Episode 10 AdSense Flippers Podcast: Our Business Failures And Lessons Learned

Justin Cooke

February 16, 2012

Lately we’ve been doing quite a bit more earning than “learning”, but that wasn’t always the case…we’ve had quite a few failures we had to learn from first.  In episode 10 of the AdSense Flippers Podcast, we decided to get a bit more personal and share with you and clarify some of those failures we’ve had over several companies we’ve been involved in.  It seems so much easier to write blog posts about your failure than it does to talk about them openly, but we’re hoping that by sharing with you our experiences and lessons learned, you’ll be able to avoid some of the mistakes we’ve made and quickly make corrections if you see any of the same problems looming in your business.  Additionally, we’re hoping that talking about them will help us avoid falling into the same traps and be able to better recognize when similar situations are presented to us in the future.

Business Failures and Lessons

We really have had more failures than successes it seems, which is typical for most start-ups and entrepreneurs.  We’ve broken the heart of the episode into three distinct areas that include our Real Estate business, our outsourcing company, and our internet marketing efforts over the past 14 months.  We cover both the reasons we think we fell into the traps we did and the things we took away from those mistakes that will help us avoid similar issues in the future.

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This week’s episode was a bit rough for us…we hope you get some value out of it.  If you thought it was helpful, please consider letting us know what you think on iTunes! Here’s the link to the podcast on iTunes.  Thanks in advance!

Topics Discussed This Week Include:

  • The AdSense Flippers Facebook page and our latest iTunes review in Russian…sweet!
  • A new KW research tool we’ve been testing and one of those “ebooks” that wasn’t as bad as we thought!
  • Poor partnership and planning doesn’t make for a sound business strategy
  • Failing to pivot correctly and clinging to a dying industry sucks…
  • There are no guarantees when it comes to contracts…ouch!
  • Providing a unique value proposition can help you avoid a race to the bottom when it comes to pricing
  • Cancerous staff can bring down the organization…cut them quickly
  • Specialize, but make connections in related industries to share the wealth
  • When you see the light at the end of the tunnel, get ready quickly so that you can come out running
Mentions:
Have something you’d like to add?  Please let us know in the comments below…we’d love to hear it!

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Discussion
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  1. Really enjoying all of your podcast Justin! I think it’s important to show both side of any business when blogging, the good AND the bad to make people understand SEO/business is NOT that easy and it certainly gave me some good point to remember in the future :)

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Thank you, Jon…appreciate it!

      Yeah, we’d rather show the good and the bad. I think it helps our readers/listeners knowing that when something goes wrong they can push through it. That, and the fact that we struggle QUITE a bit as well!

  2. towhidzaman says:

    hey guys… I’m having problem to listen the audio.Its vibrating.A little help will be highly appreciated.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hmmm…vibrating, eh? Not sure why that is.

      Right below the player above is a download link. You can right-click on it and save it to your desktop…that should be a little better!

  3. Mike Long says:

    Amazing timing…I’m working on a magnum opus post for release on Thursday about the very same thing! It’s so true that without failure, achieving lasting success is nearly impossible. It’s been said that “success leaves clues”, but what is often left unsaid is that failure tends to slap you in the face! But what do you do once the sting subsides? If you pick yourself up, and start seeking out those clues left behind, your growth process tends to accelerate.

    • Good point Mike. Something we should have brought happen is the “try again” factor. Don’t beat you head against the wall, but you have to use failure a s a tool to reach your ultimate goal.

  4. Johan Woods says:

    I really got a lot from this episode, guys. I appreciate that you guys are so transparent and willing to share. I do wish I could help with something!

  5. kyle proctor says:

    great podcast.

    Do you recommend having a static page for the front of each of the niche websites or having a blog roll? thanks for the advice in advance

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Kyle!

      We use a static page, but we know others have had success with multiple blog posts on the home page…I really think that’s preference!

  6. Dan says:

    Great episode guys, enjoyed hearing these stories! I particularly enjoyed the story of twit art and the theory to build or unload. That’s good advice that I imagine is really hard to follow, but I’m going to file it away and hope that I do.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Thanks, Dan!

      I remember we chatted with you about the TwitArt situation and you mentioned posting about it…we decided to include it in the podcast! hehe

      Yeah, build or sell, we think…it’s hard when you’re IN the situation to see it, though, for sure…

    • Dan I think you are a great candidate to unload. It doesn’t mean you are not involved anymore just that someone else heads up the project or company. Sure your cut is less, but your input is less freeing up time for new ideas and projects.

  7. Jason says:

    Good podcast guys. Looking forward to seeing your Flippa sites fly off the shelves and hopeful, that the “Buy Our Sites” page will be populated again (and remain available long enough for me to even consider a purchase).

  8. Steve says:

    Hey guys, any chance of getting one of your team to make a transcript of your podcasts for those of us who prefer the written word?

  9. Andre Garde says:

    Hi guys,

    Nice podcast again. Very interesting to hear your initial analysis of SECockpit, as that’s pretty much my favourite KW research tool that I use. Am I understanding your queueing issues as SECockpit uses cached data from SEOmoz, and that you may be missing out on new niches or keywords that just popped up today (in theory)?

    The more experience I have with research, the more concerned I get about leaving money on the table. I’d be interested in trying LTP some day, but don’t want to dilute a process that is working for me so far.

    Andre

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Andre…thanks, man!

      I think a good portion of our hesitance to roll out SECockpit is the fact that what we’re currently using with LTP is working. If SECockpit is working for you now and getting you the niches you want, I’d be likely to stick with it too, I’m sure.

      In the few hours I’ve played with it, it seemed like most of the KW’s I would like to pick up no longer had domains available. My guess/thought is that because the data is cached it’s not “fresh” like it would be with MarketSamurai or LongTailPro…and so we’re looking at data that’s been sitting there a while and has already been picked through. I don’t know that for a fact…that’s my guess after initial impressions. I’m definitely willing to give it more time and dig in deeper!

  10. Some good advice you gave was to “scale the shit out of what’s working”. I totally agree. I’m scaling up right now, but it can be a bit hard on the wallet as I won’t see a return for another two or three months. Patience. Patience.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Mike!

      Yeah, that’s definitely the risk there, hehe. No matter HOW well it’s working, set an amount you’re willing to go out of pocket, track your expenses, and cut yourself off if you have to. By the time you reach your limit you might be willing to extend a bit more.

      When we first got close to our “limit”…that’s when we decided to try selling off some sites to fund future growth. That helped us quite a bit…

  11. Matt Hagens says:

    I’m really interested in hearing more of your thoughts on SECockpit. I have both LTP and SECockpit and have been leaning more towards SECockpit recently. It’s nice that you can see all the competitive info without have to go into every keyword individually. If Spencer could somehow show average page PR or something on the overall KW page, that would be very helpful….but maybe like you said, more niches would be taken. The other nice thing about SECockpit is Adsense value column. In LTP if you week out kw’s that only have 1000 searches and $1 CPC, you may be missing some good niches.

    Thanks!

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Matt!

      We’re still messing around with SECockpit and will let you know when we have more information. So far, as we mentioned, in the SECockpit Vs. LongTailPro battle, we’d rather stick with LTP. SECockpit is DEFINITELY more robust and has some really cool features as you’ve mentioned…but, so far, LTP has been better at doing what we need it to do…find us good niches.

      I think that SECockpit might be less work if I was a one-man band maybe? But since we have so much of the work done by our agents it’s not too much time out of my week as it is. We’ll definitely report back, though…

  12. dano says:

    I see you mentioning multiple times about a shortage on sites to sell while at the same time you manage to achieve around 20 months profit when you sell. Many people can’t sell for more then 8 – 12x profit so do something with it I would say, start selling other people’s sites and cut it somewhere in the middle.

    Personally I have a site that makes 200 euro/month now but it’s in dutch and I think it would be hard to sell cause of that reason, despite of that I have no clue whether I want to sell it or not, prolly not cause it has more potential so this post is not out of self interest. Though I would like to know if it’s in general a lot harder to sell sites in different languages.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Dano,

      You’d be surprised at the number of people that email or contact us, asking if we would either buy their sites or allow them to sell on our page. As you’ve mentioned, it sounds like a good deal at first…it would help buyers and we’d make a little from it, right?

      The problem is well over 75% of those that have contacted us and we’ve looked into are obviously shady. Their income claims are doubtful, their traffic is sketchy, etc. I think it’s even worse than digging through Flippa…many contact us hoping we’ll just take the sites off their hands so they can get rid of their “problem” sites.

      We would, then, be selling those “problem” sites to our readers, listeners, and buyers…not a very good idea. I would think we’d quickly burn through our brand and reputation if we did that. I’d rather come up short on the sites we have available, but be confident that the sites we sold were from us and up to our standards…does that make sense?

      • dano says:

        Yeah makes sense indeed. Great showcase of how fucked up many IM’ers are. Imo most are worse then car sales man, and that does say something :)

  13. aldo says:

    Well guys fail is part of the path , what we all have to keep focus on not failing more than having success.

    Nice to go to Flippa again is kind of winning twice since you will be making money from selling sites and bringing more directly buyers to your blog willing to spend some money (which is awesome).

    I would like to sell some of my sites which make $100 in a bulk like you guys are doing, but i kind of afraid of this things.., I dont want people to take my content similar to the issues you had both had before discusses on an old post.

    I’m still thinking it.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Aldo…thanks!

      Yes, we’re excited to get another Flippa auction up and rolling. It does tend to bring a lot of new people here that are either looking to buy or are looking for a nice, easy way to test out site creation. Our goal is to be the best at serving both of those markets!

      You can make your auctions private on Flippa, but you’re likely to have less bidders by doing that. I would explain your reason for doing so very clearly in the auction copy so that potential buyers understand and can appreciate the fact that you’re keeping the info hidden.

      Good luck to you!

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