By Yaro Starak
Justin Cooke currently lives in the Philippines, where with a business partner he runs an outsourcing company, and also their passion business, a marketplace for buyers and sellers of websites called Empire Flippers.
In 2013 their business did over $600,000 in revenue and in the first quarter of 2014 they have helped others sell over $250,000 worth of websites and small online businesses.
Justin became a website flipper by accident. His failed mortgage company led him to a middle-management job, where he spent a lot of time hiring people. He had an idea to start outsourcing work to the Philippines, so his company sent him there to manage things.
Things didn’t go to well for his employer and eventually Justin found himself in the Philippines with no job, and a small team of workers expecting work to do. He decided as a temporary solution to use his team to build websites following the micro-niche model.
Although none of the sites were huge money makers, Justin was able to come up with a system that consistently created small niche sites that could bring in from $50 to a couple of hundred per month primarily in Google AdSense income.
He continued to work with his team to build a portfolio of sites, but felt he needed more cash flow to grow things rapidly. To help inject more cash, he started selling the niche sites, and then reinvesting the money back into building more.
This eventually lead to the creation of AdSense Flippers, a blog and podcast to teach other people how to create niche websites as an online income source. They used this exposure to bring more buyers to their website marketplace, which eventually was opened up to other people’s sales as well.
They rebranded the business as Empire Flippers and today are focused on expanding their marketplace.
The first 15 minutes of this interview focuses on Justin’s background, then we dive into more details behind creating niche websites and selling them.
I asked Justin to explain how a person can potentially make $100,000 from selling their website. He breaks down what your website data needs to show to justify that price.
Justin also details the exact amount of monthly income that translates into a final sale value. He seemed very confident about the linear relationship between monthly income and final sale price, so make sure you listen in to hear him detail the numbers.
If this interview has got you excited about buying your own website, or possibly selling a website you already have, then I’d like to recommend one of my resources to you.
Justin has one of the best marketplaces where you can find websites for sale at Empire Flippers. You need to know what kind of strategy best fits you, and the kind of questions you should ask before making any purchase.
The same goes for selling. You need to know what metrics are valued most and how to increase the final selling price of your website before you begin.
Once you have a solid strategy and a sound due diligence process, you can get out there and start doing good deals.
I cover all of this, and walk you through several of my own website buying and selling case studies, inside this guide –
Learn The Secrets To Passive Income From
Investing In Blogs And Websites Part Time
What You Will Learn
This guide is for anyone new to buying and selling websites. I teach you the following –
I also include FOUR bonuses with the guide, which you can see on the order page.
Enjoy the interview with Justin and I’ll speak to you soon.
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Justin Cooke: Co-Founder of Website Marketplace ìEmpire Flippersî Explains How You Can Buy and Sell Websites for Big Paydays
Hello, this is Yaro and youíre listening to the Entrepreneurís Journey podcast. Todayís guest is Justin Cooke.
Hello, this is Yaro Starak and welcome to an Entrepreneursí Journey podcast interview. Today, on the line with me, I have Mr. Justin Cooke coming all the
way from the Philippines where he currently lives.
Justin is known for a few things. Though I know him mostly involved with the buying and selling of websites area of Internet Marketing, an area Iíve dived
into a bit myself. He is part of a team who runs Empire Flippers which is a website and a brand I have heard
mentioned over the years many, many times actually. I think itís a place to source websites for sale and also learn about the art to buying and selling
websites. Weíre grabbing Justin to find out how it all got set up and how he reached this point with his own business.
Justin, thank you for joining me.
Thanks so much for having me on, Yaro. I appreciate it.
So, I was just asking you for some vanity numbers so, we can wow the audience with what youíre doing and actually, this helps clarify, too because I
actually donít know the specific breakdown of what Empire Flippers is now. I know itís teaching but, itís also
buying and selling like a place you can actually sell your website or buy other websites, is that correct?
Yes. Itís funny because we talked about this briefly before the show. You asked for vanity metrics whatever and we do a monthly report every month so, we
kind of breakdown our revenue and kind of what weíre doing or up to.
Itís always weird to talk about it, right? Itís always a little different when youíre blogging about it in the blog.
Just read the blog post out to me, if you want.
Yes, yes. So, our business in total did just a little over $600,000 in total revenue for 2013 and the first quarter of 2014, weíve helped others sell a
total of just over $250,000 in websites and small online businesses.
Our focus has been shifting over the last years or so to really helping the micropreneurs or the micro mobiles build up their portfolio of online
businesses and help them sell off these assets or online properties to move on to other ventures. Thatís where they are focused today.
So, people come to you with either a website or set of websites they want to sell and you kind of act as brokers as well as marketers. Is that pretty much
Thatís right. Yes. So, we got into it over time yes, match buyers and sellers is our focus right now.
Okay, but youíve done other things prior to that, right. I know thereís a teaching component to all of these as well. But, you know what? Letís reach that
point when we get there. Iím curious, because I know, you havenít been always involved in the buying and selling businesses area. So, letís go back in
You born and raised not in the Philippines, Iím assuming.
Yes. Is my accent getting out of the way?
Yes, a little bit [laughs].
Originally, my business partner and I, we had a real estate company in the US. This is 2005 / 2006, a mortgage company. The real estate industry didnít do
so well that time and our business crashed and burned. We ended up going out of business.
But, what we have done, we had a virtual assistant working with us. That was an amazing value and this was like pre-oDesk days so, we had a virtual
assistant in the Philippines and she was amazing value. Skip forward a little bit, I had to go find a job, started working for a local SEO company and Joe,
my business partner now, ended up working there with me. And, they had a need for kind of offshore people. We were hiring right and left.
If you have a pulse, weíll hire you. We were mid-level managers at a medium-sized company and we were hiring a bunch of Americans. And, we said, look we
have a connection in the Philippines. We should explore that option.
So, we started hiring people and eventually, my business partner and I put together a plan, actually it was like on like a napkin over beers in an outback
steakhouse in the US and we were saying, ìHow can we set up our own company?î And, we were ready to take the entrepreneurial step again after a couple of
years of working for someone else. We needed that break, I think to kind ofÖ we were gun-shy after losing our first business and then, we started putting
together a plan.
We actually took it off the net and put it on a PowerPoint and presented it to our CEO / CFO and they went for it. So, we ended up setting up a company in
the Philippines to do some of the back office processes for this, a company that we worked at in the US. And, we actually went into HR and like signed
ourselves out of the company.
So, we were basically quitting our jobs and outsourcing ourselves to the Philippines as well. That was an awkward moment with the HR manager but, we ended
up signing off and moving out to the Philippines and starting our outsourcing company.
Iím curious, your qualifications prior to all of these, like it sounds like you already know about hiring, you have experience running your own business.
Where did it all come from?
When we started, I looked back and I call our mortgage company a company but, we didnít really know what we were doing. We knew that working for ourselves
was interesting. Joe and I both worked as loan officers for a mortgage company before. We realized they were making a bunch of money on our sweat, and
tears, and blood so, we said, ìWhy donít we do this for ourselves?î And it was really, I guess, kind of a greed thing that got us started, that got us into
We said, ìWow, thereís a lot of extra money,î and we kind of fumbled our way through it. I remember for the mortgage company, there was a program in the US
called score and they basically match, itís a free program put on by, I think, the small business association or something and they match you up with a
more experienced entrepreneur business owner and they actually will do things like mentor you and kind of guide you, help you look at your business
objectively. That was actually a really fantastic program for us. It helped us out a lot.
Okay so, Iím assuming, this was your first foray into having your own businesses with the mortgages and before that. Iím not going to ask the how old you
are questions, Justin because I know thatÖ You know with females, itís as big a deal.
Oh, Iím 36 so, we were mid-20s when this was all going down, about eight years ago.
Yes, okay. Then before either that, any studies? Iím just always curious whether people were entrepreneurs to begin with or they sort of stumbled their way
into it or they actually had jobs they hated, they had to get away from that, and thatís why they started their own business.
So, yes. When I was young, I wasnít terribly an entrepreneur. I was in the US Navy so, I had done quite a bit of travelling during that time. I realized
the Navy wasnít for me but, I wasnít very entrepreneurial.
When I got out of the Navy, I went to college and I had done some stuff on the side so, I was selling some things on eBay. I actually found out about drop
shipping and this was like 2003 or 2004 where it was nearly as easy as it is today comparatively.
But, I had done a little bit of drop shipping. I was selling Baby G watches and something like fake drills out of China [laughs], $80 drills. I
had done some of that just to make a bit of cash while I was in school so, before that, prior to like 2003, I wasnít entrepreneurial at all really. I just
realized that itís a way for me to make extra cash. At that time, it wasnít a business. It was more of a hustle for me to make a bit of extra cash while I
was in school.
Okay, so you had the almost traditional start of eBay and then, dropship thing. Itís funny, a lot of people Iíve interviewed, been doing this since the
late 90s or early 2000s, always have at least some experience with an eBay something there. Itís just like this gateway drug to the world of Internet
Marketing, I think, sometimes.
Itís like that eBay for the entrepreneurial kind of side and like more recently, Tim Ferrissís 4-Hour Workweek
for the expat entrepreneurs, right?
Everyone refer, ìOh, that book got me started,î yes.
So true, and so thatís eBay and Tim thought, there we go.
All right, fast forward, you went from Navy, and a bit of hustling on the side of selling a few things on eBay, drop shipping eventually led to starting
your own mortgage company which you got a bit of mentoring through that, a mentoring program in the States called SCORE. It didnít go so well due to the
sort of GFC time and the bubble you guys had crashing in the States your property market, I assume. Then, you got involved with this other company which
then led you to the world of outsourcing to the Philippines, and by the sound of it, eventually your own company around this as well. Is that pretty
Yes, thatís right. So, we ended up moving out to the Philippines and starting our outsourcing company. It was weird because we were really beholding to our
previous employer so, they were our main client. And, we started adding new clients here and there and probably not the best way but, they would cut back.
So, they would cut back a few agents and weíd add a new client, cut back a few agents, we add a new clientÖ
It wasnít much more than a lifestyle business. We get to pay our bills and it gave us a fair salary but, we werenít growing it like we thought that we
would. Eventually, our previous employer cut us out completely, dropped everything we had left over. People like trained and capable employees, team
members that we didnít have anything to do with and so, we tried to look around for something to do and we tested a couple of things.
And, what we ended up doing was building out this smaller niche sites that were profitable. Not wildly so but, enough to kind of pay their salaries until
we can get them a real job. Thatís what we were thinking. ìGet them a real job and this will just be kind of temporary.î
So, they were building out these sites. This is in December of 2010 and we spent probably a few thousand dollars in December. I put a bunch of hours in my
time. My business partner was working at it. We had some agents, some team members here working on it. We made about $30+ something dollars so, it was not
a great return the first month.
The second month, third month it started to get better to the point where we said, ìWeíre on to something here. Maybe we donít need to replace these guys
with clients. Maybe we can have our own product or our own delivery with these niche websites.î
It was I think in April of 2011, where we made the decision to sell some off. We wanted to grow. We wanted to scale the business and start creating more of
these sites and obviously, get to that point quicker but, it would take too long if we had to wait to realize the cash. So, it was a cashflow issue. We can
put more money into this, invest more money of our own cash and try to get to scale or we can sell this off and re-invest that cash into scaling the
process. That was the decision we made and ultimately, I think, the one that led to kind of where we are today.
So, these early niche sites, did you follow a system? And, can you even talk about what subjects you were covering? Thatís, I think, for listeners where
they might be at. I donít have anything and niche marketing is obviously where to go but, it always seems blurry and people describe it kind of like how
ìOh, we set out some niche sites with some outsourcers and then, when they started slowly coming in.î How did that work?
Yes, so we read people like nichepursuits.com, Spencer, Patt Flynn, Smart Passive IncomeÖAnd weíd read a bit about their niche selection, kind of like how they were going
after these niche sites and we put together kind of a blended process that I think was like targeting a much smaller keyword or niche.
So, we figured everyone else is going after the larger keywords. Letís tackle the low hanging fruit. So, we were going after keywords that are getting
anywhere from 900 to 2000 or maybe 2500 exact searches a month and these sites, the ìlosers,î what we call them, that might earn $2 or $3 a month while the
ìwinnersî would earn $20, $30, $50, or $100 a month and then, those would be viable sites for people to purchase and expand and kind of build out.
So, the winners were moderately successful. You know, a $60 a month website is not killing it. But, if you figure it costs us about $40 to $50 to create
with kind of the system and the process we had in place, it was viable.
What Joe and I were really good at doing and we learned this, I think in corporate America in the US, but definitely with building our team here is
building processes and systems and people, we call it a human machine.
So, you put something in and spit something out and youíve got a product on the other side and so, thatís kind of the approach we took here and we looked
hard at cost andÖ it was making sense for us. We started building out and expanding these niche sites.
One thing we did that was different like we werenít like online guys at all. I donít consider myself a writer. I have to call myself a blogger now maybe
reluctantly but, yes. I didnít consider myself like an online guy. We were from old school corporate where you donít talk about what youíre doing on the
Internet. You keep it private. You knock out business and deals are made, the handshake or maybe over the phone.
But, youíre not just blogging about it. But, we didnít care with these niche sites stuff because it wasnít like a business for us. It was kind of a side
gig. So, we said, ìWhy the hell not? Why donít we just talk about it on a blog and kind of explain exactly what we were doing. Itís making money. I bet
people would be interested in that.î
And then, we started talking about it. It really resonated because people were like, ìWow, okay. I think I can build these sites too. That doesnít sound
like outrageously difficult. I want to get started.î So, they started reading our stuff and the fact that we kind of quit our jobs and live in the
Philippines, it was kind of normal for us because this is what happened.
But, other people were like, ìWow, thatís pretty amazing.î Thatís an amazing story, and I think that helped resonate with our readers and listeners as
Okay, and Iím assuming, when you call this the human machine, itís pretty much someone setting up WordPress, someone writing some articles,
someone doing a bit of keyword research and that all gets combined together into these little niche websites and make money from Adsense which is kind of
like a formula, a lot of people like Pat talk about. Is that sort of true?
Yes, thatís how we started off and we were originally called Adsense Flippers. We created this blog, I think it was a Woo Themes theme, it was Fiverr logo or something. Weíd say, ìHey, weíre the
Adsense Flippers. Hereís what we do. And, weíre going to explain everything transparently and just give you the good and the bad and let you know how itís
working out.î Thatís kind of how we got our blogging or kind of online starting.
And, when we realize, with our outsourcing company, we were a bit morevague about what we did like we had a nice corporate website. We werenít veryÖ I
guess, we didnít inject our personality into the business at all and we switched that with Adsense Flippers and we found out that thatÖ It was a shift in
our thinking about the way we should do business.
Putting ourselves into our business and like really connecting with customers, itís such a better way to go and weíve done that through things like our
podcast for example. Our blogÖ What this does, and I know that you help people basically build businesses out of blogging, what this does, it allows your
customers to self-select you, right? Because if theyíre reading your stuff and they agree and they understand kind of where youíre coming from and your
mindset, they dig that and they want to work with you. Those are the best customers.
The ones where you have to drag kicking and screaming are not so much. So, we started really like digging kind of the customers were getting in.
Through, Iíd say 2012, this niche site stuff, and some of the stuff that came with it drew to be about half of our business overall. So, we were making
about the same amount of money on that as we were with our outsourcing company which was pretty interesting.
So Justin, I am just trying to get my head around, you have two businesses, the outsourcing business, and Iíd like to know more about what exactly that is
but, with the Adsense Flippers website, I know you were obviously selling the websites that you were creating, these niche websites, was there a teaching
component where you were also coaching and selling teaching products orÖ what was the two different business models you had, the outsourcing and the
The outsourcing company, basically we had clients in the US and Australia, small clients but, they had three or four agents with us, letís say. And, we do
some kind of back office processes for them.
So, sometimes, that included things like lead generation. Sometimes, it was like some copy and paste jobs that require like an actual human being and it
couldnít be automated or it may be automated in the future but, they need like a stop gap solution to kind of do the work.
And so, those were the types of projects weíd take on with the outsourcing company.
Adsense Flippers, we went with the approach of free information. So, the idea was that weíre making our money selling the niche websites. Thatís what was
thriving on that side of the house.
We took a different approach and that weíll just give everything away for free and describe exactly our process in detail. So, we created a guide called Building a Niche Site Empire and we put quite a bit of time, effort, love and energy into this and ended up giving it away for free.
I always wondered like if we were to offer it as a course, would we have gotten better distribution? Because our thinking at that time was all about
distribution. We wanted to get our message out there. How can we do it best?
And so, we had two options.
One, we can charge for a course and we could get a bunch of affiliates to help us, get the message out and sell this course and give them a big piece of it
because we didnít care so much about the money. It was more about the message for us.
Or two, we could give it away for free and so, we went the free route and it worked out really well for us. We gotÖ I figure how many early on but now,
itís like more than forty, maybe more than fifty thousand downloads of this eBook we created. So, we got a lot of people kind of their start in building
small niche websites that made a little bit of money online.
And for people that have been burned on other courses before, we got a lot of positive feedback saying, ìLook, I paid $500 for things that I couldnít get
to work. I got yours for free and I have made my first few dollars online and thatís pretty cool.î That was pretty cool.
They really responded with our message. The people that wanted to build these sites, they were following kind of our guide were not really the people that
were buying our websites. Sometimes, they were but, they were the people that wanted to do it from scratch.
But, they helped spread the message, right? They helped us get our word out there. They were tweeting our stuff. They were sharing it with other people
they knew online. And so, they helped get our brand out there and get us in front of people that were looking to invest in these websites and purchase
websites and build them out.
Thereís always like a spectrum, right? Thereís the wanting real people that have more time than money, knows the people that want you build out the sites
from scratch. They want to tinker with it. They want to burn the process and so, we cater to them by giving them all these free information on exactly what
weíre doing and how we do it.
On the other hand, there are people that have more money than time and we cater to them by offering done-free sites. These sites are already created. You
can tinker with them but, you donít have to build them from scratch and hope they work.
So, how did that business progress because Iím really curious. There are those two groups there and it sounds like the one point of differentiation for you
guys compared to, I guess, people like me, Iíve taught a little bit about buying and selling blogs and websites, and Iíve written blog posts about it.
But, I never went this far as basically selling as my strategy. I sold the sites I had. Once they were sold, Iíd move on to teaching blogging. With you,
you guys had this group of people who were making the niche sites and then, you were filling your own database, basically your own catalog of websites for
sale, which, it sounds like obviously a smart idea assuming you have a proven method which you guys did for producing valuable sites.
Iím curious what surfaced as the real cash cow or the part of your business that was really reliable because teaching can be a bit hit and miss. You do a
launch and you stop where if you could always produce new websites for sale, then you should always have new buyers. Is that right?
Yes, thatís pretty right. One thing that we realize, because we did a little bit of consulting, right, so we had people kind of buy our time and we would
do some consulting with them; but, we realized pretty quickly that we didnít like it all that much because we were not great consultants and it wasnít fun.
It wasnít something that either of us enjoyed.
And so, we did a little bit of that but, we kind of dropped that. It feels like if I can get a message out to a larger group of people, I feel like that
tends to be more valuable like itís creating more value in the space right than just doing the one-on-one.
Maybe, that one on one is more helpful for one individual person but, maximum value is when you can share it with a large group of people.
So, we were building these sites out ourselves and we were kind of slow to catch on to things so, we had people asking us, ìHey, can you help us sell our
sites? Can you help us sell to your audience,î people that were looking to buy sites.
And, we kept saying, ìNo, No, No.î Because we figured, we donít want to cannibalize our own business of selling sites. So, we started offering other people
sites or theyíre not going to want to buy our sites anymore. We also had buyers that would ask us, ìHey, youíre selling on Flippa but, every time I see the
sites gets purchased, that you end up like two dozen copycats because we started to get a larger audience. Is there any way you can sell them to me without
sharing the URL, without sharing it publicly?î
And, we said, ìNo, no, no,î at first. And then, we said, ìHey, that might be a good idea.î
So, if we sell them privately through our site, and weíre not sharing it publicly for the world to see what the niche is, it will be more protective for
the buyer. So, this was actually a buyerís request that we started selling privately and got away from Flipper. So, we started selling privately.
Eventually, we said, ìLook, there are a lot of other people that are building niche sites that have these profitable sites that they are looking to sell as
well. They donít have the traction or the audience that we do with people that are looking to buy sites. Why donít we let them sell with us?î
So, we took on that risk of cannibalizing our own sites for sale and that was kind of like a big moment for us. This was when we switched from Adsense
Flippers to Empire Flippers and this was early in 2013. And, we started letting other people sell with us, as well and it worked out fantastically.
So, people would bring us their sites, list their sites with us and they were selling really quickly. In fact, we have an inventory problem. Our problem
today is that we simply canít find enough good sites to sell to the buyers that want to buy them. We have a vetting process so, we are looking for win-wins
between buyers and sellers so, we vet all sites that are listed with us. We reject about 40% of sites of people who want to sell because they just donít
meet our criteria.
But, the ones that pass are sites that are good, that are stable in terms of having good link profiles, have solid, consistent and generally growing
earnings. And so, buyers will appreciate not having to dig through all the crap to find the gems. Iím sure youíre familiar with a place like Flippa.
So, yes, that was our aha moment, I guess, is the fact that we got to market. There is buyers and sellers and they appreciate the fact that we are able to
bring in together and make deals happen.
Mm-hmm, and thatís primarily what your focus on today with Empire Flippers. Thatís your current business?
It is. We made a brand shift from Adsense Flippers to Empire Flippers and I donít think we executed all that well. We were still kind of known as the niche
site builders with Adsense Flippers and when we started to do more brokering and provide a marketplace for buyers and sellers, we didnít message that very
well and so a lot of people still go, or ìWhere are the niche site guys thatís creating the sites?î
And, our business had change a bit and more of our revenues is coming from the brokering and we had moved up markets. So, we now are doing 20-, 30-, 40-
thousand dollar website buying and selling.
So, it had changed that we didnít message that very well. Our focus at the end of 2013 and into 2014 was, ìLetís explain how and what we are doing,î and
what we do now is mini-mobiles, is what we call it.
So, if you want to be a mini-mobile and own a portfolio of sites, you can buy sites from us. People that are looking to sell off their online web
properties and maybe re-invest that cash into other projects that they really want to work on. Maybe they are done with their website or their small
business and they want to move on. We offer them an opportunity to that. Thatís our focus to 2014. We want to be the number one place for established
profitable websites and thatís the $10,000 to $100,000 range.
I tell you Yaro, itís really rewarding so, you have guys that are selling. Two guys in the last twelve guys have made, one of them well over $100,000 and
one of them about $100,000 selling their mini-online businesses with us and itís not retirement money. Itís like a mini-exit or a micro-exit and it gives
you the cash to re-invest into other projects that maybe youíre really passionate about or that you have a partner with and you really want to do.
So, letís at least temporarily it could be life-changing when it could be a pivotal moment in someoneís life and itís cool to be a part of that.
And, you certainly could live in the Philippines for a long time with $100,000 US, thatís for sure.
Some of the guys that are doing this buying and selling are kind of that expat entrepreneurs. I mean, Iíll tell you the whole, like laptop on the beach is
a bit overrated with the sand and everything but, they are doing that. So, theyíre in places like Bucat. Theyíre in places like Ho Chi Minh, Chiang Mai,
Davao, and Boracay and theyíre buying and selling websites. Theyíre building websites to sell and thatís how they make their living and it doesnít require
a crazy team of people.
Generally, they have a couple of VAs that build out the sites after they purchase them or they are doing some work on the sites preparing them for sale
but, it doesnít require that kind of team that we need right now for the vetting and the products and services that we offer.
Iíd love to ask you, Justin because I spoke with a few other brokers like Thomas Smale, I interviewed him once and Iíve done a few interviews with people
who have just done a deal like bought something and then grown it. Iíve done it myself several times, I am curious on your take, for the person listening
to this, well, two things, letís stick with the $100,000 exit. I think that is a really nice point to look at and Iím sure there are some people listening
in to this. You might have a small niche site or a blog right now, even that is making some money and theyíd love to get out somehow but, getting out with
that kind of exit seem so much more appealing.
What exactly does it take to sell a website thatís $400,000? How good does a site have to be today in order to get that kind of figure for it?
Yes. It certainly need to be profitable for sure. We base the sites on a multiple of net monthly profit. So, for example, if your site is making $4500 a
month but, youíve got some costs with goods in there, youíve got some advertising costs, letís say youíre making $2000 a month in net profit.
With us, you could sell that site for $40,000. We take $6000 of that or 15% and then, you end up keeping the rest.
Now, thatís not the only thing to look at. Thatís the price weíre going to list it for and thatís the price you sell the site for. But, there are other
considerations as well. So, we sell just over 95% of the sites we have listed.
They sell really well but, the few that havenít, here are some of the problems that we come across.
It might be reject sites, too. You said you reject by 40%.
Yes. First off, rejecting sites, one of the big ones and this may seem a little odd is that the person doesnít have any kind of online persona, right? So,
we ask for a Facebook page. We ask for a Twitter account, LinkedIn and either they have nothing. They say they have nothing online or their Facebook page
is obviously fake likes and fake friends and that kind of thing.
This is kind of like this weird kind of rule we learned with outsourcing. We donít even bother doing business with people who donít give us their real
names, their real persona. So, if they want to become a client of ours, on the outsourcing side, if theyíre not very upfront about who they are and they
are easily researchable, itís a complete waste of time.
So, we put that in place and that saved us so much time with time wasters and people that arenít really serious and weíve applied the same thing to website
sellers and it saves us a whole bunch of time from people that are either looking to scam or just theyíre not on the up and up and Iím sure that weíve lost
deals. There were probably a few deals that we end up saying no to that were probably good and legitimate sites and they really are just shy about being on
the Internet. But, in our business, itís 2014, you got to have some kind of online presence. If you donít have anything, thatís really odd to us. So,
thatís one of the things.
And then, obviously, we look at both the seller and the site itself. So, reasons weíll reject the site is that their earnings are way too streaky or they
may be temporary like they are taking advantage of something like the Super Bowl or theyíre taking advantage of a particular model of car for that year,
when it could be popular then and not necessarily in the future.
We reject sites that are non-falsifiable or non-verifiable so, if it looks like it might be legit but, they just refuse to give us, letís say, analytics
access or something then, we wonít do business with that, we wonít take that site on.
So, these were few of the reasons that we reject sites and sellers from our Marketplace.
What was the other question?
Well, you were telling me thereís a couple of sites that havenít sold and why that was.
Yes, so everything that will help a site sell faster is if youíve got your process documented and youíve got, letís say, if there is any work required,
youíve got Virtual Assistants or someone that generally takes care of that. If itís a whole bunch of work on your end, like a lot of the people that are
portfolio investors, at least, they are not looking for a job, right. They are not looking to add another 20 hours a week and stress in their life. Theyíre
looking for something that has people in place upon it already.
If itís more of a job and that maybe less interesting to some investors. Some are cool with it. They are actually looking for something they can take on
and quit their job and build out and move to Thailand and live on a beach.
It works for some but, it cuts out the kind of portfolio investors. Also things that require like too much technical or specialized knowledge. Iím not a
very technical guy. I canít buy a site that has all these crazy technical requirements that I have to give, coder or programmer or somethingÖ Thatís just
not going to work for me.
So, youíre limiting your buying pool if itís not accessible to a larger amount of people or letís say that you have to write content about the stars or of
the different galaxiesÖ If I donít know that, itís hard for me to find a writer to do that. I canít go to TextBroker and find someone to write this very specific astronomy content. Itís going to be more difficult.
So, sites like those that specialize in technical knowledge donít sell as quickly. Iím sure there are buyers out there but, itís more difficult because
youíre very limited.
So, those are the reasons generally about sites taking longer to sell or havenít sold with us.
What, like you said before, a $2000 per month in income website will go for $40,000, correct?
So, is that like a linear thing if I want to sell a website for $100,000 like thatís our goal then, I need to be making somewhere around $4000 to $6000 a
month from the website?
Thatís right, $5000 net a month. And so, we found this 20x net monthly profit multiple through a process of trial an error. So we own a fairly large
audience who would list sites on Flippa and we would start them off with a dollar with no reserve and kind of see where
they get that to.
And, we noticed sites will sell for 18x, 20x, 22x, 23x sometimes, and that seem to be right around where most of the sites would sell. And, it seems to be
true for the under $100,000 space. Then, when you get up to $500,000 to $600,000 and $1,000,000 businesses, sometimes you get much larger multiple.
Letís say you have a SAS business that has a very predictable recurring revenue and you have a certain trajectory and you know youíre a lifetime value of a
client, so these are going to sell for more. You might get three years, right. Or, you may even base the value on projected earnings at times.
But, for kind of the smaller space, weíre talking for a $50,000 acquisition, we donít have big teams of lawyers on either side doing like crazy due
diligence. Thereís a much more cowboy approach to it. You got to do a lot of your own due diligence and you donít have whole teams of people supporting the
So yes, itís a really interesting space and I think that it provides a lot of opportunity for the rest of us, right. And, itís great to hear about this $15
million exits on all the tech sites but, there are real people having $70,000 exits and $40,000 exits and I think thatís a place that really resonates with
us because thatís what weíre familiar with. Those are things that we have done and so, weíre happy to support that community, I think, the average kind of
Right, which is the kind of person Iíd like to mention now, the average blogger who is very much listening into this would be someone interested in
blogging possibly has a blog themselves already. Maybe they have a few but, they want to get out of that niche and that industry.
Iím curious whatís your take on selling a blog, in particular if all the writing on the blog to this point has very much been associated with your personal
Yes, thatís interesting. So, if itís Entrepreneursí Journey, for example, might be a bit difficult because itís very I think wrapped up and tied in with
you but, there are bloggers where they have a lot of guest posts and itís more of a community approach, I think the salability of a business like that is
going to be better.
Blogs that are personally focused, like for example, Empire Flippers, our site, is very, Joe and I has a lot of personality in it and I think it might be
difficult to sell it as it is today but, thatís something that over time with your business, that you can start to inject other people in to as you build
out a team and so, if you are looking for kind of a longer whole sale, thatís something that you might want to start doing, is introducing other people or
industry experts on and maybe building into more of a collaborative effort, or collaborative work, and that will make the business much more salable,
potentially to the other people that are blogging, but definitely, when you have five or six regular authors, sometimes it could be more addition than that
because in case someone gets hit by a bus or something, you still have other people there that are able to keep the work going.
Thereís one other question Iím really curious about too with regards to traffic because I think traffic and money are the two most important components
when selling a business like you said, so everything pretty much is related to looking at those numbers in some aspect, whether itís how you get your
traffic or how you make your money, how sustainable is it, how, like you said, time-dependent or event-dependent is it?
I know thereís a lot of websites for sale that donít have organic sources of traffic. They have paid sources of traffic. They buy pay-per-click. Now, for
example, someone maybe listening to this who has an eBook, and they make notes to their sales through Facebook advertising which is something that they
spend money on, that they can turn off and on whenever they want to sort of thing.
But, itís not organic. Itís not like a blog which I have search traffic coming in on a consistent basis, repeat readers, direct visitors, that sort of
thing. Do you take on those sorts of websites that have paid for traffic only?
Yes. Itís interesting like some ofÖ they tend to worry about things that are none-issue from a buyerís perspective. So, I always go, ìYou know, most of my
traffic is organic. Is that problematic? Because what if my rankings drop or thereís a problem there?î We have other sellers thatÖ ìMost of my traffic is
paid traffic. Are buyers looking for more organic traffic?î Well, my adverts campaign work in the sale and the fact is, yes. They absolutely both work and
in fact, Iíd like to see a bit of paid traffic or social media traffic. Itís fantastic. It generally can diversify the site a bit more and some buyers
What I would say though too is that you have to remember a portfolio buyer may have a bunch of organic sites already today and so, instead of trying to
diversify individual site or many businesses, they are looking to diversify their portfolio.
So, theyíd rather buy a paid traffic site because that adds diversity to their portfolio overall. They donít care that itís mostly paid traffic because
most of their other sites are organic.
I think disclosing everything is really important, and when youíre looking to sell a site, thatís one of the things we do in the vetting processes, is kind
of dig into one of these questions and try to figure it out with you, and as a seller, explain to you, ìLook, no, no. You want to disclose everything very
clearly and very upfront because youíre going to get the right buyer for the type that way.î
So, paid traffic is mostly Facebook. There are buyers out there looking to get in to the social media traffic game and your site might be just the right
site for them and for their portfolio and for their needs at the time. And so, I think itís very important to be very clear and about your traffic sources,
how things are working because youíre going to end up with the best buyer for you if you do that.
All right, Justin just one more subject matter to cover before I think we can wrap this up which is the one side of the call we havenít talked about yet.
So, the buyer side which probably there are quite a lot of people listening to this who are thinking, ìYou know what? I actually want to get into owning a
profitable website through an acquisition rather than building something from scratch.î
I know you said you cater to, it sounds like the sort of $10,000 to six-figure type websites and I want to try and cater to two groups here. Those are
people who have very little money. They might have like, they want to get started with $500 and buy their first website and learn on that sort of thing,
and then, thereís the people who you know, maybe retiree or theyíve just come with some money from some other method. Theyíve got fifty grand to invest.
They donít want to buy a website and then, realize that they just waste their money because the income just disappears within two months after buying it.
So, can you advise potential buyers, whatís the smartest practice to get into this game coming from a beginner and from a, ìIíve got a lump sum of cash to
Obviously, weíre happy to sell you sites but, the truth of the matter is for both groups, what we really advise is that you should build some sites out
yourself. And, you can do that from scratch. You can do it with a smaller niche site and even if you have the $50,000 and you donít have much time, if buy
a site thatís making, in this case $2500 in net profit per month, itís a much deeper learning curve to try to purchase that and try to play around with it
and try to figure out how itís working when the basics are things like keyword research, how do you work with WordPress? How do you change monetization
methods? How do you add content to the site?
These are the kind of the basics that if you donít understand that, you really shouldnít be buying a site at all.
So, for both groups, we recommend starting off from scratch and building a couple of niche sites out yourself. And, once youíve done that, the person with
more cash to invest, they can then go and skip all the other steps once they have the basics down, they can start buying $30-, $40-, $50,000 sites.
For the person thatís looking to start out and they donít have as much cash, if itís under $1000, itís really difficult to buy a site because thatís where
you tend to have like a lot of the scams or the, not necessarily scams but, just like a site thatís not earning consistently or doesnít have much earnings.
And, I generally think itís better to start from scratch. Iíd rather take that $500 invest in keyword research tool, buy some content, buy a few domainsÖ
Youíre better spending on building out your own sites and trying to buy one for $500 or $600. Thatís my general thought and build out a few sites to get
them profitable, maybe sell those and then, look at reinvesting the funds into purchasing larger sites.
But yes, under $1000, I donít recommend buying. I recommend building out from scratch and even for the guy that has $50-, $60, $70,000 to invest and wants
to look at some of these investments, doing it yourself first and getting like the basic fundamentals down is key. And, I know it takes some time but, you
canít skip that step. Itís a bad idea to try and skip that step because youíll end up with a site that you donít know how to run and you donít know how to
expand and you donít know how to grow.
So, yes. The basics are key for both groups, I think.
Okay, so if we want to see what you guys have for sale at the moment, where do we go?
So, you can check out our marketplace. Itís EmpireFlippers.com/marketplace. Obviously, our blog and
everything else at EmpireFlippers.com and we have a podcast where we talk about being expat entrepreneurs and trying to build a marketplace and buying and
selling websites. Thatís on iTunes Empire Flippers podcast.
And, if we are looking to maybe use your services to sell an asset, whatever asset we have, how would we engage you for that?
Yes, on the marketplace, thereís a place for sellers if they are looking to sell their sites. They can just click there and they can go ahead and go
through the submission process.
Iíll give a link to you and you can put in the show notes. And, we also have, itís new. We just started. Itís called, we call it the,Want to Buy Board. So, we have trusted buyers, previous buyers of ours that have bought websites and businesses. Itís at EmpireFlippers.com/wtb-board and we list out exactly their budget, the types of sites they are looking
for and all the information about it.
So, if youíre a seller and you think you might potentially have a site thatís worth something, you can go there and check and see what our actual buyers
have updated information for and are looking for today.
So, thatís a recent addition but, I think it will be helpful for someone whoís kind of on the fence about selling their business.
All right, thank you Justin. Any more words of advice then before we wrap up the call?
No man. Just thanks so much for having me on. I really appreciate it and I hope your listeners got some value.
Thank you, Justin and I appreciate you taking the time to share a little bit of your story to begin with and then, some great tips and advice for both
buyers and sellers of websites and even blogs there, too.
So, thanks again, Justin Cooke from EmpireFlippers.com. Talk to you very soon, Justin.
Cool man, thanks.
Catch you later and thanks everyone for listening in. You guys know where to go. Itís Entrepreneurs-Journey.com for my blog and the EJ Podcast on iTunes as
well is there and you can always google my name, YARO and find everything that Iíve done that way, too.
Thanks for listening. Weíll catch you again very soon. Bye!
About Yaro Starak
Yaro Starak is the author of the Blog Profits Blueprint, a report you can download instantly to learn how to make $10,000 a month, from only blogging 2 hours per day. You can find Yaro on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.