[Journey] Scaling an Authority website to 10K a month (and beyond)


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Dec 18, 2010
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I decided to create this journey primarily to monitor my progress, but hopefully it can also serve as a motivation for some of you guys, plus maybe you can also motivate me a bit :).
It's a journey and a case study at a same time. Let's see where can it take me/us.

Basic background & overview:
- The website is 9 years old, evergreen niche
- Informative content, currently monetized with digital products & AdThrive
- Current stats - 339 informative articles + 80 other articles (sales pages, about stuff, etc)
- The best monthly income from this website so far: February 2020, $5,778
- The niche is quite heavily impacted by covid 19, but this should be a temporary thing.
- Goals: To at least double the number of informative articles by the end of 2020, and to reach 10K/month from this site in one year from now.
- No links will be built in the process. I will try to achieve the goal purely with quality content creation, on page SEO, and optimization for conversions (increasing the RPM of existing content). That's what maybe makes this an interesting case study...

GWMT, last six months:
GWMT screenshot.png
- notice the heavy drop in the middle of March when covid restrictions really started in US and other major English speaking countries. The situation is the same for all sites in this niche...

A bit longer background & overview:
This is actually the first website ever I started in IM as my own website (did SEO for clients before), back in April 2011.

I worked on it quite a lot at times, and did nothing at other times. For example: Entire year 2014 - 0 articles published, from May 2015 to August 2017 (over two years) - 0 articles published...

Why didn't I do anything on this website for such long periods of time?
- At certain periods I worked on other, smaller sites (MNS) in the same niche (had more than 30 at peak times), since back in the day it was easier to rank them, and they brought in vast majority of my online income. That's not the case anymore, of course, since MNS is almost a dead strategy...
- At other times I devoted a lot of time to traveling and non-profit ventures, not working in IM at all.

Why do I start this journey now?
Actually my original plans for 2020 were completely different. I didn't plan to work on IM much.
Had some offline business/non-profit plans in a certain country in the south of Europe which I love a lot.

However, due to covid situation I can't realize the plan this year... What's more, covid has a lot of impact on my other non-profit and personal ventures, so basically almost everything is stopped, and there's suddenly a lot of time to work on my authority website :) .

One of the lessons I learned in life is that there's nothing like an entirely good, or entirely bad situation (speaking about business, relationships, whatever).
Certainly it's a pity that I can't realize my original plans this year, but instead of crying and complaining I try to find something positive in the situation, and make the best out of it...
Perhaps it can be this journey :).

Other things and methodology of work
- I will write 80% of new content myself. 10% will be written by an expert in certain sub-niche of my niche, a guy I've been cooperating with for a long time. 10% I hope to actually sell as free/paid guest posts on my site :) (not starting any service or whatever, simply replying positively to a few serious outreach emails I get each month)...

- My main goal of this project is not making money, but building something of true value for people. When there is value, money will come. I've been following this philosophy a lot in my life, and so far it's been working. That's also one of the reasons why I will write 80% of content myself, becasue any writers I tried before (for this website and others, instead of the one guy I mentioned in previous paragraph) just didn't meet my quality standards. Either in writing style, or in expertise (mostly in both :) )

- The plan is to focus 80% of time on content writing for the rest of 2020 (20% on improving monetization and on page SEO). From January to April 2021, almost all focus will be on improving monetization (increasing RPM), since all new articles should be published by that time, and I will drop the frequency of publishing to 1 article/week.

- The journey should end by May 12, 2021

- Will try to update this journey daily, to keep track of my progress. However, there are days, sometimes more in a row, when I am simply offline, not touching my laptop at all. On such days I won't make any updates... I will make for it once back.
Will also try to post some interesting ideas at times, so you guys can also benefit from my journey, while working on your own projects.

That's it guys. If you have any question, do not hesitate to ask. I will try to answer everything relevant, but won't monitor this thread more than twice a day, simply to focus on the main work :).

P.S. If this journey ends up a success, I'll buy 3 people who post here (anytime during the duration of the journey) Jr. VIP, or any service of their choice from BHW of the same value. The members will be chosen at random once the journey ends (if it ends successfully).
Interesting journey. Have you tried Mediavine or any other Adnetwork? Are you happy with Adthrive?
Did you build any links at all for this site, on these years that passed?
And good luck on your journey
Thanks everyone for the nice wishes :). Some answers below.

Interesting journey. Have you tried Mediavine or any other Adnetwork? Are you happy with Adthrive?

I can't be more happy with them. The fact is that I didn't know about the existence of Mediavine or Adthrive (or other ad management company) before I got to 100K monthly page views for this site, so I applied with AdThrive already.
Before I used only Adesne, which was good many years ago, but now they pay peanuts...
Customer support and staff at AdThrive is perhaps the best I've even experience in any online cooperation. Very personal, fast answers, lot of insider info for members only.

Did you build any links at all for this site, on these years that passed?
And good luck on your journey

Not many really, at least in the last 4 years. Most of the links that were built before do not exist anymore, or they were devalued completely with newer Google updates. But certainly the campaigns in the early days of the website helped it to get some initial traction... I had success with different link building strategies back then, but won't recommend any of them in 2020 :).

How are you currently monetising the website ? Can you break down different income streams for the website ?

As I mentioned in my initial post, the current monetization in AdThrive + digital products (not affiliate). In February the ratio was about 50:50, but after the corona outbreak and changes in the Ad industry, for April my ratio was 75% of earnings for digital products, and just 25% from AdThrive. Occasionally I allow for a paid placement on this website, which is a small additional income ($150 in February, for example).

That's it for now, back to work :))
Update, May 12, 2020.

- Published 2 new articles, one 1,499 words, another one 1,747 words.
- Mark, the only writer I cooperate with for this project, published 1 new article on the domain, 1253 words.

- Special Tip: Today I signed up for Ahrefs 7 days trail, to do some additional keyword research. I am using only one tool from their arsenal, called Content Gap. See screenshot below:

content gap screen.png

If you do not know this tool, you should definitely check it out. What it does is showing keywords your domain is not ranking for, but some of your competitors are...

I purposely chose weak domains as my competitors (either weak metrics or weak content or both), and as you can see, just for search volume 300-500 monthy US searches, there are 43 keywords my website is not ranking for, but these websites are. Most of them have KW difficulty 0... so easy target.
Certainly not all of them can be used for my site, or have any decent monetization potential, but many of them do have some potential.

Will be doing this research with Content Gap tool for the next few days, with different competitors of mine (mostly weak websites). After few days I hope to have close to 1K new keyword ideas, and I will simply cancel my subscription. Not a bad deal, to find 1K keywords for $7...

If I need more KW in the future, I will simply start another trial with my other PayPal account, or with a credit card.

That's it for today. 3 new articles and about 60 new keyword ideas isn't a bad start to this journey, considering that there were times when I didn't publish anything on this domain for 2 years :)). See you tomorrow guys.
Never seen a chart like this before. Very interesting. It looks like your niche gets a spike every single weekend and then it drops until the next weekend. Is that correct?
Awesome journey for building high quality self-made content. @Kikerinka - How long does it usually take for your new articles to rank? Thanks!
If looking at the website background, this journey will jump to the target quickly. The good thing you know the niche well, so you don't need to outsource the contents. I will follow you, and good luck with your journey.
Thank you guys for your wishes! Some answers below:

Never seen a chart like this before. Very interesting. It looks like your niche gets a spike every single weekend and then it drops until the next weekend. Is that correct?

Actually weekends are my low days. Spike is from Monday to Thursday. Saturday is the worst. As you surely noticed on the chart, December (Christmas and stuff) isn't good for this niche either :).
But I am not worried about this at all. Each niche has some cycles.
The key is to focus on bigger picture, and not get lost in comparing daily earnings etc. I always try to look at things on monthly or quarterly basis, comparing current year to last year.

Awesome journey for building high quality self-made content. @Kikerinka - How long does it usually take for your new articles to rank? Thanks!

Anything from 2 months to 7 months. 80% of articles will eventually rank in top 10 for the main keyword (and many long tails)--without any backlinks. But I do some on-page stuff to help the process, and I will elaborate on it later during the journey.

I am a firm believer in Google sandbox, even for established sites. That's also one of the reasons why I set the time frame for this journey for one year, though I hope to reach my goal of doubling the amount of informative articles by the end of 2020. We will see the fruit of all this activity with a few months delay.

That's it for now guys, back to work :).
Update, 13th May 2020, Day 2 of the journey.

- 3 new articles published, 1318 words, 1394 words, and 1278 words. All written by me.
- Found another 80 content ideas with the help of Content Gap from Ahrefs (see my update from yesterday)
- Some positive movements in SERP today, especially for one important keyword (see screen below)
screenshot serpspy.png

Just like in everything else in business, 80/20 rules work. It means that 20% of your activities/products/keywords/whatever; typically bring in 80% of results (money, sales, etc).
The keyword that rose from position 6 to 1 today definitely belongs to that group.
I'd say it's one of my top 10 most important keywords (the article has one of the top 10 highest RPM from all articles on the domain...).

Now, it is quite hard to foresee the winners (the 20%) once you write content and try to monetize your website in various ways.
But once you discover the winners (you need some data and visits for that), you can certainly focus on bringing them higher. Happy that Google moved this one to top position today :).

That's it for now. So far very happy about the progress. Certainly maintaining this journey helps.
But we are still just starting out, and the most important thing is to stay consistent, and follow the plan until the end. Long way to go still...

Any questions guys, do not hesitate to ask. Have a great evening!
good luck for you

so why you dont try aff marketing ?
good luck for you

so why you dont try aff marketing ?

Thank you! I tried it, made several thousands with CB before. However, currently on this website I sell only my own digital products. That means 100% control, 100% profit, no shaving. In my opinion it is next level after affiliate. Why would I go back? :)

Certainly, if I was in B2B segment and had a chance to promote some product for businesses with commission per sale in 100s of dollars (or more), I would do that. But my niche is B2C, so this isn't my case...

What about your journey? Are you into affiliate marketing?
Update, 14th May, Day 3 of a journey

- Published three new articles, 1,401 words, 1,487 words, and 1,223 words. Had a clear mind and sharp focus today, very happy with the quality of writing.

- Continued KW research with Ahrefs, Content Gap tool. Added 82 new content ideas. I may focus on KW research more tomorrow since weekend is approaching and soon after that my 7 days trial with Ahrefs ends :).

- Got an email from a girl from a bigger outreach agency. She sent a link to a nice infographics (made for one of their clients), and asked whether we would not include it as a resource in one of our articles.
I replied that we won't include it, but if they send over a top-quality 1,500+ words article about the same topic, we will publish it for free, with the link to their client's website. Let's see if we get a positive reply or not.

That's it, let's see what tomorrow brings. Nice evening to everyone! :)
Update, 15th May 2020, Day 4

- Published 3 new articles, 1237 words, 1488 words, 1626 words. I also force-indexed them with Google Search Console, all three got indexed within seconds.

- Spent a few hours with KW research on Ahrefs, and added about 150 new content ideas. I also played a bit with their interface, checking their suggested organic traffic against real traffic numbers on different domains across my network. Must say that at least in this respect, ahrefs is superbly inaccurate. I have articles that in reality have 1K organic visits a month, and ahrefs estimates 50 organic visits...
Anyway, I didn't plan to use them much besides KW research (for that they do a good job), and once my trial ends, I'd happily say goodbye to them.

- Got one natural link from a tech blog today (discovered via pingback in WP). It's not a particularly strong domain but I read the article and the quality is decent. Maybe it's someone from BHW, starting a journey :).
GL to them anyway, grateful that they chose my website as a source, because for the particular information they refer to there are many other great sources in my niche.

That's it for today. Have quite a busy plan for both weekend days, but I will still try to publish at least 1-2 articles. Let's see how it goes.
Any questions, do not hesitate to ask :).
Cool man, following along on your journey.

I am just starting out on my own authority site and it boggles my mind that you can write so much in one day. I guess I'll build up to it eventually.
Cool man, following along on your journey.

I am just starting out on my own authority site and it boggles my mind that you can write so much in one day. I guess I'll build up to it eventually.

You surely will. In many ways writing is no different than any skill--the more you do it, the better you get, the more efficient.
Perhaps you won't become Conrad, Nietzsche or Dostoevsky, but that's likely not your goal anyway :)).

In my experience, the most important thing is to limit distractions, and keep your mind focused on one task only--in this case the article.

When I do not have to do the research part (an easier topic or I write from real life experience) I can now write a top quality 1,500 words article (including formatting, adding images, and editing, simply ready to hit publish and go) in 90 minutes.
But I must be focused on that only. It's an equivalent to being in the zone in sports or music, if you know what I mean... You do not even think consciously too much about the content, it simply comes out of something deeper within you... hard to describe it in words, but if you ever experience it you will know.

Anyway, good luck with your journey!
Update, 16th May 2020, day 5

- Published 3 new articles, 1268 words, 1273 words, 1687 words.

- Mark (the only writer I cooperate with on this project) published 1 article, 1460 words.

Here I want to stress that this isn't a typical cooperation with a freelance writer. Mark has an "author" level access directly to WP dashboard. He publishes articles without my intervention. He already has the list of topics from me, and once-twice a week publishes an article. Sometimes less often.

- Did little work with Ahrefs today, added just 8 or 9 new content ideas. Wanted to work more with it, but one girl (a friend) came becasue her Dell laptop stopped working. I identified the problem with the help of dell flash code (was LCD), opened the laptop but couldn't see anything apparent and could not repair it.
Then we talked for a long time and it's already 10:30 pm here... too late for me to work, let alone on Saturday :).

Originally I didn't plan to turn on the laptop tomorrow at all, since the schedule is packed and it's good to take a rest from all screens at least once a week.
But since my Ahrefs trial ends soon and I still do not have as many content ideas as I want to, I may spend at least one hour with their Content gap tool tomorrow (and perhaps do a short update to this thread).

That's it for now, have nice Sunday guys. Any questions, do not hesitate to ask :).
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