Justin Cooke

February 17, 2014

Monthly Business Report Jan 2014

Welcome to our Monthly Business Report for January, 2014!

We’ve started off 2014 strong, but we’ll have quite a bit of growing to do if we want to hit our $1MM revenue goal for 2014. We’ll get into some of the highs and lows for the month and take a critical look at where our business is at and where we plan to take it in the coming months.

We love to hear how much these reports inspire and encourage you and the feedback we get from publishing these each month is tremendous. That’s a part of why we publish these reports, but there’s also some value to us in the introspection that comes in having to take a detailed look at our business.

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 buy one of the vetted, profitable sites we have available on the marketplace, we wanted to thank you for your continued support as we continue to expand our online empire.

What We’re Working On

There were a few main focuses for us in January as we headed into 2014:

1. Setup Our Remarketing/Retargeting Campaign.

“All paid traffic starts with determining the value of a visitor.”

We knew that we wanted to get into paid advertising in 2014 and remarketing seemed a great place to start. Because we typically sell higher-ticket items, we knew that expecting a sale on first contact was unlikely. Instead, we’ve focused our remarketing campaign around promoting our brand and it’s been quite successful so far. We hired Dave Huss over at GrowthScout.com to help us with the campaign. He sat us down to dig into our metrics and determine exactly how much an email subscriber and visitor was worth to us at EmpireFlippers.

All paid traffic starts with determining the value of a visitor.

It turns out an email subscriber is worth around $15 over 6 months and we’re currently able to buy them with remarketing for around $5 per subscriber. Not too shabby! We really got the campaign going in February, though, so I’d like to wait until the first month’s complete to share all of the numbers publicly. Expect a guest post on this in the near future with an exact walk-through and our actual numbers!

2. Integrate Our New Payment Gateway (UltraCart) On EmpireFlippers.com.

We’ve primarily used PayPal buttons to accept payments in the past, but that’s not very helpful when it comes to tracking down who paid us, where they came from, etc. If we’re going to be spending more money on paid traffic in the coming months it’s going to be critical that we’re able to report on the success of those campaigns. UltraCart integrates nicely with Ontraport and will give us a snapshot on things like:

  • How much our customers have paid overall
  • Where our top customers are coming from
  • Which of our emails are the most profitable
  • Which of our market segments are most profitable

And much, much more.

We’ve mostly integrated UltraCart into our Products/Services purchases, we’re still working on adding this for site purchases. We’ve run into a snag where the data we’re collecting is not properly being submitted to UltraCart and some of the orders are being rejected. Something we’re looking to fix in February. In the meantime, we’ve directed those customers to use the PayPal link instead.

3. Completely Overhaul Our Marketplace For Buying/Selling Sites.

Originally, we built our marketplace out to only sell our types of sites. That’s why you’ll see things like ranking for primary keyword, CPC, etc. Unfortunately, this legacy system isn’t great for showing other types of sites. (eCommerce, software, services, etc.)

Joe and I have been soliciting feedback from our website buyers and sellers and sat down this last month to hammer through exactly what we’d like the marketplace to look like if we started with a clean slate. We have some great ideas that we’ll be implementing in the coming weeks/months:

  • Consolidating all listings into one section
  • 10% refundable deposit for all purchases
  • More details regarding the site for buyer due diligence

If you’d like to see a list of changes and the notes we took from this meeting, you can download our meeting notes here.

Ultimately, we want to provide a better experience for potential buyers and give them more information to help them make an informed decision.

Alright, enough about what we’ve been up to, let’s take a look at the numbers:

Site Traffic

We saw a slight bounce back from December and pulled in 19,395 visits in January 2014:

Google Analytics Overall January 2014

Aside from our main pages on the site, our top content pages were:

$3.9K/month Premium Web Development Site For Sale

Flippa’s Stealth Price Increase

Our Monthly Report December 2013

AdSense Account Disabled – What To Do

$1.8K Premium Site For Sale In The Entertainment Niche

Here’s a look at our content in Google Analytics:

Top Content January 2014

Twitter drove the most referral traffic in January. We got some nice mentions at Niche Pursuits that drove some traffic and email conversions and our interview over at TheDailyInterview.com did well for driving email subscribers.

Top Referral Sources January 2014

Podcast & Email Audience

Podcast downloads were up a few thousand in January, coming in at 15,253 downloads.

Podcast Downloads January 2014

It’s still hard for Joe and I to believe we’ve published 82 episodes and counting! Most of the downloads are through our iTunes feed, although we’ve also listed ourselves in Stitcher recently.

I’ve noticed some of our best and/or most downloaded episodes happened to be interviews, Joe and I talking about strategy, or when we mix up our show/format a bit. I’m definitely looking to do more of all three in 2014.

It can be difficult to come up with new and interesting topics each week and we find ourselves repeating some of the same concepts again and again. Still, I think the repetition is helpful and really drives home some of our main points or arguments. I know that, for me, it may take hearing something a few times before it starts to sink in…or before I see how I can apply the information to my own life or business.

Our Contact Records are up to 13,378 by January 27th.

Email List January 2014

We added around the same amount of email subscribers in January as we have in previous months, but we’re really looking to improve that number through 2014. We’ve hired a CRO contractor to help improve our email signups and purchases throughout the site and it will be interested to see how that plays out in future months. The guy is working directly for our Marketing Apprentice (Vincent) and he’s been hard at work changing around our conversion boxes and copy as we head into February.

I ended up purging over 2K of our email subscribers in January, unfortunately. I was trying to clean out those who are on our email list and haven’t opened an email in 6 months, but with the way Ontraport works I think I deleted some of those who were still actively following our stuff. Ack…

In the future, I think I’ll avoid purging our list. There’s no real value for me in doing it and I run the risk of removing those who are actively following us that Ontraport isn’t tracking properly.

Monetized Sites

Here’s a look at our AdSense earnings for January 2014:

AdSense Earnings January 2014

This continues to remain a small part of our overall revenue, although I would expect some growth here in the second half of the year. We’re working on several different types of sites and testing different traffic strategies (including an interesting Pinterest approach) that we’ll be happy to share when we have more information about their success.

Selling Our Sites

We didn’t sell any of our own sites in January. Most are either earning too little to be listed on the marketplace (and are instead sold via Empire Starter Packs) or are part of a test group that we’re keeping for a while to share results.

The lack of having more of our own sites to sell will hinder our ability to get to $1MM this year. We’re building an independent team of site builders to work only for us, have hired significantly in January and are in the process of getting them trained up now.

Products & Services

We had a decent month for sales, coming in at $6,082.00 for the month. The majority of sales were through our Empire Starter Packs and sellers looking to list their websites for sale with us. We still have some growth to do over the next few months if we want to hit our goal of $30K for Q1. I think we’re going to need new products to offer if we plan to stay on track here.

Brokered Sites

We had a great month for brokered sites, selling $85,711.02 worth of sites that brought in $12,089.29 worth of revenue to us for the month. $55K of those sales came through a premium site sale at $55K.

While our margin is fairly small on gross sites sold, the margin and profit on the $12K is solid. We’re looking for ways to reinvest that profit to grow this side of our business this year. We’re on track for hitting our goal of $240K for Q1 which is great.

Software Projects

IntelliTheme brought in $97.00 for January and WP Rank Tracker ended up with $0.00 for the month.

I’ve been working on a Website Valuation Tool in January. I’ve completed the wireframe and have the math worked out and am testing out some valuations with actual sites now. I’m hoping to have the tool launched in late February or early March.

Ultimately, this will both help people with valuations on their sites and provide a nice lead source for us in profitable sites to sell.

Affiliate Revenue

Affiliate revenue brought in $756.64 for the month. We managed to bring in an additional $113.85 through sales of our book, Building A Niche Site Empire on Amazon.

The majority of our affiliate sales continue to be through LongTailPro and remains the KW research tool we recommend.

Outsourcing Clients

“It’s frightening to look at selling off your major revenue source for the last few years.”

Outsourcing continued to bring in the largest single source of revenue for us at $27,685.30.

We spent some time in January going back through the books and making sure all revenue/expenses were separated between our outsourcing company and Empire Flippers.

We’re putting a proposal together and will likely lay out the company for sale here through a blog post in the next month or two.

It’s frightening to look at selling off your major revenue source for the last few years, but we’re spending so much on our time growing EF and see that as our future. It’s better to hand over a profitable business to someone looking to grow it than to keep a declining asset on our books when we have no interest in growing it further.

Summary

Overall, January was a good month for us but we’re going to have to pick up the pace if we plan to hit our goals this year. I’m happy with the brokered sites, but we’re going to have to grow our Product/Services and produce our own sites for sale if we’re really going to grow this year.

Here’s a chart with all revenue streams since January 2013:

Empire Flippers Revenue Chart January 2014

And here’s our revenue streams excluding the outsourcing revenue:

EF Revenue Chart January 2014

January 2014 Business Data:

  • Employees: 45
  • Interns: 1
  • Contractors: 3
  • Contact Records: 13,378 (As of 1/27)
  • Email Subscribers: 7,250 (As of 1/31)
  • Site Visits: 19,395

January 2014 Earnings:

  • AdSense: $932.36 – $1,338.84
  • Site Sales: $0.00 – $1,931.60
  • Products/Services: $6,082.00
  • Brokered Sites: $12,089.29 ($85,711.02 in vetted sites sold)
  • Software Sales: $97.00
  • Affiliate: $756.64
  • Building A Niche Site Empire Guide (via Amazon sales): $113.85
  • Outsourcing: $27,685.30

TOTAL: $47,756.44

“Check out this detailed monthly report for Jan 2014 from the guys @empireflippers!” – Tweet This!

So…now it’s your turn! Did you come up with any 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!


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Discussion
Leave a comment
  1. Haydn Symons says:

    Hi @justincooke:disqus & @magnotti:disqus,

    Wow you guys really go into fantastic detail about how many page views you receive – its great to see such transparency within a business! How come your Site Sales range from $0.00 – $1,931.60 by the way?

    Thanks again!

    Haydn – http://www.infoartblog.com

  2. Love the outsourcing revenue!

  3. Gunnar Bengtsson says:

    Thanks for helping me sell the premium site guys! Once the current deal goes through I’ll have doubled my sales through Empire Flippers in 2014 compared to 2013 – and it’s only February :).

  4. Aaron Goh says:

    Another impressive monthly report as always. I have just sold my first bundle of sites thru you guys. The sites were sold on the first day of listing! Very happy, looking forward selling more sites and thank you for providing such awesome services!

  5. Sam Dogen says:

    I think it’s fantastic you guys have 45 employees and growing. You guys are helping the local economy and directly helping people live better lives!

  6. Josh Escusa says:

    Awesome as always. You guys are really starting to earn quite a bit from brokering those sites. It’s an awesome service. Actually, this year I may have some sites that I’m hoping you can help me sell :)

    • Looking forward to it Josh, remember the $297 is refundable so feel free to submit your sites and if we feel they’re not ready we will let you know AND refund your money. If you have multiple small sites they can be submitted together as a package under one listing for one fee.

  7. Miki Vicioso says:

    Great numbers! You guys are rocking! keep it up.

  8. Rob says:

    Another solid month guys, congrats.
    As a potential site buyer, here’s my favorite line of the entire post
    “Ultimately, we want to provide a better experience for potential buyers and give them more information to help them make an informed decision.”
    Please….more eCommerce sites for sale and a little more info provided before having to pay the deposit.
    Keep up the awesome work guys, thanks

    • Thanks for the feedback, Rob. We will continue to look for great eCommerce sites to sell, but keep in mind they are usually expensive and not passive. We hope to have a new version of the marketplace that will allow us to convey a greater amount of detail on sites without giving away the goods.

      What kind of price range were you looking for in an eCommerce site?

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Thanks, Rob.

      I think it will really help. We’ve received a ton of feedback from those who just can’t get a good enough grasp on a site to decide whether to purchase or not. Right now, we’re fielding most of those questions individually which can be a bit of a drain on resources. Better to just share it publicly, better inform the potential buyers, and save ourselves some time in the process!

  9. Hey guys , excellent report .

    One small suggestion about the podcast . After more than 80 episodes you can shake up the format a little bit , especially the beginning .

  10. Brian Kiczula says:

    Congrats on a great start to 2014! Your income reports show that you are running a real business. I think that is important to all of us who to aspire to to hit that magic revenue number. Thanks for all that you do. B

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Thanks, Brian!

      What is your magic number? What do you think the cutoff or “Mendoza line” is for a real business? We’ve discussed this in a recent podcast episode and would be interested to hear your thoughts.

      • Brian Kiczula says:

        My magic number is $10K permonth in residual income. The dollar amount is going to be different for everybody but I think the residual piece is critical. As far as the Mendoza line goes in business I think it has more to do with expenses vs income. $1 in expense needs bring in more than $1 in income or it is not a real business. Once that $1 that you are spending on PPC, a VA, or whatever falls below 1:1 then it is below the Mendoza line in business.

  11. Dan says:

    Love the reports JC !!!!

  12. Congrats on a great month guys! Really looking forward to checking out the website valuation tool soon!

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Thanks, Thomas!

      Yeah, I’m excited about it. I’m trying to build it out in a way that’s adjustable – we can tweak it over time. Hopefully, the details on value will be transparent and adjustable by YOU to if you wish.

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