Our Monthly Report And Annual Review – December 2013
Welcome to our Monthly Business Report for December 2013!
In addition to our regular monthly reporting, we also wanted to share an end-of-year wrap up from 2013 with you, highlighting some of our successes and failures along the way. We’ll also share some insights into our plan for 2014 and where we’re going from here.
We love hearing about how much these reports inspire and encourage you to continue to build and grow your own online empire. That’s part of the reason we openly share this information with you, but there’s also value for us in the introspection that comes with writing these reports.
Having to take an open and honest look at our strengths, weaknesses, and growth opportunities (along with the feedback you deliver) provides us insights into our business we wouldn’t have otherwise. It gives us an opportunity to look at our business from the outside in, and (hopefully) leads us to make better-informed decisions about the direction our company should take. To be clear:
Most of the revenue comes from you.
Whether you’re a long-standing outsourcing client of ours, purchased one of our products/services, or you happened to use one of our affiliate links to buy a piece of software, we wanted to thank you for your continued support as we continue to expand our online empire.
What We’re Working On
We were able to get quite a few things accomplished in 2013. Here’s a look at some of the highlights:
- Rebranded from AdSense Flippers to Empire Flippers
- Added the ability for others to sell their websites with us on the marketplace ($240K+ in sales)
- Added Products & Services (Which led to over $120K in revenue)
- Successful launch of IntelliTheme (More than $50K in gross sales)
- Hired a Marketing Apprentice
- Limited “Niche Sites From Scratch” launch ($30K+ worth of revenue in a week)
That’s a pretty great overview of our successes, but we’ve had some mistakes and failures along the way too:
- Unsuccessful products added and removed (Site maintenance packages, mobile app wireframing, and others that failed miserably)
- Lack of clarity as to our direction with the rebranding (Our new focus on buying/selling websites)
- Loads of frustration and costs with our broken EF theme and development in general
- Failure to “move up the value chain” with niche site creation (We started in late 2013, but don’t yet have the results in)
Where We’re Going[callout]“Empire Flippers will be the #1 provider of profitable sites for sale in the $10K – $100K range.”[/callout]
We spent the first half of 2013 primarily focused on the changeover and the second half of 2013 focused on cleaning up our back-end, operational process, marketing funnels, and customer service.
Our goal for 2014 is growth and our direction is clear:
Empire Flippers will be the #1 provider of profitable sites for sale in the $10K – $100K range.
There’s a huge gap in the market here and we’re ready to tackle it. Sellers would rather not throw their site into the mix at Flippa and hope for a sale and buyers are looking for curated, high-quality listings they can review without sifting through all the crap.
Most brokers prefer to take on sites that are $100K – $300K or higher, simply because they make more money for the same amount of work. This is something we think we can tackle as we have a team of people here with us and the processes in place to make it happen at a margin that will work.
Here are a few of the things we’re working on going into 2014:
- Redesign of Empire Flippers to better explain what it is we do
- Revamping our Marketplace to provide better information to potential buyers
- Creating free/paid tools (i.e. a Website Valuation Tool) to better support both buyers/sellers
- Hiring a Marketplace Manager to provide a better experience for both buyers and sellers
- (Possibly) Selling our outsourcing company here so that we can double-down on EF
We’re heavily committing to these goals in 2014. Joe and I have both agreed to reinvest any additional profits into growth to make this a reality. We’re researching and implementing growth hack tactics and we’ll share what’s working and what’s not throughout the year.
Alright, enough about where we’re going, let’s see what we accomplished in December.
December’s traffic was much lower in December without the Reddit traffic, but we still pulled out a respectable 18,703 visits. (Down around 10K from November) For the year, we ended up with 39,885 visits to AdSense Flippers:
and 197,962 total visits to Empire Flippers:
Which brings our total visits for 2013 to 237,847 visits.
Aside from the homepage, marketplace, products/services and the like, our most visited content included:
- So I’m A Drug Dealer (Reddit traffic)
- The Problem With Flippa
- AdSense Account Disabled (And What To Do About It)
- Marketing Apprentice Wanted
- Building A Niche Site Empire Guide
Twitter beat out Facebook for driving traffic, but traffic from Facebook converted to email at almost 2-1. The WarriorForum continued to drive traffic and conversions for us in 2013. The top 3 blogs for traffic were Niche Pursuits, Flippa (guest posts), and TropicalMBA:
Based on our conversion findings in November’s monthly report:
- I’ll be spending more time at BlackHatWorld than the WarriorForum.
- We need to reach out and connect more to those in/around our niche.
- We owe Spencer @NichePursuits and Dan @TropicalMBA some beers!
Podcast & Email Audience
Podcast downloads were down again in December with 13,533 total downloads.
In reviewing our numbers overall for 2013, I see that we had 232,279 total downloads for the year. It’s odd, though, in that the downloads Jul-Sep were extraordinarily high:
I wanted to dig into this a bit to see if I could find the reason. When reviewing the data and looking at “US Markets”, it seems that Washington DC (Hagerstown) accounted for an odd amount of those downloads, when compared to markets like LA or NY.
I’m not sure the reason for this, but I’m guessing that had something to do with the anomaly.
Podcasting will remain a focus of ours in 2014, although I think we’ll be focused more on the buying/selling of sites and actionable entrepreneurial topics than the tactics around building niche sites.
Our Contact records went from 10,732 in June to 12,958 by the end of the year.
We’ll be looking to expand this heading into 2014 through interviews, guest posts, etc.
Goal: 2,400 Additional Opt-ins Q1 2014.
Here are our AdSense earnings for December:
Our total earnings in AdSense came to $18,265.91. This continues to be a lower priority for us. Most of the higher-earning sites end up sold, the lower-earning sites are included in starter packs, and the non-earning sites we typically drop when it comes time to renew the domain.
I would like to see us add additional monetization methods to some of our created sites or to purchase some sites with varied monetization as we head into 2014.
Selling Our Sites
We sold $1,931.60 worth of our own sites in December, down a few thousand from November. It was interesting to see how December would play out. We thought we might get more buyers looking for tax breaks as they head into 2014, but that didn’t happen for us this year.
In 2013, we ended up selling a total of $40,940.80 worth of our own sites.
Products & Services
Sales were down to $2,313.00 in December – not terribly surprising with the holidays. We’re expecting this to bounce back in Q1 of 2014 as we continue to grow our traffic, email subscribers, etc.
We ended up with a total of $120,090.00 worth of revenue overall for 2013. This turned out to be a fantastic revenue stream and we’ll look for this to grow this year as well. We’ll continue to add and test new products, keeping those that are winners and dumping those that don’t seem to stick.
Goal: $30K Product & Services sales in Q1 2014.
We didn’t have any brokered sites sales in December – they all seemed to fall in late November and early January.
We ended up with $271,453.49 worth of brokered sites sales for all of 2013, bringing in $42,276.82 worth of revenue. While this is less than some of our other revenue streams, we see the most potential here and this will be a main focus of ours in 2014. Much of our expansion will be focused on brokered sites and the marketplace as we look for more quality sites for sale, find qualified buyers, etc.
Goal: $240K brokered site sales Q1 2014.
IntelliTheme brought in $194.00 and WPRankTracker brought in $141.00 in December 2013. We don’t have any paid tools or software projects that we’re currently working on.
For 2013, IntelliTheme brought in a total of $22,500.97 (not counting affiliate payments and launch commissions) and WPRankTracker brought in $1,546.00. These were fun side projects for the year and we learned a bit, but we think this work may have distracted us from our main objectives.
We brought in a total of $848.38 worth of affiliate revenue in December and pulled in $10,855.70 for all of 2013. ($1,788.52 of which was through sales of “Building A Niche Site Empire”, which I just ended up throwing into affiliate revenue.)
While we appreciate those who have chosen to buy the products we recommend, this continues to not be a focus for us. We may start creating some affiliate sites in 2014, but that revenue will be tracked above under Monetized Sites.
Outsourcing brought in the majority of our revenue for December, coming in at $30,247.91.
We ended up bringing in $345,264.28 for all outsourcing revenue in 2014.
Joe and I have been recently discussing selling off our outsourcing company. We like the idea since it will let us focus primarily on the EF side of things in the future and provide a cash injection to promote that growth. It will also let us turn over this stable company that we’re not as focused on to someone more interested in growing the business.
There are a few problems with this, though. It’s NOT a hands-off, run-from-anywhere business like a website. Our outsourcing company includes assets, office space, etc. This would definitely require someone on the ground here in Davao to run things.
We’re not fully committed to selling this quite yet, but it’s something we’ll be looking at over the next couple of months. If we do sell, we’ll be happy to list as a premium listing and fully share all of the details regarding the business for prospective buyers.
While December was a pretty slow month aside from outsourcing revenue, I’m really happy with what we were able to accomplish for 2013 and I’m looking forward to some serious growth as we head into 2014.
Here’s a chart of all revenue streams in 2013:
And a look without including outsourcing revenue:
December 2013 Business Data:
- Employees: 39
- Interns: 1
- Contractors: 2
- Contact Records: 12,958 (As of 12/31)
- Email Subscribers: 9,743 (As of 1/8)
- Site Visits: 18,703
December 2013 Earnings:
- AdSense: $1,338.84
- Site Sales: $1,931.60
- Products/Services: $2,313.00
- Brokered Sites: $0.00 ($0.00 in vetted sites sold)
- IntelliTheme: $194.00
- WPRankTracker: $141.00
- Affiliate: $682.43
- Building A Niche Site Empire Guide (via Amazon sales): $165.95
- NicheSiteGold: $0.00
- Outsourcing: $30,247.91
- Consulting: $0.00
2013 Business Data:
- Site Visits: 237,847
- AdSense: $18,265.93
- Site Sales: $40,940.80
- Products/Services: $120,090.00
- Brokered Sites: $42,276.82 ($271,453.49 in vetted sites sold)
- IntelliTheme: $22,500.97
- WPRankTracker: $1,546.00
- Affiliate: $9,067.18
- Building A Niche Site Empire Guide (via Amazon sales): $1,788.52
- NicheSiteGold: $147.00
- Outsourcing: $345,264.28
- Consulting: $2,780.00
“Check out this detailed monthly report for Dec 2013 from the guys @empireflippers!” – Tweet This!
So…what do you think? Did any of this give you ideas to help you grow your business? How does this compare to your business and what you’re working on? We’d love to hear your thoughts – please leave a comment below!