In this episode of the Website Investing podcast, Richard speaks with Mark Mars about investing in content on aged domains. Mark is the co-founder of Niche Website Builders with Adam Smith (who was on the first podcast) and together they run the facebook groups on Building and Flipping.
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
Mark’s focus these days has largely been centered on Niche Website Builders, which is his content site building business. Though he has his own portfolio and even a personal team of writers working on his portfolio, it has taken a back seat in his list of priorities and has been devoting a large part of his time to the business instead.
Expanding the Portfolio
He is also looking to expand his portfolio come the new year with the addition of a few smaller sites. He is not big on flipping, as he would rather grow his websites and his audience over time. Once he sees that a website is taking off, he would then decide to invest more money into it and build it up into a proper business.
At the moment, Mark does not particularly pick niches he’s interested in. Rather, he would pick sites that have a high potential of growth and opportunity. This is in large part due to the fact that he is not a writer, as he says that writers who would write extensively for the website would very much rather write about a niche they are particularly interested in so as to motivate them to write.
Niche Website Builders
The business launched earlier in the year and had a shaky start. Early on, they took on too many clients so they had to slow down for a while. They also initially outsourced content to a US agency, but that didn’t work out as the agency couldn’t handle the workload and even outsourced it themselves which led to subpar quality writing.
Prior to This
Before this, Mark ran a digital marketing agency called Perceptive Flow for about 5 or 6 years, and this took up a lot of Mark’s time and effort as he worked to build it up slowly. Later, one of his long-term customers wanted to team up, and so Mark gave him equal equity in the business. The business didn’t really work out, as it was not profitable and they only earned enough to survive and get the staff going. This led to Mark leaving the business and starting Niche Website Builders shortly afterwards.
Clientele and Services
Under the new business, Mark sought to cater to clients needing content sites for their own businesses. To this end, he hired a team of writers and management staff, instead of getting the services of agencies as they had bad experiences with them in the past.
Today, Niche Website Builders provides end-to-end services, including niche selection and research. In fact, all the client needs to do is to click on “publish”.
In terms of fees, clients usually pay in bulk for content. However, they also offer subscription-based payments, and 30-35% of their earnings come from this.
Moving to Expired Domains
Mark and his team have been moving towards expired domains when building websites for clients. Firstly, they look for an expired domain in the niche that the client is interested in, and build their websites from there by adding around 100,000 words of content. This is also what portfolio owners are also interested in. In fact, these days, they build websites out of expired domains more than they do through their site on fresh domains. They are also looking to turn this into a business model in the near future, and they’ve been building lots of connections to source expired domains. Currently, they make a very small margin on these domains as sort of like a finder’s fee. However, they view this service only as a way to sell their main product, which is content. They would look to purchase these domains from auctions, and would focus on churning out the content once they acquire it. They have an expired domain waitlist.
Niche Website Builders usually base their valuation of domains on calculations based on various scientific metrics, such as SEO value. Realistically, they would not spend $100,000 on a domain, as the highest they’ve spent on one is $5,000. They look to purchase domains below the market value considering their SEO profile. Moreover, through their partners, they’re looking to act as a middle-man between the partner and the client, in case the partner has a domain that the client is interested in.
Adam & Mark were kind enough to send through examples of aged domains they own that they have been hitting with content below:
Plans for the Near Future
Mark is constantly trying to expand their team of writers, considering the consistently increasing demand for their services. They are also looking to focus their services on only a few aspects of website development, in which they are experts in. In fact, they are not really looking to broaden their range of services, as Mark says that it is better that they be good and reliable experts in a few fields than be merely versed in a wide range. Moreover, with their dip into developing aged domains, they are looking to involve this aspect more heavily into their business model of content creation, through the help of their partnerships as previously mentioned.
Listing Aged Domains
Need for Exclusivity
Oftentimes, domains are listed on two or more platforms/marketplaces, and so Mark says that there is a need to have these domains exclusively listed on one, such that there wouldn’t be a need to delist them on other marketplaces and platforms once it is sold.
One platform for selling domains is DNWE, and they have an option to list your domain exclusively for a set period of around 15 to 30 days. This is a workaround to what Mark has talked about above.
Richard also mentions how this is all very new, and no one has actually enabled people to list aged domains with authority in a professional way. For Mark, he would rather keep things at a 1:1 basis for now in terms of selling aged domains, meaning that he would only source them when a client needs them.
Episode 20 Part 2
In part 2 of this conversation we discuss:
Mark’s strategy on buying and selling aged domains
Why he thinks aged domains are undervalued
The difference between Expired vs. Expiring Domains
How Mark chooses to invest and reinvest profits
How Mark views diversification of his web assets
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.
Avi Silverberg (Producer) & Richard Patey (Host)