Mushfiq has been buying, growing, and selling website assets since 2008.
His first exit was in 2010.
Since then, he has done 175 website flips with multiple 6-figure exits. His free newsletter, The Website Flip, covers case studies on his portfolio of sites, website flipping guides, and exclusive websites for sale.
I had the pleasure to speak with Mushfiq and learn how he recently bought a website making $300 a month and has grown it to make $3,000 a month in under a year and a half. He plans to keep growing the site and flip it soon, so keep an eye out for when it comes on the market!
Mushfiq explains how and why he bought the site, what he paid, how he’s grown the site. This is a great case study anyone looking to buy, grow and flip a site will enjoy and learn a lot from.
Mushfiq explains what he’s done so far, and his specific case study, so he will take it from here:
Buying, growing, and selling websites is what I have been doing since 2008. Since then, I’ve successfully done 175+ website flips with multiple six-figure exits.
This case study will reveal how I purchased a site for $23,000 at a 76X monthly multiple (6.33X annually) earning just around $300/mo. I reveal what I did to grow the site to what it’s earning today around $3,000 on average to $6,000 in peak months.
Let’s get into it!
The Website I Purchased
I use Flippa to find sites created by “hobby bloggers”. These are sites that the individual created out of passion, wrote a lot of content, but hit a wall when trying to figure out how to monetize it. This is because the bloggers are niche experts but not experts in SEO, monetization, and/or conversion rate optimization (CRO).
These types of sites are excellent acquisition targets for niche website investors. Let’s get into the stats.
- The site is in the overall outdoor niche
- Acquired on March 2020, paid $23,000 to the previous owner (76x avg earnings)
- The site was averaging $300/mo via Amazon Associates only
- Domain live since 2010
- DR 48 according to Ahrefs
- Around 500 articles written by experts
- 181,000 Facebook followers and an email list of 3400
- Multiple natural backlinks from high authority general websites (e.g., CNN, Forbes) as well as authority websites in the same niche
Why Did I Purchase?
- I saw this as a strong authority site built by hobbyists that was poorly monetized
- Saw multiple easy wins to almost immediately 10x earnings (which was done by end of April 2020 just one month after purchase)
- Extremely strong backlinks all gained naturally
- Very high per visitor revenue niche when properly monetized
- Product focused niche with professional reviews
- Very recession-friendly topic
After performing detailed website due diligence, I asked the seller what their asking price was and closed the deal via a Buy It Now on Flippa.
Now, let’s get into why I paid such a high multiple with the easy-win growth tactics.
How I 10X Growth with 5 Major Easy Wins
When I acquire sites, I like to map out the easy wins available on the site before purchasing them. This allows me to justify overpaying for the site to take it off-market.
Note that this is a skill set I’ve developed over many years by buying and selling hundreds of sites.
Here are the growth wins that I implemented within the first month after purchasing the site.
1. Add Custom Comparison Tables
I knew adding a custom comparison table is a fast way to put information readers want right by a “check price” button they are very likely to click. The most successful Amazon affiliate sites use customized comparison tables. For example, Wirecutter is a good example of this.
This allowed me to display high commission relevant products in a way that was eye-catching, helpful, and appealing. This increases both the click-through rate as well as the number of sales made.
This is what I did:
- Analyzed Google Analytics to find the top 20 pages getting the majority of the traffic
- Analyzed the top products being sold on each page
- Created a dedicated comparison table for each page with 3 product recommendations
Here is an example of the comparison table I created for all of my top traffic pages:
2. Implemented New Affiliate Programs
It’s no secret Amazon doesn’t generally give the best terms to affiliates.
Many other affiliate programs have much higher affiliate rates and longer-lasting cookies to track sales. There is also a small but growing group of consumers who simply won’t buy from Amazon.
By having an alternative check price button I increased overall conversions as well as affiliate sales from programs that paid a far higher percentage than Amazon did.
I added relevant brands from AvantLink, ShareASale, and more with the comparison tables. This drastically increased both the number of total sales and the number of high percentage affiliate sales.
Here is an example of the multi-affiliate comparison table:
3. Add Contextual Affiliate Links to Amazon
I’m a huge fan of AAWP. This is simply the best WordPress plugin for adding Amazon links.
The flexibility of AAWP allows me to replace old Amazon links from the previous owner and display my Amazon affiliate links quickly and effectively however I want them presented.
The previous site owner did not add links to products within the content. I manually added links throughout the content.
This increases the click-through rate because as readers read the content, they are enticed to click on links instead of manually finding the call-to-action buttons or comparison tables.
Our job as site owners is to make the user experience as streamlined as possible.
4. Added Display Advertisements
Since there were no display ads on the site, adding display ads was one of the clearest ways to increase revenue on the site.
I applied to Mediavine and AdThrive but the site was rejected due to the topic. Because of this, I went with NeworMedia for general display ads, and LockerDome, a specialized display ad network.
I treat display ads as residual income. So I generally get a low ad RPM because I won’t interfere with the user experience to receive higher display ad rates.
Video ads were added on the desktop via Ex.co to bring in another additional income stream. These are incredibly disruptive on mobile devices which is why I only allow them on desktop computers.
Even at low RPM rates, these display ads were new income to the site. Ramping up the traffic will only continue to grow the display ad income numbers.
5. Revamp Site Foundation
I saw multiple foundational issues with the site that could be improved immediately to help with both user experience and on-site SEO.
First, I removed Elementor for GeneratePress Premium and GenerateBlocks. These are my preferred theme and customization tool options. They’re clean, flexible, and let me design the user experience I want visitors to have.
Next, I added the WP Rocket plugin for caching. This would help with load times and site speed.
Finally, I used Cloudways for hosting. I want web hosting that is fast, dependable, and that I don’t have to worry about.
These foundational changes mattered immensely when optimizing the site to run fast, smooth, and be SEO-friendly according to what Google wants to see.
Now for the results! Here is the profit and loss of the website since March 2020. I’ve owned the site now for 14 full months as of May 2021. In blue are the revenues, and in red are the growth costs.
After acquiring the site in mid-March, I implemented the growth easy wins, and in the first full month in April 2020, the site earned $3,595.
I continued improving on the site as time went on and due to this being in the outdoor niche, the site received a seasonal uptick in revenues peaking at $7,536 in July 2020.
One thing you will notice is that I invest heavily in growth. Growth includes new content, backlinks, virtual assistants, software, and more.
When did I break even? Month 9!
Check out this chart that shows my cumulative profit every month since acquisition. The red line is my breakeven line of $23,000. Essentially when my cumulative profit surpasses the red line, I have fully recouped my cost of acquisition, and every dollar I earn is pure profit.
After owning the site for 14-months and in full growth mode, I am entering the maintenance phase of the website flip lifecycle.
Now, I am cutting down on a significant amount of content. At one point, I was publishing 50+ articles on the site. To maintain the site, I will be publishing 10-15 articles.
Why am I cutting down? A few reasons:
- The content needs time to “marinate” in the Google SERPs. Giving some time for the content to rank will allow me to understand which articles need further optimization
- Build up reserves. By piling the profits, I can be ready for the new growth phase for this website
- Focus on other projects. I have a portfolio of sites so my other sites need my attention more than this one.
Will I flip this site?
Yes, I will flip this site at one point. I am a website flipper first. I prefer not to hold on to sites for a long time horizon. In approximately 12-15 months, I will plan for an exit on this site.
This is not because I do not believe in the site, it’s more about my personality. I like to grow businesses; not maintain them.
Buying, growing, and selling niche sites is a great way to build up an income stream but also build up realizable equity in an asset.
While the passive income is nice to have, real wealth is created when sites are sold for 6-figure outcomes.
This site’s trailing 12-month average revenue is $4,840. At a 35X to 40X monthly multiple which is the approximate going rate these days, I can exit right now for $169,400 to $193,600.
Go out there, analyze some deals, and get going buying your first site!
Great read! Love the detail of the quick wins for the reno.