Website Investing Weekly 💰Deploying Capital

Welcome to Website Investing Weekly, bringing you up-to-date with what’s been going on in the world of website investing. If you’re not already on the list to receive these updates, sign up below. You can also leave comments at the end of the post.

🐦 This Week On Twitter

I’ve been active again on Twitter over the last week, with my pursuit for finding ways to passively allocate capital into this website asset class (that doesn’t result in a ponzi), and advice on how to best deploy money into domains. First up let’s talk domains:

Even though it takes time, I’ve decided to continue to pick up sub $500 domains at wholesale and look to flip for 10x-20x at retail. But I’m also now in the market to pick up a premium one word or two word .com at wholesale - a name that can generate a six figure offer at retail.

Now back to our world of websites, I published this tweet about funds:

It moved into a discussion around needing to be an accredited investor and also about simply investing in public companies that acquire and run content sites instead. I realized I had a big Trello list full of these digital media companies so published Media Companies For Exits & Investing for paying subscribers yesterday. [RP]


🌿 Weeding Out Bad Sites

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Whether you have one or 10 websites in your portfolio of digital assets, parting with 5 or 6 figures to purchase your next site requires time and a solid due diligence process.

Even when you've selected a niche and have a budget in mind, you're left with numerous sites to consider and platforms on which to buy them. The entire process can become a bit overwhelming. That's why having an effective checklist to help narrow down your search will save you hours of head-scratching frustration.

Dom Wells has dealt in content sites since 2012 and, by his own admission, has looked at 100s of website listings in just the past 2 years. He's come up with a list of 7 metrics to separate the good from the bad and the ugly in the world of website investing.

These are:

  1. No access to Clicky or Google Analytics -  there is no reason for a seller to deny access, and it's preferable to get a "live" walkthrough as opposed to relying on screenshots.

  2. The majority of traffic is "direct" - this always looks suspicious and it's hard to verify

  3. Most of the income is from selling sponsored posts - some buyers are okay with this, but it may be a challenge to maintain that income

  4. The site is rapidly declining - if traffic and revenue is trending downward month on month, it may cost as much to reverse that trend as it would to grow a site showing upward movement

  5. The site relies too heavily on a few keywords - Google ranks pages, not websites. If only 1 or 2 pages get most of the traffic - and they take a hit -  then the entire site suffers.

  6. The site was hit by the latest Google update - after any updates, site performance needs to be monitored for some time.

  7. Anything you don’t understand how to operate - if you're not clear on the fundamentals of traffic generation or how a site makes money, it's probably better that you pass.

As Dom points out: You never make a bad investment by passing on something that doesn’t feel right. [JL]


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👫 Partnering up for Success

On the surface, it seems there are more ways than ever to raise capital for your next business venture. Bootstrapping, angel investment, SBA loans, and private equity are all viable funding options, but they may not suit your style or goals as an entrepreneur.

Some time after the initial funding, you'll reach a point where you need to make major changes to achieve significant growth. And implementing these changes will probably require a whole set of skills and experiences that you lack. This means finding the right person to complement and augment your role. It also means finding money.

In either of the above situations, you might consider a non-traditional partnership such as an investor or operator partnership. These arrangements work exceptionally well for website investing because they're so much easier to scale. Instead of employing a full-time manager or taking on an equity partner, how about finding a skilled operator who'll work on a monthly retainer to grow your revenue and increase your asset value? This frees you up to work on other projects while ensuring you maintain a steady cash flow.  

Conversely, you may have a strong desire to invest in digital assets, but absolutely no experience or interest in running a website. In that case, you could become an investor partner and purchase a site purely for cash flow. You let the operator run and grow your website until the value rises and it's time to sell. You'll share the profit with your operator partner, but your payback period is significantly shorter than most other investment types.

Companies who offer operations are Alpha Investors, Onfolio and Domain Magnate. [JL]


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🤖 More Fool You

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In a recent newsletter, I commented on the future impact of AI on content writing. Specifically, I discussed the limitations of using natural language processing models like GPT-3 to create blog content, and their inability to replace humans when it comes to abstract concepts and reasoned thinking.

I did not say that these APIs couldn't churn out articles that would fool most readers - especially on banal and insignificant topics. Yet, I stand by my assertion that these tools cannot make connections between disparate facts or create complex logical arguments.

Liam Porr may have attracted 26,000 visitors to his robot-written blog, but I think he missed the point about how best to use GPT-3 as a writing tool. He says:

It increases efficiency, and thus reduces labor costs....

For big media companies, this could mean huge savings.

I agree that these APIs will offer efficiencies. As a writer, I see their potential to speed up my research, identify sources, and suggest material that perhaps even Google wouldn't offer on a particular query.

But, like others who have used the tool, Porr also states:

If you read some of the content I made, you may not be convinced about its quality. Indeed, there are traces of illogic, difficulty with staying on topic, issues with repetition, etc.

And therein lies the problem. I believe that 99% of business owners have no idea why they can't increase traffic to their websites - or keep a visitor there.

The answer is simple. Their content sucks. 

And an AI text generator won't change that. [JL]


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That’s it for another week, hit us up in the comments below.

Cheers!

Richard Patey & Juliet Lyall