RMRB 50: Building an Authority Site with Multiple Revenue Streams
This week Mike Swigunski joins Jim to discuss building an authority business in the photography niche. This is an advertising, info product, digital product, subscription, affiliate, and Amazon Associates business created in April 2010. The aged business features a variety of content for photographers, has a strong social media presence, a large email list, and requires minimal work from the Seller.
Check Out This Week’s Episode:
Mike: What if you could cut through the noise in the online business world and learn from someone who has built a real business. We verified the numbers and combed through the P&L. This is not only a real business but a real asset that people want to buy. We’re going to pull the curtain back and give you the insights this entrepreneur has discovered that you can use to level up your knowledge, whether you’re looking to buy a business or looking for inspiration to take your current business to the next level.
Mike: Hey listeners, welcome back to The Real Money Real Business Podcast. This week I’m going to be looking at a mixed monetization business that was created in April 2010 and is already making $12,603 per month in net profit. The business also has a strong social media presence and a large email list. Thanks for coming on today, Jim.
Jim: Hi, I’m glad to be here.
Mike: Yeah, I’m really excited to dive deep into your business and talk about this really nice brand that you’ve built. Now, I’m just going to give a quick summary. Now, the business was built in April 2010, has a monthly revenue of $12,873, expenses of $269, a net profit of 12,603. And there’s a lot of assets included in this sale. Primary domain with site content and files, the secondary domain with an info product subscription and an additional older or misspelling domains, social media accounts, payment accounts, a mobile app with content files and a email list. Now Jim, can you tell me a little bit about your background in building and running online businesses?
Jim: Yeah, I started this website, I mean, it’s almost a decade old this site and it was one of my very first. And I ran this site as my full-time income for many years. And then like most of us do, we start other businesses and other websites and that’s what’s led me to selling now is I just have another business that has really ballooned and just it requires all my attention. So that’s kind of my history in doing it.
Mike: Oh. And so, how did you come up with the idea to start this business? Is this a hobby or something that you were interested in?
Jim: Yeah. So, the site’s about photography and I was teaching a local photography class and I created the site just to communicate with my class. And then you notice tens and then hundreds and thousands and hundreds of thousands of people coming to the website. So, I kind of started a business once I started… people started coming to the website. It’s almost a decade old now, this website. And so, it started really simple but quickly became my full-time income for a long time.
Mike: And did you start out with the idea to make money from the get go or was it something where you were just like, “Oh, this is a cool hobby,” and then decide to monetize it later on?
Jim: I don’t know really. I mean, I don’t know how much I believed in myself to get it started. So, I’m not sure if in the back of my head I was saying, “Maybe this could be a business,” or if it really was kind of truly accidental as I was just kind of sharing things. But either way, it took off and it’s been great.
Mike: And so, how does it primarily make money? I see that there’s a lot of different ways it’s monetized.
Jim: Yeah, that’s changed a lot over the years as technology has changed. Right now it’s primarily making money with ads, which is awesome because it’s really consistent and you don’t have to really do anything to get that. However, by far the place where I’ve earned the most money over the years has been the info products on this.
Jim: So there’s a membership site that’s there and it’s like it’s barely even promoted on the main site right now, but it has tons of courses by some really well-known excellent photographers that we have recorded the courses on there. And that’s the only place they are on the internet is on that membership site.
Mike: Wow, that sounds really cool.
Jim: The membership site is a big one. And then also you can buy the courses a la carte on the website. But right now the main monetization is ads because I’m just, for the last year and a half, I just have done nothing at all on the business. I’ve just been busy with the other business.
Jim: But man, the opportunity is definitely with the info-products because there’s large social media accounts, large email, a lot of traffic, and it’s just need some promotion on those courses as well. That’s where I’ve made the most money over time. But right now I just don’t have the time to be doing it.
Mike: Right. And so, how did you choose the business model? Did you just try a bunch of things and the info products just really took off, or was it kind of you started with one and just started adding in things?
Jim: Yeah. I mean, I’ve tried a lot of different ways to sell the info products. You know, if I wanted to do email out a lesson each day or if it’s just buy these videos and we’re done with you, or if it’s a membership, et cetera. And each has had its merits, but I feel like the a la carte, just purchasing a class, it definitely has merit, especially if you’re going to advertise that a little bit on YouTube. There’s definitely opportunities to take some shorter clips from those courses and put it out on the YouTube channel, which has I think 55,000 subscribers. And then have that as a way to advertise the course as well as of course on the email list. We’ve had great success with the email list when I was using it.
Jim: So, a lot of different ways to do it. I have tried other things, selling template files, I guess we might say it to be a little bit cryptic, I guess. You could see when you put your deposit in on the business. But a lot of different types of info products we’ve done, but just the instructional videos I think work well for photography because it’s an art. There’s a lot to learn. People kind of expect that they’re going to take a class to learn. And so, it makes it a fairly easy sale.
Mike: Right. And so, it sounds like this is a pretty big passion project that you’ve built up. So, why did you decide to sell the business?
Jim: Yeah, for a long time I never thought I would. I thought this would just be my career, but I started a different business on the side, just like we all do. Starting more websites, when you see one working you’re like, “Ah, but I also want to do this.” And so, I started another one and it has just re-exploded and we have multiple employees. It definitely requires my full attention and it’s under a different LLC that I run with a partner. And so, it just doesn’t work for me to divert my attention from our main income, our main business on this other business anymore. So I’ve got to sell it.
Mike: Right. Yeah, it’s hard to split your time in a bunch of different ways. So, as far as things that worked really well on this business, was there anything that you tried and it just worked really well and you can apply it to your future businesses?
Jim: Absolutely. So, the biggest win we’ve had is when I created these template files for photographers and I put it all on a bundle. They got a little video course and these template files for photographers and a little eBook or something. We just took those things and we did a Black Friday Sale where we just sold it for 40 bucks, this little package.
Jim: And with the traffic we get, the email list, everything. I mean, it exploded. I mean, more than one year we did over a hundred thousand bucks, just that Black Friday week just with that big sale. And we ran Facebook ads to it as well to help it back when Facebook ads were a little bit cheaper.
Jim: But so when the Facebook ads got more expensive that now they are, that did taper off. We didn’t sell as many, but even just with the amount of photographers we can reach, I just don’t have the time to be running that kind of sale anymore. But that’s always been a big hit for us is a huge flash sale on something incredibly cheap with a ton of high value on Black Friday.
Jim: Black Friday is our day after Thanksgiving. If you’re not in the United States you may not be familiar with it, but a big shopping day anyway.
Mike: Wow, it sounds like a really cool bundle. Is that still available or is that something that you could provide to the new buyer to sell later down the road?
Jim: Yeah, we have all the products and stuff. It just, somebody needs to run it. I mean, one time we did it and it earned $250,000 in a week.
Mike: Oh my God.
Jim: And that was several years ago. You shouldn’t have expected that kind of quick win on it because we haven’t been continually advertising, and Facebook ads were cheaper, et cetera. I want to make sure you have correct expectations, but we’ve done some really cool things with those bundles and big flash sales. And we have so many info products in the membership site that you could just package up in different ways and sell and advertise to the audience that I think is a really cool opportunity.
Mike: Yeah, it sounds like a great opportunity for a new buyer to just update those bundles and the proof of concept’s already there. So, I’m sure you could provide them some best practices to make a bundle system sort of work.
Mike: And so, on the flip side though-
Jim: I would say-
Mike: … oh go ahead.
Jim: I would say, more than half of the products in the membership site, we have a lot of courses and template files and things like that that just aren’t even mentioned on the main site that gets all the traffic. And so, you find it when you become a member of the membership site, but there are a ton of products in there that could be sold and bundled in different ways and advertise to the large amount of traffic the site gets.
Mike: Yeah, that’s definitely a big powerful asset to have to be able to repurpose some of those bundles and other offers that you already have invested time and money into creating. So on the flip side, Jim, maybe something that you tried that just didn’t work very well on this business. Was there anything that didn’t go well?
Jim: Oh man, that’s a big one because… Oh man, I feel like I’ve failed so many times over the last decade in trying things. Here’s one that I think is especially pertinent to this business. Selling an info product to hold to traffic is hard these days. People, if they’re going to buy an info product from you, they want to feel like they know you a little bit.
Jim: And so, you have a huge amount of volume and you want to sell them $100 info product, well, somebody just googled something about photography, they end up on your website and they’re reading their answer to their question like… And then in the blog post to just suddenly says, now whip out your credit card and give me $100 for this course. Yeah, your conversion rate is going to be, that’s going to be a low converting item.
Jim: And so, as that technology… as YouTube and things kind of took off over the years, I noticed that method just didn’t work as well. And so, I definitely saw a huge reduction in sales from just cold traffic on the website to suddenly buying an info product. And so, I had to learn that you need to put a step in the process. You go from the blog post to your email list and you email them several times and make the pitch. You go from the blog post to your YouTube channel where they see several of your videos, see the high quality and then they buy the info product, things like that.
Mike: Yeah. There seems like nowadays you have to have a multi-touch against all the platforms to really make it successful because people are, they have different intentions and different buying intent, especially on depending on what platform. But I feel like email is definitely a powerful thing to have and it’s impressive to see that you guys have a fairly large email list established.
Jim: Yeah, and another bit of info kind of include there is what we did find some success with there on the cold traffic, because we have so much cold traffic that’s just not monetized well right now at all. I took a few of those blog posts. And I took one of the info products that’s worth a lot more, but I just said it’s like 15 bucks. It’s just like really cheap to just do high volume, low dollar amount. Right?
Jim: And it actually worked pretty well. I tried price comparison between, from that cold traffic to the course for sold for a hundred dollars compared to 15. And of course, we made more sales at the $15 price point, but we also just made a lot more money that way.
Jim: And so, that is an option is just fire sale on the products because it doesn’t really cost you anything to sell it to them. And so, if you have the traffic and you have the products, then I mean, hey, turn this thing into a fire sale, make those products so cheap that it’s kind of a no-brainer even if you are on cold traffic.
Mike: Yeah, that’s definitely one of the, it seems like the more popular method now is to have a trip wire product where it’s around $15-20. And then once they’ve bought that, they’re already familiar with your brand, they’ve been a little bit… They’re not on guard as much and you can upsell them to different products and different services that you’re offering.
Jim: Yeah. The upsell here is so obvious, but I just haven’t done it is the membership site. So right now like there’s really nothing pushing anyone new to the membership site at all. I had several thousand people in the program and it’s just tapered off as I’ve just done nothing in the business for a year and a half, almost two years I’ve done just nothing in this business at all except answering a couple of customer service emails, which my son does for me.
Jim: So anyway, but the obvious upsell I see is take the info products, make them cheap, make it a $15 sale, you could get a lot of sales there because there’s a lot of traffic on the site. And then the email follow-up is go join the membership site where you’ll get everything we have and maybe even a discount since they’ve already bought one product or something like that.
Jim: Anyway, we saw a pretty good decent retention rates on the membership site. But right now there’s just nothing funneling new people into it. And so that would be a, I think, reasonable way anyway to get that, the top of the funnel working again.
Mike: And so right now as far as traffic is, where’s the majority of your traffic coming from?
Jim: It’s almost all Google. We used to get a lot from social media, Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube, et cetera. But again, I just, I have done nothing in the business for a long time. And so, it’s pretty much all Google organic traffic.
Mike: So, in terms of marketing, you’re just doing organic, you’re not really utilizing your social media channels or anything like that?
Jim: No, I haven’t made a social media post for this business in a long, long time.
Mike: Oh wow. Well, that’s definitely a low-hanging fruit for a new buyer to just have somebody managing the social media accounts and creating new content. I think that would it helped drive a lot more traffic that’s already coming from organic.
Jim: Yeah. And the Facebook page has a huge following over half a million. But I don’t know, I mean, Facebook I haven’t had great success with in the last few years with them just actually showing posts. I think things are actually improving now because Facebook’s kind of wised up to, “Hey, we’d kind of alienated a lot of people from the platform by doing that.”
Jim: So, I think things are improving on that front. But the one that is just red hot for us in my other business right now is YouTube. I mean, just red hot. We’re seeing such success there. Like even from pretty medium-sized YouTube channels, not even massive ones.
Jim: And so, I think whatever, 55,000 subscribers on YouTube to this business, this photography business. Even if you don’t feel comfortable to be on video teaching photography, if you do, fantastic. But even if you don’t, like just taking those clips from the videos that we already have, I think it could just be such a great advertising vehicle because when somebody spent 15 minutes with you, that’s just, they just convert at a very different rate than anything else that we’ve seen.
Mike: Hey listeners, do you want to find a business that is just right for you, head on over to Empire Flippers and have a look at our marketplace where you can see real businesses making real money, just like the one we’re looking at today.
Mike: In fact, don’t miss out. Head over now, share your email address and we’ll send you hot, fresh new listings of successful businesses every week to your inbox. Now back to the interview.
Mike: So, in terms of opportunities for growth, would you say YouTube’s probably the biggest one out there?
Jim: I think it is a big one. I would say the easiest low-hanging fruit is just man, just take those products and get them on the website so they are sold. Make it sold to every blog post at the very end. I think it’d be cool to have a little timer and just run a weekly sale on something.
Jim: It’s like Office Depot that half of their stuff is on sale one week and then the next week is the other half of their stuff. Grab a product just to have a sale going every week, because this is cold traffic. They probably aren’t going to be back the next week. You know, be honest about it but have something for sale.
Jim: Get people in there that every blog posts they come to, they see some manful product for sale. So, I think that’s the easiest low-hanging fruit that’s just… It pains me that I haven’t done that. And then they sell, then they get into the autoresponder to convince them to join membership sites.
Jim: So, I think that’s probably the easiest. Actually what I would consider the second biggest low-hanging fruit in the business is something we haven’t talked about yet. And that is we have an app for photographers. So, the app itself is earning some money, but it’s not huge. It’s kind of, it’s there.
Jim: But the reason that I started this project and I started the project like not too long before I stopped working on this website and I had to focus on my other business. But I created an app for photographers about the best photography locations, like the coolest places to take a picture. So Instagrammers, et cetera, are interested in this. They want to know where’s the cool place, right?
Jim: So, people have submitted thousands and thousands of photo spots all around the world. And the app, again, it’s okay. It works, people are submitting, but the real value is the data that’s in there. Now we have all those locations with GPS coordinates and descriptions and stuff, but that’s not on the website.
Jim: And so, just having a developer that could just, I mean, I don’t think it would cost that much because the database is already there. But you could just, in an instant, if you hired a developer to do it, you could have them create hundreds and hundreds of pages now that are best photo locations and Boise, best photo locations in Sweden, best photo locations in Austin, et cetera. Just by taking the data that we already have, the data and the photos and the descriptions already there.
Jim: And so, I think that is major low-hanging fruit. We’ve had really good success with articles about photo locations in the past. And so, that’s always been my long-term play with that app is the data is what’s valuable. But again, I never got to that part. And so, I actually see huge value there. But again, you know, it’s a project you’d have to invest a little bit in. It’ll take several weeks to get something like that. Maybe even a couple months to get something like that set up. But I do feel like traffic-wise, that can be mega.
Mike: Yeah, it seems like, just like you mentioned, just taking that data and having somebody turn those into blog posts for SEO improving the organic. I mean, that’s going to be a great thing or even adding those locations to the member area would be a big upsell.
Mike: So, as far as risk are concerned, it seems like the majority of traffic’s coming from organic. Is there any other risks besides Google update or something like that a buyer should be aware of?
Jim: Yeah. So, let’s talk about that. I do feel like that is the biggest in terms of risk. But I will say I am as vanilla as it gets on SEO. Like I do no link-building, period. Like I just don’t do that. I don’t even do guest posts, nothing black hat. On every site I build, I build them clean.
Jim: And so, I don’t think there’s a huge risk of like, or there’s not as much risk as a lot of other websites coming from organic, especially where it’s a decade old site. You establish some credibility with Google. Right? But what I will say is that traffic is aging. You know, as you look at the analytics, traffic has gone down a lot over the last couple of years. You can see, like as soon as I just stopped all promotion of the business, you can see a decline from there.
Jim: And so, I don’t think this is the type of business that you buy as an annuity that you just buy it. And it’s just, “Great, I’m just going to earn this money forever,” exactly what it is. I think this is the business where you see what it can do, and years pass. You know the huge opportunity there and it’s just badly neglected right now.
Jim: And then if you see those easy wins that we’re talking about and you say, “Hey, I can do that,” then you could see a huge upswing. Especially with also with the traffic, you have this photo locations if you want to do that project to bring things up even more.
Jim: So, I think the traffic is the biggest concern in the business because it’s going down. But there are reasons for it and there are ways to address it and turn that into a positive to see the uptrend in the traffic. But I would consider that to be the biggest risk or concern whatever in the business.
Mike: Yeah. It seems like, I mean, Google obviously is considering your, this website more of like an authority site. So I think, because it is age so well and there is a lot of high quality content that it’s literally just going to take somebody to continue adding content and building it out. I mean, I’m sure stuff will be ranking fairly easy because you have such a good domain authority.
Jim: Yeah, I would hope so. On a site that’s had this much of a following for that many years, I would think that wouldn’t be too much of an issue.
Mike: Right. And so, as far as the work required to run the business, I know you had mentioned that it’s pretty much been neglected. What type of work are you doing? Is there, you know, a few hours a week maybe? Or are you doing anything?
Jim: Not even that [inaudible 00:21:40]. My 10 year old son answers about one email a day for just customer service or something. You know, double charged my card, I didn’t get the product, whatever or something like that. And that is literally it for a long time that’s happened in the business.
Jim: I did have some writers that like freelance writers that I’d just put something on the website, you know, “Hey, if you want to write for us, I’ll pay you,” and just kind of banner across the top and got a ton of applications. And I had writers and they were picking their own topics. And eventually I just stopped that many months ago just because I just didn’t have the time to be saying like, “No, this is the keyword research. These are the articles I want you to write.” And so, they were just writing off the wall stuff and it just wasn’t going to be working.
Jim: So, I think if you wanted to start producing content again, I mean getting writers, I usually pay two to three cents a word, really cheap and just put a banner on the top because there’s so much traffic that you can get interested photographers to write for you.
Jim: I think it’s important that the website owner does the keyword research so they’re writing articles that actually would make sense or getting traffic because they don’t know that stuff, they’re just into photography. Right? But I think doing that could really help. But anyway, the work happening in the business right now is nada.
Jim: What I would do if I were buying this business today is man go Blitzkrieg on this for a month and do these optimizations that are very low-hanging fruit with the products, with the funnels, et cetera. And I mean, I would hope it’s going to bring you a really fast, nice return given the amount of traffic that it has.
Jim: And then after that kind of Blitzkrieg period, like just get into a publishing routine. Get a few writers that write for you, you make them a hit list of articles every once in a while and they just pick them off one at a time. It’s not an active business where it needs your constant attention.
Jim: I mean, it could be if you wanted it to be your full-time job, it could, but there’s nothing super active in the business to be doing. So, if you wanted it to be very passive, it could be just that for a short amount of time. There’s some fix up to do if you want to get a quick return.
Mike: Right. And so for a new buyer, do you think there’s essential skills that would be required to buy this business?
Jim: I mean, it would be cool if you knew photography and you could take over the YouTube channel and just go crazy at it like I did for years. But I don’t think that’s necessary. I mean, we have so many products, it would be silly to create another info product. We have excellent high quality courses from some great photographers in there that can already be sold. I mean, I would be cautious about somebody doing this as your very first internet business, you’ve never done anything before.
Jim: I’m always a little bit hesitant about that. Buying a bigger site for something like that because there’s just so much that you could mess up and you know, you don’t have a backup of your site, whatever. And the server goes down sometimes, it’s just things like that. So, very beginner, I might start a little bit smaller, but I don’t think you need to be a photography anything in order to run this.
Mike: Right. You just need some type of management skill to get things up and running again and then continue to grow the business. So yeah, that’s great. I think there’s going to be a lot of interested buyers in this. Just a few-
Jim: Yeah. And the other thing, sorry. The other thing I would mention about skills is this is one where you really don’t need a whole lot of technical skill. I’ve worked with some buyers on other sites I’ve sold before that were nervous, “Oh, how can I run the WordPress and the plugins and stuff?” And I’ve definitely bought some businesses that just had a rat’s nest of technology. This is like vanilla WordPress, simple theme, very few plugins, like no custom code. Like it’s very easy to run in terms of the technology.
Mike: Yeah, that’s great to see that some of these businesses can get overly complex. So, it’s good to see that you’ve built something that’s fairly simple to manage.
Jim: Yeah. Especially how I have it done now. I mean, where I’m spending no time like, yeah. To have the status quo will take almost nothing. It’s just a matter of do you want a quick return? Well, then there’s low-hanging fruit for you to go after.
Mike: Right. And as far as support goes or how much support are you willing to offer a buyer?
Jim: I can’t remember what I put in the actual listing, but I’ll want to get you set up. I think I said we’d do two Skype calls. Oh yeah, here it is. Two Skype calls and 15 days of email support. But I’m not going to leave anybody high and dry. I don’t necessarily want to mentor you for six months, but I want to make sure you’re taken care of and you understand how the business runs.
Mike: Yeah, at the end of the day it seems like you want this business to really succeed. So, you’re willing to offer some support to make sure that they’re set up to succeed.
Jim: Yeah, it would be a shame not to. You know, I’m grateful that things have grown for me and I’ve, you know, working on my other business now. But man, this little website has done a tremendous amount for my family for almost a decade and it really does mean a lot to me.
Mike: And so, would you be able to commit to a non-compete?
Jim: Yes, I can. The reason I want to put a caveat on that is we do a huge, huge, huge amount of content in my other business, and I don’t have any other sites that are about photography. But if I have a site about whatever, hiking and I on that site somebody, one of my writers write something about photography tips for hikers, just one of the articles, I don’t want the non-compete to be written in a way that stops me from being able to just run my business because we do a lot of others. But if I wanted to do a site about photography, I would just use this one. So yes, I would do it, but it would need to be worded correctly to not prevent me from running my business in a normal way.
Jim: Because I do have a lot of other sites.
Mike: Right. And as far as an earnout, is that something that you’re open to where they provide 80 to 90% of the cash up front and then the rest over a period of time?
Jim: Yeah, I mean, possibly. Obviously cash is king. Everybody wants to get it done. It is important to me that I can sell this and move on. That’s the whole purpose of it. But yeah, I mean, I can be reasonable and make something work.
Mike: Okay. Anything else that you know, maybe I had missed that you would like to discuss?
Jim: No, I think we did it. I’m excited for whoever picks it up and hope they do great things with it.
Mike: Awesome. So, is there anyone who inspired you while you were building this business that our listeners might reach out to or listen to as well?
Jim: Yeah, but it probably won’t be a surprise to anyone. So, quick story time. When I started this business, I had just graduated from college and I couldn’t find a job. I was going into law school, I was in law school when I started this business, but that several months, six months between my bachelor’s degree in law school, we had no money. My wife and we just had barely had a new baby and we had no money.
Jim: I was working at the dollar store for minimum wage, working nights stocking the shelves. I mean, we were poor. Living in a hotel, our car broke down. It was awful. And I realized later, many years later that I had an incredible blessing that I didn’t even realize at the time was like every night I’d fall down on my knees after I got home from work and I was like, “Please make this end. I hate this.”
Jim: But the real blessing of that time was I was working a mindless job and I got to listen to podcasts. And I listened to Internet Business Mastery and Pat Flynn didn’t even quite have a podcast yet, but I used to get his blog posts. I had a program that would convert them to PDF and then from PDF would read it in like a mechanical voice.
Jim: And then I’d save the MP3 to my little MP3 player. I was just eating up everything internet marketing. And so, even though those are obvious, people have heard of those businesses before. I mean, it completely changed my family’s life for the last decade. And so, I’m very grateful to them for getting the start.
Mike: Wow, that’s really powerful. Yeah, Pat Flynn is a great podcaster and a great person to check out. As far as other advice that you wish you knew when you started, what type of advice would you give people who are looking to start out?
Jim: So, in my other business I work with a lot of people who are just starting out their websites. And as I’ve worked with thousands of people starting websites, the number one thing that is are you going to be successful or not, is if you’re expecting problems and willing to get past them. I know that’s just kind of philosophical and not like some super ninja tip.
Jim: But man, you can totally see it in people. You know, some people work on their website for three months and they’re like, “Oh man, I have no traffic from Google. This is just isn’t working. I’m going to have to try something different.” And they leave it. And it’s like no, stop. Google doesn’t give you significant traffic to a three month old website. It just won’t, it’s going to be dead.
Jim: You may be doing all the right things and it may take eight months to a year for Google to really start noticing and then all of a sudden that content you wrote eight months ago starts taking off. And so, just play the long game, be sure of your strategy. And when you face a problem, find a way around it. But don’t start a new website, a new podcast, a new YouTube channel every three months when it seems like you’re hitting a little bit of a wall. Just stick with something and you’ll probably get there.
Mike: Yeah. I think that’s a really common thing in this industry is the shiny object syndrome where people are like, all right, they hit one speed bump, onto the next thing. And yeah, that’s really good advice to people listening to this is it takes time. And things are getting more competitive and might even take more time in 2020 than it took in 2019 to get stuff ranking.
Mike: So, it really does depend on like your business model and how you’ve structured it. But I think there’s definitely a big waiting game. This is the best thing to say and you have to just keep powering through it.
Jim: Yeah. Another thing there is you talked about the shiny object syndrome. Oh man, I have it bad. Bad. And it really hurt me for several years because, this is what happened. I had one photography class, it was earning money. I was excited about it. I mean, it just felt like I won the lottery. Right? Like the first time you earn money online, you’re so excited. Right?
Jim: And so, it was doing well. I think it was earning like 10,000 a month, which for me at the time was like [inaudible 00:32:06]. and then I said, “Well, what photography cost is 10,000. I’ll make two photography classes,” right? And for the first few months after the new course, things actually did go up, because now I have new customers as well as some of my old customers who wanted a second course.
Jim: And so I said, “It worked two classes, 20,000 a month. I’ll make three classes,” right? And then all of a sudden you realize, “Oh, sales…” kind of after that initial two months or whatever of a new product, we’re right back to where we started. And eventually I had six courses and I looked at it and it’s like, shoot, 10,000 a month.
Mike: Back to where you began.
Jim: Right. And now the problem is that a new customer comes, and they have a choice between six courses to choose and they’re not sure which one. And so, “Hmm, ah, I’m not sure.” And they leave, right? And so, I found that just more and more and more did not equal more in the business.
Jim: Similarly, the same thing with platforms. Like I wrote an eBook. An eBook, got up to, you know, I was earned like 80,000 a year from the eBook and I was like, “Yes, passive income.” And then I go on to the next thing, a membership site. And I don’t even notice as it’s happening, but the membership site takes off and the eBooks are fading.
Jim: And so anyway, I saw a period of like three years where in this business I was at like half a million, like pegged plateau for three years. And I didn’t realize what was happening. And what was happening was I was starting something new and letting the old thing die off as the new thing built up. And so I just… I spent three years working really hard and while it was wonderful income, I didn’t see the increase because of that.
Mike: Right. Yeah, I think once you’ve reached a certain level, it’s kind of like, “All right, I’ve done everything I can think of. Let’s start something new. And then you’re just maybe neglectic or it just, it’s not getting your full attention. So, a lot of these assets do take some TLC to maintain them. And I think that’s an important thing is like, just try to not spread yourself too thin over a bunch of different projects.
Jim: Yeah. And I think greed is a little bit of a part of that because, I would say, “Ah, I don’t want to hire an employee because they’re going to take some of the money that I’m earning.” Right? And it’s like, no, that’s exactly what I needed to do. I needed to build something up, put someone on it to keep it where it is and maybe even grow it from where it is while I work on the new thing. But instead I wasn’t willing to reinvest in myself.
Jim: And so, I just learned what my cap was. That’s as much as I could produce. And so, it was a hard lesson. I wish I had seen what was happening while I was doing it, but I didn’t until three years later and I could look back and say, “Crap.”
Mike: Wow. Well, that’s some really good advice. Did you have anything else that you wanted to discuss? I think that’s all the questions I had for you today.
Jim: Nope, that’s it.
Mike: Awesome, Jim. Well, I really appreciate all your time and it was really nice talking about your business. You’ve built something really great here and I think we’re going to be able to find you a really good buyer.
Jim: Great. Thank you for your work.
Mike: Awesome, Jim. Take care, man.
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