Tune into this week’s episode of the Domain Magnate Show, as the host Michael Bereslavsky chats with Mushfiq Sarker from The Website Flip, a newsletter on website growth, case studies, guides and dealflow. Mushfiq shares some advice for new investors and gives us an insight to his business.
Mushfiq S received the B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) from Oregon State University (OSU) in 2012. He obtained the PhD degree in Electrical Engineering at University of Washington with the MOVES Lab in 2016, with a focus in power system economics and operations. Currently, Mushfiq is running WebsiteFlip, a thrice-weekly newsletter on website growth case studies, guides, and dealflow.
SKIP TO THE GOOD PARTS:
- 0:55 – 2:24 We learn a little bit about Mushfiq and what the company is up to.
- 10:50 – 11:31 Mushfiq recalls the first high profiting site he flipped.
- 19:16 – 19:44 Mushfiq chats a bit about his day job and the impact that has on his lifestyle.
- 26:10 – 28:06 Mushfiq thoughts on what the market will look like 5 to 10 years from now.
- 32:45 – 36:29 Mushfiq shares some tricks that help grow and monetize a newsletter well.
- 41:13 – 41:50 Mushfiq’s advice to new investors.
Michael Bereslavsky 0:11 Welcome listeners to this new episode of the Domain Magnate Show. And today we have with us Mushfiq, from Website Flip. Hi, Mushfiq.
Mushfiq S 0:22 Hi Micheal, very nice to be here. Thank you so much.
Michael Bereslavsky 0:25 Yeah, it’s good that we finally get to connect. So I know we’ve been chatting over email for probably many years and discussing many different deals. I’m not sure if we’ve made a deal before or not. But I know we’ve discussed many
Mushfiq S 0:39 Yes, discussed many have not closed on any together.
Michael Bereslavsky 0:43 So let’s start by telling a little bit more about yourself to our listeners. What do you do? How many deals have you done, things like that?
Mushfiq S 0:55 Sure. Yeah, I started in 2008. I built my first site there, it was in the voice over internet protocol. So VoIP niche, was promoting like Skype back in the day when they were not well known. I had a site that was a pretty good authority there and built that for two years. And then in 2010, I was approached by Brandon Lee, I didn’t even know websites could be sold was way too young. And no idea. It was just a passive income thing I was doing while I was in college, and then they wanted to buy it. I put a number out there and we went to escrow closed. So right from then 2010, early 2010, I realized that, you know, website, flipping is a thing. So I got very active buying sites from Flippa, and other digital point forums, all of those places back then. And then you know, since then I’ve done 175, website flips, many of them are small and some of them are, you know, six figures. And so now I, you know, focus on four to five sites a year that I flip for six figures and higher and the smaller deals I kind of broker out or find smaller operators to manage, but don’t get really involved. And then I on the side I started a newsletter on just focus on website flipping a website investing industry, which I saw there was a opening there. So that takes up a significant amount of time, and then my portfolio takes up the remaining.
Michael Bereslavsky 2:27 And how many sites have you sold for your newsletter? Or have you brokered?
Mushfiq S 2:32 Yeah, so I officially launched my newsletter, April 2020. However, before then across since 2010, 11 when I was active on Flippa, I built up a small email list of interested buyers, sellers, and I would send them deals that I find on Flippa, maybe I’d buy it for a lower multiple, and then I hold it for a few months to improve it and grow. Or I would just buy it and flip immediately to it within 24 hours. So I’ve done many of my deals privately through that email list, let’s say not a newsletter, and you know, since April, we do maybe about four or five small deals a month, these are less than $50,000. That’s my sweet spot. They are the liquidity is quicker, I can find a buyer within 24 hours. And the sites are much easier to do a transfer, it doesn’t take much more to close. And you know, the broker fees are good. So that’s the sweet spot for me.
Michael Bereslavsky 3:32 That’s really nice. And I understand it’s mostly content sites, content affiliate sites, and what’s the average multiple for the ones you broker?
Mushfiq S 3:43 Yeah, I, you know, I like to…when I used to do in the back in the day, you know, 25 to 30 x multiple monthly. Now it’s around 32 x, I like to keep it a little bit lower than the public marketplaces like Motion Invest investors, or Empire Flippers just to give people, you know, an upside to come to me than others. And, you know, so that’s 32 x is the average.
Michael Bereslavsky 4:11 And what commission to charge?
Mushfiq S 4:15 It depends, I like to have at least a $500 minimum fee, at least or like about 8%, whichever is higher. And if it’s a repeat, you know, seller or somebody like that I get them deal. So I don’t need that much of an overhead because it’s just me and a few VA’s so we can be creative.
Michael Bereslavsky 4:39 Right. Now that sounds good. So it seems that you started maybe just a few years after I started I started with the website flipping around 2005. And digital point was a big thing back then, side point as well before Flippa. And it was an interesting landscape because, like no one knew that you could buy sites It was so strange. And there were no people building sites to flip them yet so that came much later. Yeah, and it was all sort of very strange. I remember one time I did a deal. And I bought a site for like $4,000 through PayPal. And we were just chatting and exchanged a few messages. And I felt like yeah, he seems like a reasonable guy. So I just sent him a $4,000 in PayPal. And then I thought, what did I just do? I thought that was a stupid thing to do. But then everything turned out fine. He transformed the website. Yeah, but yeah, it was a strange times. And you could buy sites for like, 10 times monthly revenue, multiples. Amazing.
Mushfiq S 5:51 Seven to 10 back in the day, slowly creeped up to 15. I remember that clearly. And then, you know, last few years was 25 to 30. And now it’s 30+.
Michael Bereslavsky 6:03 Yeah.
Mushfiq S 6:04 And it’s just going up.
Michael Bereslavsky 6:06 Yeah, it was so much easier. I remember one site I acquire that paid like $600. And it was making, I think $50 per month, because the seller just did not understand how AdSense work. Like they just do not understand that in order to make more money, you just have to put the ads in a more prominent space that people click on. So I bought it I just rearranged the ads. And then it started making $1,000 per month. And then I sold it quickly for $20,000. And that was like so, so much easier than now. And now of course the landscape has changed completely. So that’s just impossible. Everyone knows how things work. Everyone knows how to optimize ads. Everyone knows what the website is worth. So it’s a completely different time.
Mushfiq S 6:57 I don’t know, I think you probably did that. You manually place the ads, right? Nowadays, this is all automated. You just you don’t have to do anything. I remember ad testing display ads, and google adsense ads on what the color of the text should be. What font size, and placement that was interesting.
Michael Bereslavsky 7:15 Yeah. Yeah, the color was the white and blue. That was the most effective. And AdSense default was just terrible color. Like gray, or green. And yeah, it was the easiest thing getting that changed with default color. Yeah, but now it’s so different. Like we’ve seen many people using Media Vine. And they don’t even know like how things work very much. But even they are using Media Vine so all the places and all the forums where people talk about like buying a website that uses AdSense and transferring it to Media Vine or something like that, even what that is very rare nowadays to find.
Mushfiq S 8:00 Right.
Michael Bereslavsky 8:01 Yeah, but also some some fun times for sure. And the main challenge back then was that there are not that many deals to find not that many sites for sale with some decent revenues. Yeah.
Mushfiq S 8:17 Yeah. It was just all random private contacts, forum messages, no proper brokerage and then Flippa came around, that change things.
Michael Bereslavsky 8:27 And what did the author’s deals look like? Did you also pay with PayPal? Did you have some? Did you encounter some scammers at some point?
Mushfiq S 8:35 Um, PayPal, mostly PayPal for many years. escrow I use us for a lot. Scammers, I would say yes. But being in the US, I could just do it clean and kind of in Paypal and just, you know, get my money back. But I didn’t ever come across a legit scam. I would not transfer the money before I got it. That’s for sure. I didn’t pay up front. On a PayPal deal. I wanted at least something in return like maybe the website or the Google Analytics or the domain itself transferred first and then I’d give them money and then they get the rest or something like that. So it was an exchange. But yeah, no, I have not been scammed yet.
Michael Bereslavsky 9:21 Yeah, I had a few of those. I was doing a bunch of risky deals, and I had a guy one time that wasn’t meant to pay for Western Union. And that was obviously a red sign. But he had a very popular Facebook page. So I thought that’s probably worth the risk. And we had a chat and call and everything seemed reasonable. But yeah, I did send it. And yes, it turned out I mean, he wasn’t it was a strange thing. He didn’t seem like a scammer, but he said like, oh, somebody else paid more. And it was actually true. Somebody else paid more but then he just decided not to refund me anything and stopped responding to messages. So that was those just $2,000. But I those things happened a few times. I think it’s like it happens with everyone. And then it took me some time to learn and then, like understand how to do due diligence better. Some valuable experience too. And what was…do you remember the first website ever that you bought? And that you flipped?
Mushfiq S 10:33 Ah, no, I don’t remember that. That’s a good question. No, I know the one I built up and then sold, but I can’t remember which one I first bought and sold.
Michael Bereslavsky 10:43 And what was the biggest site? What was the biggest site your flipped with biggest profit?
Mushfiq S 10:53 So my first big site was in 2016, through Empire Flippers, which was $120,000. And then I did one in 2018 for $200,000. And right now, I think the other one I did was $170,000. So those are the recent ones. So I’ve been kind of what is it called stair stepping up. And so now, you know, I hold longer to grow them out. And so now I’m looking to sell one in the 300K range, and then hopefully another one to 500K in the next year or two.
Michael Bereslavsky 11:33 And sites, how much did you acquire them for the one for that you sold for $200?
Mushfiq S 11:39 Yeah, the one for $200 I acquired for $23,000 on Flippa. And within 10 months it was sold for $200.
Michael Bereslavsky 11:50 That’s pretty good, quick. And so what allowed you to get such good profits? What was your main advantage that?
Mushfiq S 11:57 Yeah, my thesis is I like distressed websites that are built by hobby bloggers, let’s say people who kind of understand the topic, really love the topic, write excellent content. And they get the traffic up because of the content, but they just don’t know how to monetize that traffic. So that specific website was getting, its it was in the dating niche. So it was getting about 50,000 visitors, written by somebody who really knows the topic, but it was monetized very poorly, making like $800 a month, something like that. And you know, within a month or two of CRM techniques, you know, SEO changes, it went up to 5K, and then it just kept growing from there. So I look for those kind of sites that have high traffic, good content, or just don’t understand…monetization is not in place, and I do a few of those acquisitions a year, they’re very rare to find, when I do I pay crazy multiples, I pay 75X for my last site, which I bought for $32,000. And now it’s earning $10,000 a month. So you know, that’s I am willing to pay because my sweet spot is less than 50K, I don’t care about the multiple I’m just looking at upside, like the easy wins the CRM opportunities, right, so willing to pay a crazy multiple, get the deal and then improve it over a few months and get my money back.
Michael Bereslavsky 13:24 So that means you increase it more than 10 times. How did you manage to increase revenue that much? What was he doing improperly?
Mushfiq S 13:32 Yeah, mostly, you know, whenever I look at a site, I’m looking through Google Analytics and looking at the top 10 pages, top 20 pages and looking at what can I change of those because that’s going to get me that revenue increase immediately. And most of these hobbyist bloggers, they write good content, but they don’t know where to put the call to action buttons or the affiliate links or the comparison tables or you know how to structure the content. So it’s gets the user to click, so those easy CRL changes can you know, 10 x a site within a month or two. So that’s why I look for the easy ones.
Michael Bereslavsky 14:13 It’s still hard to imagine how can you 10 x with zero changes. Like tables, it might add like 10 to 20%. But do you find better affiliate programs negotiate better rates at all?
Mushfiq S 14:24 Yeah, so on that specific one, that I paid, I believe a 30K what I said it was earning, you know, three $400 a month, I was getting 100,000 visitors though, earning $300 or $400 a month. So that one was easy, right? I just took the top 10, 20 pages that are getting 80% of the traffic added the affiliate links that were missing, like the person just did not even understand that he should add affiliate links to these pages which are buying guide type articles. So it’s a matter of adding those in there. And the right spots which doubled, tripled, sorry, it 10 x the income. I also added display ads later on. In the cycle, maybe month four or five, it bumped it up even higher to 5K. And then it’s switching out amazon for direct partnerships with affiliates who share a cell Commission Junction. Since it’s an outdoor niche, so as an Avalon link, impact radius, those higher tier networks to really boost it up to 10K, which it is at now.
Michael Bereslavsky 14:27 That sounds pretty good. So have you bought all these sites of your own capital? Or have you also worked with some investors before?
Mushfiq S 15:36 So I prefer doing my own deals. Recently, I have the dating site that I sold for 200K, I actually sold 75% equity, I retained 25 to an investor and I managed that deal for him. So that was my first one where I sold off a big chunk and just to get cash back and then still continue with the deal. I like to know…what I like to do is buy these under appreciated assets, build them up and then sell either I find a buyer that wants to take all of it, or I’m willing to give, you know, keep 10, 20 25% some skin in the game and then take a management fee to continue managing that site.
Michael Bereslavsky 16:20 I think your video quality is is lower than it was in the beginning. Is there some setting you can tweak? What are your thoughts about the current landscape of the market? There is quite a few newsletters that do something similar, quite a few smaller brokerages. Do you think your list will be able to stay competitive?
Mushfiq S 16:46 Brokering through my list is a very small revenue stream. It’s not my primary business. I do it because people reach out to me and said the site for sale. I have buyers. So I just do the connection. That’s not the goal. You know, I do maybe three or five deals. I’m not trying to compete with emotion invest with investors clubs. It’s just a bespoke brokerage. Yeah. So mostly, I’m doing no newsletter for information, I see a gap in the market. There’s a lot of info on getting started. Okay. There’s a lot of info by the brokerages of how does you know, they help you sell a site and to put content out, there’s this gap in between of people who’s already kind of created a site and know how to get it out. Now they have money and they want to invest and they don’t know how to do the due diligence. They don’t know what to look for where the red flags, where to find the deals, what kind of deals, and then how to grow those sites. So I kind of bridge that gap and connect those and provide the education there in terms of content, no courses, just free newsletter free long form essays and I send everyone involved that information.
Michael Bereslavsky 18:01 I’ve looked at some of your articles. I think there is some pretty good content. And I know it’s already getting some good traffic as well, right?
Mushfiq S 18:10 Yes, yeah.
Michael Bereslavsky 18:13 Nice, very nice. So I understand that your main source of income your main businesses from your portfolio and your flips.
Mushfiq S 18:20 That’s right. Yeah.
Michael Bereslavsky 18:22 When did you become full time basically in this? When did you decide to really switch to this?
Mushfiq S 18:31 I’m not full time, I have a day job. I don’t do this full time, I have to delegate most of the tasks to my team’s vas operators. But yeah, I spend, you know, the 40 hour week I spent maybe 40 hours on my day job and then another 40 hours. It’s a long weeks. Yeah.
Michael Bereslavsky 18:56 What’s your day job?
Mushfiq S 18:59 I am an engineer by trade. So I work with a lot of VC funded startups in the renewable energy space to helping them grow. From technology point of view.
Michael Bereslavsky 19:10 And have you considered quitting, going full time? Do you love your job more?
Mushfiq S 19:16 No, I wouldn’t say I love my job more. I just use my job as what’s the impactful part? Right. So what I’m doing is important, renewable energy and global warming. So that’s where I want to leave an impact. I don’t want to be, you know, 60, 50 years old thinking, what did I do? I just built a few Amazon niche sites, right? So there has to be something and you know, the portfolio of sites. I really enjoy that it’s very data driven, and it provides cash flow for lifestyle.
Michael Bereslavsky 19:47 That’s a good point. I think that’s really nice that you see your job more as, as a way to contribute as well to the world. And what are your thoughts about the industry in general how it’s evolving now and we have huge influx of buyers and and lots of lower quality sites for sale?
Mushfiq S 20:14 Yeah, I’ve seen you know…you and I’ve been here a long time 12 years 15 years we’ve seen, I’ve seen you know PB ends come and go, I mean, they are still here but pbn sites kind of being built up and then just flipped. Now people are getting smarter. multiples have gone up Empire Flippers has grown crazily, and then there’s smaller brokerages that come, now they have funds, you have your fund, and things are going crazy. So you know, it’s a booming industry, I love it. multiples are going up. That’s great for everybody. It’s sometimes sucks for me as a buyer, because we have to buy it 40 x to beat somebody else. Right. But, you know, I think more and more individual investors and institutions are entering. And they need different types of services. I get contacted through my newsletter from private equity companies that want due diligence help, that didn’t happen in the past. And they pay much higher than a typical niche site builder wanting due diligence help. So all these sub you know, services, and that happens in every industry, right? When you sell the shovels, right? The shovel is due diligence and all these different services that you can offer. So I see is continuing for the next five to 10 years, I don’t see this slowing down this is digital real estate.
Michael Bereslavsky 21:34 What do you think are the best ways to find good deals nowadays, which is getting harder and harder?
Mushfiq S 21:42 Yeah, honestly. Flippa has actually been my best source of deal flow. And that’s surprising for a lot of people, but Flippa and attracts the beginner hobbyist type bloggers to list their sites, right. And they, you know, I’ve found two of my best deals in the past two years through Flippa at about 200, 300K exits. So and you know, I’m always on Flippa looking for deals, that’s probably one of the ways if you know how to filter and you know what to look for, you can find really good ones. And then the seller is willing to negotiate, because they want to sell, and there’s no like market, a broker in between that saying, Hey, don’t sell it for lower than this amount. It’s pretty much the Wild West, I can push, right? And then of course, private, just reaching out. I know you guys do that very well, I have not had success. But I think though if you can master those two, I think that’s the best way. I have not bought a deal from Empire Flippers, which I used to be an active buyer. But over the past five or six years, I have not bought a deal from those marketplaces.
Michael Bereslavsky 22:48 Yeah, I actually agree. We haven’t bought anything on Empire Flippers yet, but we will close to was one deliver close to buying and then someone else bought it. And we do get some good deals on Flippa as well, I think it’s been really great that we’ve enjoyed a good relationship with Flippa. And I’ve actually had Blake, the CEO on our podcast a couple of times as well. And there are still some good deals there potentially, you just have to really search for them a lot and do your own due diligence. I think what happens is, most people just not notice them, because people don’t put good information in their listing. And then also they just don’t respond. So sometimes you have to trace them down and really try to connect with people if they don’t respond for a flip on. But yeah, you can you can find some good deals, we are doing some outreach…sometimes it works. But it does take quite a bit of effort. I think there is probably good deals out there. You just have to be very creative now, at how you find them. Yeah. And also, the other part is probably developing some really good advantages like then you have specific connections like create a great affiliate programs in a specific niche, then you can just go in and hunt down in that niche. Right. Have you done something similar as well?
Mushfiq S 24:14 Yeah, I have I have not hunted down but what I have done is negotiated very unique and higher than average affiliate commissions and specific…like I’m in the dating protocol on one of my sites. And I have like 20% higher commissions on the CPA models are fixed amount. So yeah, I mean, I could go and buy my competitor dating site that’s, you know, right in the second page and immediately, you know, 2 x the income I have not done that. Maybe that’s a good strategy. So I have to think about that.
Michael Bereslavsky 24:46 Yeah, that’s what we do as well. And the thing is, if our affiliate program you can generally negotiate unless it’s it’s Amazon Of course. Then you’re going to be…if you’re a billion dollars short to negotiate with them, but any affiliate program, you can negotiate higher rates and yeah, we have many programs we’ve been able to negotiate double, triple even commissions, right. And as one lead though, there are many new marketplaces now there are also many smaller brokers and brokerages. Have you worked with those? Are you finding your deals there?
Mushfiq S 25:26 No, no, I have not.
Michael Bereslavsky 25:29 Like Motion Invest?
Mushfiq S 25:31 Oh, yeah, Motion Invest? No, I have not bought a deal on there yet. I monitor it. Maybe one day.
Michael Bereslavsky 25:38 Right. That makes sense. And what do you think in like a few years from now, like 5, 10 years, you mentioned this is probably gonna keep going and in terms of big players, do you think Empire Flippers will just dominate the market? Or will it be more intregrated.
Mushfiq S 25:58 In terms of in terms of broker marketplace?
Michael Bereslavsky 26:03 Basically, yeah, will all the deals will probably be more or less at one place. Or well it still be the same as now, fragmented.
Mushfiq S 26:12 don’t know you know, I I see Empire Flippers is obviously the spearheaded the market, they know what they’re doing. Like you and I, we haven’t bought a deal recently from Empire Flippers. So who is? Right. I don’t want to say it like that. But I think it’s those private equity companies or very, you know, high wealth individuals that see those assets as cash flowing. But you know, I, why I don’t buy them because I see the subclass of sites that are on Empire Flippers are built by you, and not people who actually understand the game, we’re building the site up to its full potential, like we squeeze out most of it, and then we sell it, right? Not necessarily every site, but it’s somewhat like that. So we you know, we sell it on those because they get 40 x multiple, right. So as a buyer, I when I go look at Empire Flippers do which I do every week, I just don’t see crazy opportunities for 5 x growth to 10 x growth within a year, right. So I don’t buy it. So I, you know, I think Empire Flippers is just going to keep growing because they’re getting a different subclass of buyers that are not mean, it may be bigger, higher, higher worth individuals, so and the smaller gap is going to be filled with Flippa on, it’s just growing, right? They have the biggest buyer, and seller pool, and more people and more people are putting their sights on there. And I seen through my newsletter, and my following people don’t know how to look through Flippa they just get scared. It’s just so scammy it’s like the eBay of websites, right? So and that’s good. But that’s also opportunity for people who know what to look for, right? So I’m betting on Empire Flippers taking the top tier of the market, they’re doing that already. And they’ll continue with the capital and all of that, right. And I’m assuming that it Flippa is gonna continue on that growth trend. And I’m going to be there to buy a little smaller deals that are good. The needles in the haystack.
Michael Bereslavsky 28:07 Yeah, I Yeah, I agree with that. I personally think also that in this range is getting harder, but maybe if you if we go higher range, and that’s what we are doing in Domain Magnate, as well as going for bigger deals, then there is more opportunities, like once you approach a million dollars or more deal size, there is more opportunities, because there…is this is a range there, you don’t have as many buyers like no, like most individual buyers cannot afford it. And most funds as well. And also, because you don’t really have many of these made for sale sites in that range. Like they usually don’t survive that long to to get to become that valuable. So I think that’s a much safer space.
Mushfiq S 28:54 Yeah, one one, unique situation. One, a strategic buyer of an e commerce brand is buying their affiliate site. And that’s valued at 1.8 million, right? So, you know, when you’re at that level, that site has been around for 10 years earning consistent revenues and growing, but you’re absolutely right. I can’t afford a 1 million site, but your fund definitely can. And there’s plenty of good sites out there at that range for sure.
Michael Bereslavsky 29:24 Yeah, that’s that’s our main strategy as well. That’s why we are raising the short fund now is so they can we can expand more into that. And the challenge that we’ve seen now is we get a lot of potential investors from domain magnets, we have 1000s of people coming to us and saying, hey, I want to buy a website for like 100,000 or anywhere between like 50,000, maybe 200, 300? And the problem is it’s really hard to find deals in those ranges. And most buyers don’t really understand that. They think that It’s kinda like…people think it’s kind of like real estate. You know, if you get a bad deal on real estate, maybe you’ll just make a lower, slightly lower interest and slightly lower returns. But you get a good deal. You get more returns, but it’s really not like that. It’s completely different here.
Mushfiq S 30:19 Yeah. Have you guys thought of doing maybe…and I know your fund is many, many investors, you buy 5 to 10 websites. But have you thought about, okay, taking two or three people, and then having them put 100,000 each and then buying a bigger site?
Michael Bereslavsky 30:38 Yeah, so that’s actually what we did with our first two funds. The first fund was five people. The second fund is also similar amount of people. So it’s a smaller funds. And those was like family funds where people know each other, so it’s much easier to arrange. And we were buying smaller businesses with them. Now, this is the third fund that we want to raise up to 10 million, and then go for bigger businesses. But it’s, like even $200,000 range $300,000, it’s still like, I think it’s still like a little bit difficult to find really high quality businesses. And still much higher competition.
Mushfiq S 31:23 So yeah, 10 million, maybe 5 to 10 businesses, or 1 million each, right?
Michael Bereslavsky 31:30 Yeah, that’s the idea. And that will give us a lot more opportunity also to like go for different strategies. So what we’ve seen is, once you get to that range, let’s say you buy a business for 1 million, 2 million, and then you grow it, let’s say 2, 3, 5 million, that’s close to the range where like real big private equity firm, local, or public companies to look at. So you, you get exposed to much higher valuations as well. So we have an opportunity to buy it, like three or four x multiple, and then sell at like 15 x multiple, potentially to a public company. So those are things that we don’t really have in the six figure range yet. That’s a huge thing. But also, it’s just a completely different type of businesses. Usually, it’s sites that have been around for a decade that are very, very stable, and the risk is so much lower. So that isn’t the biggest thing. And what are your thoughts about like Google, in general, they’ve seen the trend now that over the past 15 years, since I’ve been involved in SEO, the trend has been more or less the same. SEO does something back in 2005, 2006, it was at some scraper sites. And we were doing them as well, just like thousands of domains, building a bunch of auto generated content, putting ads and it worked great. And then the Google algorithm update came and killed all those. And then the next thing and then, you know, the next thing was, I think that too, oh, different. correctly links like that, and like blog links, or blog comments that became relevant. And now it’s PBNs and PBNs is slowly dying out. So what do you think what’s next? Will just the biggest sites remain? It’s survival.
Mushfiq S 33:28 That’s what that’s happening. Right? The biggest things are remaining. I, you know, when you see the Google search for many of these keywords that are most affiliate market, product related, Google in like 50%, top page, various brands, and it’s a few sites, and then you got to go to the second page to get to the rest. So I know, I don’t see…Google will always be there. I find that Google is just giving me the real visitors, I need to capture that into emails. That’s why I pushed, I really pushed a lot to email marketing online, one of my sites as 19,000. Again, money 10K. So I’m mostly going a lot into controlling that audience, Facebook groups, email and whatnot, because I don’t trust that people will always pay for my site, even though my site is 1o years old. It’s a very powerful site in and of itself, but I just don’t trust it. So I don’t know what Google will do. Next. Look, I see that they’re doing all this AI stuff. I’m an engineer. I understand that stuff. But it’s impossible to really know what’s going.
Michael Bereslavsky 34:46 So you’re doing a lot of stuff with email, and social, do you do the paid Facebook and paid social traffic together pages?
Mushfiq S 34:56 I do on specific times. So, for example, for my posts, I have a Facebook page group with 180,000 followers that I bought with the site. And so I run ads to that during specific events like Amazon Prime Day or Black Friday, or in those kind of times, that’s when I see a boost of sales otherwise not in general.
Michael Bereslavsky 35:23 And for the newsletter? Have you received it with the site? Or did you grow it organically?
Mushfiq S 35:30 I received a small email list and I grew it over time.
Michael Bereslavsky 35:36 So what are some tricks that people can do to really grow a newsletter quickly and monetize it well?
Mushfiq S 35:42 Yeah, so in this specific vertical outdoor, you know, what I was doing is, of course, a lead magnet to give something away, I give away checklists that were created. And then I use pop up plugins, often monster that has really good conversions. To capture that email. I have a 32 email sequence that goes out to the app that’s been tested over time to generate revenue. So the start my concept is that I’ve read online, three informational emails, one commercial and that process is built in to a web newsletter campaign that I’ve built. So that now generates automatic revenue. My job is to bring in the organic and social traffic so that I can get them on the email list.
Michael Bereslavsky 36:32 Do you make most of the sales most of the revenue is actually from the list? Not from the site?
Mushfiq S 36:39 about 40% from the list, 60% of sales.
Michael Bereslavsky 36:44 That’s pretty good. And how are you able to do that with sites that don’t really have an established list that you just buy it’s in own content?
Mushfiq S 36:55 Well, it depends on the niche I wouldn’t say…when I when I bought the site I had a thousand, now about nineteen thousand. So it’s not about the size of the list. It’s just the specific niche.
Michael Bereslavsky 37:10 So outdoors and how do you figure out which niche is good for the list or not?
Mushfiq S 37:16 Competitors. I look at my competitors now in that niche, everybody who has an email list is doing very well. So I’m just mimicking that, right. But I’ve seen home niches or some things like kitchen equipment that’s not going to do email.
Michael Bereslavsky 37:34 Yeah, so as I understand it, if it’s something that people would be coming back for more information then you’d probably want to list and if it’s just a one time purchase that’s probably doesn’t make sense. Like if you’re selling some kind of generators that they just come and buy? That’s reasonable. So for sites like dating or like site about cats, something more mainstream that probably makes sense to have a newsletter.
Mushfiq S 38:02 I have a dating site. I don’t see my competitors doing email list. The reason is that you know, you pick a dating site and you kind of register for it and use your stuff there for a while. You kind of test it, use it right? And there is no need to come back. This immediate they have some time. And also dating affiliates pay a significant amount upfront, $140 per sale. So I already made a bunch of that money from that visitor. So email marketing, it might not work, now dating as a dating site, relationship advice and those kinds of things, yeah. But my site is not about that.
Michael Bereslavsky 38:53 Yeah, sounds good. So how many sites do you manage right now?
Mushfiq S 38:57 I have five that I manage with a team of people. That’s the sweet spot.
Michael Bereslavsky 39:06 I think that’s pretty good. The big mistake that many people make is they just get too many different sites, too many small sites and then they never look at them. We’ve done that before.
Mushfiq S 39:18 Yeah, we had 18 sites and they are starting to die and then decided to liquidate all of them and start fresh. So that liquidation happened in 2016, 2017, start fresh again. Focusing on them makes sense.
Michael Bereslavsky 39:33 Yeah, you gotta focus, that’s important. Nice, so what’s so what’s next for you? What’s the plan for this year and next year? What are you going to be focused on terms of the whole business?
Mushfiq S 39:45 Yeah. I’m very much enjoying doing the newsletter, so that will be your focus on my time. My I will be trying to exit my dating site, within the this year, hopefully and then the outdoor site, diversified ecommerce or email marketing. Just some out of the box, things that the niche site owners don’t usually apply. So that’s some strategy. And then, you know, hopefully maybe aquire one or two more sites. Not sure.
Michael Bereslavsky 40:24 And next on you think you’ll continue more or less the same? Or do you plan some, some scaling some growth? Or the contrary, doing something big?
Mushfiq S 40:38 In terms of, sorry, my portfolio, or in terms of…
Michael Bereslavsky 40:40 Your portfolio in terms of your newsletter? Your website?
Mushfiq S 40:45 Right now just continue as is, I don’t know, I don’t plan to do anything crazy. I’m not gonna raise money.
Michael Bereslavsky 40:54 Good strategy. And so what would be your advice to investors, to buyers to people who are new to the space and they want to learn they want to buy something they have, let’s say 100,000, or a couple $100,000 to spend? What would you recommend them?
Mushfiq S 41:13 So yeah, for investors that people who have money, you know, it’s not due diligence is key, due diligence is key in every industry. But it’s more key in this industry, if you don’t understand what you’re buying, don’t buy it, to have to understand how it a website makes money, you have to understand the red flags. You know, if you’re an investor that has money, take some of these courses. You don’t need to get into the nitty gritty, but you just take the higher level understand what these niche site creators are thinking, these operators are thinking so you can speak the same language. But really just enjoy this.
Michael Bereslavsky 41:51 Well thank you, Mushfiq. A pleasure to chat. Any final advice or thoughts to buyers, sellers, investors. Anything? Anything I haven’t asked you that you wanted to mention?
Mushfiq S 42:07 I think we’re good. Thank you for having me. Appreciate it.
Michael Bereslavsky 42:10 Thank you and how can people reach out to you?
Michael Bereslavsky 42:22 Okay, thank you Mushfiq, have a good day.
Mushfiq S 42:23 Thank you.
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