I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Mark Mars from the Niche Website Builders Podcast. We discussed many aspects of website flipping but focused on how the industry has evolved since 2008, monetization strategies, and experiences with building sites on aged domains.
Check it out!
Interview Video and Podcast
Interview Show Notes
Mushfiq is interviewed by Mark Mars on this episode of the Niche Website Builders Podcast. During this interview, Mushfiq offers the audience a look into how the website flipping industry has evolved since 2008 when he first entered space. He discusses how the purchasing price for websites has increased and how this has caused him to hold websites longer than he used to. Additionally, he offers advice about purchasing expired domains and offers several case studies of profitable flips. During the course of the show, he also discusses various monetization strategies he has developed and how both newcomers and industry experts can apply them to increase the valuation of their assets.
Increasing Monthly Revenue Multiples (6:43-8:19)
- When Mushfiq first began purchasing websites, sites would sell for as cheap as 15x their monthly revenue.
- Today, an average monthly revenue multiple offered by a seller is between 30x and 35x.
- As the website flipper industry evolves, website flippers learn to better monetize their sites, investors enter the industry, and demand for websites increases, these sales multiples are likely to increase.
Lessons Learned Buying and Selling Websites (8:20-12:16)
- Red flags to look out for as a buyer: sellers that are not willing to talk to the buyer, refusal to provide data, and failure to provide proof of screenshots.
- When performing due diligence, it is recommended that buyers use Semrush, Google Analytics, or other public tools to find the bad backlinks and assess traffic trends.
- Focus on purchasing only brandable domains as this is what the seller is most looking to purchase.
- Traffic should be on an upward trend for at least six months.
- Buyers should establish their criteria for buying and selling as part of their monetization strategy.
Why Mushfiq is Holding Websites Longer than He Used To (12:17-14:24)
- The amount of deals Mushfiq does is lower now than early in his career because the purchasing price for websites has increased.
- As a result, Mushfiq has developed a stricter set of criteria and is not purchasing websites as frequently as he used to.
- His goal when buying a site is to achieve an ROI of at least 10x the purchase price. This can require holding a site for six months to a year or longer.
- Mushfiq also has developed a two to three year strategy in which he builds “out a vertical asset within a specific niche” (13:50-54) intending to sell to strategic buyers, who are willing to pay more than traditional buyers.
- Additionally, Mushfiq buys sites and performs experiments to test new monetization strategies. These sites may be held for a year or longer.
An Experiment with Expired Domains (14:25-17:09)
- Mushfiq discusses an experiment with an expired domain he purchased from a private marketplace.
- The domain is in the renewable energy niche.
- Mushfiq has performed strategies to increase the profitability of the site over a long-term period and may use it for his consultancy when he leaves his day job, which is in the renewable energy industry.
A Case Study in Monetization Strategies (17:10-27:50)
- Mushfiq has developed a three-stage monetization strategy: 1) The Growth Stage, lasting about three months, marks the period in which Mushfiq applies CRO and SEO techniques to rapidly increase revenue; 2), The Stabilization Stage, lasting for about 6 months, marks the period in which the monthly revenue trends begin to stabilize; 3) The site is either sold if it has realized its growth potential or enters the Maintenance Stage.
- Mushfiq bought a site for $23,000 generating $300 in monthly revenue (75x of the monthly revenue) on Flippa.
- The 75x multiple was much higher than the industry average but Mushfiq was willing to pay this because he is willing to pay any multiple for a site that meets the criteria he has designed to ensure a minimum 10x ROI.
- This criterion includes a purchase price of under $50,000, high rates of monthly traffic disproportional to low monthly revenue, well-aged domain, presence of authoritative backlinks, and site development by hobbyists who have generated high-quality content but don’t know how to properly monetize the site.
- When Mushfiq purchased this site, it was receiving approximately 100,000 monthly page views and was well-aged, having been started in 2010. Furthermore, $300 in monthly revenue is disproportional to the 100,000 monthly visitors, and the site was developed by hobbyists.
- During the Growth Stage, Mushfiq increased monthly revenue to $3,000 (10x of the monthly revenue before purchase). After eight months, the site’s monthly revenue had peaked at $8,000 (approximately 26.67x of the monthly revenue before purchase). The site is now in its Maintenance Stage.
More About Expired Domains (27:51-31:41)
Mushfiq explains the process he uses when determining whether to purchase an expired domain:
- First, Mushfiq determines whether the site has any high-tier backlinks that are not easily acquirable elsewhere. If these are not present, he is not likely to purchase the site.
- Second, he assesses the history of the site to see what design changes have been made and whether the site has maintained topical relevancy.
- Lastly, Mushfiq examines the pages on the sites, specifically those with high-tier backlinks, to assess whether it makes sense to recreate those pages.
About EasyWins.io (31:42-34:15)
- In addition to The Website Flip, Mushfiq also owns EasyWins.io, a database of tactical strategies that will lead to increased website revenues, traffic, and ultimately, valuations.
- Mushfiq explains that he saw a large number of educational services available on buying or selling a website but not how to maximize its valuation. EasyWins.io is designed to fill that gap by providing a purchasable database of all the strategies that have proven effective for himself and other industry experts.
Where People Should Focus Their Attention (34:16-39:05)
- Site builders should not focus too much time on the visual appearance of the site during the Growth Stage. If too much time is spent on formatting and structuring the site, then motivation can be lost early on.
- Instead, a website builder should focus most of their attention on implementing SEO techniques that will quickly increase revenue. This includes building the foundational technical SEO infrastructure to include a fast host such as Cloudways or Digital Ocean, a caching plugin such as WP Rocket, an image compression plugin, and other tools such as Rank Math and Yoast SEO.
- CRO techniques such as affiliate linking can be integrated into pages after they have begun receiving at least 50-100 monthly visitors.
- For formatting, it is advised to use a universal structure across all sites and pages.
A Second Win for Mushfiq (39:06-41:31)
- In 2019, Mushfiq bought a site from Flippa generating $1,000 in monthly revenue for $32,000 (a 32x multiple) in the dating niche. Since the purchase, monthly revenue peaked at $15,000.
- Mushfiq purchased the site because he saw an affiliate offer being promoted through a typical affiliate network by a company that also had a private affiliate program. He purchased the site and contacted the company with a proposal to direct traffic from his site directly to the private affiliate program, cutting out the affiliate network and removing their middleman fees. The company accepted. In return, Mushfiq receives a $60 CPA instead of the $45 that was being paid from sales through the affiliate network.
- Having arranged this partnership, Mushfiq began inserting affiliate links, pop-up ads, comparison tables, call-to-action buttons, and product review buttons to funnel traffic to the private affiliate program. This is when the “easy win” kicked in, and Mushfiq began doubling and tripling monthly revenue.
About Affiliate Partnerships (41:32-44:07)
- Mushfiq is trying to move his affiliate partnerships away from Amazon because of the high commission cuts suffered on the site. However, Mushfiq has found that it is difficult and perhaps impossible to move away from Amazon altogether.
- For example, his outdoor niche site requires affiliate partnerships on Amazon because of the ubiquitous usage of Amazon by e-commerce brands. However, when Mushfiq purchased the site, 100% of the affiliate partnerships were Amazon-based; today, this number has dropped to 20%.
- Mushfiq uses Amazon associate reports to determine what high-value products have an e-commerce platform separate from Amazon. He then reaches out to those companies with a proposal: In return for a 20% commission on all sales made on the company’s Amazon page by users directed there from Mushfiq’s site, the company will benefit from an increase in traffic funneled to their Amazon page, increased keyword rankings on Amazon, and an increase in overall sales.
When Things Go Wrong (44:08-46:49)
- While Mushfiq has experienced general success as a website flipper, there have been times when he’s faced obstacles or made mistakes.
- Updates on Google have proven consistently troublesome for Mushfiq as for all website operators because they can randomly cause a significant drop in traffic without explanation.
- A mistake that Mushfiq made early in his career was buying PBNs (Private Blog Networks). One site he purchased became a flop when the whole network dropped. Since then, Mushfiq has not purchased a PBN.
- Things very rarely go wrong for Mushfiq today because his monetization strategies and criteria for purchasing have been honed to ensure that whenever he makes a purchase, he knows exactly how to rapidly generate higher revenue.