Today we interview Army Airborne Ranger turned web entrepreneur, Dan Anton, who acquired the popular website TheBachelorBracket.com on Flippa for $12,000. You definitely want to catch this interview and pay attention as Dan provides critical insights into how he increased revenue on TheBachelorBracket by 115%, and what it takes to succeed in the world of digital real estate.
Tell us about your education and career in the military
I went to college to study business and computer science, but I always wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself. I was in my junior year of college during the 9/11 terrorist attacks and I made the decision right then and there to join the Army once I graduated. I attended Officer Candidate School (OCS) and had a wonderful 10 year career in the Army as an Airborne Ranger. Unfortunately, during my last deployment I suffered an injury that left me unable to remain in the infantry, and I was left with a tough choice as to what to do with my life.
How did you decide online entrepreneurship was the best fit?
I’ve always loved working on websites and creating things online. I developed my first website in 1995 at the age of 15. It was a very basic video game eCommerce site where I arbitraged video games from a local store and sold them online for a nice profit. Years later after my military career came to a close, I found myself gravitating towards solving problems with software. Specifically, I was fascinated with software that allowed businesses to market themselves online by way of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). To answer your question though, I’m a marketer by trade with a computer science mindset, so online entrepreneurship offered me the best opportunity to earn a living doing something I’m good at, and most importantly, something I enjoyed.
What brought you to Flippa?
I’m always on the hunt for business opportunities where I can maximize profits while minimizing owner responsibilities and time requirements. In my opinion, time is the most valuable currency we have: it buys you freedom to do what you want, when you want, with those whom you want. I also like to diversify my investment portfolio. Sometimes I purchase land and physical real estate, while on Flippa, I purchase digital real estate. Digital real estate can be just as profitable as traditional real estate, if not more profitable. Having used Flippa for going on four years, I can tell you that it is clearly the market leader in this space. If you look at other marketplaces they are nowhere near as good as Flippa in producing quality websites for sale.
Several months back you acquired TheBachelorBracket.com on Flippa, tell us about the site
TheBachelorBracket.com provides a platform for fans of the reality TV shows The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. Users of the platform make brackets similar to March Madness in college basketball, but instead of choosing winners of a basketball game, they choose who they think will be the winning contestants of the Bachelor and Bachelorette TV shows each week.
The creator of the site did a great job being first to market with this concept and as a result it has gained a great deal of popularity, and many people now use the platform to compete against their friends for weekly bragging rights. Major media including ABC, USA Today, The Daily Beast, and NPR have all featured stories about the site, and numerous celebrities have tweeted about and endorsed it.
What made this business a great fit for you?
I prefer to acquire websites that have already been monetized, but are struggling to make it to “the next level.” In this case, The Bachelor Bracket was already making money and it had an established fan base with a large email list, but the owner no-longer had the passion or drive to manage the site and contribute resources to it. All of these factors contributed to my decision to bid, but the biggest factor for me was seeing how much potential there was to grow the business by leveraging my social media, PPC, and SEO skills. Of course, it also didn’t hurt that myself and my fiancé, Allison Burn, were already big fans of the TV shows the site was built around. After discussing the listing with Allison, and explaining the potential, she was equally excited about the opportunity and concept behind the site. We agreed that if we won the auction she would run the day to day operations and player interactions, and I would handle the marketing – which has worked out great.
What’s happened since the acquisition? Any big challenges? Any big achievements?
Admittedly, Allison has done most of the hard work with the site, being very active on social media and helping players with their leagues. Most of what I have done is on the marketing side and deals with driving traffic, user acquisition, and email list management. The biggest challenge we have faced, and the reason I think the creator ultimately decided to sell the site, is that the technology behind it is somewhat lacking. The site is a bit clunky in its interface and the scalability is just about at its threshold. Of course, I knew this was going to be a challenge going in, so I wasn’t really surprised and we are looking at ways to improve the platform.
As far as achievements, I was able to create Facebook Ads which drove extremely targeted leads to the site. Within only a few weeks we grew from around 60,000 players to over 125,000 players. And I didn’t have to spend a fortune to do this because of the viral effect of the ads. I’ve also done some SEO, which has given us a nice boost to organic search traffic. Financially, the site has exceeded our expectations. Google Adsense is our primary monetization method, and prior to our purchase of the site the best reported month for Adsense income was $1,946 in January, 2015. Once we took control of the site we worked hard to improve monetization and in January 2016 our efforts boosted AdSense revenue to $4,201 – a 115% increase on the site’s previous record month a year earlier.
What are your plans for TheBachelorBracket.com moving forward?
Though significant, our plans for the site are actually pretty straightforward and are laid out below:
1. Continue current monetization optimization via Adsense.
2. Rebuild the website with a new and simpler CMS which fans will absolutely love.
3. Continue to build awareness and engagement via Social Media.
4. Build Android and iOS Apps which are linked to the website.
Any advice for other web entrepreneurs looking buy websites on Flippa?
First and foremost, I would only consider listings where you feel your unique skill-set can be a significant value multiplier. Make sure you do your due diligence. One of the most insightful things you can do is to get Google Analytics access to analyze the site’s traffic stats. I always like to look at spikes in traffic or income just prior to the listing on Flippa. Oftentimes, this can be a red flag, so use your best judgement.
In addition to what is mentioned above, I always like to ask myself these 5 questions:
1. Why is this person selling the website?
2. What can I bring to the table to make this site better?
3. Is the site already making money, and if not, why is that the case?
4. Where is my break-even point if I decide to place a bid? (If this is longer than 15 months I typically will not even consider it because things change so quickly and are unpredictable in the online world).
5. Is this worth my time or could I better spend my time doing something else?
Do you have a website like TheBachelorBracket.com that you might like to sell? Apply for a free website valuation from one of our experienced brokers now.
We recently sat down with online entrepreneur Kean Graham, who acquired MisterPoll.com on Flippa for $21,100. Kean gives us an insider’s look at his existing website monetization service, as well as his acquisition of MisterPoll.
You own MonetizeMore, how does that business work?
MonetizeMore is an industry leader in website monetization that combines state of the art monetization technology with a team of dynamic and creative thinkers. We empower website owners and publishers to earn more from their ads. We partner with advertising networks, Google primarily being one of our biggest partners. Then, we also cater to the needs of publishers and web masters who sign up and qualify under our revenue sharing program. True to our name, we specialize in leveraging the power of cutting edge technologies to maximize revenues for our partners.
Why do you use Flippa?
Flippa has the greatest demand and supply of website properties on the net. The sheer volume is reason enough to use the platform, but the support has been impressive, the platform is very easy to use, the free escrow is great, and it is the most trusted marketplace. Although this is our first full website acquisition, we’ve been familiar with and have used Flippa for several years.
You acquired MrPoll.com in late 2015, tell us about the site, what does it do?
MisterPoll was created in 1998. The story goes that the original owner had a burning question, but realized there were no readily available places to post the question to the world. This spawned the idea of building a polling website that would allow people to upload questionnaires publicly and later download the results of the poll into a CSV format. There are an almost infinite number of questions that have been asked over the years, and each poll is classified into subdirectories of polls for higher visibility. Aside from this, there is a forum style message feature attached to each poll to encourage healthy discussions on each respective poll topic. The really good ones are highlighted as Editor’s Choice and linked to on the front page of the website.
From a business perspective, why did you ultimately decide to place a bid?
This is our first purchase. As such, the nature is more on the exploratory side. However, MisterPoll has truly evolved to become a diamond in the rough. At its peak under former ownership, it was generating a significant amount of revenue with high traffic. The entertainment and fascination for polls online has historically had a very loyal following. Interest in websites providing easy to use polling tools is high. Mrpoll.com is an old domain/site that still had a lot of potential but was forgotten buy its owners. This is where we saw the most opportunity. The audience was still quite loyal, the site was due for a redesign, the SEO potential was strong, and we knew with the right management and TLC this could be a big earner.
What are your plans for MrPoll.com moving forward?
Right now, the short term plans include modernizing the website and improving the user experience. Since the site was created in 1998, it’s not yet mobile responsive for smartphones. Also, people or users have accumulated feedback over the years and we have compiled them into a single wish list so that we can tailor Misterpoll’s interface to what the active users truly want out of the site. The goal is to restore or surpass its former glory as a top polling website, add value, increase traffic, and revive the existing community of users.
Any advice or monetization tips for other web entrepreneurs looking buy websites on Flippa?
Maximize the features of Flippa and make informed decisions through due diligence. Don’t hold back with the questions, and don’t limit yourself to the information provided by the seller. Read through what other bidders have asked and read the respective responses from the seller to try to really drill through the details. Get to know the technical specifications, the traffic, the revenue history, the mode of managing the website, the existing challenges, etc.
If the site is only monetizing the content via Google AdSense then there is huge opportunity to double or triple the ad revenues. In those cases:
Upgrade Google AdSense to Google Ad Exchange
Implement a header bidding container to dramatically spike ad revenues.
Add DoubleClick for Publishers to enable ad optimization and many additional ad networks that compete against Google AdSense and Ad Exchange
Most importantly, you need to believe in what you are going to buy. If you are not genuinely interested in the overhaul that each website will require. It takes a lot of effort to do so and you need the inherent motivation to stick with your purchase.
Do you have a high-quality aged website that you might like to sell? Apply for a free website valuation from one of our industry leading brokers now.
Ever thought about buying a forum? Read this interview and get a firsthand account from Brian Austin, who purchased BusinessAdviceForum.com for $20,000 via Buy it Now on Flippa. Brian explains how he found the listing for Business Advice Forum and how knew from the get go that he wanted to acquire it.
How long have you been making money online?
I’ve been a web entrepreneur for about 4 years now. Starting out I thought I could just whip up an affiliate website, put in some SEO keywords, and viola, I would be earning a commission. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy! Because the internet is filled with so much bad information about internet marketing it was a major struggle to find a workable system. Luckily, after much trial and error and tons of research, I did figure out certain strategies and tactics that produced results, and I’m still learning new things all the time.
What led you to Flippa?
I first heard about Flippa through a friend of a friend about two years ago and I have been an active member ever since. I arrived as an investor looking for established revenue generating websites, and I stayed for the volume of auctions and the sheer number of opportunities. As a regular website buyer, this keeps things interesting. Flippa is also a great place to gain inspiration. The community is full of entrepreneurs from different backgrounds with unique businesses – there’s really nothing like it.
You recently acquired BusinessAdviceForum.com on Flippa, tell us about the site
Business Advice Forum is a very friendly, and active forum. Members are comprised of small business owners, webmasters, and entrepreneurs. Topics range from helping someone whose wife was running a bakery get more business to time saving techniques and reviews of the best web hosts. When people first join they are excited and passionate. Over time they gain a great deal of knowledge from interacting with the other members, and I would advise anyone reading this to go signup and start participating. I’ve been in this industry for quite a while and I sincerely believe BusinessAdviceForum is one of the best business forums on the internet. It’s a great community, and I’m thrilled with the acquisition.
What influenced your decision to bid?
As mentioned, I’m a regular Flippa user, and I’ve spent countless hours analyzing various websites. I’ve seen many quality opportunities on Flippa before, but when came across Business Advice Forum I knew I had to have it. With my background in internet marketing and software development, I was confident I could add a lot of value and have an immediate impact on the site. Despite my obvious interest in acquiring the site, I knew I first had to due diligence process. I was able to easily research the ads that generated revenue for the site, and I was also able to read the forum threads and see what kind of content was being produced by the community. This accompanied with well-documented analytics and verified AdSense revenue told the whole story about the health of the forum.
With due diligence complete, I decided to try my best to purchase the site. I made note of the maximum I’d be willing to pay, and the very next day the seller added a Buy it Now (BIN) for that exact price – so I purchased the site!
What do you plan to do with the website now that you’ve successfully acquired it?
My goal is to improve the user experience in every way possible. I have already completed a number of changes including adding a monthly newsletter and releasing Android and iOS apps. I have also created an incentive where qualifying members can use a virtual forum to get free domains and web hosting. In the future, I would like to have guest speakers/members contribute information on topics such as SEO, PPC and other small business marketing techniques. The more everyone can learn together the more they can help each other will only make the forum that much better.
Do you have any advice for other Flippa users?
You’ve probably heard others say it before, but my advice is to always do your own due diligence. Never accept the Seller’s claims without seeking out the answers and verifying the claims yourself. The Flippa staff tries very hard to minimize low quality websites and it’s nice to know that they are watching over listings with a close eye. However, in my experience buying websites, I’ve learned that you have to protect yourself and your investment the same as you would if you were buying a house or a brick and mortar business. Luckily, there are plenty of resources online to teach you everything you need to know about due diligence. Once you’ve learned the fundamentals, the fun really begins.
Forums are among the best selling websites on Flippa. If you have a forum that you might like to sell, fill out this application to get a free website valuation and sales strategy from one of our industry leading brokers.
Looking for some inspiration before you make your next website acquisition? Then you can’t miss this interview with Hayden Miyamoto, the web entrepreneur who purchased SameID.net for $22,001 in December. Hayden was a high school dropout, but don’t let that fool you, he’s a shrewd businessman slowly creating an online empire. Sit back and enjoy as Hayden breaks down his path from high school dropout to $1m web acquisitions.
Tell us about your background as an internet entrepreneur
Like many successful entrepreneurs, I am a high school dropout. I realized early on that public education, at least in its current state, was not for me and I decided to start my own web design business. Six months in I partnered with a client that had an offline high-end Japanese furniture showroom, and was seeking to sell to US customers, online. For the next six years I was in charge of creating an online eCommerce store. Though I learned programming, graphic design, photography, and even 3D rendering, marketing is where I found my true strength and passion – specifically in email marketing, conversion rate optimization, and SEO.
You’ve got a popular marketing blog, NoHatDigital, what’s the story behind that?
I’ve worked on a wide range of sites from eCommerce, to digital products, to SaaS, to transactional marketplaces, you name it. I wanted to try them all. I am a big believer in testing and continuous iteration. There are always new splits to test, new ideas to try, and new techniques to use. That being said, each proved to be a learning experience, and each has helped me improve my online marketing skills. I wanted to share some of these skills with a wider audience, and that’s how I started NoHatDigital.com. I do this mainly through running remote internships, and hiring and partnering with the best interns to come down to Mexico for a few months and manage many of the businesses I buy. I’ve been lucky enough to scale this up lately and we are now purchasing websites in the $1m+ range.
Why do you use Flippa?
Flippa is the eBay of the web property world. There are many online brokers, and web listing sites, but none of them do as good of a job as Flippa in collecting, organizing, vetting, and presenting sites for sale. There’s simply nowhere else where you can find as many hidden gems, spend a few months improving them, and then flip them back for a nice profit. Or better yet, keep them in your portfolio as a passive earners.
What kinds of opportunities are you on the hunt for?
I prefer under-monetized sites. Because of my development and conversion optimization background, these are the easiest wins for me. Most sites have weaknesses in at least a few areas – for example, in many cases it might be a need for more traffic. The problem is many of these weaknesses are time consuming to fix – the great thing about monetization is that it’s often instant (as opposed to SEO improvements or improved list building, etc). My favorite sites are ones that are monetized via AdSense – these sites are often severely under-monetized and are low hanging fruit for me.
You recently acquired SameID.net on Flippa, what does it do and why should all Flippa users check it out?
With SameID.net you can find similar sites, or a network of sites, operated by the same owner via digital footprints. These footprints come in the form an AdSense ID, ClickBank ID, Google Analytics Id, Amazon Affiliate Code, IP Address, and more. SameID has many applications and uses including keyword research, competitive analysis, and site health checks, but people reading this post would probably be most interested in using this as a tool for due diligence before buying a website. The best way to do this is to run a potential acquisition through the tool to see if the seller owns competing sites in the same vertical.
Here’s a video example of how it works:
From a business perspective, why did this acquisition make sense?
I’ve personally been a SameID user for many years, so I already knew how powerful the tool was. Additionally, my team and I are always looking for sites to buy to add to our portfolio. We have a standard process we go through, but as soon as this one hit Flippa, all of us knew we wanted it. I did pay a hefty multiple (4.3x), but because it was a strategic acquisition that vertically integrates into my existing business, I’m confident it will pay dividends for years to come, especially after we implement our changes.
What changes have you already made, and what are your plans for SameID moving forward?
Our motto is always add value. The first thing we did was redesign the homepage, add demonstration videos, and pump out new new copy. We all knew how powerful the tool was, and these changes helped us better communicate the value proposition to potential customers. By improving the user on-boarding process, we’ve already seen a direct impact on the bottom line.
In terms of future plans, we are planning on making a large marketing push, testing new pricing models, and strategically partnering with existing Internet marketing tool companies. On the development front, the site is not yet mobile responsive so we’ll be tackling that challenge soon. We’ll also be adding new IDs to the list of footprints covered by the tool. Luckily, the seller of the site wants to see it continue to flourish and grow, and so he agreed to stay on and perform contract development work, which has been a huge added bonus of the acquisition.
What advice can you offer to other entrepreneurs seeking to buy a website on Flippa?
There are many tips and tools already online in regards to due diligence – and of course, I recommend buyers use SameID. That said, one thing that people might miss out on is due diligence on the seller as opposed to the site itself. Finding out more about the person behind a site is almost always helpful when evaluating an opportunity. Ask for the seller to Skype, or to add you to their Facebook. If it’s a regular seller on Flippa, get in touch with a previous buyer. Many people use the same username across different membership sites; try searching their Flippa username, you never know what you might uncover.
My other tip would be to know what kind of opportunities you’re looking for in advance. Pick sites that work to your strengths. For example, don’t pick a site where the biggest weakness is lack of organic traffic when you don’t know anything about SEO. If you think a site has room for improvement and you’re confident you can execute, don’t get too hung up on multiples. Multiples are a guideline – not a hard rule.
Today we sit down with Will Ellis, the web entrepreneur who acquired UpliftingFamilies.com for $19,860 in December 2015. Find out what Will had to say about his time running a brick and mortar business, and how he transitioned his focus to online income – plus a lot more!
You started as an entrepreneur focused on brick and mortar businesses, tell us about that journey
Like many other entrepreneurs, I always dreamed of owning my own business. After managing a chain of dry cleaners, this dream eventually became a reality when I bought my own dry cleaning business. It was then that I learned a cold hard fact about brick and mortar businesses: the reach is short and growth opportunities are limited. No matter how well I did my job as an owner, I was never able to achieve the kind of income I desired. I ultimately sold the dry cleaning businesses, but the lesson I learned stuck with me.
At which point did you transition your entrepreneurial efforts online?
A short-time after selling the dry cleaning business, I started to become more and more fascinated with online income. Specifically, I was interested in starting a hosting business. The appeal you ask? Aside from my experience in IT systems management the primary appeal was recurring income. In other words, I loved the idea of maintaining a business where the money would come in, even when new customers did not. Fast forward 12 years later, and I had a thriving business designing websites and hosting them with hundreds of recurring monthly clients. Of course, the best part was, I was able to work from anywhere in the world where I could get access to the internet – you simply can’t get this kind freedom with a brick and mortar business.
Tell us about your high-level website acquisition strategy
Like most of you reading this, I keep my eyes open for the right opportunities, but my strategy is perhaps a little different than the typical “website flipper.” I buy sites for cash flow, and I usually wont buy a business with the intent of flipping it. If I buy a business, I’m in it for the long-term. Of course, if it ends up that the site does not work with the overall “flow” of my existing portfolio, I’ll consider selling it, but that is never my intention off the bat. There are a multitude of reasons why someone might buy a website, and those of us who have been doing this for while know exactly what we are looking for with a new purchase. The beauty of a marketplace as large as Flippa is that what might not be right for me could be the perfect acquisition for you.
You recently acquired UpliftingFamilies.com on Flippa, what is the site about and why did you bid?
UpliftingFamilies.com is an online community and blog focused on topics such as parenting, pregnancy, marriage, and more. I purchased this site along with my wife. Before we found the site for sale on Flippa, we had originally discussed starting a family focused blog and sharing our experiences of raising four children. However, the task of building a blog from scratch seemed daunting to say the least, so we never took the plunge. When we eventually came across the listing in Flippa’s Editors’ Choice section, we knew it was a perfect match.
Any tips for other web entrepreneurs who might be thinking about buying websites on Flippa
Some would ask why buy an existing website when you can start your own? The answer is really simple: time. We all know time is worth money, and so a great website acquisition can save you a great deal of both. Of course, the wrong website acquisition can end up costing you both, which is why it is so important to do your due diligence before placing a bid.
I always ask 10 questions before I buy a website:
Is the traffic sustainable?
Does the site have a track record, or is it a startup?.
Is the site stable, growing, or declining?
Can you verify the revenue the seller is claiming is legit?
What is the business model?
Does the current owner have an advantage that will not carry over to the new owner?
Does the valuation make sense?
How much owner involvement is required?
Why is the seller selling?
What do third party sites say about the website and business?
In closing, I would like to say that no matter what you buy or where you buy it, you are taking a chance. When you are the last bidder standing at the end of a long auction, your adrenalin will definitely be pumping. The truth is that you will never land a great deal on a website if you don’t do your homework, make a bid, and take the plunge. But even that is only half the battle. You have to be prepared to put in the work to grow your business and make it succeed, as only a true entrepreneur could.