Justin Cooke

April 27, 2015

“How do your websites perform after they’ve been purchased?”

This is a question we get from new buyers a lot.

To find out, we’ve been reaching out to previous buyers to see if they’ll talk to us:

Podcast Interview and Postmortem on a $40K Purchase

Case Study on a Site Both Bought and Sold with Empire Flippers

Up today, we’ve got a case study and guest post from Mushfiq that details his journey in purchasing a smaller, $6K site and increasing the earnings to more than $1,000 per month. Enjoy!

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If you can afford it, it is much simpler to purchase a websites and maintain it as opposed to building a site from scratch.

I have been doing internet marketing on and off since 2009, back when I was a college student. It provided a good source of income. I purchased my first website on Flippa in January 2014 and then saw the benefit of buying websites.

In December 2014 I purchased my second site, this time from the Empire Flippers Marketplace. Throughout this case study, we will refer to this site as “Niche Site.”

Since December, I’ve continued to purchase more sites as I am in the process of building my portfolio. With just this site, I was able to turn my $300 per month site into a $1000 per month site.

I did a writeup of the January and February 2015 earnings of this Niche Site on my website, which you can check here. In this Empire Flippers case study, I will go through those months again and describe how the site performed in March 2015.

How long did it take me to find the “right” website?

It took me over 2 months. I am very picky when it comes to websites. Since I have strict criteria, the success rate of my websites has been great.

In general, these are my criteria:

  1. At least 3 months of earnings from affiliate (e.g. Amazon Associates) or Google AdSense
  2. Top-level domain should be .com, .net, or .org
  3. Domain age should be at least 6 months
  4. No Private Blog Network (PBN) links
  5. Google Analytics-based proof of traffic

I tend to stay away from PBN-based sites when purchasing sites on Empire Flippers, due the higher multiple. It can be a risk from the onset, as I may need to wait 20 months to obtain any ROI on my site. Anything can happen with PBN links, so a clean backlink profile is important to me.

The Niche Site I purchased in December 2014 met the criteria.

Why did I buy this Niche Site?

There are a few reasons this site was a great fit.

Diversified revenue sources

Diversification is a key indicator of a great website. The Niche Site earned revenue from Google Adsense, Amazon Associates, and eBook sales.

Include an eBook

The sellers wrote a detailed eBook that was generating mediocre revenue. I knew I could increase sales of this eBook easily.

High traffic, low bounce rate, and high average time on site

The site had excellent stats. I have not come across many sites that had an average visit rate of 3 minutes or more. Some visitors are on this site for over 20 minutes. This is a strong indication of engaging content.

Private ad network

This niche has a private advertisement network that I was able to join. In this network, publishers are paid $4 to $6 Cost-Per-Thousand-Impressions (CPM). This means for every 1000 U.S.-based pageviews, I would get $4 to $6. This increased my revenue significantly, as you will see below.

Other details

  • Purchase price of approximately $6,000 USD
  • Monthly revenue of approximately $300 when purchased
  • Links were all naturally obtained

The website was great not only because of the history of earnings, but also because of my personal interest in the topic/niche. This made things much easier.

January and February 2015 Earnings Recap

The detailed write-up of these months can be found here, but let’s take a look at the details.

January 2015

Revenue:

  • Amazon: $200.43
  • AdSense: $59.90
  • Google Ads Network: $132.18
  • eBook: $147.83
  • Total Revenue: $540.23

Costs:

  • Hosting: $3.95
  • Basic backlinking service: $5.61
  • Articles (4): $24
  • Software: $17
  • Total Costs: $50.56

Total Profit for January 2015: $489.67

February 2015

Revenue:

  • Amazon: $276.43
  • AdSense: $133.18
  • Google Ads Network: $220.85
  • eBook: $258.47
  • Amazon Kindle Program: $88.26
  • Total Revenue: $976.83

Costs

  • Hosting: Lithium Hosting package at $3.95
  • Basic backlinking service: $0
  • Articles (4): $24
  • Software: $17
  • Total Costs: $44.95

Total Profit for February 2015: $931.88

The increase in revenue from January to February was due to many factors.

First, the Google Ads Network I joined was performing well for my site – I was earning $6 CPM.

Second, I enrolled my eBook into the Amazon Kindle Program and sales were occurring on a daily basis. This is a niche product so I did not expect sales to be high. However, it easily added an extra $90 per month for February with minimal effort!

Now, let’s do a detailed review of the March 2015 earnings.

March 2015 Traffic and Earnings

Below is a screenshot of the March 2015 traffic statistics.

GA March 2015 Traffic

Revenue:

  • Amazon: $330.19
  • Google AdSense: $115.34
  • Ad Network: $327.05
  • Direct eBook Sales: $193.85
  • Amazon Kindle Program: $162.07
  • Total Revenue: $1,128.50

Costs:

  • Hosting: $3.95
  • Articles: $20
  • Software: $17
  • Total Costs: $40.95

Total Profit for March 2015: $1,087.55

Great news! My Profit is increasing. But why?

Advertisement network is doing very well!

I shied away from Google AdSense due to the relatively low Cost-per-click (CPC) that it obtains. After I joined a private network that has relevant companies wanting to advertise on sites like mine, my revenue increased significantly.

This network pays a CPM instead of CPC structure. I like CPM for many reasons:

  • Guaranteed revenue. Since CPM is based on pageviews, I can calculate exactly my revenue that I will obtain.
  • Multiple advertisement spots. I have the opportunity to add multiple advertisements on the website to further increase the revenue. However, I am not doing this since I want to advertise my eBook.
  • Relationships. I am working with the premium network in my niche, thus opening up opportunities in the future.

I found this network by just searching online. I had no idea about this network before I purchased the site! I strongly recommended everyone to search around for such networks.

Amazon KDP sales are increasing!

In just one month, my eBook is the #1 Best Seller in its category! This is really exciting for me because it is my first time selling an eBook.

However, even with the status of #1 Best Seller, the book does not generate major sales from Amazon Kindle Market. The niche is too specific. That is completely fine with me, since my website is generating strong leads that visit the site after purchasing the eBook.

Long tail keywords are paying off!

Since purchasing the site, I have identified a handful of “easy-to-rank” keywords. These include amazon-related keywords. These keywords are currently ranking on the first page of Google.

My recommendation to anyone who buys a site is to open up your favorite keyword research tool (mine is Long Tail Pro) and make a list of keywords to target. Hire a writer immediately and get the articles written. Schedule them to be posted so you do not need to worry about updating the site to keep the website fresh in Google’s eyes.

Does my website convert well?

If you have a direct sales product (e.g. eBook or even a physical item), you must track conversion of your website/landing page.

First, you should track the number of visitors visiting the landing page via Goal Tracking in Google Analytics. Here are stats for March 2015:

GA March 2015 Conversions

I also set up Event Tracking in Google Analytics for the Buy It Now buttons on my eBook landing page. This will indicate how many visitors actually click on the link to go to the checkout page. Very important information!

GA March 2015 Events

As you can see, 1366 visitors visited, of which 243 visitors clicked the Buy Now button. This results in 17.78% click through rate.

In comparison, February’s click through rate was 17.3%. Hence, a small increase.

During March, the website sold 36 copies of the eBook. Therefore, of the 1366 visitors that do visit the page, the final conversion was 2.60% for March.

The conversation rate was 3.64% in February as compared to 2.6% in March! There were less sales of my eBook, but approximately the same click-through rate.

My niche is a bit seasonal and this could explain the drop in sales. I am not worried, because I still get the same amount of visitors. If the number of visitors starts to drop, then I would need to rethink my strategy.

To summarize:

  • Visits to landing page: 1366
  • Click on Buy button: 243
  • eBooks Sold: 36
  • Direct Sales Conversion: 2.60%

Final Thoughts

The Niche Site is doing extremely well! With this pace, I will obtain my Return on Investment within a couple more months, and keep this site as one of my assets of recurring revenue.

One last figure to show the month-to-month growth of the site:

GA March 2015 Overall Monthly Growth

All in all, I am very happy with this site purchase from Empire Flippers and excited they gave me a chance to write this case study.

Here are a few final takeaways if you are building and/or buying a site:

  1. Find diversified revenue streams for the site
  2. Perform conversion rate optimization to maximize revenue from different streams
  3. Target long tail keywords immediately
  4. Put effort into the site initially and reap the benefits later

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We really appreciate the time/effort Mushfiq put into writing this case study.

You can find all of our current websites for sale here.


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Discussion
Leave a comment
  1. Sweet case study Mushfiq! I’m really intrigued with these private ad networks that you speak of. I’ve never looked into them and perhaps I should.

    With traffic numbers and engagement like you’re seeing with this niche site – would it make sense to build an email list? Sounds like you could increase engagement even more and possibly boost your conversion rates by building more trust.

    • Justin Cooke says:

      When starting to build an email list, you’ll typically see a bit of lost earnings until that email list gets up to a substantial number. Still – definitely the long-ball play and sounds like it might be worth it in this niche!

    • Mushfiqur says:

      Matthew,

      Actually, I am building an email list. I have 800 subscribers so far. I am receiving about 5 subscribers a day (give or take). I send them weekly /monthly newsletters of new articles posted on the site.

      The newsletter get a high open and click rate. In addition, no one unsubscribes so the newsletters do add some value to the reader.

      Mushfiq

  2. Cathy says:

    Great case study! I agree it’s best to diversify and I admire how fast this site was making 3 times what it made when it was under different ownership.

    How do you sign up for Google Ads Network as an affiliate? The link and all the info I find on it is for those who want to advertise with the network.

    • Mushfiq says:

      You will need to find a advertiser in your niche. This advertiser will use the Google Ads as a platform to show ads. It is this advertisers responsibility to connect relevant companies to relevant websites (i.e. publishers like you and I) via advertisements. They are essentially the middlemen using the Google platform.

      • James says:

        Great article and information, but I am also a bit confused as to how you are utilizing google as a private ad network. At first, it sounded like you were referring to Google’s Display Ad Exchange, which is a DSP using a CPM model. But you link to google’s general GDN (Adsense). Are you saying that you inquired directly with Google regarding several of the adwords advertisers that show up when you searched your niche’s keyword terms regarding a special arrangement? Or are you referring to another middleman service piggybacking off of Google’s GDN?
        Thanks for any clarification.

        • Mushfiq says:

          James,

          I am referring to the Google’s Display Ad Exchange. A middlemen service is piggybacking of this service. They bring in the relevant companies and provide them with targeted placement of ads on sites like mine.

          Sorry for the confusion.

  3. Mushfiq says:

    Matthew,

    Actually, I am building an email list. I have 800 subscribers so far. I am receiving about 5 subscribers a day (give or take). I send them weekly /monthly newsletters of new articles posted on the site.

    The newsletter get a high open and click rate. In addition, no one unsubscribes so the newsletters do add some value to the reader.

    Mushfiq

  4. Yaro Park says:

    Nice case study.

    I am glad people buying and improving website! And yes, if you are looking to buy website I suggest to look without PBN one.

    What kinda private ads are you referring? Like https://buysellads.com/?

    Thanks,
    Yaro

    • Mushfiq says:

      Yaro,

      I do not use BuySellAds. It is a private service that uses Google’s Display Ad Exchange. The service I use brings in relevant companies that want targeted advertisement on related websites like mine.

      The publishers (relevant companies that want targetted ads) pay a CPM rate, the middlemen service gets a cut of the commission, and they display the ads via Google’s Display Ad Exchange on my website (and others, of course). This is under a CPM model.

  5. Josh Shogren says:

    Awesome post! You have the same mindset that I do about buying sites and improving them.

    Another thing that you didn’t mention is the price that you could sell the site for now. Since it is earning $1k a month for the past 3 months you could sell it for around $20k here at Empire Flippers if you wanted.

    $14k more than you bought it for, that is some impressive ROI. Nice post and good luck in the future

    -Josh

    P.S. I like your site!

    • Mushfiq says:

      Good point. I will be thinking about selling the site, actually.

      April’s earnings are up from March’s earnings by about ~20%. I will wait until it stabilizes and then decide if I want to list it.

      If anyone else has any suggestions on when may be the right time is to sell, let me know.

  6. Dave Starr says:

    Great job reporting, Mushfiq. Thank you so much for taking the time to share. And kudos to Justin and Joe, I’m sure I am not the only reader who has suggested they do more of this short and long-term reporting. Thanks guys,this is exactly what I have been asking for.

    I see so many people asking about “how to start a website for profit” it is a shame more of them can’t see the advantage of buying one ready made and already producing. You know it’s possible to go to various parts stores and buy all the components of a computer and assemble your own. Some people enjoy this. But the majority of us would rather buy a ready to use product from Best Buy or Fry’s.

    If the online world was waiting for all of us to build our own computer’s I predict online business wuld slow down “just a mite”.

  7. Phil says:

    Good share Mushfiq. You don’t allow Private Blog Network (PBN) links and in the months after purchasing the domain your basic backlinking service ranged from$0 to $5 – a very low spend on link building. Instead, you seem to spent more money on new content. Can you elaborate further on what types of links you had created and why you choose to create more content over links?

    • Mushfiq says:

      Phil,

      I do not like PBNs much, as you probably know why. The basic linking services was just a test, which did not provide any benefit. I did not continue with it because this site did not need it. I do not purchase links anymore. In addition, I also saw that as soon as I put new content on the site, it ranked almost immediately!

      Instead, I spend my time initially finding the most visited and quality content on the sites that I purchase. I take those pages and try to get links from Wikipedia. I have been successful with this. I also try to get listed with directories such as AllTop.

      I create a large list of long tail keywords and hired a writer. I initially paid my first writer $5 or so per article. Now, I pay $10 per article so they stick around. This has really worked for me in terms of getting traffic.

      You only need links that are high quality. PBN is great but not guaranteed to be high quality.

  8. Adam Boesel says:

    Mushfiq, Great job on your site! You make it look easy:)

    I’m also curious about the private ad network you found by googling. I did a little bit of googling myself, and am coming up empty. My niche is Green, so I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a network dedicated to that.

    If possible, would you more specifically explain how you googled and found the ad network you use?

    If this is too much of a request, no worries. I’m sure I’ll find it at some point.

    Thanks again for the very inspiring post!

  9. Daniele says:

    Hi Mushfiq,

    Thanks a lot to you and the EF for sharing this case study!
    I’ve a question: how much time did you put in the website?
    You mentioned ‘minimal effort’, are you able to quantify?

    Thanks!

    • Mushfiq says:

      Daniele,

      I put in 1-2 hours a month now. When I initially bought the site, I put in about 40 hours over the course of a month to get it optimized, monetized, etc.

  10. […] well! Empire Flippers featured a blog post for my February and March 2015 update, which can be read here. The total profit for this niche site is summarized […]

  11. Mushfiq says:

    I wrote the May 2015 update for this niche site. You can read about it here: http://inventige.com/update-for-niche-site-1-may-2015/

  12. […] Empire Flippers Case Study: Tripled The Earnings On A Purchased Site […]

  13. I. C. Daniel says:

    Congratz on your achievement, I would not sell a good earning site but since you into this kinda of business and like it I understand. You may want to keep it for a while and see if there’s any golden eggs into this niche you haven’t found yet and after that sell it for BEST price. Good luck!

  14. Eric says:

    Hi Mushfiq,

    I have a question for you.

    Amazon FBA does not allow Company change or EIN change. So if I buy an Amazon Seller business, the seller cannot transfer his/her account to me. That means if I buy the business I should open my own FBA account, which means I lose all the ranking and reviews that the seller has on Amazon.

    If I start from scratch, I will not have the ranking and good commission percentage that the seller has.

    Do you know how buyers handle this situation when buy Amazon based businesses?

    Thanks and congrats again on your success!

  15. Sam says:

    Awesome case study! Did you traffic improve across this time at all?

    Only just ‘discovered’ Empire Flippers – Such an awesome site!

    Sam

  16. […] was inspired to write this post from reading this post on Empire Flippers which also breaks down optimizing a purchased […]

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