The 8 Point Checklist To Start A Profitable Authority Blog


Starting a profitable authority blog is big business.

After all, you’re reading one now, aren’t you?

And you can earn a lot of money from an authority blog:

  • eBooks
  • Courses
  • Seminars
  • Mastermind groups

Not to mention the other 28 ways of monetizing a blog.

But most authority blogs never actually become a success.

You write a few posts. Get a few subscribers. Retweet a few tweets. And then they fade out. Becoming just another site to end up on Google’s 65th page.


Because, up until now, you’ve been starting your blogs for the wrong reasons.

And it’s meant that they were destined to fail from the minute you bought the domain name.

But in this article, I’m going to show you how to succeed at authority blogging by giving you the ultimate checklist to make sure you start your site for the right reasons.

What You Will Learn

  • The 5 questions you need to ask yourself before you even think about starting an authority blog
  • The right reasons you should start a blog (and it’s not what you’d think)
  • How to tell if your blog is really going to be profitable
  • A simple content hack to make sure your blog posts are epic from the start
  • A step by step authority blog checklist to accelerate your success

But, Wait…What’s The Wrong Reason To Start An Authority Blog?

Good question.

And, you’re going to hate me when I tell you it. But, I’m okay with that if you are?

Okay, here goes…


Money is the worst reason to start an authority blog in the history of the world. And, I’m going to tell you why.

Because when you’re creating a blog, you’re trying to create a connection with an audience. And when you start a business just to make money, they can see right through it.

It comes across in everything you write. The products you sell and create. And, the time and effort you put in to your blog.

Which means that when they sense you don’t care about them, or your topic, they lose interest in you.

Now, that isn’t to say your blog shouldn’t be profitable:

It should.

But it shouldn’t be the sole purpose of starting it.

Take Matt’s blog right here.

He runs an SEO agency. He gives talks on SEO and Internet Marketing. He lives and breathes these topics. So you know all the information here is genuine and from someone deep in the trenches.

This blog started out of a passion, Matt never intended to start a blog and make money, it was purely passion.

And now it pays him money. Which is exactly the order it should be.

The Authority Blog Checklist

Okay, if you’re still with me, and still want to start an authority blog?

Well then all you need to do is follow through this authority blog checklist and you’ll be on the fast track to success in no time…

Section #1: Have You Made The Right Choice?

Before you get your site on line, choose a theme, or start getting carried away with writing your email buy-in, there are five questions you need to ask yourself:

#1 – Is This A Topic That Excites You?

Be honest. Is this the kind of topic you’d be happy to spend your days writing topics about?

Are you likely to:

  • Read books about it?
  • Go to seminars about it?
  • Want to give a talk about it?
  • Experience this topic in your day-to-day life?
  • Want to run case studies or projects on it?

If you can’t answer yes to any of these questions, you’re setting yourself up for a fall.

For example, at the start of 2015, I tried to start an authority blog called Gentify. All about being a Gentleman in the modern world.

…and it sucked.

Gentify authority blog example

Because while I’m genuinely interested in Male lifestyle. It wasn’t a part of my life that I could feel motivated to write a 3000 word article about.

And, outside of reading GQ Magazine or the occasional post on The Art of Manliness, it didn’t excite me that much.

This doesn’t mean you have to be in knee-trembling love with the topic. But, you have to have an interested beyond, “Oh, well…that’s alright”.

#2 – Could You Write 100+ Blog Posts About It?

An authority blog isn’t an overnight success.

In fact, doing it inside 279 days like Chris Guillebeau did with The Art Non Conformity would be considered a quick-success nowadays.

So this question is two-fold:

  • Are you prepared to write 100+ posts about this topic?
  • Can you think of 100+ topics for it?

If you’re not prepared to write lots of content, then you’re in the wrong game.

And you don’t have to be able to think of all those topics right now. But, try this:

Action Steps

  1. Grab a piece of paper and a pen (or open a word processor)
  2. Head to this blog post
  3. Try and create 25-30 blog post ideas from the headlines there
  4. If you struggle beyond the first 10…it’s time to rethink
  5. But, if you have lots of Killer ideas, you’ve just generated your content for the next few months. Winner.

#3 – Are You A Relative Expert?

Nowhere in the rules of the Internet does it say that you need to have a PHD in your subject to be able to blog about it.

But, what you do need to be, as Blogger Sean Ogle puts it, is a Relative Expert.

Here’s what he means by that:

A relative expert […] is someone with a perceived level of credibility due to the fact they know more about a subject than the person they’re talking to.

So before you start on your authority blog venture you need to make sure you know more than your audience does.

That means:

  • If your audience is beginners, you need to be at an intermediate level
  • If you audience is intermediates, you need to be at an advanced level
  • If you audience is advanced people, you need to be an actual expert

Now, a lot of bloggers will choose a niche that they don’t really have an interest in. So, they’re not even beyond the beginner stage.

Off the top of my head, here are a few ideas I’m a relative expert in that I could technically start a blog with if I wanted to:

SEO, Rugby, Guitar playing, writing and selling eBooks, starting a freelance business, travel hacking, coffee reviewing, theatre and drama reviews, goal setting and motivation, lifestyle design.

The only time I can see you getting away with being a complete beginner and starting a blog is if the entire subject of your blog is using yourself as a case study.

For example, if you were to run a blog about learning how to brew beer at home, and documenting your journey to opening your own microbrewery.

So, if you’re not a relative expert in your subject you have three options:

  1. Take the time to become a relative expert
  2. Forget about this blog and try a new project
  3. Follow the action step below…

Action Step

  1. Set a timer for five minutes.
  2. Then, like I did above, list as many topics as you can think of that you’re a relative expert in.
  3. Once you’ve done that go through questions number 1 and 2 again.

#3 – Will You Solve A Problem People Know About?

Recently, I went to see a therapist about some issues I was having in my personal life. And, he made a point that stuck with me:

“What you’re feeling is normal, James. Most problems show up as one thing, but are really caused by something else that you didn’t know about.”

But what does this have to do with your authority blog? Well, let me tell you…

People don’t know what their problems are.

So you shouldn’t build a problem around those ones.

Instead you should build a blog around the problems that they do know about. Then give them the tools to help them fix the problems that they don’t know about.

Here are a few examples of what I mean:

  • People don’t know they have a link building problem, they know they have a traffic problem
  • People don’t know they have a gluten problem, they know they have a weight loss problem
  • People don’t know they have a self esteem problem, they know that they can’t get dates

Once you use their visible problem to get their attention, you can begin to let them know about their smaller problems and how to solve them.

Now, I can hear a lot of you saying:

“But, James, that first example is wrong. Brian Dean is an authority blogger & runs a site all about Backlinks. It’s even called “Backlinko

And, I’d just like to show you the first thing you see when you come to his page:

The Backlinko authority blog

Traffic. That’s the problem he’s solving first. Then he hits you with posts all about link building and SEO.

Solve the big problem they want to solve. Then help them with the little ones that they need to solve.

Section #2: Is It Profitable?

Once you’ve laid the foundations of starting a blog that you can actually run (and for the right reasons), that’s when you can start looking at how you can monetize it.

In this section, you’re going to find out if your blog idea is profitable, or if it’s going to cost you more cash than you make.

#4 – Are There Any Other Successful Blogs?

Running an authority blog isn’t like running a small niche site. You don’t have to be worried about your competitors in the blogosphere.

Instead, you need to embrace them.

If there are people out there already making money from this topic, that’s a great sign for you. Because it means you’re going to be able to make money by taking on a whole new angle.

Here’s a simple way to find out if there are any other successful blogs in your niche:

Look For Top 10, 50 or 100 Site Posts

Sites love putting together posts like, “Top 100 Productivity Blogs You Should Visit Today” or “10 Photography Blogs To Improve Your Skills Right Now”.

Because…the Internet.

These posts make for great research tools though. They put all the information you need together, and help you tick off this part of the checklist in one quick blast.

After all, if there are 50+ blogs in that niche, you’re probably on to a safe bet.


Just do a quick search on Google or BuzzSumo for [topic] + “Top blogs” and see for yourself:

How to find an authority blogger

#5 – What Sort Of Products Perform Well?

Okay, so you’re still here. That means you’ve found out there is money to be made with your authority blog.

Super, you’re on a roll, go you!

Now it’s time to start looking for what kinds of products make money in this niche that you’re going to be able to create.

This doesn’t mean you should be ripping off people’s ideas for products, mind you. What I mean is the type of products that work well.

For example, you don’t want to steal someone’s topic for an eBook. But if they’ve made $5000 from selling eBooks, they’re worth looking at as an income stream.

Now you might be thinking, “But how will I know?”

Good question. Let me help you answer it.

Bloggers tend to be pretty obvious with their products that do well. Because they tend to promote them. And promote them. And, well…promote them some more.

You might find them on their websites as blatant advertisements:

product research

In the first few emails they send to their mailing list:

email list research

Or, as common themes between competitor sites:

An example from the NicheHacks authority blog

product screenshot width=

And, if someone has multiple of the same products, then you’ve found a product you need to pay attention to.

Action Step

Pick one of these two options and use them to find the products that are doing well in your niche:

  • #1 – Join Three Mailing Lists: And look for the products they try to promote in their first two or three emails. Trust me, they’re there.
  • #2 – Look for adverts: Go through five to ten competitor sites and see which adverts they’re running and for what products. Or, use the AdSpresso database to see which products they’re promoting on social media.

Section #3: Setting Up For Success

You’re still here? Awesome! That means you must be on for a killer authority blog idea.

The even better news is that most of your hard, background work is done.

These final few points are to make sure that your blog is set up for success, and that you give yourself every opportunity before you start your blog.

But, they are some of the most important. So play close attention.

#6 – What Content Should You Create?

Once you’re sure you can monetise your blog, and create a lot of content for it. It now comes down to what type of content should you create?

Are your readers…

  • Doers?
  • Thinkers?
  • Talkers?
  • A mix of two?
  • A blend of all three?

Because knowing this is a great way to decide what content you need to create. And, whether it’s going to perform well.

For example, TinyBuddha is an authority blog in the self-help niche. But, while their content is helpful, it isn’t particularly actionable.

Instead it’s thought provoking and generates discussion. Because their audience like new ways of thinking and to talk about the issues and problems they’re having.

authority blog writing guidelines

Contrast that with FinerMinds, an authority blog in the same niche, and their content is mostly actionable, with elements of generating discussion and new thoughts:

choosing a topic

Now, I know you don’t have an audience yet. And that’s fine. You’re just going to do a simple competitor analysis to find out who there are.

Head to BuzzSumo and sign up for the free 14 day trail of their premium account (or buy an account, that’s your decision):

Then pick the competitors you found before and search them in their ‘content analysis’ section:


And look at all the common trends like…

Length of post:

Average authority blog post length

Type of content:

Types of content

And what days it’s best to publish on:

Best time to publish

Once you’ve gathered all this for four or five different sites, you can start to get a picture of what’s going to work for your audience. And, from here, it’s just trial and error.

You can read how I did this in-depth for Nichehacks right here.

#7 – What Tone Of Voice Do You Need?

This is a really overlooked question when you’re starting a site.

Your tone of voice isn’t what you write; it’s how you write it.

Take a look at these two sentences:

Foods containing tryptophan help produce the hormone serotonin in your brain, resulting in happier feelings when you’re feeling in a low state of mind.

Feeling low? Foods containing tryptophan can help by releasing a happy hormone called serotonin in your brain.

Both sentences say exactly the same thing. They give the same information. Just the first one sounds really formal and academic. While the second one is bouncier and more fun to read.

Now, neither of these is wrong. It’s all about what your audience wants. And how you feel as a writer and blogger.

There’s two really simple ways to get this down for yourself though:

Action Steps

  • #1 – Write. Read. Speak. Edit: Write a paragraph. Read it back to yourself. Speak the passage out. Then edit it to fit the rhythm of your voice. Do this a couple of times and you’ll find your own personal tone.
  • #2 – Write five paragraphs from competitor blogs:Open a word processor. And, instead of copy and pasting, write out five paragraphs. One from each competitor blog. And look at what they’ve done.

Are they short sentences or long ones? Fast or slow? Assertive or passive?

Once you can see this and the patterns they use, you can take the best of your style and their styles to craft your own super style.

#8 – Do You Have List Of 10+ People To Network With?

Networking is an important part of blogging.

It just is.

And you need to get on board with it. Pronto. Kapeesh?

Because the more people in your niche you know, the more successful you’ll be. As they’re the ones who, in one way or another, will drive traffic back to your blog.

Whether that’s through link building, shares or just being swell people to have around.

Now I’m not going to dwell here too long. I’m just going to give you an incredibly actionable step to follow:

Action Step

  1. Go to this Elance post and look at Step #4 about learning to pitch
  2. Adapt that simple model to why you’re a good blogger worth connecting with
  3. Find 10 site owners emails in your niche
  4. Create a draft email to send to each one of them, customised to them or their site
  5. Save them in your drafts folder
  6. Then send them when your site is online

Check, Check and Check Again…

So, how are you feeling?

Did I just ruin your idea for a blog, or have I created a spark that’s going to spur you on to success?

Let me know in the comments…

And be sure to check out Matthew’s video tutorial on how to start a blog or read his story about how he built a 6 figure blog.

55 Responses

  1. Dustin Sanchez

    Another easy to follow, no b.s., all value from the blog of Matthew Woodward. Thanks brotha!

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 22nd, 2015 at 6:35 pm

      I can’t take credit for writing it though :)

  2. Ovi

    Great guest post. I think nothing’s more important than being genuinely interested in the niche when you’re planning on starting a new blog.

    BTW, I wanted to ask one thing: the screenshots on your blog are unclickable and undraggable. I actually wanted this kind of thing on my blog as well. Do you use a plugin for this? Or anything else?

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 22nd, 2015 at 6:35 pm

      Just remove the links in your code

  3. Justin Hammonds

    This was a really good post. I really like the part about starting with a passion.

    I have recently found that my passion is SEO and traffic generation. After I got my 1st top ten Google rank I fell in love with it. I am really excited about what my business is going to bring to me over the years.
    This is my first month in biz and I’ve already made about $300. I’m jacked!

    I do a lot of freelance stuff too, and odd jobs for people like doing their podcast editing and stuff like that. My blog isn’t major yet, but it soon will be.

    Thank you for the great post, and oh another thing. I like how you said building an authority blog takes time. I like that 279 days article about it.

    Once again thank you, and G** Bless!

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 22nd, 2015 at 6:34 pm

      Glad you are starting to see success Justin!

      Keep up the good fight sir, consistency is the secret!

  4. Tomas Lodén

    Your completely right. So many people focus on the money part before passion and esp with blogging where it takes some time before you see results, most bloggers give up after a few weeks. In fact most of the bloggers out there never make more than 3,50 a day … Follow your passion, treat it like a business and it will pay off in the long run..

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 22nd, 2015 at 6:33 pm

      That is true indeed, most peoples first goal is money – instead it should be something simple like 100 subscribers.

  5. Adnan Chaudhry

    Great post Jam, love to read your posts as i always do ;)

  6. Benjamin

    Great list James.

    100% agree about the blog being something you really enjoy. Writing hundreds of post consistently doesn’t happen unless you absolutely love whatever is your writing about.

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 22nd, 2015 at 6:32 pm

      It’s hard work when you do love it as well :)

  7. ernest

    thanks for the info matt .still working on my blog for sales and insulation service for a product off line and have 101 ideas on it .will check it out.

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 22nd, 2015 at 6:31 pm

      Well your content strategy should answer your audiences top 10 objections/problems :)

  8. Ravinder Dande

    Hi James ,

    Last time when stumbled here I got tips which proved useful for me and after then I’m getting your mail and see today again i got some useful material as expected that i can use to improve my blogs. This blog has many fact and i feel need to go through this again so going to bookmark this blog to read later.

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 22nd, 2015 at 6:30 pm

      Glad you are enjoying the content Ravinder :)

  9. Daniel

    We should build blog and write about something because we are passionate about that , because it is really hard to be successful blogger it is not just click and you are famous and rich, therefore I highly appreciate your article

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 22nd, 2015 at 6:30 pm

      Or at least something you want to learn about :)

  10. Purwanto

    Thank you! Just starting my niche site and money is my main reason, now I must reconsider it.

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 22nd, 2015 at 6:29 pm

      Always make a plan of attack :)

  11. Patrice M Foster

    This is a comprehensive list and quite informative number 3, 4, 8 especially like. Having an authority blog is important to me although it seems difficult at times. As a newcomer I realize it will take time and patience to build trust. Moving forward to 2016 setting up my blog for success.

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 22nd, 2015 at 6:29 pm

      Well there is no substitute for hard work :)

      • Patrice M Foster
        December 22nd, 2015 at 8:04 pm

        Who’s afraid of “HARD WORK” not I.

        • Matthew Woodward
          January 6th, 2016 at 10:45 am

          90% of people that read this blog and email me

  12. Onehalf AU

    Planning is very important in setting up a successful blog. You should choose the right and memorable name for your blog. Dedication in regularly posting fresh and well-written content is also imperative.

    • Matthew Woodward
      January 6th, 2016 at 10:37 am

      Yeah thats a pretty tough cookie now with the lack of domain availability

  13. felip mas

    Very good post. Essential tips when starting you a blog.
    Thanks to share.

    • Matthew Woodward
      January 6th, 2016 at 10:37 am

      Thanks for reading :)

  14. Mathew

    Excellent article. I bookmarked it, so I can come back to it. I’m going to try a few of your tips soon.

    • Matthew Woodward
      January 3rd, 2016 at 5:42 pm

      No problem Matt :)

  15. Kim Willis

    Another super practical tutorial style post. Thanks James and Matthew.

    I like the one ‘Are you a relative expert’. This is important because people get hung up about their perceived lack of expert status. Actually, when I first saw the heading I thought of something funny. Am I a relative expert? NO. But I have a relative who is! Lame, sure.

    Thanks again

    • Matthew Woodward
      January 6th, 2016 at 10:20 am


  16. raja

    I’ve tried too many times in Ecommerce but failed to get success, Now after reading your article i think i should have to try one more time

    • Matthew Woodward
      January 6th, 2016 at 10:18 am

      Well the Indian market is for the taking :)

  17. Khaled

    Good post, Matthew!
    I personally think that if there was a single major step here, then I would say it ‘s step #2 “Could You Write 100+ Blog Posts About It?”.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Matthew Woodward
      January 19th, 2016 at 3:38 pm

      That’s always a killer :P

  18. Rooger Lenonn

    Hello, my next project will be following their excellent tips :) Thanks for sharing this knowledge!

    • Matthew Woodward
      February 3rd, 2016 at 8:30 am

      Please let us know how you get on :)

  19. S Messer

    Very good insights James. Thank you! I like your balanced approach. Because I guess you need a little bit of alle the different ingredients to have success with your blog. It’s like cooking a great meal for your guests. Some experience doesn’t harm also, right? Greetings Junas

    • Matthew Woodward
      February 17th, 2016 at 10:06 am

      And the best way to get experience is by doing everything wrong :)

  20. rahul

    Excellent article, Actionable and practical; certainly provides an excellent roadmap to follow. Thanks For sharing

    • Matthew Woodward
      June 10th, 2016 at 12:42 pm

      I hope you put it to good use Rahul :)

  21. Jorge

    Great structured information!
    Get it and focus on it clearity… cost me a lot of time.

    Thx to share this kind of posts.


    • Matthew Woodward
      July 7th, 2016 at 11:00 am

      I hope that results in great success for you!

  22. Anna butler

    Some very good points here! I absolutely agree about not starting to make money. Best tip I ever got was to let everything grow organically. It really means a lot in loyally!

  23. Lastbaff

    Wow.. You’ve covered so much in just one blog post. This post should be titled Blogging 101 and made available in pdf. It’s a bank of ideas for bloggers, especially newbies.

    Indeed, making money shouldn’t be the sole aim of starting a blog. It should be done out of passion. You should ensure you have passion for whatever niche you choose. It’s very important.

    Great post. Nice job.

    • Matthew Woodward
      November 8th, 2016 at 10:18 am

      Thanks, I hope it helps you out!

      • Lastbaff
        November 9th, 2016 at 9:23 am

        Hi Matthew,
        You’re welcome

  24. Emenike Emmanuel

    Wow! Thanks Matthew for giving me a great head start this new week with this amazing content.

    Good enough, just like you, I started my blog out of passion, not because I want to make money. Nowhere! But today, the money is coming.

    You see, why people start a blog to a large extent will determine how far they can go. Money doesn’t just come – it flows wherever the right traffic is. If newbie bloggers can pay more attention to driving the right traffic with their content, the money will come.

    • Matthew Woodward
      November 27th, 2016 at 5:48 pm

      Great to hear you are having success Emenike, great job!

  25. Everton luiz

    Excelent article, I’ll start doing it on my blog, thank you friend!

    • Matthew Woodward
      February 25th, 2017 at 8:46 am

      No problem :)

  26. Catia Fernandes

    Excellent article, simple, practical and efficient. Thank you!

    • Matthew Woodward
      February 25th, 2017 at 7:46 am

      No problem Catia!

  27. Jessé Luciano

    My goal and become known in the community of bloggers so I want to do my best to get it and this one gave me many ideas

    • Matthew Woodward
      August 4th, 2017 at 2:23 pm

      Then do it :)

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