How I Became a Website Investor

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My first exploration into website investing didn't go so well, but my second buy was successful. I made some money and made a few mistakes along the way. There's one thing I definitely would have done differently.

Breaking into website investment was not an automatic success for me. I was looking for an opportunity online to have some additional income. I discovered Flippa, a website for buying and selling online businesses.

Failure

I invested $1,000 into an affiliate website that worked out to be a complete failure.

The person who sold it to me said that the traffic came with paid advertising. He gave me the campaign information. I tried to execute on it but it didn’t work. It made me think that he wasn’t using that same campaign data.

Why were things going so poorly?

I believe I hadn’t done my due diligence.

I didn’t do some basic things. I didn’t screen share with him to see what data was in his accounts. I didn’t know the performance of his campaigns or how they tied back to traffic numbers. I didn’t know how to do some of these things, and I didn’t think of other ones.

It was not a successful moment.

Google News

I was on a webinar one day listening to someone sell a course. They were teaching people how to get a website approved in Google News and make a profit from advertising.

“Man, do I spend the $500 for this course?”

I thought there must be a smarter way to do it. I didn’t want to assume all the risk. I wanted a website that somebody had already built that was working, not to start from scratch.

I found a website on Flippa that was approved by Google News and already generating income. I spent between $3,000 and $3,500 on it. The seller helped coach me on how to run the business.

There were some writers on staff, but at first, I still wrote a lot of articles myself. As time went on, I started assigning more and more to the writers. I got a sense of what made money, how frequently we could publish, and other details that helped generate more income.

Within 2 or 3 months, I recouped my investment. It was a huge success. This was at a time when Google News sites were still quite profitable. It is harder to make money with this model now.

Trouble

About nine months after I purchased the website, Google kicked us out. We were publishing a lot of articles that they didn’t like because they gave us traffic.

This setback wasn’t much of a problem for me because by that time I had a very positive ROI on the investment. More importantly than that, I learned something. I learned how the Google news business works.

Expanding

I bought more news websites. I knew the model well enough that I could actually start from scratch quickly and reliably. I got my business going and invested in other business models: e-commerce sites, lead generation websites, other kinds of informational content websites, and some software.

There were different websites and different business models that I was investing in. I was learning a lot, but my focus was way too distributed to make anything grow to be very big.

My biggest mistake?

If I were to go back in time, I wouldn’t spread my resources and knowledge so thinly. I would focus on a smaller set of businesses, develop expertise in single niches and business models then grow from there.

I learned a lot over the years and share my knowledge on how to buy websites and how to find a business model that can grow into something big.

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