In this episode of the Website Investing podcast, Richard speaks with Doron Wolffberg from Cliverse Media - a cutting edge digital media company that creates and grows large and passionate audiences for niche industries.
In this part 1, free subscribers get the first 45 minutes of the conversation; paying subscribers also get part 2 in their RSS feed. The second part typically elicits more insights as we get deeper into the conversation.
Part 1 Show Notes
Catching Up with Doron
Over the Last 12 Months
Over the last 12 months, Doron has set up his own company, "Cliverse", which is tasked with managing his content sites. These sites monetize mainly with affiliates, and most are focused on the pet space. Some of the sites were made from scratch, while others were acquisitions that were already producing revenue.
Doron wanted to grow his portfolio really quickly, and found that a mix of both these methods allowed him to do so. To acquire these sites, Doron and his partners injected their own money, and obtained debt financing from local banks. Banks don't normally understand how content sites work, which makes it hard to obtain financing from them. However, Doron and his partners convinced them to fund their acquisitions.
This is Doron's 10-step process on how to buy a website: https://empireflippers.com/10-step-due-diligence-guide/
Listing His Sites
Doron listed 6 of his pet-space websites on the homepage of Cliverse, and Richard says that this is quite uncommon. Most people are scared that if they do this, they might get spam or negative SEO, or that their niche might get copied. Doron says that, considering that the pet niche is relatively easy for starting a site, he isn’t worried about anyone copying his sites - especially since he has many processes in place that are hard to copy.
Diversifying Revenue Streams
Doron and his partners have been looking for new sources of revenue for these sites. This was brought about by the last Amazon commission cut about 6 months ago and this got them to move from being solely reliant on affiliate marketing and SEO, to branding themselves as a publisher. As such, they’ve started doing new things, like starting a YouTube channel from scratch, and growing their email lists for their sites in the pet space with separate lists for each type of pet. This shift has helped open doors to forming partnerships with companies that want to advertise on their sites. This technique creates a sort of omnichannel approach, where companies that want to work with them make use of ad space and email lists to advertise their pet-specific products. This allows Doron to market his sites as a complete package, which is very attractive for companies.
Getting on YouTube
Doron and his partners also started a YouTube channel tied to their sites in the pet space. This was made from scratch earlier this year. Doron says that YouTube is massively undercapitalized by SEOs, considering that it is a huge search engine. They took their top content from one of their bigger sites, and created YouTube versions of the articles. The channel has had amazing success, and more engagement than what you would usually get from a site. It is easier to create an audience through people viewing, subscribing, and commenting. Currently, they are trying to start and grow other channels, to replicate the success they’ve had with their first one.
Facebook and Instagram
Doron and his company don’t really put much focus or attention on Facebook and Instagram for their sites, as he says that they are not very good at them yet. Though they have done some work on Facebook, it is really difficult to get organic reach and traction there, unless you have a very specific affiliate offer. As such, Doron decided to focus on YouTube where it is easier to reach a wider audience.
Richard states that Instagram is starting to become a valuable asset that can drive traffic to your sites. Lots of Instagram pages are actually up for sale, with some in the pet niche. One of these sites has 250k followers and 20k likes per video post, and is being listed at $12,000. Instagram is definitely something to look out for, especially if you want to offer a complete package.
Doron started out in the pet space and has thought of branching out to other verticals. In the near future and over the next year, he isn’t too keen on doing so because that would require building a team that is specialized in more than one area. However, this is something that they will likely do as they grow and scale the company. In the meantime, they are sticking to the pet space.
Focus for the Next 12 Months
Doron and his company plan to focus on growing their existing sites over the next 12 months, and aren’t looking to add any more in the meantime. In the long run, they will look to kill off the smaller sites that aren’t earning much and shift their team’s focus onto the bigger sites in their portfolio. This allows them to manage their time and effort better. It also prevents the situation where one of their smaller sites gets hit by a Google update, and they'd have to invest a lot more time on that - instead of growing their bigger sites which earn them more revenue.
Investments and Capital
Doron and his partners have been investing their cash flow back into the business. However, they’ve also been thinking of buying less and focusing on one large acquisition per period as opposed to buying smaller sites. For this, they would seek the help of investors who would provide capital for deals through a SPV. They would then hold onto these sites for the long term, instead of exiting quickly. Doron would rather be patient and grow their sites and their portfolio over time, especially if the niche allows them to do so.
Doron’s company currently works with AdThrive for their bigger sites, while their smaller sites work with affiliates. Doron is also thinking of turning the sites into their own ad display network. This is something that will most likely take off in the future, as it will also require working with other media companies and publishers.
Working with Brands
Doron’s company also works with brands as an additional source of revenue. It is something that currently just complements the current monetization channels, since it is hard to find a brand that can take in all the traffic of the diverse content on Doron’s sites.
In terms of exiting, Doron and his partners will look to liquidate some of their smaller sites at the beginning of next year, especially the ones unrelated to the pet space.
Redirects and Building Links
Doron recently managed to buy sites and domains that redirect into their existing ones. He’s also been able to copy and paste some of the content and added it to the new pages that he’s sending the acquired site into. He then mapped the pages for the links. Though they haven’t seen a bounce in rankings, Doron thinks that this will happen in the near future, especially when there is a new update. In addition, they have seen a bump in domain rating by a few points, thanks to backlinks.
Episode 24 Part 2
In part 2 of this conversation we discuss:
Doron’s process for starting sites from scratch
Getting investors on board and how Doron structures deals
Building & acquiring social assets to drive significant traffic at low cost
Part 2 is for paying subscribers. Access this 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)