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

Joe:
Hi everybody!

Justin:
So guys, I just want to go over really quick what we are going to be covering today.  We are going to be covering first some updates, a little bit of news and information.  Second, we are going to get into the story of AdSense Flippers – how Joe and I found out each other, came to meet each other, and then built our company.

And then last, we are going to go over some ninja marketing tips, tricks and our plans for the future.  So we are really excited about this episode.  Glad to have you with us. First Joe, I just want to say it really quick that we had some great downloads on our first podcast.  We are just under 1,000 downloads in under two weeks – that’s pretty good, huh?

Joe:
Very excited about that, dude.  Awesome!

Justin:
Yeah, and by the way we’ve got some new podcast subscribers.  We broke 2,000 subscribers overall on AdSense Flippers, which I am really excited about.  We have been getting some great emails from you guys on feedback on what you’d like to hear, what you are looking forward to in the future with AdSense Flippers, and that really helps us out.

I mean 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:
And don’t forget Justin, this recording comes from EasyRock 105.1 fm here in Davao City.  We are in a studio getting this done the right way.

Justin:
Dude, it rocks man.  This place is like totally professional.  We have got real mics – really excited to be here, and the benefits of being in the Philippines is you get some great deals for relatively cheap.  We are paying about US $100.00 to rent a full armed studio for three hours – that’s pretty cool man, huh?

Joe:
That’s good stuff.

Justin:
Also I want to mention, a lot of people are asking how you can get a hold of us, an email gets a bit rough so if you ever want to just check out what we are doing or what we are up to, check us out on Twitter @AdSenseFlippers.com.  I am on there on a regular basis.  I am 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:
I am so excited about that logo.  You might think it’s cheesy but I love our little cartoon.

Justin:
Now man, it’s a little cartoony but I do like it, compared to the other ones we got, which were like way too corporate for what we are doing.  I mean dude, we are building mini net sites, right?  I mean that’s our gig.

Joe:
Yeah, and big props to ‘99Designs’ for helping us get that done.

Justin:
Yeah dude, I love those guys – big fans.  Also on our BuyOurSite’s page we have some really exciting plans there.  Basically our BuyOurSites previously were static.  So any time you get on the BuyOurSite’s page you will see it and kind of it’s not really updated – that kind of thing.

And we looked at the AdSense API and you can actually have it pulled once-a-day updated information.  So basically we are turning our buyer site’s page into a marketplace and you will 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:
Yeah, we are going to 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.  I mean hey, we don’t have to reveal our niches unless you actually buy the websites.  So that’s kind of nifty, and also as you talked about Justin, the price will adjust based on 30-day revenue automatically.

So for sites that are going down on revenue, you’ll get a deal.  For sites that are going up, well, act now!

Justin:
Yeah, also it gives buyers the opportunity to buy it straight from the site.  Of course you can send emails with questions if you have any issues with a particular site or want to know a bit more about it, we’ll let you know.  But you can buy it straight from the Page 2, which is pretty cool.

Joe:
I definitely would want some feedback on this page because we are really testing it out and 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 and tell us what you think.

Justin:
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.  So don’t be shy.  Let us know what’s going on.

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

Joe:
We are going to Singapore and Bali starting December…well I am going December 1, you are going November 29, but basically beginning of December, we will be in Singapore and then over to Bali to check out the guys at TropicalMBA, check out their house, hang out with them a little bit and do some Southeast Asia traveling.

Justin:
Dude, I am stoked about Singapore too.  I mean I have been there a few times.  My girlfriend’s never been there and she is going with me and 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:
I swam with the pink dolphins in the Amazon down in Brazil.  So I guess I will swim with the pink dolphins on the other side of the world.

Justin:
Awesome man!  Yeah, and then we are cruising over to Bali, which I have been to Bali once before.  It was a pretty short trip but I love it there man – beautiful beach, amazing people.  And we are going to be there for what, like four or five days?

Joe:
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 at the TropicalMBA, and you guys check it out too – tropicalMBA.com.  They have a great podcast going over there now.

Justin:
I am really stoked about, there’s a guy there that used to work with AdSense team.  So I know he is leaving in December.  Hopefully we have 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 in the podcast or in the blog.  Hopefully we get some updated information about AdSense from an ex-AdSense employee.

***** “The AdSense Flippers Podcast” *****

Justin:
All right, it’s time to get into the heart of Episode-2, which is basically our back story, how AdSenseFlippers came to be, how we got to know each other and our previous businesses 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 know each other like 40 years, 50 years?

Joe:
No, I was doing the math on it Justin.  We have known each other 13 years now.  So it has been quite a long time, just gone from acquaintance to close friendship to business partnership, it’s been quite a wild ride.

Justin:
I remember back in 2004, I had been in the real estate business for a while.  You were shown in Brazil for a while, right?

Joe:
That’s correct.

Justin:
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:
We decided on a place half way around the world – Thailand, and we met up in Bangkok and after a little bit of partying we got down to business and decided, because we had some experience in the real estate business, in the loan business.

We would open up of our own mortgage company where we would offer really good split 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:
A lot of the loan officers in mortgage companies would basically work from here, you are stuck everyday 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 our early 2005 and things were going well – real estate business was good and mortgage business was good but the signs, the writing was on the wall man.

Joe:
Well, I mean even before that, the biggest thing that we had to do was attract loan officers in order to make the company work, and so the only way to do that was do it online, and 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 lead to a lot of posting online and things like Craigslist, doing that on a repetitive basis – something that is very good for outsourcing.

Justin:
Yeah man, remember that, we were looking online for someone that could help post ads on Craigslist and do some other maintenance work that we needed, and so we posted ads in India, in the Philippines, in I think China as well or Thailand…

Joe:
South America.

Justin:
Here’s the scene – we are in the office and I have got literally 30 resumes spread around me.  I am sitting on the ground trying to go through these resumes.  These are qualified people.  They have got degrees, they have got experience doing what we needed them to do, and we were like ‘wow’.  We couldn’t believe the overwhelming response we had from outsourcers looking to be VAs.

Joe:
Yeah, and 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 because 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, 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:
Yeah, we get that question a lot, like ‘Why you are starting at Davao’, and I love to give that cooler story about ‘Oh, it’s better down here.  It’s typhoon-free.  It’s great emerging market’.

Joe:
Much cheaper than Manila and Cebu.

Justin:
Yes, that’s all true but the truth of it, we just found someone better in Davao and it kind of worked out.  So it’s kind of not planned but it’s one of those things that really turned out well for us.

We were driving somewhere, I am driving and you were sitting there on your phone, right?

Joe:
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:
Dude, those sucked, right?  Windows Mobile Phones – terrible!  I can’t believe how much better an Android and iPhones are but anyway…

Joe:
Unbelievable, but the cool thing was is here I am on Yahoo Messenger, communicating in real time with my virtual assistant, half way around the road in the Philippines and asking her to do stuff for me.

Justin:
As the real est

ate market started tanking, we realized the mortgage business is done.  I mean it’s basically going away.  It wasn’t working out for us and 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 it later on that that was something we wanted to do.

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

Justin:
Yeah.  It’s really moved on to, I mean 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.  So 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 I mean that’s like a live podcast basically from his cell phone in his car, I mean how cool is that?

It’s really interesting to see where we have come where we were like all fired up about our Yahoo Chat Messenger in the car with our agent in the Philippines, to now we are sitting in the Philippines listening to Jason live in his car on his drive home while he is ranting.

Joe:
And you can even do things like Justin.tv which allows you to broadcast a 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:
Yeah, some NFL games were readily available on Justin.tv too.  NFL shut that down.

Joe:
So buddy, it’s mid 2007, the real estate business is going nowhere, our particular blown 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 JOB.  Tell us about that.

Justin:
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 are doing to keep it going, but at that time with the market where it was and the real estate industry wasn’t good, and I think if we didn’t realize 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 like professionally for me.  Anyway, I knew I had to go work.  I had to go get a job – sucked, wasn’t really happy about it but found a cool internet marketing company – a startup that I could work with.

So basically they were looking for like a mid-level manager.  Is it good fit for me?  So I ended up jumping onboard with them.  You were goofing off playing poker for a living, actually making some money at it.

Joe:
Yeah, it was good.  It was lot of fun but I tell you, poker is not very rewarding.  I mean in the end, you are 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’s all comes down to just your per hour.

I decided to join you in your local SEO venture.

Justin:
Yeah, so internet marketing company and I am like, “Look Joe, dude we are building some 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, I mean basically I am just meeting people and like figuring out how to get money out of them via poker”.

So you are not bringing to the internet marketing company and you worked your way up.  We got a few promotions during that time and we are not running a good portion of their operations.  I think I ran customer service, the building department, customer attention, and then compliance, and then you ran production, video…

Joe:
Yeah, just we basically ran the entire operation stuff minus accounting.  So anything that wasn’t sales or accounting was run by us and we had what, 65 people under us.

Justin:
And one of the cool things about that I mean we had a ton of experience interviewing/hiring people.  So I was pretty skilled then and we were in some of the strategy means like 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.  So having support of a larger company to kind of like blossom in, I guess that’s the best way to put it, really helped our psyche.  So it really helped our psyche to get us back at the speed, run a company.

Joe:
Yeah, and it was nice you had some mentorship where some of the high-level staff, high-level officers of the company were definitely mentors to us.

Justin:
Yeah, so here is the situation, right? We have the CEO, CFO and CO that come to us and say, “Look guys, we need to cut costs.  How can we cut costs without cutting a bunch of employees, like how can we get this done?”

And we are like, “Wow!  Okay, with our Philippines experience, this is a pretty good opportunity for us”, so we said, “Hold on, let’s get back to you”, and we basically leveraged our contacts in the Philippines to see what we could do, right?

Joe:
Right, 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 are working for”, and one person turned in to three, three people turned into eight, and before we knew it, we had a little staff going here in Davao.

Justin:
Yeah, it’s pretty cool.  So we have a little staff going now.  We got back to the C level guys and they are 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 are actually cutting costs enough to where it’s like extremely viable.  We want to scale this.  We love what you guys are doing.  We want to do this at scale.”

That was exciting for us.  We knew we were on to something there.

Joe:
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:
So that was it man.  I remember me and you – notebook in hand, probably couple of beers down and we are out back stake house at the bar there.

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

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

Joe:
Yeah, I remember them saying that the biggest thing they want to do is they don’t want to own stuff overseas.  They don’t want to own an office, they don’t want to own desks and chairs and have employees overseas.  They wanted us to take that pain away for them, and that’s what we did.

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

Joe:
Yeah, that was in late 2008, we came out here and we saw how the working conditions were.

Justin:
Yeah, not good, basically there were four people and one little room inside a house.  Think sweatshop and that’s what we are looking at.  We are like ‘Oh my god, we are sweatshop owners – that’s not cool!’

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

Justin:
Yeah man and it was away from there.  I mean 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 capturer, so we were only a vendor to that company at that point still, but Joe and I have been coming out here a couple of more times.  We did a few more visits and then ultimately Joe ended up moving out here.

Joe:
Well I realized that it needed someone.  It 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:
The cool thing was like it was a plan all along.  I mean that was something that we wanted to do.  We just needed a good opportunity.  I mean we heard about cutting costs and needing cheaper labor, we said, “Wow! Let’s strike while the iron is hot.  Let’s get into this”.

Joe:
Right.

Justin:
So for anyone that’s working a job or whatever, if you find a situation where they need to get something done and they needed to get it done cheaper, that maybe a good opportunity for you to see if you can work on some VAs and start to build the team yourself, and that’s for your own businesses as well.  If you need cheaper labor it’s definitely good idea to look offshore.

Joe:
I would definitely say it too.  If they are 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 and 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 going to be willing to go with you over their existing relationship.

Justin:
Okay, so we just outsourced ourselves.  You had just moved to the Philippines and I am still in the US, basically doing the job.  I am working as a consultant at that time but I am still in the US doing my thing.

So talk about when you first got to the Philippines to live there, Joe.

Joe:
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 US.  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.

Justin:
Yeah, that’s one of the things that you take for granted in the US 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 but anyway man, so I am back in US.  I work as a consultant and I am not liking it, right?  I mean you are out here in the Philippines.  You are having the time of your life.  You are enjoying.  You are building our business, and I am back there stuck.

I remember sitting down with one of our mentors Phil, and he told me, “Look Justin, it would be so much better if you stayed here in the US.  I mean you are going to pick up more clients.  It should be better for your business if you do that”, and he is a really good friend and a really good mentor and I really respect what he had to say, at the same time I told them lifestyle-wise that just doesn’t work for me.

I mean I want to travel.  I want to move to the Philippines.  I want to live there so I can live my life – that’s more important to me.

Joe:
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:
I end up finally moving out to the Philippines in January and I’ll tell you, no matter how much you prepare for different culture, I mean either the Philippines is close.  I mean everyone speaks English here, like it’s really nice, but it’s just different.  I mean there’s nothing that can really prepare you for a 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 kind of normal for him where I was excited.  We are driving down the street and I want to know what this is and check this out and kind of crazy.

Once I had moved to the Philippines, we said, “Wow!  Okay, we’ve got one client” – that’s probably not a good thing, right?

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

Justin:
So we started looking for new customers and we started finding people on the internet and we built up TryBPO – TryBPO.com.  Basically if you look up TryBPO.com or look for DavaoOutsourcing, we are all over the place.

So I think we did a really good job of ranting ourselves as the Davao outsourcers and we got some leads from that, and what ended up happening though was our original clients started scaling back.  So every new client we’d add, we lose a few agents to the other guys.

Joe:
Yeah, it was definitely a ‘one step forward; two steps back’ kind of situation that was very frustrating for me because 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 going to be a huge business.

Justin:
Yeah, that’s basically what it turned into is kind of a lifestyle business.  We are out here, we are living here and we are making decent money and it was great, like for traveling and doing all the things that we want to do, but we are basically losing agents and just picking up new agents with new clients.

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

Justin:
And that’s when we really started thinking about what we can do to keep these trained, smart, bright agents onboard, and really we were probably looking for a six-month interim solution – just something to where they can cover their salaries so we are not putting out a bunch of extra money to keep them on board.

So I started looking online and I ended up going to places 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”, I mean 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:
And buddy, I really thought you were wasting your time there.  I mean the Warrior Forum – places like that, although we are very active on the Warrior Forum, we are very active in some of these other forums, it is filled with lot of ‘get rich quick’, ‘become a millionaire online’ – kind of thing that I don’t appreciate so much.  It seems to salesy, too marketing to me.

Justin:
Dude, we are on the same page there.  I mean neither one of us are really fans of ‘hardcore, hyped, overselling you’ crap or info products that are just rehashed from someone else, and there’s a ton of that.  It seems, and not just on Warrior Forum but other places in the internet marketing community.

In fact, I would say we are not big fans of the internet marketing community in general.

Joe:
No, and I tell you I am wearing my Google AdSense T-shirt today Justin, but when you first introduced the idea of building a whole bunch of niche sites around Google AdSense advertising and making sense on the dollar, I really did not see the light.

Justin:
Yeah, basically we didn’t waste any resources at first.  I started out doing it.  I said you know what; I am just going to try it.  I am going to have a little bit of faith, I am going to build a few sites and see what the hell happens.

This was through December 2010.  So I started building out sites on my own, right?  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 am not putting a lot of hours and I spent maybe 80 to 100 hours into the project in December 2010, and how much did we make buddy?

Joe:
$33.00.

Justin:
Yeah, $33.00 for 80 hours of work – I was devastated man, CRUSHED!

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

Justin:
Oh I know I did.  It was miserable.  I think about it though.  I said you know what; I don’t care, may be something will happen, and we built on these sites, you may as well see it through, plus again, I don’t want to lose these agents.  I want to keep these agents on board.

So I started to outsource the process through our agents in-house and they started building out the content, building out the sites, and in January we made a little bit more money.  In February we made a bit more money.

The funny thing Joe is 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:
Oh yeah, I think in February we made about $600.00 or something like that and I saw that by scaling the process all these little pennies could add up.  All these little tiny sites that made just $10.00-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 were going to need some money to do that and I didn’t want it to 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”.  Then 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:
Yeah, we considered it from the beginning.  I mean obviously the name ‘AdSenseFlippers.com’ – 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.  I mean 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:
Yeah, and now it becomes more of a supply and demand issue than just ‘okay, how many sites can you build’, or ‘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:
Yeah, so it was really March that we said okay, we are going to really move forward with this thing and see how far we can take it.  We actually started AdSenseFlippers in May – went back and rolled back some of the income reports and that kind of thing.

So we had a little bit more content and kind of could give our story on the blog, but that’s when we started and we said you know what, it’s working out for us, I’d bet it could work out for other people.  Let’s show them the model.

Here is one of the things that I struggled with, right, 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.  I mean it doesn’t mean that what we did will necessarily make you successful.

So I hesitate to say ‘okay, follow our model.  Here’s our blueprint; follow this exactly and you are going to 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 are really successful at building niche sites at scale.  So if you are having trouble scaling your business, I would try to get that out of us.  If you are struggling to figure out how to sell websites on Flippa, we are good at that.  We are really good.

So take a look at some of our content that deals with selling websites and I think it will take you a long way towards making a profit with yours.

Joe:
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 eBooks and reading eBooks 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:
Yeah, so that’s it.  I mean that basically takes ‘AdSenseFlippers’ to where we are today.  We have definitely had some struggles.  We had some sites that were tanked and we have had some sites that weren’t as successful.  We are working through that and we are definitely looking to see what we can do to build out our sites.

I mean right now we make $10.00 sites a month like clockwork but what if we found a way to take a $30.00-a-month site to a $200.00-a-month site?  Based on our multiples, that’s taking a $600.00-a-month site or $600.00 in value site to $2,000.00, $4,000.00.

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

Justin:
Yeah, so that’s basically AdSense Flippers, that’s where we came from.  We just want to share with you a bit of our story, hopefully that will help you out.

***** The AdSense Flippers podcast continues… *****

Justin:
Okay, now it’s time for our Ninja Marketing tips, tricks and our plans for the future.  So what we want to go over today with you really quick is CrowdSourcing Creative Work.

Joe:
Yeah Justin, one of the things I think we struggle with is we are not really creative people.  When I say that, of course we are creative because we are successful at business – that requires some level of creativity, but what I mean is we are not artsy.

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

Joe:
Yeah, I would say same thing with writing or anything like that if you ask me for a story or so…I would not excel at that part.  I am an engineer by trade and that’s what I am 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 at 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 that for one flat fee you will actually get hundreds of people all around the world to submit their ideas 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:
Yes, one of the things with 99Designs I would say, the reason to choose 99Designs over going with one particular designer is you are going to get a multitude of options, like totally different ways of looking at your problem of logo or design.

Joe:
Yeah, but if I hire a designer Justin, ain’t I going to get eight different designs?

Justin:
You are, but you are going to get them all from the same mindset, from the same approach.  So you are not going to get people that are thinking outside the box or presenting like a different view on things that may be really stands out to you.

So if you just go with one designer, they are basically going to 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:
Yeah, and then 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:
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 can say, “Okay, I like what you did here but could you make 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 it this way”.

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

Justin:
If you have never used 99Designs I’ll tell you it’s relatively easy to start using too.  I mean they ask for a design brief where basically you just explain like the general idea what your company does, what you want to do in the future, and then ask 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 are going to 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 like three or four different directions you want to 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:
Yeah, the survey piece is absolutely killer.  I love that piece of the 99Designs.

Justin:
Second thing we want to talk about is Voice123Voice123 is the 99Designs for voice work.  Originally we are planning on doing the intro for the AdSense Flippers podcast.  We are planning on doing it ourselves and we did have couple of run throughs and honestly, not happen to me.

Joe:
Pretty bad!  Pretty bad buddy, I mean 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:
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 are like ‘yeah, I can’t wait to do this again’, and I look forward to the next time we need some voice work done.

Joe:
Yeah, it’s really you 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 get South African people, Australian people, English-speaking people, you get other languages if that’s your thing is.  So that’s really nifty – love that piece of Voice123.

And then some of the great things are, is that they will make it very professional.  They will add little sound effects and what not, to make it sound like it was done in a professional studio.

Justin:
Joe, it’s cool how they do the custom stuff too.  So basically you put in a bit of a script and then they will actually give you back the recording so you can just listen them and like, “Okay, dump this guy.  Wow, that sounds pretty cool.”

The first few we got were pretty amazing so we are pretty happy about that.

Joe:
Yeah, let’s talk a little bit about why you would use Voice123.  If you have a commercial, obviously you are going to need a voiceover, yeah of course.  But even if you have just like a little video on your website that requires better sounding voiceover then your own voice, absolutely suggest that because 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 $100.00 you can easily get a 60-second clip, maybe even more.

Justin:
Yeah, 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.  So definitely consider crowdsourcing your creative work.  We found a ton of value in that.  Unless you are like a totally creative person yourself and come 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 want to cover, I want to give a big shout out to Manny Pacquiao who has got a fight coming up.  He is the pride of the Philippines.  We are big fans.  When is the fight, buddy?

Joe:
Saturday night in the US.  It’s going to be Sunday afternoon here in the Philippines.  Here it’s crazy, even movie theaters will be showing.

Justin: 
I talk about this a little bit like even in the squatter’s area right, you will see like 20 people circled around this tiny TV cheering, going crazy, drinking their Red Horse beer, just having a crazy time.  So love Manny Pacquiao man, hope you win.

Well 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 AdSenseFlippers.com and we will see you on Twitter @AdSenseFlippers.

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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  1. […] You can read more about us here or listen to the podcast episode about our journey here. […]

  2. […] You can find out a bit more about our early story on our About Us page or on this podcast episode. […]

  3. […] Justin and Joe’s planned escape from the cubicle […]

  4. […] Flippers) from Davao City, Philippines. You can read more about our story here or listen to our podcast about it here. Joe and I moved to the Philippines in 2008/2009 to run our outsourcing company. We eventually […]

  5. […] Starting Our Mortgage Business If you’ve listened to our podcast episode describing our previous businesses, you’ll know that Joe and I started working together through our mortgage company.  Joe, […]

  6. […] that led us from a mortgage company to TryBPO and AdSense Flippers. (For more details on our story, check out this podcast episode) Throughout the journey, one of the things we found tremendous value in was the ability to build […]

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. […] Joe Magnotti from Adsense Flippers. Check out their new podcast episode. […]

  10. […] Joe Magnotti from Adsense Flippers. Check out their new podcast episode. […]

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. Don Davis says:

    Loving the podcast guys. I appreciate hearing your insights.

  14. Great follow-up to episode one. Also – I posted your very first iTunes review :-)

  15. 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!

    Ilpo

  16. 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.

  17. mi says:

    HI,

    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.

  18. 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!

  19. 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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