Justin Cooke

June 16, 2014

Welcome to our Monthly Business Report for May, 2014.

We’ve continued to go through some changes in May and while we’ve seen our top-line revenue decline to just over $34K, we’re still holding strong as the new revenue comes in at much healthier profit margins.

The goal will be to continue the transition through 2014 as we narrow down our focus to the buying/selling market and away from building niche sites.

Our thought is that by limiting our distractions, we’ll be able to provide the highest level of service to our most profitable customers.

We continue to publish these reports to both inspire you and to document publicly our successes and failures. These reports provide introspection that forces us to take a long, hard look at what we’re doing and gives us a journal we can refer to that tells the story of our journey along with successes and failures we’ve made.

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’ve bought or sold a website or business with us, we wanted to thank you for your continued support as we continue to expand our online empire.

What We’re Working On

Here are a couple of the things we’ve been up to in the month of May.

1. Hiring Our Next Apprentice

After digging through a few dozen submissions for our latest apprenticeship, we were finally able to pull the trigger and invite Mike from Chicago out to join us in building our business in the Philippines. He’s a super-sharp guy and we’re lucky to have him joining us.

The goal in bringing him out here is to improve communication with our buyers and sellers and to provide an even smoother overall experience for all of our customers. Our thought is that we could do a better job with the current buyers and sellers we already have if we make someone accountable for streamlining that communication and improving our internal processes.

2. What Do We Really Want This Thing To Be?

So now that we’re no longer building profitable niche AdSense sites from scratch – where do we really want to take our company? How are we going to grow this to a $10MM company in the next 3-5 years?

That’s something Joe and I have really been digging into the last 6 months. As it stands right now, we’re definitely in the website brokering space. We’ve found an interesting gap between what Flippa provides and some of the larger website brokers that are really looking to focus on the $500K+ range. (Quiet Light Brokerage, FE International, etc.) Still…is that all we are?

Here are what we consider our biggest opportunities:

  1. Become the #1 source for small-medium website and online business acquisitions. (Vetted listings, fair valuations, and streamlined service)
  2. Professionally managed services for experienced portfolio investors and “mini-moguls”.

The best way to do this is to become the #1 hub for quality information, tools, and resources for intermediate website sellers and investors.

I love that we’re dealing with real, everyday people in our business and not some high-level, high-powered attorneys and PE groups looking to swoop in and add to their ever-growing portfolios. Instead, we’re providing career-changing mini-exits for our sellers and allowing buyers a safer place to build and grow their online empires.

Our sellers have been able to do things like quit their jobs and focus their efforts online full-time, reinvest their profits into offline real estate and other assets, and one even used the cash from the sale to adopt a baby!

That’s life-changing stuff

Alright, time to dig into May’s Numbers:

Traffic And Audience

Here’s a detailed look at our blog traffic, podcast downloads, and list growth in May 2014.

Blog Traffic & Analytics

We’ve seen a nice bump in traffic in May with 23,950 visits – a full 3.4K from the previous month:

Google Analytics Overview May 2014

A possible reason for this is improvement in our organic traffic. (Up around 1.6K visits from April to May) That’s great to see as we’ve been working on optimizing our onsite SEO in the last couple of months.

Here’s a look at our top content pages for the month:

Losing A Lawsuit In The Philippines

AdSense Account Disabled – What To Do?

The Problem With Flippa

Monthly Report April, 2014

GA Top Content May 2014

Our marketplace and websites for sale have been getting more visits than our content lately.

Here are our top referral sources and the email subscriptions from each in May:

Google Analytics Referrals May 2014

While Twitter conversions are awfully low, we’re happy with the traffic and subscribers from places like BizBuySell, Warrior Forum, etc.

Looking at traffic and conversions from sites like Niche Pursuits, Cloud Living, Tropical MBA, Niche Site Project, and Niche Hacks just goes to show how important it is to get honest recommendations from others in your space that know, like, and trust you.

I was happy to have a chat with Yaro Starak over at Entrepreneurs-Journey.com about buying and selling websites. While podcasts don’t normally drive all that much web traffic, it was great to see such a high conversion rate – definitely the right audience! :-)

Podcast Downloads

With five podcast episodes published in May, we bounced up a few thousand downloads to 17,815 for May:

Podcast Downloads May 2014

I’ve been lucky enough to score some really interesting/fascinating interviewees for the show recently. While I generally dislike podcast episodes where the guests are “doing the rounds” to promote their latest book or product, I LOVE to help people share their stories and provide actionable advice to our listeners.

One of the most difficult things is to decide what NOT to publish. I’ve had to hold back on publishing a few interviews that I just didn’t think were good enough or the right fit for our audience. It sucks because the guest gave up some of their time to help, but our audience has to come first here, I think.

Emails & Contacts

Our total contact records are up to 16,357 at the end of May:

Contact Records May 2014

We’ve seen pretty massive improvements in our conversions over the last few months and that’s been reflected in the size of our email list. Even though I trimmed our active email list down by more than 2K subscribers a couple of months ago, we’re still seeing some growth and even more engagement from those who are currently subscribed.

Monthly Revenue

Let’s take a look at our different revenue streams to see how they turned out in May.

Brokered Sites

We had another strong month in May, selling $80,299.80 worth of websites. This brought in $13,656.45 worth of revenue to our business. Here’s a look at our overall brokering since March, 2013:

Marketplace All Time May 2014

And a look at our month-by-month growth to get there:

Marketplace Monthly brokered sites

Our focus in attracting new sellers has been paying off – we had a week recently where we were able to list five new sites at just over $190K! While that’s more than usual, we’d like to be at that level every week by early 2015. We believe we’ll have the buyers to support it as we continue to grow.

Outsourcing Clients

Our outsourcing revenue dipped to $16,759.62 in May. While we’re expecting this to bounce back in the next month or two while one of our major clients wraps up their project, we’re anticipating this dropping to very little right around August.

It’s bad timing in that we’re already dropping other projects we’re working on (Products & Services, building our own sites, etc.) but will be motivation for us to really kick some ass in the website brokering arena.

Products & Services

We brought in a total of $2,495 worth of Product/Service sales in May, most of which came through listing fees sellers paid to list their websites with us.

One of our goals has been to add a comprehensive, recurring, “website growth” product, designed to manage and run long-term growth strategies for our buyers. While we’d still like to launch this, it’s fallen behind higher priority items like improving our marketplace, our redesign, and our investment program. (Many of the elements of this product and more will be implemented in the investment program – details coming in July)

Our Sites

We still haven’t created or purchased any new sites, but here’s a look at our AdSense account for May:

AdSense Earnings May 2014

We’ll be selling off most of these sites soon to get them off our plate and to keep our team focused.

Software/Affiliate Revenue

No new IntelliTheme sales and one WP Rank Tracker sale brought in only $27.00 for the month. While we’re not looking at creating any paid or for-profit software or tools, we’re continuing to work with our development team on projects that will support our website buyers and sellers. (New marketplace, valuation tool, etc.)

We brought in a total of $458.44 through affiliate offers, most of which came from Long Tail Pro sales.

Summary

We’ve continued to see a slip in revenue, but the improved profit margins with the brokered sites has kept us out of trouble. We’re going to need to be at $200K+ per month by the end of the year if we want to hit our targets. I think that’s possible – June has started out pretty strong for us and I’m hoping we can continue that momentum.

Here’s a look at all our revenue streams over time:

All Revenue May 2014

And here are those same revenue streams without the outsourcing revenue:

Revenue Minus Outsourcing May 2014

Business Data:

  • Employees: 21
  • Apprentices: 2
  • Contractors: 2
  • Contact Records: 16,357 (As of 5/26)
  • Email Subscribers: 9,496 (As of 5/31)
  • Site Visits: 23,950

Earnings:

  • Brokered Sites: $13,656.45 ($80,299.80 in vetted sites sold)
  • Outsourcing: $16,759.62
  • Products/Services: $2,495.00
  • Our Sites: $954.12
  • Our Site Sales: $0.00
  • Software: $27.00
  • Affiliate: $458.44
  • Niche Site Guide (Amazon): $88.60
  • Consulting: $0.00

TOTAL: $34,439.23

“Case Study: Monthly Business Report for May 2014 from the @empireflippers!” – Tweet This!

How did your May shape up? Let us know in the comments – we’d love to hear how you’re doing.


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Discussion
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  1. Stuart Walker says:

    The conversion rates you’re getting from referral traffic from other blogs says it all really. It shows it’s vital to have relationships with others in the space as not only do you get some nice links and social shares but it’s converting into email subscribers and customers better than most other sources.

    Seems like a decent month for you guys.

    Thanks a lot for the mention. Appreciate it.

  2. Quinton Hamp says:

    $45k for the business you guys are running outside of the outsourcing biz, is pretty awesome.

    Congrats for finding such a needed niche to fill. Hearing nothing but excitement from those who have had a chance to sell with you.

  3. LOVE.LOVE.LOVE this line…

    “we’re providing career-changing mini-exits for our sellers”

    THAT is an awesome key message to be using and focusing on, GREAT stuff brothers.

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