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EFP 58: 8 Tactics To Building A Sellable Website

Justin Cooke August 1, 2013

How important is it to build a site with “sellability” from the start?

Pretty important, as it turns out. Even if you’re building the site with the intention to hold on to it long-term, you’re better off keeping your options open and there are some key tweaks you can make to ensure your site retains value as you continue to build it out.

8 Proven Strategies to Optimize Your Website for Sell

In this episode, Joe and I get back to our roots and discuss 8 ways you can optimize and maximize the value of your site should you choose to sell it. This episode is for anyone looking at exit strategies for their new or existing sites.

Check Out This Week’s Episode Here:

Direct Download – Right Click, Save As


“The BEST time to sell your site is when you don’t need to…” – Justin – Click To Tweet!

“If you’re using poor content on a site you want to sell, you’re just asking for trouble” – Joe – Click To Tweet!

Topics Discussed This Week Include:

  • Currently accepting positions for our Marketing Apprentice position!
  • Is it better to sell your site on an upswing or downswing?
  • How to ensure upside for your buyer
  • Is the traffic source repeatable/scalable?
  • A different way to look at content uniqueness
  • Cleaning up your link profile
  • The best time to sell? When you don’t need to…


So what do you think are the key points in building a site to sell? Anything we missed? Let us know on Twitter, drop us a voice recording, or leave us a comment below!


Submit Your Business For Sale

Speaker 1:                           Welcome to the Empire Flippers podcast. Are you sick and tired of gurus who have plenty of ideas but are short on substance? Worried that ebook 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 from Empire Flippers.

Justin Cooke:                     Welcome to episode 58 of the Empire Flippers podcast. I’m your host, Justin Cooke, and I’m here with Joe “Hot Money” Magnotti. What’s going on, buddy?

Joe Magnotti:                    Hello everybody.

Justin Cooke:                     We’ve got a great episode lined up for you this week. We are going to be getting into the eight imperatives to building a sellable site. Saleable, sellable site? I’m not sure which it is but these are things you’re going to want to pay attention to if you plan on selling your site in the future, and if you’re building a site you might wanna have an exit strategy for that site. We’re going to talk about that a bit in this show. Before we do that, let’s do some updates, news, and info buddy. First thing I got is some new iTunes reviews.

Joe Magnotti:                    Hit me up.

Justin Cooke:                     First one is actually from Ireland, we got Guy Montag says, “I love this podcast. I’ve listened to all the back episodes, even some of the older ones contain some great nuggets of information. There’s so much to take away from this, especially the tips and the tricks. Thanks guys.” Well thank you Guy. We got another one from Big Dave Allen says, “Great insight, a very new listener and I was very impressed by the content of the two hosts, seem like awesome guys. Heard about this via Cody McKibben, and as I’m in his DNA group I’ve got a lot of value out of this podcast and he really appreciates it.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah, and we’re finally using comment cast to find these unique and interesting countries out there that have these comments for us.

Justin Cooke:                     Ireland’s are going, that’s a pretty cool tool. If you’re looking to check out iTunes reviews, you can check it from different countries via comment cast. Second point I wanted to talk about is the marketing apprenticeship is open, buddy. So we’ve got a couple of applications, some people really excited, I’m really excited about getting an apprentice out here to the Philippines to work with us directly and help grow and expand our business through the next six, nine, twelve months.

Joe Magnotti:                    I’m excited for you to get an intern, because I think that you will be able to get so much more done by having someone work with you.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah I think it’ll be fantastic, I’m really looking forward to it. We’ve got a couple of good applicants, I’m really looking forward to seeing what we get next. I’ve got a bunch of emails from people that are definitely looking to apply, so don’t hold back. It’s only open until, I think, August 20th, so make sure you get your information in and we’ll be sharing more information about that in the near future.

                                                Next point I wanna talk about is we made eight dollars last week.

Joe Magnotti:                    Eight dollars, baby.

Justin Cooke:                     We made eight dollars this last week and I’m pretty fired up about it. Tell us about the eight bucks we made.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah, I was checking out the little content hub where I’ve been posting our expired domain content, and did a little search in AdSense and realized that last seven days, we’ve made eight dollars and change. Actually, we had a five dollar day yesterday, so the traffic is picking up. People are finding the content, it seems to be, I don’t want to knock on wood because otherwise everyone will be deaf in their listener’s ears, but it seems to be working. People are finding the site and it’s naturally, organically picking up the search terms.

Justin Cooke:                     Here’s what I love about it, Joe, is that the content from expired domains, domains we were basically trashing … That’s just money that we were just throwing away, we were done with it, it was an accepted loss for us. This is a way to bring that back and to make money out of it. Not only the recurring that we get out of it, but if we can build this particular site up to where it’s earning several hundred dollars a month, that’s again gonna be a sellable site, right? I’m really excited that we’re able to reuse this content and we’ll definitely keep you updated on how this goes. It’s money from nowhere for us, it’s free money so we might as well be doing this and a pity it took us so long to do this, but we are actually going back to older sites that are expired and we’re going to be using that content so it’s not that big of a loss. I’ll be interested to see how this goes.

                                                Our next bit of business, we’ve got a couple of new products and services. The first, I want to talk about a little bit is the Empire Maintenance package.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah, this is born of the idea that people with a lot of niche sites don’t want to sit around and do their own maintenance, right?

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah, they could better spend their time building out new sites, doing more keyword research, and really driving their process forward rather than trying to deal with the sites that they have.

Joe Magnotti:                    Right, and we had a lot of customers who have bought a number of sites from us over the years, and keep asking us, “Hey, can I hire you guys to run the updates, maybe do some other types of maintenance, regular maintenance that I need done to the site, post new content, that kind of thing?” So these are the elements that we decided to come up in a maintenance package.

Justin Cooke:                     So basically, the maintenance package is pretty bare bones. It’s just WordPress updates, theme updates, plugin updates, and potentially transferring the sites for you once a year. If you get new host or you’re selling them either with us or with someone else, then we’ll do that one transfer per year per site. That’s pretty basic, but in the future, in the not too distant future, we’ll also be coming out with a management package that will include different options, like content updating, much more advanced features. There’ll be a maintenance and management package, the maintenance package is out today so you can check it out on the site, and we’ll link to it in the show notes.

Joe Magnotti:                    Give us some feedback on what you guys think about it. We went through the pricing a few times, we’re not sure about that, we’re adjusting that and seeing where it falls but we’d like to hear some feedback from you and see if it’s something you’re interested in.

Justin Cooke:                     I think it’s really reasonable price, but we’ll see what the interest is. Next thing we’re coming out with is Empire mobile applications. We found a real problem where … We’ve struggled with this too, where basically you needed to take a … the idea, the complex idea for a mobile app, and put that in a language that the developer could understand. We have a team of people that are working with us through a partner of ours, actually, in this particular project, that will basically wireframe and come up with a spec for that and be able to deliver that to whatever developer you choose. Now if you choose to develop it through their team, obviously through our team, the fess paid for the wireframe are going to be included in the development work, so it’s actually working towards the development. It’s a really cool offer, I think there’s a really unique niche there for people that have the idea but don’t really know how to put it into the blueprint to execute.

Joe Magnotti:                    I’m pretty excited about this because we get this on the outsourcing side of the house all the time. People say “I have an idea for a mobile app, I want to build a mobile app. Can you hire me, mobile app developers, and get this done?” The first thing I ask them is, “Do you know anything about app development?” “No, can you just handle that for me?”

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah, “Can you just kinda whip it together,” that is a complex piece. That seems to be a piece that people need. They’re going to need that if they want the mobile app done the way that they need it. That’s coming out, that will be available when this podcast goes live, so definitely check it out, we’ll have a link to that as well. I think in general, though, what this says or what this shows is that we’re starting to bring a little bit more of our niche sites stuff and our outsourcing needs together. This isn’t really something that has anything to do with niche sites particularly, but it is a request that we get from some of our potential outsourcing or actual outsourcing clients, so I think it’s something that we can deliver on for them. I think we’re starting to see now a blend of our niche site, the AdSense flipper stuff, and the outsourcing or now the Empire Flipper stuff, in our products, so I think that’s pretty cool.

Joe Magnotti:                    Absolutely … I think that’s a great way to put it, Justin, because this is the first step in … Not the first step, but this helps people build an empire around mobile apps.

Justin Cooke:                     I think it helps explain where we’re going with it and how we’re going to be able to help other entrepreneurs that are looking to build their empires, because an empire is not built on one profit stream, it requires multiple profit streams and as we show the different profit streams we’re adding, we also want to be able to help and support those who are doing the same thing, that are following in our footsteps, that are going along right with us. I think that’ll be really exciting, but enough about that. We’ve got all the updates, news, and info, let’s get right into the heart of this week’s episode.

Speaker 1:                           This is the Empire Flippers podcast.

Justin Cooke:                     Alright, let’s get right into this. Today we’re talking about the eight imperative to building a sellable site. Obviously, Joe, the site needs to make some money, right?

Joe Magnotti:                    Yes.

Justin Cooke:                     But let’s talk, before we even get into the points we want to make here, and we’re going to talk more than just it needs to be earning, basically guide you through the process to building a site that’s made to sell. Before we get into that, let’s talk a little bit about the problems that some new site builders have, where they put too much value on their time, they baby their sites, they really dug into this site. They spent a lot of time, effort and energy building it, they spent months of time working on this site and to sell it they went to get paid for their time on that.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah, I especially see this on Flippa a lot, where somebody spent a long time developing a product or service that works fairly passively, but it’s not marketed at all so it doesn’t make any money. It’s cool, but you can hire an outsource guy to do that in the Philippines or India or something like that fairly cheaply, so why am I going to pay you $50,000 for your product or service?

Justin Cooke:                     Let’s go back, and this isn’t something that … This is something that we’ve made a mistake with, right? Do you remember we ended up selling a site … It was basically an order form for our previous employer and we built this order form. We’d paid for design, we’d paid for the programming that went into it, and we said, “Well, we’ll sell it, we’ll even sell it at a loss.” But we put all this time, effort, and energy into it, let’s at least make 1,000 bucks, 1,500 bucks out of it. Did we get anything? Nothing. No views, no one cared, no one cared about our site and we were like, “Man, this just sucks. I guess all that work is just gone to waste.” Yep, it’s all gone to waste.

Joe Magnotti:                    And the funny thing is, is that we had the affiliate play set up, we had all the contracts in place, we had everything. But the site didn’t rank, it didn’t get any traffic, it had never been marketed, so-

Justin Cooke:                     No earnings.

Joe Magnotti:                    No earnings, no customers, no proof that it worked.

Justin Cooke:                     No one cares, right?

Joe Magnotti:                    No one cares.

Justin Cooke:                     But I think this is a typical problem where people overvalue their time, or they think they want to get paid back on their time. Trust me, you’re not getting paid back on your time.

Joe Magnotti:                    Now that said, on the other side of things as a buyer you can find undervalued properties-

Justin Cooke:                     Because of this.

Joe Magnotti:                    Because … yeah.

Justin Cooke:                     ‘Cause they put all this time, effort, and energy into, and maybe they don’t know what to do with it, but it’s a great fit for you because you’re already in that space or you already have other sites in that space, so you can pick up this site at a bargain. They’re basically getting paid two bucks an hour for all the hours they put into this, because they can’t get any other buyers.

                                                Alright, so enough about that. Let’s get right into the main points. The first point is stability of income, and this is something that we look for when we’re vetting any of the sites that want to list on our marketplace, but we want to mare sure two things. One, that the site isn’t jumping up and down from month to month, that it’s not on a decline, and then it’s not doubling its revenue month over month either. That last point is to protect the seller. If the site has doubled from the previous month and doubled before that, it’s probably not a good time to sell it. You’re probably still climbing, and it’s not leveling out or it’s not becoming stable, so why not maximize the revenue you can get out of that and then sell it at a later date?

Joe Magnotti:                    I think a lot of these points are going to refer back to the vetting process that we use on the marketplace, but the way we came to these conclusions was because we had bought and sold sites before on Flippa.

Justin Cooke:                     We’re selling our own sites, we know what buyers are looking for. Stability of income is key, and you do this right now, Joe. You put all the sites that we are listing when they come out of the incubation period, as we call it, it’s because they are stabilizing in revenue.

Joe Magnotti:                    Now how I do is I chart them, and Google AdSense is great for this because it provides a nice line chart. If you have other sources of income and it doesn’t have a line chart, I have to put that into Excel or something and chart that over time, and I look for a trending line, where that trending line is on the decline or on the incline. If it’s on the incline it favors the buyer, on the decline it favors the seller because the site is potentially losing money. So we want a site that’s slightly on the incline so there’s some potential upsides for the buyer, but mostly we want to be flat trending line. That means that you could still have a lot of days that are zero days, but what I used to say was it’s consistently inconsistent, right? It’s three days and then three dollars, and then it’s four days and a dollar fifty, but overall it has some general trending line of income and that’s easy to see if you use Google ads and say use the line charts.

Justin Cooke:                     So let’s talk a little bit about a different type of site, like an e-commerce or an affiliate site. Let’s say for example that you sell pool supplies, and you’re heading into the summer months, that’s going to be a much better time to sell. You can easily explain you can expect the revenue to go up during this period, especially if you’ve had it for a couple of years, you can explain that it’s a seasonal niche. But it’s much better to sell at that time than at the end of summer, I’m assuming, but the end of summer when your sales are declining. Even if the buyer understand that, it’s not going to be the best time for you to sell because it’s going to turn some buyers off even in a seasonal niche. Something to keep in mind of, or keep in mind that you’re going to want to make sure you’re selling a site on an incline or when it’s stable, that’s the better time to sell it.

Joe Magnotti:                    Seasonal niches are so tough and it’s definitely something you’ll have to account for when you’re buying a site, and when you’re selling, going into the high season is something you want to try to sell.

Justin Cooke:                     So let’s talk about the second point, which is income upside for buyer. The problem is, is you can’t, or you shouldn’t sell a site to a buyer that is only a buy and hold site. Plenty of people look at buying sites and they are ultimately just going to hold them, they’re not going to add content or try to improve rankings, or even improve monetization methods. They just want to hold it, but you have to have some upside for the buyer if they’re going to be purchasing, and that could be different monetization methods, some variety there, improvement, like if you add content to it, it has the possibility of getting additional Google traffic. If it doesn’t have any of that upside, it’s not a great deal for the buyer.

Joe Magnotti:                    Think about stocks. When you buy a stock … The reason why you buy a stock is potentially it’s going to go up, and why is it going to go up? Because that company has the ability to make more earnings, more profit in the future. That’s the reason why the stock price is going to go up, or why people think the stock price is going to go up, so I think that’s very applicable, that analogy is applicable here. If you’re going to buy a site for that amount of revenue, if you’re going to buy a site for that multiple, or you’re going to sell a site for that multiple, it better have some upside potential, some ability to make your return faster than the multiple you’re selling it at.

Justin Cooke:                     So our third point is a repeatable and scalable traffic source. It’s problematic if the majority of the traffic is coming from one source and it’s maxed out. Let’s just say for example via ad words or paid traffic, and you’ve dug through all the … Let’s say it’s de-indexed or it can’t get organic rankings, and you’ve got all this traffic coming from ad words but you’ve really maximized the key words there and you’re not able to expand that at all. That’s not great, that’s not a great traffic source because the buyer won’t be able to add keywords, you’ve already done that or tested through it. Do you know what I mean?

Joe Magnotti:                    I know what you’re talking about here, and this is one of the things that I really try to look at when vetting a site. I try to make sure that the traffic is coming from multiple sources and the sources that are high are reliable, they’re not going to go away overnight. Now Google organic, we all know that the Google gods … You can fall out of favor with the Google gods, and that’s something that is risk that you’re going to have to take on if you’re going to be buying or selling a site.

Justin Cooke:                     Let’s say that the traffic source is Twitter, but the seller … Let’s say this site makes 600 bucks a month, but the seller’s spending 30 hours a week with all these different Twitter profiles and sending out unique tweets and driving all this traffic, but it’s 30 hours a week driving that traffic. That’s not great, that’s not great upside for a buyer, that’s not going to be helpful when you’re ultimately looking to sell the site. That’s definitely something we look for when we vet sites for our marketplace.

Joe Magnotti:                    And this is why if you’re looking to sell a site, get Google Analytics set up on your site. You’re going to be able to analyze these things and improve them fairly easily, and be able, if it is working and it is true about your site, you’re going to be able to show that to a prospect.

Justin Cooke:                     Let’s talk a little bit about uniqueness of content, which is our fourth point. Here’s the thing, a lot of the sites that come our way that are problematic, it’s because they used to have non-unique content or they whatever, and they have continued down that path so the site’s had problems because of it. Having unique content on your site that’s not on a bunch of different sites is better, it’s just better. I’ve seen so many problems with sites that don’t have unique content. I’ve heard the arguments that it’s okay to copy articles from Huffington Post and put it on your own site, but that’s not what I’m saying.

Joe Magnotti:                    I had this guy email me the other day, he’s trying to get approved for an AdSense account, and what he did was instead of going out and making his own blog about photography or travel like I advised him, he went out and bought some PLR articles and posted them to a little WordPress blog, and tried to get approved that way.

Justin Cooke:                     That’s going to be published everywhere, it’s going to be crappy content, oh no no no.

Joe Magnotti:                    This is no way. Google has already said that they don’t like this kind of stuff, and to use that as your primary source of content, I think, you’re just asking for trouble. As a seller, if your goal is to sell the site eventually, I think you have to evaluate your content strategy if you’re using copied content or PLR content, spun content, or [inaudible 00:18:08].

Justin Cooke:                     Not good, dog, not good.

Joe Magnotti:                    Just not good.

Justin Cooke:                     And our content isn’t going to win any awards for sure, but it’s unique. It was specifically written for our site, it’s not spun, it’s uniquely written for us. That definitely does make a difference, if you’re looking to sell the site make sure you have unique content on the site as well.

Joe Magnotti:                    If you’re not ranking in Google right now, I think there’s no danger in going ahead and reposting original content. Take down the articles, do the keyword research based on what you were ranking for before, and get original articles written for you. You can do that relatively inexpensive, and get the site ranked in Google and fix that problem.

Justin Cooke:                     I’d pull an 80-20 on it too, and find out where I’m getting … What keywords I’m getting all the traffic from right now, what sources I’m getting the traffic from, and just … I may even dump the rest of that content and specifically go for the 20% that’s driving 80% of the earnings and just rewrite that unique content. I think that’s probably the better bet. Besides, when we talk about content we’re not just talking about written words either. We’re talking about images, we’re talking about graphs and tables, having that type of unique content is really gonna make your site stand out to the users, any users that come to the site.

Joe Magnotti:                    We always say, “Do you answer the searcher’s question?” It’s hard to do that with just words.

Justin Cooke:                     Sometimes yeah, for sure. I don’t think we do this enough with tables and graphs on some of our niche sites, I’d love to do more of that. It can be a little bit difficult, but if we could find a better way or an easier way to create those for our niche sites and a process to include that, especially for some of the sites that could really use it, I think that’d be really helpful content and ultimately help our sites out, don’t you think?

Joe Magnotti:                    I agree, and maybe we need to hire a designer on staff to figure out for every niche site we create, what would be a good unique piece of graphic, like an infographic or something like that?

Justin Cooke:                     I don’t think it’s a designer that we need, ’cause this is, remember, it’s the human machine, so we want that creative input in maybe setting it up, but we want something we can stamp out over time. I’m talking a piece of software or something that makes creating those templates for tables and graphs really easy for us to use on the niche sites, that our agents can just go in and put in the data they need and have several different image options for how it looks or how it’s laid out.

                                                I don’t know of anything like that, but do you know what I mean? That would make the niche site look really cool.

Joe Magnotti:                    I’m sure they must have that kind of software, and I guess tables would be better because they’re going to be indexed by Google, whereas images are indexed by Google but the actual information on the image wouldn’t be indexed. You want to stay away from an infographic because that information there is not indexed, whereas a table would be and that would be more useful in Google.

Justin Cooke:                     On a side note, the infographs, man, I’m a little over that. It’s all over the place, and it’s kinda … When I first was seeing them come out … Some of them are still really well done, really professionally done, but I’m kind of over it. I don’t like the way they’re laid out, do you know what I mean?

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah, I think that it is definitely overdone nowadays. I’m a little bit sick of the cartoony BS that you’re trying to make it … present it in a fun way. Just give me the information.

Justin Cooke:                     Just lay it out for me, man. Next point, our fifth point, is a clean layout or design on the site. We’re not talking about looks, it’s an unfortunate reality that worse looking sites tend to do better especially when it comes to AdSense. I wish this weren’t true, man. We went back and forth on this, within TeleTheme for example. Some of the designs on there, the layouts there, they’re not good looking. They’re just not, dude, right? But they make money, they make money and that’s key.

Joe Magnotti:                    For micro-niche sites, I think a bad look definitely helps you, or a more authority type-

Justin Cooke:                     Bad look … I think very clear on where the links are and not over-cluttered. I’m not sure that has to necessarily be bad design, but it has to be very clean design, does that make sense?

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah, and I think what we’re talking about here is not trying to encourage TTR and trying to work on that stuff. We’re just saying, “Hey, as a seller, you better make sure that your ad units don’t overlap. Hey, as a seller, you better make sure that the links aren’t broken, that the images actually show up.”

Justin Cooke:                     The text isn’t coming on to the image, just clean that stuff up. A lot of sites have really bad code, they have broken links on the site, clean that up.

Joe Magnotti:                    I still see sites out there using very strange platforms that no one knows how to use or static HTML pages because they don’t think that WordPress is good.

Justin Cooke:                     Go to WordPress.

Joe Magnotti:                    Buyers know how to use WordPress, buyers know how to operate WordPress. They don’t want to try to figure a new UI. Move your site to WordPress, get it out there, and that will make it more buyable, that a word?

Justin Cooke:                     Absolutely. It’s totally true because you want to, as a seller when you’re selling the site, you want to appeal to as many potential buyers as possible. The best way to do that is to use a platform that almost everyone knows and can use. If you’re using a platform that’s not familiar, people don’t know how to use, they’re going to go, “I wish I … I really like that site, but I can’t buy it ’cause I don’t know whatever CMS they’re using.”

Joe Magnotti:                    If you use a pretty standard theme in WordPress and you use WordPress, your code’s going to be fairly good, if you don’t use too many plugins it’s going to load very fast. You’re not going to have all the problems that are associated with some strange CMS made in Bulgaria that no one else knows how to support. Links.

Justin Cooke:                     So our sixth point that we want to talk about is make sure that your site has a clean link profile.

Joe Magnotti:                    Next to traffic and referral sources and what sort of organic key words people are finding the site, that’s the first stuff I look up. The next thing is your link profile, when I’m vetting a site.

Justin Cooke:                     It’s one of those persistent problems. I’ve seen and we’ve seen so many sites that have done well for quite a while, that all of a sudden Google continually … They’re continually trying to improve, and work that was done, link building that was done a year ago is no longer cutting it. So all of a sudden the site takes a hit, and you lose a ton of value, so you want to make sure that you have a not just barely acceptable link building profile, but clearly decent links or none at all.

Joe Magnotti:                    I tell you man, if you have a good site and the site is ranking and you still have some old BMR links or something like that, you should get a hold of that disavow tool right now and you should submit ’em, and you should get rid of ’em because if you’re intending on selling that site and people find that link profile, they are not going to want to buy your site.

Justin Cooke:                     That’s a major reason for us denying vetted sites, is they have a really fugly link profile, basically. That’s definitely something you want to make sure you get taken care of before you’re looking to sell the site. You may say, “Oh, I’ll be able to sneak this through,” but really, that’s not the type of business you want to be doing. You want to be setting your buyer up for success, especially if you want to stay in this business for a while. I guess if it’s a one-off and you wanna pull the wool over their eyes on that one sale, I guess you can do that, but if you plan on selling at any kind of level regularly, don’t do that kind of business.

Joe Magnotti:                    Who wants to deal with the people chasing you down, trying to get the money back, all this kind of problems. That’s what you want to avoid, and the best way to do that is to be honest, have a clean link profile. If you don’t have a clean link profile, try to clean it up. Be honest to the buyer about what happened before, show them how you cleaned it up and why the site is doing well right now, and I think people appreciate that.

Justin Cooke:                     So our seventh point, I think this is a really interesting one, is timing. The best time to sell your site is when you don’t need to. It’s kind of like credit in the U.S., making sure you have a good credit score and the best time to get credit is when you don’t need it. You’re good, your credit score is fine, you’ve got plenty of cash in the bank, that’s the perfect time to get a high limit credit card.

Joe Magnotti:                    At first, Justin, when we were reviewing this before the show, I was thinking about this point. I was like, “I don’t know about this point.” But now that we’re talking about it, it’s so key because you’re going to be desperate. If you’re desperate … Just like you’re out on a date, right? You haven’t got laid in a while, you’re out on this date, you’re so desperate, girls see right through that stuff. Same thing with buyers, they see through that stuff and they know that you’re desperate, and their bullshit flag goes off and they say, “Something’s wrong with this site.” Even if there’s nothing wrong with the site, you are just too anxious to sell.

Justin Cooke:                     It’s like the stock market, right? It just crashed or whatever, everyone’s trying to sell stock, everyone’s trying to get out. No, pretty soon it’s a great time to buy. You want to not do what everyone else is doing, so when you see, for example, your site just tanked or just got de-indexed or something, that’s not the time to sell the site. That’s actually really bad timing, ’cause you’re in such a desperate position the best you can hope for is that either you’re going to scam someone, or that they’re going to give you a horrible multiple and you’re not going to get nearly as much value as you would if you just let it ride out the wave and see if you can improve it, much better thing to do. I think timing’s really important, it’s best to sell when it’s on an upswing, when you are not really in a position to where you have to sell it. You’re going to get the better multiple and ultimately, I think, it’s going to be more upside for the buyer and they’re going to end up with a happy purchase from you.

                                                Our eighth point, and this is something that we definitely look into, we put quite a bit of stock in this, actually, when we’re vetting sites to sell on our marketplace, is we look into the seller. Not the seller’s sites, not the link building profile, we do all that too but we specifically look into the seller. Who is he or she, who is this person?

Joe Magnotti:                    Does he have a LinkedIn profile, does he have a Facebook, does he have a Twitter account? If he doesn’t have anything out about him out there on the Internet, but yet he’s built or is buying and selling sites, that’s a little strange.

Justin Cooke:                     You get this email from or something?

Joe Magnotti:                    Nice email, man.

Justin Cooke:                     That was me. You get these really random email addresses and there’s nothing attached to that person, it just gets … I don’t like doing business with people who reach out to me that way and don’t tell me who they are or whatever. They may hae the best proposal in the world or they may want to buy something from me, but honestly I don’t even believe you if it’s not … I don’t know who you are, and I know there are anonymous people out there but I think we’re heading to a point where that’s just not a reality anymore, and you gotta put yourself out there.

Joe Magnotti:                    I think you really have to put yourself out there, and nowadays there’s no reason no matter where you are in the world. You could be from Bangladesh and you could still have a Facebook account, you know what I mean? You can be from-

Justin Cooke:                     Have you ever been to Bangladesh, Joe? Why you beating up Bangladesh? Maybe it’s not your amazing place, you talk about it like it’s the end of the earth. Dude, we’re at the end of the earth here in Davao, what are you talking about?

Joe Magnotti:                    We are, and people here love their Facebook they have it on their goddamn phones. If you don’t have anything about you online, that for me sends up a red flag, that for me says, “I don’t know if I want to do business with you. I don’t care how good the site looks, ’cause if there’s a problem all of a sudden you just disappeared. You’re Johnny Nowhere.”

Justin Cooke:                     Absolutely, and it’s not just us. Other people look for things like this too, so they’re going to want to make sure they’re dealing with a real person, that they’re buying from a real person.

Joe Magnotti:                    One of our greatest vetted seller is a guy from Indonesia, a popular blogger from Indonesia, and he has so much information about him online. We’re willing to sell those sites because I know this guy’s not going to put his reputation on the line to make a quick buck. He’s going to make sure the sites are reliable, he’s going to stand behind the sites because he knows if something goes wrong we’re going to go after him.

Justin Cooke:                     It’s so funny too, ’cause Indonesia is known as being one of the scammer circles in Internet marketing, but even buying and selling sites. But he is not … He’s out there, he’s a legit dude, right? It’s similar to Internet marketer from Nigeria, like “Oh my god, it’s a 419 scam,” or something coming along. But if you’re legit, if you’re out there and you’re a real person acknowledging who you are, no problem, we’re happy to do business with you. Even Nigerians.

                                                Well that’s it for the heart of this weeks’ episode. Let’s get right into our tips, tricks, and plans for the future.

Speaker 1:                           You’re listening to the Empire Flippers podcast, with Justin and Joe.

Justin Cooke:                     So our first tip for you is actually something for people who are selling their sites with us. You probably know … And we’re always looking for new sites, so if you a have a site that’s making $75 a month or more, that’s probably the range. $75 up to several thousand dollars a month, that’s definitely something we want to look at, but we want to let you know about today is that the first time you list with us, there is a vetting requirement. We have to vet you pretty closely, and you have to pay the full fee so it’s $297 to vet with us. If we don’t accept your site or you, then that money gets refunded to you.

Joe Magnotti:                    Along with an explanation.

Justin Cooke:                     Of course, on why, the reasons why.

Joe Magnotti:                    We generally go … I go through the points with you and explain to you why you didn’t-

Justin Cooke:                     We’re not Google, we tell you when something goes wrong. The other point I want to make is that if you are selling with us again, that price is discounted so it’s actually $97 to list with the second, the third, the fourth time, so we do discount the vetting fee. It’s actually on the package for the Empire auctions systems package, but it’s listed as something else. I’m going to go ahead and change the wording on that, so for second, third, fourth time, you can pay the $97 to list with us.

                                                The second point I want to talk about is, actually, we’re looking for your help. Joe and I have been talking about this recently, and some of the development hell that he’s gone through and some of the struggles there. We’re looking for good content or examples or case studies of non-tech founders creating software products on a large scale or even a mid-size scale. We’d really like to hear their stories and struggles, so if you have a podcast or you have a bit of content, blog post, or some articles on something like this, I think it’d be something that’d be great. Specifically, for you to reach out, but for me to read as well, I think it’d be interesting.

Joe Magnotti:                    It is very frustrating to have so many … Not strikeouts necessarily … We get it done, but it just seems like-

Justin Cooke:                     Roadblocks.

Joe Magnotti:                    Man, so-

Justin Cooke:                     Lots of roadblocks, right?

Joe Magnotti:                    Things that should be much easier than they really are. I know developing’s not easy in general, but it seems like a lot of other people get it done a lot easier than I can. There’s got to be other people out there that are doing it successfully, and I’d like to see what their process was.

Justin Cooke:                     And what their struggles are, and how they overcame those struggles. We can probably get a lot of value out of that, so if you have that or you know of that, please leave us a comment on the blog post and the show notes, and we would love to check it out. We’d really appreciate it if you could do that for us.

                                                Well that’s it for episode 58 of the Empire Flippers podcast. Thanks for hanging with us, we got a fantastic interview lined up for you next week, can’t wait to have you. Make sure to check us out on Twitter, @empireflippers, and we’ll see you next week.

Joe Magnotti:                    Bye-bye, everybody.

Speaker 1:                           You’ve been listening to the Empire Flippers podcast, with Justin and Joe. Be sure to hit up for more. That’s Thanks for listening.


  • Coran says:

    Thanks for the tips on checking if a seller is real. I just did some research on a site for sale on flippa and found out the seller was indicted and charged with fraud as part of a large scale college spam operation in 2009. I don’t think I’ll be doing business with him now. But the listing did lead me to an interesting ecom niche 🙂

  • Nick says:

    Another awesome podcast guys. These were really useful tips.

    One question I’ve been wondering about is how long it takes for niche sites to rank in the top 10 in Google (if they make it there). Does it happen pretty quickly, or does it take a few months?

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Hey Nick!

      It usually takes most between 30-90 days, with some falling in the 91-150 day mark. (Some never get ranked, as you’ve mentioned)

  • Iain Robson says:

    I really enjoyed how you guys got down to the nitty gritty of selling websites.

    I have a quick question. When looking at a link profile, How do you determine what’s a good link or a bad one?

  • Don Shelton says:

    I always enjoy the nuts and bolts episodes. These kinds of specifics are valuable not only to sellers, but buyers and build-and-hold types. One construction question I’d be interested in your thoughts on: say you build a site around a long tail only to find that after several months you missed on ranking for the chosen long tail, but it turns out you hit on one of the even longer tails in one of the support articles. These are, of course, usually lower quality and shorter articles than the pillar long tail article. What would you do in this case – build out a new site around the longer tail you hit on, giving it it’s own pillar article, or just leave it be? And maybe it makes a difference if your intent is sell or hold?

    • In the two years we have been doing this, I can say this has never happened to a degree where we notice it. Most traffic (and therefore revenue) comes through the primary post for our niche sites because the secondaries are so closely related. If it did happen I might consider looking at the niche more closely and seeing if there is room for another site in the SERP.

      This is not going to be the case for larger sites with hundreds of pieces of content. Most likely they will have secondary pages doing much better than the primary homepage in terms of revenue.

      • Don Shelton says:

        Thanks Joe, always appreciate the chance to brain pick. I agree on larger sites this isn’t a question. During the early steps of this journey I’m still tinkering, reverse engineering, etc. and saw that two of my sites nearly all the traffic was to (and income from) a supporting keyword page rather than the pillar page and was considering as you said seeing if there might be room for another site and experiment.

  • Hey guys, I have to admit, getting back to some basics was a nice change. My ears really pricked up, when I heard the PLR content comments. I am actually one of those retards that tried that when I first started out. Strangely enough it didn’t work out !!! SO now its original content all the way… with some decent keyword research, what a difference that makes.

    Although in saying that, PLR content can be useful, ie. Potential Content for a free ebook giveaway on your site..

    Looking forward to next weeks interview… Also I’ve gone back and stated to listen to your podcasts from the 1st episodes… WOW… kinda funny hearing the difference to now…

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Thanks, Darren! Yeah, we wanted to get back to basics regarding niche sites and thought it might be an interesting show.

      Totally understand regarding the PLR content…I think lots of people have made that mistake, heh.

      Yeah, our first episodes were definitely a little…different… 🙂

  • Adam Peters says:

    Great show guys! I can attest to what was said about if you make your site look better it doesn’t mean you’ll make more Adsense revenue. One of my sites, using Intellitheme, was generating a moderate, consistent revenue, but I thought if I “jazzed” it up a bit and made it more appealing to the eye the worst that’d happen would bet hat reveune would stay around the same. Well… I was wrong. Adsense revenue declined by 71% percent a month after switching from Intellitheme to my more “appealing” website.

    Just thought I’d share. I was listening to the show as I was reloading Intellitheme back on the site!

    • Thanks Adam! You know one of the most common feature requests we get for IntellITheme is “let me create my own presets”. While we going to add the ability to do this in future versions, my bet is most site owners will find the same thing you did — a basic site design does much better for AdSense sites.

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