
What Is An Authority Site?
Before we look further at SurvialLife lets look at what exactly an authority site is as there's a lot of misinformation out there.
Here's what a real authority site looks like:
- A site with some of the best content in the niche covering all topics, questions and problems
- So good it gains natural links from around the web including other authorities in the niche, people outside the niche and press / media
- More than often the owner of the blog doesn't write the content himself but has a team of writers or pays already established names in the niche to write
- Huge followings on social media, blog post commentators and email subscribers
- Usually on a niche that is super enthusiastic and passionate
- On a topic that is in high demand and evergreen.
What Makes a Good Authority Site Niche?
- Competition – always a good sign as you've got a profitable market.
- Products on sale with affiliate programs – starting out you won't have your own products to sell so you need to see products on Amazon, Clickbank, CJ, ShareASale and so on and lots of them.
- Online communities – blogs, forums, social media groups, newsgroups so you can easily find your target audience, get content ideas, emulate success stories and network.
- High demand – high search volumes, lots of customer reviews on sites like Amazon, high conversion rates on digital products, enthusiastic and rabid buyers.
- Advertising – companies paying money to advertise. A sign of a healthy market if people are willing to spend to gain customers.
- Influential People & Big Names – well known people in the niche, big brands, niche stores with lots of followers, big name bloggers, people with huge social media followers and so on.
- Affiliates – lots of people already promoting products as affiliates in the niche. This is a great sign there's money to be made.
Why Was SurvivalLife Started?
To make money. Simple as that.
This wasn't started as a hobby blog or through passion.
It was started as the Digital Marketer team saw an opportunity to create an authority site that made a lot of money.
The reason why the niche is so profitable is because of enthusiastic followers who are rabid buyers, lots of products on sale, lots of demand and easy to find traffic.
This is a niche where people are hungry for information and products and willing to spend to get it.
Ryan Deiss and his team saw that opportunity and seized it.
You don't always have to be passionate about your niche (though it helps a lot especially when it's your first project) to make it a success.
You can approach your blog as a business instead of a labor of love. Your passion might not be that profitable, if at all, anyway.
How Much Does It Make?
$1 MILLION in sales every month and growing (Source).
This is an insane number from a blog. Something most bloggers couldn't even imagine.
And the reason is they treat the blog like a business, a media company, and not just like a ‘hobby blog' or a one man effort.
Ryan has talked about ‘The Oprah Factor' – she built her career around by inviting experts onto her show.
She wasn't an expert on any of the subjects but she knew people who were – thus making her an ‘authority' by associating herself with experts.
Note the difference between expert and authority. You too can be an authority without being an expert on the subject and use this to profit.
Lessons To Be Learnt
- You don't have to be an expert in the niche – just get into a passionate market where experts already exist and get them writing for you.
- The survivalist niche is a passionate niche with lots of experts.
- You can become an authority site even though you're not a big name in the market.
- Sell stuff or you'll never make money.
- Ideally pick niches where there's digital and physical products and don't be afraid to promote – people WANT to buy stuff.
- You don't need to write the content yourself – outsource it to those who know the topic well it's a win win for you and your readers.
You can read the entire case study at NicheHacks.