I made $178,000 after flipping a website I bought for $52,000 last year. Here are the SEO strategy and tools I used to increase its value.
- Rob Boirun has been making websites and writing content for them as a hobby since 2002.
- Boirun began seriously monetizing his content in 2019 and sold one of his hobby sites in 2020.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Rob Boirun, a 50-year-old website flipper and the CEO of PopNet Media LLC, from Huntsville, Alabama. It has been edited for length and clarity.
I have a lone-wolf personality; I don't want to manage a team like other business owners. So in 2019, when my website-hosting and VPN businesses had grown to the point where I could no longer manage them alone, I knew it was time to sell.
I've always operated information-based websites for fun and to give me a place to write about the things I find interesting.
Money wasn't my motivator, but I was monetizing them
Once I sold those businesses, I realized I needed a new source of consistent monthly income. That's when I focused on running my hobby sites as a business instead of just a casual side gig.
I've maintained a handful of sites over the years in various stages. I've owned beginner sites that had 10 to 20 posts, more established sites that were over a year old with consistent growth, and authority sites with good traffic earnings — which, for me, means anything above $5,000 a month in income.
I've had sites on cloud storage, lawn care, alcohol distilling, water purifying, paintball, pinball machines, and general reviews.
The sites focused on answering questions from the community, along with how-to content and reviews.
To replace my monthly income, I dove deeper into content marketing by becoming more knowledgeable about certain topics and creating helpful content for people searching the internet. It required more discipline and focus than running the sites as a side gig.
For the most part, I taught myself content marketing. I also picked up some guidance over the years from various sources including Income School, Matt Diggity, and the late James Martell.
I decided to list one of my cash-flowing sites on the Investors Club marketplace, and a broker reached out about acquiring it.
In 2020, I received an offer to sell one of my hobby sites
The process of selling a digital business and talking to my accountant opened me up to the world of website flipping.
There are thousands of websites for sale at any given time through marketplaces such as Flippa and Investors Club.
On Flippa, you can buy starter sites for $100 or businesses worth $1,000,000 or more. Investors Club tends to focus on sites that are established and generate income; they usually cost more than $20,000.
After selling my first site, I found another that was generating $2,000 a month; the seller was asking $52,000.
The website was generating income, but it was clear to me that the seller was leaving money on the table. I knew that with minimal work, I could increase the income the site generated, so it made sense to buy it.
I bought the site for $52,000 in June 2020 using the profit generated from my first sale.
Looking for ways to immediately increase a website's income is key for a website flipper
After I buy a site, I do a full SEO audit, using tools like Ahrefs and Semrush to see which web pages and keywords are ranking on Google.
Using the keyword reports from these tools, I have 100 to 200 keywords for my website's topic that have a good opportunity to rank. I'll search the phrases to see other pages that are currently ranking and analyze whether the content is outdated or incomplete.
If the top-three search results on Google with these keywords could be improved, then I know writing a more comprehensive guide or article is my highest priority. I'll build an outline of topics to discuss in my posts for each of the terms.
Then I'll map out a task list in order of importance, based on the overall monthly searches a keyword gets and the opportunity score I gave it during my research.
Once this list is complete, I outsource the writing to a freelancer who can wordsmith the topics into something informational like a blog or a guide.
It's worth noting that in addition to keywords, Google is moving toward listing results that are search-query and intent-based, meaning the algorithm is getting smarter about figuring out the intent of the search query.
I also find ways to monetize sites using ad networks, affiliate marketing, and sponsorships
By utilizing these tactics, I was able to grow this site from generating $2,000 a month to $13,000 a month. I sold the website on Investors Club in June 2021 for $230,000, kick-starting my website-flipping journey to full speed.
Using the $178,000 in returns from my first flip, I have purchased five more sites in the past year that I'm now working on full time, with a small staff of freelancers to help manage and grow each one.
I'm still managing all five sites, and they're producing different levels of income.
Some websites are better for ad income, while others will be good for selling e-commerce or affiliate products. I manage each site for at least a year before deciding whether or not to flip it.
If I get burned out on the topic or feel I can't add anything of value to the website, I'll list it for sale — at that point, the site is better off with someone who can continue to grow it.
Since I started website flipping, the lion's share of my monthly income comes from what the sites are earning
I take between 50% to 60% of my flip profits to acquire new sites within the first few months after the flip takes place. The rest goes to salaries and saving for future acquisitions.
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