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EFP 109: Quickstart Guide For New Website Buyers

Justin Cooke September 4, 2014

Most experienced website buyers can quickly determine whether a website’s right for them by relying on their own process and experience, but what do you do if you’re totally new? How do you make sure you’re not getting scammed and that this website is a good fit for you?

An Easy to Understand Guide to Buying Websites for Newbies

Today, Joe and I talk about what to look for when buying new websites (as a first time buyer).

We’ll tackle these questions and more that come in from newbie website buyers.

Check Out This Week’s Episode Here:

 Direct Download – Right Click, Save As

Topics Discussed This Week Include:

  • Understanding your buyer profile
  • The Empire Flippers deposit process
  • What to do if a deal is too perfect
  • Asking the right questions
  • Creating a plan before and after purchasing
  • Pulling the trigger on the purchase


Looking to Buy? Click to View the Marketplace

Spread The Love:

“Keep your time in mind as a cost when shopping for sites.” – Tweet This!

“Contracts are more feel-good than anything else. Don’t put your faith in them.” – Tweet This!

What’s stopping you from your first website purchase? For repeat buyers, what’s your best advice to new buyers? Leave a message on SpeakPipe or leave a comment below.


 Justin:                  Welcome to the Empire Podcast episode 109.

                                Most experienced website buyers can quickly determine whether a website’s right for them by relying on their own process and experience. What do you do if you’re totally new? How do you make sure you’re not getting scammed and this website really is a good fit for you? In this episode, we’ll tackle these questions and more that come in from newbie website buyers. You can find show notes and links for this episode at

                                All right, let’s do this.

Speaker 2:           Welcome to the Empire Flippers Podcast. Are you sick and tired of gurus who have plenty of ideas but are short on substance? Worried that ebook you bought for $17.95 won’t bring you the personal and financial freedom you long for? Hey, you’re not alone. Join thousands of others in their pursuit of niche profits, without the bullshit. Straight from your hosts, Justin and Joe from Empire Flippers.

Justin:                   All right so, Joe, it’s not much of a secret that I’ve got really big feet.

Joe:                        Huge elephant feet.

Justin:                   They’re big feet and they’re a little wide, and that poses a problem for me here in Asia. Because I go to the mall. I was in Davao, and I guess you can’t find size 13 feet. Size 13 shoes, rather. I was in the mall and I just can’t find size 13 shoes. I go to Manila, I’m still looking in the mall there. I went to like three malls and I had a selection between three different shoes I could purchase there. Not like different colors and stuff, no three pairs of shoes and that’s it.

Joe:                        Yeah I know now you’re sporting like the high top basketball shoes [crosstalk 00:01:28].

Justin:                   I got that. Last week I was actually looking online to buy some shoes and ship them to myself and I was looking at sketches and I was also looking at Zappos. And I was looking through and I had hundreds of options choose from. And I was looking for 50, 60 dollar pair of shoes, I was looking at a couple of them. I went from hundreds. I had to narrow it down. So I narrow it down to maybe 10 shoes and I was looking through them, and it was difficult to choose ’cause I just felt like there were so many options. Am I getting the right one? What if they don’t fit? I had all these questions, and I was thinking about this. It’s two 50, 60 dollar pairs of shoes. I ended up ordering two from Sketchers. But I spent probably a good five or six hours looking at these shoes. And if I value my time I would say at 100 bucks an hour, I spend five or 600 dollars just finding shoes, buddy.

Joe:                        Yeah, it’s a bit overwhelming.

Justin:                   Yeah, so that’s just me shoe shopping. That really relates I think to buying websites. If I’m having that much trouble just finding the right shoes to wear, how are you gonna find the right website to purchase if you’re brand new if you’ve never done this before? And, Joe, this is a question we get a lot. “So I’m a new buyer. This is my budget. Love what you guys are talking about, but I just don’t know what to do.”

Joe:                        Yeah, we do definitely get that and we try to walk them down the path of some common questions like what’s the budget, what kind of buyer do you fit into? That kind of thing, but yeah knowing some of these things up front would make it easier for people.

Justin:                   Yeah, so I think if we can give them a guide or a basic run through what they can do as a newbie buyer, that’s really what we’re looking to put together today in this podcast. Now, I should be clear, this is not a fully comprehensive guide. It’s not going to cover every single thing, because that’s just impossible. This can become outdated, so this might not be applicable two years from now, if we did that, if we were very specific. It’s not going to cover every buying scenario, every type of website. We can’t do that. Every website purchase is highly specific. It’s specific to both the buyer, it’s specific to the website and the type of website that it is. And we just don’t know what’s going to be right for you. But we’re hoping to do, with this podcast, to give you a framework that you can use to get your gears turning and allow you to dig deeper and answering your own questions.

Joe:                        Yeah, I think that’s the way to look at it. It starts the conversation.

Justin:                   So, in the show you’re going to find links to a bunch of other resources, and other either podcast or blog posts we put out that’ll let you dig and dive in a little bit further to really find some answers and get yourself settled and help you find a website that’s a good purchase for you. Before we do that, man, before we get into this episode, let’s take a look at your featured website listing of the week. What you got hot money?

Joe:                        All right, so it’s an eCommerce site selling digital good. It sells domains. It makes a little bit more than $3,000 a month, net. Over the last seven months about 4.2 gross with one cane expenses. Gets most of the traffic though organic an email blast, so it does have a list. Great idea for maybe a strategic purchase or something like that.

Justin:                   It’s close to our space. I mean, it’s in the website building space. We’re looking to build websites, looking for domains or PBNs with that kind of thing, this is a good fit.

Joe:                        Absolutely. I definitely think that someone in a related type industry could expand the site or just consume its list and its customers.

Justin:                   It honestly wouldn’t be bad for us. It’s something that we can buy. I think if we were still doing products and services at [inaudible 00:04:43] it would’ve been a good pick up for us also. 

Joe:                        It would be, it would be. So it has a list price right now of close to $60,000. Which is very fair for how much money it’s making. It does require a little bit of work. You’re gonna have to put some time in there, putting the domains in, marketing the site, that kind of thing, marking to the list. A little bit of customer service.

Justin:                   It’s a little bit of cost of goods. So yeah, there’s a bit of work. I think, for someone that’s really good with process or good with people, there’s probably some opportunity there for them to expand this site.

Joe:                        Absolutely. I think yeah if you can really drill down on this and set up the process and training, you could probably hire a lot of people to do this for you.

Justin:                   I see the path from a marketing perspective where you can get more involved in a specific or niche forms, getting guest post. Doing partnerships or even white labels for other people that don’t have this offering, and be able to offer it to them. I think there’s some opportunity there, so if you’re in the market or something like this, an eCommerce site that sells domains, it think this could be potentially a great pick up for you. It’s worth checking out. All right, let’s dig into the heart of this week’s episode.

Speaker 2:           This is the Empire Flippers Podcast.

Justin:                   So we’ve got seven main points we want to cover on this show, and the first one is that as a buyer, as a new buyer you need to understand your buyer profile. Here’s what we mean by that. You need to look at where you’re at and where your motivations lie. So if you’re looking for a site that is more of a passive earner and can either pay your, let’s say car payment or up to your mortgage payment or something and you maybe add a little bit of content every quarter or something, that’s different than the guy who’s looking to replace his job and looking for something he can really expand out into a business. So those are different motivations and you’re gonna be looking for different types of sites.

Joe:                        I think that this is probably the most important point. We’re doing it right up front, but it’s probably the most important one. Understanding your motivations behind buying a website is gonna make it so much easier to filter through everything out there, because let’s face it, there are a lot of options, and without this kind of stuff written down, it’s gonna make it very hard to make a decision.

Justin:                   Does this website makes sense for where you want to be a year from now, two years from now, three years from now? Is this the path that you’re going to take? And if it is then okay, then you can start looking at the details. But if it doesn’t make sense for your skill sets and where you want to go, you can ignore. Due diligence doesn’t matter because it’s not a good fit for you.

Joe:                        Yeah, and other things like time required, work required, your skill set, these are kind of things that I think that you also have to line up in terms of your buyer profile, because it’ll match up to the sites that you’re going to look at.

Justin:                   It’s not a skill set you want to learn. So let’s say that I want to learn how to take drop-shipping sites to full-on sourced eCommerce sites.

Joe:                        God bless you.

Justin:                   Yeah, now there’s a lot of money to be made there, but that’s a task. You got an undertaking, but that’d be an amazing skill set to learn because you can now take Amazon sites and take them all the way down to source product sites and make a much larger margin than you would otherwise. But let’s say you want to learn that skill set, find a site that’s a good earner that can help you learn that skill set along the way. Anyway, we got a bunch of different buyer type profiles. You can really check out Episode 72 of the podcast to really get a good fit, but we’ve got six different buyer profiles. The first is Newbie Norms. We’ve got Do It Yourself David, Lifestyle Larry, Strategic Sally, Flipper Fred, Portfolio Paul, and we’ve actually gone into detail on each one of these profiles and get a better understanding of where that person’s at and what they’re looking for.

Joe:                        It’s funny because people when they reach out to us automatically self identified with this right. They know what kind of buyer profile they are and they tell us right away. I think that’s cool. So despite these silly little names, which help you remember, but it’s probably a great episode for you to listen to if you are a first-time buyer and do need a little bit of help establishing your goals and what kind of profile you fit into.

Justin:                   This may sound like I’m pushing an agenda here, but there’s actually real value in signing up for our email list under the buyer or selecting the buyer as your interest, because you’re going to get an email that lays out the six different profiles and goes into detail in terms of what types of sites you should look for, what types of sites you should avoid. And so if you relate to these buyer profiles, I think it’s really helpful. We get a lot of feedback from that saying, “Oh, it’s so helpful. I really appreciate it.”

Joe:                        Yeah, a lot of thought has gone into this email marketing part of our business. So something that I don’t know if anybody else knows out there, but we actually segment our lists into different interests, what people would be better at getting, what kind of information they’d be better at getting. So if you’re a buyer you’re going to get only buyer type emails.

Justin:                   Yeah, and you’re going to get also any of the new websites that we list on Mondays as well. So you’ll get to take a look at all any sites that come out. Second point we wanted to mention is trust but verify.

Joe:                        My old grandfather’s saying, I don’t know if he came up with it, but he’s the one that taught me this,  trust but verify.

Justin:                   It’s so cute that you think your grandfather came up with it, that’s cute. You look up to your grandfather. My granddaddy made this up. No, I don’t know.

Joe:                        I don’t know either, but what it really means is, initially it’s like, well don’t trust it right. No, but what it means is definitely anything they give you take at face value, trust that but take it in and do your own due diligence on it, and verify it in your own way.

Justin:                   Yeah. The truth is whether it’s broker, whether it’s a seller, they’re looking to sell you something, right. So, that be very clear and another point or other thing I’d add to this is that our vetting process, right, we do a very good job I think of separating the good sites from the bad, things that meet our criteria. But our vetting process is great because you don’t have to dig through all the crap, necessarily crap right. But it’s not a replacement for due diligence, so if you’re a buyer you still have to check the sites out on your own and make sure it matches both what you want, and to double check our work, right. Because we may have missed something. It’s really important to look at that, so you need to do your own due diligence on every site that you purchase. I think any seller or broker that tells you otherwise is kidding you.

Joe:                        Yeah, you got to come into it as a skeptic, right. I mean, that’s just the best way to approach this thing. Look for reasons not to do the deal.

Justin:                   Yeah, yeah, for sure. I mean, you’re not going to go into it because if you’re so excited about doing this deal, you’re like, “Oh my god.” You have these visions of where you’re going to take it. You’re not in a good position to start really thinking critically about the site. So you need to look at it, take that hat off, take the excited I see the future for the site off and look at it with a critical eye.

Joe:                        Yeah, try not to get emotional about your decision-making process.

Justin:                   Easier said than done, but yeah. One thing you can do in that the vetting process, your own due diligence process is comparing third-party data and metrics. So if X amount of revenue or traffic is being claimed what third-party tools can you independently verify that information with? How can you independently verify information?

Joe:                        Yeah, one thing I do for sites that do have long term data, especially if it’s seasonal. I try to match it up with Google Trends and see if the trends match with what Google said, because if they have up months in the summer and Google says up months in the summer then it makes sense.

Justin:                   That’s helpful, yeah.

Joe:                        The story fits together.

Justin:                   Yeah, so you’re looking for things where the story does not fit together. Because again, you’re looking for reasons to disqualify the site, not to qualify the site. You’re not going okay, checks that box, okay checks that box. No, you’re looking for reasons to say no. As soon as you find one, especially if it’s critical reason, done. Walk away and move on to the next one. Here’s a nice little trick you can do. Ask for updated screenshot. So maybe someone faked one screenshot or they put in fake earnings or fake whatever. Ask for an updated one and maybe they forget to put in the same exact data they did before. And the scammers can be not so good. So if you can ask for updated information and it comes in and it’s not matching what was previously on there, that’s a great reason to walk away.

                                Our third point is that you can get all the info on any of the sites that we have available with a deposit. So here’s how the deposit works, basically you pay the deposit and you get everything. You get the domain, you get all the non redacted screenshots, you’re going to get analytics access, we’re going to roll out the red carpet for you and you’re going to get all the details. I think for someone who’s brand new to us that might be a little bit scary. Basically you’re thinking, “I’m putting my money at risk.” But let me just tell you we regularly accept and return deposits on a regular basis. Like our people are consistently, “Okay, refund this guy, refund this guy.” Most deposits go out within a few hours of being requested. We ask for 48 hours, but most go out within a few hours. So we’re consistently doing deposits and refunds and deposits back and forth.

Joe:                        Yeah, we’ve done, I think last month we did somewhere in the order of $30,000 worth of deposits that we refunded. So we never even saw that revenue. But yeah I mean, all the fees get refunded no matter what.

Justin:                   First of all, let’s be clear that that’s not a problem with PayPal either.

Joe:                        Yeah.

Justin:                   We’re not getting charge backs or anything. These are refunds that we’re initiating. We actually checked with PayPal to make sure it wasn’t a problem on there, is our refund rate too high or anything like that? They said, “Absolutely not, it’s not a problem at all.”

Joe:                        Yeah, same thing with credit cards. Credit cards don’t care if you refund people, they’ll give you the chargeback as well, the little percentage that they take out and they don’t care. They won’t hold refunds against you. What they will count against you is people-

Justin:                   Charging back.

Joe:                        Charging back. So, that’s the one you got to stay away from and that’s the one we never have a problem with, because we give the refund back no matter what. Even if you wired me the money, I’ll give you back the wire fee.

Justin:                   [inaudible 00:13:52] So the other thing I want to talk about is that nobody pays the fees. There’s a question about this and if the fees that come with PayPal, are you gonna get the fees back, do you guys eat the fees, what happens? Well the truth is PayPal eats the fees. If we refund the deposit, PayPal eats the fees and there’s no fees paid on our end or yours. So you get back everything you paid. In addition, there was a question about currency conversion charges. I know that experience guy, Justin was asking that of us. Like, well what about currency conversion? What happens is PayPal actually refunds at the same currency conversion that you sent the money at. So you’re going to get back the exact same amount of money in your currency.

Joe:                        Yep. And if you sent the wire and the currency conversion changed slightly, go ahead and match that no problem.

Justin:                   The other thing is a deposit shows trust. It’s going to show trust with the seller and it’s going to show trust with us, and so it’s likely to get you more information. You’re going to be able to get more detailed information from the seller and we’re also going to know that you’re serious or legit, right? That you’re down to do business.

Joe:                        This is a great way to get to sellers really involved in the process, is showing them that a potential buyer has paid a little bit up front. They’re willing to get on the phone, they’re willing to go that extra mile with questions, screenshots, screen sharing, maybe interviewing employees. We’ve seen the gamut. It really allows that processes to start taking place. With someone who might or may not be a tire kicker, it’s hard to filter that out, unless there’s a little money on the table.

Justin:                   Yeah, so our money never goes to the seller. That just stays with us. So, we’re happy to refund you. And we’re putting our name on the line, so we refund all the pods. That’s just not an issue. The fourth one I want to mention is that no deals are perfect. And this is one of those if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. So if there’s this amazingly passive site selling for next to nothing, and it’s gonna be so easy, everything’s perfect. It’s not going to be the case.

Joe:                        Yeah, I mean, that’s one way to put it. On the other hand, I would also say the site that looks damaged, if you’re not coming to Empire, because if you’re looking somewhere else and the listening is just poorly written or doesn’t provide all the information up front, it may be that the seller just doesn’t know what he’s doing.

Justin:                   Yes. Oh, that’s so true. So that’s something you can actually find on Flippa is not the brokers, not to repeat sellers for someone just to really know what they’re doing. They kind of looked into it, they spent a couple hours and said, looks like Flippa is the place to sell. So the [inaudible 00:16:14] description that’s really basic ’cause they don’t know, they’re not thinking about what information needs to be out there. Now, sometimes those are donkey deals too, but some of the gems on Flippa are that way, where it’s the person created the business or the website, they kind of built it up from scratch. They don’t sell websites on a regular basis. I don’t know what to put in it, and they just write up the best description that they can. You can find some gems that way.

                                So one of the things you can do as a buyer is to verify the income and the traffic, right. So you want to make sure, we talked about earlier, use third party tools, make sure all that information is correct. What we can do is start estimating yourself or some of the non verifiables and one of the things that we see often are there’s a debate or question about the work required, right. Because, I think a lot of times sellers underestimate the work that they actually do, like honestly underestimate. They’re like, “I put in maybe like three hours a week.”

Joe:                        Yeah, and it’s because they know how to do it so well, right. So they really optimize their time.

Justin:                   That’s true too.

Joe:                        They definitely know what they’re doing. And so they figured out how to do this thing quickly. You know.

Justin:                   What takes them three hours a week may take you 15 hours a week-

Joe:                        Yes.

Justin:                   Because you don’t know, it’s new to you.

Joe:                        So that’s why it’s the non verifiable stuff, you really have to drill down the details and kind of figure out what that is.

Justin:                   And so that’s something that we ask. So we’ll go back and forth with the sellers during the vetting process, and really kind of asked them to break down what their time is. And sometimes they start off with like three hours a week and it turns out they’re spending eight to 10 hours a week when we start to dig into how long each … They just didn’t think about it. They’re like, “Didn’t think it would take that much time.” And then they’re like, “Oh yeah, maybe 10 hours a week when I look at it.” So I think that’s helpful, but you need to estimate yourself what’s going to take you to do it because that doesn’t mean … However long it takes them, it may take you a bit longer, especially starting out.

                                I think it’s also important to keep your time in mind as a cost when shopping for deals or purchases. This is one of the big reasons we created the marketplaces that, digging through Flippa, it would take forever to find the right deal. And then even when you find a deal, trying to get the deal could take forever. So, like the time involved in finding the deal. You may spend 100 hours just trying to find the right deal for yourself and how much time did that cost you? Similar to my shoe experience, I spent so many hours shopping for shoes. It’s even worse with websites.

Joe:                        Yeah, I love this tip, Justin. It’s probably my favorite one because yeah if you spend 100 hours looking for a website that only makes $100 a month, it’s going to take you a long time to make an ROI, even if it’s totally passive it’s gonna be a long time to make any sort of ROI on that site.

Justin:                   Yeah, I think that’s why a lot of times you’ll see people that are snatching up our $8,000 sites, right? It earns 400 bucks a month, it’s on ads inside. They snatch it up because they don’t want to spend a whole bunch of time on some of the smaller sites. They’d rather put some time and … $80,000 purchase, $130,000 purchase, yes okay. They’re going to dig a little more into the due diligence there, because it’s worth their time to do so. Also Joe, one man’s problem is another opportunity, right.

Joe:                        That sounds so harsh when you say it that way, but yes. It is true.

Justin:                   Well, okay. So the featureless and the weak. We’re talking about this before the show and even during the thing is that there’s work required. There’s some things that you’re going to have to do. You’re gonna have to go and purchase them, you’re gonna do a little bit of customer service, you’re going to have to do that. Well for someone that is really good at process and really good at let’s say hiring Vas, that’s a great opportunity. Because they can cut themselves out completely. This seller is spending a bunch of time doing it himself, and [inaudible 00:19:40] process you can put someone in place to do that for you, boom done.

Joe:                        Yeah, if you have a Google penalty and you’re an SEO wiz, you know how to overcome that penalty-

Justin:                   Yeah, they’re getting crap. They’re making one 10th of what they should be making because they were penalized, and this SEO was [inaudible 00:19:53] it’s worth, I figure I had a 50/50 shot at bumping it up if I do fix that problem it’s gonna go 10x what it’s worth right now. That’s a no brainer. So what do you call that in poker, Joe?

Joe:                        Positive EV. Positive expected value.

Justin:                   Yeah, so 50% chance at tripling my money, quadrupling my money, no brainer. Done. The fifth point I wanted to bring up is you need to ask questions. One of the quick wins with asking questions is you’re going to find out whether the seller’s responsive or not. Do they get back to you? Do they get back to you in a timely manner? Do they answer your questions well? And that’s really important for a site that you may be working with the seller on for 30, 60 days to do the transfer and training. If there’s any training required or more turnover than like a typical AdSense or Amazon site, you’re going to want to know how to responsive that seller is.

Joe:                        Yeah, I think this is very interesting. You definitely have to make sure that you have some communication with the seller, I think that’s a good idea. On the other hand, there may be sites that line up directly with your buyer profile. You’ve been through this process a couple of times, and especially if you’re willing to take the risk. It may not be something that’s a nonstarter for you.

Justin:                   Yeah, I think it depends too also on your budget and where the size of the site fits in. So a larger site for you, whatever that larger site may be. Maybe it’s worth asking a few more questions. One of the things you can do with the questions is, can you find or catch any inconsistencies? Remember what we told you earlier, you need to be skeptical and you’re looking for reasons to say no. So, if for example, the seller gave one particular reason for them wanting to sell the site or traffic sources, and then all of a sudden they come up with a new story or they’re saying new things, whatever. That’s obviously problematic, right? They’re changing their story. It’s a red flag, right? Depending on what it was, it may be enough to actually walk away from the deal. If it was maybe miscommunication or something, that’s not a problem. But for the big stuff, you gotta walk. Basically asking questions allows you to just double check or look for any sketchy stuff that might pop up.

                                What kind of answers is that seller giving? If you ask about links, and they’re telling you they built these types of links and you see through third party tools they build other types of links, that may be a problem, these types of things.

Joe:                        Yeah, for the uninformed and the new, I would say if you get a bad gut feeling when talking to the seller, that’s probably something you should stay away from. Experienced sellers might know how to overcome that and say, “Oh, this guy just doesn’t know what he’s doing when it comes to that kind of stuff.” So it really depends on the experience, but for new people if it at all seems sketchy with the seller, move on.

Justin:                   Yeah, ignore good gut feelings and listen to bad gut feelings when you’re buying a site. That’s the skeptical approach.

Joe:                        That should be the title of the show, really.

Justin:                   So the sixth part I want to talk about is you should pencil a plan before purchase, ink it during the transfer. And I think this is important because we’ve seen people that they create like a 50 page action plan for what they’re going to do with the site. They’re hiring Vas, they haven’t even bought the site yet, but they’re planning. They have this huge plan for what they’re going to do and they spend all this time planning and they don’t even have a deal. They didn’t have a deal yet on this site. So what you don’t want to do again, when you’re thinking about the time you’re spending, basically the costs are spending, you don’t want to write in all these grand plans and never have an opportunity to enact them.

Joe:                        Yeah, we’ve definitely seen this a couple of times, especially people that seem to be a little almost too detailed oriented, and they get these plan going. And you have to be able to adapt the plan. And I think that that’s one of the key things about this is have something basic sketched out, but definitely leave it to the post transfer process, once it’s in your hands to make sure you drill it down.

Justin:                   Yeah, here’s my argument. Sketch on a few opportunities on a napkin, give yourself a nice basic outline. You can fill in the details when you’re closing the deal and you’re transferring the site. So in the process of transfer, you can start to really lay those out. What I would recommend though, is don’t bother purchasing if you have no idea where you’re going to do with it when it’s yours. If you just have no clue, you just kind of want to buy and see what’s happening, unless it’s a really small spend for you, I wouldn’t buy it. So you need to have something in place.

Joe:                        Yeah, we’ve tried to add into every listing what would be the potential upside for our sites and it’s something that we’re going to be putting in every new business that we list at Empire Flippers.

Justin:                   If you don’t want to run with one of those, or have your own that you at least have kind of sketched out, it’s not a good buy for you.

Joe:                        Agree.

Justin:                   You’re also gonna want to make sure you carve out some hours or time if you plan on implementing the strategy after the fact. So after you purchase, you have to be aware if you have this plan in place, it’s going to take you some time. You’re going to have to start taking the steps to implement that strategy. Make sure you have that time available. So whether that’s time away from work, time away from your other websites, time away from your wife and your kids. I don’t know, whatever your time away from, make sure that you’re able to sketch that out. Make sure you break off that time.

Joe:                        Time away from sleep.

Justin:                   Our seventh point is that once you’re sure, you need to move quickly. Now, the fact of the matter is, you’re never going to be 100% sure.

Joe:                        There’s always gonna be that little ping. That little man in the back of your head that goes, “What if this happens? What if it’s the grand conspiracy.” Kind of thing.

Justin:                   Do I need size 13 shoes or 13.5 shoes. I’m not 100% sure, but you need to have an acceptability number and you can move on it when you hit that number. So if you’re like, “Look, I’m 95% sure.” Whatever it is, and then say, “Okay, I’m gonna take a move here.” You’re never gonna have all your questions or concerns answered, you’re always going to have some … There’s gonna be some question marks that just don’t get answered in the due diligence process. One thing you could do is you can break down the major concerns or issues versus the minor. You can actually write them out. So on the left side of the paper write down your major concerns, right side write down the minor concerns. Make sure all the major concerns are answered before you make the decision.

Joe:                        The old Ben Franklin close.

Justin:                   The Ben Franklin, yeah. So on major ones, we need to cover. The minor ones, okay, maybe I can get some of that cleaned up in training or whatever, that’s not as big of a deal.

Joe:                        Yeah, setting expectations with the seller, I think. If there’s certain things that need to be clarified after maybe you would hold some of the money from the deal. We’ve done things like that, especially on large deals where we can get creative with the financing.

Justin:                   The other thing you can do is pay quickly. Now before you get mad at me for saying this is in your interest, Justin. Of course we should pay quickly, of course you want that. The real goal here is to pay for someone else does. So some of the experienced or savvy buyers that come along, they find a site they’re going to move on it. They’re going to take time to do their due diligence. They’re going to do their checks. But as soon as they’re ready to move, they’re going to snap their fingers and get it done. And that’s generally how it works. So if you’re sure, if you’re past the point where you’ve got all your major concerns covered, you need to act on that now. So, as you get closer and closer to closing, the communication needs to speed up, speed up so that you can act on it quick.

Joe:                        I think probably the number one unsatisfied thing that we get in Zendesk is, “I went to go buy the site and it was already bought.”

Justin:                   Yeah

Joe:                        And I don’t want to rush people into making a bad decision and I understand you’re very nervous the first time, but that’s why if you establish some goals and stuff up front, if it checks all the boxes you just gotta move on.

Justin:                   Yeah, make sure it answers your big concerns, your major concerns then move, that’s it. And paying quickly too, I mean you’re going to beat out the other guy that’s taken time to listen to this podcast. Another point that you wanted to make sure that I added to this, I think it is really important is that sometimes we get questions about contracts.

Joe:                        Oh, contracts.

Justin:                   We get this from buyers and they’re saying, “Look, can I get a contract in place that stipulates this or guarantees that or promises this or makes sure this happens?” And the truth is, we can do contracts and we’ve done a couple of contracts. But generally what happens is it’s more feel good than anything else. So oftentimes you’re dealing across multiple international boundaries. So what are the exact rules that are going to hold this in place? To be frank, unless you can enforce this contract there’s no reason to-

Joe:                        Yeah I mean, the seller’s from Asia. You’re the buyer, you’re in North America.

Justin:                   An Australian living in Hong Kong selling the site, you’re an American outside their-

Joe:                        Yeah, and it’s $15,000 site, about time you hire lawyers that’s all going to be taken up. So I think that it’s difficult to do these kind of things correctly. And honestly-

Justin:                   And you slow down the deal, too.

Joe:                        Yeah.

Justin:                   Sometimes the buyer will … Well, let’s put a contract in place. So I do want some legal representation. So now the seller is getting their lawyer involved, right? So now we got the lawyer balance-

Joe:                        You get in that contract hell and it doesn’t help anybody. Because really at the end of day comes down to trust and clarity, right? If you have trust in the seller, then I think there’s no reason [crosstalk 00:28:25]

Justin:                   The seller has trust in you.

Joe:                        And the seller has trust in you. There’s no reason to have a contract other than clarity, and clarity doesn’t need to be done in a formal contract. It can be laid out in an easy email or easy little one page document of whose responsibility is what.

Justin:                   Yeah.

Joe:                        The buyers are going to get-

Justin:                   Here’s what I’m expecting. Here’s what was talked about on the phone. Are we all in agreement that this is the case?

Joe:                        This is the timeline of events.

Justin:                   Yeah.

Joe:                        That’s how it’s gonna work. It’s a one page thing.

Justin:                   And that’s the point. Often contracts are really so that both sides are clear. That’s one of the points of contracts other than the fact that they’re a legally binding piece, but it’s to make it clear. It’s for clarity so you can still have the clarity peace, I still think that’s important. The contracts on the other hand, unless you have the means and the opportunity to enforce that contract, it’s really just a feel good move. And we’re not just saying this as brokers. And there are pretty brokers that regularly do contracts. We actually wrote a blog post about this. I’ll link to it in the show notes. It’s called, In Contracts We Trust. And we had an ironclad contract, we had a fantastic contract that went to shit as soon as they couldn’t afford it-

Joe:                        Yeah, and most of these brokers out there honestly are using boilerplate template contracts anyway. And who knows if they’re really enforceable, who knows-

Justin:                   Yeah.

Joe:                        If they go to court and lawyers get ahold of them-

Justin:                   Good luck.

Joe:                        They’re gonna find the little minutiae in the contract that they’re going to be able to argue and overcome. So I would say definitely don’t put your trust in contracts. Try to clarify whose responsibility’s what upfront and make sure you have trust in the buyer and seller. And I think that that’s good enough to go forward.

Justin:                   Lastly, if you miss out on a deal, if you missed it, someone snatch it up, send the money over before you and they got the deal closed before you, don’t stress too much. There’s always another deal that’s gonna come along and the other deal may come along that’s actually a better fit for you. So it’s not the hard close. “You got to do this now, or you’re never going to see an opportunity like this again.” No, there may be an opportunity next month that’s a way better fit for you.

Joe:                        I think this is one of my canned responses for a while. When we were selling our own sites at like two or $3,000 for a long time, and people were just complaining about how quickly they went, I had like a canned response.

Justin:                   There’s another one.

Joe:                        There’s another one coming next week. [crosstalk 00:30:34]

Justin:                   Better for you. Yeah.

Joe:                        So yeah, just hang in there and stick to your buyer profile and stick to making sure that that’s correct. And that you’re verifying everything that’s coming, you’re doing your own due diligence, but then once that’s happening move quickly and I think you’ll get a good set.

Justin:                   Last thing again, will reemphasize this point. Make sure you’re taking your time into account in terms of costs for miss-deals, because let’s say that like say, “Oh, it only took me say 10 hours I put in to verify this deal and close this deal. That’s not too bad. I didn’t spend too much time.” Yeah. But if you’re leaving out the other nine deals you spent 10 hours on and you didn’t close the deal, that’s 100 hours you spent to find this deal. So keep that in mind as you’re shopping. That’s one of the reasons that a lot of times if we’re going to do the due diligence, you should probably be doing larger sites because the small sites there’s not much of an ROI there if you’re putting a whole bunch of time into a $5,000 site.

                                All right. Enough about that, buddy. Let’s move into our news and updates section.

Speaker 2:           You’re listening to the Empire Flippers Podcast, with Justin and Joe.

Justin:                   The first [inaudible 00:31:36] news we got is we are completely out of the outsourcing business, buddy. Keys are handed over. Everything’s done. Turned over, business is out.

Joe:                        I just keep thinking about that scene from the Godfather Three, “Thought I was out. They pulled me back in.”

Justin:                   Are you doing [inaudible 00:31:50] what’s the deal here? It better not happen.

Joe:                        No, there’s just always little things popping up, how about this bill? How does this thing work? Give me the code to this thing. But yeah, as of yesterday, actually we are out of the outsourcing business. The office is turned over, send out the keys and hopefully there is nothing else.

Justin:                   Another thing, man, I am out of my house. I’m done. I turned over the keys. I’m out. I’m now officially as of yesterday a digital nomad. I’m actually more of a couch surfer right now. I’m actually staying in your house in the guest bedroom. So thanks for that buddy. I’ll be here a week and then I’m off to Manila and then off to Thailand. So I’m really excited.

Joe:                        Yeah, it’s gonna be cool. Kind of backpacking it while we got-

Justin:                   The suitcase is. Yeah. Well, you’re going to be out in Thailand with me in early October. They’re coming out I think October 3rd. Someone [inaudible 00:32:40] your tickets. We’re gonna get that all situated. I’m gonna get the points on my credit cards, get some miles, man. You know, I’m the whole game now. The travel hacking, so that’ll be fun. You’ve been playing with something recently.

Joe:                        Yeah, Google Keep. I kind of like it. You know, I think that Evernote has just gone a little too far over the top for note taking. It lost its simplicity somewhere along the way, especially its native apps seem slow and cumbersome and has all these options. The one big drawback with Google Keep is you can’t share notes right now. Maybe that’s something they’re going to add in the future, but you can take voice recordings which is nice. You can do transcription for you, could do a whole bunch of other options that Evernote can’t.

Justin:                   Evernote can do all those features, man. I don’t use it for that, but it can do all those. I don’t know, man. Evernote’s the bomb. I’m not convinced. That just seems like one of those toys that I would get sucked into and never use again. I share the notes for this podcast with you on Evernote, you can’t even do that with Google Keep.

Joe:                        Can’t do it.

Justin:                   I don’t know, let me know how it goes and in a month or so if you’re still using it, still liking it, we’ll circle back. The other thing is, we closed a deal with an institutional investor at the end of the month that actually brought us to basically a good [inaudible 00:33:50]. We were having a not so great August. We were able to close that deal right toward the end. It was three sites for 85,000 it was pretty cool.

Joe:                        Yeah. Me and Mike were on the phone for about three hours and we got it done.

Justin:                   You guys are closing the deal. It was funny, I was somewhere else whatever. I knew you had that big call. I went to dinner ’cause there were people in town visiting, so I want to go put on the face and kind of hang out with them a bit and we were slacking back and forth around slack. And you told me, “Yeah, we got this call coming up and we’re trying to close this deal and it all went through.” I think you said the money was wired like a few hours later, done, done, done.

Joe:                        No problem, yeah.

Justin:                   We had another guy we’re talking to later this week about the investor program that we’re looking to roll out and I think there’s a real opportunity there. The guy’s in private equity and legit. I spoke to him already, I’m gonna get you on the phone with him as well. But that looks really promising and we’ll have more info on that in the very near future. We’re still working that out. All right, man let’s move on to Listeners Shouts with the indulgent ego boosting Social Proof Segment. We’ve got on Twitter, we’ve got Chris Osborne over at He says, “I respect Jay at Empire Flippers. But if you want to see how not to design a website, you should check out his #whatthefuckyouwantmetodo.” That’s what he said.

Joe:                        Nice.

Justin:                   Not a fan of our design, dude. I’m not a fan either. In fact, we’ve been working on our redesign for so long that we just stopped talking about it. I’m mentioning it now. We went about it so long, I forget that our old crappy design is still up there because I’ve been working on this new one for so long. And, oh my God, we just need to wrap this project.

Joe:                        I don’t even want to announce the tape. We’re close. We’re so close.

Justin:                   So close and yet so far. I don’t know, we’re really getting this done. And then Chris Osborne can suck it. His comment. I hope he actually comes back and let us know what he thinks about the new redesign. Brad Evans said, “Such a good episode guys, particularly fitting as I’m sitting here at the pro blogger conference about to hear from Chris Ducker.” This is the episode about the blog being not a business. We talked how just blog is not a business, you have to actually have a business behind it. And went into some detail about that. I’m glad Brad liked that as well. The Stitcher Radio gave us a tweet man.

Joe:                        Yeah, that’s cool. You know, I’ve been using Stitcher recently to listen to a lot of podcasts ’cause it syncs nice with the web app.

Justin:                   Yeah.

Joe:                        Which is kind of cool. So you can listen to it on your computer or on your phone.

Justin:                   Yeah.

Joe:                        And it’s free. So that’s always nice.

Justin:                   Yeah, we got a tweet for episode 108, The Anatomy of a $200,000 Website. Funny story, I was at a coffee shop earlier today and I was looking up the links whatever, I clicked the link wherever Stitcher and my volume was up, dude. It was like me blaring, “Welcome to episode 108, blah blah blah.” In a coffee shop and I was like holy shit. I was a little embarrassed. I’m listening to myself like I’m not, that’s weird. It’s weird, yeah. I had to shut it down. Zendesk, we’ve got a ticket from Ben, asked about the investor program. I answered some of those questions. A totally refreshingly responsive, appreciate that Ben, we do try to get back to everyone and something that is near and dear to my heart so I’m happy to talk about it.

                                We’ve got Mike, it was that actual website buyer, the seven site package. He said, “Overall good. The only issue I had was that I asked for information on setting up AdSense and Amazon associate accounts and didn’t receive any help. So I had to figure it out on my own and one of the sites I had to pay to transfer so it was an extra $12.” He thought it was a surprise and he hadn’t planned on it. I can tell you this Mike, we’re gonna give you a $12 refund. That’s ridiculous. If you’re upset about that, we’re going to get that fixed for you, no problem.

Joe:                        Yeah I think it was one of the foreign domains that we happened to have in that package.

Justin:                   Yeah, dude. We’ll give you a refund of 12 bucks. In terms of getting you set up on AdSense and Amazon, that’s not really something we do. I mean, there are some guides out there to really kind of walk through the process. What we can do is add that for someone that’s looking to buy a site. In fact, I’d recommend if you don’t have an AdSense or Amazon account, you set that up before. To new buyers, you set up beforehand so you have that ready to go.

Joe:                        Yeah, not to make excuses Mike, but the reason why we’ve kind of down this road is because people were looking to us and saying, “Hey, can you tap your contacts at Google and get me an AdSense account?”

Justin:                   No, we don’t have any contacts. We’re not setting up your AdSense accounts. There are some we should include that that people are buying AdSense or Amazon sites to just link them to resources that talk about how to set up so they can set up on their own. But really recommend that you have that setup before you purchase the site. We got a couple mentions on a blog. We’re featured on There’s an article about choosing a niche and so you reached out to me asking about passion versus money. Some of the other responses there are really cool. We’re going to link it out in the shout out so you can take a look what some other people said. I thought it was really interesting.

                                We got a good mentioned and interview on No Hat Digital Podcast. Greg was actually interviewing Nate and he was talking about a bunch of our websites he saw, and he sold $250,000 worth of website. Sold quite a few on Flippa and we got some nice mentions there from both Greg and Nate. So, hopefully we can do business with Nate in the near future. I gotta tell you, man. I’m really liking what those No Hat Digital guys are doing. They’ve got that internship model, which basically they got different options. You can pay to play, so you can pay to become an intern and they’ll teach you and you get to own the site that you’re building right along with them.

                                Or you can actually not pay and like if you’re responsible for writing out some of their content, but they still will show you the entire process. And then they’ve actually got the thing where they bring you down to South America and you can work with them as an intern and basically come on as a full time team member. So they’re building out this agency that’s really cool, man. I like those guys are doing.

Joe:                        It’s not South America. It’s Mexico, right?

Justin:                   Oh, it’s in Mexico? I thought South America, yeah. Anyway, yeah.

Joe:                        But yeah, you gotta have him on the show. I think that would be a great interview.

Justin:                   Hayden yeah, that’d be really, really cool. I love what they’re doing. They’re actually yeah, putting in a guest post for us so we’ll have that up in not too long. But I think they’re doing some cool stuff. So I’m definitely checking out their stuff. I like their switch to from No Hat SEO to No Hat Digital, I think that’s a good move.

                                All right, man. That’s it for Episode 109 at 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 Make sure to follow us on Twitter at Empire Flippers. And we’ll see you next week.

Joe:                        Bye bye, everybody.

Speaker 2:           You’ve been listening to the Empire Flippers Podcast with Justin and Joe. Be sure to hit up for more. That’s

                                Thanks for listening.


  • Greg Nunan says:

    Thanks for the mention fellas, really appreciate that. Good luck on the digital nomad journey Justin > living the dream!

    Completely agree with your sentiments around spending (wasting) dozens of hours doing due diligence on sites to buy. Gotta put a dollar value on your time. That’s one of the fantastic benefits to what you guys are offering > most of the due diligence is done for you, high quality sites listed only and just a simple process for buyers and sellers. Filled the gap in the market perfectly.

  • First off, great episode! I listened to it while jogging yesterday and I found it really helpful as a beginner myself. Secondly, the new website is unreal, awesome job guys (I can’t get over how different/better it is).

  • Esteban says:

    Hey Joe! I love Google Keep I’ve been using it before this podcast! I had to go back to this podcast and post this comment because I remembered you mentioning that it wasn’t possible to share notes at the time! Today it was announced that you CAN share notes with Google keep. I’m so excited!

    -Esteban (I still like you better than Justin.) 😛

  • Aaron Koral says:

    Hi! This is a great episode. Great information about buying a website for the first time. Quick question: when you’re a Newbie Norm, how does someone go about creating a plan for purchasing a website, both before & after? I look forward to more episodes. You guys are great! Thank you so much.

    • Hey, Aaron, glad you dug the episode!

      We just recently put a ton of content that walks a newbie buyer through the ENTIRE process including laying out the business model, due diligence, making the offer, closing the deal, etc. You’ll want to check out Season 2 of the Web Equity Show:

      It’s 10 episodes that really walks you through everything step-by-step. I think you’ll dig it!

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