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EFP 123: Buyer Postmortem of a $40K Purchase

Justin Cooke January 15, 2015

What do buyers do with our sites after purchase?

This is a question that comes up a lot and the answers tend to be across the board. Some buyers put time into expanding the site via content, paid traffic, etc. Others ride the sites out as a completely passive project.

We thought it would be interesting to ask previous buyers to come on the show and explain their tactics, strategies, successes, and failures after purchase.

What Do Our Buyers Actually Do with Their Purchased Websites?

Our first guest is Jay who purchased the niche product site for just over $40K nine months ago. In this episode, we’ll cover his due diligence process, reason for purchasing, his expansion strategy, and dig into the numbers to look at where he’s taken the site (and where he’s going).

If you’re a website buyer or seller, this episode is a must-listen.

Check Out This Week’s Episode Here:

Direct Download – Right Click, Save As

Topics Discussed This Week:

  • What led to purchasing this site over others
  • The buyer’s due diligence process
  • How to negotiate a deal
  • Taking over the site and hitting the ground running
  • Strategy for growth
  • What a buyer should know going in


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“At some point, an entrepreneur has to take that leap of faith.” – Jay – Tweet This!

“Be careful assuming your customers won’t like a product or service.” – Justin – Tweet This!

Have you ever bought a site? What did you like or not like about the process? What advice do you have for other buyers or sellers? We’d love to hear your thoughts below!


Speaker 5:           Welcome to the Empire Podcast, episode 123. We’ve got some great feedback from seller interviews you’ve done, but what happens to the sites after they’re purchased? In today’s episode, I sit down with Jay who purchased the site from us nine months ago to dig into what he’s done right, what he’s done wrong, and his thoughts on the purchase overall. You can find the show notes and all links discussing this episode at All right, let’s do this.

Joe:                        Sick of listening to entrepreneurial advice from guys with day jobs? Want to hear about the real successes and failures that come with building an online empire? You are not alone. From San Diego to Tokyo, New York to Bangkok, join thousands of entrepreneurs and investors who are prioritizing wealth and personal freedom over the oppression of an office cubicle. Check out the empire podcast.

And now your hosts, Justin and Joe.

Speaker 5:           As business owners, we need to be awfully careful about making assumptions. Today’s interview highlights an assumption that I made about this guy’s purchase that was clearly wrong. I went about this thinking and the site is [Raybate 00:01:05] and we’re going to talk about it more during the show, but I had assumed that this particular purchase was going to require a large amount of brand ambassadorship. It was required, you know, we need to be in the forums and attending these [inaudible 00:01:17].

Turns out none of that was the case. And it’s funny looking back at it now, thinking I thought all this extra work was going to have to be done and I was putting all these assumptions on the purchase that weren’t necessarily true.

Joe:                        Yeah, it’s funny, we used to say that in our workshop. We use use it as examples and stuff. So, when we were trying to sell it, that was something we made very clear to buyers and prospects. I’m interested to hear from the eventual new owner of what he is doing with the site.

Justin:                   I think this highlights a pretty interesting point Joe, is that we should be careful dismissing sites that we don’t think fit our buyers. We still need to pass on any sites that don’t have earnings, any obvious scams where the revenue or traffic aren’t adding up or they’re coming from a non legitimate sources. But when we started making assumptions on, let’s say requires 20 hours of work a week and it’s only making 800 bucks a month in net profit. I’m like, “Oh my God. No one would do the work for that. That’s ridiculous.” They don’t want to making 20 bucks an hour. No one wants to do that.

Well maybe there is someone out there that wants to do that. Maybe that would be a great purchase for someone. As long as we clearly stating the information and the hours required, I don’t see why that would be a problem. I just think we need to be careful about a declining site, for example, Joe. Say this site’s been declining for six months in a row. Someone may see that and go, wow, it’s a great opportunity for me to pick this up. I know what they’re doing wrong. They’re donking this up, let me fix it.

Joe:                        Yeah, I’ve tried to, in the vetting process, be a little more liberal with my approval process as long as it’s well documented and well known. But still I think, if the thing falls off a cliff and it’s not making more revenue anymore, I think that’s something we should stay away from.

There were obvious gotchas, like you were saying. So, scams, that kind of thing, that I think we’re just not interested in putting on our marketplace.

Justin:                   Yeah, those. I just think that, let’s say the site was penalized for example, and it’s down 60% or 70% what it was the previous year. There are some SEO guys out there that are looking for sites like that and they’re willing to take a shot at a site like this because they know if they’re able to fix it and get it recovered, they’re gonna quickly recoup their money. Maybe they only do that with one and two are one and three, but it’s worth it for them.

Anyway, just the idea is that I think we need to be careful with our assumptions on what’s absolutely required. As long as we’re clearly stating the information and giving that to the potential buyers, we should allow them to make their own decision. The reason for this interview overall is because the seller interviews we did were really well received, right? We got really good feedback from both buyers and sellers that listened to them and, and we started thinking about it, couldn’t we do something like that with buyers post sale?

What happens with the sites after they purchased? What did buyers do? We get that question a lot and we tell them sometimes they work on the site and they build it out. Sometimes they sit on it and just see what happens … It really varies. So, I think it’d be interesting to hear from the buyers directly on what they’ve done with the site in terms of improving it or just sitting on it.

Joe:                        Yeah, I think that this could be a series, really. We could contact a lot of different buyers, especially the higher end buyers that bought more complex sites, to hear the kinds of struggles that they went through, the successes that they had, that kind of thing. And feedback for us, obviously.

Justin:                   Yeah. I mean it’s pretty nice for them to do it too, because like the upside for them isn’t as apparent. With a seller interview, of course they’re trying to sell their site, so getting more exposure for the site makes sense. For a buyer, six months, nine months, 12 months down the road after they purchased, maybe they get a little bit of that brand out there. Often, the people listening to our show probably aren’t their customers, so I’m not sure that really helps.

I think there are some learning lessons that can be taken from these. Number one, I think it provides some unique insights behind the minds of buyers. What were they thinking going into the purchase? What were some pain points for them? What were they worried about? That kind of thing. How do they react after a purchase? Was that a good move? Was it the right move?

I think that’s the second point is that what other people can do that are listening to the show, what they can do to build out their sites and grow their sites. What did these guys do that worked? What did they do that didn’t work?

I think the third point clearly is feedback for you and I, Joe. You mentioned this. How can we improve the marketplace? What problems did the buyer run into that are problems we can solve moving forward?

Joe:                        Yeah. I think it’s interesting to get into the minds of buyers a little bit for our buyers out there, not just for feedback for us, but also for other people looking to buy and saying that, “Oh, I think a similar way,” or “I would do a similar thing.” And to know that other people have gone down the path for you, I think makes their first purchase or maybe a repeat purchase a little bit easier.

Justin:                   Yeah, buddy. We’re going to get into all that.

Before we do that, man, you’ve got a featured listing of the week. What are we looking at buddy?

Joe:                        We’re talking about listing number 40135. It’s kind of a unique site in that it talks about gaming accessories. I can’t talk about the exact accessory without giving away the niche and the URL, so I’m going to stay away from that, but it’s a very unique sort of gaming accessory and I think people that are interested in that sort of thing should check it out.

It’s priced right now at just above $17,500. It’s netting just under $900 a month, so it does have pretty good revenue. It has a little bit of expenses for some content being added to the site and that’s really all that needs to be done.

It’s monetized with Amazon and uses the Amazon affiliate program and it’s getting about 12,000 page views a month. So good traffic, good revenue, and an interesting niche for those people who are into that.

Justin:                   Nice buddy. Traffic look stable and Amazon is a really easy monetization platform, so I think that’s great. The seller [inaudible 00:06:47] only put in four hours of work or so a month. I think that’s great for kind of Portfolio Paul. Now Newbie Norms who want to hop into this and kind of figure it out and kind of see what it’s like to have a site that’s actually earning and start building up an Amazon portfolio. I think it’s a good pickup as well.

All right buddy, enough about that. Let’s get into the heart of this week’s episode.

Speaker 5:           Now for the heart of this week’s episode.

Justin:                   Thanks for tuning into our buyer interview series. We started the series for two reasons. Number one, we wanted to give some sellers some insight into the mind of a potential buyer. Number two, we want to give buyers a look at previous buyer successes and failures. We hope these interviews are helpful for both buyers and sellers.

Now we’ve got our buyer, Jay, with us today to go through the site, talk about his purchase and see where he’s headed with the business. I just want to say, you know from the top that the sellers have a vested interest in coming on the show and talking about their listing for sale, where Jay doesn’t necessarily, so I just wanted to thank you for coming on, man.

Jay:                        Absolutely happy to be here.

Justin:                   Cool. All right, so let’s talk a little bit about your purchase. You purchased a site called from us. It’s basically a … I don’t know how to put this like an ecstasy hangover cure like a rave partying cure. It’s basically a supplement brand or supplement company that you purchased from us.

Let’s do a quick introduction. Why were you interested in purchasing a website or business at all?

Jay:                        Well my day job is as an IT consultant. I do a lot of freelance work and I was just trying to look at some different income streams and purchasing a website seemed like the best investment for my money. I was kind of comfortable in the field and just kind of took it from there.

Justin:                   Okay. So you were thinking, I want to buy an asset that’s getting a decent return. Why did you decide to buy instead of just built from scratch? There are a lot of people, and I get this question from a lot of sellers, where they’re like, “Why on earth would anyone buy a website? That seems ridiculous to me. It’d be so much cheaper to just start it from scratch from nothing and spend some time but not have to spend some money.”

What was your reasoning to buying rather than building?

Jay:                        There’s a couple of reasons. Honestly, I have tried to build before. I built and put a lot of time and blood, sweat and tears into it and it never really materialized for one reason or another. So, I really looked at this as one way to buy some cashflow, which was at a great return rate for my money. And two, as a way to educate myself so in the future that I can start something on my own.

Justin:                   Okay. So you were mixed in terms of wanting to both get … Not have to deal with the lack of success that comes with building sites. Because there are failure rates. You can create a site and this one didn’t work, this one didn’t work. Then finally you get one that takes off and you said, “I’ll avoid that by just buying it straight up.” That makes sense to me.

Why this site in particular? How did you find out about us? How’d you find out about this listing and the site for sale?

Jay:                        Honestly, I was working with a broker on the buyer side and he did work with a family member of mine and came highly recommended. So I went through one of his a buyer programs and spent a good three months looking at websites and really kind of coming up with my criteria.

I looked at 300 websites, probably reviewed 30 prospectuses and had at least 10 preliminary calls with sellers. He came to me and said, “Hey, I’ve got this site, I believe deal fell through.” And asked if I wanted to have a call and it kind of fit all my criteria that I was looking for. So, I went ahead with the call and it just really fit everything and kind of went from there.

Justin:                   So this is the broker, I don’t mind mentioning his name, his name is Ace Chapman, a really good guy. We worked with them on several other deals and on a personal level I really liked that guy. Super sharp, super friendly and easy to do business with.

Jay:                        Yeah, he’s great.

Justin:                   From your perspective, you went through this buyer’s course, you looked at a ton of sites. I actually didn’t know that you’d looked at that many. So you’d been shopping for a while, right? You were waiting for the right opportunity, kind of digging into the sites. We’re going to talk about what you did in terms of digging into the sites in a minute, but was this more of an opportunity purchase or was it because you saw some interest in a particular niche?

Jay:                        It was an opportunity. Like I said, it hit the criteria that I was looking for. I really like the niche. Frankly, it’s kind of fun and interesting and the people who want to buy the product are happy and it’s a positive thing. So, it kind of hit both criteria.

Justin:                   Well they’re happy the day before.

Jay:                        And after taking RaveAid.

Justin:                   Yeah, that’s true.

Okay, so you saw an opportunity in the niche, you thought it was kind of interesting. What other criteria did you have? Why did you pass on some of the nine or ten other deals that you said no to?

Jay:                        Well, one of the major things was, like I said, I have another consulting business and I put a lot of time into that. I wanted to get something that was really passive. I wanted to get something that was in a protected niche, something that I felt was quite stable and had a good sales history. Also, something that was trending upwards.

Justin:                   It’s interesting that you say it’s a passive niche because you and I were talking right before the show and I was thinking to myself, this seems like something that you’re gonna have to put some time into. You’re going to be working on the forums, you’re going to be pounding the pavement in terms of talking to ravers and going to raves. I was surprised in hearing that you really haven’t done that. You’ve taken it more as a passive investment.

It’s funny how wrong I was about assumptions on the work required for this one.

Jay:                        Yeah. I mean honestly, I think you’re exactly right. There’s opportunities to go to raves and be there in person and hand out free samples and things like that. I’m just not sure that the return was worth it. I feel like my time’s better spent some other places and RaveAid seems to grow itself. There’s a really, really loyal fan base and loyal community. That sort of takes care of itself.

Justin:                   Gotcha. I wonder if this is, maybe it was too small? Because in general, if it were worth your time, you would go do it, right? You would probably not do your consulting stuff and focus more on this. Maybe if it were … if you saw the return on your time being better there, you would do that. So, it’s interesting.

But as you said before, one of the reasons you wanted to buy this and you just kind of wanted to see how it works, right? Does it make money? How does it work? How passive is it? What’s this whole deal with these websites and earning money? So, that’s cool. I get it.

Tell me a little bit about the due diligence steps you took. What steps do you take to verify the accuracy of the information in terms of traffic, earnings, et cetera.

Jay:                        I spend a lot of time looking at the traffic from Google Analytics and looking at the traffic from the hosting company. Kind of comparing them and seeing how they stacked up and everything. Everything was really a copacetic from what was presented ahead of time. Earnings is the same thing. I believe there’s a lot of Paypal and earnings statements to look at and everything was exactly as it looked in the prospectus. So, really the due diligence was just was going through and checking and it all really checked out.

Justin:                   What would have kept you from purchasing, other than obvious fraud? Scammer, sketchy or whatever. What else would have kept you from purchasing in the due diligence process?

Jay:                        I think there’s a … I’ve seen this a few times, there’s a way of portraying a story and a prospectus and and on a call that doesn’t actually check out. I was really buying the story that was presented by the seller that it was trending upward, that it was passive in that if those things wouldn’t have been true, then my criteria would have no longer been met and I would have pulled out.

Justin:                   Gotcha. So I’m just thinking like from a buying perspective, and it’s tough when you’re doing it, because he started to get interested in the site, but you need to look at it like, okay, how can I not buy this site? What are the reasons I shouldn’t? You need to take that skeptical mindset and start digging through it and say, “Okay, if this happens I’m not going to do it.” When that doesn’t happen, you’re like, “Okay, it passed that test, but I’ve got more. You know what I mean?

Jay:                        Yeah.

Justin:                   So did you do any research on Empire Flippers on the seller himself? How important was that versus the site?

Jay:                        I did. I researched this seller himself and he had actually had a couple of articles written about him and his connection with the business and things like that. Honestly, everything really seemed to check out. I think if there would have been … I mean, I think there’s a lot to be said to being logical and analytical and everything like that, but also it seems like it’s something where you’ve got to trust your intuition where if something feels fishy, than it usually is. I think that’s worth looking into.

Justin:                   I think there’s a lot of trust that goes into this business. You had built up some trust and you’ve got a family member that worked with Ace previously, so you felt like you’re on a good footing there. If he’s recommending us and you have some trust in him, then you feel like there’s a good footing there. I think there, at some point you’d be up to put forward some trust in the seller while verifying their information.

Jay:                        Yeah. And it was really great working with Ace as well, just because I feel like I had somebody that was on my team to say if it wasn’t the right thing for me, I have no hesitation that he wouldn’t say, “Hey look, this is not the right one to go.” To have a second set of eyes and his breadth of experience was really comforting.

Justin:                   I really like that too. Ultimately, we are from the seller’s perspective, we are representing the sellers. And even though I think we go maybe even further than we need to, but we go pretty far to protect the buyers and make sure it’s in their interest. Ultimately, and in terms of our responsibility, it’s to the seller. So, it’s kind of nice to work with someone that has a buyer’s agent, that has someone looking out for your interests because it makes the deal just … It seems relatively smooth and he’s looking out for your interests. You know what I mean?

Jay:                        Absolutely.

Justin:                   So let’s talk a little bit about the buying process. How badly did you want this site? Where you going into this early on saying, “Oh my God, I really want it and hope I don’t lose it.” Or was it more like, “We’ll see. We’ll see.” And then, at what point would you say where you were no longer willing to walk away?

Jay:                        Honestly, it was one of those things that happened really, really quickly. Another deal sounds like it fell through, so it was mine for the taking if I could come up with a cash, that sort of thing.

So, once I got invested in it and looked at it and everything checked out, I was like, man, I’ve been looking really hard and spending a lot of time on this for three, four months. Honestly, I was pretty invested and emotionally vested, which I know you shouldn’t be, but you know, I was there.

Justin:                   It happens though, right? You’re not supposed to, but you’re like, “God, I want this one.”

Jay:                        Yup.

Justin:                   We’ve had that happen. We’ve had buyers actually get mad at us because they ended up going with someone else or whatever, but they were so set on it, they were like, “I really wanted that site.” And I’m like, “Look, you know, sorry that didn’t work.”

Why did you do the $30,000 upfront and $15,000 after 30 days trade? Did that come from Ace? Was that your recommendation? How well do you think that worked out?

Jay:                        That was an Ace recommendation and, and I mean, I’m looking at buying another now and I would structure it as similar to that as possible. Just, it keeps the buyer on the hook to make sure that the training’s going through everything really is … they’re interested in making sure the transition goes as smoothly as possible. So I think that works for both interests.

Justin:                   I do too. And I think … I like it. And especially with this, because it’s not like an Amazon site or something where it’s really straightforward and you just hand it over and people have run Amazon sites before. It’s a little more complicated, so making sure that you had the 30 days to walk comfortably, I thought was important.

Here’s just kind of an odd question, but would you have paid more for the site then you ultimately paid at the time? And this is at the time of purchase, not looking back on it today.

Jay:                        Well that’s a tough one.

Justin:                   I’m putting you on the spot with this one. I know, but …

Jay:                        I’m really happy with the price that I paid. I thought it was a good, compared to everything else that I was looking at, it was a good multiple. So would I have paid slightly more? Probably, yeah.

Justin:                   But not sure. Okay. No, I get it.

Jay:                        Yeah.

Justin:                   What did you like or not like about the process once you submitted your interest in purchasing? Was there anything that we did wrong or were a little slow on or anything you think we could improve? Any places you think we could improve?

Jay:                        No, I mean it was a pretty straightforward process once the ball started rolling. I was pretty happy with it.

Justin:                   Cool. All right. Well let’s talk about taking over the site. Was there any trepidation on your part in terms of the transfer process? Like, “Oh my God, am I sending this money into a black hole? Am I going to get the site transferred to me and it’s going to be ridiculously bad.” Were there any worries that you had?

Jay:                        Yeah, I mean, of course. It was a big transfer going out of my account and, while it wouldn’t have ruined me, it would have been like a significant chunk. I was taking a shot there and it was a leap of faith, especially for the first time … I’ll say that. But as soon as I got on with the seller and we started the transition, my worries were put at ease.

Justin:                   Cool. And this was your first purchase too there’s extra stress. If you’ve done this a few times, you’d been through the process, you’re like, “Okay, are we doing it again.” But your first time, I can feel the stress level being a little bit higher on that purchase.

Jay:                        Yeah.

Justin:                   How comfortable were you that you could hit the ground running in terms of taking over the site? When you were going into it, you say, “Yeah, I can take this on. I’m sure it can run it.” Did the training really helped with that or was it just kind of a nice addition?

Jay:                        No, the training did help. I didn’t know the logistics of it. It is a product and there’s a lot of work behind the scenes to get done and then the training was really, really helpful and the seller was honestly, I think he actually went above and beyond to make the transition smooth.

Justin:                   So he really helped you kind of get up to speed and learn everything there is to know that … Everything you need to know to take over the site. Did you find anything to be different than kind of what you expected in terms of work required or in terms of traffic or earnings? Was anything a little odd that just didn’t show up in your due diligence process?

Jay:                        Yeah. One of the things that I didn’t realize was that such a seasonal business … And one of the things I bought it at what is known now is now to me as rave season and the stock that was transferred to me and the purchase was not nearly enough to cover my sales.

That’s definitely something that I would be aware of and look at. Then on the next purchase, if it was anything similar to that, to know where the seasonal jumps really are.

Justin:                   So you bought heading into high season and didn’t have enough inventory to cover some of the future purchases. Okay. That’s interesting.

Jay:                        Yeah, I missed some sales but …

Justin:                   That’s shocking to me that I guess there’s a season for raves?

Jay:                        Yeah. Yeah. It’s definitely in the summer, in the northern hemisphere and then like a smaller rave season in the summer in the southern hemisphere.

Justin:                   Gotcha. Okay. So that’s something good to know if you’re heading into that and you’ve got inventory, make sure that you have to have inventory to make your sales

Let’s talk a little bit about your growth or expansion process. Like what was your plan going into the purchase in terms of growing or expanding the site and did you stick to that plan or were you more fluid? Did you change as things changed?

Jay:                        Yeah, I mean the idea was to spend the first couple of months and really learn, kind of leave it as is, run the business as it was, just to see where it was and to look at processes that could be improved. Looking at it initially, I thought that social was just going to be a huge boon for RaveAid and it hasn’t really translated that so that way, so it’s just been kind of adjusting from there.

Justin:                   Okay, so you were thinking Facebook and social media in general be hot and it hasn’t seemed to be … I still think it could actually thinking about this, I think some opportunity there. I think you’d have to do it maybe in a roundabout way and potentially getting some press too I think may help some write ups and stuff.

I know that the site had had that previously and I think that that did pretty well for them.

Jay:                        Yeah.

Justin:                   Okay, so you went into it with a particular plan. Facebook obviously it wasn’t as hot as you thought it was going to be. How did you make changes to that plan? What did you realize, okay, this is the new path we’re going to take for growth?

Jay:                        Just kind of looking at it as far as not being the big salespeople, looking at some wholesale accounts, trying to grow it from that perspective, like looking at the larger accounts and having them doing the sales. Also looking at growing affiliate sales has been fairly successful.

Justin:                   Yeah, I think there’s a real opportunity with affiliates. That’s a pretty good idea.

Can you share one thing that, so far, that you’ve done that really has worked and then obviously the one that didn’t work I’d say is Facebook. Have you done much Facebook advertising that you tested through it and it just wasn’t working for you?

Jay:                        Yeah, you just really, the Facebook advertising really didn’t seem to be worth it at all. I’m not sure if they … It seems like they’re constantly changing their algorithms as well, so, and that was a bit of a let down.

But sending out the promotions through the newsletters, especially around the holiday times, that seems to work really, really well. So it was a product that I didn’t see as a big holiday purchase, but it actually turned out to be.

Justin:                   Cool. Is there anything that us at Empire flippers or the seller could have provided you that would have added to your success in growing it out? Is there anything we could have done more of that would have helped you, you think?

Jay:                        The only thing that really bothered me when I first bought the business was missing out on the sales. I had sales that I actually couldn’t fulfill and that’s a really bad feeling. Just feels like it’s money going down the drain.

So, it’s one of those things that I wish the seller had just been like, “Hey, you need to … it’s going to cost you a bit of money but you need to put an order in for more supply up front.” I would’ve been happy to do that.

Justin:                   Yeah.

Jay:                        Just to be more successful.

Justin:                   I totally hear you because you missed out on some sales. Okay, so from our perspective, looking at any sites that hold inventory, making sure, or  looking at what kind of season we’re heading into, whether it’s high season or low season, and then making sure that you are fully stocked so you can make your sales. I think that’s a pretty good tip. Thanks for sharing that, man.

Jay:                        Sure, sure.

Justin:                   Let’s talk about some final questions. What do you wish you would’ve known before the purchase that you know now?

Jay:                        I think I’ve hit on it before, but I wish I knew how seasonal it was and I used to, like I said, this is my first purchase of a website, so I’m looking at sales every day and I’m looking at an edit from a micro perspective saying, “Oh man, I haven’t had many sales this week.” And then the weekend will come and I’ll have five, six, ten, fifteen sales in a day and everything evens out.

I wish I had known to really look at it from a macro perspective, because everything does seem to even out that way.

Justin:                   Yeah. We’ve had this specifically with … this is especially true with smaller AdSense sites. Say the site’s earning 900 bucks a month or whatever. That should be $30 a day. So if two or three days in a row, the AdSense earnings are less than like $15, the buyer’s like, “Oh my god. It’s just not going to work. And I’m like, “Look, it’s not like 28 one day and 32 the next. It’s just much more different than that. So, you’ll have $8 days and $50 days and I think the higher up the value chain you go, the more aggressive that becomes. If you’re selling $300 products and you’re averaging $3,000 a month, it’s not like you’re going to have one sale every three days. You may go a week and a half and not have any of that at two in the same day.

Jay:                        Yeah.

Justin:                   All right. So on a scale of one to 10 how happy are you with the purchase to date?

Jay:                        I would say I’m at an eight. I’m quite satisfied with it. It’s really fantastic because it is a niche, it’s a protected niche and you know exactly who your audience is. And that’s also possibly a negative that it is such a niche product that it would need to be completely rebranded to be repositioned in a different way.

Justin:                   Yeah. I don’t see this being $100,000 a month supplement. Maybe, but we’d have to have a hell of a lot more ravers and hangovers.

When you bought the site, the site was earning about $3,400 a month gross and about $2,300 a month net, net purchase. Where is it at today?

Jay:                        It’s up from that slightly. It’s probably up about 20% and again, that’s … The months are very different. I’ll get a couple of big wholesale orders in one month and no big wholesale orders for a couple of months. So it’s really up and down. But from the initial figures it is up about 20%.

Justin:                   Gotcha. And you know, as we mentioned before, I was really surprised that it didn’t take a whole lot of work on your end. This is kind of a more passive income. What kind of work are you doing on the site?

Jay:                        Really just the operations is really getting things, looking at the schedule for raves and doing social posts and newsletters. Customer Service is very very minimal. One of the great things about the product is that people seem to love it, so the customer service is really, really minimal, which is really … It’s kind of unexpected. I thought there might be a bit more of that.

So, the day to day work is pretty limited. It’s probably a few hours a week and then one day where I spent a lot of time making sure that my inventory is all up to date.

Justin:                   Awesome. Okay. So is there any piece of advice you have for us at Empire Flippers on what we can do to improve?

Jay:                        Uh, no. I mean, my experience with you guys was really straightforward and good. I think you guys have a good marketplace and it seems like you’re getting a lot of sites up there, so it’s good to go.

Justin:                   Awesome. Jay. Any final advice for buyers or sellers that are considering buying or listing on our platform?

Jay:                        For the buyers, I can speak for the buyers mostly I would say, you know, it’s good to take at some point you’re going to have to take the leap of faith. If everything seems to check out, do your due diligence and if the numbers work out and it’s something that you can afford, it’s a great investment in a greater return on investment, especially compared to other other things in the market.

Justin:                   Awesome man. Well I’m going to do a quick wrap up here. I was looking over the numbers and you first put the deposit in March 14th, 2014. The sale was  completed by April 29th, so it took about six weeks. The sale price was $30,000 up front, and then you paid an additional just over $15,000 after the 30 days of training. The earnings at sale were $3,400 a month gross, about $2,300 a month net and you said earnings are up about 20% from there.

So Jay, thanks so much for being on the show man. I really appreciate it.

Jay:                        Thank you Justin. I appreciate it.

Speaker 5:           You’ve been listening to the Empire Podcast. Now some news and updates.

Justin:                   All right Joe, first thing, buddy … news and updates. We’ve got the account manager position still open. We’ve got, I think, four applications in as of time of this recording. The position is locking up on January 20th, so there’s about a week left for you to get your application in and we’re really excited to get this position filled.

Joe:                        I am very excited to get this position filled considering what I went through last week in terms of getting a lot of tasks and stuff done. A lot of customer service stuff. There’s a lot of work to be done here and I think there’s a lot of things that someone could bring to the table and really organize us, make our customer service much better.

Justin:                   Mike’s really fired up about it too because it takes some of the farmer kind of grower stuff off his plate and allows him to go out in the hunter role and really do sales, really focused on sales. So yeah, he’s pretty excited about it too. We had a conversation about that the other night. I can’t wait to get someone out here. It looks like it’ll probably be in March. Maybe take a month or two to get them up to speed. We can introduce them to the crew out here on Ho Chi Min and get them integrated quickly.

It will take probably about a month to two months to make that happen, but you know how that goes, man. As soon as we get them up to speed, they’ll be running our business.

A second bit of news we want to talk about us, we’re taking another look at our investor program that we first mentioned in episode 92. We kind of put this on the back burner as we’re trying to get through the end of the year really focused in the marketplace and I think now that we’ve got that running pretty smoothly. We want to start exploring this investor opportunity a bit more.

So, you know we actually have our strategy session next week, Joe, at the end of next week. And so, part of the strategy session and we’re going to be talking about rolling out the investor program and that … We should start seeing some movement in that over the next three to four weeks in terms of rolling it out. I’m really excited about it. There’s a lot of things still up in the air in terms of how it’s going to work, but I don’t think we can find out or figure out anything more, other than just getting it started. We’re going to figure out the rest when it’s live.

Joe:                        There’s a lot of moving parts for sure, but I agree that it’s something that just has to be done and that we have to go ahead and just do. It’s more than just crossing our fingers. I think if we have a good plan, we’re set up for success and if we have a good first couple of successes with those Alpha test investors, it’ll be time to roll out the program.

Justin:                   The thing is, we were talking about … I’d like to open up people that are, you know, at $20,000 or $30,000 level, but it just just doesn’t make sense. And so we’ve kind of bumped it up. We’re looking at like $60,000 or more for the first one, but open and willing within six to twelve months to another 100, 200, $300,000. Those are really the investors we need for the Alpha test where they’re willing to … Where $60,000 isn’t a large chunk of their nut and adding a couple of hundred thousand dollars more to within the next year is reasonable to them. Those are the people I think we need to test this out with.

Joe:                        Yeah, we definitely have the inventory for it, especially if we package up some sites. So yes, I’m very excited to get this off the ground.

Justin:                   The third bit of news is I’ve been the book “Traction,” actually recommended by you and I think for marketing pros there’s a lot of … “Yeah, no, I know that … Yes, I know that.” But it’s really well written for kind of the analytical mind. Maybe the startup founders that aren’t marketers, they are product creators or developers and so they have a very … “I want a set path to marketing,” and I think it really lays that out.

I’ve got a good take away from it though. And this is the one, I’m not all the way through the book yet, but one of the takeaways I’m getting from this is that what worked for you previously may not work for you now. And as a more specific or concrete example for us, when we were starting off our blog and getting our brand going … blog commenting and commenting in forums and helping people answering questions … That was effective for us and maybe we would get 50 to 100 email subscribers a month out of that, because we’re being helpful in those forums. We’re helping getting our name out there, getting the word out there that were around and working.

It worked, I think, to get us from point A to point B but it’s not going to get us to point B from point B to point C. I think the reason for that is it’s just not moving the needle enough. Because if we get an extra hundred subscribers from the work that we’re doing in these forums or whatever, that’s less than 10% overall email subscribers.

We need things that are getting us 30, 40, 50% gains over a few months and I think 5 to 10% just isn’t enough to make it worthwhile.

Joe:                        Yeah, I think that’s an interesting point. I also think that it is good for even the expert marketer online. Because although some of the fundamental stuff like, oh do you know about AdWords? Of course you know about AdWords if you’re an online marketer. There’s other marketing channels. They cover 19 marketing channels and they really want you to try or at least think about most of them. Write down why they wouldn’t work or why they wouldn’t work.

I think that that’s an interesting … That’s the biggest takeaway that I’ve had from the book is that even if you don’t have experience or success or any sort of track record with a particular marketing strategy doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least try to plan out what that would look like for your company and see if you could make it successful.

Justin:                   Yeah. I think for people under 35 and particularly for people under 30, considering some offline channels I think is valuable. And I think, yeah, going through the process of seeing, putting your best guess and how that might work … I’d be willing to bet that most people will start ups and online businesses have never done mailer campaigns. I’ve never sent out 20,000 mailers. And they don’t know how effective that would be.

For some businesses that may be phenomenally successful. You’re never going to know that unless you’ve test it out. So, getting some ideas on some offline marketing channels I think is great, especially for the younger generation.

All right. Let’s get into the listener shouts, also known as the indulgent ego boosting social proof segment. On Twitter. We’ve got John said, “I got to the end of the empire flippers podcast, really enlightening. Only problem I have with your podcast is that it gives me too much to act on.”

Appreciate that, John. It’s a really good compliment. I would say that’s one of those luxury problems. “Oh my God, I’ve got so many things I need to work on on my business.” We feel that way every day.

I think one of the critical successes is picking the right things. The things are going to move the needle that are going to give you a bigger impact in your business. And trying to say “No” to the rest is really the difficult part.

We got some great shouts on Twitter about the apprentice position and we’ve got Dan over at Tropical MBA. We’ve got Johnny at JohnnyFD, Tim Conley, James Clark over at Nomadic Notes. I just wanted to thank you guys for giving us a shout on the apprentice position, so we’re going to get someone good.

Joe:                        Yeah, a lot of people shared it on Facebook as well, so I really appreciate that. Please forward to your friends. You never know who might take the opportunity and we can use the more applications we get the merrier.

Justin:                   We got some support feedback from some customers. We’ve got Louis who’s a new seller [inaudible 00:33:35] Zen Desk gave us a positive review, said, “Excellent communications, a very friendly yet professional approach.” Appreciate that, Louis.

We’ve also Mazhar had a support question about selling. He was looking to get listed with us and had some questions about it. Ended up saying, “Support is great. I received the answer my question very quickly and thoroughly, even though it was a Sunday.” And I think he gave Michi a lot of love for that.

Miche’s getting some love and the support tickets lately, man. She’s pretty friendly.

Joe:                        Yeah. You had a hard time this time finding anything negative going out there in the support channel, huh?

Justin:                   Yeah. No it wasn’t that negative this time. I’d like to at least throw in one negative … Although generally Joe, it’s probably five to one or six to one. Maybe even more positive to negative. No, it’s more than that. Maybe nine to one or something. But I like to throw in the negatives too, because I think that especially certain ones, because it gives us opportunity to improve. But yeah we lucked out this time. I’m gonna hit you up next time with someone beating you up, hopefully.

Joe:                        Okay, I’m ready for it.

Justin:                   That’s it for episode 123 of the Empire Podcast. Thanks for sticking with us. We’ll be back next week with another show. You can find the show notes for this episode and more at and make sure to follow us on Twitter @empireflippers. See you next week.

Joe:                        Bye everybody.

Speaker 5:           Hope you enjoyed this episode of the Empire Podcast with Justin and Joe. Hit Up for more. That’s Thanks for listening.


  • brady says:

    Curious what happened to listing 40135?

  • Chris says:

    What I’d like to see is the sold websites on your side to be sorted by the date sold for no other reason than it would be interesting to see.

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Hey Chris,

      We had to be pretty careful with the data showing on the homepage. Adding much else would leave it looking pretty cluttered, I think.

      Additionally, I’m not sure how the date sold would in any way help buyers. What’s the value add there?

      • Chris says:

        Nothing to do with the home page…. Why sort it? Was the site sold or was it pulled from your site? hard to tell. You post every month how much in total you sold but not how many sites (unless I missed that). That’s not really value add either but it’s interesting data. But here’s a scenario that you might not have thought of. If I’m a buyer and I have 5k I come to your site I wouldn’t know that you sometimes have cheaper sites. unless i dig. Another reason would be if a buyer wanted to figure out the average amount of investment people have made in the past three months in order to figure out how much average investment they need Or a seller contemplating selling with you. A seller considering selling a web on your site might want to know how long it takes For similar niche sites. I’m sure you have this information it is your business and the average sale price and length to sale is your bottom line. I’d also like to know how long it’s been for sale kinda like buying a house Why are people not buying?

        Maybe too much information is not good too. Totally up to u guys in the end.

        I’ve only bought a few sites from you guys for fun but sent a few good sales as well. People ask me all the time how to make money online. You guys have simplified my answer I just tell them to look u up. So keep up the good work.

        BTW I had no idea you replied..comment subscription?

        • Justin Cooke says:


          Sorry – I meant the main page of the marketplace, not homepage. (Where you can sort in listing view)

          We’ve had a few sites pulled from the marketplace over the last year because we couldn’t sell them, but very, very few. Most do end up selling.

          We have a write-up for sellers to give them an approximate idea on time-to-sell. It covers the different price ranges too:

          This is prominently shown to sellers down several different funnels and helps, I think. We’re pretty careful about expectations, though. We don’t want someone to assume that their $10K site will sell within a week and then, 12 days down the road, have them asking, “WTF”? An average doesn’t show outliers, of course.

          To be frank, our focus is on buyers in the $50K+ range, which is why we have them auto-sorted highest to lowest. We don’t promote the Sub-$10K sites much, because they sell without much promotion or intervention on our part, so we need to promote to the higher end of the market.

          Your comment about how long a site has been for sale makes sense. That information is important. I think it was in our original design, but it became really confusing with some thinking it was the date the site was created and not the date we listed it so it got removed at some point.

          I hear you on comment subscriptions. We used to have with Disqus, but when we dropped it in the new redesign we didn’t add that piece back to WP comments, heh.

  • Fazl says:

    Hi guys,

    Great podcast – it was really informative and insightful getting first hand feedback from someone who’s purchased a website through you guys and has thrived since. I am currently looking for a website to purchase and would love to hear more podcasts like this one.

    Keep up the great work!!

  • Patrick says:

    Fantastic episode! Hearing the buyer’s side was interesting throughout and very relevant to prospective first time buyers. Thanks Jay for coming on the show to discuss.

    I also look forward to hearing more about the investor program.

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Thanks, Patrick! Yeah – big thanks to J for coming on the show.

      I’m looking forward to continuing this series. I have another buyer willing to come on as well, just need to setup the time for the call.

      Will have more info about investor program in coming weeks. It was on the back burner, but quickly jumping to the top of the list in 2015.

  • Scott says:

    You mentioned an apprenticeship and I can’t seem to find anything else about it. Are you guys offering one?

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