In this episode of the Website Investing podcast, Richard speaks with Josh Mitchell on acquiring sites to hold for the long-run (and how to acquire sites at closer to 2x earnings). Josh used to be a professional football/soccer player and is another one in this industry that loves poker.
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.
Part 1 Show Notes
How Josh Started
Josh used to play professional football/soccer, but he also wanted to get some passive income on the side, as well as explore some opportunities for life after pro soccer. He decided to learn how to build websites with some of his friends. Though it didn’t take off, he learned lots of valuable skills in the process, such as building niche websites.
A 3-Man Team
Josh then teamed up with two of his buddies to build lots of different websites. The three of them would split the workload and the consequent profits among themselves evenly. Many of their websites which they’ve invested into failed, but this was a great learning experience for them, especially Josh.
Buying on Empire Flippers
Josh then bought a site on Empire Flippers in December 2016 for $44,000. It was making good money and so he decided to invest in it for the long term. He says that learning through this, and not by building a website from scratch, is the better option for him. In fact, he still owns the site today, and he is making good profit off of it.
Building His Portfolio
These days, Josh and his business partner, Andrew, search for good websites to invest in and hold on to for the long term, rather than going for a quick flip like what other people tend to do. So far they’ve invested around $500,000 on site acquisitions and have acquired 11 so far, with more planned on the way. They’ve been hard at work at improving their sites with the help of their team members.
By acquiring and investing in these sites, Josh is looking to both create more income, as well as exit them in the future for profit when the opportunity is right. He says they will only exit at the right multiple. However, at the moment, they are more focused on income-generation rather than selling these sites for profit.
Big and Small
Josh’s portfolio includes sites that generate a lot of income, and ones that earn as little as $500 a month. These smaller sites do not earn as much because they haven’t worked on them yet, and were recently purchased on Flippa. Also, Josh doesn’t like to go for sites that are either too small or too big. His biggest site is a tech site, which has around 300 pages with around 6,000 visitors a day. His other sites usually have around 100 pages.
The Coffee Niche
Josh says that the coffee niche is a very interesting and profitable niche, considering that people love coffee and are passionate about it. There is also a chance that you can become an authoritative figure in that niche. It’s definitely something to consider and explore.
Josh and his team would work on a site until it is “done” or has reached its maximum potential. These are the sites that are earning really well and have reached a cap in terms of content and number of pages. Once they’ve reached this point, they will then shift their focus on other sites that need work in their portfolio, and will also look to acquire more sites.
Reaching the Cap
Once a site has reached its cap, Josh says that emails, YouTube videos, and working with social media influencers would be the next step to maintain its growth.
Selling and Dropshipping as the Next Move?
Josh’s business partner is looking to get into selling their own products and getting into dropshipping. However, Josh is wary about doing this, considering how much work is needed. He has had experience in doing this before, and it took up a lot of his time, which is why he would rather that they not go into it.
Getting Hit by Google Updates
The May updates did not affect Josh’s sites much, except for 1 site in particular, which lost around ⅔ of its usual traffic. This was a site that initially had poorly written content when they acquired it, which prompted them to hire a content agency to improve the site’s content overall. However, with the Google update, they were left wondering whether Google actually targets poor content or not. Josh’s theory is that it probably has to do with the site not having enough relevancy, and not enough pages and internal links, including lack of a better design overall. Fortunately, it’s been starting to rebound slowly.
Acquiring Redirecting Sites?
Josh isn’t looking to purchase redirecting sites, and is not something he would take on in the future, considering the success he has had with his current portfolio--none of which are redirecting sites. He would rather play safe and do something he knows.
When buying sites, Josh and his business partner always look at their potential ROI for maintaining and improving them.
Places like Empire Flippers often have sites listed with multiples higher than ever before, with the average listing price at 31x. However, Josh believes that, most of the time, these multiples do not reflect their actual value, considering all the risks involved.
Having a Broker
People sometimes do not prefer to have a broker due to the hassles involved with having a URL known, and because of this, many experienced buyers and sellers would rather go down the private route.
Assessing Multiple Ranges
The range for buying and selling should be bigger, especially if the site has been doing well for a consistent amount of time, while also dominating the niche. These sites are much more stable and can provide steady and sustainable profit. Buyers would definitely see that these sites can last for 3 years or more, with just some content updates needed.
Managing His Sites
Content for 11 Sites
Josh says it does get difficult to revisit the content of his 11 sites individually. He currently has a content team composed of an editor and freelance writers who produce new content. They spend around $15,000 a month content.
The expenses for their operations come up to $20,000, which includes expenses for VAs and writers. Josh says that this amount is one that is manageable for them, and they aren’t particularly looking to increase their team yet.
Episode 16 Part 2
In part 2 of this conversation we discuss:
Josh’s total portfolio value from the $500K invested
Tracking ROI, yield and reinvesting profit
Potentially taking on debt to scale
What to do when a site caps out in terms of potential
Tax implications on selling sites
Brokering a portfolio deal with a PE firm as a media company
Part 2 is for paying subscribers, you can access by hitting the button below.