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[Case Study] How to Become a Millionaire and Chase Your Childhood Dreams

Sarah Nuttycombe June 30, 2020

[Case Study] How to Become a Millionaire and Chase Your Childhood Dreams

What was your childhood dream—the thing you wanted to be most when you grew up?

Were you convinced you’d be an astronaut? A singer? An NFL star?

Did you manage to achieve your dream job? Or did life get in the way somewhere along your journey?

Most of us are on pretty divergent paths from what our littlest selves imagined for our futures. For some of us that might be okay, but plenty of people are still holding on to that one thing they wanted most when they were a kid.

This is a case study on how to make your childhood dreams a reality through the power of an online business and how to become a millionaire in the process.

We follow one seller who sold their content-based business for $1,417,639 in just 18 days so that they could finally become the firefighter they always dreamed of being.

By the time you finish reading this article, you will have insider tips on building a seven-figure content site so that you can go after whatever dream—childhood or current—you choose.

The Foundation of a Solid Business

This Amazon Associates, advertising, and affiliate business was in the lifestyle niche with a wide range of topics and product reviews. The business had seen steady growth in traffic and revenue since 2017.

The seller got to work building serious content, and admitted to spending much of their free time on the site in the early days of business building. They had a vision of a content site that could compete with corporate-run blogs in the space. In order to get there, they decided to invest a lot of time into the business.

The results? The business achieved numbers most in the affiliate space could only dream of—50,000 visitors a day and 1.7 million per month.

The seller was wise and knew that spending all of their time on the business wasn’t sustainable. To grow the business further, they hired editors, writers, and VAs to help with content creation and cut their time spent on the business to five hours per week.

The business was in perfect shape when it came through our vetting department. It passed with flying colors and it seemed like it would go live on our marketplace without a hitch.

But when the listing went live, it just so happened to coincide with a major shift in the online world: the 2020 Amazon commission cuts.

Weathering Storms—The Amazon Commission Update Hits

The seller knew that the commission and Google algorithm changes would always be a risk to the business.

However, they knew that the business was resilient, as it had already weathered storms over the years and had come out on the other side.

Of course, the timing for the next major Amazon commission change couldn’t be more inconvenient. As the deal was going live, the commission cut rolled out, meaning the valuation would have to be reassessed.

We combed through our live listings to help sellers reprice their businesses and find the best solutions for them if their businesses were greatly affected by the rollout. In the case of this deal, the business did take a bit of a hit on its valuation, but a few key elements prevented a devastating impact.

First, the business was insulated by the vast and varying products it had commissions for, so while very niche-specific businesses could see their income slashed by 50–70% for specific products, the lifestyle brand’s broadness was its saving grace.

Most important of all, businesses must have varying income streams if they want to survive commission changes or algorithm updates. The business didn’t just rely on Amazon Associates for its income (it accounted for 70% of its revenue): another 20% came from advertising while 10% came from individual affiliates. Advertising was well-optimized through AdThrive, and the business also had a few ongoing affiliate article placement deals to maintain its income.

Thanks to the moat around the business, it wasn’t greatly affected by the commission change. Despite the gloom of slashing commissions, the site’s monthly numbers were due to climb to record a record $70K net profit for the month.

You might think that the inherent value of a business lies in just revenue, but that’s not the whole story. To understand fully the power of the business and why buyers would be drawn to it, we first have to talk about one of the most important factors buyers look for—potential.

Understanding Potential

The seller described the business as “an open book” and could be taken “in almost any direction”.

The lifestyle niche was broad and able to rank well, so it had potential in almost any niche and could go after affiliate commissions on a range of products. It had a solid foundation of content that a buyer could sit on if they wanted and let it generate traffic and revenue.

Further opportunity was waiting with its social media following. It had a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube. Since it was a solid lifestyle brand, the business pulled in most of its traffic from Pinterest and Facebook but, with more focus, it could gain traction on other platforms. Aesthetic-driven platforms like Instagram and YouTube could allow the lifestyle brand to make lucrative gains.

Without much effort, it had compiled a small email list of 4580 subscribers. While it is small in comparison to the size of the business, the amount of traffic coming into the site indicated that the list could be grown considerably without massive campaigns. The seller admitted that they had made minimal effort to market the business, so the easiest wins could be realized through some form of marketing strategy.

All the trappings of a major lifestyle brand were ready to take advantage of and were within reach with a few simple improvements.

With the business heading for its best month ever, it was in the buyer’s best interest to act fast before the valuation was due to rise.

Let’s get into the wild attention the business brought in and what outcome the seller was able to walk away with.

The Deal Begins, Competition Heats Up

Though the business had a $1.4M price tag, it still garnered considerable interest. On the first day alone, 14 buyers unlocked the listing. In the short time frame it was live on our marketplace, the business had 27 interested buyers.

This is a testament to the growing interest from high net worth individuals and private equity groups in seven-figure businesses. Because the demand is high, seven-figure deals are closing faster, and we’re seeing multi-million-dollar businesses list regularly with us. It’s why we updated our commission structure for multi-million-dollar businesses to make it easier than ever for seven- and eight-figure businesses to list with us.

A buyer saw the opportunity in this business and made their first buyer–seller call within four days of the business being live on the marketplace. They set out to strengthen their portfolio for high-performing content businesses, and this listing looked like it ticked their boxes.

After a short period of due diligence and negotiation on offers, the group put a sweet offer on the table at full list price.

A full list is hard to refuse. The two parties shook on the deal, and the business was sold in 18 days.

Now a millionaire, the seller could finally chase their dream of becoming a firefighter, knowing money would be no object in building the life they always wanted.

How to Build a Seven Figure Content Site

Building a seven-figure content site might seem out of reach, but that’s not the case. Whether you’re brand new to monetized content or a veteran on the cusp of the million-dollar mark, here are some key takeaways from this business to apply to yours.

Compete with Your Largest Competitors

This can be literal or figurative. It’s always a good idea to look at the top sites in your niche for inspiration on types of content to create, from aesthetic to article ideas. In the case of this site, the seller looked toward corporate competitors in the niche and used them as the bar to clear. The business had been set up to rise to the top of the niche from the very beginning. When it started creeping up on large corporate-sponsored sites, it became a force to be reckoned with. If readers can group your business with massive players in your niche, your ability to capture more traffic and commissions will catapult.

Succeeding with a Lifestyle Business

So many get into the lifestyle niche thinking it will be an easy, even fun, business to build, but that is not how things always play out. Lifestyle brands are tough to build because the landscape is competitive. To make it, you must always be on top of your brand and aesthetic. The seller shared their perspective on building a great lifestyle brand: “When it comes to lifestyle focused brands you need to add a lot of detail to make sure your site looks polished, and has great content and images because those three together are all you really have to influence readers. You’ll have endless amounts of growth as long as you continue to focus on putting out great content and making sure everything looks its best.”

Leverage Your Size

Sometimes a business reaches a certain size where the money starts seeking them out. Because the site got such incredible traffic, the business had companies reach out to the brand for partnerships. In the seller interview, the seller described how this translated to further growth opportunities: “I get emails almost every day, brands reaching out trying to get features or create some sort of deal. In terms of growth opportunities, I would use third parties like Skim links and Avant links to sell from other companies as well as going direct to them. Simply because my site size brands are willing to work with me directly, give me products, or they sometimes create brand deals. This means it would be best to either use other products aside from on Amazon or go direct to their brands and create brand deals.”

The seller closed out the thought, saying that these opportunities were something they could have pursued but didn’t have the time for. However, this is a perfect example of the good things that come to a well-scaled business and how opportunities present themselves even if you don’t have the time to go after them!

Using Online Businesses to Design Your Ideal Life

It would have been easy for the seller to give up on their dream of becoming a firefighter.

In their interview, they shared how tough it is to get certified to become one, and how it can take years to finally secure a firefighting position. They knew it could take 3–5 years before they finally reached their goal but, with seven figures in the bank, they were taken care of.

With less than three years of work on the business, they could walk away a comfortable millionaire without ever having to work on anything they didn’t like again.

This seller is just one example of how powerful an online business can be. While many online entrepreneurs focus on growing their business as the end goal, an online business can really be used as a tool to bring income for you to pursue whatever it is you want to go after in life.

We see sellers make life-changing exits day in and day out. It’s really why we love doing what we do and why we pour so much effort into creating the best online business marketplace. If you have a lifelong dream you still want to pursue, and think an online business would be your golden ticket, set up a call with our business analysts to discuss your buying criteria or your grand exit strategy.

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