Wow. That's a lot of money. I just spent $599, plus signed a contract for $197 for 12 months. Ouch. This is by far, the most I've ever spent on an internet marketing product. However, Authority Hacker (the brand) has a great reputation, so if they're charging that much, it's gotta be worth it, right?
We're going to find out.
Thought I bought both The Authority Site System and Authority Hacker Pro, this is just a review of The Authority Site System – frequently shortened to TASS. (Normally, you don't include “The” in an acronym, but I guess they're avoiding calling it ASS). It normally goes for $997, but I got it on a discount for $599.
The Authority Site System 2.0 focuses on how to teach you how to build a “Stage 1” authority website in any niche, while Authority Hacker Pro takes your site to (what they define as) Stage 2 and Stage 3, essentially transforming your business from just a website, to a massive brand, and multiple streams of income.
Because I'd actually like to take the time to review AH Pro (It's a massive product, and that's why it costs more than $2,000), I'm not going to dig into that product here. This is strictly a review of TASS.
The Authority Site System Review
Here's just a little bit of proof that I actually put down some money to review this product. A lot of the reviews you see out there are basically just gleaning information from other reviews.
Before You Start
The Authority Site System starts you off with the very basics, and before jumping into Step 1, they show you the massive potential off what you're about to learn, and they are correct. I know for a lot of you, $997 is a lot to throw down on an infoproduct. In fact, you might be a little jaded already, having wasted some money on get-rich scams previously. I get it. I've been there. I did the same back in 2010 when I got started.
If you really learn this stuff though, the potential to make money doesn't stop with your website. You're learning real world skills like keyword research, social media marketing, search engine optimization, WordPress building and management, and more.
I'm gonna bet that your goal is not to do SEO for some corporate brand though – you're probably trying to escape the rat race, right? Still, it doesn't hurt to have some useful skills to fall back on!
Inside The Authority Hacker Members Area
Inside the members area of The Authority Site System may be a little underwhelming, but once you open up those tabs and actually dig into the material, there's a lot to work on. In fact, even if you work for a couple hours every day, I think it'll take you at least a couple weeks just to get your website planned out. This is not a quick course you can just burn through. If you do the material, it'll take a good amount of time.
Authority Hacker is great at organizing things in a logical way, and it's super easy to navigate the members area. I recommend doing the lessons in order, of course, but if you need to go back to find material everything is easy to find. One of my main gripes with video-only courses like Savage Affiliates is that if you forget something, finding it later is difficult. I prefer to watch the video the first time around for audio/visual learning, but there's accompanying text to teach video, plus supplemental pictures and additional videos below.
The Authority Site System 2.0 also does a great job of being interactive. When they use a spreadsheet in the video, they give you a Google Drive link to the exact same spreadsheet you can use for you own niche. This saves you the annoying step of need to learn excel (which I still don't). This saves you a ton of time on something that doesn't really matter much to your bottom line.
My Comments About The Authority Site System Training
The training inside TASS is rock solid. Not only is the quality of the material good, but the actual information you learn is legit. A lot of courses teach systems which sound good, but don't actually produce results, but that's simply not the case here.
Many times throughout the training we're reminded that creating quality content people actually want to read should be one of our top goals. For example, Mark (co-creator) makes a point that padding the introduction to your “roundup review” style articles just to beef up your word count doesn't make sense, and may be off-putting to a reader.
I have seen websites in the wild which implement the same techniques used in TASS that have 500,000 pageviews per month or more. Here are two that I'm familiar with. I don't want to expose their URLs for privacy reason, but their setup is almost identical to what's taught in this course. There are several example websites they'll show you in the training, so you can see what I'm talking about if you pull the trigger and sign up.
The main goal of the training is to build a site that you can grown in “stages”. The three stages are based on the monetization strategy, with the goal of eventually earning 5-6 figures per month from our site. The Authority Site System focuses on Stage 1 sites, while Authority Hacker Pro focuses on Stage 2 and 3.
What I Found Most Helpful
Although one of my critiques of TASS is that they have too much prep work for newbies to get through, for me, personally, I found the competition research and content planning section to be the most helpful.
Their spreadsheets for commercial and informational keyword research were incredibly helpful. The organization system they have set up really did expose a lot of issues in my own habits in how I plan websites, and I'll continue to use what I learned in future projects.
Plus, I really dug the way they do their competition research. Actually, as I went along in the training, I started sweating a bit as I did competition research on the newest site I launched. Oops. If I had done their style of competition research beforehand, I probably wouldn't have chosen my current niche! I'm still going to stick with it because I see potential, but Gael (co-founder) was able to expose some plot holes in the story I was telling myself lol.
So What Does The TASS Process Look Like?
Taking a broad look at The Authority Site System, here's what you're going to be doing
- Niche Research
- Personal Interest
- Content Planning
- Keyword Research
- Commercial Content
- Informational Content
- Build Your Website
- Write Core Content
- Write Additional Content
- Build Links
- Guest Posting
- Email Outreach
Pretty easy to understand, right? Of course, doing the course work won't be so easy if this is your first website, but it's good to know that the system is pretty straightforward.
Free Content Templates
Another great thing about The Authority Site System is that Gael & Mark give you a couple of free content templates to work from. In my experience helping newbies build their first affiliate websites, what to write about is one of the main stumbling blocks.
Most people just want to make money, and aren't interested in the process of building a business, so they just slam some words together, add an Amazon link and hope for the best. When I started my first affiliate site, I was also in this group of people. Over time I was able to learn to love the process, and that's how I ended up starting One More Cup of Coffee, but it took a couple years to reach that point.
The templates will be extremely helpful for anyone who's not really sure what to write about on their niche site. The three templates you'll get are:
- Roundup Reviews
- Individual Reviews
- Ultimate Guides
Round up reviews are like “best x for y”, like “best lotion for dry skin” or “best lawn mower for people with arthritis”. Then you list 5-10 of the best products in the category.
Individual reviews are just your basic product review like, “Dewalt 220v Max Jigsaw Review”.
Ultimate Guides will be your main link building content – very long, high value articles without commercial intent (no affiliate links), which you'll be able to use to attract links to your website.
Main Critiques To Consider
Though I really got a lot out of TASS, there are some issues I have with it.
It's Not Cheap
To start, you're spending a thousand dollars, and that's just the beginning. You also have to get hosting, which is a recurring expense. Then, you're going to need an Ahrefs subscription for at least a month or two, and that's $99/month for the basic plan. After various recommendations (some of which are optional), you could be spending an additional $800.
For me – that's not a big deal. I see the value in spending money to grow your business. After all, I just spent $600 on a course I really didn't “need”. However, I think a lot of folks investing their money into this system will be unpleasantly surprised that they need to continue to spend money to actually run their business.
It's Mostly Preparation
I went through all the lessons step by step, and with the progress tracker, I noticed that 40% of the course is research and prep. That's almost half! If you are completely new to this stuff it's going to be super frustrating to work for a couple weeks (or months?) just organizing information to start your business.
Then, once you count the WordPress and website setup tutorials, that's 65% of the material covered.
After that, when you consider that the link building section is 12 lessons and the content creation section is only 8, I'd say about only 20% of the course is about how to write valuable content for your readers and get that content ranked in Google. I'd like to see more about content creation strategies and examples in future updates of TASS.
Too Much Focus Link Building
I know about 90% of “experts” will disagree with me here, but I really don't think that focusing on link building should be the main focus of your business, but that seems to be the case here with TASS. Content creation is kind of an afterthought.
Link building can be part of an overall growth strategy for building an authority site, but I think creating awesome content should really be the core of your activities. Great content survives. As Google's algorithm gets smarter and smarter at delivering relevant results, “link juice” loses value. Just look at 10 years ago versus now? It used to be all about the number of links. Then it was quality of links. Since link building is so easy to manipulate, do you really think that in 10 or 20 years, Google's still going to be relying on that metric?
Plus, especially for newbies, I find that people overvalue their content. They outsource some articles to underpaid writers at Textbroker, assume it's awesome (because they paid for it), then start building links to it.
Recommended Article Service
Just a difference of opinion here, but their #1 recommended article writing service is not one I recommend. Here's why. I debated whether or not to included this point since it doesn't detract from their overall training, but just a heads up that I think you'll have much better luck with something like UpWork.com where you have more control over the quality of your content since you can communicate directly with writers you hire.
What About Support & Help?
There seem to be two main ways to get help with the training in TASS: email and a Facebook group. There's another system which is discussed – the ability to ask questions on the training modules, but it doesn't seem like it's actually being utilized yet since there are no comments posted.
Of the other help channels, email seem to be the most effect. I sent two questions, and both were answered very quickly. You can email the admins of TASS via a little chat box that appears in your members area. Once you post your question, you'll received a confirmation email. One question I sent in the evening had a response the next morning. Another question I sent was answered within the hour.
Both answers were from a native speaker, and directly addressed my question. With a lot of other products I've purchased in the past, you'll have the “support” outsourced to some place like Zendesk, which is basically only used for billing issues.
These guys were legit. They didn't just give one-word answers. Plus, they gave good advice in my opinion.
The Facebook group wasn't as useful, but it has the potential to be. While in the Facebook group, it look like the vast majority of questions were to do with link building. People are obsessed with it. Facebook groups are also hard to navigate because questions are not posted in chronological order, and they are not siloed by topic.
However, the group was pretty engaging. There were helpful, positive responses on most topics posted. A Facebook group isn't really conducive to one-on-one coaching style help, or step-by-step “I can't figure this out” type of help though. It's more for broad questions. For example, I wouldn't post something like “I can't figure out how to get my site verified on Search Console”, but you could post something like “Is connecting my site to Search Console actually worth it?”.
Pros & Cons
- step-by-step, high quality training
- focus on building a business, not just making a buck
- fast support for questions
- detailed system of website planning to dominate your competition
- vetted system, proven to be effective (multiple times)
- detailed niche research creates a solid foundation to your business
- positive, helpful Facebook group
- free content templates (that really work!)
- free spreadsheets to help you plan your site content
- expensive one-time fee
- recommends other paid tools, adding to your costs
- extensive content planning delays your website launch
- over 50% of the training is setting the foundation, which can be boring
- Facebook group isn't as active as other communities
- focus on backlinking as main way to gain authority
Should you buy The Authority Site System?
The Authority Site System was an awesome product. Was it worth the money? For me – yes. Thought I've already had a successful affiliate website business going on 10 years now, I learned a ton about keyword research and content planning from those initial lessons. This is definitely something I'll refer back to as I plan out my next website. In fact, I'm already implementing some of their strategies for analyzing competition.
Should you buy the Authority Site System though? It depends.
If you are a very analytical person, and want to hit home run with your first website, then I think this is probably the best product I could recommend to you. Though I found the website planning a little tedious for how I normally build my websites, I know a lot of people are freaked out that they're going to build a crappy website and waste their time. If that's you, then you're a good match for TASS.
It's the same deal with the link building stuff. For me, that's way too much work on some boring stuff sending emails trying to get links to build authority. I'd rather be spending time on stuff like buying products to review, taking photos, and writing articles. Link building can be super effective if done right, but it's just too boring for me, and I've had lots of success not doing it, so why start now? However, I know a lot of people hate writing content, and they just want to get their website “finished” then start building links. Again, if that's your goal, then The Authority Site System is perfect for you.
One more type of person would really get a lot out of this course. If you've build a couple niche websites before but haven't hit a five-figure month yet, then it's time to branch out. Whatever you're doing isn't working (well enough), so you need to expand your knowledge. I know it sucks to drop $997 in one go, but suck it up. You're running a business. Get the course. Try some of their strategies. Be a big boy and spend some money to grow your business.
So who shouldn't buy TASS? If you are a complete newbie, and not super comfortable with computers, I think you may struggle with some of the details of this course. If you are more of an artistic type of person who enjoys the creative side of building a website, then you're probably like me, and will find some of the intensive planning and link building a little onerous. Lastly, if you think you're going to need more one-on-one support, with a dedicated mentor (someone you can contact personally, with specific coaching questions) to get you through your first months of business, then I think you'll get a lot more out of a Wealthy Affiliate membership.
Wealthy Affiliate has a much more active community, with a lot more support channels. Their training has you jump in and build your website by lesson 4 (still on the free level of membership), then you can tweak and build as you learn. Rather than agonize over stats like DR and keyword volume, you get right to work and learn on the job. Plus, the pricing is a lot more newbie friendly, with a free Starter Membership, then $19 for the first month. Considering the yearly pricing is $359/year, you could be a member for almost 3 years before you match the price of TASS.
This is not the only alternative to The Authority Site System. There are thousands of products on the market, and there will be a hundred more launched next year.
However, Authority Hacker is one of the most trusted brands in the profitable website building space, and their flagship course lives up to this reputation. Rather that spend the next few years trying to fast-track your way to the millionaire lifestyle sorting through the guru trash heap on JVZoo and Clickbank, I recommend investing in yourself by buying a course with a proven track record, and following a couple of guys who actually show their work and care about helping you succeed.