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Income Report – January Through March 2013

Justin Cooke Updated on February 29, 2020

Income Report – January Through March 2013

Welcome to our first (of many) income reports under the new brand, EmpireFlippers! This report will cover January – March (Q1) 2013 and we’ll be following a slightly different format than we’ve used previously.

We’re excited to again share with you our numbers in the hopes that they inspire you to take action in building your online empire. We’re also looking to hold ourselves accountable and to elicit feedback from you on areas of opportunity and growth.

I’d mentioned that we considered switching to a quarterly report last year and the feedback we got from you was that you’d much prefer a monthly report. Based on that feedback, we’ll be continuing on a monthly basis as of right now! Thank you so much for your continued support! So how have we done so far this year?…let’s dig into the details!

Lessons Learned

Much of our efforts in the beginning of 2013 were focused on combining all of our business under the Empire Flippers banner and we’ve had plenty of time to consider what that means for our brand, our company, and our content.

We discussed the plan with others…those who had split up their companies into several different brands and others who put everything under the same banner. The “one banner” arguments appealed to us the most, which is why we decided to roll them up here.

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What We’re Working On

We’ve quieted down a bit over the last couple of months, mainly due to all of the projects we’ve been working on shipping. Here are a few of the things in the pipeline currently:

  • IntelliTheme “Launch” – We’ve been working with an affiliate manager, Mark Thompson, on getting IntelliTheme out to the Internet Marketing community. We’re in the final stages of preparing Version 2.0 which should include automatic reporting from AdSense to the dashboard and (hopefully) automatically created Ad Units and custom channels inside your AdSense account. The JV launch is scheduled for this Friday (April 12th). I’m planning to do a full write-up afterwards regarding the entire process to share both our successes and failures during this launch. (Check out our promo video – Thanks to our latest Intern Erik for this!)

  • Marketplace – We’ve added sections for both Featured And Vetted sites, but it’s still a bit ugly and not nearly as streamlined as we’d like. We have a developer working with us to make this section cleaner, more intuitive, and user friendly.
  • New Tools – We created our Niche Site Profit Calculator quite a while back and it’s been one of our most visited pages all-time! We have another tool we’re working on for SEO that we’ll be using ourselves and providing to you…for free! More on this in a few weeks…
  • Better Customer Tracking – Now that we have site buyers, sellers, and products/services it makes sense for us to better segment our audience as contacts rather than lists. AWeber has been great for us so far, but having more detailed information regarding our customers will allow us to better meet their individual needs. We’re looking at both InfusionSoft and Office Auto Pilot (now Ontraport) for a better solution here.

Site Traffic

We’ve had a total of 51,500 visits to our site(s) from January through March 31st.

AdSense Flippers:

AF Analytics Jan To March 1

Empire Flippers:

EF Analytics Jan To March 1

We’ve seen our organic search volume drop a bit with the switch, but we’re expecting that to bounce back once all the dust has settled and our 301 redirects have kicked in. Here’s a look at our top content from both sites:

AF Analytics Jan To March Content

EF Analytics Jan To March Content

And our top referrals:

AF Analytics Jan To March Sources

EF Analytics Jan To March Sources

It’s great to see that our number of pages visited (2.6 pages) and average visit duration (3:12) remain high, but I feel like our content is a bit harder to find with the new design. I’m going to see what I can do about adding some additional navigation resources in the sidebar that should help.

We’ll be working with Dan Norris from in the coming weeks to test through his Content Analytics beta test. I’m really excited about this…I’m looking forward to better understanding our analytics and he’s working on some really cool stuff over there to solve that problem.

Podcast Downloads

We’re excited to be back to a weekly publishing schedule with the podcast and we’ve noticed a bump in downloads in March:

Podcast Downloads Jan To March

We focused on improving both the production and content quality of our podcast in our latest mastermind and have some great ideas on putting together an even better show for you in the coming weeks and months!

Monetized Sites

Here is our AdSense earnings report from the niche sites we’re still holding:

AdSense Jan to March 2013

Even with the sale of some of the niche sites, not building new sites for several months, and the spring cleaning we’ve done with the “losers” that didn’t earn enough to be worth renewing, earnings have remained relatively consistent here at around $2K per month. Much of that was due to improvements in earnings we’ve realized by using IntelliTheme and the fact that some of our niche sites have bounced back in recent months.

We’re expecting this to grow as we’ve been back on track building niche sites as of February…it will just take a few months for those sites to start popping up on the SERPs and earning.  If you’d like to know a bit more about our costs in creating these niche sites, you can check out how we spend our money here.

Note: When our sites come up for renewal, we have a process where we look at the previous 6 months of revenue and decide whether to keep or to drop the sites/domains. It seems like a real waste to lose all of the content on the sites that aren’t earning their keep…any ideas on what we could/should be doing with that content instead of dumping it?

Selling Our Sites

We sold off $4,455.20 worth of sites in January, $317.00 in February, and went big in March at $12,622.00 in site sales. We still have a few sites here and there that are strong and earning enough to list, but many of the sites we started creating in February won’t be up, stable, and earning for a few months yet.

We’ll be holding these sites for a while…selling them off too early represents a loss for us. Joe has a (somewhat complicated) process he puts the sites through when evaluating which are ready to sell and which are not. Primarily, we’re looking for sites that are stable and have slowed down their earnings growth from their initial “pop” when they became ranked.

We haven’t put up a Flippa auction in some time and I think I’m going to see if we can put together a package in the next month or two that we can list. We’ll send out an email when/if we list a Flippa auction.

Products & Services

Paypal Snippet MarchWe had a few beta testers with us in January/February, but the majority of the $5,830 sold in the Products & Services section came after March 21st…a definite win for us and a valuable new revenue stream.

Our most popular products so far have been the Empire Starter Packs and our Empire Auction Assistance packages, representing well over half of our earnings here. The only product that didn’t sell at all was the Empire Social Media pack. (Although we did sell $474.00 worth of custom Twitter backgrounds directly through…included in the total above.)

Brokered Sites

We’ve sold a total of $14,615.20 worth of brokered sites on the marketplace since launching in March, representing a total revenue for us of $2,192.28. We’ve had to turn a couple of sites and sellers away with a refund that either couldn’t be verified or weren’t offering sites that met our criteria…the rest have been listed. (And usually sold within a couple of days)

This is definitely promising, but there are two things to note here:

  1. Time/Cost Intensive – These brokered site sales made less than half the revenue and took up considerably more of Joe and I’s time than the Products & Services did. (Not to mention the cost involved with building out the marketplace) Automation and passing off some of the tasks to our team will help here, but it’s not a great ROI for our time quite yet.
  2. Higher-End Sites Are Slower To Sell – Our $64K eCommerce site and the $14K affiliate site have drummed up some interest, but nobody has yet pulled the trigger on purchasing these sites. This price range is new territory for us (and our buyers) and I think it will take some time to attract more buyers looking for this type of investment. We’re considering some advertising and Remarketing opportunities that may help here.

I should note that I’m including the $297 “vetting” fee under Products & Services…we wouldn’t have had those if we weren’t brokering sites. Additionally, I don’t think everything can be measured in terms of ROI on your time. I truly believe that offering the marketplace provides a ton of value to our audience for both buyers and sellers alike. Even if we earn more money by focusing our efforts on different revenue streams, providing this as an option drives the market forward, which is good for everyone.


IntelliTheme LogoThis is the first time we’ve actually shared our IntelliTheme numbers publicly. We earned a total of $1,482.72 from IntelliTheme in Q1 2013 and we’re just under $7,000 overall. We’d just about made back our development costs when we decided to put another $3K into the product to get Version 2.0 ready for the launch coming up this Friday. We’ve used the last several months to fix bugs, make adjustments, and prepare the product for primetime.

We’re not actually expecting to make much on the launch of IntelliTheme. We’re discounting the price heavily, giving 60% to affiliates, and splitting the rest with our affiliate manager. The idea is to get the product in more hands, introduce the buyers to EmpireFlippers, and to prove the market. We have some pretty major plans for Version 3.0 and are talking to people in the niche that could make this a major success and getting more users is a critical step in making that happen.

Affiliate Income

We brought in a total of $2,175.96 for the quarter through affiliate revenue. ($670.75 of which is through Kindle sales of “Building A Niche Site Empire” – Not too shabby!) Most of that came through sales of LongTailPro,, and HostGator. I’d like to do more with this (and our Resources Page is sorely in need of being rewritten for Empire Flippers), but we’ve put this off to focus more on our core offerings.

I don’t really like having to test through all the new/shiny tools and products that come out, but having specific review pages for products that provide us a ton of value seems like a no-brainer. (Similar to our Long Tail Pro review seen here.)

Outsourcing Clients

Since we’ve merged our outsourcing company with AdSense Flippers, I thought it best to record our income from our more “traditional” outsourcing projects here as well. I’ll also mention that I’m listing actual payments instead of invoices and some of our clients have terms, are slow to pay, etc. so there may be more significant ups and downs every month as the payments come in. Our Accounts Receivables are fairly large right now, so we’re expecting a good month in either April or May as those clients get caught up with payments.

  • January: $35,512.05
  • February: $24,371.13
  • March: $10,926.90
  • Total For Quarter: $70,810.08

Another thing to note is that we’ve signed up a client with a team of four agents to build out sites. The process is slightly different than our own, but training has been provided and the team is working away on building out the sites as I write this. (Please contact us for more information regarding team-based outsourcing)


We’re changing our business around quite a bit and we have some catching up to do if we want to break our 2012 totals, but I do think we have a shot!  We’re really looking to expand our brokered sites section, our products and services, and create a few more tools through 2013.

Business Data:

  • Employees: 32
  • Interns: 1
  • Contractors: 5 (3 programmers)
  • Site Visits: 51,500


  • AdSense: $6,231.21
  • Site Sales: $17,394.20
  • Products/Services: $5,830.00
  • Brokered Sites: $2,192.28
  • IntelliTheme: $1,482.72
  • Affiliate: $2,175.96
  • Outsourcing: $70,810.08

Monthly Totals:

  • January Total: $43,456.23
  • February Total: $27,963.56
  • March Total: $34,696.66

Total For Quarter: $106,116.45

Did you find this report helpful? Let us know by sharing it on Twitter, shooting us an email, or leaving a comment below!

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  • Great stuff guys.

    $100k in Q1, so your goal for the year should be 1/2 a Milly Baby!

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Thanks, Damian!

      I dunno, man…I’d be pretty happy if we did 420-430K this year, honestly. If we can do that and lay the groundwork for late 2013 and 2014…next year will be outstanding! 🙂

  • Phil Lewis says:

    Brilliant results for Q1 Guys.

    With regards to content that would be lost if you didnt renew the domain; could you reuse it on more generic sites to create your own backlinking service? Paid or to help promote your own money sites?

    • Perhaps, but Google hates duplicate content. We might just be shooting ourselves in the foot. I am testing through some ways to save the sites using very basic link building techniques that do not cost much.

  • Mohit says:

    You guys rock !!! What a detailed earning reported here, was really inspired too after reading this report. As mentioned by Damian its just a Q1 earning, wow !!!! Q2, Q3, Q4 is yet to come !!!!

  • OMG, you’re joking, right… I just bought IntelliTheme 1.0 for the full price like 10 minutes ago!
    Is there some upgrade path?

  • Adrijus G. says:

    Good stuff guys, congrats on 100k! 😉

    Maybe you could use your loser website content and combine them into bigger websites, maybe group them into broader niche site instead of nichy niche. Redirect traffic from small sites into the big one. That way content won’t be lost and you might actually end up building a huge website with a lot of authority eventually.


    • Justin Cooke says:

      Thanks for the recommendation!

      Combining the content into larger, industry sites is definitely something we’ve considered. It’s not something I want to spend a bunch of time on, but it’s probably something we could setup a process for and put an agent or two on, eh?

      • Adrijus G. says:

        Yeah definitely. They can then go out and find writers for the specific niche and work with them, turn it into SOP and have it as repeatable thing. Sounds like a plan for dominating niches, those sites would have email list, sponsorship opportunities, affiliate, JVs etc.. Starting such site from scratch would take years to develop but if you can combine some smaller ones, it would cut short the process.

        And those big sites would sell for even better multiple probably then AdSense sites. Think of them as a stable of magazines almost.. media empire! 🙂

  • What an amazingly detailed report! On what to do with the unused content, as suggested, somehow putting in a larger site or sites and rely more on the on-page SEO than the EMD, possibly adding links to other related content on the bigger site (more than just the 4-5 posts that came from the original EMD site) and headline by creating a few new authority site level articles, one for each broader niche, with lots of links to the older content. So, say a new site with a topic of cars with a new high quality authority article (longer one, 1500+ words), stick all the older posts relating somehow to the topic on the site and link to them from the authority article. I’m still quite new at this (and thanks for all the help; “Building a Niche Site Empire” was where I started), but it seems clear Google will continue nudging us towards higher quality content. Perhaps older articles (Fiverr type stuff) can still serve a good purpose as support under authority level articles.

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Thanks, Don!

      I think that’s a pretty decent suggestion…we may try to put something together like this in the future!

  • Damn fine start to the year, Gents.

    Congrats and keep up all the hard work – as you can see, clearly… it pays off.


  • Guys,
    This is a fantastic result. How do you guys achieve these results? I am really jealous! I have a niche site that has 60 articles but couldn’t monetize with adsense because I have been banned before (Google’s way of claiming click fraud) the site currently gets 100 views per day and on page 2 of google for its main keyword. But it ain’t bringing in money yet…sighs I am getting tired of the whole stuff.

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Ack…sorry to hear you were banned from AdSense.

      You’re going to want to look at other monetization methods instead of trying to hack your way into another AdSense account, most likely. You can take a look at and other providers, but you’re probably better off seeing if you can fit in some relevant products via Amazon.

      • Oluwaseun says:

        Thanks Justin. I have never sold anything from Amazon because of its low commissions. (may be I am wrong), But I just applied to infolinks and medianet as well. Though I am still waiting for approval from medianet.
        Thanks for your time.

  • Rod says:

    Thanks for the post. You must have MASSIVE overhead with 32 employees though. How is your net profit going?

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Wow…now that you bring it up, 32 employees sounds awfully expensive! There’s no way our team would be that large in the US, heh.

      Costs are MUCH lower here in the Philippines. Additionally, we’re in Davao…which is around 40-50% cheaper than Manila when it comes to employee costs. Also, these employees are on payroll (full benefits, 13th month, etc.) which means we pay less than you might pay a VA from the Philippines if you’re in the US. VA’s generally make more…but their employment is a bit less stable.

      We’ve got a “medium-sized fish, small pond” thing going over here, for sure.

  • Salomon says:

    how much cost patner with Mark Thompson??? i read that have a mark in your launch is very expensive

  • Derek Smith says:

    Great post guys,

    So are you guys back to building the 5 page AdSense sites again or larger sites? If so, how many are you pumping out each month ?

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Hey Derek,

      We’re pumping out 100-120ish sites per month right now. (We’re buying that many domains at least…I think the guys are behind just a bit on site creation)

      Funny you mention it…I was going to send an email out soon to our guys. I want to do a test with 10 sites and 20 pages of content or so. I’d like to compare a random sample against our random sample of 5 pages sites to see if there’s value in it for us…will be interesting!

      • Derek Smith says:

        That’s great Justin, I am glad you are still pumping out sites. I think many of us, myself included, would not have found out about you guys if it wasn’t for the AdSense builders. You guys are truly one of the most honest and straightforward guys in this field. For newbies it is often hard to find guys like you among the thousands of people in it solely to “sell something” or “make money” off of free info.

  • ilias diamantis says:

    Hi guys .

    Congratulation on your results .
    This summer I may help you with your revenue goals 🙂 .

    Be healthy and smile !

  • Guys,
    Congrats on a great month. I assume you have started a list already… why not create a special list for people to sign up for and send them your niche sites that you don’t plan on keeping? Put a price on each, or best offer, and see what it does for you. Seems like a waste to just let the sites go… but I have done my share of that as well.

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Thanks for the interesting idea, Adam.

      Unfortunately, I just don’t think we could/should sell those sites. Even if people are willing to pay for them, I don’t think we would feel justified in charging for sites that aren’t even valuable enough for us to keep.

      With our Empire Starter Packs, we include lower-earning sites…but they’re still earning enough to model and get some amount of earnings. Sites that aren’t even earning their domain registration just aren’t worth it, IMO…I think it would be better to wrap them up into larger sites, if anything.

  • Keith says:

    Nice 1st quarter! Would have loved to have seen the expenses that went along with this income… 32 employees and 5 contractors must take a heap of that income as well as other fees like hosting, etc…

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Thanks, Keith!

      They definitely take a nice little chunk out, for sure. As I mentioned in another comment…we’d be DEEP underwater if those employees were all in the US, UK, Australia, etc…luckily we’re here in the Philippines! 🙂

      One of the contractors makes more per hour than Joe and I…luckily we don’t have to pull him in too often! 🙂

      We don’t share employee salaries and breakdowns from customers for obvious reasons, but you can get a pretty good idea as to our costs on site creation from this post:

  • Mike says:

    damn you guys are banking!

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Thanks, Mike!

      It is all pretty relative, though. Plenty of “real” businesses would say we’re awfully small…and they’d be right from their perspective.

      I just don’t think many companies share their information like this…definitely not smaller companies like ours.

  • Dan Norris says:

    Great stuff guys I’m keen to hear more about the other side of your business which sounds like a big part revenue wise. It’s interesting to know your calculator brings in the most visits, I got good results when putting out a calculator too. Have you thought about making it available as a spreadsheet download to use as opt in bait? Maybe that’s one of the things we can test when we install the analytics – write a post on calculating niche profits and as the call to action have a downloadable Excel file as the opt in bribe. Anyway just thinking out loud, be in touch soon.

    • Joe Magnotti says:

      Hey Dan! It’s a little scary revealing everything here, but we thought it made sense since we are unifying the brands. Not sure about the calculator download, I think the guide is compelling enough opt in bait. However, that is Justin’s side of the house, so I will leave it up to him.

  • Dan Norris says:

    Another thing, I’d love you to see top content in these reports so people can learn what content is working for you. Perhaps we can do this next month after the tracking kicks in.

  • Iain says:

    Great job guys.

    The monthly reports really help to put things into perspective. I mean it shows people how much they can actually make from online business.

    Also, what happened to disqus? Was it not working properly?

    I was really curious about he products and how they were going to do when you released them. From what I see they seem to be doing very well. At least most of them.

    Keep up the great work gents

    • Joe Magnotti says:

      Thanks for stopping by Iain. Glad you liked the report.

      We stopped using Disqus because the migration from went badly. Comments kept disappearing randomly and other bugs caused interaction with our readers to go way down. All this despite working directly with Disqus engineers for weeks on the issue. Even the experts could not fix it. Something to keep in mind when changing domain names.

      I made the executive decision toe switch back to WordPress. Yes, Disqus looks nicer and provides a bit more functionality, but pages load faster and comments don’t get dropped anymore. We might make a few more refinements to the look and feel going forward though.

      • Iain says:

        One thing I would suggest in terms of comments is implementing the ‘notify me of replies’ check box.

        I don’t know if that is feasible but it’s a little thing that is nice.

        Unfortunately, because it’s a little thing it is probably the furthest thing from your minds.

        • Justin Cooke says:

          Ack…good point, Iain.

          We REALLY wanted to stick with Disqus, actually…but we were having so many problems getting up up/running on the site that we went back to straight-up WP comments. I think we’re going to try to sort out Disqus again, but if that doesn’t work we’ll try to add a bit more here to the WP comments. 🙁

  • Love the report Justin, always very interesting and inspires me to to keep pressing on in the web world (I’m a vet in Australia, trying to become an internet master – haha ).
    Am I missing the part of the report covering costs? Obviously displaying income means nothing without this? ie. 100K income is great if costs are 50k, yet not so great if costs are 150k!
    I totally understand if you don’t wish to go into this, but I’m wondering if I’ve just missed this section.
    Keep it up – cheers

  • kate says:

    How you do guys do seo for your site? Any black hat seo ?

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Hey Kate,

      We focus on making sure our on-site SEO is strong and (for the last year or so) haven’t done any off-site SEO. We’ve been a bit wary of creating links to the sites.

      Some of the sites don’t rank as well because of it, but we leave that as upside for our buyers. If they know some strong linkbuilding tactics and strategies to use, they get the benefit.

  • good stuff guys, solid results and excellent summary.

    been reading some income reports online and wondering what your thoughts are on adding some color around the following attributes:

    1) time invested by each during the course of the month/week into your business

    2) expenses to run the business and thus a net profit number

    3) tasks you outsource vs tasks you do yourself (a one time summary can be carried forward from one income report to the next)

    I feel these attributes add more color and transparency to the report and makes it complete. it would give someone new to them a full flavor of the business – as I am certain that one of your goals with this blog is to inspire and encourage taking action.

    it seems like the outsourcing component of the business is the main driver. would love to hear more about what exactly you guys are doing in this capacity, how you started and plans going forward.

    loved reading the quarterly summary. please keep them coming. “Salamat sa inyo dalawa” – Mabuhay!

    • Justin says:

      Thanks for the comment, Sunil!

      To reply to your points:

      1) I do use RescueTime to track my hours, but this will vary widely and probably isn’t a full representation. It’s safe to say that we’re working “every waking moment” 🙂 We’re still growing our business and it’s very “active” and not passive income for us.

      2) This becomes a bit more difficult when we have employees and customers involved. We’re happy to share our costs/expenses related to niche sites, but a bit more guarded when it comes to sharing customer by customer, employee costs, etc.

      3) It’s interesting you bring this up. Even though we run an “outsourcing company” we sometimes forget to outsource our own tasks! We brought this up in our mastermind in February and have been working hard on this in recent months. I think we’ve done a fair job of stepping outside our business recently…more on this to come, for sure.

      Our outsourcing business has always been our “bread and butter”. It’s exciting (and a bit scary) to be combining it all together!

  • Mark says:

    I’ve been following you for some time and you are doing a great job with the new services and products. You mentioned that you are working with an affiliate manager to launch your IntelliTheme. Can you explain what does affiliate manager do? What are his specific tasks that help make a product launch successful? Keep up the great work! 🙂

    • Joe Magnotti says:

      Justin is going to do a write upon the entire process. However an affilate manager manages the launch by finding valuable joint venture speciallist who have large lists and can really get the name out about our product. He also help determine discount pricing and one time offers that are critical to success. I am super excited about this launch which happens in less than 12 hours!

    • Justin Cooke says:

      It’s pretty fascinating stuff, Mark…a totally different world in IM than what we’re used to. I’ve been collecting notes, screenshots, etc. during the entire process and will lay it all out in a case study post in the next couple of weeks!

      • Jenny says:

        Hard to care what income was…. post your outgoings too then the numbers will actually mean something 🙂

        • Justin Cooke says:

          Thanks for visiting, Jenny. Maybe you could leave a more meaningful comment next time yourself? That would mean something to me…

  • kate says:

    sorry for my late comment but i just have to ask this question. I reacently read your ebook – building niche site empire and i wonder if everything what you wrote some time ago may be used with succes today ? I mean if yjis ebook is still giving tips or maybe some thing are chaned dramaticlly from the time you wrote this ?

    • Justin says:

      Hey Kate!

      Yes, we’re still following the process we’ve laid out in the guide. There are two changes to be aware of:

      1. Linkbuilding – We’ve cut out all linkbuilding to the sites. We’re testing through some new methods right now, but we haven’t found a winner yet to use across the board.

      2. Toned Down OnSite SEO – We don’t always target the secondary keywords with exact matches for the title, and we don’t only use exact match keywords for the anchor text with internal links.

      Other than that…everything else is the same!

  • Great stats, it’s awesome to see how you’re leveraging your efforts.

    “having specific review pages for products that provide us a ton of value seems like a no-brainer”

    I’d love for an active awesome affiliate like you to join our affiliate program for Raven Tools, I can provide some extensive resources, quotes, video and screen-caps to make the review process easier too 🙂

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Thanks, Jeremy!

      I think we tested Raven Tools briefly, but didn’t stick past the free trial or something…but that was quite some time ago.

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