Lessons Learned And Roadmap From Puerto Galera Trip

Justin Cooke Updated on March 23, 2020

Lessons Learned And Roadmap From Puerto Galera Trip

In addition to having an amazing time meeting the people we met in Puerto Galera, we spent a considerable amount of time listening to their success stories and the different ways they approach issues and execute in their own businesses. We were able to walk away with a bunch of great information from people that have wildly different experiences and approaches that, we think, will really help us take this side of our business to the next level. We picked up quite a bit from that trip and in our discussions through the weeks following and I wanted to share some of the basic framework from those conversations with you, along with some of the takeaways we’ll be acting on in the near future.


Joe and I were blown away with what those guys have done with the TropicalMBA program. The basic idea is this:  They offer an opportunity they wish they’d had when they were first starting out which includes moving halfway around the world and working as a team on a network of internet businesses.  They are also given the opportunity to build their own business so they never have to work a J-O-B again. Effectively, they’re offering a paid internship working in either the Philippines or Bali where they can really run with projects and help take an established business to the next level, but with the flexibility and freedom to work on their own pet projects as well. And…they’re doing it for cheap!

Joe was a bit skeptical about the quality of people that would apply for such a position, but after meeting a few of the previous (and one of the current) TropicalMBA awardees….We. Were. Amazed. These are top-notch, gonna-be-superstar players that aren’t afraid to take risks and know how to wrestle down projects. These are team members and project masters…not task-based employees and we were completely sold on the idea. We’ll be exploring this idea much further in the not so distant future.

Joint Webinar

After our interview on LifestyleBusinessPodcast, Dan, the host, had mentioned that there might be even more value in exploring the idea of an interactive webinar we could invite others to and share more of our story, our experiences, and our plans for the future. This seems to ring true with the many who email us, comment with questions, try to catch us on Skype/Twitter, etc. Depending on the interest level, number of attendees, etc…maybe that’s something we could set up on a more regular or permanent basis as we all continue to grow together. The idea of a free information share in a nice, tight community appeals to me, so this is something you can look out for in the next month or two…we’ll keep you posted!

Fresh Start With Sites

With the hits we took on some of our sites and their rankings, the selling of sites across a spectrum of months, and the recent Panda Updates, we’re a bit all over the place. We no longer have the tighly-funneled growth model we had before and it’s becoming a bit more difficult to keep track of what’s working, what’s not, etc. I think we made a pretty fatal mistake along the way in where we made a bunch of changes and were not properly setup to determine the value of those changes…not to mention the fact that we didn’t test out some of the changes before implementing! We should know better…but it’s hard for us not to get impatient and when it comes to testing through changes, I hate how long it takes to effectively test through smaller changes before taking them live, split testing over the long-term, etc. Our more bold/aggressive approach can blow up a bit…but I still prefer it to the methodical approach…even with the problems, heh.

So here’s what we’re thinking…why not just start fresh? Our “Round 1” of AdSenseFlippers was profitable overall and we continue to hold assets from that first round as well. We can finish up the sites we’re working on, set ALL previous sites to the side…and start it all up again. The idea is for us to untangle some of the newer, unproven changes we’d made and to clean up our tracking a bit, giving us a better overall picture as to where we’re at, where we’re going, etc. We’ve got a nice little collection of sites (Some that are doing quite well, others that are still, sadly, in the “tanked” position) that we can still enjoy the revenue from and sell off when we want to.

Monetization Improvements And Authority Sites

We’d like to take a subset of those sites we set to the side and put a Rockstar conversion/monetization consultant on it. Have them run through the sites to determine those that are best in a position to benefit and then take a small team from our agents and direct their work in running through the sites and making improvements. That way, we test out the process and hopefully find ways to better improve our RevenuePerUnique numbers while still accurately tracking our “Round 2” project moving forward. There’s quite a bit of room down the rabbit hole…these sites are just barely starting to earn…they’re really early. If we can pick out those that have the best chance to earn more with affiliate product sales, info products, etc. we can start to move down a path that allows us to take the sites further and, ultimately, create more valuable web properties.

With the team we have currently, we COULD be building out 1 much larger, 200 page authority site each week! While I’m not interested in completely jumping ship to the authority model, I am interested in dedicating some resources to take a stab at it. Since we plan to start fresh anyway, we may cut back down to 10-15 niche sites a week…so it presents a perfect opportunity to reassign resources to an authority site channel in parallel…at least to start. It’s a bit more risky…we don’t have much experience in this area (and it takes longer to realize results)…but what the hell…we didn’t know much about the niche sites when starting off, either. Plus, I just think it’s interesting and I tend to have more success with things I feel that way about.

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Project Management Over Task Management

Much of Joe and I’s time with both AdSenseFlippers AND with TryBPO is running projects ourselves. That’s it…just us. We have an amazing staff that has really stepped up to accomplish some pretty amazing and complicated tasks!…but we haven’t found, hired, or developed anyone that can really take on a long-term goal or overall project and see it through to success…that has been all in our hands. Joe and I are pretty skilled in this area, but we’re running out of time to get the things done that we need to get done. We need to be able to share our vision with project managers and successful achievers and have them take the reigns on projects with less involvement from us.

Mixing in some of the facets of the TropicalMBA program, we’ve seen a path towards our success here…a roadmap, so to speak. This requires a larger organization and a higher level of inter-coordination than we currently have, so I see a definite challenge here. (Not to mention requiring that Joe and I stretch beyond our current skills and abilities to get what we need to do done) The territory is a bit uncomfortable, but I’m finding more and more it’s the things that seem uncomfortable or scary that are the EXACT things you should be doing (or blogging about!) Failure and mediocraty follow the path of least resistance. We shouldn’t do that…

AdSenseFlippers Podcast

In talking to Chris Ducker from VirtualBusinessLifestyle podcast on the phone and meeting Dan from LifestyleBusinessPocast in person, they both hammered us regarding the importance of having a podcast. I remember reading SPI with Pat Flynn (Who gave us a mention the other day…awfully cool!) and him talking about how creating his podcast was one of the best strategic moves he made on his blog. It really gives us another channel to get our message out and to build an even stronger community here, so we’re excited and happy to take the plunge! We’ve already completed our first interview with someone we really like and respect…we’re just trying to put together the rest of the show so that we can get it out. We’re really hoping to get it out by the end of the week or the weekend at the latest, but this being our first time we do want to make sure we’re able to put everything we’ll need together. The recordings won’t be the best, the editing won’t be as polished as I’m sure it will be later, but we promise to at least deliver the same, useful content we deliver in our posts here.

Whew…that’s quite a bit in just a few days in Puerto Galera! We’ve had some time to process our thoughts and expand a few of these ideas in the last couple of weeks and we’re really excited about continuing to move forward through the end of the year.

Like our gameplan? Something you think we’re missing? Let us know in the comments below!

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  • Steve wyman says:

    Hi Guys

    Yet again interesting information and insights.

    Im really interested in the “flight to authority”, It seems to be the call to action all over the IM space. Im’ really hopefull more and more people will go that way. It feels to me as if all my Niche sites are rocketing forward over the panda upgrade period. The only one that didnot got slammed and 30 days later came back stronger and higher than before and its not a micro niche site but one aim for 20K plus exact match keywords.

    I think it just goes to show every model works somewhere. I do have 3 authority sites that are doing ok and will take at least another 6 month to break into top 10.

    For you guys moving up the ranks just makes total sense.

    If you dont find your conversion guru or want to play with some of the fallen few, let me know 🙂

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Steve,

      For us, we plan to continue with the niche sites…just want to divert some resources into seeing whether we can replicate the process on larger sites. Ideally, we’ll continue with both, if possible.

      If we can master the ability to take a $20/month site and build out to $200/month on a regular basis…we think there’s a TON of money in that. You can buy other AdSense sites and build them out, build your own straight through to $200/month, etc…and we ultimately get much more bang for our buck. We’ll see!

      • steve wyman says:

        Hey Justin,

        Yes there is. If you can either build them real cheap or maybe een aquire them in bulk all ready started then expand them.

        either way its really all about developing a reproducable system isnt it. The problem has been and remains google changing the rules. Not that its an issue other than it effects the process which is a pain.

  • John Pickering says:

    Wow, great post thanks for sharing!
    I’ve been running an ecommerce site in the UK for 8 years now.. you know just a one man band thing and its been paying the mortgage.
    But, I have to answer the phone, order stock in, pack the stuff, field queries, problems, complaints and the list goes on and on.
    I started looking for a way to diversify into web properties that made a passive income about 18 months ago.
    Dabbled around with a few exact match domains, but the risk of it all stopped me diving in head first, but I wish I had anyways reading about all the fun you’ve had.
    I very rarely read the SPI email, but did so a couple of weeks back when he mention both you and Spencer of NichePursuits and I’m amazed at the content your all putting out with no holds barred.
    I still don’t know which way to turn though to be honest. Spencer is still doing nicely with his newer micro niche’s but his older ones have taken a bit of a hit, but are starting to recover. But, even Spencer is going for a more authority type site and now you guys are too.
    I’ve got to break out of the treadmill I’m on, yes I’m my own boss, but am I? I have to be here when the deliveries arrive and when the person who doesn’t trust entering their card details on the net want to tell them to me over the phone 🙂
    I’ll let you know how I get on over here in the UK.
    Cheers, John from the UK… looking to make passive income and move to a cheaper and warmer part of the World

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Thanks for joining the conversation, John!

      You can’t get much cheaper and warmer than the Philippines…come on over! hehe

      I’ve heard that ecommerce sites can be a lot of work, but you haven’t automated or outsourced some of the process? That might be a quick and easy fix for you to spend less time on if, if done effectively.

      We’re definitely not swapping to the authority site model…we don’t even know if we’re going to run with it or if it will work at all for us…but we do want to start trying it out, for sure.

  • Justin Miramontes says:

    Awesome, could definitely use some more podcasts, LifestyleBusinessPodcast has had a monopoly on my android for too long! 😉

    I’m going to be posting some sweet new SEO content in DC in the next couple days! Hope it helps 🙂

  • Joe, Justin, it was great meeting you guys in PG! Can’t wait to see where the road (mapped or not 🙂 is going to take you and your business.

    I hope you’ll have Spencer from Niche Pursuits as a guest in one of your podcasts 😉

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Ahhh..there’s the super-sharp Romanian from PG! 🙂 Was great meeting you, man…thanks a bunch.

      Funny enough, Spencer is our first guest! hehe David is down here visiting Davao right now…just got down here today…and is going to help us edit and put together the first podcast. Let us know if you ever make it way down here to Davao, man…would have a place to stay, for sure.

      • Word! You guys are one more reason to make the trip to Davao 🙂 Soon …

        Let’s hear some podcasts in the meantime … I still wonder who’s gonna have a sexier voice, you or Joe 😀

  • Brian says:

    i watched a webinar today that Matt Carter did for his new SEO course and they have smaller niche sites with PR6 rankings(in fact 1 of their case examples is was for sale on flippa this week)….they get rankings based on BACKLINKS and proper SEO…..can still have small site and get strong rankings

  • VictorPidkowich says:

    Seems the “authority” model is gaining credence. Iv been doing something similar that Iv yet to see anyone else do. I call my strategy the niche authority strategy. Essentially its in-between the 200 page authority site and the standard niche site. Usually these sites are focused around 2-5 keywords which I aim to rank for, each keyword receiving its own page of HIGH Quality content rich with related images and videos. The site is much like the niche site in that the domain targets one keyword, in this case usually the one easiest to rank for or the one where to topic most revolves around. Each site has 10-20 pages of total content and its own unique logo and theme. This is my way of combating the Google quality filter without having to wait for a massive site to get built and then ranked, and so far so good.

    I hope this helps 🙂 And Best Of Luck With The Path Choosing.

  • Dan says:

    Love it guys, really looking forward to having your stuff on my iPod… can’t wait to follow the developments.

  • Ron Haddock says:

    I think that what was important is that you both were not afraid to stop and reevaluate your current situation based on all the new information you had recently received. It is so easy to forget the split testing rule of only changing one thing at a time and then measure, otherwise what was the impact and what variable caused it.

    I really enjoy your sense of adventure and making sure you continue to have fun doing it.

    Thank you both for the valuable information..

    Ron Haddock

  • Corneea.com says:

    I’m waiting for your podcast with interest.

    Your model of business is a example for me.


  • TRENDS says:

    ALWAYS interesting to watch and learn from you guys.

    Love the idea of the podcast as it allows you to expand on ideas and several nuances that come up in conversation, that won’t necessarily happen via just writing text.

    While I’m building sites up to flip as you guys, I’ll be investing in a few authority sites as well. Doesn’t hurt to test different models if you can.

    Looking forward to the changes… Thanks as always for your tips and advice.


    • JustinWCooke says:


      I’m excited about the podcast…little worried about my non-radio voice, but I’m sure it will go over well and we’ve got some exciting people to interview in the future that will be excellent, I’m sure!

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