The Website Flip 2021 Case Study

Mushfiqur Sarker

The Website Flip started as a passion project to share how case studies on how I buy, grow and flip websites. It turned into much more than that in 2021.

As of December 2021, based on a typical multiple, The Website Flip is worth low 7-figures. An amazing achievement by any standards!

This case study will walk you through the details of how I grew this business. Here is what’s covered:

  • Recap of highlights, traffic, SEO metrics, and revenue percentages
  • 7 tactics that were successful
  • 2 tactics that failed
  • 6 ways I obtained traffic
  • Major plans for 2022

Keep reading for a jam-packed case study of what did and did not work, and how I achieved this valuation.

Note: To ensure privacy, I will not be sharing raw revenue numbers. Instead, I will be sharing percentages of where revenues came from to give you an idea.

Let’s get into it!


🔥 Major Highlights

Here is a full recap of 2021:

  • Averaging 15,000 pageviews per month with a 34% bounce rate and 3 min session duration
  • 424,045 words of content across 273 articles
  • 457,544 emails delivered, 41.6% open rate, 6.7% click rate
  • 4 successful acquisitions (DNGeek, FlipFilter, FlipWebsites, WP Plugin)
  • 3 digital products launched (Club Membership, EasyDiligence, Course)
  • Facebook Group community launched (1,200+ vetted flippers)
  • Guest appearance on 8 podcasts
  • Launched on Twitter (2,966 followers)
  • Increase AHREFs domain rating from 10 to 61 in a 12-month period

📊  Annual Website Metrics

Google Analytics Breakdown

Below is a snapshot of the last 12-months of traffic from Google Analytics. The traffic hovers from 15,000 to 20,000 pageviews per month.

What stood out was the bounce rate and time on the page. Niche sites have a bounce rate of 80-90%, while my site has an excellent 34%. This is because of the quality content that attracts people to read. 

It’s refreshing to build a content site where people read it entirely. 

Google Analytics Breakdown

Next, here is the breakdown by traffic channel:

  • Organic: 24%
  • Direct: 26%
  • Social: 15%
  • Email: 23%
  • Referral: 11%
  • Paid: 1%

As a while, organic traffic is one-fourth of the total traffic. However, this traffic has only ramped up recently in Q4 2021. Here is the chart below showing the organic traffic growth by month:

organic traffic q4 2021

In this competitive niche that I am operating in (i.e., a cross of business and digital marketing), it took me 12 months to ramp up to 3,000 pageviews per month. 

Takeaways: Since I knew organic traffic would take time, I supplemented that traffic via social media, referral traffic, and email marketing. This drove the business forward, providing revenue while I doubled down on content for organic traffic.

AHREFs Breakdown

The AHREFs overview showcases the trajectory of growth for The Website Flip. The DR has grown to 61 in the course of 12-months (more in a subsequent section on how that was achieved).

AHREFs Breakdown 12 months

Below is the DR trajectory graph. The growth has been a month over month. The significant jump from DR 40 to DR 60 was due to the acquisition of DNGeek.com (details below).

domain rating 12 months

Note: AHREFs domain rating (DR) is just an estimate. It has no real value in how Google perceives this site. Just a metric I track; nothing more.


📈  What Were The Revenues?

I will be sharing overall percentages to showcase what brings the most revenues:

  • EasyWins.io: 27%
  • EasyDiligence.io: 5%
  • The Course on Website Flipping: 17%
  • The Website Flip Club Membership: 12%
  • Website Brokerage: 13%
  • Consulting: 8%
  • Sponsorship: 8%
  • Affiliate Sales: 9%

Here is a visual representation of this data:

revenue breakdown

EasyWins.io brings more than a quarter of revenues. This is expected since it’s a product that solves a real problem of understanding what to improve on a site to increase traffic and revenues.

It’s a product that has no competitors. It’s also a product that has had a 12-month operating window. Most of the other products were launched in 2021, whereas EasyWins was launched in November 2020.

For example, here are the launch dates of the digital products:

  • EasyWins.io: November 2020
  • EasyDiligence.io: August 2021
  • The Course on Website Flipping:  November 2021
  • The Website Flip Club Membership: August 2021

All of the products launched in 2021 were in Q3 and Q4. Once these products get a complete 12-month cycle, the real winner will become more transparent.

From a trajectory standpoint, The Course on Website Flipping looks to be the winner.

Active vs Passive Breakdown

I have a standpoint that a business needs to become more and more passive over time. Otherwise, it’s impossible to work “on” the business; instead one would continue to work “in” the business.

Every month I track the passive vs active revenues of the business. Here is a chart that showcases the percentages:

active passive income

As of Q4 2021, the active income hovered around an average of 50%. Meaning for every dollar earned, 50% was actively obtained (i.e., consulting, membership, brokering). The remaining 50% was passive income (i.e., digital product sales).

Bottom Line: The goal is to continue growing overall revenue significantly while increasing passive income to close to 80%. However, since the overall revenue is growing, the 20% of active income will be large enough to justify the effort.


📈  What Were The Costs?

Here is the breakdown of costs:

  • Content: 44%
  • Team: 34%
  • ​​​​Affiliate Payouts: 17%
  • Software: 6%

Here is a visual representation of this breakdown:

Cost Breakdown

Content dominated the majority of the costs. I pay my writers around 8 to 10 cents per word because they are not only good writers, but also niche website investors themselves. 

The Team portion of the costs includes my VAs, subcontractors hired for specific tasks, and my Growth Specialist. 

I also have affiliate partners promoting my products such as Niche Pursuits, Fat Stacks Blog, and more. I pay them a commission for sales generated which equates to 16.6% of the total costs.


💰 How Much Did I Profit?

My profit margin on The Website Flip is 86.5% after ALL costs. 


📈  What Tactics Worked in 2021?

2021 was successful. It included hiring people, buying competitors and merging, building tools, and much more. Let’s get into it.

1. Hired 5 Specialists

specialists

As a bootstrapper, it’s in my blood to do everything independently. That was impossible with The Website Flip; it’s too big for just one person.

I hired the following specialists:

Growth Specialist: someone who will implement tactics to grow revenue, traffic, and email subscribers. This could mean setting up an email campaign, building a data tool, to implementing a sales page.

Technical Analyst/Writer: someone who understands the website investing world and understands data. This person works closely with me to put together detailed reports for The Website Flip Club members.

Technical Writer: a writer who understands the website investing work and has impeccable writing skills

Domain analyst: someone who understands the domain auctions to sift through the best deals each week so they can be featured in the Deal Flow newsletter.

SEO Specialist: someone who understands off-page/on-page SEO, keyword research, content audits, and much more.

I found all of these experts through my newsletter and Facebook groups.

Takeaways: These individuals have allowed me to focus on delivering exceptional content, new growth channels, and also to focus on my website portfolio. Hiring was one of the best decisions I had made in 2021

2. Four Successful Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A)

I am a big proponent of growth via acquisitions. The big players consistently acquire competitors or “shoulder” businesses to tack on new customers, traffic, and products. There is no reason niche website investors cannot do a micro version of that, also known as micro mergers.

Each acquisition I do has a justification. They are not random just to prop up my site’s DR. Here are the rationale:

  1. New Related Topic: cover a new topic on the site (e.g., domain investing) by obtaining a quality site in the niche, redirecting, and thus building topical relevancy on my site. 
  2. Lead Generation: obtain existing email subscribers or a new traffic channel to generate new newsletter subscribers over time.

As you can see, my justifications are NOT to increase organic traffic or DR. These are byproducts. The goal is to continue providing value through The Website Flip by adding new topics. Acquisitions let you achieve this at a quicker pace.

In 2021, I acquired three websites and one Wordpress plugin. Here is a brief overview of each: 

  • DNGeek.com: 5-year old DR 54 website about domain investing and flipping with 1,500 email subscribers. This was a natural extension of The Website Flip to cover this topic. Redirected to silo page here: Buying and Selling of Brandable Domains
  • FlipFilter.com: 10-year old DR 15 SaaS tool that used to aggregate websites for sale from Flippa. Redirected to sites for sale page: Content Websites For Sale
  • FlipWebsites.com: 15-year old DR 8 content blog that covers buying/selling sites. Redirected to the homepage.
  • Add & Replace Affiliate Links for Amazon Plugin: this plugin replaces shortened Amazon links. A useful tool for Amazon Associate site owners. The purpose of this is to be lead generation for more newsletter subscribers.

Takeaways: Focus on what adds value to your business. Then keep an eye out on competitors or shoulder-topic websites you can acquire to add that value.

3. Free Deal Flow Newsletter Each Wednesday

To grow The Website Flip, I send out a free weekly newsletter that covers websites for sale. This is called the “Deal Flow Newsletter”. 

Each week it covers 3-5 businesses for sale, where I go over highlights, setbacks, easy wins, notes, and valuations of each business. 

This free newsletter drives most of the growth for The Website Flip because everyone loves to get access to deal flow, but more importantly, expert commentary on why the deal is good. 

4. Launch of 3 Digital Products

To make The Website Flip a legit “business”, I needed to generate revenue. Naturally, launching digital products was the best course of action.

In 2021, the following products were launched:

  • EasyDiligence.io: a due diligence questions database and dashboard to help you DIY buying of content websites
  • The Website Flip Club: an exclusive membership to access data, insights, reports, and case studies related to website buying, growing, and selling. (Shut down as of Q1 2022)
  • The Course on Website Flipping: an in-depth 6+ hour course covering website flipping

These digital products generated significant revenue that enabled me to focus my time on the business. 

5. Joint Publishing of Newsletter and Blog Posts

Running a content website is tough when publishing so frequently (i.e., three times a week). 

One aspect that takes the majority of time is writing a blog post and then subsequently summarizing that into a newsletter.

I then found the Wordpress plugin, Newsletter Glue. This plugin allows me to send my blog posts as long-form newsletters right through my Wordpress dashboard. 

Here is what a blog post looks like in newsletter format:

Blog Post vs Newsletter

The plugin restructures the blog article to be email-friendly. This has saved me countless hours preparing each newsletter. A huge win!

6. Launching of Website Flip Club Facebook Group

thewebsiteflip club

As the sole owner of The Website Flip, things got lonely quickly. I needed a community where people could ask questions, plus a place where I could share news, strategies, updates, and much more. 

That’s why I launched The Website Flip Club Facebook group. This is an exclusive private group accessible to anyone who purchased The Website Flip’s products. 

The group has grown month-over-month since its creation in February 2021. Here is the membership growth:

membership growth

The group is vetted. Each user is reviewed to see if they purchased any of my products or if they will provide value. In 2021, almost 40% of requests were rejected. 

membership requests

Tip: A community also helped me get ideas for new content. I kept track of what questions people asked and put those into long-form blog content. 

7. Launch of Website Aggregator, DealFeed.io, in July 2021

7. Launch of Website Aggregator DealFeed.io in July 2021

In the SEO world, everyone says to “build a tool”. Tools will get you exposure and thus backlinks. I wanted to solve my problem: spending too much time sifting through deal flow from all brokers.

This was solved with DealFeed.io.

DealFeed is a deal flow aggregator that first gathers and organizes websites for sale. Then, it keeps track in real-time of any changes to each deal (e.g., price/multiple decreases, time on market). This gives investors more insights into the market of buying online businesses.

Here is the Google Analytics traffic since launch:

Google Analytics traffic

DealFeed was never truly promoted. It was launched to my email list, Facebook group, Twitter, and podcasts. It brings a consistent stream of visitors that sift through deals. 

The benefits of DealFeed in terms of growth include:

  1. Dynamic one-of-a-kind tool that keeps people on my site (increases time on page, decreases bounce rate)
  2. Add dynamic raw data about live deals to other pages on my site (see example below)
  3. Obtain backlinks naturally

One of the features I added to my backend was the ability to do calculations to showcase average multiples, average sale price, and the total number of deals. This can be filtered and obtained based on niche, monetization, and more.

For example, here is a dynamic excerpt from one page on my site:

dynamic

The numbers are dynamically added, and change as deals get put on the market or get sold.

Takeaways: DealFeed is not a revenue generator for the business. It is, however, indirectly attributed to revenue by increasing my authority, expertise, and metrics for the business.


📉  What Tactics Failed in 2021?

For every success, there are failures. I’ve tried other things throughout 2021 that did not pan out. Here they are:

1. Development of a Deal Flow SaaS Tool

The goal of DealFeed.io was to be a full-pledge SaaS tool that not only aggregated listings but provided historical trends by niche, historical multiples, due diligence tools, and much more.

After launching the base version of DealFeed, I added a paid subscription option for yearly access to DealFeed. Unfortunately, that resulted in zero sales.

I then decided to keep DealFeed free as a data aggregation tool only. The SaaS could come at a later point in time.

Takeaways: Build everything in small chunks, then test the market. I always build a minimum viable product to see interest and then go from there. This has saved me thousands of dollars.

2. Niche Job Board

One aspect I always have difficulty with is hiring specialists that understand niche websites. This could be writers, SEO specialists, website operators, developers, etc.

Naturally, I thought a dedicated niche website job board would do well. I launched a job board in Q3 2021. It was free.

I promoted it via my email list, Facebook groups, and Twitter.  After a few months of being live, it resulted in zero job postings

The cost to maintain the job board was $250/mo, and thus it did not make economic sense to keep it going.

Takeaways: Be agile. Build quickly but also pull the plug quickly. I do not dwell on any failed projects for too long. In the online world, you never know what will stick. The job board just didn’t stick.


✅ 6 Ways The Website Flip Obtained Traffic

1. Organic: High Volume (High Competition) Keywords

Niche website investors target low competition keywords, as they should. I do it as well for specific niche sites. 

That’s not the case for The Website Flip. I am going after high competition keywords such as:

  1. Buying websites
  2. Selling websites
  3. Website flipping
  4. Website brokers
  5. Website valuations
  6. And much more!

I am competing with much bigger content teams that are run by Empire Flippers, Flippa, and the likes. The only way to win here is a combination of quality content, expertise, and backlinks.

I’ve been buying and selling sites since 2008, and thus my expertise shows in my content with deep insights and data that no one else has. With that, I am also building backlinks to the homepage to increase overall domain authority and also inner pages.

Here is a breakdown of pages with backlinks on my site:

  1. Website Brokerage: 27 referring domains
  2. Best Brokers post: 18 referring domains
  3. Website Valuation Framework: 18 referring domains
  4. Due Diligence Framework: 25 referring domains

Takeaways: Once your homepage DR is high enough (50+), then it’s best to focus on inner pages to get them to rank. Always calculate the ROI of getting that page to number #1 before investing in backlinks.

2. Organic: New Content Silos → Domain Investing

The Website Flip has also grown by targeting one major topic: domain investing.

Here is the traffic growth after merging DNGeek.com acquisition and adding over 50,000 words of content:

traffic growth after merging DNGeek.com

There is more traffic in the domain investing space than there is in the website investing space. This has allowed me to cover a lucrative space and introduce more traffic to my site as a shoulder topic.

Over time, I can attract lucrative sponsorships for this silo. The goal is to ramp this traffic up to 10,000 pageviews per month and then reach out for sponsorships.

3. Organic: Businesses For Sale Listings → DealFeed.io

As discussed above, the purpose of building DealFeed.io was to add dynamic real-time content to my pages.

There is significant keyword volume for people looking to buy businesses. For example:

  • Amazon FBA businesses for sale
  • Amazon Affiliate businesses for sale
  • Content websites for sale
  • Amazon KDP businesses for sale
  • Dropshipping businesses for sale
  • SaaS business for sale
  • And many more…

To ensure I rank in the top three, I need to do more than add long-form content discussing each of these topics. That’s not enough to beat competitors like Flippa, Empire Flippers, among others.

I tapped into the wealth of data in DealFeed.io to showcase a live selection of businesses for sale with that category.

For example, check out the Amazon FBA page:

buying an amazon fba business

The same tool, DealFeed, was filtered to showcase ONLY the specific businesses for sale. 

Over time, this will bring a significant amount of traffic to my site.

4. Organic: Calculators for Niche Site Investors

Similar to tools, calculators have significant organic keyword volume.

I launched four calculator-focused pages in 20221. They include:

  1. Website valuation calculator
  2. Google Adsense revenue calculator
  3. Amazon Affiliate earnings calculator
  4. Website Ad revenue calculator

Here is an example of a calculator to estimate your Amazon associate earnings:

Amazon associate earnings

I am using WSForms plugin to put these calculators together. It is highly recommended!

Takeaways: Find “calculator” related keywords in your niche. These not long bring traffic but can easily bring in quality backlinks. 

5. Direct/Referral: Word of Mouth, Podcasts

The above tactics were all organic search traffic. However, my biggest growth happened through word of mouth and podcast appearances.

Over 2021, I’ve appeared on the following podcasts:

  1. Niche Pursuits (2x)
  2. Niche Website Builders (2x)
  3. Side Hustle Nation Show
  4. Domain Magnate Show
  5. Craig Campbell SEO Podcast
  6. Let’s Buy A Business Podcast
  7. Doug Cunnington Show (2x)
  8. Humans of Flippa

Thanks to the fantastic shows these people have put together, I can tap into their network to share website flipping expertise. 

6. Social Traffic: Facebook Groups and Twitter

There are a large amount of niche website creators, flippers, and investors in Facebook groups. The groups include Niche Pursuits, Authority Hacker, Affiliate Lab, and more.

Subscribers frequently share my articles in these groups, which leads to more traffic and newsletter subscribers.

This is organic growth, and I am not actively sharing posts myself. 

On the other hand, I am very active on Twitter. I’ve built up a following of almost 3,000 people in 12-months

CleanShot 2022 01 13 at 09.43.59

On Twitter, I do the following:

  • Share insightful tips on how to buy, grow, and sell websites
  • Share raw metrics for my niche sites (growth, valuation)
  • Share deal flow

This has led to growing my following and generating traffic back to The Website Flip. 

Here’s the breakdown of traffic:

  • Twitter: 2,517 visitors, or 4.95% of total traffic
  • Facebook: 5,064, or 10% of total traffic

Takeaways: Be active in the social platforms where your audience lives. For me, that’s Facebook and Twitter.


💡  Plans for 2022

Launch a Podcast

I will be launching a podcast in 2022! This podcast will be just me sharing tips, case studies, insights, market trends, and more.

The goal is to launch this in Q1 2022.

More Acquisitions (M&A)

I am always on the lookout for new acquisitions. This can be in the form of:

  1. Content websites
  2. Aged domains
  3. Email lists
  4. Social media profiles
  5. Digital products
  6. SaaS tools
  7. Wordpress plugins

The purpose of the acquisitions is to add more value to The Website Flip and its subscribers.

Acquire High DR (60+) Backlinks

The DR of my website is 60+ already. In 2022, my goal is to add high DR links in the 60+ range (more like the 80 range).

For these, I am actively doing outreach plus using link brokers. The price range for these links ranges from $500 to $1,000 each, so they are not cheap.

I have a budget of $5,000 per month to add links to The Website Flip. I will spend upwards of $15,000 on links in 2022. I will be doing a separate case study on this. Stay tuned.

Double Down on Content → Hire Specialists

In 2022, I would like to double down and hire more specialists. Here are the positions that I think would provide value to The Website Flip:

  • Another technical writer: now that I am adding new silos, I need to add on another expert writer that understands the silos
  • Deal Flow analyst: each week I spend hours analyzing deals. Having some help here would be ideal. I need to find someone that understands due diligence, website valuations, and website investing space in general.

Onboard New Sponsors

With the growth of The Website Flip, it’s time to onboard a variety of strategic sponsors for the website portion of the business.

This will include:

  1. Domain investing sponsors (registrars, brokers, marketplaces)
  2. Content agency sponsors
  3. Link building sponsors

I am incredibly critical of every sponsor that wants to advertise to my audience. I first need to vet the service myself, and if it checks out, then and only then will I suggest it to subscribers. 



Thank You All!

To wrap up, I’d like to thank all of you for reading my newsletter and supporting me in buying my products.

The Website Flip would be nowhere without all of your support. My primary goal for 2022 is to provide more value. 

Here’s to a new year!



Mushfiqur Sarker

Analyzed by Mushfiq Sarker

Mushfiq has been buying, growing, and selling website assets since 2008. His first exit was in 2010. Since then, he has done 215+ website flips with multiple 6-figure exits. Learn more about Mushfiq.


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