What I Learned From Spending $37,100 Buying Sites

What I Learned From Spending $37,100 Buying Sites

At the beginning of this year, I set 6 goals. One of those goals was to spend $25k buying sites.

A big reason for this goal was to learn the ropes and determine whether I thought flipping sites would be a viable business model.  So, while the first sites I bought this year were relatively small in terms of revenue; the plan was always for them to be a stepping stone to something larger.  You can read all the case study posts I’ve made about buying sites right here.

Today I want to review the 4 sites that I’ve purchased this year and some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way.  If you have ever been interested in buying and selling sites, I think this post will provide some good insights into the process.

Spending Over $25k – The Results?

My goal was to spend $25,000 buying websites in 2014.  While this was an arbitrary number, I felt like it was a large enough amount to help me go from complete rookie status to somewhat experienced.

I’m happy to say that I’m no longer a rookie!

As of this month, I’ve purchased $37,100 worth of sites.   That’s right, I’m $12,100 past my spending goal for the year.

In total I’ve purchased 4 sites, and I’m very pleased with the results so far.  In fact, I decided to put all the numbers in a chart for your viewing pleasure.

Here’s all the basic stats for the sites I’ve purchased this year:

purchasedchart

* The earnings of site 1 before purchase may not be accurate; I believe it was much lower…but I purchased based on the $450 number.

**Also the $394 in earnings for site 4 is due to the fact that I didn’t really have the site in my possession until about Sept 4 or 5th.  So, that’s just about 5 or 6 days of earnings as of the time of this post.

The above chart has a ton of data, but I wanted to review some highlights.

First of all, I’ve spent $37,100 on the sites; but if I were to sell all the sites today I could potentially sell them for a total of $118,883.  (That’s based on the 20 times monthly earnings price that sites are sold on the Empire Flippers Marketplace).

In addition, I’ve already realized revenue of $12,109.  So, add $12,109 and $118,883 for a total potential earnings of $130,992 if I were to sell the sites today.  That’s almost a six figure income when you subtract out my purchase price of $37,100…not bad!

Now I realize this is all potential profit at this point, but the sites are doing very well and I’m happy with the recurring monthly earnings of nearly $6,000 right now.

The other major point I wanted to make was that on average I paid just 9.08 times monthly earnings for the sites!  The idea is to buy low and sell high, right?.  Because I know that I can sell the sites for about 20 times monthly earnings, I knew that when I purchased the sites for less than 10 times monthly earnings that I could double my money right away if I decided to flip.

So, I’ve got a nice cushion built in.  If all the sites suddenly dropped in earnings by HALF, I could still make a profit because I bought the sites for such a low multiple.

How to Negotiate a Great Price

How did I get such a good deal on the sites you ask? Honestly, it doesn’t seem like I did anything special, but I did follow some basic principles that perhaps you should keep in mind when buying a site.

1. Get all the Stats

I bought sites 2 and 4 on Flippa and 1 and 3 privately.  In all cases, you need to get access to Google Analytics and earnings screenshots.

Simply ask them to add your email address as a “Read Only” access in Google Analytics.  Any serious seller will add you without question.

This is your number one way to vet a deal.  Take a look at where the traffic is coming from and look for red flags (such as all traffic coming from one website or huge fluctuations).

Also, get screenshots of earnings to see if it matches up with what you are seeing on Google Analytics.  Yes, people can fake screenshots, but in most cases it’s not likely to occur and you can validate the earnings somewhat by seeing how much traffic is coming to the site.

I usually like to see the past 3 months of earnings.

Also use tools like OpenSiteExplorer.com, MajesticSEO.com, or Ahrefs.com to review the link profile.  Look for spammy links or over “SEO’ed” link profiles and avoid these.

2. Contact the Seller Privately

Whether buying on Flippa or privately through email, you should always start a dialogue with the owner.  If you have questions about where traffic is coming from, ask it!  I usually have 4 or 5 questions before I even consider making an offer.  These questions just vary on the site and what I’m seeing.

Such as, “Why has traffic decreased?” or “Why is so much traffic coming from this one referral source?” or “Do you write the content or do you have a writer?”

Once you’ve started a dialogue through private messaging or email, the seller knows you are serious.

3. Have a Price in Mind

Once you’ve seen all the stats, determine what you are willing to pay.  I like to pay around the 10 times monthly earnings price.  I will go higher if I really like the site, but probably not more than 12 times monthly or so.

The point is to buy LOW.  There are sites being sold all the time, so if you can’t get the deal you want you can always find a different site to buy.

You should also not reveal this price, but instead ask THEM what they are willing to let the site go for.  This can be a bit of a dance as neither party usually wants to reveal their price, but after a few emails or messages back and forth some numbers will start to come out.

If they offer you a great deal (below your price), then buy it!

4. Don’t Get Emotionally Attached

If they offer a price that is close to what you are willing to accept, then you will likely be able to negotiate them down a bit.  I may have to go through my emails and messages to see exactly what I do, but essentially I stall or ask more questions.  I don’t either accept or reject their price, but simply keep talking about the site or other questions I have.

If you are buying on Flippa, this can be particularly effective if the auction is getting near the end time.

For example on “Site 4”, I had been in discussions with the site owner for a few days leading up to the closing time.  I was willing to pay nearly $20,000 for the site (it had $1,911 in earnings).  However, I asked what his reserve price was, and he said $15.5k.

So, with only a couple hours left, the price was still at about $12k; so I put in a bid of $13,100 and contacted the owner and asked what he’d be willing to let it go for.  Because the auction was not extremely active and there was only about an hour left; he probably knew I was one of the only ones interested.

He said he would let it go for $15k, but only if I took the offer right away.  I said, “Let’s do it”.  So, he created a Buy it Now price of $15k and I immediately accepted before anyone else on Flippa saw the buy it now button.

Because the owner was facing the possibility of not selling for his reserve price, he was willing to wiggle.  I on the other hand was not emotionally attached to the auction and was willing to walk away at any point.

By not pulling the trigger at my $20k potential buying price and not immediately bidding his reserve of $15.5k, I was able to walk away with an excellent price.

If you get emotionally involved in a site, you can end up over spending.  Just remember that there are plenty of fish in the sea; you can always find a new deal if you don’t like the price.

5. Be Willing to Walk Away

If something doesn’t feel right about the deal or you can’t get the price you want, be willing to walk away.  In fact, this happened to me last week.

I was contacted by a reader of NichePursuits and offered a great site.  The site was earning about $1,800 a month and had everything I was looking for.  However, the seller was also very experienced and was not willing to let the site go for anywhere near 10 times monthly earnings.  They wanted closer to $30k for the site, while I was only willing to pay around $15 to $20k.  This was just way too much of a gap to make up.

So, while I wish that I owned the site because its a great one with lots of potential; I had to be willing to walk away from the deal.

I don’t get every deal, but by being picky I’ve been able to snatch up 4 good deals this year and hopefully more in the near future.

A Few Takeaways

I’ve certainly learned a few things this year about buying websites.  First of all…its a lot of fun!  I’ve really enjoyed searching, negotiating, and adding great sites to my portfolio.

I’ve also learned that I need to stick with what I’m familiar with and that buying smaller sites is just as much work as owning larger sites.

I bought the “Pinterest” site for several reasons listed here; but it was outside the realm of my personal experience with sites.  The traffic all comes from Pinterest rather than search engines (which is what I’m familiar with).  As a result, I’ve learned that it’s more work than I anticipated, and I’ve not been able to grow it as hoped.

On the other hand, I have been able to grow the traffic to “Site 1” by quite a bit.  So, I’ve been able to increase the earnings by a nice percentage; but the numbers are still small.  Sure, its great that the site is now earning $120 more per month than it was a couple of months ago; but the impact to my overall income is insignificant.  It’s just a small site that is never going to make a big difference one way or another to my overall portfolio.

This is why I started buying larger sites (see exhibit “Site 3” and “Site 4”).  Site 3 earned about $3,400 last month (and I expect a decent increase in September as well) and site 4 will do close to $2,000.  These larger sites are doing 10 times what the other sites are doing, but don’t require much more work.  I get MUCH more impact for my time and effort put into the sites.

So, overall I’ll be sticking with sites that are SEO focused and are bigger earners.  I’ve been able to leverage my keyword research skills and link building abilities to grow site 3 quite a bit already, and expect to do the same with site 4.

Your Thoughts

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject of buying and selling sites.  I’ve shared some of the things that I’ve learned this year so far, but if you have any additional questions on details that perhaps I missed, let me know.

Related Projects:

106 Comments for this Post

  1. Yaro

    Yaro

    Get tips Spencer!
    What types are websites 3 and 4? Amazon affiliate websites?
    One risk when buying expensive website if income degrees.

    • Perrin Carrell

      Perrin Carrell

      One’s an AdSense site, and the other makes money from both AdSense and Amazon.

  2. Dave

    Dave

    I can’t help but laugh about the $15k site you bought in september that can be sold on EF for $38k lol. I mean that’s a hell of an arbitrage opportunity.

    I get that you bought it low but what’s missing here (seller fees?). It just seems like too big of a gap to last very long.

    You could just flip it right away and walk away with a cool $20k for little to no work, no?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      That’s correct, there is HUGE arbitrage opportunity. Yes, there are some fees, and there’s always the chance that it won’t sell. But that’s why I’m so comfortable with the sites, is that I can always flip them immediately for a big profit.

    • Justin

      Justin

      Hey Dave,

      The reason for the gap is because you’re taking a risk purchasing unverified/vetted websites.

      You’ll have to do your own due diligence and, if you buy a lemon, you’ll have to take the “losers” into account.

      Consider this – you buy 5 websites at $10K each, all earning $1K per month for a total of $5K/month in income. One was an outright scam and earning nothing. (Fake bot traffic or fake clicks, for example) Two more “tank” shortly after purchasing and drop by 70%. The last two are earning as intended.

      You now have sites earning a total of $2,600/month and worth $52K. Taking into account seller fees and you actually take a slight loss on your purchases. (Depending on how long you’ve held them…might be profitable based on the 6-12 months of earnings you received)

      Spencer has the benefit of having built/created many, many profitable sites. He generally knows what to look for, what to look out for, etc. That’s not to say he won’t get burned now and again, but he’s in a much better position to do this than someone who is brand new, IMO.

      • Perrin Carrell

        Perrin Carrell

        Thanks for chiming in here, Justin. You’ve got a much better vantage point on this stuff. 🙂

      • Dave

        Dave

        Hey Justin

        No doubt an excellent point and really sparks an excellent conversation.

        You have a ton more experience buying and selling websites than I do (as does Spencer).

        But to play devil’s advocate here, you’ve painted a scenario where

        20% of websites being sold elsewhere are trash
        40% are waiting to tank
        40% are as advertised (whether or not you took the time to vet them).

        I have to say, that’s pretty grim – I’m assuming you’re mostly talking about Flippa BTW?

        What about other website brokers – do they vet them and what are their multipliers (are you guys industry standard?).

        Do you think those statistics are realistic, and how much knowledge would it really take to improve the odds?

        Even in that very grim scenario you’ve still walked away pretty close to break even. It seems to me someone with even half – decent knowledge (myself for example) could do well enough to only be losing out 10-15% of the time and just arbitrage the heck out of this…Are you seeing people do this?

        Although that’s not really the business I’m looking to get into lol, it’s interesting.

        • Justin

          Justin

          Hey Dave,

          Sorry – I didn’t mean to say that the scenario I’ve laid out would be most common, most likely, etc. I was just pointing to one of MANY possible/different scenarios that might not lead to crazy profits for the buyer.

          Of course it could be much better or much worse, depending on how things play out. Much of that would come down to the buyer’s skill at due diligence and mitigating risky purchases.

          I’m much less comfortable with many of the sites I see on Flippa. There’s nothing wrong with Flippa as a DIY option, but the fact that they allow anyone who pays the listing fee to list their site means you have to dig through a ton of sites to find one that may work for you. Due diligence takes time, and having to put all that work in over and over again on Flippa to find the right site for you can be time consuming, IMO.

          We list sites at the upper end of what sites go for on Flippa, but we’re probably at the lower end when it comes to brokers. I happen to know, though, that many brokers will list at something like 25-35X and end up selling for much closer to our 17-22X, so we feel pretty comfortable with our range.

          Our pricing range goes away when dealing with larger, $1M+ companies – especially if those companies have recurring revenue and a large market. Those types of startups can see 5X, 10X, 15X their ANNUAL profit – that’s outside our scope (and price range!).

        • Dave

          Dave

          Interesting – it just seems like a sellers market right now to me, and this case study makes some of these valuations seem high.

        • Spencer Haws

          Spencer Haws

          Yep, I will echo Justin’s point about Flippa being time consuming. I’ve had to go through ALOT of listings before I find a couple of decent ones. So, its take a lot of skill and time to find good potential buys, because there are lots of terrible sites on Flippa as well.

      • Matt

        Matt

        Not sure if this is a question for Justin or Spencer. I’ve been looking at sites on Empire Flippers and Flippa and one thing that I’m struggling with is the valuation, especially at Empire Flippers. Even if the websites are “vetted”, maintaining your position i the SERPs after purchase is not guaranteed. Most of the traffic is organic and that will change without good maintenance of the site. However, if the site is in an especially competitive niche, a change in rankings could drastically alter the earnings. Furthermore, many sites were established only two years ago so you are effectively valuing the site on a relatively small history. Help me understand why the 20x monthly earnings is the right valuation for a vetted website.

        Thanks!

        • Justin

          Justin

          Hey Matt,

          We didn’t arbitrarily come up with the 20X, actually – it was market driven!

          Here’s the story:

          We started off listing on Flippa at $1 with No Reserve. (Meaning the website will sell for whatever the bidding gets up to)

          Once we’d built up some reputation and auctions there, we noticed that open auctions would go anywhere from 18-23X the monthly net profit.

          The problem was that our buyers noticed a ton of copycats popping up after they purchased from us. They began asking us if they could buy from us privately rather than going through Flippa, so we began selling ourselves directly.

          This is far from foolproof, though. A 1.5 yo site based on organic traffic from 4-6 keywords isn’t worth as much as a 5 yo site with varied traffic from hundreds of keywords, right?

          Ultimately – a site’s only worth what a buyer is willing to pay for it. Everything is theoretical until you complete the transaction. Currently, we’ve sold over 98% of the listings we’ve put up, so the market’s with us on the valuations.

        • Matt

          Matt

          Thanks for the background, Justin. I didn’t think it was arbitrary I just wasn’t sure how you got there. I appreciate the explanation!

  3. Nick LeRoy

    Nick LeRoy

    I hope you don’t take this the wrong way – but why do you believe individuals are willing to sell to you for 9-10x monthly earning when they too could sell on EF for 20x? I’m assuming it must be the potential that you could strike a deal and exchange money/site within a few days right?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Great question; not taken the wrong way. People are willing to sell for 9-10x because “a bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush”. When they see a buyer holding out cash right now; they take the deal. Also, many people (most?) have never heard of Empire Flippers. There is no guarantee that sites will sell on EF or any other marketplace, so a deal in the hand is worth alot.

      Oh, I should also say that the average selling price on Flippa is probably close to 12x monthly anyway.

      • Justin

        Justin

        Wha? Someone hasn’t heard of us? Say it ain’t so, man…

        🙂

        That’s mostly spot-on, Spencer.

        Additionally – I’d add that there’s no guarantee the sites would pass our vetting process. If you purchase the site and it doesn’t pass our standards to list/sell, you won’t be able to sell through our platform.

        • Dave

          Dave

          I see your bird in the hand argument, but with EF advertising 98% of websites sold, how much is that really a factor?

          I get not having heard of EF – (no offense Justin, I’ve certainly heard of you.)

          Personally I’d have to think that something was up, but as Spencer seems to be seeing from his experience, the websites appear in general to be a lot more legitimate than one would think…

  4. Thoufeeq

    Thoufeeq

    From where did u purchase site3 and site4? From Flippa?

    Isn’t there quite a bit of garbage/fake listings in flippa?

    Where else do u prefer to buy such nice sites from?

    Thanks

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Site 3 was a private deal via email. Site 4 was on Flippa. Those are the only 2 places I’ve purchased sites.

  5. Raj Vasireddy

    Raj Vasireddy

    Potential earnings $130K just flipping is great income Spencer! All the very best!!!

  6. Tung Tran

    Tung Tran

    Excellent post Spencer!

    I’m considering to buy a site just for experience and this post definitely helps to boost my confidence!

  7. IMPromoCoder

    IMPromoCoder

    That’s the post I’ve been waiting for since your first post at the beginning of the year, really wanted to understand the ‘behind the scenes’.
    Still one question stays open – you own so many sites, how do you provide content for all of them? I own just a handfull of sites and it starts to be a hard task. Really need a tip on that.
    Thanks!

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      I don’t write the content myself. Perrin is my full time employee; he writes some content, but we hire writers to do most of the content production. I have quite the little machine working here behind the scenes, I just manage it all 🙂

  8. Warren

    Warren

    Thank you Spencer and Perrin.
    This will gives all of us a good idea on how to locate sites and how to acquire them for a fair price.

    I hope to follow your success.

  9. Glenys

    Glenys

    The stats are really compelling Spencer.
    Great advice re. starting a dialogue with the owner before buying on Flippa.
    It’s always more informative to read case studies that document strategies and outcomes. You do that all the time which is great, thanks Spencer.

  10. Michael Bely

    Michael Bely

    Spencer, I’m glad your experience with buying websites is good.

    As it may look very cool, I agree with Justin from EF, that it maybe hit or miss.

    You need to understand what you are doing. You do, that’s why it works well for you.

    It is like buying/selling real estate. (websites are considered to be real estate in the web, right?)

    I recollect reading a book that showed how easily you can sell a house by 2x times more price by simply cleaning the bathroom and fixing a fence. Looked like a cash-machine tactics. But one need to have a smell on such bargains and see the possible caveats (e.g. a basement that needs emergency repair).

    The same stuff with websites.
    If you understand what you do, then the great opportunities will be visible.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Yep, I agree. And there is quite a bit of risk involved, which is why the returns can be much higher than say an investment in mutual funds. Even if you find a great site, it could go bad in a month or two. So, the is a high risk type business…even when you know what you are doing.

  11. Brinthusha

    Brinthusha

    May I know the Urls of the sites which you purchased?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      If you fly out to washington state and buy me lunch, then maybe I’ll share the URLs with you 🙂

  12. Roy

    Roy

    Spencer can you post the earning summary or pennyshaved this year? I know that project is closed but the site is not attacked like the other one. So there must be consistent earning this year.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      The earnings are very good…higher than ever. But Perrin and I agreed that we would stop doing the income reports. We’ll let everyone know if we change our minds.

      • Michael Bely

        Michael Bely

        Spencer, it would be interesting to know your thoughts why you came to this decision.

        Glenn from Viperchill, for example, once called practice of writing income reports something like online exhibitionism 🙂

        However, reading income reports is still one of the main motivation factors for the audience and one of the most popular types of posts (e.g. Pat Flynn).

        • Spencer Haws

          Spencer Haws

          I only share partial income reports. I don’t ever share my full income, but only bits and pieces. I think its good for people to see real life examples and that includes income…but I personally don’t enjoy sharing the income of my entire business.

        • Michael Bely

          Michael Bely

          Thanks, Spencer. That makes a good sense.

    • Perrin Carrell

      Perrin Carrell

      You can also just reach out to me privately, Ray (my email’s on our About page). Happy to share and chat with friends. Just want to get that site off the radar, so to speak. 🙂

  13. Ash

    Ash

    You sure are knowledgable Spencer I would have a hard time figuring out whether a site had spammy links or not. It must be annoying when someone tells you a website is earning more than it is like your Pinterest website, or maybe they told you about a high month either way it still baffles me how a website can make even $200 a month off Pinterest traffic alone.

    • Perrin Carrell

      Perrin Carrell

      Most of the sites we buy look VERY clean. In fact, a lot of them have very few links at all.

      The most recent site we purchased has pretty low DA/PA. It only had a handful of natural links. But that’s one of the reasons we bought it: a few links should go a long way.

      If a site even hints at spam, we move on. There are too many sites for sale, so we can afford to be picky. Plus, buying a super clean site is already a risk. No reason to even entertain possibly spammy sites.

  14. Alistair Cochrane

    Alistair Cochrane

    Awesome info Spencer.

    The return on investment on niche sites is so high. It may well be better to invest your money into buying and improving rather than starting from scratch especially with the current sandbox issues.

    Add to that gains you can make by buying low and selling high and it’s even more impressive.

    Just a note of caution…

    With so many sites using PBN’s to rank anyone buying sites needs to look very carefully at the backlink profile.

    For example, I have a site valued at $20,000.

    I control all the links to this site.

    I could sell it. Pocket the money and simply create a new site and change all the links to point at the new site.

    In theory, the buyer would get burned and eventually my new site would regain the rankings.

    If you buy the site but not the links then that’s a gamble. But just because something bad could happen doesn’t mean it will and with returns like this it looks like it could be a gamble worth taking.

    Of course, I’d never do the dirty like that because I like to sleep at night but I’m sure there are people out there that would 🙂

    Did you notice if these sites had PBN links and was that something that worried you?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Great point Alistair. None of the sites I’ve purchased had any PBN links. Pretty much all the links pointing to the sites I bought were natural. I’m much more comfortable buying sites that haven’t had any links built to them.

      • Perrin Carrell

        Perrin Carrell

        To add on to this, one of the most compelling reasons (to me) to buy sites is to diversify the TYPES of sites you have in your portfolio.

        If you have 10 sites that have all been built using the same tactics, you’re much more vulnerable to a penalty somewhere down the road.

        Each individual site will always be risky, but as a business model, I think it can actually be safer long-term, especially if you’re buying sites that haven’t been link-built at all, like we tend to do.

  15. Andison Flores

    Andison Flores

    This is great. Pretty expensive sites but it looks like you will make a big profit.

  16. Kevin

    Kevin

    Great article and tips.
    Buying on Flippa is still a risk though. Tried following several sites, and I found that most “good” sites are actually 10K+. Most smaller sites are scam. Buying from EF would then be safer, but you’re right, the 20 times price is way to high. Although people still buy, so i guess it’s just a matter of finding the right buyer/seller!

  17. Chris

    Chris

    Really nice post Spencer. I was thinking about buying already made sites in past. Could you share a little bit of your technic of what you doing after buying to increase earning? Probably the best way is to get more traffic or change monetization.
    Thanks!

    • Perrin Carrell

      Perrin Carrell

      Nothing fancy here, brother. Just keyword research, a few links if needed, and content.

    • Ola

      Ola

      If you are still interested in purchasing already made sites earning from Adsense, i currently do have a site available for sale

  18. Mr Alexander

    Mr Alexander

    Hi Spencer,

    Congrats on the purchase, excited to read more about these new toys of yours.

    I have also purchased several websites and I am extremely happy I did so, it leverages someone initial efforts and gives me the ability to grow them further.

    What are your plans with the websites? Are you planning to work on them? How much maintenance are you usually looking for when buying a site and what does this include, effort and time wise?

    Best of luck with the websites, hopefully you will reveal them.

    Mr Alexander

    • Perrin Carrell

      Perrin Carrell

      Hey Alexander,

      We’re focusing most of our attention on the ones that make the most money, of course. And, while we haven’t sold any, we are toying around with selling a few of the annoying sites (the ones that don’t make much money and cause a lot of problems).

      Overall, though, we enjoy having the cashflow from these sites while also having the option to liquidate at any time. If you see the sites are working and growing as intended after a few months, cashflow PLUS the option to sell is the most defensible position.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      We are working on building and growing the sites. You can see what I’ve done to the site so far this year on the case study page: http://www.nichepursuits.com/case-studies/

  19. daveM

    daveM

    I am pleased to see your success with these sites and thank you for sharing.
    Many sites will be be hard to liquidate, sellers are fortunate that people as yourself will put up some cash.
    My interest today is not directly related to your trading sites…. I would like to understand how you direct your writers regarding the content they produce for you. I am assuming that you are pretty demanding as to your articles based on what you expect your content to produce.
    Perhaps one day you will author an article as to how you manage and evaluate your content production.

    Thanks for this most revealing article about your strategy.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks dave. Yes, we give our writers specific topics/keywords…but have also found great writers that follow our directions. Good idea for a blog post.

      • Stephen Veit

        Stephen Veit

        I would be interested in learning how you found your writers and how you manage them. Thanks.

        • Spencer Haws

          Spencer Haws

          Ok, great to know…I look into doing a blog post on it.

        • Darijan

          Darijan

          Hey Spencer, here is another vote for the post on how to find and manage writers 🙂

  20. Sam Biel

    Sam Biel

    Hey Spencer,

    I’m considering buying a website on Flippa but there is one thought that keeps preventing me from moving forward.

    Let’s say you dig through all the junk and find a true gem at a great price. Unfortunately thousands of others have also seen this site along it’s monthly earning potential.

    When someone lists their website on Flippa along with their monthly earnings, doesn’t this open up the door copycats who will take the idea (and likely steal the content) and run? Seems like a risky way to buy or even sell a website?

    • Perrin Carrell

      Perrin Carrell

      We’ve talked a lot about competition. It’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s usually a great thing. If a market already has people making money in it, it just means it’s profitable is all.

      Both Spencer and I have had people copy our entire sites. Didn’t hurt us a bit.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      If the website is based on one keyword, then sure you might get some copy cats. But the sites I’ve purchased on Flippa for example get traffic from thousands of keywords. So, people could copy/go into the same niche and it probably wouldn’t matter. It would take many months or years to reproduce what the sites have done, and even IF they outranked my site; I’m only one position lower on Google…and that’s not a big deal.

      Again, you are correct if you buy a site with only a handful of pages; but for a site getting 3000 to 6000 uniques a day (like my sites 3 and 4); its pretty difficult to copy.

  21. MASSMAN

    MASSMAN

    Great study, really appreciate you putting your money behind your ideas for our benefit!

  22. Rob

    Rob

    Spencer, when you purchase the sites, do you do anything to it to improve the site so it ranks higher, or converts better, etc?

    Like do you do any link building to rank it better for more organic traffic?

    or do you just buy it, let it sit, collect/recoup, then put it back on EP or Flippa?

    congrats by the way and I’m definitely very close to buying a couple sites for passive income so my kids can have their own money lol 🙂

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Yes, we build links and produce more and perhaps better targeted content. Its definitely an improvement/renovation job on the sites. Thanks…and best of luck!

  23. Martin & Ying

    Martin & Ying

    Great post Spencer and I am sure it’s one of the things that we voted for you to do at the beginning of the year. You certainly have produced the goods thank you! We have managed to sell a few sites but never bought one. A little bit paranoid about getting stung in the way that Justin mentions – fake bot traffic or fake clicks. When you say you got a site via private email was that just by networking? I mean being at the right place at the right time in our own situation we sold our sites because of contacts on forums and Facebook groups etc. Cheers.

  24. John Shea

    John Shea

    Spencer,

    I know I read your past posts about the Pinterest site but I’m really curious how you have moved forward with that site to maintain traffic and use that as a traffic source.

    I think it would make for some great content on your blog and potentially useful for other niche site builders!

    I have been building a Pinterest profile (I literally pretend to be a women haha) for about 3-4 months and have gone from 300 to 1800~ followers, my interaction with some pins has gone through the roof (Some stuff gets re-pinned over 200 times) but my traffic is still nothing substantial compared to Google’s long tail organic hits the site gets.

  25. Raju

    Raju

    Hi Spencer

    Do you only buy US sites? Do you buy Indian sites too? I mean the sites that are only targeted to Indian traffic? I had a site that was making 1400 USD ( last 3 months average ) and then I sold it to a local buyer for 8000 USD. I did not get any Client from US because it was an Indian site. If we list Indian sites earning around 1000 USD in Empireflippers, do you think that is going to sell at 20X ?

    Thanks

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Actually my last site’s highest traffic source was India. It also gets lots of US/UK traffic too; but India is the #1 source. So, I do indeed look at Indian sites as well…but its has to be the right fit/type of site. I’m not sure what the EF think; you can always ask them.

    • Justin

      Justin

      Hey Raju,

      There are buyers open to sites that have most of their traffic from India, even if it’s not ideal. We’ve sold a site like this, actually. The buying pool might be a little lower and some people won’t go for it, but as long as the rest of the site checks out, you’re ok.

      For anyone considering building these sites, though, I’d really recommend trying to stick with sites that are targeted towards the US/UK/Australia. You’ll be targeting more profitable traffic and have the best chance at selling the site.

      • Spencer Haws

        Spencer Haws

        I agree.

      • Raju

        Raju

        Thanks Justin for the piece of advice.

  26. Babatunde Yusuf

    Babatunde Yusuf

    Nice. Everything comes down to decision you make and how you can handle risk. You have the mind, big bro. You doing a real big job on here. Keep the excellent work rolling.
    And Hey! Perrin…Welldone!

  27. Ola

    Ola

    Hi Spencer, i’m curious how you handled the payment for the sites you bought privately?
    And will it be okay to mention my site here?, i want to sell It, do i have your permission?

  28. Josh Shogren

    Josh Shogren

    One thing that I would like to know about are taxes on selling sites. I saw on a site somewhere that taxes can take up to 30% of your selling price. That is a huge hit especially if you sell a site for around 70k. I would love to hear your thoughts on that and if you have had to deal with that.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      You would need to speak to your accountant on sales. As you can see, I’ve only purchased 4 sites, not sold them yet. Depending on your profits and losses of your business for the year, you could have no tax bill or you could pay more than 30%…all depends on overall profits and your income bracket.

  29. Hung Pham

    Hung Pham

    Hi Spencer,

    You are a man of writing and sharing. All you write and share are great.

    Thank you,

  30. gabriel daalmans

    gabriel daalmans

    Certainly a successstory; however reading your story did me remember on some experiences with real estate I made. Also with real estate you define a booking value every year based on indexes. If you want to sell however, the price for the sale is very often lower than the booking value. In your case I am wondering about the booking values for the sites of 20 times the monthly revenue. In many cases the booking values for commercial websites are 12 times the monthly revenue. Of course it differs from market to market; growing or thrinking and the related expected lifetime of the sites.

  31. V Hare

    V Hare

    This is the only site worth reading.

  32. Ab

    Ab

    Very inspiring how you can make a six figure income on just one project, I’m assuming you can make a seven figure if you combine all your project and all your pursuits?

  33. Ronan Leonard

    Ronan Leonard

    Hey Spencer,
    Do you buy the sites with your PBN’s in mind so that you leverage your PBN and already have a way to boost the SEO?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      I do use my PBNs to boost the sites. But this has actually been fairly minor with my purchases so far.

  34. Neeraj

    Neeraj

    While buying site, What type of link profile you are fine with? Is it okay if they have PBN links?

    For example: Site4, which you bought recently, approx how many links they have and what type of links?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      So far my purchases have been on sites that have very little link building. I would be more hesitant if I saw links from PBNs. The sites I’ve bought have very low PA/DA and very few links and the links are natural. (Site 4 has less than 15 linking domains)

      • Ray

        Ray

        I have a quick question: how does a website with less than 15 link domains earn $1911 in one month (I’m talking about site #4)?!!! How could any keyword rank in the top 10 with almost no links? How many posts does it have? This is amazing!

        • Spencer Haws

          Spencer Haws

          It has well over 100 posts…just ranks for lots of long tail keywords…no one article in particular (no real primary keyword).

  35. Tobias

    Tobias

    Good Morning Spencer,
    thank you big time for this great post! I have following feedback and questions:

    1) Now that you buy more and more sites maybe it is useful to use “friendly names” for the sites. So e.g. “the health site” instead of Site 1. Like you do with the “pinterest site” then it is easier to follow the development..
    2) Do you know other good marketplaces (maybe with alert function) to buy? If I would buy my first site it should fit into my portfolio and have the same topic like my existing prjoect (architecture) to have the possibility for cross promotion (backup if other things fail…) But when narrowing down with possible sites it is not easy to find “enough” sites to choose from!
    3) Do you think big part of your success to grow the sites is your existing infrastructure (pbn, defined processes to grow sites, VA-team etc.) I just ask myself if this “business model” if this a good way to go even for maybe experienced webmaster, but maybe with less “infrastructure”. In any case I think the way you did it to start small and test the waters is the way to go!

    Thanks so much to share all these very unique insights all the time!
    tobias/germany

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      1. Yep, probably so.
      2. I wish I did. Flippa may have some sort of alerts, but I’ve never used them. You could also contact site brokers if you have enough money to buy larger sites. I’m sure they’d find something for you.
      3. Yes, I think my existing experience and infrastructure has definitely helped. I actually think the role of my PBNs has been pretty minor…so if you don’t have one, its not a big deal. The bigger deal is my process to analyze what needs to be improved on a site, keyword research, and my team that makes it happen. Also, the biggest reason for success is simply knowing what sites to buy…that has simply come because I’ve been building sites for many years and know what to look for.

  36. Avoaja

    Avoaja

    I like the potentials of “site 3” thank you for the revenue table, It makes it easy for us to see your progress. I will like to know your strategy, Do you want to flip the sites sooner or hold long term for recurring revenue?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      I may flip a couple of them, but haven’t decided how long I may hold all of them.

  37. Claire Smith

    Claire Smith

    I enjoyed this post Spencer! It made me smile! Who doesn’t want to buy low and sell high? They say you make your money when you buy something at a good price not when you sell it.

    I am totally interested in honing my skills with this and am going to the Rhodium weekend on Vegas next month to learn more!

    I have bought one site and sold 3 (with #4 about to be listed on EF) and have learned more about time than anything!

    On the buying, make sure you are really going to have time/inclination to improve the site. I lucked out with mine (bought through EF last July). Earnings/traffic have doubled all organically. Had I spent any time on it, it would likely be much higher. But it is all paid for itself now. 😉 and sitting there earning until I’m ready to step it up.

    I agree with Perrin, if you are skilled in just one area or can create one type of site efficiently and effectively, it makes sense to buy something else helps you diversify your portfolio. Even sell some off to pay for the new acquisitions.

    As far as buying privately, I would likely do it once I have learned to vet them myself.

    If worse case scenario is you break even, overall, you will have learned as you go and that education is priceless. I certainly wouldn’t buy websites with money I couldn’t afford to lose.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      And now your comment makes me smile 🙂 I agree that’s its important to get a good deal when you buy! Very cool to hear your experience buying through the EF, and how you landed a great site and have doubled the traffic and earnings!

      Best of luck in your future site buying endeavors.

      Oh, and sounds like lots of cool people will be at the Rhodium event…you, Chris Guthrie, Justin and Joe of EF, and many others…I’m tempted to go…

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  39. Claire Smith

    Claire Smith

    Thanks. It looks like a great time and learning experience and it is all about “Growing, Acquiring and Selling Online Assets”. I am looking forward to meeting everyone in person. Maybe we’ll see you there.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      I’m officially registered! I will be at the Rhodium event… see you there 🙂

      • Claire Smith

        Claire Smith

        Awesome, see you there!

  40. Oliver T

    Oliver T

    I also run one niche site: http://besthairdryerguide.org/. But it’s new and most of the traffic from google. I was about to push on Pinterest!
    You can tell you have used the software to run the site as Pinterest Pin or Pinranker Blaster Pro? Or any other manner

  41. Nick Loper

    Nick Loper

    Dude this is huge! Makes me want to start digging back into Flippa, but there’s so much crap to sort through. But with this kind of potential earning, maybe it makes sense to hire a VA to do the initial screening and present me with deals.

    Definitely got the gears turning!

    Keep up the great work,

    Nick

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Nick! Yep, I had to weed through tons of listings to find a couple of decent ones. I wish there were more quality sites out there, but they are indeed hard to find.

  42. Larry

    Larry

    Spencer,

    Back on Aug. 4th you mentioned an upgrade to LTP and maybe a release in 2 months. How’s that going?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      I’m currently looking at alpha versions of the new release…its going well! Its still going to be a few weeks before regular users can beta test, but we are working away at it 🙂

  43. Elizabeth

    Elizabeth

    I have to say that the most difficult bit for me is links. I have a number of sites that have mode links than my competitor’s sites, but still do not seem to outrank them. There is surely something wrong. When I get a bit better at this, then I want to try what you are doing Spence. Buy sites and may be flip them at later stage. Again, great article!

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Elizabeth, glad you enjoyed the article.

  44. Aaron

    Aaron

    Flipping websites is an interesting topic here. To be honest I have thought about buy low from flippa and sell high on EF. I have both the experience of buying and selling from flippa , EF marketplace & privately sale before. There are still some gem websites that you can find in flippa, ones that are not heavily SEO’d , legit content, having natural links point to it., you just have to dig really deep to find them.

    Don’t mean to sound rude here, but is the potential profit mentioned THAT easy to come by? If all due diligence is legit and website is as promised. One can just buy a site for 10x and flip it for 20x? There is literary no work here to be done.

    Traditionally we would do keyword research, buy new domain, write content, build links and wait 6 months before you can see any profits. Some sites will be winners and most will be losers. This flipping model completely screwed the niche sites building business model by 10x without doing any hard work. It sounds too good to be true. Will EF accept a bought site? I would like to hear Justin’s thought on this.

    My Thoughts are, If you are going to do this, make sure you know the niche well and have the passion to grow it in the long run. Worst case senario, if u cant relip the sites you bought, It will just be one of your site within your niche site portfolio.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      I think it sounds at lot easier than it is. Finding great sites to buy takes a lot of work. I also don’t know that you can immediately list it for sale on EF. You probably need to have records of 3 months earnings and traffic. Perhaps you could sell it immediately after buying, but I suspect it would be easier if you had 3 months of history.

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