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Insights to make you a more profitable website investor.

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Episode Date
Ep 39: Mohit Tater - Website Operations with EF Capital Fund
2770
In this episode, Avi talks to Mohit Tater, one of the operators for the Empire Flippers (EF) Capital Fund. They discuss his investing background and the various sites he has acquired. They also dive into the operations of EF Capital, and how Mohit works with his team to run a bunch of sites.

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📝 Show Summary & Insights

Approach by EF Capital

Mohit has had a relationship with the team at EF Capital for some years. This led to EF Capital approaching him to see if he’d like to join them as an operator. That's no surprise, considering Mohit’s extensive experience in the website investing field.

At the time, EF Capital were looking for 5 operators for their first batch of sites. Two operators would run FBA businesses and the other 3 would handle content businesses. Mohit was among those running content businesses.

The Deals

At the start, each operator had around $1-2 million, and they set out to raise an amount equal to that.

EF Capital (EFC) would then tap into their investment network and raise money for the 5 deals based on what the 5 investors set out to achieve. EFC determined how much money they would raise based on what each investor was doing, and their goals. 

Currently, Mohit's fund is complete, and he is now looking to acquire around 5 different content sites.

Operations & Profit Splits

The content operators may only acquire sites from Empire Flippers. This means they are searching for viable sites in the Empire Flippers Marketplace. 

Mohit will then operate these websites and online businesses with his existing team.

The net profit is apportioned 3 ways: 60% goes to investors, 30% to the operator, and the last 10% to Empire Flippers. This distribution ratio also applies to any capital gains when a site is sold. 

Empire Flippers handles all communication with the investors. The operators don’t necessarily need to contact the investors, and Mohit may not know them. This allows the operators to run their businesses and websites freely and easily without having to worry about establishing and maintaining investor relations. 

Empire Flippers essentially takes care of all investor relations and management, and raises the necessary capital for the operators. The operators then handle all business operations.

Mohit put down 7% of the $1 million capital raised, which is $70,000.

Mohit’s Plan

The plan for the future is to have bigger raises, with the next step at $2 million. This will allow the operators to be involved in larger deals and to acquire more businesses. 

What’s important now, however, is to initiate the whole process and get a foot in the door. 

Dividends will be paid quarterly to investors, starting in Q3 or Q4 of 2021.

Mohit has a team of 18 people to help him run the different content sites. Most of the team is remote, with an office in New Delhi. There are 2 tech people, 5 site managers (with great SEO experience), 5 junior SEOs, 4 writers, 1 HR, and 1 SEO project manager. The team also has a few interns. 

Mohit prefers his site managers to have prior experience handling a site. He leans towards people who run and manage their own sites. However, Mohit admits that it is difficult to find people like this. 

He often looks for people with good experience, but who have hit a plateau and are looking to grow further. Mohit provides them with the avenues for learning and sharpening their skills. 

In terms of acquiring sites, Mohit says that he isn’t looking for any niche in particular. 

The businesses will be sold in around 2 to 3 years on the Empire Flippers marketplace, with EF taking a commission from those sales.

Resources

Website: blackbookinvestments.com

Guest Info

Mohit’s email: mohit@blackbookinvestments.com

What did you think?

Did you enjoy this episode or do you have a question?

Please leave a comment to let us know.

Cheers,

Juliet

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
May 14, 2021
Ep 38: Freddy Lansky on SBA vs Investment Funds for Business
3250
In this episode, Avi talks to Freddy Lansky, owner of Points Panda, about the pros and cons of SBA loans, and why he’s currently thinking of starting a fund instead of taking out an SBA loan. 

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Starting Out

In 2010, Freddy started a business called iChess with his business partner. The business focused on selling chess courses and videos online.

Together, they scaled the business to just over 7 figures. In 2019, Freddy's business partner bought him out.

After taking a few months off, Freddy started a new business called Points Panda, which began as a product tie service. 

At the same time, Freddy used his funds for an affiliate blog in the credit card and travel hacking space. Due to travel restrictions resulting from COVID, the business model tanked.

Later, Freddy thought about buying a business. He ended up thinking about putting up a fund of his own, after getting offers for SBA loans.

SBA Loans

SBA loans are usually between $300,000 to $5 million. Typically they are provided by  banks, and supported and backed by the government through the Small Business Administration. Their terms are usually very good, considering that they are government-backed. These days, the interest rate is generally at 6%-7% over terms of 10 years. 

These days, it's easier than ever to get a loan for an online business through these SBA loans. The market is at an all time high, but Freddy says that there are pros and cons. Around 95% of businesses on the major brokerages are either not SBA eligible, or the sellers don’t want to deal with SBA. This is often due to the huge amount of paperwork and due diligence required from banks. It can take months to close. 

Banks also don’t like extending loans for Amazon FBA businesses because they regard them as too risky. Also, despite having low interest rates, you can have high multiples and debt service payments. 

You usually sign a personal guarantee, which means that banks can go after your property if you default on your loan.

Freddy says that good SBA loans are hard to find unless it's an off-market deal.

Fund Thoughts

To address these issues, and after talking to investors, Freddy is thinking of putting up a fund for online businesses as an alternative to SBA loans. 

With funds, you might have less risk and you can source deals faster when compared to SBAs. However, Freddy says that the cons of going this investor route is that you may not keep the majority of equity. There would be a need to ensure that more passive investors won’t gang up on you and remove you as the operator. 

Right now, Freddy is stuck choosing between whether he wants to go majority debt and a little equity to investors, or the other way around. He is more in favor of setting up as a fund or as an operator for someone else's fund. 

Sourcing good investors who understand the business and have your back is very important. Finding them can be tricky. Interestingly, Freddy usually finds good investors in online forums and Facebook groups. These people are generally realistic investors who are looking to diversify.

EF Capital is a good model for a fund. In terms of payments, it gives 30% to the operator, with the brokerage taking 10%.

Freddy is currently preparing and figuring out the best way to go about this. If it fails, he can always go the SBA loan route.

Guest Info

Find Freddy inside the investing.io community

Freddy's email: frederick.lansky@gmail.com and freddy@pointspanda.com

What did you think?

Did you enjoy this episode or do you have a question?

Please leave a comment to let us know.

Cheers,

Juliet

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
Apr 30, 2021
Ep 37: Stacy Caprio. Buying & Optimizing Websites - 400% ROI
4069
In this episode, Avi talks to Stacy Caprio, owner of Her.CEO. They discuss Stacy's previous website purchases, and her case study on acquiring an expired website listing on Flippa. Stacy grew this site’s ad revenue 4 times in 2 years, despite not creating any content and being fairly hands-off in its operation.

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📝 Show Summary & Insights

Buying Expired Listings

Stacy’s 3rd website purchase was a pair of sister sites. These became the first sites that made a profit for her. She purchased them on Flippa, after searching for expired listings that no one had bought. 

Stacy searched for expired listings because she doesn’t believe in artificial increases in listing prices. You can definitely find a diamond in the rough by looking for distressed sites.

Stacy was confident in her purchase, thanks to her previous experience with online marketing and SEO. A big motivator to search for expired listings is that she likes finding sites in which not everyone sees potential, and which are undervalued.  

Growing A Niche Site

Stacy bought a site for $6,400. At the time, it was making around $240 a month in profit. 

Over two years, Stacy increased the ad revenue by 4 or 5 times. She added another ad network, as well as placing a static ad on the site. 

Stacy did not add any content or links. She was very much hands-off on the site, since it was a forum dedicated to a particular niche. Here, users were the ones generating the content.

The downside to owning a forum is that you can’t control what people post, and this may lead to various copyright issues where you could face liability.

Prior to the above purchase, her first 2 sites were making little profit, and weren’t breaking even. 

Stacy eventually dropped these sites because she became discouraged by how little they made.

Purchase Criteria

Stacy’s criteria when purchasing a site is the purchase price. The price must be good,  relative to your plans for the site. Another thing she considers is the plan for the site. This includes an SEO plan with keyword research, and how to restructure it to get the most traffic to the site. 

She also likes to buy smaller sites with little traction and with good RPM. Once purchased, she does the SEO work to improve the site and generate more traffic and profit. 

Stacy prefers buying sites that are in the same niche, or are relevant or connected to one another, thereby creating verticals. This allows her to easily support them, and give the sites a quick link or a boost in keywords. 

However, Stacy admits that this could be considered borderline gray hat SEO. 

She also warns against creating double content for your sites in the same vertical, or linking to your other site because Google could recognize these moves.

Stacy places prime importance on RPM, because this means more meaningful interactions and engagement with site users. 

When it comes to e-commerce, Stacy recommends optimizing your site for sales first, including getting a good conversion rate.

Guest Info

Her.CEO: https://www.her.ceo/

Stacy’s email: stacy@her.ceo

What did you think?

Did you enjoy this episode or do you have a question?

Please leave a comment to let us know.

Cheers,

Juliet

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
Apr 16, 2021
Ep 36: Jen Anderson: Growing a 50k Site Purchase to a $225k Sale
2920
In this episode of the Website Investing podcast, Avi talks to Jen Anderson about how she became involved with online businesses after her time in the financial services world. We also hear how Jen has grown her businesses and the techniques and tools she’s honed to achieve results. 

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The Beginning

Before getting involved in the online world, Jen worked in the financial services world. She worked at Citigroup and also linked up with multiple startups. She was reasonably active in the financial markets and was big on investing. 

Jen eventually bought real estate and a few websites. These assets did really well, especially the websites, considering that she didn’t come from an online business background when she purchased them around 2013. 

The Learning Curve

Through self-learning and networking, Jen learned the ropes of website development and online business. Information wasn’t as readily available back then so it was a struggle.

One of the 3 websites she bought was in the sports niche, and she is still growing and developing it today. When she bought it, it wasn’t making any money, and she used it to test and learn everything about website development. 

Further Acquisitions

Jen then started to look for other websites to acquire. Being an entrepreneur at heart, she committed to buy small websites at first. These were under $100,000 and generated at least $1,000 per month in profit. 

Jen eventually bought an FBA website on Flippa for $50,000. She took on the business full time and hired a VA to help it grow substantially. 

Growing Sites

Jen ran a lot of Facebook ads and affiliates, as well doing a ton of SEO work. She also put up a Facebook community which grew exponentially. 

In 2018, this site initially made $2,000-$3,000 a month in 2018. At the time it was sold in 2020 it was making $8,000-$10,000 a month. It was purchased at $50,000 and sold 2 years later for $225,000.

The paid advertising world wasn’t an easy one to learn. But, with the help of free resources, Jen got the hang of it for her websites. 

Admittedly, Jen made a lot of mistakes at first, especially with Google, pay-per-click, and unnecessary SEO.

Jen bought another website; this time through Empire Flippers. The site is a 'mommy' blog, and Jen still owns the website today. She’s used the site to learn and practice her SEO skills, and it continues to grow. 

She is not afraid to make mistakes because she learns along the way. 

Other Activity

Jen has a channel on Clubhouse called Buying Businesses Club. Here, she chats with people who are interested in buying businesses in general, not just online businesses. 

Funds are on the rise now, and Jen says that if she were a newbie, she would definitely invest in a fund. 

Resources

Facebook Group: Women Buying Businesses

Guest Info

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/anderjen/

What did you think?

Did you enjoy this episode or do you have a question?

Please leave a comment to let us know.

Cheers,

Juliet

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
Mar 26, 2021
Ep 35: Adam Smith, Building on Expired Domains
2897
In this episode of the Website Investing podcast, Avi talks about expired domains with Adam Smith of Niche Website Builders. They cover how to acquire expired domains, how to efficiently build websites with them, and why to use expired domains. They also discuss the different steps and principles used by Niche Website Builders to build these websites and make them successful. 

EPISODE SPONSOR

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📝 Show Summary & Insights
Expired Domain “Sniff Test”

They use several tools for a five-minute sniff test to gauge domains. One of these is SpamZilla, which finds many sources to buy expired domains. It also filters them using different metrics such as UR, DR, trust flow, organic traffic, and many more. 

The metrics used depend on the purpose of the domain. Looking at the metrics, you need to determine whether the domain looks good, and is a good fit for its purpose. SemRush is a valuable site for doing quick sniff tests using their categorization of backlinks.

Adam mentions that once the sniff test is passed, you can use the Wayback Machine for the domain. You can see multiple snapshots of each year to determine whether a site or domain is really good. There are cases when outbound links to unwanted sites exist. 

Adam says that you shouldn’t worry about whether or not a website is in the index or if it’s been 301 redirected to another site. What matters is that the link profile is checked and the links are still alive. It's usually still better than having a fresh domain.

First Steps

The first thing to do - sometimes even before buying a domain - is to think about the keyword plan or the content plan for the domain. Some niches are more competitive than others so you want to consider if the domain is powerful enough to compete in that specific niche. 

The keyword research done by Adam and his team is proprietary. However, he mentions that it involves looking at competitors in the same space or niche, figuring out who the weaker competitors are, and analyzing how the outliers with good organic traffic are doing this. 

Content plans are built around uncovering and reverse engineering the content from outliers who are performing really well in their niche. 

There are things you can do to increase the chance of success for your domain. In terms of site structure, you want to ensure that your homepage passes as much link juice through to the rest of the site as possible.

Starting out, try to cover only a small sub-niche, keeping the click depth of a website really low, i.e., everything only two clicks away from the homepage.
You can check the best pages-by-links report using Ahrefs. 
You want to keep these links for two reasons. One is that they’re good links and you want to keep them active. Two is, there’s a chance that these links might 401 if you leave them.

Handling Links

There are two options for tidying up the links. The first option is to take the existing content and keep it on the website. This is the riskiest, but may be mitigated by hiding these pieces of content from the website navigation so you can’t get to them. The second option is rewriting the content in your own words or repurposing the content.

As a rule of thumb, Adam says that any old page with more than five links pointing to it should be recreated, and anything with less than two links is redirected back to the homepage.

One thing that differentiates an expired domain is how all the old redirects are handled. Apart from this, the steps are the same as for setting up a new site.

Adam’s Approach

Adam has been building out sites on expired domains for his own personal portfolio, but still builds domains or sites on fresh domains for clients.

Adam compares his website building approach to a horse race; he doubles down on the ones that are doing the best. 

A typical worst case scenario seen with expired domains is that they act like fresh domains. This means that they have a sandbox period and revenue coming in after three or four months of the site going live. On the other hand, there are outliers and sites that grow insanely fast from the start.

If everything goes well, traffic typically shows within the first six weeks so Adam suggests waiting a month or two to see traffic. You can check Ahrefs and SemRush to see the increase in the number of keywords indexed which points at the right direction.

There’s no commonality between sites that perform like rocket ships from the get-go, versus the sites that sit and don’t take off so well.

A phenomenon of expired domains is that these sites may have metrics that look good, have due diligence and proper checks performed, but there is still no way to tell how they will do.

Adam recommends his company's services as they are flexible and tailored to the level of experience of the client building the site. The client may be as involved or as hands-off as they like.

Guest Info

Website: Nichewebsite.builders

Niche Website Builders Facebook Group

What did you think?

Did you enjoy this episode or do you have a question?

Please leave a comment to let us know.

Cheers,

Juliet

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
Mar 15, 2021
Ep 34: Kevin Jourdan, Website Marketplaces in Europe
3274
In this episode of the Website Investing podcast, Avi talks with Kevin Jourdan about how he built DotMarket.eu to buy and sell businesses online in the French market. They discuss the similarities and differences between the French and English markets, and how the French market lags behind the US by 1-2 years. 

EPISODE SPONSOR

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📝 Show Summary & Insights

Starting Out

Kevin built his first website in 2012. He learned from NichePursuits.com and watched a bunch of courses, gaining valuable tips and insights along the way. He went on to build and buy various niche websites.

After buying and selling a few websites on Empire Flippers, he noticed that there was a big opportunity to create a similar platform in France. This led to the birth of DotMarket.eu for the French market.

The French Market

Kevin says that it’s easier to rank websites in France because there is less competition there.

Though the English and French markets are very similar, the French market is often late in terms of content resources. Some English articles are only translated to French a few years after they were originally published. 

In terms of monetization, the English and French markets are pretty much the same, but options in the French market are limited. For example, it is difficult to find recurring affiliate programs in many niches. 

Only a few niches allow for recurring affiliate programs, such as casinos and dating. 

There is little competition if you want to sell online. Amazon is the only way to sell in France, as they have the best conversion rates and reach. 

When choosing a niche in France, one effective strategy is to look to the US market. France is usually slower to adopt, and many business ideas from the US pop up a year or two later in the French market.

DotMarket Strategy

DotMarket.eu was created to make it easier and safer for buyers and sellers to meet up. It boasts vetting and valuation processes, contracting, and migration processes. 

DotMarket.eu is tailored to buying and selling businesses online; including websites, e-commerce, and SaaS marketplaces. 

To set it up, they had to find the right balance of both buyers and sellers. This was quite difficult, as they needed to convince and educate French sellers that selling online is possible. Many owners didn’t even know that they could sell their websites. They continue to educate many French website owners about selling as a viable exit option.

DotMarket.eu just reached the 7-figure mark in valuation of websites sold.

Valuation and Sale

To list a website on DotMarket, the website must be valued at a minimum of €10,000 for affiliate and content sites, and €25,000 for drop shipping and e-commerce sites. They do not accept starter sites, sites that have been hit with a penalty or sites that generate profit mostly from ads. 

It takes an average of 45 days to sell a business on DotMarket, although SaaS and e-commerce businesses can take 3-4 months to sell. 

Content sites are popular and sell quickly, sometimes within 48 hours. 

A Growing Market

A lot of sites in the French market are made by people who did not consider selling them (or even know that they could). These sites don’t have the same optimization strategies in place when compared to a site owned by someone who was looking to sell it from the get-go. 

DotMarket's business model charges the buyer 10%, and the seller 3%.

DotMarket has partnerships with Flippa, MicroAcquire, and other platforms. Other marketplaces help supply buyers for businesses listed on DotMarket that are more difficult to sell. In return, DotMarket provides listings for French and European buyers on their platforms. 

The goal for DotMarket in 2021 is to expand in the French market, and possibly open in the Spanish and Italian markets. In the future, they would like to open up in several other European countries too. 

Guest Info

DotMarket.eu: https://www.dotmarket.eu/investor

What did you think?

Did you enjoy this episode or do you have a question?

Please leave a comment to let us know.

Cheers,

Juliet

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
Feb 26, 2021
Ep 33: Ron Stefanski, the 'One Hour Professor'
2737
In this episode of the Website Investing podcast, Avi talks with Ron Stefanski about his various YouTube projects. These projects include 'The One Hour Professor' which features some of his courses on blogging and SEO. They also speak about how Ron's YouTube channels complement his blogs, and his recent website sale, which was his biggest ever asset sale. 

EPISODE SPONSOR

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📝 Show Summary & Insights

Selling A Website

Ron recently sold a website he’s been building and growing since 2014. At one point, it had 250,000 visitors a month. The niche was negatively impacted by COVID, Google AdSense issues, and fierce market competition. Due to these issues, Ron decided to sell it. 

He felt that his heart wasn’t in growing and keeping the website anymore. He had other interests and passions that he wanted to focus on instead. Those reasons led him to sell it recently for a mid-6 figure value.

The more focus that you have on your website, the better. 

Growing on YouTube

Ron has a bunch of YouTube channels that he runs along with his wife. 

Before they were married, Ron's wife already had a YouTube channel with around 2 million subscribers. Ron helped her manage the channel, and in the process, learned a lot about the technical and SEO aspects of YouTube.

Ron has a channel called the 'One Hour Professor', which he’s had for around 5 years. It's only since 2020 that he started to focus on it's growth. He also has a website for the 'One Hour Professor'.

This YouTube channel has videos and courses on how to grow and develop your website. These days, he releases a video once a week.

With a YouTube channel, you get to be more personal with your audience, as they are able to actually see you on video.

Traffic & Income Generation

His main focus is the website, so he uses the channel as a new way to get traffic and open up to a new audience. 

Some people prefer to sit down and read a whole blog post, while others would rather watch a video. What Ron does is uses the transcriptions of his videos and turns them into blog posts. This is how his channel complements his blog so well.

Taking blog content and making it into a YouTube video can be tricky. If it is personality-based, be sure you are personal and sincere with your audience. You need to sit down and not be a robot in front of the camera by simply reading stuff on your videos.

Building a channel without you as a brand or personality requires some script, which a voice-over would read. You also have to get creative with editing. 

Ron has 2 channels like this which he co-owns with his wife. The premise is that there is no personality tied to it. Rather, it is focused on videos about different topics or products. 

YouTube channels can become a real passive asset. Ron says that the wider the niche, the better. 

You can profit off of your channel not just through display ads, but also through affiliate marketing. Many channels do this and are successful with this method.

Ron doesn’t focus much on subscriber count. He focuses instead on view count, because, at the end of the day, views are what matter. 

Ron and his wife are thinking about adding another channel by the end of this year.

Resources

Courses on how to build a YouTube channel or blog: https://www.onehourprofessor.com/courses/

Guest Info

Website: https://www.onehourprofessor.com/

YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/OneHourProfessor

What did you think?

Did you enjoy this episode or do you have a question?

Please leave a comment to let us know.

Cheers,

Juliet

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
Feb 12, 2021
Ep 32: Eric Hochberger from Mediavine
2836
In this episode of the Website Investing podcast, Avi talks to Eric Hochberger, co-founder of Mediavine, about the development of third-party cookies and how this completely changed display advertising.

They also discuss the efforts of several browsers - like Google Chrome - to remove these cookies to better protect individual privacy.

What does this mean for advertisers who have relied on them for years?

EPISODE SPONSOR

🔥 Smash Digital - an SEO growth agency with actual skin in the game, ranking their own portfolio of profitable businesses, and offering the exact same services to clients. Check. Them. Out.

📝 Show Summary & Insights

Third-Party Cookies

Before the advent of third-party cookies, advertisers had to buy an ad slot on a webpage, in real time. To do this, they needed to know who they were bidding on.

With third-party cookies, this process was eliminated.

A third-party cookie is essentially a way to store things in a browser. It allows you to stay logged in to a website, even though you’re on another one. It also allows websites to track which websites you’ve been to.

Display advertising has been tremendously shaped by third-party cookies, as advertisers are able to hyper-target their audience, giving them better results than ever before.

In recent years, advertisers have been willing to spend more money on display advertising due to the great results these cookies provided. 

Individual Privacy

Today, we see consumers and companies working to better protect individual privacy by removing third-party cookies. 

Several browsers, like Safari and Firefox, have already removed them. Google Chrome, has yet to do so.

The Privacy Sandbox & First-Party Data

According to a Google study, this move could drop ad rates by 60%. This now puts pressure on the advertising industry to change their behavior and look for alternatives. 

Eric believes that there are two prongs to solve this: the privacy sandbox and first-party data. 

The privacy sandbox is an initiative to create an industry-wide standard for all browsers, for a privacy-centric way to track anonymous segments of users. Individuals would then control which data they allow to be tracked.

On the other hand, first-party data involves data owned by the publisher, who obtains users’ data from logged-in traffic or from subscribers. Email addresses, phone numbers or similar data are safely rehashed into anonymous data. This data is then handed off to advertisers to use for audience targeting. This gives more exact targeting and better results too.

What’s Next?

We can’t predict what will happen a year from now. So much could change in the meantime. 

Ad rates may drop less than expected, and other alternatives may come up to address this shift. 

Eric and Mediavine are working on Grow.me which offers a set of tools to help publishers get more users to log into their websites. This allows publishers to collect more first-party data in the long run. 

Grow.me is currently available in beta for Mediavine publishers. Those publishers just need to opt in and enable it. It will be available outside of Mediavine in the future.

When someone is purchasing a site and applying to Mediavine, a background check and vetting take place to verify that the applicant isn’t shady, and to ensure that Mediavine will have a good relationship with them. 

Resources

Grow.me: https://www.grow.me/

Guest Info

Mediavine: https://www.mediavine.com/

Email: publishers@mediavine.com

What did you think?

Did you enjoy this episode or do you have a question?

Please leave a comment to let us know.

Cheers,

Juliet

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
Jan 29, 2021
Ep:31 Mo Mullah - Site Acquisitions & Growth
2995
In this episode of the Website Investing podcast, Avi speaks with Mo Mullah about acquiring, building, and optimizing websites for sale. They discuss the strategy Mo used to turn a niche site - purchased for $2,700 - into a $24,000 sale.

Read the notes below - or listen now!

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📝 Show Notes

Mo’s Background

Starting Out in Email Marketing 

Mo started out with an email marketing company and stayed there for around 8 or 9 years. Throughout that time, he had several successful campaigns in different niches and earned a decent amount of money. However, due to a number of risks and downsides, such as the possibility of your account closing down, (which happened a bunch of times) he decided to look elsewhere for income. These accounts were closed because Mo would personally email people and website visitors, introduce himself and offer the option to stay on the email list or not. This marketing strategy caused a number of problems with ISPs, and was the cause of his accounts getting shut down. Because of this, he decided to diversify and get into SEO. 

Building Sites

Mo started building a site, instead of purchasing one off the bat. He did this because he wanted to learn the ins and outs of the trade, and how websites were built from the ground up. This site had tremendous success as a result of continuous finetuning over the years. 

Interest in the Niche

Another factor that contributed to the site's success was Mo's interest in the niche. When writing the site content, Mo knew how and what to write for a better audience reception. 

Creative Outreach Campaigns

Mo also made use of a large outreach campaign. This essentially involves guest posting and targeting the prospects that you’re trying to get a link from. This included figuring out who specifically would let him put a link on their site by finding a smart way to get into their inbox, and have them read and respond to an email. Mo would usually ask these prospects if they had any ideas that they would like him to touch on in the guest posts. Creative thinking is also involved so Mo would try going out of his vertical to collaborate. He'd attempt to integrate trends in his ideas and offers to prospects, to match what they wanted. Further, Mo did his research and due diligence to make sure that when he pitched a specific article, he’d be more or less sure that they would accept.

Acquiring and Selling Websites

After building his site, Mo decided to acquire sites. One of the sites he bought for around $2,700 was recently sold for $24,000. This was done in under 12 months, producing an almost 10x multiple. 

Choosing Which Websites to Acquire

From the beginning, Mo had a set criteria for acquiring websites. Firstly, he checked whether the niche had multiple affiliate opportunities so he could diversify on monetization. Secondly, he wanted something that was evergreen and not seasonal so that income was steady all year round. Lastly, he made sure that the site had a decent amount of content to work with and had traction. This was usually poorly written content. He then worked on the SEO for these websites and performed some optimization to return the optimal income. 

Updated Criteria and Quick Wins

These days his criteria has expanded to include one more aspect: CRO. He now checks whether a site has bad or neglected CRO. This enables him to optimize sites and get quick wins in the process. He looks for a site that doesn’t have comparison tables, or tables which are in the wrong place. Secondly, he makes sure that the site doesn’t have any call-to-action buttons. If it does have these buttons, he ensures that the colors stand out. Next, he checks if the site has only a few links within the anchor text. He also looks for images with hyperlinks on the site. 

Sticky Widget

Mo also likes to put a sticky widget on the left hand side of the website so that when users scroll down. they still have access to subscribe buttons or some kind of affiliate link. Mo has found some success with sticky widget on his sites, though it may be hit-or-miss depending on the niche. When it comes to Amazon affiliate links, Mo says that people usually skip them and just scroll down on the main screen. If it's not Amazon-related, Mo says that conversion rates are pretty good and even a little bit higher. He bases this on his experience and data gathered through the sticky widget. 

The Pet Niche

Getting Into the Niche

Mo decided to enter the pet niche because it had a variety of affiliate programs to apply to. These included Amazon, and others that could serve as backup in case the Amazon conversion numbers weren’t ideal. From his research, he found that the keywords he wanted to focus on were low competition and had relatively decent search volume. This stood out to him, and gave him confidence that it would allow him to rank.

Acquiring a Site

Mo acquired a site in the pet niche at around $2,700. Finding the ideal site was a bit tricky, since in ~2019, there weren’t as many marketplaces as there are today. Apart from that, one factor he had to consider was the element of trust. Is the website owner trustworthy? You’d have to build up some kind of relationship with the seller to make sure that what they're selling isn’t anything shady, or a scam or rip-off. These days, well-known marketplaces largely solve this problem for you. 

Previous Run-ins With Shady Sellers

Back when Mo didn’t have much know-how in the industry, he communicated with a website seller who sneakily tried to hide and mask PBNs and shady links. At the time, Mo was just starting out and didn’t know how links worked. Mo says that you definitely have to understand how links and link profiles work in order to detect shady deals. He mentions that these people would pay for links from a link service, but the link service had used very similar images, or even the same images on different websites. This also applied to the text, where the link service used similar text to accompany the images on various other websites. It became apparent that these links all came from the same provider. Avi says it’s good to check whether the links are on the home page, and whether the links are actually relevant to the site you’re acquiring, and to the niche. At the end of the day, it all depends on your risk tolerance, and whether you are willing to take on challenges like this when purchasing a site. 

Some Initial Snags

Mo ran into some traffic loss and potential revenue loss when he first acquired the site. During the first 4 to 6 weeks, Mo was busy changing the site links while performing his first ever migration. However, he noticed that page traffic was declining at a steady rate of 30-40%, and he couldn’t pin down the cause of the decline. Normally, this wouldn’t be a concern, but these pages were the top 3 pages on the site. As a result, the overall website traffic slid down, including conversions. Mo says that it may have been due to an algorithm update, or possibly due to the fact that he picked up the website from someone who had it in a portfolio and hadn’t touched it in a long time. Mo then reminds us that we should always be wary, and do as much due diligence as possible on the sites we wish to purchase, especially if these sites are in decline.

Turning Things Around

Mo did turn the decline in traffic around. He first completed a technical audit to make sure that the redirects and page titles were in order. He also checked if any page was significantly slower than others. More importantly, he ran the website through Ahrefs’ Audit Tool to clean up the technical aspects of the site. Their Audit Tool is amazing for this, and according to Avi, is very underrated.

Next, Mo did a content audit. He put all the content into a spreadsheet, and assessed which content needed changing or modification, and which could be left untouched. At the end of the audit, Mo deleted 10 to 15 pages that weren’t receiving much traffic. He also consolidated some pages to make the site leaner. 

Lastly, he performed a backlink audit by listing every link and making sure that none of them were suspicious, spammy or unrelated to the pet niche.   

Auditing is a great way to figure out what’s wrong with your website, especially when you weren’t the one who built it in the first place, and more so if the website has passed through several different owners. 

Keyword Research

Surprisingly, Mo didn’t perform any keyword research until about 5 or 6 months after he acquired the site. This is largely because many of the pages on the site were ranking highly, and other pages only needed minor tweaks to improve their rankings. Mo was only concerned with on-site SEO for the first few months, instead of creating new content. This is usually his strategy when acquiring a website: he prefers a site with existing content that doesn't need much work. He then optimizes the site and the content, instead of having to churn out new content during the busy first few months. Avi says that there is no point in creating new content when there is plenty of under-optimized content already available to you. 

Surfer SEO

When optimizing site content during the first few months, Mo made use of Surfer SEO, which is a very handy and inexpensive tool. At the time, it was relatively new and trendy, which pushed him to use it for his site. 

Adding Articles

At the time Mo bought the website, it had around 50 or 60 articles. By the time he sold it, it had around 200. Writing began after the first 5 or 6 months of optimization. Initially, the content was all written by Mo, but as soon as a little money was coming in, Mo decided to reinvest the income into the site. He would have hired a content writer for the site, but luckily, he chanced upon someone who was passionate about pets and was skilled in writing. This person offered to write articles and edit the existing ones for free. All Mo did was give her the keywords and a template, and she wrote about 50 articles for the website. According to Mo, this is a reminder that niches have people who love the space so much that they will offer to do things like this for your website. However, Avi believes that it's difficult to keep these kinds of people long-term without some incentive for them. 

Selling the Site

When Mo does manual outreach, he always adds a few sentences at the end of the email asking if the recipient could recommend anyone who would be interested in guest posts. One day, an outreach manager came back and recommended someone who was potentially interested in acquiring the website. This outreach manager did this after noticing the backlinks on Mo’s pet website, and seeing that revenue was going up. Mo was then able to sell the site for $24,000, with a multiple of 27x. 

Audit Services

A Wealth of Experience

These days, Mo now offers audit services, which includes technical, SEO, content, and link audits. He brings his vast experience in the field to the table, and techniques that have worked well for him. He helps people grow and optimize their sites in the same manner as he has done. 

Reach out to Mo here:

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/mo.mullah.77

Email - momullaconsultant@gmail.com 

What did you think?

Did you enjoy this episode or do you have a question?

Please leave a comment to let us know.

Cheers,

Juliet

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
Jan 15, 2021
Ep:30 Julie Adams - On Successful Affiliate Sites
2728
Happy New Year everyone!

We’ve got plenty of big plans for this year and we’re kicking off with this enjoyable discussion between our Website Investing “voice,” Avi Silverberg, and Julie Adams from Serpdecoder.

Julie transformed from roles as a babysitter and SEO agency employee, to owner of a portfolio of affiliate sites - the largest of which makes $30,000 per month.

Sit back and listen to hear how she did it - or read the notes below.

EPISODE SPONSOR

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📝 Show Notes

Julie’s Background and Portfolio

Joining an SEO agency

Julie did odd jobs while in college, including working at a movie theater and babysitting on the side. Interestingly, the person she was babysitting for was the owner of a marketing company who offered Julie the position of content developer. Knowing nothing about the position or anything about SEO, Julie started work and learned the trade quickly through a combination of trial and error and talking with clients and colleagues. Five or six years later, Julie was managing all the company’s SEO campaigns, using a process she’s honed from practice and experience. At one point, Julie was handling a whopping 80 or so clients. She grew to love her work, and happily did SEO for 40 hours a week.

Building Her Own Sites and Moving On From the Company 

Learning and working on SEO for 40 hours a week prompted Julie to take her work home and do SEO on her own affiliate sites. Her first site was a motorcycle blog where she put out informational content and basically wrote whatever she wanted. Later on, she realized she could earn money by promoting products on Amazon. She failed at her first attempt and let that domain quietly expire. Soon after, Julie built another site in the outdoor niche. This time, she went into it with an income-generating mindset. This site performed significantly better and grew to around $1,000 a month. Julie saw the potential and decided to build a site once every 3 or 4 months.

With her own sites, she was able to experiment and do things that she normally wouldn’t do for clients at the company. This helped hone her craft even more. Julie's journey with affiliate SEO sites allowed her to earn a significant income on the side--more than what she was earning as an employee. After a couple of years, she sold one site for $34,000 on Empire Flippers and reinvested the money into her other sites. The goal was to quit her job and focus on her sites full time. 

Consulting Work 

These days, Julie doesn’t pursue clients. She works 100% with affiliates, and does a few consulting gigs. 

Growing Sites and Her Portfolio

Julie no longer focuses on building sites. She now focuses on certain niches and grows only those sites. Currently, her portfolio contains 6 or 7 sites, and these days she tries to build a site once every 6 months. Half of the sites in her portfolio were built from scratch on fresh domains, while the other half was built on expired domains. Julie says she feels safer starting with fresh domains, since she won’t be worried about the sandbox period. 

Working With Expired Domains?

Julie is generally open-minded and up to trying anything when it comes to building and growing sites. Usually, when she finds a niche, she starts searching for expired domains. However, if she can’t find one that looks appealing after 2 or 3 weeks, she starts with a fresh domain. 

When looking for expired domains, Julie takes into account niche relevance, the presence of spammy links (usually ones with Russian characters), and others. Also, she doesn’t take on domains that have been expired for longer than 3 years. As for niches, Julie looks at the offers first, without paying attention to the type of niche or even the keywords and SEO. 

Lastly, she loves looking for domains that were once local businesses. These domains usually have directories containing names, addresses, and phone numbers - all of which get picked up by Google. That way, it has a little bit of authority built in. Julie says that this is a great alternative to links, which can get pretty expensive.  

Amazon 

Working With Amazon Product Links

When it comes to Amazon products, Julie starts by looking at the cost of the product, how many reviews it has, and if those reviews are legitimate. She then checks if there is enough demand online to make it viable. Julie does this by taking the cost of the product and multiplying it by the number of reviews. If the value is over 10,000, it shows that the product is both expensive, and has high demand. According to Julie, this is a good baseline to determine the viability of a product and whether it is something she should consider. 

Getting Away 

Julie says that getting away (mostly) from Amazon is the best move she’s ever made. Back in March or April, Amazon cut commissions in the home niche. Coincidentally, this was the niche of Julie’s biggest site. It took a drop. Prior to the cut, the site was doing really well, and was on track for a flip at $200,000. In fact, it was appraised only one day before Amazon cut commissions. This prompted Julie to move away from Amazon and deal directly with product manufacturers. Now, Julie’s process involves looking for a 10% commission from 5-6 different manufacturers, and getting them to compete with each other during the negotiation. Julie says that you have to at least triple whatever Amazon offers. As an example, one of Julie’s sites used to earn around $4,000 a month from Amazon commissions, but now that she’s moved away from Amazon, that site rakes in around $30,000. All she did was speak directly to the manufacturers of the products on Amazon. More often than not, Julie says that they will offer you higher rates really quickly. 

Website Design

Keeping It Simple

Julie likes to keep things simple when it comes to website design. She says that simplistic designs do not equate to laziness. When it comes to copywriting, information can be presented to consumers in many different ways, and Julie likes to test different ways to evoke emotion with her content. 

Writing Content

Julie has worked with the same writer for over 2 years now. This writer understands Julie's style well, which means that Julie can quickly check the work and make any necessary edits. 

Using Nelio

Nelio is a great inexpensive WordPress plugin that allows you to take a page and make a carbon copy of it. After changing and tweaking whatever you want, Nelio makes the page canonical so that it won’t interfere with the index. Through it, you can serve a user either the original page or the copied page. It also has a handy heatmap feature.

Growing Sites

Biggest Site

Julie is looking to grow her largest site, which is currently making around $30,000 a month. Her ultimate goal is to cash out of the website and, eventually, retire early. What’s great about the site is that it’s in a niche that she wants to add additional sites to. When she does finally sell, she’d be offering an entire portfolio dedicated to that niche. This also eliminates any ongoing non-competition concerns. 

Monetizing Her Sites

Trying Other Models

Julie has begun email marketing. Though she doesn’t have an extensive list, she believes that email is a great monetization model. It involves an audience that she’s built, and which doesn’t have to rely on Google. Email marketing is also great for marketing flash sales. 

Ads vs. Affiliate Sales

Julie prefers affiliate sales since they earn more money than ads. This is why she doesn’t care about ads too much, and is more interested in where the clicks on her website are going. Avi says that a study shows that advertising on affiliate content doesn't really reduce the click-through rate on the affiliate offers, but this is also highly dependent on the niche and the type of audience. 

If Julie places ads on her site, it will most likely be on her informational content. That way, she would make some money off them instead of funneling them into the site’s buying guides. 

In the end, there are a hundred different ways to monetize your websites. But, if you’re already good at one monetization model, Avi says that it’s better to focus and double down on that model to get the most out of it. 

Investing in Her Sites

Profits 

The profit margins on most of Julie’s sites are around the 80-90% mark. She prefers to reinvest this into her sites every month, with around $2,500 spent on content and about the same amount on links. 

Finding Workers 

Hiring and Firing

Both Avi and Julie tend to hire and fire quickly in order to find the right person for any job they have available. In fact, Avi likes to hire 2 to 3 people at a time and then choose the best one from them. 

Finding the Right One

It is definitely hard to find the right person for the job. Julie likes to find people on Upwork, which has a ton of job hunters and freelancers. 

SEO

On-page

Julie says that there are shortcuts for on-page that are not really available for off-page. In fact, you can get a lot done on on-page if you have the right techniques, coupled with instinct and experience. There's a lot more to it than just using your tools. It also involves using your past experience - especially when new problems arise.

Tracking Changes

Page Watch

Julie watches the top 20% of pages that bring in the most revenue. Each week, she goes through those pages to ensure that everything is running smoothly, and to track if any of the changes she’s made have affected page rankings. 

Diggity Marketing

Webinar Series

Julie is going to produce some type of webinar series over at Diggity Marketing. She’ll share everything she knows about websites and SEO, including all the processes she uses on her sites. 

What did you think?

Did you enjoy this episode or do you have a question?

Please leave your comment at the bottom of the web version of this post.

Cheers,

Juliet

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
Jan 01, 2021
Ep:29 Jon Dykstra - Growing & Selling a Portfolio of Content Sites
2546
In this episode of the Website Investing podcast, Avi speaks with Jon Dykstra, publisher of the Fat Stacks Blog. Jon starts and grows niche content sites and he has a wealth of knowledge to share. Read the notes below - or listen now!

EPISODE SPONSOR

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📝 Show Notes

Jon Dykstra

Who Is Jon?

Jon describes himself as an online digital publishing company owner. He prefers the term 'online publisher' over niche site owner or affiliate marketer, since not a lot of people know these terms, and it makes more sense when you already own a number of sites. 

Getting Into Advertising

Display Advertising 

Jon’s primary income source on his sites is through display advertising. For some time, he did only affiliate marketing, and although he got a lot of traffic to his site, he wasn’t gaining anything from the affiliate links. Because of this, he decided to capitalize on the traffic the site was getting, and go into display ads via AdSense.

This move was a huge success and Jon was able to earn a large amount of money overnight. It completely changed his outlook on advertising, as he previously thought that it was the least viable source of income for his websites.

Focus on Keywords

Jon focuses mainly on low competition keywords. The advantage to this is that you get little competition, especially when you’re doing affiliate marketing and you have to publish on very specific keywords if you want to generate commissions and make a profit. Though product reviews are generally boring to write, the fun is in looking for the keywords that other sites aren't targeting. For this, you need to use your keyword search tools and be creative in your hunt.

Optimizing Your Site

Site Speed

Recently, Jon has been onboarding NitroPack for optimizing his bigger websites. It’s a monthly paid service, and, after some checking and testing, Jon found that it improved their scores dramatically. Jon did this because he wanted to take advantage of the recent Google announcement stating that site speed has an impact on rankings.

Jon says that a lot of publishers don’t pay attention to this, but he thinks that it’s worth a shot and so he’s not afraid to invest in increasing and optimizing his site speeds. At the end of the day, it’ll give him a tiny advantage over other publishers and sites, and he is happy to pay the monthly fee to achieve this gain.

Effect of Display Ads

Display ads negatively affect your site speed. Jon says that ads can really wreak havoc so that is something to watch out for. 

Actual Site Speed vs. Page Speed Score

Jon says that it is important to distinguish between actual site speed and page speed score, since page speed score is an artificial concept. Additionally, some tools used to measure page speed score often delay elements of your site intentionally, and alter your speed score in the process.

Google states that they do take page speed into account, and, to measure this, they use real metrics. Jon says that since this is the case, a delay wouldn’t hurt at all if it increases your score. 

Concerns About the Future

Google Removing Third Party Cookies

Google has announced that, by next year, they will be restricting and eventually phasing out the use of third party cookies in the Chrome browser. Cookies stay on a user’s device and are designed to collect a user’s data for the benefit of advertisers. These advertisers get to learn users’ browsing patterns and preferences in order to send more relevant ads to them. Avi says that he read that this may reduce RPMs by up to 50%. 

Jon states that regardless of which solution Mediavine and AdThrive come up with, there will be a decline in revenue until a viable long-term solution is found. Whether the decline will be temporary or permanent remains to be seen. Moreover, 50%, (if ever this figure estimate is true) would be brutal. This doesn’t mean that display ads would go away altogether or that the business model would disappear, since a lot of money has already been, and continues to be poured into it. Jon says that we’ll just have to wait and see.

Purchasing Sites?

Due Diligence

Jon says that buying sites is a liability for many people, but a tremendous opportunity for the few who know what they’re doing. You have to know how to complete your due diligence when buying a site. 

Getting Bombarded with Copyright Claims

One important aspect of due diligence is to take note of the copyright. Jon says that you have to check on the copyright in terms of the images and other media on the site, and get written representations from the site owner that they have licenses for these.

A lot of people don’t do this and end up getting sites with images ripped out of random places, without permission. This practice becomes ripe for copyright infringement claims that can reach tens of thousands of dollars.

These claims are sometimes sent to you even if you already have the permission. Senders forward them willy nilly, without checking if permission was previously granted or if the image used is actually the same one as that of the copyright holder. This is something that people should watch out for, and something for you to disprove when a claim gets sent to you. Jon personally doesn’t buy a site if the owner doesn’t give a written representation to that effect. 

Sourcing Photos

Jon gets photos for his websites from various sources such as ShutterStock. He and his writers also try to take as many photos as they can - using their iPhones to cut down on costs. He also has a VA who contacts people and websites to use images that are suited for their sites, along with gaining the corresponding permissions. 

Jon’s Portfolio

Cyclebaron.com - A Public Case Study

Jon got into this niche largely because of his interest in mountain biking. Due to the huge number of questions he receives on how to build and grow a site, he decided to do a public case study with this site to show people how he does it. In the study, he shows people how to build and design a website, and how to best structure it. 

Selling Sites

Avi was surprised to find out that Jon recently announced that he is selling 8 sites from his portfolio. This is quite a big move, and Jon intends to sell them in order to keep around 4 in his portfolio. These 4 sites are the ones he thinks are the best fit for his plan and for the writers he has.

Jon has listed all 8 sites on MotionInvest, which is run by Jon Gillham. This is actually the first time that Jon has sold sites. He hasn’t delved into selling before because of the time and hassle.

He doesn’t have time to answer 20 different queries or due diligence requests from various potential buyers for each of his 8 listed sites so he opted to go to MotionInvest. They will handle everything for him and provide him with an easy and hassle-free method of selling his sites because he wants the least possible involvement in the process. 

Though Jon is looking to sell the sites individually, he is also open to selling the 8 sites as a package should the right buyer come along. The sites will be sold through a Dutch auction, which sets a minimum bid amount. 

At the end of the day, Jon isn’t sure how he’ll spend the earnings from the sale of the websites. He says that he doubts he will redeploy the cash to his other online assets, as they are already self-financing. 

Diversifying

Jon would love to diversify and own more sites in the long term, considering the high demand for websites right now. Currently, Jon says that it is difficult to grow his portfolio with the current budget he has, but he would definitely love to own multiple websites again in the future. 

Upping the Ante of His Content

Right now, Jon and his team are hard at work creating stronger content for their sites through high quality processes. They are also going through their existing content, and looking to elevate and update posts to ensure they are high quality. 

To kick off the whole process, Jon and his team always start with the working draft of an article. They complete several edits in order to tailor the draft to their readers, and also to cater to Google by slotting in as many good keywords as possible. 

After this, they run the topic through AHREFs while checking a variety of keywords. Interestingly, using this process, Jon and his team find even more available topics for articles. After AHREFs, Jon also runs content through AnswerThePublic and MarketMuse. By this point, the article would have probably doubled in length through the addition of subsections and questions. After that step, he moves onto incorporating linkable assets like graphics. Finally, he publishes to the site.

Although this is a lengthy process, Jon says that it is all worth it in the end, and he is willing to outlay the cash to get really high quality content.  

Partnering Up

Jon currently has a partner for an Amazon e-commerce product which his partner offered to him. In the partnership, Jon contributes by promoting the product and generating sales, while his partner handles all the branding, monitoring, and marketing on Amazon. 

Email Marketing

Email marketing is something that Jon would love to get into more in the future. As it's simply writing to your readers, you don't have to worry about keywords at all. 

What did you think?

Did you enjoy this episode or do you have a question? 

Please leave your comment at the bottom of the web version of this post.

Cheers,

Juliet

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
Dec 11, 2020
Ep:28 Jim Harmer - Site Strategies & YouTube Success
2756
In this episode of the Website Investing podcast, Avi speaks with Jim Harmer from Income School. Jim explains how he sold his entire portfolio, his strategies for building successful sites, and his incredible success using YouTube.

EPISODE SPONSOR

🔥 Smash Digital - an SEO growth agency with actual skin in the game, ranking their own portfolio of profitable businesses, and offering the exact same services to clients. Check. Them. Out.

📝 Show Notes

Recent Happenings

Garage Sale

At the start of this year, Jim Harmer from Income School made an interesting decision.

He decided to sell their entire portfolio of websites, calling it a garage sale and documenting everything on his YouTube channel, Income School.

They did this because they were getting really busy with the huge amount of work and projects they were handling. They also didn’t have enough expertise to manage everything. In fact, despite getting tons of traffic, they weren’t able to take advantage of it, nor make the most of it.

They listed all their sites for sale in order to start their portfolio from scratch. The websites sold quickly, in large part due to how aggressively they listed and because they wanted to sell quickly.

They did not use a broker. Instead, they simply announced the intended sales on their YouTube platform. In the end, they earned around $500,000.

Valuing the Sites

Jim and his team priced most of the websites they sold at 32x revenue.

Many of the sites had no affiliate links, as they mainly used ads to generate revenue. Amazingly, they all sold within an hour - for the list price. Numerous offers came, and even reached around 20 for one site.

To choose a buyer, they selected the first 'Project 24' student who made an offer for the website. As these people were already customers, Jim and his team had a sense of trust in them.

Avi says that having an existing audience to sell to is a valuable asset, especially when you want an easy exit from a site or portfolio. 

No Brokers?

Jim prefers not to use a broker when selling his websites, as he’s had prior bad experiences with brokers who left him high and dry after doing several expensive deals. The process was filled with red tape, long back and forth discussions and coupled with horrible service.

Though he admits that there are good brokers in the industry, this particular experience definitely burned him and imprinted a lasting memory that deters him from dealing with brokers.

What options are there for new website owners who also don’t want to deal with a broker?

Jim says that joining a community is a great place to start, as you can post your listing in the group for other members to see. Another option is to just put a banner on your site explaining that it is for sale. Surprisingly, this has worked well for Jim, especially with his smaller sites. 

Starting Over

One benefit of starting from scratch and building new websites for Jim and his team is that they have shown and taught their whole process to their students. Jim now has 10 sites in his portfolio - all of them less than a year old. 

Buy vs. Build

Jim says that he would opt to buy only if he can find sites that are built the right way. Otherwise, he would build from scratch. He says that he rarely sees sites built in the right way or as he would like. Thanks to their Idaho-based writing team, they churn out tons of content for their sites, tailored to their needs and the sites’ needs. 

Regular Garage Sales

Jim plans to make garage sales a regular thing for his Income School website, and post around 2 to 3 sites for sale each month.

These sites are all brand new and have been built from scratch by Jim and his team. The websites include all content and SEO, and are non-revenue generating sites. They are also buying some customers’ small sites that aren’t growing as expected. They will dump a ton of content on these and then sell them in the garage sales.

Though buying from a garage sale is different from buying an established site, what is great is that the sites will be worth a whole lot more in a year. This is due to their growth potential and the huge amount of quality content that they already have.

Jim will use the revenue from these sales to reinvest and build more sites from scratch, and then list these again using the same process. 

Selling Strategy

Jim has three strategies for all his websites.

The first is build and hold, where websites that he thinks he could build a brand on would be held for the long-term.

The second is build, hold, and sell, which happens with the majority of his websites. This is for sites that have good potential for growth. He would build and hold them for a year to 18 months and wait until they're producing decent revenue before selling.

The last option is build and sell, which is just for sites that they have recently built, and have added content to, but no monetization. They would then sell them as is.

For these, any niche is possible, including the most fun and boring niches out there like power washers and concrete. Surprisingly, these niches are the source of many good keywords and search traffic.

Niche Selection

When choosing a niche, Jim usually starts by picking a broad (and sometimes very random) topic, from which he determines its demographic and the audience who would search for the topic.

From there, he checks if that demographic would appeal to potential advertisers. If so, he starts searching keywords with the goal of finding an underserved topic. That underserved topic pulls the trigger for Jim.

They also do not try to limit themselves, because they love challenges. For example, they recently went into the cooking niche, which is a notoriously competitive one due to the number of people and sites online. Though success isn’t guaranteed, what matters the most is that it served as a great learning opportunity for everyone involved.

Jim says that it’s great to challenge yourself once in a while, and although it could be scary going into a whole new niche you know nothing about, the rewards may be better than initially expected. You have an advantage going into a new niche, since you’re entering it with a fresh lens, and with experience from other industries and niches which you can apply to this new one.

YouTube

Entering the YouTube Game

Jim has found great success on YouTube with Income School.

Part of the reason they started the channel is because Jim loves blogging and has been a blogger for many years. The numbers you see on YouTube are incredible, and this makes the platform one that you definitely shouldn't ignore.

Income School already has a staggering 6 million views on its channel in only 12 months - an amazing feat for a blog.

Admittedly, this platform is relatively new territory in our industry, with many people still clueless as to how one can grow and sell audiences and channels.

Jim says that, to many people’s surprise, it is very doable and something that they are interested in at the moment. The reason is that YouTube has enormous audiences, with underutilized and under-monetized channels that could be making a ton of revenue with the right expertise and marketing. 

Valuing a YouTube Channel

Jim believes that valuing YouTube channels isn't too far off from how we would normally value websites.

A 32x multiple is definitely a possibility for a YouTube channel, provided that you find the right one.

The only problem is that there is currently no standard, and it really is new territory, with Jim having seen only a few people sell their channels. Finding the right people and the right channels is key to a good offer. 

Pioneer?

Jim has a dedicated team, and a decent amount of experience and know-how of the workings of YouTube. Avi believes that Jim would be the perfect candidate to test the waters for our industry. 

Enjoyed this episode or have any questions? Leave your comments at the bottom of the web version of this post.

Cheers,

Juliet

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
Nov 27, 2020
Ep:27 Colin Ma - Buying & Selling Websites
2660
In this episode of the Website Investing podcast, Avi speaks with Colin Ma who writes our Digital Asset Deals inside the community. Colin has grown a portfolio of sites and also works with us to find and vet our weekly website deals.

EPISODE SPONSOR

🔥 Smash Digital - an SEO growth agency with actual skin in the game, ranking their own portfolio of profitable businesses, and offering the exact same services to clients. Check. Them. Out.

📝Show Notes

Colin’s Background

Starting His Career

Colin’s first job was as a programmer and consultant, back in 2016. At the same time, Colin started out with his first ever affiliate site involving swimming pools. The site became very successful, and, at one point, Colin earned more from the site than he did from his day job. 

Getting Into Sites and SEO

Colin first dabbled with e-commerce and SEO back in college. He devoted a significant amount of time learning about these subjects and investigating how people earn money online. 

Getting Scammed

Colin also invested in a training program for affiliate sites and SEO. In this program, Colin initially learned and got advice from the couple running this training on website investing, and eventually decided to purchase the website from them. Though the website wasn’t earning much to begin with, he soon found out that it was a scam. The methods they used to grow their site were not legitimate, e.g. using fake clicks for ad impressions. Colin was eventually banned from AdSense because of this. After 3 or 4 months, Colin decided to stop running and growing the site, and instead focus on affiliate marketing. 

Affiliate Marketing and First Site

Colin didn’t know much about affiliate marketing back then, and he would constantly browse Flippa searching for sites. One day, he stumbled across Spencer Haws’ website, Niche Pursuits, which basically explained everything about affiliate marketing. He then decided to start an affiliate website for pool equipment - after looking around his house and backyard for inspiration. He built his first site while in his first job as a programmer and consultant. Colin usually spent 6 to 8 hours on Saturdays and Sundays to put out 3 to 4 articles for the site. It eventually grew and ranked, and, soon after, Colin was able to outsource the writing process. In a few months, the site raked in the insane amount of $29,000 per month. 

Later on, the site was hit by a Google update due to Colin's aggressive use of PBNs and because of dirty SEOs. He grew the site back to a few thousand dollars per month, and sold it. It was later brokered to Income Store by FE International (2018), before Income Store folded and was exposed as a Ponzi scheme. Colin decided to go with FE International because he was approached by them with an offer to purchase, and not because he was in the market to sell.

Colin’s Portfolio

Building His Portfolio

After selling his first site, Colin went on to buy and sell different websites. Some were e-commerce sites, but most were content sites. He has built a team that operates his constantly changing portfolio. These days, Colin is busy building sites with his team, and, since COVID hit, they’ve built a whole bunch of new sites - with 4 in the last two months alone. Colin also makes sure that he reinvests most of the money he makes back into his team. Earlier this year, he sold 2 sites in a 6-figure range each. 

Building Over Buying

Colin prefers building sites in niches that he really knows about and that is profitable, instead of buying bigger sites in the high-figure ranges. This is mostly due to his fear of another set of Google updates. The risk involved doesn’t make it appealing for him personally. If he's going to  buy a site, it would have to be a smaller size (in the $20,000 to $30,000 range) earning around $1,000 a month. 

Long-Term Strategy

Colin likes to buy sites and sell them within 6-12 months, after performing his optimizations (like building links and SEO) and improving their profits. When it comes to the sites he builds, he keeps these for around 1 to 3 years. 

Current Portfolio and Team

Right now, Colin has 8 sites in his portfolio, with 4 of them being built in the last 2 months. He also has a 4-person team manning the sites: one SEO manager, two content designers, and another for handling ad hoc tasks. They also work with writers to provide content for the sites. Colin is looking to hire more writers to edit and publish additional content.  

Currently, his portfolio value is around mid-six figures. 

Other Work

Vetting Deals

Colin also helps vet around 6 to 8 deals for investing.io’s newsletter every week. He researches many different marketplaces and sorts through hundreds of deals to complete the due diligence.

Domain Magnate and Niches

As the 'Buy and Sell Manager' for Domain Magnate, Colin is responsible for looking at websites, getting them purchased, and also selling their portfolio. He isn’t really involved in managing the sites, but he does provide strategy and insight. 

Together with Domain Magnate’s outreach team, he performs outreach to many different people and website owners in various niches, as well as checking private deals and marketplaces. Through this, he gets involved in niches that most people don’t really know about, but which are surprisingly viable. These niches include crypto and informational products, which Colin finds quite interesting. This doesn’t mean that they stay away from the more mundane niches, because as long as the niche is making a lot of money, then expect Colin and his team to do some outreach there as well. Their aim is to get around 1 or 2 sales a month, considering how hard it is to find really good sites that you want to buy. Most of the time, the quality just isn’t there. 

investing.io

Colin looks at a ton of deals for both Domain Magnate and investing.io. In finding and assessing quality sites, he usually looks at new and fresh deals that take place within the week of the newsletter's release. He also looks at sites with a decent trajectory, and, for this, Colin considers whether or not he would purchase the site himself. In the investing.io newsletter, he explains why he would personally buy it, and the possible pitfalls it would have if purchased. Colin reminds everyone that this isn’t something readers should take as a definitive guide to buying, as he is only doing the initial research on a deal. Readers should definitely do more research and due diligence on their own, and figure out why the sites are bad or good before purchasing. Risk for one person may not be risk for someone else. 

Marketplace Trends

Colin recently found 2 trends when it comes to brokers and marketplaces. Firstly, Motion Invest, (who sell a lot of smaller sites) sells sites relatively quickly. In fact, they sell so fast that Colin can’t even feature them on investing.io or Domain Magnate. This is the reason why he doesn't feature Motion Invest, even if he'd like to. 

The second trend involves Empire Flippers, who recently increased their multiples. Colin thought that no one would actually pay that premium for a site. However, within 4 hours, a site with not a great trajectory was sold for a surprising 39x monthly revenue. Colin says it is amazing to see people paying these multiples. Though sellers usually list them at high multiples, you still don't actually know the lowest multiple offer they will take. It might be a surprise to see how much you could negotiate these multiples down. 

Enjoyed this episode or have any questions? Leave your comments at the bottom of the web version of this post.

Cheers,

Juliet

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
Nov 13, 2020
Ep 26: Doug Cunnington (Plus Our Update)
5187
In this episode of the Website Investing podcast, Richard speaks with Doug Cunnington from Niche Site Project. Doug features all over the web as an expert on niche affiliate sites.

Quick update: We are transitioning to a platform play with investing.io (yesterday’s announcement email). From now on, we’ll publish these podcasts as complete episodes. The talented Avi is taking over as our podcast host.

EPISODE SPONSOR

🔥 Smash Digital - an SEO growth agency with actual skin in the game, ranking their own portfolio of profitable businesses, and offering the exact same services to clients. Check. Them. Out.

📝Show Notes

What Doug’s Been Up To?

Staying Busy

Doug has a blog, a podcast, and a YouTube channel where he talks about niche websites and affiliate marketing. A while ago, people started asking Doug to create some courses on these subjects. He did, and they've now been added to his website, NicheSiteProject.com. He’s also been marketing these courses, while keeping up with his podcast and YouTube channel.

Taking Time Off

Doug tends to stay busy, and he has long spells of around 4 to 8 weeks where he completely focuses on his work. But, he always makes sure to take some time off as well. To do this, he basically unplugs, unwinds, and totally relaxes for about a month. This month-long period of rest happens a few times a year, especially during the holiday season. Richard has only done something like this once: 7 years ago. Since Doug brought it up, Richard is now thinking of doing something similar in order to de-stress. 

De-Stressing

Richard usually takes an hour off every night to calm down and relax, especially after a long day taking care of his young child and working. Despite his hard work, Richard’s stress levels aren’t as high as expected, and are actually really low. He gets around 8 to 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night. 

Driving Traffic

For audience building and selling products, Doug has seen that his blog and YouTube channel are the ones driving the most traffic, followed by his podcast. People often find Doug and his blog through Google searches on how to make money online, or affiliate marketing questions. Cross-pollination also takes place. Because of this, Doug isn’t able to determine where people originate, or how people move from one of his platforms to another. 

With regard to sales, Doug saw his conversion rate improve after he started doing extra YouTube videos and livestreams. These help to show viewers how you speak and respond to questions. These methods create a little more trust for the viewer, leading to a possible sale. 

Recently, email marketing is something that has been big for Doug, as this helps build relationships with his users. It also helps to keep people's attention on Doug and his work, as well as encourage them to buy. 

As for his podcast, Doug has noticed that listeners are really engaged, and listen to most of the episodes, in comparison to YouTube where there are a lot of distractions. Despite podcasts typically having smaller audiences when compared to other platforms, they definitely help build a stronger relationship with listeners. Doug notices a lot more engagement and emails from his podcast listeners. 

Podcast

Doug has completed 190 episodes of his podcast since 2019, and has been doing two per week. Most of Doug’s podcast listeners come from Apple and iTunes, though Doug recently stopped focusing on the analytics because checking these stats would have him worrying about how to grow his podcast even more. In order to lessen the worry, he decided to stop looking at his analytics around 6 months ago, but he is considering going back to them in the future. In terms of publishing, Doug uses castos.com, which has no limits on episode length or file size. Richard also noted that Spotify has been a great platform for podcasts.

doug.show

This is Doug’s website for his podcast, and Richard thinks the domain is perfect. It’s really difficult to get a 4-letter domain (much more so when it's a first name) for any extension, so Doug was really lucky to secure this one for his podcast. 

YouTube

Doug has strongly promoted his YouTube channel, and now has over 20,000 subscribers. He also wishes that he'd started with YouTube earlier. Initially, Doug was really nervous about being on camera, but his channel has grown consistently with over 500 new subscribers per month in the past few years. YouTube’s recommendations are also very helpful in distributing videos to non-subscribers.

Doug has focused more on YouTube in recent years after seeing his email list and conversions grow. His YouTube conversion rate has been 5x that of other platforms, and so he concentrates on his channel to drive more traffic and cross-pollination to his email list. A part of this conversion is due to the keyword golden ratio, and also because he always links some spreadsheets and templates in his video descriptions. The increased number of videos have helped drive a lot of traffic, especially newcomers. 

Websites

Courses

The main monetization of this website are the small courses that Doug has developed over the past few months. Though Doug has dabbled in promoting affiliate products, he found this very difficult. The reason for this is that people aren’t really interested in the offers unless they solve a problem for them. These days, he usually rejects any offers to become an affiliate. Instead, he occasionally does sponsored videos, if it's something he likes.

The main course offering is called Multi-Profit Site. This is the newest iteration of a previous course called 5-Figure Niche Site. The new course is more future-proof: taking into consideration Amazon’s commission structure change. The course teaches you alternate ways to monetize and create income on your website. To put this together, Doug had the help of a bunch of SEO experts who wanted to build an affiliate course themselves. They partnered up and helped Doug focus more on the content production, while the rest of the team concentrated on the marketing aspects. It also relieved Doug from doing everything by himself. 

Kajabi

Doug puts his courses on Kajabi, where you can basically set up your own website. You can add a blog and get basic analytics, and also manage affiliate products and even coupon codes. Richard has also used Kajabi in the past for the more technical stuff he’s offered.

Substack

These days, Richard has opted for Substack because of the simplicity of the platform and its use for newsletters, email lists, and podcasts. Substack has grown in popularity, and has been a great platform for Richard. However, Substack isn’t exactly a complete service platform and so he’s keen to try additional features available outside of Substack in the future. 

Developing New Courses

Doug has been developing courses aimed at solving specific problems, as opposed to creating flagship courses that cover a wide range of topics. The first course he developed this year is called Side Growth Plan, which is meant for people who want to grow their site with more traffic and revenue, but are currently seeing stagnancy. Doug has thought about bundling courses that complement and fit well with each other. He’s also busy creating new courses that aren’t necessarily what users want, but are what Doug himself is interested in.

Selling NicheSiteProject.com?

Doug hasn’t seriously thought about selling his website, NicheSiteProject.com, but says that it is of interest to him and could be a possibility in the future. One thing to consider, though, is that a lot of the content and marketing on the site (and even on the YouTube channel) is tied to him personally. It could be difficult to let go of the site as that would create some issues. To address the problem, Doug has been trying to remove himself a bit from the newer content. Richard believes that it isn’t too hard to sell personally-tied websites and projects, based on his experience selling his old websites in which he featured prominently.

Portfolio

Diversifying His Portfolio

Doug has kept his portfolio number low, and has sought to diversify as well. There are a few businesses which he's ignored because they weren’t doing as well or weren’t interesting to him, but he has opted to keep these in his portfolio. He says that it is perfectly okay to do this, and not to just keep pushing them in the hope of achieving some success. This allows you to focus on other areas and projects which are easier to grow and develop, and keeps the stress levels down. But, the sites you ignore may potentially be of better use to someone else so it wouldn’t hurt to exit from those businesses.

A Tool in the Toolbox

Doug has been pushing the Keyword Golden Ratio (KGR), and uses it himself as one of his many keyword tools. People often believe that Doug uses KGR and nothing else. In truth, Doug uses many other tools and reference points alongside KGR. Richard highly recommends this to anyone who wants quick results, or is new to the game. 

Financial Freedom

Growing

People continually seek financial independence. Quite a number have found this freedom in the website investing space since it allows you to earn while taking time off for yourself too. Education is key for this space since there are many aspects that are a little difficult to learn and put into practice. Thanks to Doug’s website and courses, this gap in information has been bridged for many people wanting to invest in websites. 

Enjoyed this episode or have any questions? You can leave a comment at the bottom of the web version of this post.

Cheers,

Juliet

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
Nov 06, 2020
Ep25 Part 1: Jon Gillham on Investing in Multiple Businesses
1676
In this episode of the Website Investing podcast, Richard speaks with Jon Gillham from Motion Invest as well as Website Authority Income.

In this part 1, free subscribers get the first 45 minutes of the conversation; paying subscribers also get part 2 in their RSS feed. The second part typically elicits more insights as we get deeper into the conversation.

EPISODE SPONSORS

🔥 Smash Digital - an SEO growth agency with actual skin in the game, ranking their own portfolio of profitable businesses, and offering the exact same services to clients. Check. Them. Out.

🔥 Blackbook Investments- have been helping folks like you invest in websites for almost a decade with their personalized, comprehensive service and a vast network of buyers, sellers, and brokers. Fill out their Investor Questionnaire and see if website investing is right for you.

Part 1 Show Notes

Jon’s Recent Projects

An Array of Projects

Jon has been involved in many different projects over the past few years, and this continues. Among these are Motion Invest, Site Buddy, and a bunch of other new projects in the works.

Managing Everything

To manage all his businesses, Jon set up a holding company and made some of his businesses separate entities. Through this, the main holding company is able to own a chunk of several of the businesses, while the balance is owned by Jon himself - depending on the situation. In terms of management, Jon has individual managers assigned to each project once they reach a certain size.

Main Focus

The projects taking up most of Jon’s time are the newer ones. Jon has been involved in a few SaaS and online business projects lately, and has been focusing on growing them to a point where he can assign a specific manager to each of them.

Other Businesses

Jon also decided to get the best features of Rocket Internet and Consolation Software and create a project that focuses on easy-to-build single problem-solving solutions that have a proven product-market fit. It’s been pretty successful so far, despite a slower build because of its SaaS nature. Jon also plans to acquire everything from scratch, instead of building on something that already exists.

Jon is involved in the crypto-world through AdBank, and this takes up around 25% of his time. He has reached 87,000 users on the platform. Those people are users of the BLADE Extension, which blocks ads and replaces them with ads where you receive (AdBank) ADB tokens by viewing them. The browser extension also gives out marketing-type tasks for more tokens, including completing surveys, subscribing to YouTube channels, and retweeting content.

For the Future

Jon is open to rolling some of his businesses up into a publicly-listed company in the future. He would take some of the most attractive pieces of his businesses where he would need to be the "face."

Talking Funds

Jon says that a fund in this space, if pulled off correctly, would definitely be something to watch out for. He is considering setting one up, though would prefer to invest in much larger sites than the ones he currently owns - like Motion Invest. However, this is only one of the many ideas he’s come up with over the years, and so it isn’t going to materialize anytime soon. He would very much prefer to leave out the operations of the sites to the owners, as he is not too keen on the operator model where investors would operate the site themselves in exchange for a certain amount of money. Jon says that this model is ripe for problems, because you’re faced with an operator who cares only about a portfolio of sites. As such, conflicts arise and interests are not aligned.

Funds Going Public

Jon is actively in discussions to offer all of his sites to investors and funds, instead of offering them individually. That way, they would be buying up for the fund, instead of just reselling the sites. In addition, they would be able to pick a vertical where they know they could get monetization. In terms of structure, the fund would be a closed fund that won’t pay dividends. Instead, it would offer a significant upside exit opportunity to either take the fund public, or make it a 3-5 year timeline. The latter, Jon says, would best be done as a second fund that would need to gain initial momentum. The former, meanwhile, would require significant costs per year, considering the corporate structure, accounting, and legal requirements that need to be taken care of.

Public Listings

There is a benefit for the whole space if funds go public. People would not need to worry about capital levels and requirements, as they could easily buy stock in small amounts. This would definitely allow this whole space to go mainstream. So far, no one in the space has done this, and it would definitely be something to watch out for. Currently, the closest publicly listed companies are media companies that branched out a bit to the digital asset space.

Episode 25 Part 2

In part 2 of this conversation we discuss:

Site listings and continual improvements at Motion Invest

Using a group fund for website investments

Creating wealth to achieve financial freedom

The value of information

Part 2 is for paying subscribers. Access this by hitting the button below.

Enjoyed this episode or have any questions? You can leave a comment at the bottom of the web version of this post.

Cheers,

Avi Silverberg (Producer) & Richard Patey (Host)

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
Oct 30, 2020
Ep 24 Part 1: Doron Wolffberg on Focusing on a Single Vertical
1897
In this episode of the Website Investing podcast, Richard speaks with Doron Wolffberg from Cliverse Media - a cutting edge digital media company that creates and grows large and passionate audiences for niche industries. 

In this part 1, free subscribers get the first 45 minutes of the conversation; paying subscribers also get part 2 in their RSS feed. The second part typically elicits more insights as we get deeper into the conversation.

EPISODE SPONSORS

🔥 Niche Website Builders - a hands-off approach to outsourcing your content. Packages include keyword research & high-converting review templates. Get 10% off your first order.

🔥 Smash Digital - an SEO growth agency with actual skin in the game, ranking their own portfolio of profitable businesses, and offering the exact same services to clients. Check. Them. Out.

Part 1 Show Notes

Catching Up with Doron

Over the Last 12 Months

Over the last 12 months, Doron has set up his own company, "Cliverse", which is tasked with managing his content sites. These sites monetize mainly with affiliates, and most are focused on the pet space. Some of the sites were made from scratch, while others were acquisitions that were already producing revenue. 

Talking Portfolios

Doron wanted to grow his portfolio really quickly, and found that a mix of both these methods allowed him to do so. To acquire these sites, Doron and his partners injected their own money, and obtained debt financing from local banks. Banks don't normally understand how content sites work, which makes it hard to obtain financing from them. However, Doron and his partners convinced them to fund their acquisitions. 

This is Doron's 10-step process on how to buy a website: https://empireflippers.com/10-step-due-diligence-guide/

Listing His Sites

Doron listed 6 of his pet-space websites on the homepage of Cliverse, and Richard says that this is quite uncommon. Most people are scared that if they do this, they might get spam or negative SEO, or that their niche might get copied. Doron says that, considering that the pet niche is relatively easy for starting a site, he isn’t worried about anyone copying his sites - especially since he has many processes in place that are hard to copy. 

Diversifying Revenue Streams 

Doron and his partners have been looking for new sources of revenue for these sites. This was brought about by the last Amazon commission cut about 6 months ago and this got them to move from being solely reliant on affiliate marketing and SEO, to branding themselves as a publisher. As such, they’ve started doing new things, like starting a YouTube channel from scratch, and growing their email lists for their sites in the pet space with separate lists for each type of pet. This shift has helped open doors to forming partnerships with companies that want to advertise on their sites. This technique creates a sort of omnichannel approach, where companies that want to work with them make use of ad space and email lists to advertise their pet-specific products. This allows Doron to market his sites as a complete package, which is very attractive for companies. 

Getting on YouTube 

Doron and his partners also started a YouTube channel tied to their sites in the pet space. This was made from scratch earlier this year. Doron says that YouTube is massively undercapitalized by SEOs, considering that it is a huge search engine. They took their top content from one of their bigger sites, and created YouTube versions of the articles. The channel has had amazing success, and more engagement than what you would usually get from a site. It is easier to create an audience through people viewing, subscribing, and commenting. Currently, they are trying to start and grow other channels, to replicate the success they’ve had with their first one.

Facebook and Instagram

Doron and his company don’t really put much focus or attention on Facebook and Instagram for their sites, as he says that they are not very good at them yet. Though they have done some work on Facebook, it is really difficult to get organic reach and traction there, unless you have a very specific affiliate offer. As such, Doron decided to focus on YouTube where it is easier to reach a wider audience. 

Richard states that Instagram is starting to become a valuable asset that can drive traffic to your sites. Lots of Instagram pages are actually up for sale, with some in the pet niche. One of these sites has 250k followers and 20k likes per video post, and is being listed at $12,000. Instagram is definitely something to look out for, especially if you want to offer a complete package. 

Branching Out

Doron started out in the pet space and has thought of branching out to other verticals. In the near future and over the next year, he isn’t too keen on doing so because that would require building a team that is specialized in more than one area. However, this is something that they will likely do as they grow and scale the company. In the meantime, they are sticking to the pet space. 

Focus for the Next 12 Months

Doron and his company plan to focus on growing their existing sites over the next 12 months, and aren’t looking to add any more in the meantime. In the long run, they will look to kill off the smaller sites that aren’t earning much and shift their team’s focus onto the bigger sites in their portfolio. This allows them to manage their time and effort better. It also prevents the situation where one of their smaller sites gets hit by a Google update, and they'd have to invest a lot more time on that - instead of growing their bigger sites which earn them more revenue. 

Investments and Capital

Doron and his partners have been investing their cash flow back into the business. However, they’ve also been thinking of buying less and focusing on one large acquisition per period as opposed to buying smaller sites. For this, they would seek the help of investors who would provide capital for deals through a SPV. They would then hold onto these sites for the long term, instead of exiting quickly. Doron would rather be patient and grow their sites and their portfolio over time, especially if the niche allows them to do so. 

Advertising

Doron’s company currently works with AdThrive for their bigger sites, while their smaller sites work with affiliates. Doron is also thinking of turning the sites into their own ad display network. This is something that will most likely take off in the future, as it will also require working with other media companies and publishers. 

Working with Brands

Doron’s company also works with brands as an additional source of revenue. It is something that currently just complements the current monetization channels, since it is hard to find a brand that can take in all the traffic of the diverse content on Doron’s sites. 

Exiting

In terms of exiting, Doron and his partners will look to liquidate some of their smaller sites at the beginning of next year, especially the ones unrelated to the pet space. 

Redirects and Building Links

Doron recently managed to buy sites and domains that redirect into their existing ones. He’s also been able to copy and paste some of the content and added it to the new pages that he’s sending the acquired site into. He then mapped the pages for the links. Though they haven’t seen a bounce in rankings, Doron thinks that this will happen in the near future, especially when there is a new update. In addition, they have seen a bump in domain rating by a few points, thanks to backlinks. 

Episode 24 Part 2

In part 2 of this conversation we discuss:

Doron’s process for starting sites from scratch

Getting investors on board and how Doron structures deals

Building & acquiring social assets to drive significant traffic at low cost

Part 2 is for paying subscribers. Access this by hitting the button below.

Enjoyed this episode or have any questions? You can leave a comment at the bottom of the web version of this post.

Cheers,

Avi Silverberg (Producer) & Richard Patey (Host)

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
Oct 23, 2020
Ep 23 Part 1: Morten Storgaard on Passive Income
1851
In this episode of the Website Investing podcast, Richard speaks with Morten from the Passive Income Geek website and YouTube Channel.

In this part 1, free subscribers get the first 45 minutes of the conversation; paying subscribers also get part 2 in their RSS feed. The second part typically elicits more insights as we get deeper into the conversation.

EPISODE SPONSORS

🔥 Niche Website Builders - a hands-off approach to outsourcing your content. Packages include keyword research & high-converting review templates. Get 10% off your first order.

🔥 Smash Digital - an SEO growth agency with actual skin in the game, ranking their own portfolio of profitable businesses, and offering the exact same services to clients. Check. Them. Out.

Part 1 Show Notes

Tiny House and GoDownsize.com

Running the Site

Morten and his wife, Maria, own a niche website and YouTube channel called 'Go Downsize,' with their channel having over 100,000 subscribers. Maria came up with the whole idea, thanks to her background in architecture and a fondness for small spaces.

Starting Out in Business

Their First Downsize

Thirteen years ago, Morten started out in e-commerce, but he accumulated quite a lot of debt. Wanting to reduce this debt to become entrepreneurs, they decided to rent half of the space they lived in - effectively reducing the rent they paid. As a result, their expenses went down too, and this started their love for downsizing. 

Trying Out a Print Business

They were also involved in a print business, which they started with the help of an investor. For the first year or two, they saw the business grow quite a lot. Later on, really cheap printers popped up in the market and became widely available to the public, causing them to exit the business. Though they lost the money they put into that business, it was a great learning experience for them, especially with SEO and online marketing. 

Tiny Living

As a result of the downsize, they were left with just their 2 living rooms, which had a total area of around 30 to 40 square meters. This was their first foray into downsizing, and, since then, they’ve continued this tiny living and resided in caravans which are like apartments on wheels. 

GoDownsize.com and Other Sites

Main Business

GoDownsize.com is currently Morten and Maria’s main business. Over the years, he’s also been building sites which Morten says should reach the same potential. 

Sharing and Listing Other Sites 

Morten also has additional websites, some of which are currently listed on his other websites (and with others he’d rather not share and would like to keep to himself). The practice of listing or sharing your other websites on one website is rare, and definitely makes you more legitimate. Morten says that since he’s going down the YouTube route, he’d rather become transparent. The only thing he’d rather not share is his monthly income, as that is something very personal. 

Starting GoDownsize.com

Having started the website 8 or 9 years ago, and only getting it to full speed around 3 or 4 years ago, the website now has around 600 to 700 articles. This is Morten’s main focus, and has been so for 3 years. Though he started out writing articles for the website, he decided to hire a team of writers to do this for him as, back then, he thought that his English wasn’t good enough.

Exits

Morten has sold many small Danish-language sites in the past, but his most recent exit, AnimalHow.com, was the biggest one yet. It is also the first site in English that he has sold. He says that the reason he sold the Danish sites was because he wanted to shift to American and English-language sites.

AnimalHow.com Exit

He actually sold AnimalHow.com to someone who’d been watching his videos on YouTube. Morten started this website with a clean slate and a completely new domain name. He then grew the site, and even put in a link to GoDownsize.com. He didn’t ask or beg for any links. He had used the site as a testing ground for content strategies in the past - as seen on his YouTube channel. Overall, the website turned out really well, and Morten was able to make a good exit. 

SewingMachineTalk.com

Morten also owns SewingMachineTalk.com - admittedly a smaller website. However, since the COVID pandemic started - with quarantines and travel restrictions being imposed around the world - the site has picked up a lot of traffic. This is probably due to the number of people bored and stuck at home. As time passed, the traffic steadily decreased, which may be due to people going back to work and the easing of lockdowns. It has around 30,000 pageviews at the moment, with the site having about 60 pages.

Additional Niche Websites

Morten would rather acquire and build additional niche websites, instead of doubling-down on GoDownsize.com. He says that he’d rather spread the risk over different niches, and would rather not put all his eggs in one basket. Morten also loves building new websites and watching them grow exponentially. To him, it is very exciting, and is an opportunity to experiment with strategies and content. Lastly, Morten says that he would like to get into the business of selling websites, which is the major reason he sold AnimalHow.com. His plan is to sell one website a year, starting with AnimalHow.com this year. On top of that, he would like to make every sale bigger than last year’s, while also adding new sites to his portfolio in the process. 

Selling Go Downsize?

Morten does not think he could sell Go Downsize, as the site is very personal to him and Maria. It’s a YouTube channel as well, and he's put his and Maria’s names on the website. However, he is not 100% sure on this, and could change his mind in the future. For now, he is leaning more by keeping it. 

A Trend That Won’t Fade?

Go Downsize has the potential to reach 10x from mostly organic search - a truly amazing feat in itself, and something that’s very possible. Morten says that this is due in large part to it becoming a trend. People will continue to move into cities, and smaller living spaces become increasingly attractive because of high rent costs. Housing and land are definitely rising in cost, and when combined with starting your own business, it becomes more practical to live in a small living space. It's a trend that won’t go away anytime soon. 

Diversifying Traffic

Right now, organic search comprises 80% to 90% of the site’s traffic. Other sources are YouTube and Pinterest, but Morten really wants to focus on and grow organic traffic. Moreover, they’ve had to put the YouTube channel on hold for a while due to the birth of their son, Max. So these days, the focus has been on the Go Downsize website instead of the channel. Interestingly, the channel is still growing. They’ve had an additional 19,000 subscribers, and their older videos are still getting plenty of views. Richard thinks that this is an exciting asset to own, with many ways to leverage it. 

Episode 23 Part 2

In part 2 of this conversation we discuss:

Buying and listing Youtube channels

Morten’s strategy for focusing on topics rather than individual keywords

Why Morten thinks it’s better to focus almost exclusively on content, rather than build links yourself

How to grow your website past 100,000 monthly views

Why beginners should focus on ads rather than affiliate links

Part 2 is for paying subscribers, you can access by hitting the button below.

Enjoyed this episode or have any questions? You can leave a comment at the bottom of the web version of this post.

Cheers

Avi Silverberg (Producer) & Richard Patey (Host)

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
Oct 16, 2020
Ep 22 Part 1: Jaryd Krause on Buying Businesses to Build Wealth
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In this episode of the Website Investing podcast, Richard speaks with Jaryd Krause from Buying Online Businesses (Richard was on his podcast last year).

In this part 1, free subscribers get the first 45 minutes of the conversation; paying subscribers also get part 2 in their RSS feed. The second part typically elicits more insights as we get deeper into the conversation.

EPISODE SPONSORS

🔥 Niche Website Builders - a hands-off approach to outsourcing your content. Packages include keyword research & high-converting review templates. Get 10% off your first order.

🔥 Smash Digital - an SEO growth agency with actual skin in the game, ranking their own portfolio of profitable businesses, and offering the exact same services to clients. Check. Them. Out.

Part 1 Show Notes

Catching Up with Jaryd

BOB

These days, Jaryd is focused on BOB, or Buying Online Businesses. Through it, he guides people on doing good diligence, and he also helps them find and grow good website businesses. BOB offers a paid membership program where people who want to start buying online businesses can learn various aspects of the game through different course offerings, including buying online businesses, and growing them, even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The membership also includes access to a community where members can list, buy, and sell sites. These sites are usually in the 5- to 7-figure range.

Buying Online Businesses

Due Diligence Framework

Through BOB, members are guided on how to perform due diligence, and can even ask Jaryd for advice. They can easily ask Jaryd to review their due diligence by submitting to him a due diligence framework which he can review. From there, Jaryd can offer tips and also point out any red flags to watch out for before moving forward with the listing and making an offer. 

The Inner Circle Mastermind

This is one of BOB’s programs where Jaryd has 1-on-1 coaching sessions with clients. This program involves Jaryd sharing and suggesting business strategies and tips on growing their businesses. The program only accepts 20 members to allow Jaryd to devote a good amount of time and focus to each member.

The Community

The community currently runs on a platform called 10xpro.io. It allows for a great membership portal, and pages to put up their courses. It is similar to Kajabi in that regard. 

Different Backgrounds

Jaryd’s audience for BOB have lots of different backgrounds, ranging from e-commerce to SaaS, and even content sites. Of these, content sites take up a big chunk of the membership, with 40%, with SaaS and e-commerce splitting the remaining 60%.

Meetups and Events

Though they are currently unavailable for physical meetups due to COVID restrictions around the world, Jaryd and BOB members usually like to meet up and hang out with one another, coupled with the opportunity to share what they’ve been doing and how their businesses have been faring and growing. It’s a great event for networking and learning, and for newbies, coming into this would give them a wealth of information and advice. They’d then be coming out full of confidence and inspiration to do more business. These days, however, they conduct “virtual campfires” every 2 months instead, but the level of fun and sharing of information is as great as ever, and being able to connect with like-minded people has been a really big takeaway from these events. 

Around the World

Travelling

Jaryd has been travelling and has been based in lots of different countries and cities over the years, including the U.S., Honduras, and his current location of Australia. He’s been able to make friends and network extensively because of this. 

BOB’s Virtual Community

Level of Capital

Jaryd says that the minimum amount of capital to spend in order to buy a good online business is at $10,000. Anything lower than that would only allow you to buy a startup, which would require a lot of time, effort, and additional capital to get some returns. In fact, the usual price range you would see in the community is $50,000, with some going as high as a couple hundred thousand dollars. For these high-level deals, buyers usually have partners or investors to help fund the acquisitions. Debt financing is also another source of money and capital for these big deals. 

Bringing in Capital and Investors

Lots of investors and capital partners come in and help members participate in high level deals. However, they do not partner with newcomers who are purchasing a site for the first time, as they’d rather much partner with more seasoned buyers. 

Goals

The goal of the community is to help members run their online businesses, at only 3 to 8 hours a week. This is perfect for newbies in the online business game, and who usually have day jobs and are looking to earn more on the side initially by buying an online business. Later on, as the business grows, these people are then able to leave their day jobs and have their income stream from their business take over. However, this does not mean that they will be spending even more time on the business. On the contrary, they still devote the same amount of time for their businesses, and this gives them a whole lot more time to spend with their family and friends, and do the things they want to do, since they don’t have a 9-5 job anymore. At the end, the goal is to become their own boss, by having their own businesses. 

Building Wealth

Another end goal for the community is to create wealth. As their businesses grow, members are able to acquire even more businesses to increase their income stream. Jaryd also says that this allows them to invest in other types of assets, like property, which is considered as a more stable asset. This helps especially considering that the online space is a volatile space, which can be hit pretty hard by different factors.

Episode 22 Part 2

In part 2 of this conversation we discuss:

Whether buying domains rather than websites is a better path to build wealth

How to know when to flip a site in order to take money off the table

Reinvesting in your business vs investment diversification

Investing in other online business operators

Subscription businesses and why Richard may set up a coffee one

Part 2 is for paying subscribers, you can access by hitting the button below.

Enjoyed this episode or have any questions? You can leave a comment at the bottom of the web version of this post.

Cheers

Avi Silverberg (Producer) & Richard Patey (Host)

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
Oct 09, 2020
Ep 21 Part 1: Zach Zorn on the Money Nomad Marketplace
2296
In this episode of the Website Investing podcast, Richard speaks with Zach Zorn from Money Nomad about his new marketplace and partnership with Empire Flippers.

In this part 1, free subscribers get the first 40 minutes of the conversation; paying subscribers also get part 2 in their RSS feed. The second part typically elicits more insights as we get deeper into the conversation.

EPISODE SPONSORS

🔥 Niche Website Builders - a hands-off approach to outsourcing your content. Packages include keyword research & high-converting review templates. Get 10% off your first order.

🔥 Smash Digital - an SEO growth agency with actual skin in the game, ranking their own portfolio of profitable businesses, and offering the exact same services to clients. Check. Them. Out.

Part 1 Show Notes

Money Nomad

How it Started

Zach was approached by Empire Flippers with an offer of them becoming a minority owner in Money Nomad. The reason for this is that they don’t service and broker websites in the $30,000 or less range, due to profitability issues. However, with Money Nomad, Zach is then able to fill in the gap and service people who want to sell online assets which have a value between $5,000 to $30,000, which isn’t really possible with Empire Flippers. 

Connecting with Sellers

Generally, Zach is able to connect with sellers through his following and e-mail list. However, Empire Flippers also helps out on this end by referring clients who do not reach their $30,000 value mark to Zach.

Newsletters and the Marketplace

Getting Popular

Lots of newsletters have been popping up recently and are becoming a great way of bringing knowledge and tips to people, subscribers, and the marketplace too---especially in the website investing space, with Richard also having a newsletter of his own. 

Good Business Model

The newsletter space is a really interesting one, as it doesn’t have a startup cost, and has lots of ways to monetize it. It’s a great way to feature deals and listings as well.

Zach’s Blog Content

Zach usually churns out 2 articles a month, and he makes sure that those articles are really well-tailored with all the keyword research included. He also writes these articles himself, and he’s been able to get lots of readers and really good rankings. Though he’d like to publish at least one article a week, unfortunately, time constraints are currently preventing him from doing so.

The Marketplace

Zach believes that as the marketplace of Money Nomad grows, Money Nomad will definitely grow as well. People in the marketplace would be ideally able to navigate to Money Nomad and vice-versa in the future. Zach did this, and essentially consolidated everything into one website instead of starting a new one. 

Domaining

Richard’s Portfolio

Richard currently has a lot of different domains, and he’s willing to wait in order to get the value of these domains to an end-user level. He’s also trying out different aspects, like branding and local names. Richard is aiming to get at least 10x, and will keep renewing the domains until they get to that level. Domaining, according to him, is definitely a waiting game.

Domain Database

A great tool to search for domains, extensions, and domains with similar names is dotdb.com. Richard highly suggests this tool when looking for same or similar domains, especially when you are considering buying domains. 

Building from Expired Domains

Zach has been wanting to get into building websites from expired domains. Richard himself has been dabbling in it for quite some time, and currently has a couple in his portfolio. Richard also says that he would definitely not start on a fresh domain, unless he is redirecting a powerful one into it.

One popular way of acquiring these domains is through auction, like through GoDaddy and other platforms. They would then vet for these domains and make sure that everything is in order and will work smoothly.

Richard is looking into acquiring more domains, and is also looking to get a low 5-figure domain by the end of the year. You can definitely spend a lot of time searching for domains, and it can become a rabbit hole. 

PPCs and Leads

It would be hard for someone to put up PPCs, unless you are able to generate leads well enough. Zach does this pretty well, as he’s involved in brokering yachts. Since he’s able to generate leads well, all he needs to do is just create a landing page with funnels, and things can flow from there with PPCs. Zach would then be able to sell boats and yachts from there. 

Adding Content and Redirects

What Richard would normally do is buy an aged domain with a brand name, and 301 redirect any page from that old domain that had links, into his new site. He would map the pages, and also rebuild or recreate them, then get them indexed. He would then add some content to those rebuilt pages, and copy these pages onto his main site. Afterwards, he’d add a canonical tag so Google knows that the content has moved. Lastly, he’d add the redirects. This, according to Richard, is the safest and most legitimate way of moving, while allowing the authority to pass on to his new domain well. If rebuilding can’t be done, Richard suggests redirecting them to the most relevant page, or home page. All of this requires a lot of time, but will reap a lot of upside in the end.

Episode 21 Part 2

In part 2 of this conversation we discuss:

How Zach handles website payments / escrow

Sculpting the best audience for his marketplace

Websites investing vs stock market correlation

A website investing event?…

Part 2 is for paying subscribers, you can access by hitting the button below.

Enjoyed this episode or have any questions? You can leave a comment at the bottom of the web version of this post.

Cheers

Avi Silverberg (Producer) & Richard Patey (Host)

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
Oct 02, 2020
Ep 20 Part 1: Mark Mars on Investing in Content on Aged Domains
2413
In this episode of the Website Investing podcast, Richard speaks with Mark Mars about investing in content on aged domains. Mark is the co-founder of Niche Website Builders with Adam Smith (who was on the first podcast) and together they run the facebook groups on Building and Flipping.

In this part 1, free subscribers get the first 40 minutes of the conversation; paying subscribers also get part 2 in their RSS feed. As is typical, part 2 elicits more insights as we get deeper into the conversation.

EPISODE SPONSORS

🔥 Niche Website Builders - a hands-off approach to outsourcing your content. Packages include keyword research & high-converting review templates. Get 10% off your first order.

🔥 Smash Digital - an SEO growth agency with actual skin in the game, ranking their own portfolio of profitable businesses, and offering the exact same services to clients. Check. Them. Out.

Part 1 Show Notes

Mark’s Pursuits

Main Focus

Mark’s focus these days has largely been centered on Niche Website Builders, which is his content site building business. Though he has his own portfolio and even a personal team of writers working on his portfolio, it has taken a back seat in his list of priorities and has been devoting a large part of his time to the business instead. 

Expanding the Portfolio

He is also looking to expand his portfolio come the new year with the addition of a few smaller sites. He is not big on flipping, as he would rather grow his websites and his audience over time. Once he sees that a website is taking off, he would then decide to invest more money into it and build it up into a proper business. 

Picking Niches?

At the moment, Mark does not particularly pick niches he’s interested in. Rather, he would pick sites that have a high potential of growth and opportunity. This is in large part due to the fact that he is not a writer, as he says that writers who would write extensively for the website would very much rather write about a niche they are particularly interested in so as to motivate them to write. 

Niche Website Builders

Starting Out

The business launched earlier in the year and had a shaky start. Early on, they took on too many clients so they had to slow down for a while. They also initially outsourced content to a US agency, but that didn’t work out as the agency couldn’t handle the workload and even outsourced it themselves which led to subpar quality writing. 

Prior to This

Before this, Mark ran a digital marketing agency called Perceptive Flow for about 5 or 6 years, and this took up a lot of Mark’s time and effort as he worked to build it up slowly. Later, one of his long-term customers wanted to team up, and so Mark gave him equal equity in the business. The business didn’t really work out, as it was not profitable and they only earned enough to survive and get the staff going. This led to Mark leaving the business and starting Niche Website Builders shortly afterwards. 

Clientele and Services

Under the new business, Mark sought to cater to clients needing content sites for their own businesses. To this end, he hired a team of writers and management staff, instead of getting the services of agencies as they had bad experiences with them in the past. 

Today, Niche Website Builders provides end-to-end services, including niche selection and research. In fact, all the client needs to do is to click on “publish”. 

In terms of fees, clients usually pay in bulk for content. However, they also offer subscription-based payments, and 30-35% of their earnings come from this. 

Moving to Expired Domains 

Mark and his team have been moving towards expired domains when building websites for clients. Firstly, they look for an expired domain in the niche that the client is interested in, and build their websites from there by adding around 100,000 words of content. This is also what portfolio owners are also interested in. In fact, these days, they build websites out of expired domains more than they do through their site on fresh domains. They are also looking to turn this into a business model in the near future, and they’ve been building lots of connections to source expired domains. Currently, they make a very small margin on these domains as sort of like a finder’s fee. However, they view this service only as a way to sell their main product, which is content. They would look to purchase these domains from auctions, and would focus on churning out the content once they acquire it. They have an expired domain waitlist.

Purchasing Domains

Niche Website Builders usually base their valuation of domains on calculations based on various scientific metrics, such as SEO value. Realistically, they would not spend $100,000 on a domain, as the highest they’ve spent on one is $5,000. They look to purchase domains below the market value considering their SEO profile. Moreover, through their partners, they’re looking to act as a middle-man between the partner and the client, in case the partner has a domain that the client is interested in. 

Adam & Mark were kind enough to send through examples of aged domains they own that they have been hitting with content below:

Plans for the Near Future

Mark is constantly trying to expand their team of writers, considering the consistently increasing demand for their services. They are also looking to focus their services on only a few aspects of website development, in which they are experts in. In fact, they are not really looking to broaden their range of services, as Mark says that it is better that they be good and reliable experts in a few fields than be merely versed in a wide range. Moreover, with their dip into developing aged domains, they are looking to involve this aspect more heavily into their business model of content creation, through the help of their partnerships as previously mentioned. 

Listing Aged Domains

Need for Exclusivity

Oftentimes, domains are listed on two or more platforms/marketplaces, and so Mark says that there is a need to have these domains exclusively listed on one, such that there wouldn’t be a need to delist them on other marketplaces and platforms once it is sold. 

DNWE

One platform for selling domains is DNWE, and they have an option to list your domain exclusively for a set period of around 15 to 30 days. This is a workaround to what Mark has talked about above. 

Richard also mentions how this is all very new, and no one has actually enabled people to list aged domains with authority in a professional way. For Mark, he would rather keep things at a 1:1 basis for now in terms of selling aged domains, meaning that he would only source them when a client needs them. 

Episode 20 Part 2

In part 2 of this conversation we discuss:

Mark’s strategy on buying and selling aged domains

Why he thinks aged domains are undervalued

The difference between Expired vs. Expiring Domains

How Mark chooses to invest and reinvest profits

How Mark views diversification of his web assets

Part 2 is for paying subscribers, you can access by hitting the button below.

Enjoyed this episode or have any questions? You can leave a comment at the bottom of the web version of this post.

Cheers

Avi Silverberg (Producer) & Richard Patey (Host)

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
Sep 25, 2020
Ep 19 Part 1: Ruaan Nel on Getting to Five Figures a Month
2841
In this episode of the Website Investing podcast, Richard again speaks with Ruaan Nel on how he has grown from a four-figure a month portfolio (previous episode) to well into five figures.

In this part 1, free subscribers get the first 45 minutes of the conversation; paying subscribers also get part 2 in their RSS feed. As is typical, part 2 elicits more insights as we get deeper into the conversation.

EPISODE SPONSORS

🔥 Niche Website Builders - a hands-off approach to outsourcing your content. Packages include keyword research & high-converting review templates. Get 10% off your first order.

🔥 Smash Digital - an SEO growth agency with actual skin in the game, ranking their own portfolio of profitable businesses, and offering the exact same services to clients. Check. Them. Out.

Part 1 Show Notes

Ruann’s Current Portfolio

New Additions

Ruann has grown his portfolio and started a few websites since last speaking with Richard, with one failing and the others doing well despite the June Google update. Overall, he has 9 money sites earning more than $100 and is looking to add more. 

Selling Websites

Ruann has also been trying to sell websites out of his portfolio by listing them on brokerage sites like Empire Flippers, where he is yet to sell this one site he listed back in August. This site, however, which is currently his 2nd biggest in his portfolio at $3,000 in earnings, has been slowly growing despite Ruann not doing much to it, and despite the June update. He does very minimal things to it, like posting monthly blog posts. 

Dealing with Updates

Some of Ruann’s sites have been hit by the Amazon and Google updates, like one cycling niche website which took almost a 50% hit on its revenue. To deal with this, Ruann has had to do a lot of customer affiliate and private affiliate offers (such as AvantLink) to get good conversions. These really helped bring back the revenue, and even do better than it was doing before the Amazon update, as it’s now doing comfortably well at 5 figures a month.

Growing Websites

He’s also been trying to grow a website which he bought for $25k. So far, it’s been growing really quickly and is on track to get to $2,000 in earnings. Interestingly, he’s been doing nothing to the site itself, and is doing all the work on a staging domain through links and redirects from his main websites in his portfolio. 

Working With Redirects

To do this safely, he would usually do a 301 redirect, and also take part of the content and update it by adding new mini-reviews. He also makes sure that there are no internal links pointing to redirects. Those pages would then be hosted on the new site. By doing these, the link juice will go over to the other site, and will also carry some re-carry juice. 

He’s also not really paranoid about keeping those sites completely separate from Google. Considering that the redirects are done mainly to transfer posts to a more appropriate site, then Ruann believes that Google will not really mind it. 

Making Changes to his Main Sites

Ruann is hesitant to make big changes to his main sites all at once, and would rather stagger it over a period of time. Recently, he’s been making changes to a website he purchased by having it re-designed and having his editor going through all articles and posts to make sure that everything is readable and is in proper English. 

Increased Traffic

His main sites have recently been seeing an uptick in website traffic, thanks to the redirects he has done. Ruann tries to limit the redirects into the main site to just one per site. Moreover, the increased website traffic is also due to traffic from searches, thanks to the thousands of archived articles on the site. 

Buying New Sites

Whether or not Ruann buys sites is based on whether his SEO is in the mood to go shopping, and to monitor auctions. They mostly acquire auction domains, and would always stay away from expired domains. 

Link-Building

Ruann’s Strategy

Over time, Ruann and his team have been able to streamline their process for link-building. Their strategy consists of 50% guest posts, 20% to 30% being niche edits, and the rest going to PBNs. Guest posts are at the core of their strategy, and they usually get these guest posts from a list of guest writers they have, and from lists they share with other sites. They also do outreach by contacting their competitors and offering to do a link swap with them. Link swaps are also a good source of link-building. Ruann then supplements it with authority builders, which may be a bit on the expensive side, but are good with links and anchor text. Citations are also part of Ruann’s strategy, and he uses SEOButler for this. 

PBNs

As for PBNs, he’s recently switched over to an extremely aggressive anchor text, which provides an exact match for an exact match for the PBN. Ruann says that he would like to get his power from this. The average domain rating for the PBNs he has are at 10 to 20 DR. He also gets the services of Rank Club to supplement his PBNs. 

Generally, PBNs are able to help boost a site’s ranking, even if they are toxic PBNs, as long as they are filtered through guest posts. They are actually able to take their toxic inventory and point it to their guest posts, thus giving it power.

Ruann also recommends no more than 8 to 12 outbound links for PBNs.

Episode 19 Part 2

In part 2 of this conversation we discuss:

Avoiding PBN patterns

The best way to redirect an aged SEO domain

Ruaan’s new acquisitions

How he was able to 9x his portfolio asset value over the last 12 months

Part 2 is for paying subscribers, you can access by hitting the button below.

Enjoyed this episode or have any questions? You can leave a comment at the bottom of the web version of this post.

Cheers

Avi Silverberg (Producer) & Richard Patey (Host)

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
Sep 18, 2020
Ep 18 Part 1: Benjamin Strušnik on Upside from Technical SEO
2428
In this episode of the Website Investing podcast, Richard speaks Benjamin Golden from GoldenWeb about the upside that technical SEO can bring.

In this part 1, free subscribers get the first 40 minutes of the conversation; paying subscribers also get part 2 in their RSS feed. As is typical, part 2 elicits more insights as we get deeper into the conversation.

EPISODE SPONSORS

🔥 Niche Website Builders - a hands-off approach to outsourcing your content. Packages include keyword research & high-converting review templates. Get 10% off your first order.

🔥 Smash Digital - an SEO growth agency with actual skin in the game, ranking their own portfolio of profitable businesses, and offering the exact same services to clients. Check. Them. Out.

Part 1 Show Notes

Humble Beginnings

Starting with YouTube

At the age of 12, Benjamin stumbled upon a bunch of YouTube review videos focusing on technology like phones and other gadgets. Later on, he started making his own review videos, and even got sponsored by companies to review their products. Today, his channel has over 25,000 subscribers and 10 million views. 

Getting Into Websites and SEO

By 17 or 18, Benjamin thought of making his own websites where he could host his videos, and where people could learn more about him. Later, various companies contacted him and inquired if he could make websites for them, which he did. He then turned this into a business which worked on 7 to 8 sites per week, with a team of 23 members. 

However, he later realized that the companies which contracted him to make websites for them were not really looking for websites, but were looking for leads. This is how he got into marketing. Later on, he and his team would get into web designing and development, and eventually, SEO. 

SEO Auditing

Thanks to having a strong background in web design and development, Benjamin and his team are able to offer website optimization services to their customers. This way, small and basic issues relating to coding, links, and not implementing best practices are taken care of. By cleaning, auditing, and working on these, Benjamin’s customers are able to garner more organic traffic on their websites, without the need for any kind of new content or links. 

Through networking and recommendations, Benjamin was able to capitalize on a lot of opportunities to grow this business, and today, GoldenWeb offers SEO auditing and solutions for its various clients. 

GoldenWeb

Revenue-Sharing Model

A large part of the business of GoldenWeb comes in the form of a revenue-sharing model, specifically for e-commerce sites. As opposed to the usual project fee, they negotiate with their clients for a return of the site’s upsides for a certain period of time. It brings a ton of benefits for clients, as they get their websites audited immediately, allowing them to earn more money quickly after their sites have been optimized. Usually, they would negotiate for a 10% to 20% share of the revenue, and only if the traffic comes through organic searches to keep things fair. 

GoldenWeb also has other payment structures available, such as getting a percentage of the earnings after a website has been flipped and sold. They can be very flexible in this regard, and it all depends on the individual agreement with the client. 

For the Client’s Benefit

GoldenWeb does not require any investment, time, or thinking from the site owners, as Benjamin and his team handle everything for the client, with the goal of optimizing the website and making it better than it was before to achieve incredible returns. In fact, more often than not, Benjamin turns down audit requests from clients, if he sees that he and his team cannot provide amazing returns at all. 

Services

GoldenWeb performs audits for their clients, and once fixed, there is no need to worry about this aspect of websites anymore. Rather, the focus of clients should be on releasing new content and links. GoldenWeb focuses on providing services and activities that deliver the most results, like auditing and fixing links, instead of tweaking small aspects of the site which are not even guaranteed to rake in more organic traffic and good upsides. 

Optimization Tips

Being Careful with Internal Links

Changing internal links, or how pages link to other pages, can have a negative impact on how your website operates, especially if you aren’t careful enough. Consequences can include seeing a drop on those pages, as broken links and indexed content are actually quite common. 

Category Pages

Benjamin always suggests to clients who want to rank category or parent pages that they must have unique content on these pages, and not just generic posts. This also depends on the type of website that you have. For niche websites, for example, which revolve around that same niche, parent-and-child pages are more optimal. On the other hand, for more diverse authority sites, categories are the way to go, and ranking these categories can definitely be beneficial. 

Benjamin also suggests not to use your target keyword in the URL more than once for these category pages, as it would lead to a very cluttered URL, and is actually contrary to best practices. 

Sites With No Authority

Google may see some sites as not authoritative enough due to their linking not being correct, or not being good enough. Often, they do not even have supporting content, which is why the site does not have any authority, as it is all over the place. 

WordPress

Benjamin says that WordPress is still the best platform for people to choose, as it is the most well-structured platform, since it has the most support and the most plugins available. Though security can be an issue, this can be usually taken care of by the available support and plugins.

Episode 18 Part 2

In part 2 of this conversation we discuss:

Crawl budget optimization

Handling redirects to not lose link juice

The Affiliate Accelerator Program where he’s partnered with Mark Whitman (previous podcast) - find out how much he is allocating to content vs links

Why Benjamin buys expired domains without a link profile (this is a killer hack)

How best to target local markets

Part 2 is for paying subscribers, you can access by hitting the button below.

Enjoyed this episode or have any questions? You can leave a comment at the bottom of the web version of this post.

Cheers

Avi Silverberg (Producer) & Richard Patey (Host)

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
Sep 11, 2020
Ep 17 Part 1: Matt Raad on Website Funds, Startups & Domains
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In this episode of the Website Investing podcast, Richard speaks with Matt Raad from eBusiness Institute which teaches website investing through their Digital Profits Program.

In this part 1, free subscribers get the first hour of the conversation; paying subscribers also get part 2 in their RSS feed. As is typical, part 2 elicits more insights as we get deeper into the conversation.

EPISODE SPONSORS

🔥 Niche Website Builders - a hands-off approach to outsourcing your content. Packages include keyword research & high-converting review templates. Get 10% off your first order.

🔥 Smash Digital - an SEO growth agency with actual skin in the game, ranking their own portfolio of profitable businesses, and offering the exact same services to clients. Check. Them. Out.

Part 1 Show Notes

Getting Into Website Investing

Starting With a Struggling Business

25 years ago, Matt and Liz bought a struggling manufacturing business, which was their first foray into business. Here, they learned the ropes about business and entrepreneur life. Eventually, they turned the fortunes of the business around, with the help of mentors and friends whom they learned from. They then got into buying and selling businesses (mostly manufacturing businesses), and through it, they also got to network with lots of successful entrepreneurs. Later on, they would become involved in business brokering with private equity firms, who would not look to flip these businesses, but would rather roll up as many as 10 businesses from the same industry together and float them on the stock exchange. 

Expanding the Manufacturing Business

Apart from buying and selling businesses, they also got into buying and selling real estate, and the profits they would earn from it would go straight into their manufacturing businesses, thus helping them expand. They say that this is a faster way to get more capital, rather than taking out loans from banks. They would very much rather stay away from debts.

Teaching Investors

Matt and Liz now teach people who are looking to get into website investing through the eBusiness Institute. Teaching mostly beginners, they try to help them get to their first 6 figures (discussed more in part 2). However, they’ve realized that there is a whole new level of investors they could teach: ones who have a substantial amount of money to invest in a website, but do not know where to start, or do not even want to do it themselves. They are now thinking of how to connect these kinds of investors with knowledgeable people to help run their websites for them. 

A Possible Solution?

Richard thinks that these investors are better off putting their money in a fund that owns different websites and has a dedicated team managing these websites. Owning a website and commissioning people to work on them is not really the optimal option, considering the expertise and time required to manage them. Matt believes that this is a new trend which will gain traction over the next 12 months. However, there aren’t many funds that are public and are specifically targeting content websites, with a few being media companies like Dotdash and internetbrands.com. A lot of them are doing this privately, like Digital Dividends. This is definitely something to look out for in the future.

**Richard recorded this episode before the pooled fund episode with Michael from Domain Magnate.**

Startup Investing

The Brisbane Angel Investing Scene

Being one of the better angels groups, and having good contacts with Silicon Valley, it has a really strong and vibrant startup scene filled with young entrepreneurs. Though not a lot of website businesses are coming in, there are quite a lot of good deals happening around. 

Building a Community

Angel investing is not just about making money, but also about building a network and giving back to the local community. It’s quite popular among retired and semi-retired investors. Therefore, if you’re young and looking to make a lot of money out of it, Matt says you are better off buying websites. 

Valuing Startups

The startup scene in Brisbane tends to have really high valuations, partly due to founders’ expectations, but mostly due to Silicon Valley investors injecting lots of capital into small startups, sometimes in the millions. This is definitely hard to compete with, and as a result, valuation has been driven up unrealistically.

Episode 17 Part 2

In part 2 of this conversation we discuss:

Why Matt recommends beginner website investors to build first before buying

Renovating sites bought from Flippa

Crafting the perfect website listing

Making money from expired domains

Facilitating the setup of funds through skilled operators

Part 2 is for paying subscribers, you can access by hitting the button below.

Enjoyed this episode or have any questions? You can leave a comment at the bottom of the web version of this post.

Cheers

Richard Patey (Host) & Avi Silverberg (Producer)

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
Sep 04, 2020
Ep 16 Part 1 ♤ Josh Mitchell on Acquiring To Hold'em
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In this episode of the Website Investing podcast, Richard speaks with Josh Mitchell on acquiring sites to hold for the long-run (and how to acquire sites at closer to 2x earnings). Josh used to be a professional football/soccer player and is another one in this industry that loves poker.

In this part 1, free subscribers get the first ~40 minutes of the conversation; paying subscribers also get part 2 in their RSS feed. As is typical, part 2 elicits more insights as we get deeper into the conversation.

EPISODE SPONSORS

🔥 Niche Website Builders - a hands-off approach to outsourcing your content. Packages include keyword research & high-converting review templates. Get 10% off your first order.

🔥 Smash Digital - an SEO growth agency with actual skin in the game, ranking their own portfolio of profitable businesses, and offering the exact same services to clients. Check. Them. Out.

Part 1 Show Notes

How Josh Started

Exploring Opportunities

Josh used to play professional football/soccer, but he also wanted to get some passive income on the side, as well as explore some opportunities for life after pro soccer. He decided to learn how to build websites with some of his friends. Though it didn’t take off, he learned lots of valuable skills in the process, such as building niche websites. 

A 3-Man Team

Josh then teamed up with two of his buddies to build lots of different websites. The three of them would split the workload and the consequent profits among themselves evenly. Many of their websites which they’ve invested into failed, but this was a great learning experience for them, especially Josh.

Buying on Empire Flippers

Josh then bought a site on Empire Flippers in December 2016 for $44,000. It was making good money and so he decided to invest in it for the long term. He says that learning through this, and not by building a website from scratch, is the better option for him. In fact, he still owns the site today, and he is making good profit off of it.

Building His Portfolio

These days, Josh and his business partner, Andrew, search for good websites to invest in and hold on to for the long term, rather than going for a quick flip like what other people tend to do. So far they’ve invested around $500,000 on site acquisitions and have acquired 11 so far, with more planned on the way. They’ve been hard at work at improving their sites with the help of their team members.

The Goal

By acquiring and investing in these sites, Josh is looking to both create more income, as well as exit them in the future for profit when the opportunity is right. He says they will only exit at the right multiple. However, at the moment, they are more focused on income-generation rather than selling these sites for profit. 

Josh’s Portfolio

Big and Small

Josh’s portfolio includes sites that generate a lot of income, and ones that earn as little as $500 a month. These smaller sites do not earn as much because they haven’t worked on them yet, and were recently purchased on Flippa. Also, Josh doesn’t like to go for sites that are either too small or too big. His biggest site is a tech site, which has around 300 pages with around 6,000 visitors a day. His other sites usually have around 100 pages. 

The Coffee Niche

Josh says that the coffee niche is a very interesting and profitable niche, considering that people love coffee and are passionate about it. There is also a chance that you can become an authoritative figure in that niche. It’s definitely something to consider and explore. 

The Process

Josh and his team would work on a site until it is “done” or has reached its maximum potential. These are the sites that are earning really well and have reached a cap in terms of content and number of pages. Once they’ve reached this point, they will then shift their focus on other sites that need work in their portfolio, and will also look to acquire more sites. 

Reaching the Cap

Once a site has reached its cap, Josh says that emails, YouTube videos, and working with social media influencers would be the next step to maintain its growth. 

Selling and Dropshipping as the Next Move?

Josh’s business partner is looking to get into selling their own products and getting into dropshipping. However, Josh is wary about doing this, considering how much work is needed. He has had experience in doing this before, and it took up a lot of his time, which is why he would rather that they not go into it.

Getting Hit by Google Updates

The May updates did not affect Josh’s sites much, except for 1 site in particular, which lost around ⅔ of its usual traffic. This was a site that initially had poorly written content when they acquired it, which prompted them to hire a content agency to improve the site’s content overall. However, with the Google update, they were left wondering whether Google actually targets poor content or not. Josh’s theory is that it probably has to do with the site not having enough relevancy, and not enough pages and internal links, including lack of a better design overall. Fortunately, it’s been starting to rebound slowly. 

Acquiring Redirecting Sites?

Josh isn’t looking to purchase redirecting sites, and is not something he would take on in the future, considering the success he has had with his current portfolio--none of which are redirecting sites. He would rather play safe and do something he knows.

Acquiring Sites

Tracking ROI 

When buying sites, Josh and his business partner always look at their potential ROI for maintaining and improving them. 

Higher Multiples

Places like Empire Flippers often have sites listed with multiples higher than ever before, with the average listing price at 31x. However, Josh believes that, most of the time, these multiples do not reflect their actual value, considering all the risks involved

Having a Broker

People sometimes do not prefer to have a broker due to the hassles involved with having a URL known, and because of this, many experienced buyers and sellers would rather go down the private route. 

Assessing Multiple Ranges

The range for buying and selling should be bigger, especially if the site has been doing well for a consistent amount of time, while also dominating the niche. These sites are much more stable and can provide steady and sustainable profit. Buyers would definitely see that these sites can last for 3 years or more, with just some content updates needed. 

Managing His Sites

Content for 11 Sites

Josh says it does get difficult to revisit the content of his 11 sites individually. He currently has a content team composed of an editor and freelance writers who produce new content. They spend around $15,000 a month content. 

Costs

The expenses for their operations come up to $20,000, which includes expenses for VAs and writers. Josh says that this amount is one that is manageable for them, and they aren’t particularly looking to increase their team yet.

Episode 16 Part 2

In part 2 of this conversation we discuss:

Josh’s total portfolio value from the $500K invested

Tracking ROI, yield and reinvesting profit

Potentially taking on debt to scale

What to do when a site caps out in terms of potential

Tax implications on selling sites

Brokering a portfolio deal with a PE firm as a media company

Part 2 is for paying subscribers, you can access by hitting the button below.

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
Aug 28, 2020
Ep 15 Part 1: Michael Bereslavsky on Pooled Funds
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In this episode of the Website Investing podcast, Richard speaks with Michael Bereslavsky from Domain Magnate (Richard was on the most recent episode of his podcast) about the performance of their first fund and news on the second one.

In this part 1, free subscribers get the first ~30 minutes of the conversation; paying subscribers also get part 2 in their RSS feed. As is typical, part 2 elicits more insights as we get deeper into the conversation.

EPISODE SPONSORS

🔥 Niche Website Builders - a hands-off approach to outsourcing your content. Packages include keyword research & high-converting review templates. Get 10% off your first order.

🔥 Smash Digital - an SEO growth agency with actual skin in the game, ranking their own portfolio of profitable businesses, and offering the exact same services to clients. Check. Them. Out.

Part 1 Show Notes

About Domain Magnate

How They Started

Domain Magnate has been buying and growing sites for 15 years now, and only started accepting investors one and a half years ago. They were previously self-funded, but they decided to let investors in because they couldn’t purchase bigger sites in the market with their own capital. 

Starting with a Family Fund 

They started out with only one investor, and after good results, this investor invited his family members to invest, leading to the creation of Domain Magnate’s first fund: a family fund. This fund is currently set up as an LLC and has 4 members---all from the same family. The fund has grown exponentially and had 9 websites in its portfolio at one point, having been purchased at a cost of $457,000. Since then, they have sold 4 of these sites, and the remaining 5 sites have an estimated value of $275,000. Profits and asset value currently stand at over a million dollars. 

Setting up as an LLC is also the easiest way to set up a fund, and also how smaller funds under one or two million are set up as well. 

Other Funds in the Works

Domain Magnate is currently setting up two other funds, with the first planned to be a family fund like the one they have now. The second one is going to be a bigger and “proper” fund that will take in various investors, with a capital target of around $3.7 million and their deals to reach around 10 to 12 in number. 

In order to actually get in the second fund, an investor would have to be accredited according to Domain Magnate’s standards and must invest a minimum of $120,000. There is an investment target because of the high costs of setting up a fund, including legal and organizational costs and compliance requirements, all of which could reach up to $150,000. Moreover, there is a minimum required investment because it would be very difficult communicating with so many different investors, and to make sure that the investors are serious and understand the industry. 

This bigger second fund will have a term of 5 years, and will not take in any more investors after its initial raise. In fact, contrary to other funds in the industry, once this fund acquires businesses, they will look to sell them after once they’ve reached their peak, and thereafter distribute the profits to its investors right away after the sale. They will also distribute dividends regularly on a quarterly basis after around half a year. This setup will go on until the end of its 5-year term, and after this, Domain Magnate could possibly set up another similar fund. 

Moreover, they will pay out at around 15-20%, return capital, and return 50% of any upside. These are definitely attractive to investors.

Having a Dedicated Team Onboard

To be able to manage the fund and offer these attractive terms of investment, Domain Magnate has a team of 20 people, with half of them involved in finding and reviewing deals in order to get the best deal. Domain Magnate does work with some agencies for small aspects like buying links, but a large part of the management and operations are done in-house, which helps them lower costs and maintain high-quality work. 

Recycling Profits?

The planned “proper” fund will be set up in a way that the income obtained and profits from sales will be distributed immediately to the investors, and will not be put back into the fund for further investments or purchases of new sites. Though other funds would do this to have more flexibility in terms of capital and investments, Michael and Domain Magnate are happier with having a very simple setup and strategy, considering that it is difficult to manage too many businesses. They believe that it is better to focus on 10-12 businesses for the whole 5-year term. 

The Buying and Selling Process

Once the fund acquires a business, they assess its risks and potential and also look into how to improve the site overall through SEO optimization. Based on these, they will then plan out that specific business’ timeline to gauge how long they will hold on to the site, and when they will look to sell it in the future. 

Underperforming Sites

There will definitely be some sites that will have losses or will barely break even among the 10 planned deals they have. Domain Magnate estimates that around 1 or 2 of those 10 deals will end up losing money, based on their prior experience in the industry, and especially considering COVID and the Amazon commission change. Usually, it’s the smaller deals that are the problematic ones, according to Michael. Considering this, it can then become challenging to liquidate and is a large reason why they don’t prefer to acquire too many businesses within that 5-year span. 

Episode 15 Part 2

In part 2 of this conversation we discuss:

How to structure funds / SPVs in terms of liquidating web assets

How domain brokers generate more value than website brokers

Whether it’s possible to have a fund with non-accredited investors

If funds should niche down and what that means in terms of risk profile

Richard’s index fund approach to website investing he wants to see happen

Part 2 is for paying subscribers, you can access by hitting the button below.

Enjoyed this episode or have any questions? You can leave a comment at the bottom of the web version of this post.

Cheers

Richard Patey (Host) & Avi Silverberg (Producer)

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
Aug 21, 2020
Ep 14 Part 1: Mark Whitman on JVs
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In this episode of the Website Investing podcast, Richard speaks with Mark Whitman from Content Ellect, Task It & Golden Web on how he is partnering up with Benjamin Strusnik (podcast episode coming out soon) to build a batch of sites on aged domains.

In this part 1, free subscribers get the first ~40 minutes of the conversation; paying subscribers also get part 2 in their RSS feed. As is typical, part 2 elicits more insights as we get deeper into the conversation.

EPISODE SPONSORS

🔥 Smash Digital - an SEO growth agency with actual skin in the game, ranking their own portfolio of profitable businesses, and offering the exact same services to clients. Check. Them. Out.

🔥 Niche Website Builders - a hands-off approach to outsourcing your content. Packages include keyword research & high-converting review templates. Get 10% off your first order.

Part 1 Show Notes

Mark’s Businesses

Content Services

Mark has been hard at work with growing his content services business Contentellect. Here, customers can buy content and manage their accounts. Currently, monthly blog articles are very popular, especially for their main target audience: SaaS companies. The most popular service, however, is their full outsourced blog management, where they build content calendars, do keyword research, and write and publish content for their customers. 

FBA Business

He also has a neck-warmer/bandana product that he sells at around 200 units a day. 

Affiliate Content Site Portfolio

Currently, Mark has 6 affiliate sites in his portfolio. Of these 6 sites, 2 were acquired, while the rest are being built up organically over time. However, he isn’t looking to increase this, considering the Amazon update, and a reduction of affiliate commissions with one of their partners. 

Joint Venture

Mark also recently formed a joint venture with a business partner, Benjamin. Here, the partner would be building affiliate sites, while Mark would be funding the business. They are currently looking to build up 5 sites out of expired domains they purchased. Mark’s content services agency is also involved here, with a goal of initially having 75,000 words per site, to see which site responds and performs best.

Buying More?

Acquiring new affiliate sites or content related sites aren’t something that Mark is keen on doing in the future, considering the risks and amount of money involved. Though he does admit that there is proper risk and reward involved, he has increasingly become jaded by the risks. 

SEO Auditing and Implementation

Mark’s joint venture, GoldenWeb, performs SEO auditing. A lot of services do SEO audits, but very few will actually implement the requirements for you. There is thus a big opportunity for a product site service that performs these, and Mark’s joint venture is one of them. Their target market right now are big e-commerce websites, and prices for these clients start at around $1,000 with an additional fee for implementation, depending on the problems. During the audit, they actually tell their clients how to make the changes if they want to do it themselves, but some can be quite technical, so leaving it to them could be a better and safer option.

Seeing Potential

The SEO auditing and implementation services started out when Mark’s partner performed these services on one of Mark’s sites. Seeing the potential, they decided to offer their services to the public.

More Into Mark’s Joint Venture

Buying, Growing, and Selling

Mark is looking to build out the 5 sites his joint venture owns, and to sell them in the future ideally for 6 figures each, but not less than 4 figures. Currently, the 1st site has around 75,000 words of content and around 50 articles. He terms this site as his “MVP” site with a value of around $5,000. He is not looking to invest any more in this site, apart from creating links. 

Traffic Levels

Traffic numbers determine whether Mark would invest more into a site, but this does not necessarily mean traffic volume. Rather, it would be the types of traffic that the site gets. They would then be able to determine ranking, and if a site would works or not. 

Using Expired Domains and Technical SEOs

Mark has no prior experience with building sites out of expired domains; however, his business partner Benjamin does. Benjamin is more focused on the technical SEO aspects to improve the sites, in contrast to Mark who usually looks at it from a content point-of-view. Thus, Benjamin would be structuring and siloing the site correctly, and making sure that the site is lean and flows smoothly. This has been eye-opening for Mark, who hasn’t built sites out this way before, considering his content and aesthetics perspective.

Looking to the Future

If this business goes well, Mark would definitely invest more in it, as long as Benjamin wants to keep going. However, Mark is not looking to build more affiliate sites moving forward, considering the nature of the work and the underlying value of the asset.

Premium Content Options

Mark doesn’t think that they will get into producing super high end and expert content, but states that his content is already very good, starting at 10 cents/word. With a wide writing network, they are able to produce varied content based on good research. They also provide various other services like building content calendars and performing keyword research.

However, if you do want to get premium, high-level content, you will definitely have to shell out money to get good writers, especially for very technical niche websites. 

Form of Content

These days, people are quite lazy to read content. Short sentences with lots of paragraphs and multimedia would definitely attract more readers, compared to densely-written and academic-sounding articles which no one would probably read. However, at the end of the day, it still depends on the niche of the website.

Here is the example from The Wirecutter of postgraduate level content!

Episode 14 Part 2

In part 2 of this conversation we discuss:

In-house content writers vs outsourced

Objectively valuing content

Content to bounce vs content for an audience

How to actually add value with your site

Barriers to entry with websites / becoming media companies

How to best invest capital based on risk tolerance

Part 2 is for paying subscribers, you can access by hitting the button below.

Enjoyed this episode or have any questions? You can leave a comment at the bottom of the web version of this post.

Cheers

Richard Patey (Host) & Avi Silverberg (Producer)

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
Aug 14, 2020
Ep 13 Part 1: Josh Reason on Domain Investing
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In this episode of the Website Investing podcast, Richard speaks with top domain investor Josh Reason about flipping domains. Josh has a great daily domain investing podcast and is building the wholesale marketplace DNWE.

In this part 1, free subscribers get the first ~30 minutes of the conversation; paying subscribers also get part 2 in their RSS feed. As is typical, part 2 elicits more insights as we get deeper into the conversation.

EPISODE SPONSORS

🔥 Smash Digital - an SEO growth agency with actual skin in the game, ranking their own portfolio of profitable businesses, and offering the exact same services to clients. Check. Them. Out.

🔥 Niche Website Builders - a hands-off approach to outsourcing your content. Packages include keyword research & high-converting review templates. Get 10% off your first order.

Part 1 Show Notes

The World of SEO Domains

Finding SEO Domains with Value

Josh recently learned more about the SEO part of domain buying (hat tip to Sean Markey who has his own domain newsletter). He now knows how to spot a good deal from a bad one, thanks to some of his podcast guests who helped him learn. Josh thinks that there are only a few domain investors who actually look at the SEO value behind domain names. 

Aged Domains

In the world of website investing, aged domains are valuable as they enable you to rank content much quicker than on brand new ones.

In the world of domain investing, an aged domain can be more valuable as it was previously bought, i.e. the best names typically get registered first. But if a premium one-word .com drops and the creation date gets reset, it still has the same value as it will make a good brand.

Cannabis Industry Domains

Despite the cannabis industry being relatively new and competitive, and despite it being hard to find SEO names that have value in this industry, a recent deal took place wherein an aged SEO domain related to this industry was sold for ~$4K. 

Using Appraisal Tools

Josh prefers using GoDaddy to Estibot, but would only use it as an indicator tool that he can use to sort through large lists of domain names, so that he can figure out which ones have more brand value than others. However, when it comes to dollar figures, he does not use these tools at all. 

SEO Sales

You could see a lot of SEO sales on GoDaddy and sites that track top sales such as NameBio because when these deals happen, they have a higher dollar amount. In fact, you won’t see many SEO sales when you move down the list. Moreover, there aren’t that many SEO sales happening each day. It is still a small portion of the market. 

This could confuse domain investors, especially beginners, as they could think that domain names similar to the ones subject of SEO sales are worth buying. 

Buying Domain Names

Josh recommends to beginners that they don’t buy names that they could hand register, because this only means that no one else wanted that name in the first place. Instead, he suggests that one buys a name that is already owned / dropping.

‘Bad’ Domains

Domains previously used for adult content and spam would most likely have a lower value. These days, leasing domain names (to later own) is getting popular. However, when a lessee uses the domain name for something like adult content, then subsequently defaults and returns the domain, the domain could take a hit in value. To be certain, it’s best to do some research and due diligence on the domain name to check if it was ever used for such purposes, especially if you are paying a lot of money for it.

Other Useful Tools

Josh recently tried a few names over at Squadhelp, which is a good marketplace to give you some additional exposure to buyers. He also uses dan.com as well as Efty to build his own commission-free landing pages. Josh also highly recommends listing your domains on Afternic as the most important single place, which has a big network of registrars.

Josh’s Background

Website Investing

In his first year of investing in websites, Josh wasted a lot of money on domain names since he did not know much at the time. 6 years in, Josh spends a lot of time investing, and is still learning every day. Josh admits it is not easy, especially for newcomers. 

Branding Consultancy

Josh used to have a branding consultancy business mostly centered on domain-related aspects, with various companies as clients. He would usually be consulted on picking out a domain name, as a lot of people would usually choose a brand before choosing a domain name. Josh thinks that this is incorrect, because even when you already have a brand in mind, it’s very possible that you can’t get the domain name that fits best, leading you to build your brand on a sub-par domain name. For him, it’s best to start with a domain name first. Josh suggests using instantdomainsearch.com for quick checks as to whether a domain name has already been taken. 

.com Alternatives?

Top tier, one-word domain names usually cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, to even 7 figures, when they are on a .com. This wouldn’t be a viable option for small businesses and startups. Josh suggests going for .co, .io, .ai., and .net as alternatives to .com. They also offer different solutions for companies and industries, with .io being focused more on the tech industry, and .ai for artificial intelligence. .net is usually for traditional companies, and .co is a very broad one.  

Early Years of Flipping Domains

After taking a year-long break from his full-time job, he decided to sell the domains he had amassed in order to fill the income he lost from the break. To do this, he would sell as many domains a day he could to reach a goal of $250 a day. He would buy names anywhere between $20 to $200, and would typically turn domains quickly if he doesn’t see a large upside to them. If you don’t have to sell the domain, then it’s best to wait for the right buyer. It’s also best that when you start out in the domain industry, you should have other sources of income so you aren’t forced to sell names quickly, because it takes time to sell names at their maximum value---usually years.

Josh’s Portfolio Now

Josh buys various domains from many different sites at many different prices. Some were acquired for as low as $20, and others for tens of thousands of dollars. These days, Josh spends a lot of his time working on DNWE.com (Domain Name Wholesale Exchange), which is seeing lots of growth over the past months. It isn’t easy for investors to liquidate their portfolio when they need it, as usually they would resort to auctions, which can be difficult and unattractive as an option. With DNWE, you can offer a wholesale price, as well as continue to list at a retail price tag elsewhere.

Episode 13 Part 2

In part 2 of this conversation we discuss:

Flipping vs investing in domains

Wholesale vs retail spreads

Portfolio sell-through rates

Inventory (portfolio) model vs premium model

The most profitable domain strategy for this digital real estate

Part 2 is for paying subscribers, you can access by hitting the button below.

Enjoyed this episode or have any questions? You can leave a comment at the bottom of the web version of this post.

Cheers

Richard Patey (Host) & Avi Silverberg (Producer)

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
Aug 07, 2020
Ep12 Part 1: Ace Chapman on Micro Private Equity
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In this episode of the Website Investing podcast, Richard speaks with Ace Chapman on why he views funds as the best structure for buying assets that generate an income, such as websites.

In this part 1, free subscribers get the first ~30 minutes of the conversation; paying subscribers also get part 2 in their RSS feed. As is typical, part 2 elicits more insights as we get deeper into the conversation.

EPISODE SPONSORS

🔥 Smash Digital - an SEO growth agency with actual skin in the game, ranking their own portfolio of profitable businesses, and offering the exact same services to clients. Check. Them. Out.

🔥 Niche Website Builders - a hands-off approach to outsourcing your content. Packages include keyword research & high-converting review templates. Get 10% off your first order.

Part 1 Show Notes

Ace’s Journey 

How It All Started

Ace was approached by a friend one day asking if they could invest in what he was doing. The caveat, however, was that they could only do so through a fund structure. Ace didn’t know anything about it at the time, but after the investment, he found out why fund structures were so popular for buying and selling businesses.

Tax benefits, being able to build up a track history, and having the ability to roll over funds were just some of the benefits that Ace realized were available through fund structures. 

Ace then decided to develop his fund and make it bigger. Starting with a $500K fund, he was able to continuously grow it to $12M today, with plans to grow it even further.

Advantages of Smaller Funds

The returns of smaller funds are a lot better than bigger funds, because you don’t have to put as much money to work. You can also cherry-pick the best opportunities and be choosy with your investors and get better terms. 

Incubating Funds

Ace used to train people on how to buy businesses so he himself could invest in their businesses. He then realized that he could do the same thing with funds. As a result, the Private Equity Fund Incubator was born. Ace’s concept for this is to build a network of funds that work together. There are currently 3 exciting funds in the Incubator. He is also a fund manager of multiple funds.

Creating an Ecosystem of Players in the Industry

Missing Pieces

When you start a private equity fund, there should be an ecosystem of people around you to make it work, like debt funds, investment banks, and individual dealmakers. The industry doesn’t have much of these people, with lots of pieces missing. Ace’s overall goal is to create a more mature ecosystem where there are publicly-traded companies that are involved in this space. A domino-effect would then ensue, as Ace and his team would use stocks to acquire things, and these stocks are disseminated through the industry; and after a while, other companies would start to go public and other funds would also come in with plenty of interaction taking place among them all. 

An Example

Major private entity acquisitions these days are not made by a single fund. Multiple funds are involved. Recently, a series of circular transactions among Softbank, Credit Suisse, and a third fund took place, and these transactions had the effect of making these three funds look good in the public eye. Their stock values went up in the process.

Being a Fund Manager

Timeframes

Ace’s funds usually have a timeframe of 5 years with various lengths of extensions ranging from 1 to 5 years. Each fund has a certain time period where you are focused on raising capital and ideally closing deals before the fund even exists. After this would be a period in the middle where you are operating and growing the fund. The last period is exiting the fund. 

Are Funds Just For Buying Businesses?

Ace says that the whole idea of a private equity fund is to buy private non-trading or non-floating assets, and not just buying businesses. These funds can include private debt, royalties, actual businesses, minority equity, convertible notes, and more. 

Using an Angel Investor Perspective

Ace suggests that one should look at funds the same way as an angel investor or financier would. They would look at and negotiate deals, and also come up with creative structures. They also think that it isn’t that safe to go buy a business. Though buying a business is safer than starting one, the smartest route is to have different types of assets that produce income and cash flow. In the end, the goal is to acquire income and not businesses.

Looking to the Future

The next decade is exciting for Ace, because people are being pushed into other roles in the ecosystem. There should be a whole community of people talking about being these angel investors or financiers. And whereas angel investors put their own money in:

The financier strategy is to acquire income using as little of their own money as possible.

Involvement in Operations as an Adviser

Ace’s involvement in operations as a fund manager is limited to being an adviser, which he thinks is the most valuable role because of their valuable insight and understanding of businesses, deals, and generally how things work. Also, by not being bogged down by operations, advisers are able to learn and understand more, allowing them to get better deals in the long run.

Becoming an Adviser to a Fund

By being an adviser to someone who has a fund, you would be able to use your skills and expertise in finding good deals and content websites to connect them with the fund. You may not make much income for your first time, but you can get referred to other funds in the process. What can also happen is that you can end up being listed as a general partner and end up with equity. 

Content Site Funds

Some people are running funds concentrated on content websites such as Ewen at Owl Mountain (on the podcast) and Michael from Domain Magnate. But in general, it’s a big and diverse space where funds can take in various businesses.

Play by the Rules

With website investing, brokerages and marketplaces are not regulated and we’re still somewhat in the wild west days. Whereas with funds and solicitation there are definitely rules, and if you break them it won’t go well for you (see latest video by Emilia on Income Store below):

Connect with Ace

Check out Ace’s Acquisitions Program and Youtube Channel.

Episode 12 Part 2

In part 2 of this conversation we discuss:

The differences between having a diverse vs focused fund

The typical fund deal size for Ace and the number of deals within each

The benefits of focussing a fund on a single vertical

Micro private equity vs bigger funds and the no man's land for content site sellers

How Ace and his clients are picking up deals for < 2 years earnings

Part 2 is for paying subscribers, you can access by hitting the button below.

Enjoyed this episode or have any questions? You can leave a comment at the bottom of the web version of this post.

Cheers

Richard Patey (Host) & Avi Silverberg (Producer)

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
Jul 31, 2020
Ep 11 Part 1: Emre Goktas on Selling a Multi-Language Site for €105K in 6 Months
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In this episode of the Website Investing podcast, Richard speaks with Emre Goktas from Rev Panda on how he was able to build and sell a content site for €105K within 6 months.

In this part 1, free subscribers get the first ~30 minutes of the conversation; paying subscribers also get part 2 in their RSS feed. As is typical, part 2 elicits more insights as we get deeper into the conversation.

EPISODE SPONSORS

🔥 Smash Digital - an SEO growth agency with actual skin in the game, ranking their own portfolio of profitable businesses, and offering the exact same services to clients. Check. Them. Out.

🔥 Niche Website Builders - a hands-off approach to outsourcing your content. Packages include keyword research & high-converting review templates. Get 10% off your first order.

Part 1 show notes

Ranking Your Website Faster in 6 Months

Importance of The Content Niche

Picking a content niche that matches the industry you are targeting is a major way to produce new keywords you can use to rank your website on Google.  

When your site attracts qualified leads, you’re subsequently able to generate more advertising dollars.  Advertisers like to invest their money into sites that are able to provide isolated and engaged audiences.

Not only do niche audiences allow you to seek out contextual PPC advertisements, but you’ll also get opportunities for referring leads to other websites.

Cooperating With Other Websites

Partnering with different companies that match your niche is a way to increase search traffic and revenue. 

One idea is to write content on their new products that are about to come to the market (before the launch).  

Link Building Strategy

Cooperate with other websites to put a ‘testimonial block’ that says you made a review about the product that they are selling.

Advantages of Multi-Language Content Sites

There are several advantages to having your site available in multiple languages: 

Customer-Centric

Multi-language content can be marketable around the world. 

Companies with multi-language websites prove to be customer-centric, resulting in improving the overall brand reputations and credibility among target audiences.

Outsource

Businesses today look for people who are bilingual or multilingual due to the diversity in today’s population. 

Some companies are globally operated and hiring a person who knows many languages can give them an edge in marketing globally.

Importance of Domain Name

It is important that your website domain will be unique in a way that it has a single meaning and recognizable even in different languages, It should align with the overall goal of your website.

The domain name helps in building the brand also. If you have a domain name the same as your business name, it reinforces your brand, making it very easy for your customers to remember your brand and return to you easily through your website.  

Characteristics of a Website That Sells

The ability to sell advertisements and sponsorship and the power of having multiple languages to be discovered by other countries.

Equally important, the site must work quickly, correctly, and as expected. Build to web standards, proofread rigorously, and tested regularly for problems with speed or functionality. Every page should always be fast and functional.

Episode 11 Part 2

In part 2 of this conversation we discuss:

The importance of building a team for growth

Hiring people in the Baltic states

Could mobile apps be better than email lists?

Is leveraging google search traffic into your own app the ultimate strategy?

Part 2 is for paying subscribers, you can access by hitting the button below.

Enjoyed this episode or have any questions? You can leave a comment at the bottom of the web version of this post.

Cheers

Richard Patey (Host) & Avi Silverberg (Producer)

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
Jul 24, 2020
E10 Part 1: Mushfiq Sarker on Website Flipping
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In this episode of the Website Investing podcast, Richard speaks with Mushfiq Sarker from Inventige on his success brokering and flipping websites. Mushfiq was very active in the early days of the Flipping Websites facebook group as well as on the Just Start Reddit forum and now writes case studies on his Website Flipping publication.

This was a longer conversation (almost 2 hours), actionable from start to finish. In this part 1, free subscribers get the first 50 minutes of the conversation; paying subscribers also get part 2 in their RSS feed. As is typical, part 2 elicits more insights as we get deeper into the conversation.

EPISODE SPONSORS

🔥 Niche Website Builders - a hands-off approach to outsourcing your content. Packages include keyword research & high-converting review templates. Get 10% off your first order.

🔥 Ezoic - an AI-driven platform built for publishers to optimize ad revenue and maximize site speed. You can start a free trial of Ezoic today.

Part 1 Show Notes

Mushfiq’s Background

Beginnings and First Website Flip

Mushfiq started building a Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) website on Blogspot in 2008 while in college. 2 years later, an Australian company offered to buy his website, making it his first flip. 

He then decided to make a Flippa account to buy websites, which he would work on and sell. Currently, Mushfiq has over 100 transactions on Flippa, where he buys and sells websites himself or for others.

Losing his Flippa Account and Involvement in a Lawsuit

In 2015, Mushfiq bought a website and sold it on Flippa. Later on, the buyer was sued for using an image on the website without permission. This image was uploaded by the first owner of the website. The buyer then sued Mushfiq and reported him to Flippa, leading to Mushfiq Flippa account getting banned for a year. Eventually, a settlement was reached and Mushfiq got his account back, but he also lost his Super Seller status in the process.

He now makes sure that the photos on his websites aren’t copyrighted images, and even got liability insurance as a precaution.

Protecting Yourself Against Liabilities

Holding and developing a domain can come with a lot of liabilities, especially in the US. Website visitors can file lawsuits anytime, so it’s best for website owners and creators to be safe. Mushfiq has a lawyer assess his websites, and has him put up privacy policy disclaimers. This is a good way of protecting yourself against lawsuits and ridding yourself of liability when people visit your website. Website owners should also watch out for other types of lawsuits too. 

The Flipping Industry

Finding Success on Flippa

All of Mushfiq’s successful sites have come from Flippa. Though he has bought websites on a website flipper Facebook group, these were mostly short-term flips. Flippa has numerous websites created by hobbyists who have put up a ton of content for years, and these are what Mushfiq tends to buy. 

Multiples and Changes in the Industry

In the past, if Mushfiq would buy a simple domain, he would buy it in 10x or 15x multiples. However, in recent years, people have learned that the multiples are actually in the 25x to 35x range, so it’s become very difficult to purchase them at lower multiples. The general industry has become smarter, and people are now wary to sell lower.

As a result, being a broker isn’t as profitable as it was before, with direct deals and marketplaces becoming more common. Mushfiq states:

I don’t think there’s a future for a broker in this industry, I think Investors Club is doing the right thing, just being a connector, and that’s where I’m going to as well.

Right now, brokers profit off of high-end websites in the 7-figure range, and this will continue for the foreseeable future. However, anything lower than 7 figures could be under attack by new automated platforms which offer far lower fees. 

Flip or Keep?

Mushfiq usually keeps websites for as long as he can, and would flip only if he needs the money or if he has grown the site to its peak. 

Holding multiple websites at once requires time and effort to grow. Otherwise, if you let them sit for too long, they would dip. Mushfiq used to hold 18 websites, but recommends holding only 1 or 2 which you can focus on and have it grow to its peak. You then have the choice of either hiring people to grow it even further, or selling it.

New Google Core Updates

Getting More Harsh

Both of Mushfiq’s websites got hit by the updates, and his competitors have got it worse. He gave up on solely focusing on Google and instead tried to diversify. Currently, he uses paid campaigns to drive traffic, Pinterest, and any other means to drive traffic other than Google. Organic traffic is always going to be the most dominant traffic. 

How Mushfiq Avoids Risk at The Outset

Mushfiq tends to buy sites that are undermonitized and underperforming, but have a lot of traffic. He would then be able to 10x the revenue within a month. So even if Google traffic goes down by 50%, he would still be able to make a significant ROI due to the usual traffic that the site has. 

Migrating Newly Acquired Sites

Mushfiq usually migrates the website to his technical platform when he buys them. He also switches themes, cleans up, and adds new plugins, and also moves it to his private virtual server to increase page speed significantly. This helps increase traffic. 

He doesn’t tend to change the specifics and navigation of the website for the first 2 months as he’s increasing the revenue of the site. After 1 or 2 months, he then does changes on-page to improve user experience. By doing these, he is able to increase traffic and revenue significantly. 

But Why Still Hold On to Sites?

Mushfiq prefers not to sell his websites quickly because of two issues: the first is that most people want a 6-month average of earnings, and the second is that US tax rates are bad for doing short-term flips. The tax rate will drop from around 25% to 15% after 12 months, because they would be considered as assets and capital gains by then. 

Episode 10 Part 2

In part 2 of this conversation we discuss:

How to optimize your website by increasing returns

Tax on profit vs capital gains & LLC vs. S Corps

Having a dedicated website manager

Selling a majority position in a website

Selling websites to private equity funds and pricing out buyers

Part 2 is for paying subscribers, you can access by hitting the button below.

Enjoyed this episode or have any questions? You can leave a comment at the bottom of the web version of this post.

Cheers

Richard Patey (Host) & Avi Silverberg (Producer)

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
Jul 17, 2020
E9 Part 1: Greg Elfrink from Empire Flippers on 2020 Trends
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In this episode of the Website Investing podcast I speak with Greg Elfrink, the Director of Marketing at Empire Flippers, on content site trends in 2020.

In this part 1, free subscribers get the first 30 minutes of the conversation; paying subscribers also get part 2 in their RSS feed. As is typical, part 2 elicits more insights as we get deeper into the conversation.

This is the first episode with Avi Silverberg as the Producer of the show. Avi has been a paying subscriber since January (the first month I launched the newsletter) and is a successful site builder and publisher (who had his own podcast) so we’re very lucky to have him.

EPISODE SPONSORS

🔥 Niche Website Builders - a hands-off approach to outsourcing your content. Packages include keyword research & high-converting review templates. Get 10% off your first order.

🔥 Ezoic - an AI-driven platform built for publishers to optimize ad revenue and maximize site speed. You can start a free trial of Ezoic today.

Part 1 Show Notes

A Snapshot of The First Half of 2020

Empire Flippers Q1 2020 Quarterly Report—January, February, March

Ecommerce businesses were disrupted more during Covid

Most products for e-commerce businesses were sourced through China, which was at the epicenter of the virus. As a result, they couldn’t get their hands on products causing a lot of businesses to run out of inventory.  

Also, Amazon wasn’t accepting non-essential products into their warehouses (in America).  

Affiliate business got hit with Amazon rate cuts

For affiliate businesses, April brought the Amazon rate cuts.  Some cuts were 50%. 

However, some affiliate niches saw traffic increases, so even though rates were cut, their revenues didn’t drop because they were doing more volume.  

Seller submissions were still high, but buyers had cold feet

There were still a lot of seller submissions in Q1, which is always the case.  However, buyers got cold feed because they don’t want to deploy capital in an uncertain market.  Buyers had an attitude of “let’s wait and see what happens with Covid”.  

Q2 came roaring back

May was Empire Flippers’ biggest month in terms of deal volume (dollar amount sold). 

Buyers’ confidence started to come back.  

If there weren’t buyers in the market then multiples might go down, but they aren’t seeing that.  At least for now, capital is still being deployed.  But this could change, we’ll have to wait and see.  

Empire Flippers Scorecard

Deal size is going up Overall

2019 had 9% fewer content businesses listed on the Empire Flippers marketplace but deal size went up by 16%.  So they’re selling bigger content businesses.  This is why multiples also went up for content businesses because as deal size goes up typically the multiple goes up. 

Demand has not gone away for content businesses.  It’s still rising. There is also a lot of new investors coming into the space who are looking for content businesses.  Another reason why multiples are going up is because they’re all fighting over the same deals.  

Online Business Trends for Buying and Selling Websites in 2020

New Criteria For Listing On Empire Flippers 

They’ve become very strict with listing dropshipping businesses, especially through Alibaba.  A lot aren’t making it onto their marketplace. 

There is still a misconception that Empire Flippers only sells affiliate businesses worth at least $50,000.  

This is not true though.  

They have a minimum that sites need to make ($500/month in net profit over the last 12 months).  But these small sites usually get picked up really quickly, so you might not see the smaller sites on their marketplace even though they do exist.   

New Competition For Empire Flippers

There are other places to sell online businesses now.  

But Greg’s seeing an increase in people doing private deals.  This is mostly because people are more educated now on how to sell an online business.  

Predictions For Future Because of Covid? 

Prices could start dropping uniformly across the marketplace if Covid creates uncertainty.  But Greg doesn’t think that will happen.  There is a lot of confidence built up in the digital asset space right now.  

Websites Are Assets

People are recognizing that content sites are assets now.

Content sites are not the riskiest and have a lot of opportunities.  

This is because you can expand a content site into any other business model out there.  You can leverage it for an FBA business or add a membership.  Greg has even seen sites create a software-as-a-service built on the back of their content business. 

Depending on your creativity and knowledge of the content model, you can scale it.  

The Business Model of Content Sites

A lot of people fail to understand the content business model.   

People think it’s: rank on Google, drive traffic to a round-up post, and click an affiliate link.  As Greg states:

The business model is not to click the affilaite link; the business model is to nurture and retain the audience.

Episode 9 Part 2

In part 2 of this conversation we discuss:

How financing works within the industry, including at what price point sellers should expect to receive an earn-out.

The increase of private equity coming into the website investing space, and how these firms value businesses. 

Why Greg is bullish on content sites, and how he’s actively trying to educate this ‘traditional money’ on the opportunity of content sites.

Two other interesting trends of website investing, including search funds and family offices.  

Part 2 is for paying subscribers, you can access by hitting the button below.

Enjoyed this episode or have any questions? You can leave a comment at the bottom of the web version of this post.

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
Jul 10, 2020
E8 Part 1: Steve Brown on Managing a 15 Site Portfolio
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In this episode of the Website Investing podcast I speak with top website investor Steve Brown on how he is able to generate consistent success by building out on aged domains.

In this part 1, free subscribers get the first 40 minutes of the conversation; paying subscribers also get part 2 in their RSS feed which runs at an additional hour. As is typical, part 2 elicits more insights as we get further into the conversation.

In this week’s Monday newsletter I asked for help with the publication, in particular, a Podcast Producer. I’d like to thank Brady Cargle for reaching out offering to help edit and produce this week’s episode until I find someone (which I now have). Brady is the voice you hear introducing and summarizing in this week’s episode. Steve’s audio is a little buzzy at the beginning but Brady got it to settle down. He also did the excellent show notes below.

EPISODE SPONSORS

🔥 Premium Domain Names - SEO domains to kickstart a UK-focussed site (i.e. targeting Amazon in the UK) so you don’t have to wait years to rank and bank.

🔥 Ezoic - an AI-driven platform built for publishers to optimize ad revenue and maximize site speed. You can start a free trial of Ezoic today.

Part 1 Show Notes

Steve’s Assets

Steve’s own sites have weathered the update storms (one was listed in a Deals email back in May). His May income was just down 3% from April, but his April income was 2x of his March income.

Most of Steve’s traffic comes from Google and most of his income comes from Amazon Associates, but he does have some affiliate diversification and is interested in diversifying more.

One problem with affiliate program diversification is the increased time management required. One potential tool to manage your affiliate programs could be Affluent.io shown below:

Traffic Diversification In Acquisitions

It’s easy to know how much traffic a website is getting. But why is the website getting it? How can we track the movements of individual keywords in mass to know how the website is moving in the SERPs?

There’s no good way to do this. Tools like Ahrefs and SEMRush allow us to see historic traffic, but these tools can be inaccurate. Future sellers should look at tracking all of their rankings in something like Ahrefs’s Rank Tracker (or Steve’s favorite: Keyword.com, previously called SerpBook).

Rankings history will be helpful to verify that a website’s traffic is diversified and isn’t wrapped up in just a handful of pages.

Premium Subscription Models As Income Generators

The premium subscription model is exciting right now. Content seems to be getting to a place where people are willing to pay for it...

As long as it provides them value or saves them time.

There are a couple of ways to go about a content business: You can be an expert in your niche and deliver high-value, time-saving content or you can curate news within a certain niche. Both models work and seem to be on the uptrend.

It’s an attractive model for any business, including an authority site because you have control. No one can take your subscriptions away. Amazon can’t change your rate, Google can’t remove you from the featured snippet.

The downside to the model is that it does require a bit of legwork. A premium publication (such as Growthlist by Chris Osborne) will take time to build.

Episode 8 Part 2

In part 2 of this conversation we discuss:

The strengths and weaknesses of having a larger portfolio

Steve’s approach and thoughts on 301 redirects / combining sites

How content needs to be relevant to the link profile it’s published on

Steve’s most important factor for conversions

Whether Steve would roll up and sell his entire portfolio

Part 2 is for paying subscribers, you can access by hitting the button below.

Enjoyed this episode or have any questions? You can leave a comment at the bottom of the web version of this post.

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
Jul 03, 2020
E7 Part 1: Tyler Bishop from Ezoic on Breaking Down the Ad Blackbox
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On this episode of the Website Investing Podcast, I speak with Tyler Bishop the CMO of Ezoic and we break down the jargon-heavy world of ad monetization.

In this part 1, free subscribers get the first ~30 minutes of the conversation; paying subscribers also get part 2 in their RSS feed. To access just hit the button below.

EPISODE SPONSORS

🔥 Premium Domain Names - SEO domains to kickstart a UK-focussed site (i.e. targeting Amazon in the UK) so you don’t have to wait years to rank and bank.

🔥 Ezoic - an AI-driven platform built for publishers to optimize ad revenue and maximize site speed. You can start a free trial of Ezoic today.

Part 1 Show Notes

Ezoic’s founders previously sold their businesses to the same US-based company - John Cole sold Media Run to Adknowledge, and Dwayne Lafleur sold Cubics. John is from the UK and wanted to come back which is why Ezoic has 2 offices here, but their main base is in southern California.

Back in 2010, before Ezoic was founded, both John & Dwayne had their own portfolio of content sites, individually as investors. They realized that advertisers treat each visitor differently, however publishers treated all visitors the same, and that being able to adapt the layout to the visitor itself offered significant revenue upside. They wanted to build some kind of system that allowed them to adapt layouts on a website and this technology kickstarted Ezoic. They raised $6MM from Balderton Capital (based in the UK) and they bought close to 400 evergreen content sites (full story here) and within 8 months had returned all the capital!

By buying evergreen sites, ones where the content will be around for a long time and where you don’t need to keep publishing new content or promoting, they were able to focus on testing ad networks, placements, density and UX.

As Tyler puts it:

Buying and selling sites is a very thirsty business. The premise all along was to build a technology that all sites could use.

The still own a % of those sites today and use them as test dummies on new updates to the platform.

Ad Networks

Advertising monetization is a very complicated space (to me) with terms such as ad network, ad tech, ad tag providers, ad ops shop, ad exchange, ad manager, ad management, ad stack.

Tyler explains that Google Adsense, Media.net and Outbrain are all ad networks.

Below is a screenshot from my Ezoic dashboard showing some of the ones they integrate with:

Ad Exchanges

Tyler states that the ad space transformed with the creation of the Ad Exchange, which allows fair bidding and prevents people from having to test out a lot of ad networks. Google’s Ad Exchange is the largest and most dominant and is where most publishers will make most of their premium display revenue from. When someone applies to Ezoic they get access to Google’s Ad Exchange and access to the ad networks. They also implement header bidding (explanation screenshot from inside my Ezoic account):

Machine Learning

Tyler considers Ezoic as a technology platform where the real value is in the machine. Machine learning figures out the best combination of networks, locations and ad sizes to maximize revenue for every individual user (from advertisers bidding on them) based on their behavior and likelihood to bounce. If a user bounces they obviously do not view additional pages and see more ads.

Comparing Usage

Tyler speaks about outsourced ad ops companies who focus on working with US traffic, picking and choosing the best sites as it’s harder to scale when you do things manually. I mention that I applied for a site on Mediavine and was rejected, which now makes sense as it only had 55% US traffic with 30% from the UK.

Looking up in BuiltWith:

Ezoic has 12,882 currently live websites

Mediavine has 7,916 currently live websites

Ad Thrive has 3,056 currently live websites

When ad op companies talk about having direct relationships with advertisers, some will be referring to private marketplace deals (PMP) where you bunch up sites. It’s easy to set up in a DFP (Double Click for Publishers) inside Google Ad Exchange. Ezoic does this automatically, grouping similar publishers together.

Session RPM

EPMV (earnings per 1000 visitors) is what Ezoic focuses on - it’s total session revenue, also known in the SaaS space as average revenue per user (ARPU). You could be having an ad location on your site that is earning double that of any other location, yet your revenue could still be going down by having it on the page.

When comparing between ad networks or ad ops shops, you need to take into account the state of the ad revenue index, which is up over 2x since the bottom of the pandemic decline in March / April:

You also need to be aware of how many ads are crammed into a page and how this affects long-term revenue (by encouraging advertisers to bid less) as well as visitor-behavior. As Tyler states:

RPMs are a terrible metric because you can have RPMs that go up but your total revenue could be going down.

On Ezoic you can achieve session RPMs from $5 to $1200, but comparing between two different sites is one of the biggest mistakes you can make as there are so many other variables.

Episode 7 Part 2

In part 2 of this conversation we discuss:

The need for split-testing for comparing ad networks

How monetization is an engineering problem to be solved

The most valuable niches / audiences

The future of Amazon Associates…

Part 2 is for paying subscribers, you can access by hitting the button below.

Enjoyed this episode or have any questions? You can leave a comment at the bottom of the web version of this post.

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
Jun 26, 2020
E6 Part 1: Matt Diggity on Levelling Up
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On this episode, I speak with Matt Diggity from:

Diggity Marketing

The Search Initiative

Leadspring

Authority Builders

Chiang Mai SEO Conference

Affiliate SEO Mastermind Facebook Group

Affiliate Lab Course

As you will hear, Matt is a boss-level SEO and website flipper.

In this part 1, free subscribers get the first 30 minutes; paying subscribers also get part 2 in their RSS feed. To access just hit the button below.

EPISODE SPONSOR

This podcast is sponsored by Ezoic, an AI-driven platform built for publishers to optimize ad revenue and maximise site speed.

Part 1 Show Notes

Matt does his website flipping within Leadspring LLC - a US-based company which hires the best from all around the world. They focus on hardcore affiliate, but have started to dip into lead generation. Actually the foundation of the company, with Kurt Philip from Convertica, was to focus on lead gen sites but they soon pivoted into affiliate SEO. They created a program called Leadspring Launchpad where they would JV with people who had got their site to a certain point and then would take over and split additional profit 50-50 (a similar model to what I used to do with Flipping Websites, now at Alpha Investors. The Launchpad is pretty much closed down now other than for exceptional opportunities.

Matt’s SEO Site Flipping Formula

Matt does have a formula that they are getting solid results from, but states it changes every day.

With all the new projects that they start they are going with acquisition - acquiring existing websites already ranking / pulling in traffic and making some revenue.

Step 1 - Super Audit

The first thing Matt does when acquires a new site is a super audit - a very thorough technical SEO overview, content optimization and conversation rate optimization. It’s not about backlinks at this point (although will do a backlink audit and disavow). The super audit tells them how ready the website is to work on it. After running the audit, they let websites sit for a month or so to see what happens.

If a website skyrockets (i.e. increased revenue from $1K/m to $4K/m) they will give it full attention right away, but if it’s a marginal improvement then most likely the site has some kind of filter / google algorithm penalty and they need to wait until the next google update to verify that they have done the right things, and that they will get a return on their efforts.

Step 2 - Content & Links

When a site takes off they start pouring on the typical process of content and links and continuously keeping an eye on things so that everything is technically sound along the way.

Step 3 - List Building & Youtube

Something changes around the $10K/m mark where the website becomes a bit more of a business so they invest more to protect it.

They do a couple of things at that point such as capturing leads through lead magnets, creating an automated email follow up series. They try to create a big list so can have traffic on demand, and get an audience into their own hands. They have also been playing around with Youtube channels, getting influencers to represent their sites to show Expertise, Authority & Trust to protect against future Google updates.

Step 4 - Experts & Backlinks

When the sites hit $20K/m, they continue with the influencers and try to get experts as staff in terms of content review and then:

At this point we go absolutely bonkers with backlinks.

Step 5 - Flip

When they feel like they have maxed out the niche they will look to flip.

Deal Size & ROI

Matt needs any acquisition to be making at least $100/m, which proves that a website has broken through a threshold where it will work.

Smaller sites in the $100/m to $1K/m range will generate a greater ROI from the same level of investment. At the lower end, marketplaces such as Empire Flippers won’t sell them so it’s more about negotiating with the seller and making them feel better about parting with their hard work.

I think it’s fun to take something from level 3 to level 60, if we are using a role playing game strategy, rather than level 40 to level 60.

Matt doesn’t track ROI on money invested into sites as the prices of backlinks vary between years:

We just try to go as fast as we can at all times and we know it’s always going to work out in the end as this is affiliate SEO, there are no better margins on the planet as far as I’m concerned.

His MO is to buy sites between $5K - $20K but has paid over $100K before.

Acquisition Filters

What he’s looking for are:

Backlinks - a mostly whitehat backlink profile. The quantity of links doesn’t influence the decision; having very hard to get links does.

Rankings - some decent keywords on page 1 (Google isn’t going to put websites on p1 that they hate)

Traffic graph - making sure it doesn’t have any recent penalties or devaluations

A niche he wants to be in (more below)

Branded domain name where you can really expand and potentially become a household name

Matt doesn’t consider the amount of content that comes with a website, especially if the content isn’t created to your own standard as it becomes more investment to fix up. At this deal size, he doesn’t want to buy a site where the traffic is super dependent on just one URL, but spread across 5 pages would be enough for him.

And just because the content you’re buying may be good, it’s not likely to be 6 months to a year from now, as search intent and algorithms change - on his own websites he’s auditing the content all the time.

Health, Wealth & Relationships

Matt states that he is very picky about the niche and tries to stay within these major three categories.

Health (spent the most time in): diet, weight loss, fitness, muscle building etc.

For wealth: crypto, real estate etc.

He has not touched relationships yet.

He states that he did break his rule about 9 months ago where he acquired a general Amazon review site in the home niche such as gearhungry.com (which he states sold for 8 figures). But the recent Amazon commission structure changed that idea.

Operational Capacity

Matt likes to keep Leadspring boutique level, managing anywhere between 6-10 authority sites at a single time, as any single website can get to 20-30x of your normal-sized website. They also like to keep headcount at a boutique level, having 2-3 main project operators, as find that staying agile and small is better suited for an industry that is completely changing all the time and you need to make fast decisions.

Matt only brings on a new website after they have flipped an old one.

Sourcing Deals

Matt sources deals from Facebook groups such as Flipping Websites but if he is going after a particular niche he will do outreach to existing sites that are ranked on p2 or p3 and making them a proposal. He finds the response rate from affiliate site owners is very low, however.

Doing Magic

When you’re investing in a website, one of two things can happen:

You see ranking increases right away. This means you had some technical SEO issues, content that needed optimization, or backlinks that needed to be built (when the site had low authority) that the algorithm didn’t need to refresh in order to reward you with. When this happens the website is ready for them to work on as has validated itself.

The website just doesn’t move that much, indicating that somewhere in a past algo update, Google devalued the site for a certain reason and you’re going to have to wait until the next algo refresh to see if the hard work you’ve been doing will pay off. Until then, the site is not ready for further investment.
When to Exit

Matt takes the sites as far as they can go, and looks to sell when they have maxed out the keywords to target. He has a site in the general health and wellness niche where the sky is the limit so has invested heavily into it. If they were to niche down into sub-topics of fitness, they would have less to talk about and you’d cap out earlier.

In general, Matt invests 60% into links and 40% into content. When a site really starts to take off they are publishing a new post a day which could be 1K to 2K words dependent on what the search is asking for, and typically paying about 6c a word. Therefore, likely spending $2K-$3K a month on content for a typical site and backlinks could scale up to $4K/m in a site’s growing phase. Then when you come out of the growth phase, you can scale back the investment in backlinks, as a lot of links will start to naturally come in. At that point, 80% of further investment would be content.

Matt would typically be looking to flip a site within 2 years, as long as the average last 6 months is at the highest level. Max ROI growth is in year 1; ROI actualization in year 2. In which case if you can max out content in year 1 you could flip quicker as content is now considered an asset and not an expense with brokerages.

Episode 6 Part 2

In part 2 of this conversation:

How to win from Google updates

Why Matt does not like to use 301 redirects

How Matt is leveraging influencers on Youtube and Instagram

How we both see the future of website investing as individual assets (e.g. social profiles) that can be acquired and bundled together

I ask Matt whether he would hold websites within his own personal investment portfolio

Part 2 is for paying subscribers, you can access by hitting the button below.

Enjoyed this episode or have any questions? You can leave a comment at the bottom of the web version of this post.

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
Jun 19, 2020
E5 Part 1: Ron Stefanski on Staying Sane Running 9 Sites
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On this episode, I speak with Ron Stefanski from onehourprofessor.com. Ron has kept income reports since 2014 where he documents the revenue from his portfolio of now 9 sites.

In this part 1, free subscribers get the first 50 minutes; paying subscribers also get part 2 in their RSS feed. To access just hit the button below.

SPONSORED BY

This podcast is sponsored by Ezoic, an AI driven platform built for publishers to optimize ad revenue and maximise site speed. You also get access to big data analytics where you can break down revenue at a page level, to see how blog categories, content age, word count and even authors bring in the highest RPM.

Part 1 Show Notes

Tax

We start off talking about minimizing tax for website investors, such as moving to Puerto Rica, and whether websites built from scratch fall under capital gains. I’m in the process of trying to get a knowledgable accountant on the podcast about all of this - if you know anyone great please leave a comment on the web version of this post.

Team

Ron runs a lean ship with his 9 sites, with 1 full time VA, 2 editors, and a bunch of freelance writers.

3 Months Of Joy

The global pandemic hit Ron’s traffic and display ad revenue in March, then in April Amazon made their commission cut, which didn’t hurt him too bad as his main monetization is display ads rather than affiliate. Then in May, the Google update happened and the two smaller affiliate sites got hit, on top of the Amazon commission change.

Considering Exits

Ron is now considering exiting some of his portfolio, so that he can focus on his one big site and his personal blog. But due to the last 3 months of joy, is in a strange position with revenue down on the sites that he would consider selling.

Grouping / Consolidating Sites

After Ron’s success with his main website in the employment niche, he created another one in the same niche but targeting a different topic. He repeated this in the pet niche. When he finds success he leans into that, but he doesn’t go after the same keywords in the same niches, rather than trying to monopolize the SERPs.

I mention the option for 301 redirecting Ron’s sites together (e.g. combining the pet sites) and talk about my experience of doing this with abandoned blogs and aged domains. Ron stated he tried to launch a new silo on one of his existing, higher authority sites but it didn’t perform well, so was forced to move that content to a new site focussed on just that sub-niche.

Ongoing Investment

Ron invests around $2K-$4K/m into his portfolio in freelance research, writing and editing. He doesn’t reinvest more as doesn’t use content agencies - he gets the best content quality from his freelance writers.

Directory / Content Hybrid

Ron also has some sites that focus on the best X in a local area, but he doesn’t install a plugin that auto generates content, or ask for people to submit their own information. Instead, he builds out proper pages and then reaches out to those featured to ask if they are interested in promoting him (with a link) to get moved higher up - this can be a great link building strategy but you need to be careful. I had this idea for my local site here in Norwich, but put it on hold due to the pandemic. The only page I have created is to poke fun at local SEO agencies (I got this almost to the top of p1 last year).

Updating Content

Ron previously didn’t believe in the concept of updating content (SOP here for paying subscribers here) but after getting a site to a high number of pages he noticed that rankings dropped over time, and that continuing to publish new content was not the answer. Now every quarter, he runs a report looking at pages that are losing positions (content audit SOP for paying subscribers here), and re-assigning those to the original writer to revise.

Episode 5 Part 2

In part 2 of this conversation, we talk about:

Whether Ron would consider selling his biggest site

If he does sell, where would he reinvest that capital

What Ron’s return on capital invested is (I created a spreadsheet on the fly which I include)

How Ron views content sites as communities where people need help with something

How to rank Youtube videos to drive traffic to your sites

Part 2 is for paying subscribers, you can access by hitting the button below.

Enjoyed this episode or have any questions? You can leave a comment at the bottom of the web version of this post.

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
Jun 12, 2020
E4 Part 1: Chris Warburton from Flippa on Growing the Website Market
2299
On this episode, I speak with Chris Warburton, Head of Marketing & Growth at Flippa, a peer-to-peer marketplace for digital assets, about their future product development and direction.

I’ve been tracking the number of new content site listings across the market place for the Wednesday deals email for paying subscribers, and Flippa consistently has 2-3x as many content site listings that are making > $500/m. It also has over 200K buyers who have completed buyer preferences which means that the amount of views a listing can get is impressive.

In this part 1, free subscribers get the first 30 minutes; paying subscribers also get part 2 in their RSS feed. To access just hit the button below.

Sponsored by Ezoic

This podcast is sponsored by the Ezoic platform which my main software review site runs on (literally in terms of using their nameservers) to monetize through ads, maximize site speed and gain insights from their big data analytics tool.

Part 1 Show Notes

New Verification

Previously there were issues with unethical sellers but now every buyer and seller needs to be verified, escrow.com is used and Flippa is about to launch 150 new verification data sources on top of the current Google Analytics integration. As Chris states,

Our ultimate goal is to become the safest place to buy and sell a digital asset on the internet as fast as possible.

The first new one has actually just been announced and it’s the integration with SEMrush. Every listing page now shows a sites’ authority score and the number of domains / keywords. Users have the ability to now buy the full report for $10.

Fees & Listings

Flippa has low listing ($49) and success fees at 10% for up to $50K and 5% for $100K+. Flippa traffic levels are higher than they have ever been, they are seeing more users sign up, with 1500 new people registering some days from organic demand. Excluding domains, Flippa has 5000 new listings a month.

I discover that ecommerce stores, not content sites, have the highest volume on Flippa - at the time of recording there were 463 established (not starter) Blog / Review content sites on the platform, vs 744 established ecommerce stores. Chris thinks a lot of the growth opportunity for Flippa is in content sites, from educating people that you can actually sell your website.

I track the number of new and total market listings each week in my Wednesday Deals email and it is surprising to me that the number isn’t larger - this week there were 173.

Part of that is because the term ‘ecommerce store’ is well known, whereas the term ‘content site’ is relatively new but is starting to be used more frequently, such as when Blake the CEO of Flippa was on the Invest Like A Boss podcast and the hosts were using it.

Episode 4 Part 2

In part 2 of this conversation, we talk about:

How Flippa is expanding its category range into more types of digital assets later this year

How website valuations need to get more sophisticated, and be more than simply applying a multiple to revenue. I think we need to discount future cashflow and factor in other assets such as domain names.

The different listing types on Flippa and what the best strategy is for buyers to pick up the asset at the price they want

How Flippa is seeing more interest from Micro Private Equity Funds

How listing and success fees are likely going to go down over time, as an industry

Part 2 is for paying subscribers, you can access by hitting the button below.

Enjoyed this episode or have any questions? You can leave a comment at the bottom of the web version of this post.

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
Jun 05, 2020
E3 Part 1: Ruaan Nel's Process on Building Out on Aged Domains & Existing Sites
1968
Below is part 1 of an interview with my friend Ruaan Nel on his Aged Site, Auction Domain and Expired Domain Strategy. It’s all action and no fluff.

Ruaan is one of the most talented website investors I know. He buys existing sites, auction domains and expired domains, invests aggressively into new content, does some light link building (as the domains already have good existing authority) and looks to exit within 12-18 months.

Full, actionable interview notes are below. Please note, metrics mentioned in terms of Amazon / RPM were before the recent April commission cut.

In this part 1, free subscribers get the first 30 minutes; paying subscribers also get part 2 in their RSS feed. To access just hit the button below.

Sponsored by Ezoic

This podcast is sponsored by the Ezoic platform which my main software review site runs on (literally in terms of using their nameservers) to monetize through ads, maximize site speed and gain insights from their big data analytics tool.

Part 1 Show Notes

Ruaan started investing into websites in mid-2017 and by December of that year, his portfolio hit low 4 figures a month. That’s when he started scaling, hiring VAs and getting friends on board that are on his level.

He bought a site in the fitness niche at the end of 2018 from a seller who then offered him a cheaper site he wanted to let go of, which had lower revenue but a lot of traffic and a better upward trend.

Ruaan 301 redirected the more expensive site that was making more money into the new acquisition which gave him enough traffic to get onto the Mediavine program (which needs > 30K sessions a month) where he instantly started earning an RPM of $10. [Ezoic only need 10K sessions a month and have the same buying demand.]

Current Portfolio

Ruaan currently has around 8 money sites including some he calls placeholder sites. He has a team member who searches for existing sites, auction domains and expired domains that are brandable and are aligned with a niche that they know is already profitable. These sites can be for either PBN or for money sites (strategy explained in Part 2). They immediately purchase, throw some content on it, get it indexed and see how the site responds. They typically look to purchase sites / domains between $500-$1K.

Content Creation

When Ruaan first started he thought that you could just rewrite articles that were already ranking well and reference them. It’s an approach he says works, but since 2018 he has built a writing team that creates unique content, and he tries to put 50K words down a month onto his sites. He also uses Content Pit when he needs additional capacity.

Average word count on his articles is high as he does not write much informational content. He focusses on (1) big buyers guides, ie best X or best X for Y, and (2) individual product reviews and vs keywords. He keeps the split 75% commercial and 25% informational (3).

Ruaan states that you want to get into a niche that has a lot of potential for individual product reviews and vs keywords, because those are really good for traffic.

Most people are competing for the best guides as you can simply replace a product when it’s gone out of stock, but single product reviews (such as a certain brand of coffee maker) are easier to rank as have less volume and less people targeting these keywords. And you will even rank for the actual brand product keyword as google likes to show one or two reviews (I did this with a previous content site where I ranked on page 1 for clickfunnels.com). So you can rank on page 1 for the product, and top of page 1 for the review keyword and that’s where you want to put your ads.

Affiliate income from buyers guides can typically be between $40-$60 per 1000 views. For single product review pages it’s much lower, $20-$30, but they let you get enough traffic to monetize with ads on Ezoic or Mediavine which ads another $5-$15 RPM. For Ruaan, single product review content length is typically 1000-1500 words. Then you just take the easy low hanging fruit from informational content and use those for skyscraper outreach.

Team Building

Ruaan has five roles fulfilled by five guys in his system. One of those roles is keyword research and content outline for the buyers guides, and that person will work out what the search intent is, how many subcategories they can hit, and when they should break off onto another page. The content outline goes to the writer along with a Page Optimiser Pro report which gives a range for word count. The range for his buyer guides is from 3000 up to 8000 for the longest they’ve done. And info content is usually around 1000-2000 words.

Link Building

Ruaan invests the 50K words into sites that have demonstrated they are in authority mode (coined by Matt Diggity from The Affiliate Lab) when you publish and they index on page 2. And the way to achieve authority mode is by publishing enough content and building enough links.

Ruaan is investing 2/3 into content and 1/3 into links but that’s as he has a grey-hat strategy - if you are white hat you need to spend more on links.

The core of his link-building is outreach to those in his niche or to sites that are selling guest posts which he pays for. He supplements that with PBNs (discussed in Part 2) if necessary, but not all sites get PBNs. And then for pillow linking he does citations along with a fake address, fake persona, and G suite - everything other than Google My Business. He references citationsbuilder.com or seobutler.com/citations. Ruaan states that you want to make sure your citations index and the ones that don’t you want to hit them with cheap PBNs. He thinks that this appears totally white-hat - that you’re currently not going to get penalized by building citations and hitting them in the back with PBNs.

Every pillow link for him has to serve more than one purpose. He will make a Pinterest account and get tailwindapp.com/tribes and see what he can do with some designs and try to get 25-50-100 views a day from Pinterest. Otherwise, he will use Quora and see what questions he can answer in the niche, and link back to his sites with branded URLs for the anchors. He also does a lot of work on Wikipedia where you use webfx.com/seo-tools/wikigrabber to find pages that need citations, research what they are missing, add that to your website and then add your own website. Ruaan says it’s a huge trust signal for google and has to be one of the seed sites they use, such as the New York Times, so being nofollow doesn’t matter and you will get more value, indirectly, from your other links.

Episode 3 Part 2

In part 2 of this conversation, we talk about:

How Ruaan leverages PBNs and how you want to treat them like real sites - which is why his can rank and generate income

When you should sometimes convert your money site into a PBN!

How much $$$ Ruaan is investing into each of his sites

At what point Ruaan looks to exit and what ROI he is aiming for

Part 2 is for paying subscribers, you can access by hitting the button below.

Enjoyed this episode or have any questions? You can leave a comment at the bottom of the web version of this post.

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
May 29, 2020
E2 Part 1: Ewen Finser on Incubating Websites for Maximum ROI
2286
Episode 2 of the Website Investing Podcast is with Ewen Finser from Owl Mountain, which is aiming to become the Berkshire Hathaway of Digital Assets. Owl Mountain has an acquisitions side, proprietary deal flow service for buyers (Falcon River with John Hart) and now an incubation / build side. I previously spoke to Ewen on the Flipping Websites podcast which was a very popular episode.

This is a conversation on the ROI and risk profile of building vs buying, that ran two hours. In this part 1, free subscribers get the first 30 minutes; paying subscribers also get part 2 in their RSS feed.

Sponsored by Ezoic

This podcast is sponsored by the Ezoic platform which my main software review site runs on (literally in terms of using their nameservers) to monetize through ads, maximise site speed and gain insights from their big data analytics tool.

Part 1 Show Notes

The acquisitions funnel is still a problem they want to solve, but Ewen’s evolution led him back to doing modelling on expected returns on the build side rather than buy, where the asymmetric downside doesn’t exist. He finds building (rather than continually searching to acquire) is a better, more predictable way of allocating investor capital, one where you are in control of the downside.

As he puts it:

“Ground-up websites is the better risk-adjusted return”.

He talks about how when you buy a content site for $200k, there’s so much more to lose than gain in some scenarios. He calls this an iceberg risk where you may have identified 10% of the problem when talking with the seller, in terms of a bad backlink profile or low quality content, but you never really know what’s under the surface until you own the asset. Also the larger the website, the higher the content maintenance costs which a lot of investors do not factor in.

The catch 22 is that you can mitigate the downside risk by buying a greater number of smaller assets, but then you run into operational issues from managing a larger number of websites which is hard to scale.

In building from the ground up, you have complete control on the silo structure and you have full control over the inputs. Ewen is using his experience and success building out websites since 2012, to now focus on the organisation and systemized deployment of capital.

Incubation pilot program

Ewen has a pilot program started in May 2019 of $250k for 10 sites launching within a constrained environment with the same amount of capital deployed. Initially each site gets $10-15k for ~100 articles to establish a base of (pillar) content). He then lets each site sit, to prove that it deserves more capital, i.e. that it’s a good niche.

Ewen is creating an evidenced based approach to building, using portfolio theory to incubate sites with the same inputs, where he fires bullets and then cannonballs.

10k unique sessions over the trailing 30 days is enough proof to deploy the cannonball, which is also the tier to get approval to Ezoic or Mediavine (when you already have an existing account) as he knows they can achieve $100-$400 a month based on historical RPM (of $10-$40).

8 months in (at the time of recording), the first 3 sites in the batch are already closing in on the 10K sessions a month mark. Ewen has assumed that 50% of those 10 sites will arrive on schedule, 2 of them will be late bloomers which will get there but not the first year, 2 bullets only generate a small amount of revenue, and 1 is modelled at $0.

Then the remaining $100k gets deployed as cannonballs into the 5 sites that arrived on schedule to total ~$35k per site.

Stage 1

His key skill set is niche identification, putting together great keyword wireframes of niches, as he and his team has looked at so many verticals. Ewen still does the KW research as enjoys it (views it as prospecting) and because you want to prioritise around lucrative topics, i.e. KWs with affiliate programs attached.

Stage 2

They have a really good team of project managers, growth managers, editors, VAs and over 100 writers in their rolodex for all types of niches. What he needed to create to execute this model was a content management system, so he built a software tool which automates software assignment, approval, publishing and payment process through a wordpress login, where writers can self select from the available topics.

The writers profile have their rate per word, whether that’s 2c or 6c which can vary per site (topic), and it allows them to use the wordpress text editor to write up the content and complete the SOPs using checkboxes such as add schema markup and H2 tags. It then gets sent to an editor (who get notified by email) and are paid hourly, to create a natural tension with the writers - they either approve the article or send it back.

Ewen only has two touch-points:

Importing a google sheet with keyword topics (which he does once a month across their entire portfolio) which his project manager then releases as they need to ("load balancing")

And at the end they have a one click payment facility (Paypal Mass Pay integration) that cumulatively invoices for each writer.

He may spin off a service for other site owners where content gets automatically pushed to their websites (step 1) or may release to the market as a SaaS tool (step 2). He would like to integrate the Market Muse API so that content could be scored before being published (version 3).

Ewen averages 3c-4.5c per word across all writers and niches, then there is an editing cost add on of $10-15 for editor time / tools.

80% of the initial $15K is content. The other 20% is used for projects such as heavy link outreach or a Pinterest strategy, to see what works. Some sites just have 100% content which was his original strategy, to see how far just content get you and how fast.

Going forward, Ewen is going to start buying expired domains and existing sites in order to acquire a cannonball. With the latter, if he can acquire the content plus some revenue along with traffic that is already half way there (5k sessions a month), it’s a big time save and a good investment.

Episode 2 Part 2

In part 2 of this conversation, we talk about:

The time-based goals for incubated sites, in terms of hitting breakeven / paying back the investment / doubling the $250K invested

Ewen’s concept of planting flags in niches to end up with a main authority site where you find green shoots in the sub-niches

When Ewen will look to exit the incubated sites

How he structures and incentivizes internal operations

Why the P&L for a potential acquisition is irrelevant

Why sub $50K investments make the most sense to us

Part 2 is for paying subscribers, you can access by hitting the button below.

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
May 22, 2020
E2 Part 2: Ewen Finser on Incubating Websites for Maximum ROI
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This is part 2 of episode 2 of the Website Investing Podcast for paying subscribers. (Part 1 here).

Let’s continue the conversation with Ewen Finser from Owl Mountain.

How the capital is invested

The $15K invested into content gets Ewen to around 100-120 pages of content, which gets to 10K sessions a month. Then the additional $20K gets put into the site in a similar fashion ending up with around 300 pages.

Pillar articles are typically around 3K words to be the comprehensive resource on the topic, then after that ~ 2K words per article. Ewen uses Marketmuse for content length and content quality score (prefers to SurferSEO which I use).

Goals

The aim for these sites is:

1) After year 2, they are self-funding and do not require any further investment, i.e. break even based on annual cashflow.

2) After year 3, the cashflow generated will also have paid off the $35K investment

3) The asset value should break even at year 1.5 to 2. This is the exciting part for Ewen, i.e. when do they cross the value threshold of sites worth more than the dollar invested.

4) Between years 2-3, the asset value should be double the $250K invested, i.e. at $500K.

5) Between years 3-4, the 5 sites will have returned over $50K in income each which, with the asset value, totals $750K for a 3x return on invested capital (ROIC)

Deploying the mothership

Ewen is planting flags in niches he has had experience in, where he will end up with a main authority site which will give him the ability to find green shoots in the sub niches that he can launch as micro-targeted separate sites.

He talks of creating five or six targeted lucrative sites that they have validated with the big mothership site, like owning multiple gas stations in a neighbourhood. With the recent change with google featured snippets, where you can’t rank top and have the snippet at the same time, having multiple sites in a niche makes even more sense.

When to exit

He is probably going to exit 20-30% of their portfolio at year 3 and beyond, selectively taking risk of the table.

Internal operations

His internal operators are growth managers and editors who are paid a fixed rate. With external operators, rather than get into complicated operator models where the investor may feel the operator is charging too much, or are only being incentivised on the upside (i.e. if the site goes down they have no incentive to stick around), Ewen has a structure where the operator gets 50%, but only after certain hurdles are met. Until 1x their capital is returned, there is a 90% preference to the investors with distributions. Then you unlock a different cap table, and once 2.5x investor capital is returned, 50-50 is in effect. This helps protects the downside. You can also do distributions plus asset value in terms of total capital returned.

Redistributing capital

Because Owl Mountain manage operations when building in-house, they can use portfolio theory to dynamically redeploy capital into sites that are performing far better, to achieve even higher ROIs. This is not possible with operating companies who are managing sites and capital on behalf of investors, i.e. they can’t focus on winners, in fact they are likely focussing more energy on losers so that they do not lose management of the asset.

Owl Mountain is going to develop a stable of operators who have different specialities who are building out their funds and incubators in their relevant fields, i.e. FBA who can be added onto content affiliate sites.

When things go well

One of Ewen’s biggest successes in a “right time right place for the niche” was a site started in 2012 where he only published content and did zero back linking; five years later in 2017 it had 450 articles, was doing $300K in annual profit. He exited for 3.5x multiple in early 2018 for a 7 figure outcome. He put in less than $1K into the site as wrote the content himself ( like I did with my software review site which had a $100K exit). If you were to cost up the content (assuming 2000 words per page for 900K words at 5c per word) for $45K you get to a 20x plus return.

Ewen considers building as a 5-10 year play, snowballing capital - it’s not a yield play or a flip play.

Monetization / RPM

Ewen used to have a portfolio weighted 80% to amazon associates, in terms of monetisation, and now he’s flipped that to around 20-25% with the vast majority being direct affiliate relationships who will give you more metrics from their affiliate dashboards (such as eCPM), and give you the potential to negotiate better rates which builds a better moat.

Ewen has an approximation of $RPM for each site before he launches. The baseline RPM he uses is Mediavine which is anywhere from $15-$50 per 1000 visitors (just advertising) then if you add in affiliate you can double that. Combined, we think $50 RPM is a good floor assumption but aiming for $100 [this was recorded before the Amazon commission reduction].

Niche research

If a niche only has a few head terms, each of which are less than a thousand volume per month, Ewen would be hesitant to enter that space.

Sites for finding niches that are trending up he mentions are meetglimpse.com and explodingtopics.com

You need your own P&L

We end with a discussion around how the current P&L for a potential acquisition is irrelevant and how you need to forecast out your own P&L and make an offer based on that.

Contact Ewen

As Ewen isn’t a self-proclaimed guru he does actually have time to speak with investors and can be reached at ewen@owlmountain.co or on Linkedin.

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
May 22, 2020
E1 Part 1: Adam Smith on the Amazon Wake-Up Call
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Hey, welcome to the first Website Investing Podcast, coming at you every Friday.

Episode 1 is with Adam Smith from Niche Website Builders, the Niche Website Flippers facebook group and now the expiring domain newsletter Domain Geeks. Adam is deemed one of the 5 website investors you should follow in 2020.

We recorded this conversation on 16th April, just a couple of days after Amazon slashed their commission rates.

This is part 1 of the episode for free subscribers. Paying subscribers also get part 2 in their RSS feed. The second half of the conversations typically elicit the top insights.

I will be submitting this podcast to iTunes etc when we get to ~5 episodes, as believe that dropping with a bunch of episodes increases the chances of the algo recommending it.

Sponsored by Ezoic

This podcast is sponsored by the Ezoic platform which my main software review site runs on (literally in terms of using their nameservers) to monetize through ads, maximise site speed and gain insights from their big data analytics tool.

Part 1 Notes

Due to the coronavirus lockdowns, Adam’s portfolio actually did much better in March, from higher traffic and/or higher conversions.

But as primarily monetised by Amazon Associates, it was hit hard by the reduction in affiliate commissions announced on April 14th, and would end up down around ~40% if no new action was taken.

However, Adam is viewing this as an opportunity to put in place the steps he knew he should have been doing, such as diversifying across affiliate programs and squeezing out the maximum amount of dollars per user. 

Rather than try to replace Amazon, Adam is leaving all Amazon links up there and looking at ways to make up the 40% drop. He is finding other affiliate programs / partners and displaying a choice of options for visitors, encouraging them to check the price on all of them to get the cookie.

Website investors who figure out how to close the revenue gap have a massive buying opportunity where they can replicate and generate immediate upside.

One way is to have a private affiliate deal with a partner in the niche. This gives you the ability to out bid people and overpay the re-priced listing asking prices.

Adam’s portfolio is weighted to sports sites and he may consider focussing on niches within sports to build up those private partnerships. 

One way of closing the gap

Adam downloaded the 2020 to date sales data from Amazon Associates and grouped by sales by manufacturer to see whose products they were selling the most of. He then reached out to them saying the amount they had sold on Amazon, and would they be interested in purchasing some banner ads as their products resonate with their audience.

One manufacturer agreed as the products were high ticket ($300-$500) and they had enough margin, and Adam effectively doubled the RPM from ads he was getting (on top of his ad network). 

On a different site with lower priced products ($29), he reached out to the manufacturer who said they didn’t have enough margin to warrant banner ads. Fair play. But if they want to remain listed as the #1 recommend product on Adam’s site they need to pay, effectively renting / sponsoring the page! 

The next-level play is to see if you can help manufacturers get set up on an affiliate network, so you can get a much bigger cut and be their first affiliate (discussed further in part 2).

In Part 2

We talk about:

Live examples of higher paying affiliate programmes

The benefit of blended business models and how dropshipping could play a part

How we need to reconceptualize product review sites as ecommerce

How we can use demographics to construct portfolios.

Part 2 is for paying subscribers, you can access by hitting the button below.

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
May 15, 2020
E0: Website Investing Podcast
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Welcome to the Website Investing Podcast by Richard Patey powered by Substack - the new home for all of my content.

Subscribe to get full access to all my content. Free subscribers get the weekly Website Investing Weekly (Monday) email and partial episodes of the Website Investing Podcast (Friday).

Paying subscribers also receive the Website Investing Deals (Wednesday) email and the full episodes of the Website Investing Podcast (Friday).

Paid podcast episodes are the parts of the conversation that elicit the best insights - too good for the general public.

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit investing.substack.com
May 02, 2020