#1 Trick for Identifying the Best Monetization Strategy [Authority Internet Business]

You need to do one thing before staring an authority business:

Identify your long-term monetization strategy.

Unfortunately most people fail to do this.  They’ll spend weeks on a site and then wonder how it will make money.

In this edition of the Authority Internet Business (AIB) case study, I’ll cover how to monetize a website.

Specifically I’ll detail a simple trick you can use to find the best way to make money in any market.

But first, I’d like to talk about an important rule for building an authority site.

[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]STOP Trading Dollars for Nickels[/title]

If you’re like me, then you love those case studies that show how to build a niche site from scratch.

While these case studies are very helpful, they rarely emphasize long-term income strategies.

Typically they only make money through Google Adsense or Amazon Associate links, which is something you want to avoid.

In my opinion:

[quote type=”medium” align=”left”] The niche site model trades dollars for nickels (Tweet this!) [/quote]

Each web visitor provides an opportunity for a long-term relationship.  This is someone who could join an email list, review your Kindle books, download your apps and basically support everything you do online.

Encouraging that person to “click away” from your site is like trading dollars for nickels.

Sure you’ll make money, but you’ll also lose that person forever.

[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]The #1 Trick – Focus on Building Assets [/title]


This single word will make or break your authority business.

Think of it whenever you’re working.  Take a minute and ask yourself: “Am I trying to make money or am I building an asset?”

Your goal with an authority business is to take action … today … that will have a positive outcome ten years from now.

That’s why I recommend you get rid of the “Adsense mindset” and focus on building an audience of people who will:

  • Join your email list
  • Share your content
  • Support your multimedia content (YouTube videos and podcasts)
  • Download and review your Kindle books
  • Download and review your mobile apps
  • Take action on your affiliate marketing recommendations
  • Purchase your coaching, consulting or freelancing service
  • Buy your information products

My goal with the AIB case study is to make you think of the long-term value of each website visitor.  They’re not just people who will click on ads or buy products from Amazon.  They have the potential to become future partners who will support your business.

[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]7 Ways to Make Money with an Authority Site[/title]

As you probably know, there are hundreds of ways to make money with a website.   Unfortunately most don’t have the potential to become long-term assets.

That’s why I recommend you focus on seven primary ways to make money:

  1. Information products
  2. Affiliate marketing
  3. Coaching/consulting
  4. Kindle publishing
  5. Software and app programs
  6. Freelancing
  7. Advertising

What you pick depends on your personal preferences.  The key here is to select monetization methods that turn casual visitors into long-term fans.

[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]Identify Your Most Wanted Response (MWR)[/title]

You can’t be everything to everyone.  Instead, limit what visitors can do to a handful of actions.  This can be done by identifying your MWR, which stands for Most Wanted Response.

MWR is a list of actions that you want people to take once they land on your site.  The trick is to keep these options limited.  Give people too many choices and they’ll pick none.  This is called paralysis by analysis.

In a way, the MWR acts as a decision hierarchy.  You want a new visitor to do the first action, but if he or she doesn’t, then you provide an alternative that’s still mutually beneficial.

So if your goal is sell Kindle books, then your MWR will be:

  1. Subscribe to an email list
  2. Buy Kindle books
  3. Leave reviews on Kindle books

Or let’s say you’re an affiliate marketer, then your MWR will be:

  1. Subscribe to an email list
  2. Buy affiliate products
  3. Click on an advertisement

Finally, let’s say you’re a freelancer, then your MWR will be:

  1. Subscribe to an email list
  2. Buy a freelancing service
  3. Sign up for coaching or consulting

Notice how the first action is always “subscribe to an email list.”  This should be your number one goal – no matter what type of authority business you’re building.  (As this case study evolves, you’ll see why email marketing is super important.)

[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]The MWR for DevelopGoodHabits.com[/title]

Let’s talk about how to apply MWR in a real-world setting.  Specifically, here is the current MWR for my authority site, DevelopGoodHabits.com:

  1. Subscribe to an email list
  2. Download and review my free Kindle books
  3. Download and review my free iPhone apps
  4. Buy affiliate marketing offers
  5. Become affiliates for my information products

Obviously, list building will be the primary focus.

So let’s talk about the #2 and #3 MWRs – downloading/reviewing apps and Kindle books.

In the last six months, I’ve learned a simple truth about these two income strategies:

[quote type=”medium” align=”left”] Reviews = Money (Tweet This!) [/quote]

There is a direct correlation between positive reviews and income on Amazon and Apple.  If a book or app gets a lot of reviews, then it’ll probably get a lot of downloads or purchases from the internal traffic on these websites.

My goal is to offer great content through the blog and email list.  Then I’ll continue this value exchange by offering useful apps and Kindle books.

From there, it’s not hard to ask users to review something that helps them improve their habit development.  In turn, these reviews will help users (who don’t know about DevelopGoodHabits.com) discover and buy my offers.

This is the strategy that has worked for my existing line of Kindle books, so I’m confident it will work for DGH.

Next, there is #4 on the list of MWRs – affiliate marketing.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a strategy for this monetization method.  So far, the plan is to link to any product that I use and like.  That’s it for now.

Finally, there is #5 of my MWRs – information products.  Eventually (maybe in 2014), I’d like to create offers that provide full-blown, habit development solutions.  In theory, I’ll create an offer and then leverage my forthcoming personal development network to build an affiliate program.

[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]Putting It All Together[/title]

I don’t claim to have all the answers.  Really, the purpose of the AIB case study is to build a long-term asset, using the lessons I’ve learned over the last ten years.  That’s why the following is “phase 1” of my monetization strategy:

  • The DGH blog will be the focal point of my business.  It will send traffic to the iPhone apps, Kindle books, email list and assorted affiliate marketing offers.  It will get internal traffic from these same places.
  • The email list will be built through the blog, Kindle books, iPhone apps, information products and other sources of web traffic.
  • The Kindle books will be fed traffic from the blog, email list and internal Amazon searches.  They will funnel readers to the blog, related iPhone apps and email list.
  • The iPhone apps will be fed traffic from the blog, email list, Kindle books and internal iTunes searches.  They will funnel readers to the blog and email list.
  • The affiliate marketing offers will only get traffic from direct mentions in blog posts.  The only exception is I might create a few autoresponders that promote blog posts with embedded affiliate links.
  • Information products will be a long-term strategy.  So I’m not entirely sure how they’ll relate to the habits market.  For now, I’ll start building relationships with other authorities in this niche and hope they’ll be interested in my affiliate program sometime in the future.

Like I said, this is phase 1 of my monetization strategy.  Odds are, this plan will have many iterations and updates as I move forward with the AIB case study.

[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]Design Your MWR – Starting Today![/title]

That’s the monetization strategy for DevelopGoodHabits.com.

Now it’s your turn.

Right now, start thinking about how you’ll make money with your authority site.

Ask these questions:

  • Do I want to offer a coaching, consulting or freelancing service?
  • Should I publish books on Kindle?
  • Do I want to promote affiliate marketing offers?
  • Should sell my expertise through information products?
  • Do I want to build apps or software programs?
  • Should I offer advertising?

Take a close look at your market and figure out how you’d like to make money.  These should neatly fit with your personality and preferences.

For instance, I don’t like to do coaching or consulting because it trades my time for money.  Instead, I’d rather focus on building long-term assets.

Once you have a few monetization ideas, rank them based on your idea of the perfect business.  So if you’re a writer, then it would make sense to design a MWR that emphasizes list building, Kindle books and information products.

Take time today to do this exercise.

Plus, leave a comment below and detail what you’re currently doing to make money with your authority website.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Take Action. Get Results.

27 thoughts on “#1 Trick for Identifying the Best Monetization Strategy [Authority Internet Business]”

  1. Hi Steve,
    You’re just hit the nail on the head and all you said here are nothing but the truth. There is a huge gap between and authority and a niche site and the difference is just what you said about the long term asset.

    Selling information products, affiliate marketing and the other methods you mentioned here are really what most people are using today but, i think its best to test and find out what works for you and then stick by it.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Definitely. Sticking with your natural preference is a crucial part of an authority business. This is something you’re building for the long-term. So you have to focus on assets and frankly, what you enjoy doing on daily basis.

  2. A very cool and informative post as usual Steve,
    I can’t agree more to all you said here and you’ve really said it all. I’m also one of those guys that loves following up with niche site projects. In my own opinion, i think it takes less time to make money with a niche site than an authority site, but authority site is better because of its long term value.

    I’m also one of those guys that started my blog without having any monetization method but, its ok because i never know much of the things that are involved as of then.

    My main monetization method before was Google adsense but, they just disabled my account and I’m still trying to find another good way i can use to monetize my blog.

    Affiliate marketing is also one of the things I’m thinking about. I also plan to start ebook/kindle publishing but has not gotten all the facts i needed to start. The main thing that is still giving me some concern about kindle is the formatting issue and how to determine how many pages the book will be on kindle when I’m writing with microsoft word.

    Do you also write your kindle books on word document before formatting and how do you format?

    I also have a niche site i just created but have not been working on.

    Thanks for sharing Steve and have a productive week.

    • Theodore — Sorry to hear about the Adsense account. That’s one of my major “beefs” I have with Google – they have a heavy-handed policy that rarely explains what you did wrong.

      I think affiliate marketing and Kindle books are good place to start. Probably a combination of both might work. I do all my formatting and writing on a normal Word document. Tom Corson-Knowles has a really simple Kindle book on the subject. It’s what I used to figure everything out. The length depends on you – I prefer to stick to the 12,000 to 20,000 range for a $2.99 book. Under that amount for the $.99 to $1.99 price point.

      Hope this helps!

  3. Hey Steve,

    For me, this is what made me open my eyes the most: “…I don’t like to do coaching or consulting because it trades my time for money”.

    That’s exacty what I want to avoid and I just realized that since I’m writing sales copy, I had the idea of including a “suggestion box” for my training and also opening a facebook group (both highly time consuming tasks).

    Since the training is one time fee only, I believe I have to re-think if I’m not creating a job for myself with this…

    I’d probably switch to recurring payments so it doesn’t feel like I’m working for nothing.

    Anyway, thanks for the awesome article man. I think I’m going to take two steps back and re-think this again before it’s too late.


    • Hey Sergio — I don’t want to dissuade you from doing coaching/training. I think that model works really well for some authority businesses; it’s just not MY personal preference. Maybe you can start out with this service and move away from it as you build long-term assets. I know that’s what some people do.

    • Hi Sergio
      If you’re happy with training and you have a program already developed, you can use a hybrid model of training, whereby the price you charge is not so high (say $99 for half a day). You then have a captive audience of 30-40 people for the sake of argument, including their marketing details. You can leverage these buyers to buy more info products and more lucrative consulting, and of course you can pay someone to deliver the more expensive, more focused courses.

      It’s a method that works well for marketing agencies for instance, but could also work for accountants, lawyers and tax specialists.

  4. Hi Steve

    Thanks for the super information. Many have suggested to do consulting and I have zero interest in that anywhere along the line. I might write a book or even consider a speaking engagement. No real definite plans other than I know what I don’t want to do. You have made things so much clearer on how to do an authority site. Will have to try and implement some of the suggestions.


    • Mary — that sounds like me (“I know what I don’t want to do”). I think that’s the beauty of an authority site. You can experiment with different income models and find one that matches your personal preference and niche. Authority doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go out and do coaching/consulting.

  5. Great post and very timely. I created my authority site this morning. I will be offering expertise through information products to start with. I can se all of the choices as second, third, etc.. choices after they sign up on my email list.

    • Great to hear you’re moving forward with the authority site. The information products is a good starting point, but it’s a lengthy process. I’d also consider doing a Kindle book or two. This will give you experience with putting together an offer. Then you can use the Kindle stuff to put together the basis of quality info offer.

  6. My site has been live for a mere week and I think I’ve covered off on most of what you’ve said – how relieved do I feel? My focus will be on publishing for Kindle (fiction and non-fiction) and freelancing but I’ve also taken the first steps with starting to build the affiliate side of things.

    I also agree with your views on consulting – not really my cup of tea either. this is an awesome post on the what’s and why’s of building a site – thanks for sharing


    • Fiona — Sounds like you have a great foundation going there. It’s good to see you have a solid idea of how you’ll make money. My one question — are you using the site to promote the nonfiction and fiction? Unless they’re related, it might cause a little bit of brand confusion to have both. I might be wrong on this, but you might want to think a bit about mixing two genres.

  7. personally i’ve only ever thought of affiliate marketing. but you have given me a few good options to consider on my sites.

    • Good to hear Kate! I love affiliate marketing – but there are a lot of other ways to make an online income. I’ll be sure to go over the strategies that I’m currently implementing.

  8. I go for the Kindle and Affiliate plan. I’m not sure what you mean about selling apps. Guess it doesn’t matter too much as I don’t have a cell phone. They don’t work here in the countryside where we live.
    Thank you for the good content on focusing.

    • The app stuff isn’t for everyone. I just see it as a big opportunity in my particular market. You can definitely do well with just the Kindle and affiliate stuff. That’s what I’ve stuck with for many years and it worked for me.

  9. Not making any moolah yet, but here’s the plan:

    – Build list with free report (Résumé Writing Myths: Busted)
    – Publish Kindle books.
    – Offer coaching services.
    – Offer copywriting services.
    – Affiliate marketing offers
    – Advertising

    Because my blog is career & education based, I know I won’t have a problem with advertising – once I have enough traffic.

    Guest blogging, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook & my Kindle books will build the traffic.

    Things may change, but I don’t see them getting to far from the plan here.

    • Nikki — Good to see you have plan that’s in order. It’s especially good to see you have “list building” at the top. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

  10. This is a brilliant post Steve. I have been struggling with this for years, and I am still not earning money from my blog (I am still just earning pennies a day..), but it’s all because I don’t have a strategy when it comes to monetization. I am building my email list, and I am getting good traffic, but that’s about it.

    • Glad you liked it Jens. I’d definitely figure out your monetization strategy before everything else. That way you’ll have a “purpose” behind each article you write and how you structure your content. Honestly, this was a mistake I made with this blog for a few years.

  11. Hi Steve
    I’ve read some or most of ur kindle books and have been stuck to this site and it’s archives for days now. I have also just purchased ur affiliate mktng course. However I have one nagging question…since I have a fashion blog, what information products or reports could I offer.. I can only think of Adsense to monetize and they hav rejected me 3 times..
    Am I in a niche where I can’t do affiliate sales?
    Thanks a lot:)

    • The fashion niche is not easy to do on Kindle — I’ve looked at it before and it’s not the greatest. What affiliate networks have you checked out? Also, you could also do well with Amazon Associates or Commission Junction. Both have a large assortment of physical products that can be promoted.

  12. Are you getting opt in yet, how are you planning to promote your email list and your website. I will be watching this case study with interest as well as Pat Flynns NIche site duel

    • Ashley — I’m getting a few opt-ins, but that’s mostly from SSS readers. Next week, I’m starting the marketing with my first Kindle book. Hopefully that will start building some traffic to the website and list subscribers as well.

  13. Hi Steve,
    Thanks very much for this post as it gives some excellent advice. If there is one takeaway I will focus on, it would be identifying the MWR and making sure the website is built around it. Like you said, if you give people too much choice, they aren’t likely to choose anything.

    Thanks again Steve. Once I’m home, I’m going to buy your affiliate course. It looks awesome!

    • Thanks Nick. I’m a big believer in MWR. Yes, you can include a lot of stuff on your site, but all of it should steer people towards reading more content or taking that one (or two) actions that will best help them.

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