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AFP 2: Our Story And Planned Escape From The Cubicle

Justin Cooke November 11, 2011

In Episode 2 of the AdSense Flippers Podcast, we describe our first venture together in the Real Estate industry and get more into the back story as to how AdSense Flippers came to be.

How We Escaped the Cubicles

We cover our early failures, heading back to the J-O-B market and, ultimately, how we were able to outsource ourselves to the Philippines and build an outsourcing company in Davao City.  Finally, we get into the reasons we started AdSense Flippers and our journey into creating niche sites for profit.

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Podcast Transcripts (Click Show To View)

Topics Discussed Include:

  • AdSense Flippers Blog and Podcast statistics
  • Radio studio time in the Philippines
  • Updates to BuyOurSites page
  • Upcoming Trip to Singapore and Bali
  • Our first business together in the Real Estate industry including our successes and failures
  • Having to go back to working a job
  • Grabbing/Taking opportunities when they present themselves
  • Outsourcing ourselves to the Philippines
  • Developing and adapting in the Philippines
  • Creation of AdSense Flippers and our early thoughts on niche sites
  • The problems we see in the internet marketing industry
  • Outsourcing creative work


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Announcer:                        Welcome to the AdSense Flippers Podcast. Are you sick and tired of gurus who have plenty of ideas but are short on substance? Worried that e-book you bought for $17.95 won’t bring you the personal and financial freedom you long for? Hey, you’re not alone. Join thousands of others in their pursuit of niche profits without the bullshit. Straight from your hosts, Justin and Joe of AdSense Flippers.

Justin Cooke:                     Welcome to the second episode of the AdSense Flippers Podcast. I’m your host, Justin Cooke, and I’ve also got Joe Magnotti here as well.

Joe Magnotti:                    Hi everybody.

Justin Cooke:                     So guys I just wanna go over really quick what we’re gonna be covering today. We’re gonna be covering first some updates, a little bit of news and information. Second, we’re gonna get into the story of AdSense Flippers, how Joe and I found out about each other, came to meet each other and then built our company. And then last, we’re gonna go over some ninja marketing tips, tricks and our plans for the future. Really excited about this episode. Glad to have you with us. First, Joe I just wanna say really quick that we had some great downloads on our first podcast. We’re just under 1,000 downloads in under two weeks. That’s pretty good, huh?

Joe Magnotti:                    Very excited about that dude. Awesome.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah, and by the way, we’ve got some new podcast subscribers. We broke 2,000 subscribers overall on AdSense Flippers, which I’m really excited about. We’ve been getting some great emails from you guys on feedback, on what you’d like to hear, what you’re looking forward to in the future with AdSense Flippers and that really helps us out. A lot of our content comes from you because part of the reason we do AdSense Flippers is just to give you information to help you guys out further as you continue along with your goals.

Joe Magnotti:                    And don’t forget Justin, this recording comes from Rock 105FM here in Davao City. We’re in a studio getting this done the right way.

Justin Cooke:                     Dude, it rocks man. This place is like totally professional. We’ve got real mics, really excited to be here. The benefits of being in the Philippines is you get some great deals for relatively cheap. We’re paying about $100 U.S. to rent a full on studio for three hours. That’s pretty cool man huh?

Joe Magnotti:                    That’s good stuff.

Justin Cooke:                     Also, I wanna mention … I lot of people were asking how you can get a hold of us and email gets a bit rough. If you ever wanna just check out what we’re doing or what we’re up to, check us out on Twitter I’m on there on a regular basis. I’m always tweeting about some things that we think are interesting. You should definitely check us out there. Make sure to follow us and we can do some back and forth there.

                                                I wanted to give you a quick update on the websites. We’ve got a new AdSense Flippers logo.

Joe Magnotti:                    I am so excited about that logo. You might think it’s cheesy, but I love our little cartoon.

Justin Cooke:                     No, man, it is a little cartoony, but I do like it. Compared to the other ones we got, which were way too corporate for what we’re doing. Dude, we’re building mini niche sites. That’s our gig.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah, and big props to 99designs for helping us get that done.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah dude. Love those guys. Big fans. Also, our Buy Our Sites page, we have some really exciting plans there. Basically our Buy Our Sites on the previous was static. Anytime you go to the Buy Our Sites page you’ll see it and it’s not really updated, that kind of thing. We looked at the AdSense API and you can actually have it pull, once a day, updated information. So basically we’re turning our Buy Our Sites page into a marketplace. And you’ll see daily fluctuations on the value, daily fluctuations on the price, which is really exciting. So you can look at it like a market. Right Joe?

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. We’re gonna continue to still do Flippa auctions, but I think there’s a lot of value in offering our sites for sale directly on the website, for both us and for buyers. Hey, we don’t have to reveal our niches unless you actually buy the websites. So that’s kinda of nifty. Also, as you talked about Justin, the price will adjust based on 30-day revenue automatically. For sites that are going down in revenue, you’ll get a deal. For sites that are going up, well act now.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah, also it give buyers the opportunity to just buy it straight from the site. Of course, you can still email us with questions if you have any issues with a particular site or wanna know a bit more about it, we’ll let you know. But you can buy it straight from the page too, which is pretty cool.

Joe Magnotti:                    I definitely would want some feedback on this page ’cause we’re really testing it out. Before we go to the next phase of the project, please even if you don’t intend on buying our sites, check out the sales page, tell us what you think.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah. And you know guys, we love your feedback. We get it all the time and that’s really helpful for us as we continue to grow our business. Don’t be shy. Let us know what’s going on.

                                                So what’s up man? Where we going Joe?

Joe Magnotti:                    We are going to Singapore and Bali starting December … Well, I’m going December 1st. You’re going November 29th, but basically beginning of December we will be in Singapore and then over to Bali to check out the guys at Tropical MBA, check out their house, hang out with them a little bit and do some Southeast Asia traveling.

Justin Cooke:                     Dude, I’m stoked about Singapore too. I’ve been there a few times. My girlfriend’s never been there, and she’s going with me. We were looking at a place called Sentosa Island. You should check that out before you go, Joe, but it’s pretty cool. Anyway, they have a place where you can do the swim with the dolphins thing. So I guess you can swim with the pink dolphins.

Joe Magnotti:                    I swam with the pink dolphins in the Amazon down in Brazil, so I guess I’ll swim with the pink dolphins on the other side of the world.

Justin Cooke:                     Awesome man. Then we’re cruising over to Bali, which … I’ve been to Bali once before. It was a pretty short trip, but I love it there man. Beautiful beach. Amazing people. And we’re gonna be there for what, like four or five days?

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah, four, five days. I am so pumped to meet Dan and crew, hang out at the house, have a cold beer and check out what’s going on with the Tropical MBA. And you guys should check it out too, They have a great podcast going over there now.

Justin Cooke:                     I’m really stoked about … There’s a guy there that used to work with AdSense team. I know he’s leaving in December. Hopefully, we get to meet up with him as well. I’d really like to pick his brain. I’ll tell you guys, anything we get out of that, I will definitely report back to you either on the podcast or in the blog. Hopefully we get some updated information about AdSense from an ex-AdSense employee.

Announcer:                        The AdSense Flippers Podcast.

Justin Cooke:                     All right. It’s time to get into the heart of Episode Two, which is basically our back story. How AdSense Flippers came to be, how we got to know each other, and our previous business and how that worked out. Hopefully this will give some information to anyone looking to break away from their j-o-b, so buddy, we’ve known each other now like 40 years, 50 years?

Joe Magnotti:                    I was doing the math on it Justin. We’ve known each other 13 years now. So it has been quite a long time. It’s gone from acquaintance to close friendship to business partnership. It’s been quite a wild ride.

Justin Cooke:                     I remember back in 2004, I’d been in the real estate business for a while, you were chilling in Brazil for a while. Right?

Joe Magnotti:                    That’s correct.

Justin Cooke:                     And we said, “Hey, why don’t we start a business?” Let’s talk about that a little bit. How did that come to be?

Joe Magnotti:                    We decided on a place halfway around the world, Thailand. And we met up in Bangkok and after a little bit of partying we got down to business and decided, ’cause we had some experience in the real estate business, in the loan business, we would open up our own mortgage company where we would offer really good splits to virtual loan officers. People could work from anywhere. We thought that was a really cool and nifty idea, giving the highest splits to people all around the country.

Justin Cooke:                     A lot of the loan officers or mortgage companies were basically, “Work from here.” You’re stuck every day coming to the office and closing your loans. But we offered a pretty good deal where people could work from home, make huge splits, and that went well for us. We were doing well. This is back in early 2005 and things were going well. The real estate business was good. Mortgage business was good. But the writing was on the wall, man.

Joe Magnotti:                    Even before that, the biggest thing that we had to do was attract loan officers in order to make the company work. The only way to do that was to do it online. Because we didn’t have a lot of overhead … We didn’t have an office, we didn’t give out leads … We really had to market our company to loan officers to bring in the loans. And that led to a lot of posting online and things like Craig’s List, doing that on a repetitive basis, something that is very good for outsourcing.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah, man. Remember we were looking online for someone that could help post ads on Craig’s List and do some of the maintenance work that we needed. So we posted ads in India, in the Philippines, in I think China as well, or Thailand-

Joe Magnotti:                    South America.

Justin Cooke:                     Here’s the scene. We’re in the office, and I’ve got literally 30 resumes spread around me. I’m sitting on the ground trying to go through these resumes. These are qualified people. They’ve got degrees. They’ve got experience doing what we need them to do, and we were like, wow, we couldn’t believe the overwhelming response we had from outsourcers looking to [inaudible 00:08:26].

Joe Magnotti:                    I would say the distinguishing factor really came down to the interview process. Once we got them on Skype and we saw that English as a second language was a real limiting factor … ‘Cause the communication just wasn’t there. Even though they were qualified, yeah, they could write well, you really need to be able to speak to somebody. You need to be able to talk to them on a regular basis. And that made the Philippines very attractive. And we met one agent down here in Davao and we decided to go with her. And we worked with her for the next year-and-a-half very effectively. In fact, that was the best part of our business. Right?

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah. We get that question a lot. Why you start in Davao? And I love to give a cooler story about, “Oh, it’s better down here. It’s typhoon free. It’s great emerging market.”

Joe Magnotti:                    Much cheaper than Manila and Cebu.

Justin Cooke:                     That’s all true. But the truth of it, we just found someone better in Davao and it kinda worked out. It’s kind of a not planned, but one of those things that really turned out well for us. We’re driving somewhere. I’m driving and you’re sitting there on your phone. Right?

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah, this was back in 2005, 2006. Internet on your phone was still emerging. There was no iPhone at the time, and I had a Windows mobile phone that actually had Yahoo Messenger.

Justin Cooke:                     Dude, those sucked. Right? Weren’t those mobile phones terrible? I can’t believe how much better an Android and iPhones are. But anyway.

Joe Magnotti:                    Unbelievable. But the cool thing was here I am on Yahoo Messenger, communicating in real time with my virtual assistant halfway around the world in the Philippines and asking her to do stuff for me.

Justin Cooke:                     As the real estate market started tanking, we realized the mortgage business is done. It’s basically going away. It wasn’t working out for us. We were losing money at that point. But we said, “Wow, this Philippines thing, there’s something to that man.” That’s probably the coolest thing we had going at the time, but we had an agent working for us. We didn’t have any opportunity to really expand that. But we knew later on that was something we wanted to do.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah, and we didn’t really have a product that we could package up and ship off to people or anything like that. We weren’t able to leverage outsourced labor like we can now. We honestly didn’t know the outsourcing market that well.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah, it’s really moved on too. Just the other day I was listening to Jason Calacanis. He was in his car on his way home and decided to broadcast live audio. He just tweeted it out. There was like 40, 45 people that joined and he was just kind of going on a rant about something he wanted to talk about. But that’s like a live podcast basically from his cell phone in his car. How cool is that? It’s really interesting to see where we’ve come. We were all fired up about a Yahoo chat Messenger in the car with our agent in the Philippines to now we’re sitting in the Philippines listening to Jason live in his car on his drive home while he’s ranting.

Joe Magnotti:                    And you can even do things like JustIn.TV which allows you to broadcast video live on the web basically for free. Pretty awesome site. You should check that out. You can do it straight from your phone if you have an Android or an iPhone. They have an app.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah some NFL games were readily available on JustIn TV til NFL shut that down.

Joe Magnotti:                    So buddy, it’s mid 2007. The real estate business is going nowhere. Our particular loan business is absolutely in the toilet and both decided that it’s time to move on. I go play professional poker. You go and get the j-o-b. Tell us about that.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah man, that was really tough deciding when you should give up on something, when it’s no longer viable for you. Or whether you should just make some changes to what you’re doing to keep it going. But at that time with the market where it was and the real estate industry wasn’t good. I think if we’d have realized beforehand where it was going, we probably could have headed into something that was a little different and done better. But yeah, we were stuck at that point. It was a pretty sad point professionally for me.

                                                Anyway, I knew I had to go work. I had to go get a job. Sucked. Wasn’t very happy about it. But found a very cool internet marketing company, a startup that I could work with. Basically they were looking for a mid level manager. It’s a good fit for me, so I end up jumping on board with them. You’re goofing off, playing poker for a living, actually making some money out of it.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah, it was good. It was a lot of fun. But I tell you, poker is not very rewarding. In the end, you’re not doing much. You don’t really network with people much, you don’t interact, you don’t learn new skills besides how to just make more money at poker and it all comes down to [inaudible 00:12:44] per hour. I decided to join you in your local SEO venture.

Justin Cooke:                     Internet marketing company and I’m like, “Look Joe. Dude, we’re building something kind of cool over here. We could use you. We could really use your skills over here.” And you were sick of not building anything. I know we talked about that before. You were like, “God, I wish I was doing something. Basically I’m just meeting people and figuring out how to get money out of them via poker.” Ended up bringing you over, bringing you to the internet marketing company and you worked your way up. We got a few promotions during that time and we ended up running a good portion of their operations. I ran Customer Service, the Billing Department, Customer Retention and then Compliance. And then you ran Production, Video-

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah, we basically ran the entire operations staff minus Accounting. Anything that wasn’t Sales or Accounting was run by us. We had 65 people under us.

Justin Cooke:                     And one of the cool things about that, we had a ton of experience interviewing, hiring people so we were pretty skilled there. We were in some of the strategy meetings to help grow the company and that was exciting for us. After our failure with the real estate business and our own venture, we were a little gun shy actually. Having the support of a larger company to blossom in, I guess is the best way to put it, really helped our psyche. It really helped our psyche to get us back up to speed, run a company.

Joe Magnotti:                    It was nice to have some mentorship. Where some of the high level staff, high level officers at the company were definitely mentors to us.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah, so here’s the situation. We have the CEO, CFO and COO that come to us and say, “Look guys, we need to cut costs. How can we cut costs without cutting a bunch of employees? How can we get this done?” And we’re like, “Wow, okay. With our Philippines experience, this is a pretty good opportunity for us.” So we said, “Hold us, let us get back to you.” We basically leveraged our contacts in the Philippines to see what we could do.

Joe Magnotti:                    And we contacted the individual that we had as a virtual assistant back with the mortgage company back in Davao City and said, “Hey, would you be willing to work for us in a SEO capacity at a new company we’re working for?” And one person turned into three, three people turned into eight, and before we knew it, we had a little staff going here down in Davao.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah, it’s pretty cool. We have a little staff going now. We go back to the C-level guys and they’re stoked about it. They love it. In fact, they say, “Hey, can you give us a plan where we can do more of this? We’re actually cutting costs enough to where it’s extremely viable. We wanna scale this. We love what you guys are doing. We wanna do this at scale.” That was exciting for us. We knew we were onto something there.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah, I think we always wanted to have a getaway to Southeast Asia. Live overseas, but make Western money. That’s always been key to us. And we saw the writing on the wall. We saw the future, the possibility of having our own business overseas and making Western money.

Justin Cooke:                     So that was it. I remember me and you, notebook in hand, probably a couple of beers down, and we’re at Outback Steakhouse at the bar there.

Joe Magnotti:                    Which I don’t recommend ’cause I don’t like their food.

Justin Cooke:                     I’d take it right now man here in Davao. So we’re at the bar on a notepad scribbling out our ideas. They came to us, sat us down and said, “Look, we need to do this.” And we said, “Oh my God, this is a great opportunity for us to outsource ourselves. This is a great opportunity for us to start a business offshore.” So we ended up sketching it out. We got altogether a PowerPoint presentation and everything, kinda laid it out for them and they said, “Yeah, let’s go with it. You guys set up your own company. We don’t wanna deal with it at all. And then we’ll outsource everything to you. Your company’s now a vendor to us while you’re still employees here.”

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah, I remember them saying the reason they wanna do this, they don’t wanna own stuff overseas. They don’t wanna own an office. They don’t wanna own desks and chairs and have employees overseas. They wanted us to take that pain away from them and that’s what we did.

Justin Cooke:                     So that was exciting. We basically set up our company in the Philippines. And then Joe and I said, “Hey we gotta fly out there and we gotta check it out.” Great opportunity for a mini vacation/work trip and we end up both flying out to the Philippines and checking out the operation.

Joe Magnotti:                    That was in late 2008. We came out here and we saw how the working conditions were.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah, not good. Basically there were four people in one little room inside a house. Think sweatshop and that’s what we’re looking at. We’re like, “Oh my God, we’re sweatshop owners. That’s not cool.”

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. We said first things first we have to get an office. We went back to the States, went to our CEO, CFO, told them we gotta get an office. They were willing to put down guaranteed contract and then we got a nice sized office here in Davao.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah man. It was away from there. At that point we said, “Why don’t you go ahead and cut us as employees too. Why don’t we join our company and you can basically just outsource us, and we’ll be consultants for you?” And that’s basically when we started really building up our company. We were kind of capture. We were only a vendor to that company at that point still. But Joe ended up coming out here a couple more times. We did a few more visits. And then ultimately Joe ended up moving out here.

Joe Magnotti:                    I realized that you needed someone and needed Western management on the ground, day-to-day running things here. That was seriously lacking. August 2009 I moved out here to do that, to run the operations day-to-day, and also to find new clients. Because, let’s face it, although we were a capture center, we were still a vendor and we needed to find other clients to diversify our portfolio.

Justin Cooke:                     The cool thing was it was a plan all along. That was something that we wanted to do. We just needed a good opportunity. When we heard about cutting costs and needing cheaper labor, we said, “Wow, let’s strike while the iron’s hot. Let’s get into this.” For anyone that’s working a job, whatever, if you find a situation where they need to get something done and they need to get it done cheaper, that may be a good opportunity for you to see if you can work in some VA’s and start to build a team yourself. And that’s for your own business as well. If you need cheaper labor, it’s definitely a good idea to look offshore.

Joe Magnotti:                    I would definitely say too if they’re already outsourcing, if you work for a company that’s already outsourcing, but they are outsourcing to another country, it’s good to find a better outsourcing solution. If you could run that, even on a small case scenario, and prove to upper level management that you have a success story here, they are gonna be willing to go with you over their existing relationship.

Justin Cooke:                     We just outsourced ourselves. You had just moved to the Philippines, and I’m still in the U.S. basically doing a job. I’m working as a consultant at that time, but I’m still in the U.S. doing my thing. Talk about when you first got to the Philippines to live there Joe.

Joe Magnotti:                    Oh man, it was a little bit of a nightmare because I didn’t have a support group. I had to figure out everything myself. I did have some local Filipinos. Obviously I had a staff of 20 some odd people to get things done. But it’s not like the U.S. You can’t just look it up online. There’s no Yellow book. Getting stuff, finding stuff, it’s very tough. You can’t jump on Amazon, you can’t just buy something. It doesn’t work that way here.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah. That’s one of the things that you take for granted in the U.S. is that if you need furniture, you know where to go. If you need your internet hooked up, you know where to go. Here, you can’t just search online really quick for a furniture store that’s close to you. It doesn’t work that way. You can’t just pull out your iPhone and get directions to the furniture store. You have to ask around. So you have to know someone who knows someone that knows a plumber that can come over and fix your stuff. It’s pretty odd.

                                                So I’m back in the U.S. I’m working as a consultant and I’m not liking it. You’re out here in the Philippines. You’re having the time of your life. You’re enjoying. You’re building our business and I’m back there stuck. I remember sitting down with one of our mentors, Phil, and he told me, “Look Justin, it’d be so much better if you stayed here in the U.S. you’re gonna pick up more clients. It’s gonna be better for your business if you do that.” He’s a really good friend, really good mentor, and I really respect what he had to say. The same time I told him, lifestyle wise that just doesn’t work for me. I wanna travel. I wanna move to the Philippines. I wanna live there so I can live my life. That’s more important to me.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. Looking back for the business, Justin, it probably would have been better for you to stay. But honestly, hey man, it was great having you here too. I was missing my friend at that point. I didn’t have many close friends here and it was great to have you come out.

Justin Cooke:                     I end up finally moving out to the Philippines in January. And I’ll tell you, no matter how much you prepare for a different culture. The Philippines is close. Everyone speaks English here. It’s really nice, but it’s just different. There’s nothing that can really prepare you for living there no matter how many books you read or how many times you visited there. It was definitely a bit of a shock to me. By this time, Joe had already been used to or adapted to the Philippines and everything was kinda normal for him where I was excited. We’re driving down the street, I’m wondering what this is and check this out, and kinda crazy.

                                                Once I had moved to the Philippines we said, “Wow, okay. We’ve got one client. That’s probably not a good thing.”

Joe Magnotti:                    No, that was the biggest thing we knew we had to fix was we need more customers.

Justin Cooke:                     So we started looking for new customers, and we started finding people on the internet. We built up Try BPO, Basically if you look up or look for Davao outsourcing, we’re all over the place. So I think we did a really good job of branding ourselves as the Davao outsourcers. And we got some leads from that. What ended up happening though was our original client started scaling back. Every new client we’d add, we’d lose a few agents through the other guys.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. It was definitely a one step forward, two steps back kind of situation that was very frustrating for me ’cause I didn’t feel like we were getting anywhere. We were adding clients, but we just weren’t adding enough revenue to really build a company. It became a nice lifestyle company, but it wasn’t really gonna be a huge business.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah, that’s basically what it turned into is kind of a lifestyle business. We were out here, we’re living here, we’re making decent money and it was great for traveling and doing all the things that we wanna do, but we’re basically losing agents and just picking up new agents with new client. We did that for a while. Toward the end though, we ended up with big loss of clients when they finally ended the contract with us. We took a bit of a hit there. We didn’t have anyone to replace those agents, and these agents were well trained, bright, smart people. We trained them, worked with them for over a year at that point.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah, and we knew them well. And we knew their strengths. We knew their weaknesses. That’s very powerful when you’re a manager or a business owner to have people that you know well that work with you well, that can get a job done. You don’t wanna let those people go.

Justin Cooke:                     That’s when we really started thinking about what we can do to keep these trained, smart, bright agents on board. And really, we were probably looking for a six-month interim solution, just something to where they can cover their salaries so we’re not putting out a bunch of extra money to keep them on board. So I started looking online. I ended up going to the place like the Warrior Forum and reading about niche sites and how people were creating these sites with AdSense monetization. And I said, ‘Wow, we’ve got a staff that can absolutely do that.” These guys have been building websites and performing SEO to get these sites seen for local SEO. Why couldn’t we do the same thing for niche sites?

Joe Magnotti:                    And buddy, I really thought you were wasting your time there. The Warrior Forum, places like that, although we’re very active on the Warrior Forum, we’re very active on some of these other forums, it is filled with a lot of get rich quick, become a millionaire online kind of thing that I don’t appreciate so much. It seems too salesy, too marketing to me.

Justin Cooke:                     Dude, we’re on the same page there. Neither one of us are really fans of hard core, hyped, overselling you crap. Or info products that are just rehash from someone else. And there’s a ton of that. Not just at Warrior Forum, but other places in the internet marketing community. In fact, I would say we’re not big fans of the internet marketing community in general.

Joe Magnotti:                    No. I tell you, I’m wearing my Google AdSense tee shirt today Justin. But when you first introduced the idea of building a whole bunch of niche sites around Google AdSense advertising and making cents on the dollar, I really did not see the light.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah. Basically we didn’t waste any resources at first. I started off doing it. I said, “I’m just gonna try it. I’m gonna have a little bit of faith. I’m gonna build a few sites and just see what the hell happened. This was through December 2010, so I started building out sites on my own. I think I wrote a little bit of content myself and we just started putting a few sites out there and seeing what happened. I ended up putting a lot of hours in. I’d say maybe 80 to 100 hours into the project in December 2010. And how much did we make buddy?

Joe Magnotti:                    $33.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah. $33 for 80 hours of work. I was devastated man. Crushed.

Joe Magnotti:                    And I kept saying, “I told you so.”

Justin Cooke:                     I know it dude. It was miserable. I stick with it though. I said, “You know what, I don’t care. Maybe something will happen. We built all these sites, we might as well see it through.” Plus, again, I don’t wanna lose these agents. I wanna keep these agents on board. I start to outsource the process to our agents in house, and they started building out the content, building out the sites. In January we made a little bit more money. In February we made a bit more money. The funny thing though, Joe, was that in February I was a bit depressed actually because it wasn’t really kind of connecting or moving forward the way I thought it was. And you were starting to get a little fired up about it. You thought it had some potential.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah, I think in February we made about $600 or something like that. I saw that by scaling the process, all these little pennies could add up. All these little tiny sites that made just $10 a month, if you could make them cheap enough, quick enough and make enough of them, you could really build some income.

                                                But I have to say, the real thing when it took off for me was in March when we said, “Okay, let’s go ahead and scale this thing, but we’re gonna need some money to do that.” And I didn’t wanna come out of pocket and you said, “Well, hey let’s flip some of these sites. Let’s go ahead and go out there and auction off some of our well working sites that I said, wow when that first auction came through for a few thousand dollars, I was so impressed and said, “This is a great model.”

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah, we considered it from the beginning. Obviously the name, that was something that we kind of planned on doing but we were amazed at the level of interest we got on our first auction. For our first auction we got a ton of viewers. The interest was through the roof. So we determined at that point, wow there’s a real market for this. People really want these AdSense sites. That’s when we said, “Okay, let’s keep charging forward. Let’s see if we can flip more of these sites and do even more.”

Joe Magnotti:                    And now it becomes more of a supply and demand issue than just okay how many sites can you build and how many clicks can you get. That’s pretty cool. That’s more of a business model than just some sort of internet marketing scheme.

Justin Cooke:                     It was really March that we said, “Okay, we’re gonna really move forward with this thing and see how far we can take it.” We actually started AdSense Flippers in May. I went back and wrote back some of the income reports and that kind of thing so we had a little bit more content and kinda could give our story on the blog. But that’s when we started. We said, “You know what, it’s working out for us. I bet it could work out for other people. Let’s show them the model.”

                                                Here’s one of the things though that I struggle with. Because we often tell people, “Okay, here’s our process, here’s something that you guys can follow, but it may or may not work for you. There’s no guarantees here. It doesn’t mean that what we did will necessarily make you successful.” I hesitate to say, “Okay, follow our model, here’s our blueprint, follow this exactly, and you’re gonna make a bunch of money.” It’s not necessarily the case.

                                                What I do hope people get from AdSense Flippers though is they can learn some tips and tricks that help them grow their business. For example, we’re really successful at building niche sites at scale. If you’re having trouble scaling your business, I would try to get that out of us. If you’re struggling to figure out how to sell websites on Flippa, we’re good at that. We’re really good. So take a look at some of our content that deals with selling websites, and I think it’ll take you a long way towards making a profit with yours.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah, and the other thing that I would say Justin, is get out there and start building sites. Get out there and start trying stuff. Stop buying e-books and reading e-books and listening to podcasts and not doing anything. Go out there and try it and then get interactive in the community because you’ll have something to talk about.

Justin Cooke:                     That’s it. That basically takes AdSense Flippers to where we are today. We’ve definitely had some struggles. We had some sites that were tanked and we’ve had some sites that weren’t as successful. We’re working through that. And we’re definitely looking to see what we can do to build out our sites. Right now we make $10 sites a month like clockwork, but what if we find a way to take a $30 a month site to a $200 a month site? Based on our multiples, that’s taking a $600 in value site to $2,000, $4,000.

Joe Magnotti:                    Or what if we found a way to take some of our internal tools that are very valuable and packed them and prettied them up and put a nice UI on them and actually offer a useful tool that we know works on the back end to other people?

Justin Cooke:                     So that’s basically AdSense Flippers. That’s where we came from. We just wanna share with you a bit of our story. Hopefully that’ll help you out.

Announcer:                        The AdSense Flippers Podcast continues.

Justin Cooke:                     Okay, now it’s time for our ninja marketing tips, tricks and our plans for the future. We wanna go over today with you really quick is crowdsourcing creative work.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah, Justin. One of the things I think we struggle with is we’re not really creative people. When I say that, of course we’re creative because we’re successful at business, that requires some level of creativity. But what I mean is we’re not artsy.

Justin Cooke:                     I remember I did a post recently on Picasso, and it shows how he starts off, some of the mistakes he made, how he corrects it. Oh my God, that’s so beyond me. I have no idea how to do that type of stuff.

Joe Magnotti:                    I would say the same thing with writing or anything like that. If you ask me to come up with a story and stuff, I would not excel at that part. I’m an engineer by trade, and that’s what I’m good at. However, what we found is that the best way to do creative work and to get the most ideas is to crowdsource it. And there’s two companies we absolutely love to work with. I mentioned one in the beginning of the podcast. 99designs. If you guys need logo help or if you need website help, I absolutely suggest going to 99designs. The cool thing is, is that for one flat fee, you’ll actually get hundreds of people all around the world to submit their ideas and what they think. So the process at 99designs is pretty simple, Justin. You’ve gone through it a number of times. Talk to us about it a little bit.

Justin Cooke:                     One of the things with 99designs, I would say the reason to choose 99designs over going with one particular designer is you’re gonna get a multitude of options, totally different ways of looking at your problem of logo or design.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah, but if I hire a designer Justin, you’re only gonna get eight different designs?

Justin Cooke:                     You are, but you’re gonna get them all from the same mindset, from the same approach. So you’re not gonna get people that are thinking outside the box or are presenting a different view on things that maybe really stands out to you. If you just go with one designer, they’re basically gonna come up with the same stuff. 99designs gives you a multitude of people to work with and then you can pick the one that you think has the best idea for your project.

Joe Magnotti:                    Obviously you can refine it from there and that will really help the community to build you a logo or a website that fits what you believe your website or logo should look like.

Justin Cooke:                     That’s one of the things I love about 99designs too, is you can actually rate the different designs that come in and then give specific feedback to that designer. So you could say, “Okay, I like what you did here, but could you make it a little bit more this way.” You can also give feedback to the designers in general. So you can say, “Okay, overall I want it to be this way.”

Joe Magnotti:                    It becomes an evolution honestly Justin. You start at one thing and you go in this direction that you never thought possible and then you come out with a guy in a Hawaiian tee shirt with shorts on a beach flipping coin.

Justin Cooke:                     If you’ve never used 99designs, I’ll tell you it’s relatively easy to start using too. They ask for a design brief where basically you just explain the general idea of what your company does, what you want to do in the future and then asks you a few more questions and that’s it. That easy to get started. One of the other things about 99designs I think is cool, is you can actually create a survey and then you can send that to your users, your customers and have them help you pick out the logo. So if you’ve got three or four different directions you wanna head in, you can actually have them help you pick out the logo or the design for your website that you think would be best.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah, the survey piece is absolutely killer. Love that piece of the 99designs.

Justin Cooke:                     Second thing we wanna talk about is Voice123. Voice123 is the 99designs for voice work. Originally we were planning on doing the intro for the AdSense Flippers Podcast. We were planning on doing it ourselves. We did a couple of run throughs and honestly, not happening man.

Joe Magnotti:                    Pretty bad. Pretty bad buddy. I know you tried. You tried to be energetic. You had your energy drinks, you had your coffee, you were pumped. But I could tell you, it’s not professional.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah, dude. Those guys rock man. I love working with Voice123. It’s actually a fun process. One of those things you actually look forward to, one of the many jobs or projects you’re like, “Yeah, I can’t wait to do this again.” I look forward to the next time we need some voice work done.

Joe Magnotti:                    Really you’ll get very unique people from again, all around the world submitting their script. You put your script in there, they read it in their particular voice, you can get British people, you can get South African people, Australian people, English speaking people, you can get other languages if that’s what your thing is, so that’s really nifty. Love that piece of Voice123. And then some of the great things are is that they’ll make it very professional. They’ll add little sound effects, whatnot to make it sound like it was done in a professional studio.

Justin Cooke:                     Joe, it’s cool how they do the custom stuff too. So basically you put it in a bit of a script and then they’ll actually give you back the recordings so you can just listen to them and, “Okay, dump this guy, wow that sounds pretty cool.” The first few we got were pretty amazing, so we were pretty happy about that.

Joe Magnotti:                    Let’s talk about a little bit about why you would use Voice123. If you have a commercial, obviously you’re gonna need a voiceover. Yeah, of course. But even if you have just like a little video on your website that requires better sounding voiceover than your own voice, absolutely suggest that. ‘Cause I don’t know about you, I hate the sound of my own voice in recording and so sometimes it’s better to just get that professional voice. It’s not very expensive. For about $100 you can easily get a 60-second clip, maybe even more.

Justin Cooke:                     It’s a good deal. So guys, check out 99designs. Check out Voice123 especially if you have any creative work you need done. I think it’s great. Definitely crowdsourcing your creative work. We found a ton of value in that unless you’re a totally creative person yourself and come up with these great ideas, you might as well get some ideas from the people that do it really well.

                                                All right. Last and final thing we wanna cover. Wanna give a big shout out to Manny Pacquiao, whose got a fight coming up. He’s the pride of the Philippines. We’re big fans. When’s the fight buddy?

Joe Magnotti:                    Saturday night in the U.S. Gonna be Sunday afternoon here in the Philippines. Here it’s crazy. Even movie theaters will be showing.

Justin Cooke:                     I talked about this a little bit. Even in the squatter’s area, you’ll see 20 people circled around this tiny TV, cheering, going crazy, drinking their Red Horse beer, just having a crazy time. Love Manny Pacquiao man, hope you win.

                                                That wraps up the second episode of the AdSense Flippers Podcast. So excited to have you guys listening. Look for our third episode coming out in about two weeks. Until then, make sure you check out and we’ll see you on Twitter @adsenseflippers.

Announcer:                        You’ve been listening to the AdSense Flippers Podcast with Justin and Joe. Be sure to hit up for more. That’s Thanks for listening.



  • Mike Thomas says:

    Great story, guys. It’s nice to hear people being so transparent about their business. I’m sick of all the hidden tricks on the Warrior forum.

  • Mabinohio says:

    Great stuff! I found you guys from Podcast and it’s been very informative. I recently posted a bid on Flippa prematurely, before checking everything out. It is a definite scam. Can I take back the bid. It’s only $100. Thanks.

  • Bloomingroseamazon says:

    Great information and very inspiring. It would be helpful if there was a way that we could skip ahead, I had to leave it and then come back and had to listen again from the beginning.

  • Great stuff. What a difference in the sound quality by going to the studio setup. Podcast one sounded a bit as if both of you were talking through a tin can and string setup … one reason there are a lot of guys wasting their time with podcasts I won’t listen to … you _have_ to make the sound ‘radio-like” people, or many won’t stay “tuned in”.

    As a fellow American living in the Philippines I just love your story. So many people want to come here and live but they set their sights way, way too low.

    Remember, you’re supposed to hook up when either of you pass through Manila again. I hope Sentosa Island is all you expect it to be, but anytime you want to swim with the dolphins here in the Philippines just holler, there’s a top flight “dolphin experience” facility on Subic Bay and plenty other fun things too.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Thanks for visiting!

      Lol at the “tin can and string” remark…totally agree. I’ve looked at your blog…I’ll bet you hear from a TON of people looking to move here, retire here, get married, etc. We see a TON of “wife-shopping” as we call it in Davao…I’m consistently asked if I’m here looking to get married, heh.

      We’re headed to Singapore/Bali, but are flying direct from Davao-Singapore actually with Tiger Air on a pretty cheap flight. Will definitely check in next time in Manila…will have to check out the dolphin experience in Subic…sounds awesome!

  • Don Davis says:

    Loving the podcast guys. I appreciate hearing your insights.

  • Great follow-up to episode one. Also – I posted your very first iTunes review 🙂

  • Ilpo Ryynänen says:

    Hi guys!

    Your new podcast is awesome and I consider it already one of the most interesting podcasts besides Smart Passive Income. It would be awesome to see you guys on a video doing the show. You could connect to your audience better then.

    Keep up the good work!


  • Dan says:

    Great show guys! I loved the back and forth here and the storytelling. I was really hooked the whole time even though I knew the story! I was hoping you guys would do a podcast for 100% selfish reasons and you have delivered. Great way to spend an afternoon, please keep em comin’!!!!

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Dan,

      Thanks for nudging us towards getting it started! (And letting us borrow David to get the editing up and running, hehe)

      I think the flow in this episode was much better than the first…I’m really looking forward to knocking more out and continuing to improve. We sound a bit more confident here I think…I’m sure that will continue to get better over time.

      I still feel, though, that we’re not quite there when it comes to giving bite-sized nuggets of actionable information. There are a few in here, but want it to be a bit more packed full in the future. We’re getting good feedback from readers/listeners that I think will help there.

  • mi says:


    You guys worked 80+ hours to build a niche site and on top of that had staff work on it until it made around $600 after a few months and then sold that site for ‘thousands’ of $? How does that work? When the person purchases the site, will it be worth the purchase price? If the person still has to put in 40 hours/week to make their money back isn’t that defeating the purpose of having a niche site? Maybe I just don’t understand everything. I’m kind of new to this. Totally agree with your comment about “Stop buying e-books, reading books and get out there” Thanks for the podcast – I will definitely keep listening 🙂

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey there…thanks for stopping by!

      Our process involves creating a bunch of sites. We created 44 in December 2010 and were UP to 40/week in August/September (We’re down to about 20/week lately)

      Our process requires front-loaded work…it’s a bit of a leap of faith. We created 44 sites in Dec and around 50 in January and another 50 in February. That only brought us around $600 in revenue in February…not great. But the majority of that revenue ($400 or so) was from the sites we built in December.

      It takes around 3-4 months to start seeing a worthwhile return on the sites. A site that costs us around $45-$50 starts earning around $10/month within 3-4 months. We can then sell that site for around $200-$250 dollars…netting a nice return.

      The reason these sites are so valuable to the buyers and are purchased quite often is that the risk has been taken out. (Some of the sites we create never make anything at all…) These sites are built, ranked, and EARNING. For those that are skilled at either building out mini-sites to authority sites (Turning them from $10/month earners into $200/month earners) our sites are PERFECT. For others, they simply add a bit of content, push a few links to the sites every few months and just collect the passive income.

      Feel free to check out the rest of our site where we go over the process in quite a bit of detail.

  • Johan Woods says:

    Getting better!

    Listening right now – too funny, I was a mortgage broker for 3 years!

    How often will you update your Buy Our Sites page with new sites?

    Pretty cool about adsense’s API, and that page of yours can be huge.

    Loved hearing about your story, you got some good advice thrown in as well.

    Possible future stuff: guests on that are making money with adsense/niche sites, or are just sources of inspiration.

    I’m guessing you want to keep the nitty gritty how-to on adsense sites to posts, as you can cover more details but maybe bring in some of that in future podcasts.

    But definitely about scaling it all.

    If there are any major changes with adsense or google, you know, like “industry” news.

    • Yeah the mortgage broker crowd tends to attract the make money online crowd too for similar reasons.

      Right now we are looking at updating the page every week or so. It’s a really pain to do it manually so I keep putting it off. Once we get the API connected I intend to put a larger portion of our library online, perhaps as many as 100 sites or more because things will update automatically everyday. So there will be some super deals in there. Look for it before December 1st.

      I like your ideas about getting back to nut and bolts by using our post topics for future podcasts. We were also thinking of having an auction show where we talk about buying a site secondhand and what to look out for.

      Thanks for your comments Johan!

  • I think we’re getting better at this, but what topics are our readers interested in?

    • I would spend the next 3-4 episodes talking about your process to build niche sites…
      EP 3 – Keyword Research / Site Ideas
      EP 4 – Content Creation
      EP 5 – Technical Stuff (WordPress, themes, etc)
      EP 6 – SEO

      • JustinWCooke says:

        I like the idea of covering our exact process on the podcast, but we’ve laid it our pretty heavily on the blog. I think we will cover our site creation process, but mix in other things like interviews and stuff to keep it interesting.

        We’re thinking about a podcast on how to buy websites on Flippa without getting ripped off s a potentially good subject…still not sure on content for the next one yet.

        • Djlest_uk says:

          Great Podcast Guys – lots of positive energy there, so you guys started off in BKK? hmmm interesting…

          I’ve got a few technical questions too, here are a few more to add to the melting pot.

          1. what do you use for tracking website rankings in google
          2. how many ad blocks do you use on an average page, what positions etc.
          3. With small sites of say 5 pages its easy to fit keyword titles across menu headers, but for sites that are a little larger, where do you put your long-tailed, do you have some feedback on effective CTR site structures right/center/left ad blocks etc.
          4. Do you ever put pictures or words beside ads?
          5. Have you tested the Google adsense search as another ad monetization option on your sites?
          6. Do you have more adds above the fold or scatter them evenly throughout the page.
          7. What are your thoughts on Colour combinations for ad titles, etc. do you blend or make them obvious.
          8. Do you ever utilize outbound links – no-follows etc, to target specific niche categories – wikis etc.
          9 What are your views on incorporating google analytics into your sites, possible smartpricing or too much disclosure etc. Do you prefer other trackers instead?
          10. Do you mix adsense monetization with others, Amazon etc.

          • JustinWCooke says:

            Wow…quite a few questions! I’ll answer them point by point, although the answers might be a bit short, heh.

            1. Market Samurai…still. We have an agent go through once a month or so. We have 25 sites saved to each report so it takes a while.
            2. We use CTR Theme so we go with however many ad blocks it has in rotation. With ProSense we used a link unit, vertical banner, and 1 336×280 only.
            3. The themes we’re using work fine for up to 20 articles or so. More than that I would consider using different themes or using categories for your linked articles.
            4. Yes, of course. We don’t put images that would trick the searcher or anything…everything above-board.
            5. We have on a few sites, but don’t use in general for niche sites.
            6. Try to put ads above the fold where possible with another one or two scattered.
            7. We blend, but not too much.
            8. We have outbound links on our site to true authority pages as it helps with SEO.
            9. We use analytics, no problem…although I’ve heard convincing arguments that you shouldn’t in some instances. Not sure here…we do use, though.
            10. We’ve tried out some affiliate monetization, but we’re mostly AdSense guys.

            Hope that helps!

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