How to Build an Authority Site ‘Muse’ – updated 2020

I first read the Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss back in 2008 – first edition.  I’ve been a fan ever since. The book changed my view about what was possible online more than any other I’ve read.  Tim puts forward the idea of the “muse”  –  product selling website that requires little effort. However I think it’s hard for new business owners to:
  • Create a product (even a digital product) – and what is more, it gets harder every year.  We build webs for dozens of clients and we can see how they fare in terms of sales
  • Build a sales page that really converts
  • Learn paid ads (such as Google Adwords or now Facebook and Instagram)

I personally think is easier for starters to simply sell other people’s products as an affiliate; businesses who have already created their own converting sales pages or product pages for you to send your traffic to along with all the marketing collateral you would need.

This way you don’t need to have a paid ad budget, a graphic designer, production costs etc etc. You simply generate traffic by creating your own content, in whatever medium you are comfortable with, getting it to rank in Google and promoting on platforms you are familiar with whether that’s Twitter or forums. You can use content writers and essay writers like EssayHub.  Even better you can accept Guest Posts (as we do) where you get  win/win of supplying useful links to other sites and benefitting from their social media reach (always insist on sharing the article).

Tim actually mentioned in the tools and tricks section of ‘Income Autopilot I Finding A Muse’ experimenting with products through affiliate networks such as Clickbank and Commission Junction as a proof of concept to find your own products to create.

In this article you will learn:

  1. Why I believe building a content “authority site” is the best strategy for generating enough monthly passive income to replace a full time salary.
  2. The three best business models/monetization methods I know for achieving this.
  3. How to set up marketing funnels to generate leads and convert into customers.

Our goal is to build a web-based business that generates an average income as quickly as possible with less than 4 hours of the owners time involved per week.

According to wikipedia, the average US personal income is $45,646 (as of 2019) which works out at $3803 per month. Let’s round that figure up to a target of $4k/m (or Total Monthly Income as Tim states).

So what is the best option in 2020 for achieving $4k/m passively month on month as soon as possible with a starting budget of only $50/m?

As Tim mentioned in the book when building a muse online business you want to make sure you are entering a market that is big enough.  This is important because niche sites are easy to think of but you will never get enough traffic to be able to generate the income you are looking for.  For example, a niche site would be Profeet Out Door Lab however an authority site would be Outdoor Gear Lab.

Back when Tim wrote the book, clicks on Adwords for buying intent keywords were typically 5–15 cents and you could generate a 3–4x return on ad spend right off the bat by sending cold traffic to a sales page. Tim mentions doing this with his BrainQuicken supplement in his muse math addition to the book.

The thing is in 2020, clicks are typically at least 10 times more expensive and making buying intent clicks instantly profitable for anyone who isn’t an Adwords expert is incredibly hard. The numbers simply don’t work.  On average you are likely to get a conversion rate on AdWords of 1.4% –  just so we are clear that $1.40 for every $100 spent.  Instead, you need to extract more money out of every visitor using methods such popups, email marketing automation and marketing funnels to cover your acquisition costs.  Facebook ads and funnel software have filled this gap but require a different strategy to what was in the book.   Cost per click on Facebook is in my experience already approaching that of Adwords but you can target niche audiences with their audience insights tool in ways which are impossible on Google.  However the fact of the matter is that Google gets a lot more traffic than Facebook so you will probably end up using both.

For those new to building content sites, here’s a quick top 10 list of how to get started.

  1. Find your niche, once you understand and can write at least 50 pages of content on (even if you are not the one who ends up writing it). This niche should be a 3 – 4 word phrase such as “Help people build computers”.
  2. Buy a brandable domain for your niche that does not limit you. You want to start focusing on a sub-niche but be able to add additional sub-niches to become the authority — I use Godaddy.
  3. Do keyword research to find a sub-niche within the niche that is ideally a 3 or 4 word phrase. Use a tool such as Keyword Finder to look for “best” keywords such as “best computer parts”. These phrases should be relatively uncompetitive but should have at least a few hundred search phrases.
  4. Buy hosting — we recommend Siteground Start Up Plan to get going which you can then upsize if necessary.  Good hosting is a must you need as close to 100% uptime as you can get at a reasonable speed.  Others you could consider are Bluehost  or for WordPress then WPEngine would be a good choice
  5. Install WordPress and pick a theme, free is fine to start, I tend to use Studio Press for my sites.
  6. Create a Google Analytics account and grab the code and install a tracking code wordpress plugin to add the code
  7. Install the SEOPress plugin to optimise your content for the keywords (search phrases) people are searching for who could purchase the products you want to promote as an affiliate
  8. Write individual product review content for the top products in your sub-niche and also a comparison post that compares them to each other.
  9. Find the best informational content for your sub-niche keywords using SEMRush’s Keyword Tool or KWFinder
  10. Write better content and promote on social channels and through email outreach using either LinkAssistant or NinjaOutreach to websites that linked to the existing content.

For me it comes down to one of three options.

1) Amazon Affiliate

The easiest way to get going is to write content that mentions products that are being sold on Amazon. As you can imagine that’s not very restrictive being the world’s largest online marketplace. You simply sign up for an Amazon Associates account and then grab an affiliate link for the products you want to make commissions for (typically around 6%).

This is made really easy using the Amazon SiteStripe that appears at the top of Amazon after signing up where you can grab a simple text link, image or both.

For a full explanation, Authority Hacker have a great guide.


  • Super simple to monetize
  • You get the commission on whatever is in the basket


  • Requires an immense amount of traffic to get to $4k/m

The Wirecutter has over 11.4k referring domains and is just about dominating Google for every “best [product]” search terms in the gadgets and electronic space.

They have expanded by starting a sister site, The Sweethome, that is also doing just as well for home focused products.

Looking the site up in google at the time( it had 3.650 pieces of strong content. What’s super interesting to see is that Amazon product pages converted for him at over 15% — a good conversion on your own e-commerce site would be 2 – 5%.

Promoting other people’s digital products on is another avenue to take. Many people consider Clickbank just another affiliate network. But unlike traditional affiliate platforms, Clickbank serves as a marketplace for both people who create digital products and affiliates, so they can make money together without complex paperwork or agreements.

The way to make money is by sending people to a sales page on ClickBank that is highly optimized to make that niche buy.  David Harris from BFDReviews has a great article on the Best Ways to Make Money with Clickbank – and you might be in for a surprise when you read it.

Check out this video from the guys over at AuthorityHacker to see how to make it work for you:


  • Only need a few pieces of great content to get to $4k/m
  • High commissions – up to75%


  • Need to maintain traffic to maintain sales month on month, hard to work out the customer lifetime value
  • Crappy product offerings that may not sell

3) The Authority Site Affiliate Link Model

As the guys from Authority Hacker say:

An authority site is content-driven website that is a respected and trusted source of information. It is a larger site that delivers real value through its excellent editorial standards. This makes people trust the advice and recommendations from the site.

You need multiple traffic channels to pump targetted traffic into the site:


  • Affiliate income builds every month, you’re building an asset with a much higher multiple
  • While it is not exactly plug and play, once the site is up and running and the main actions are taken it will generate money by itself
  • With a studied affiliate marketing authority site building methodology, you can grow your site and make the $4k


  • Somewhat limited to the make money online space unless can be creative and target niches who can benefit
  • You need a system

I strongly recommend that you check out a look at Mark and Gael’s course – it is today the shortcut to Tim Ferriss’s Muse in 2020

Originally published here – Source

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