Build, Grow, Sell, and Repeat.

Mike Swigunski Mike Swigunski March 25, 2019

Build, Grow, Sell, and Repeat
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If you’re an entrepreneur, then you probably enjoy the process of creating something from nothing. You excel at taking a thought or idea and building something tangible. You never give up, even when those around you might not be supportive or understand what you’re trying to accomplish.

Over the course of months or years, you’ve managed to create an online web property. You may have even built a parcel of virtual real estate that exceeds the value of beachfront property.

What entrepreneurs might not be the best at, however, is determining fair market value for their online properties and finding buyers who will pay them what they deserve for the investment they’ve made in their businesses. That’s where we come in and why serial entrepreneur Ben Starr has been working with Empire Flippers for years.

Ben Starr began building and selling websites while he was still at university, and since then, he’s created dozens of online properties. Though he studied finance in college and even dabbled in it for a while as a career, he soon realized that he didn’t want to be chained to a desk and living the grind of a nine-to-five. “I didn’t want to just be stuck in some office for the rest of my life,” he explains. “I wanted something different, so that was my motivation for building an online business, and it really drove me to get it done.”

Early on, he also found out that it would take nearly a decade to climb the corporate ladder to a point where he could earn the salary he wanted. It didn’t take long for him to discover that he could write his own paycheck by working for himself and that if he was willing to put the time into his passion, the sky was the limit.

He also wanted to enjoy his life and travel the world. Ben elaborates, “I traveled a lot for a couple of years, and I realized that I wanted to continue that lifestyle.” A few months after he graduated, he flew out to Asia for a vacation. He loved it so much that he decided to make it his permanent home.

For the last five years, Ben has been based in Asia, but he travels extensively and can run his businesses from his laptop. When asked what he enjoys most about the digital nomad lifestyle, there’s no hesitation in his voice when he says, “It’s all about the freedom.”

Ben started modestly, dedicating the majority of his summer break to launching his first site while still in college. Once the first site was done, he had the momentum and confidence to keep going. After all, why stop at one website when he could build an empire?

“I could build more websites, develop them more, and still travel a lot and have a lot of fun.”

When Ben started building websites, his goal wasn’t to sell them; however, he discovered that building and selling websites could be a lucrative business model. As an SEO expert, he saw firsthand the challenge of generating enough traffic and earnings to make a site worthwhile (noting that it could take at least one or two years), and even then, traffic could dwindle due to the search engines’ fickle algorithms.

There’s also a risk in building something from nothing, Ben points out. “To go through this whole process where you don’t even know if it’s going to be a success or not, and then all of a sudden, it’s making money, and then you can actually sell it, and then get a big payday… I mean the payday is probably the most exciting thing.”

Ben has sold multiple sites over the years, and he loves being able to take a portion of his earnings to celebrate the hard work and investment he put into each project. “Last time, I was with my parents in Bali, so I decided to take them to a very nice dinner on the beach. It’s a good feeling to do that.”


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Selling a site doesn’t come without some uncertainty.

Ben admits that you never really know if you’ve taken the project as far as it can go. A savvy investor or smart marketer might have some inside information or a unique skill set that will skyrocket a site’s traffic and earnings.

He says, “Someone could buy the site and take it to a whole new level.”

Ben weighs that uncertainty against the cash payoff at the end, knowing he can use that money to build something new or invest in another project where he’s more passionate.

The reason Ben is able to proceed confidently is that he knows he’ll get the absolute best price for his web site. “If I were to try and sell my websites myself, I probably wouldn’t get the price that I would (with Empire Flippers), and I would have no clue where to start anyway. I probably wouldn’t be very good at it either. All I have to do is spend maybe 2 hours just listing my site, taking all the screenshots, and putting the data in at the beginning, and after that, they take control. It’s just a really hands-off process. I can sit back and relax whilst they do everything.”

When it comes to evaluating the worth of your own site, it can also be hard to be objective, especially if you don’t have experience valuing websites. Our proprietary valuation tool takes into account the site’s monthly earnings, age, whether any inventory is on hand, and several other factors to determine an earnings multiplier that ensures that the seller is adequately compensated and the buyer pays a fair price.

In addition, we connect our sellers with a marketplace of thousands of buyers who are ready to act.

Wondering if selling your website could help you escape a 9-5 office job and pay for a trip overseas?

Try our valuation tool for free and start planning your next trip! Or, schedule an exit planning call with us to make sure you maximize the profit you get when you decide to sell.

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Author

Mike Swigunski

Mike joined the Empire Flippers team in April 2016 as the Marketing and Sales Coordinator. He’s originally from St. Louis, Missouri but has spent the last seven years living, working, and traveling abroad. He is a recent MBA graduate and has a passion for business, marketing, and travel! In his spare time, he enjoys playing sports, traveling and is a not-too-shabby photographer.

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Discussion
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  1. How do you know what you’re buying is any good? I’ve bought sites on domcop that looked good. Bit then when I bought them, their authority dropped through the floor. It’s frustrating to spend money on something and then that happens.

    • Greg Elfrink says:

      Hey Hamilton,

      You never know if something you invest in is going to work out or not. At best, it is always an educated guess. That being said, our sites are pretty different than what Domcop sells. Domcop is selling aged domains that people use to build their money site on or to create a PBN to help other money sites of theirs. Our websites are vetted to be making an actual net profit every single month.

      Ultimately, your due diligence skills is what will really come down to helping you mitigate the risk, married to your current skill set in the SEO world

  2. Thank you for this sharing this inspiring story:) How much time and effort does it take to build a decent website for sale?

    • Greg Elfrink says:

      Hey Dan,

      Glad you liked the success story!

      As far as an answer to your question, that’s a million dollar question in of itself. I’ve seen affilaite sites start making decent money as quickly as month 3, but usually they don’t really come into their own until month 14-16. As far as sellability goes, we require minimum of 6 months track record to show how much traffic and net profit the site is earning, though the barrier to entry is pretty low with us only requiring it to make $500 on average over those 6 months if it is just a pure affiliate/display ad content site monetization.

      I would heavily recommend though that you wait until you have 12-month average net profit that you’re happy with, since those extra months can be a sizable bump in your multiple (1-5 is the most common range we see when having full 12 months of data vs only 6). That is the difference of tens of thousands of dollars depending on how big the website is.

      Always feel free to contact us though if you’d like some more formal exit planning.

      You can set up a time to talk with our exit planning team here when you’re ready:

      https://app.hubspot.com/meetings/ef/sell

  3. Hi Mike ,

    Thank you for the share. Nowadays it is easy to build a website, but a bit hard to drive traffic into it.

    • Greg Elfrink says:

      Aye, barrier to entry to building websites has gotten much lower thanks to solutions like wordpress + Elementor/Thrive for sure.

      Traffic though will always be the real lifeblood of any online business, and nowadays even offline businesses in many ways

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