Ep 14 Part 1: Mark Whitman on JVs


In this episode of the Website Investing podcast, Richard speaks with Mark Whitman from Content Ellect, Task It & Golden Web on how he is partnering up with Benjamin Strusnik (podcast episode coming out soon) to build a batch of sites on aged domains.

In this part 1, free subscribers get the first ~40 minutes of the conversation; paying subscribers also get part 2 in their RSS feed. As is typical, part 2 elicits more insights as we get deeper into the conversation.


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Part 1 Show Notes

Mark’s Businesses

Content Services

Mark has been hard at work with growing his content services business Contentellect. Here, customers can buy content and manage their accounts. Currently, monthly blog articles are very popular, especially for their main target audience: SaaS companies. The most popular service, however, is their full outsourced blog management, where they build content calendars, do keyword research, and write and publish content for their customers. 

FBA Business

He also has a neck-warmer/bandana product that he sells at around 200 units a day. 

Affiliate Content Site Portfolio

Currently, Mark has 6 affiliate sites in his portfolio. Of these 6 sites, 2 were acquired, while the rest are being built up organically over time. However, he isn’t looking to increase this, considering the Amazon update, and a reduction of affiliate commissions with one of their partners. 

Joint Venture

Mark also recently formed a joint venture with a business partner, Benjamin. Here, the partner would be building affiliate sites, while Mark would be funding the business. They are currently looking to build up 5 sites out of expired domains they purchased. Mark’s content services agency is also involved here, with a goal of initially having 75,000 words per site, to see which site responds and performs best.

Buying More?

Acquiring new affiliate sites or content related sites aren’t something that Mark is keen on doing in the future, considering the risks and amount of money involved. Though he does admit that there is proper risk and reward involved, he has increasingly become jaded by the risks. 

SEO Auditing and Implementation

Mark’s joint venture, GoldenWeb, performs SEO auditing. A lot of services do SEO audits, but very few will actually implement the requirements for you. There is thus a big opportunity for a product site service that performs these, and Mark’s joint venture is one of them. Their target market right now are big e-commerce websites, and prices for these clients start at around $1,000 with an additional fee for implementation, depending on the problems. During the audit, they actually tell their clients how to make the changes if they want to do it themselves, but some can be quite technical, so leaving it to them could be a better and safer option.

Seeing Potential

The SEO auditing and implementation services started out when Mark’s partner performed these services on one of Mark’s sites. Seeing the potential, they decided to offer their services to the public.

More Into Mark’s Joint Venture

Buying, Growing, and Selling

Mark is looking to build out the 5 sites his joint venture owns, and to sell them in the future ideally for 6 figures each, but not less than 4 figures. Currently, the 1st site has around 75,000 words of content and around 50 articles. He terms this site as his “MVP” site with a value of around $5,000. He is not looking to invest any more in this site, apart from creating links. 

Traffic Levels

Traffic numbers determine whether Mark would invest more into a site, but this does not necessarily mean traffic volume. Rather, it would be the types of traffic that the site gets. They would then be able to determine ranking, and if a site would works or not. 

Using Expired Domains and Technical SEOs

Mark has no prior experience with building sites out of expired domains; however, his business partner Benjamin does. Benjamin is more focused on the technical SEO aspects to improve the sites, in contrast to Mark who usually looks at it from a content point-of-view. Thus, Benjamin would be structuring and siloing the site correctly, and making sure that the site is lean and flows smoothly. This has been eye-opening for Mark, who hasn’t built sites out this way before, considering his content and aesthetics perspective.

Looking to the Future

If this business goes well, Mark would definitely invest more in it, as long as Benjamin wants to keep going. However, Mark is not looking to build more affiliate sites moving forward, considering the nature of the work and the underlying value of the asset.

Premium Content Options

Mark doesn’t think that they will get into producing super high end and expert content, but states that his content is already very good, starting at 10 cents/word. With a wide writing network, they are able to produce varied content based on good research. They also provide various other services like building content calendars and performing keyword research.

However, if you do want to get premium, high-level content, you will definitely have to shell out money to get good writers, especially for very technical niche websites. 

Form of Content

These days, people are quite lazy to read content. Short sentences with lots of paragraphs and multimedia would definitely attract more readers, compared to densely-written and academic-sounding articles which no one would probably read. However, at the end of the day, it still depends on the niche of the website.

Here is the example from The Wirecutter of postgraduate level content!

Episode 14 Part 2

In part 2 of this conversation we discuss:

  • In-house content writers vs outsourced

  • Objectively valuing content

  • Content to bounce vs content for an audience

  • How to actually add value with your site

  • Barriers to entry with websites / becoming media companies

  • How to best invest capital based on risk tolerance

Part 2 is for paying subscribers, you can access by hitting the button below.

Enjoyed this episode or have any questions? You can leave a comment at the bottom of the web version of this post.


Richard Patey (Host) & Avi Silverberg (Producer)