How I Sold Multiple Websites for a Total of $2+ Million

How Marc Built and Sold Websites for $2+ Million

A profitable online business is a valuable asset that can be sold. And, as you’ll see in this interview, selling websites and online businesses can be an excellent way to make money online.

Marc started his first blog in 2007 while working a full-time job. He sold that blog in 2013 for $500,000, and has repeated the process and sold several other online businesses since then. Read on to learn more about Marc’s experience, and his new project, Flip My Site.

Overview

Business Name: Flip My Site
Website URL: https://flipmysite.com
Founders: Marc Andre
Business Location: Online (US)
Year Started: 2023
Number of Employees/Contractors/Freelancers: 0

Tell us about yourself and your background.

I started my first online business (a web design blog) in 2007 as a side hustle. At the time, I had a full-time job as an auditor, and I was initially just looking to make some extra money. But as soon as I started to have some success, I saw the true potential, and I knew it was something I could eventually do full-time.

I worked on that blog for about a year and a half before quitting my job in late 2008 to go full-time with my business. Things went well, and I grew the blog to reach 1 million visitors per month at its peak. I wound up selling the site in 2013 for $500,000 so I could close out that chapter and move on to something different. (I tend to get bored working on the same thing for too long.)

After that, I started a few different photography blogs, and then my wife and I started an Amazon FBA business in 2015. The FBA business did well, but I didn’t have time to manage it on top of my other sites, so I sold two of my photography blogs in early 2016, again for $500,000. 

My wife and I realized that we didn’t want to run the Amazon FBA business long-term, so we wound up selling it in 2017 after running it for just under two years.

Since then, I sold another photography blog in 2018, a personal finance blog in 2023, and two design blogs in 2023. In total, I’ve had 6 different six-figure exits totaling about $2.2 million. 

How have your sites been monetized?

Each site has been different, but I’ve mostly used ads, affiliate programs, and digital products. My design blogs used all three of those methods. The photography blogs made almost all of their money with digital products. And my finance blog was a combination of affiliate marketing and ads.

What tips do you have for selling digital products?

  1. Bundle. When you have multiple related digital products, you can bundle them together. This works really well because you can discount the price significantly compared to the total cost of all the items in the bundle. A big discount makes it very attractive to buyers. It also increases the amount of money you make from each customer, compared to just selling individual products.
  2. Offer order bumps and/or upsells. This is another great way to increase the amount you make from the average customer. Platforms like ThriveCart make it easy to give additional offers during or after the checkout.
  3. Test your sales pages. Try to improve and optimize your sales pages for conversions. Small improvements can make a big difference in revenue.
  4. Build an email list. An email list is useful regardless of how you monetize your site, but it’s especially helpful for promoting and selling your own products.
Marc at a waterfall
Marc on a trip photographing waterfalls

Can you explain the process of selling your websites/businesses?

I’ve sold sites on my own, through a marketplace (Flippa), and also through a broker. There are pros and cons to each approach, but I think a good online business broker (I’ve used Quiet Light) gives you the best chance to maximize the selling price. They can get your business in front of thousands of qualified buyers, which just isn’t possible on your own.

Most of the sites I’ve sold on my own were to people in my network. I contacted a few people I thought may be interested, and it led to a sale. 

My most recent sale was possibly the most interesting. I approached one potential buyer through a cold connection request on LinkedIn, and they wound up buying the site. I knew of a company that had purchased a site similar to mine several years earlier. I sent their VP of business development a connection request and briefly mentioned that I was looking to sell my site. We talked the next day, and they made an offer about a week later. I would have listed it with a broker if that company hadn’t bought the site.

What makes an online business attractive to potential buyers?

The number one factor is profit. Many sellers want to talk about potential, but buyers want to see a history of profit. The average monthly profit over the past 6-12 months is the biggest factor in determining the business’s value.

Buyers are very concerned about risk, so they want to see as much stability as possible. They don’t want to see declining traffic or profits, so it’s important to make sure your business is trending up before you try to sell.

Diversified traffic and revenue streams also help to reduce risk. There’s a greater risk if your site gets 90% of its traffic or revenue from one source.

I think it’s also imperative that buyers like and trust the seller. While they’re evaluating the business, they’re also evaluating the seller. If they get a bad vibe from the seller or they question the level of honesty, they’re likely to walk away.

Tell us about Flip My Site.

Flip My Site is an informational website that covers topics related to building, growing, buying, and selling websites and online businesses. I write informational articles and guides and publish success stories of people and the businesses they’ve bought or sold. 

The target audience includes people interested in building or investing in online assets. It could be someone who’s already bought or sold websites or someone who’s new to the concept.

Flip My Site
Marc’s new site, FlipMySite.com

How does Flip My Site make money?

For now, Flip My Site is only monetized with affiliate and referral programs. Some online business brokers and marketplaces have affiliate or referral programs, and I earn a commission if/when one of my referrals buys or sells a website. I also promote some other affiliate programs for various products and services relevant to website owners. 

I’m currently working on a digital product that I hope to launch in early 2023. I also have a few other digital products planned, but I don’t have a firm timeline for releasing them.

I’m also considering offering consulting and other services through the site, but that depends on my availability. Right now, since I’m focusing on the first digital product, I don’t have enough time to offer services.

In the future, I’d like to monetize the email list through sponsorships. There may be opportunities to land sponsorships from brokers and other M&A professionals (due diligence providers, advisors, etc.).

What was your inspiration for starting Flip My Site?

I sold two online businesses in 2023, so I was looking for a new project. After thinking about what I know well and where my interests and experience match up, starting a site about buying and selling online businesses seemed like a natural fit.

One of the key parts of Flip My Site is a series of articles that features the stories of people who have built and sold online businesses. I’ve always enjoyed reading these types of inspiring stories, listening to entrepreneurial podcasts, and watching video interviews, so I was excited to be able to work on this content for my own site.

I know there are millions of people out there looking to learn more about growing an online business, and I believe the stories of these amazing exits will be truly inspirational. 

How and when did you launch the site?

The site launched in July of 2023. I spent a few weeks writing the first 10 articles and getting the site design set up. One of the nice things about the content-based business model is that it’s relatively quick and easy to start.

Tell us about your team.

For now, Flip My Site is a one-person (me) operation. I hired a freelance writer to work on a few articles but then decided I’d rather handle all of the content creation for now. I have very specific ideas about what I want, and it winds up taking more time to communicate with another writer and to edit the article to get it how I want it. Eventually, I’ll branch out and add some freelance writers, but I’m not sure when that will be.

I’ve hired freelance writers for most of my sites in the past. Earlier this year, I had a team of eight freelancers creating content for the two design blogs I was running. There were four U.S.-based freelancers who wrote for one of the sites, and four from India and Pakistan writing for the other site. All were hired and managed through Upwork.

How was Flip My Site funded? 

The costs of starting the site were very low, so funding wasn’t an issue. I spent around $200 – $300 for basic tools needed to run the site for now, and that has been the only investment aside from the few articles written by a freelancer.

All of the businesses I’ve started in the past have been bootstrapped. I don’t have any desire to raise funds or to take investors because I don’t want everything that comes with that.

Tell us about your primary driver(s) for growth. What worked for you in the beginning? What’s working now?

Most of my sites have generated traffic through SEO and social media. Social media was critical for getting my first blog off the ground, but social media in 2007 was completely different than it is today. 

The details of what I did and the platforms I used aren’t relevant anymore, but what is relevant is that I created content specifically for social media users. I analyzed the types of content that people were reacting to on social media and created content that I thought had a chance to get exposure, and I kept doing it.

For SEO, I’ve done a lot of keyword research and content planning to find topics that are relevant and give me a chance to rank and draw traffic. In the last few years, I’ve had success with tools like Surfer, Frase, and NeuronWriter that help optimize content (new and existing content).

One thing that worked really well for my photography blogs was freebies. I mentioned that those sites were monetized with digital products. I also had a small sample of products I gave away as a lead magnet to grow my email list. That worked extremely well for growing the email list and getting people to try the products, then offering them a discount on top-selling products.

So far with Flip My Site, networking has been one of the keys. Since the success stories series is a major part of the site, I’m always looking for people to feature. That means I’m reaching out to a lot of people, connecting on social media, and looking for others who have experience buying or selling websites.

I’d never been very active on LinkedIn in the past, but I’ve found it to be the best place for me to connect with other entrepreneurs. I do use LinkedIn for traffic generation, but the traffic I get from it at this point isn’t huge, and that’s a secondary benefit. The biggest thing I get out of LinkedIn is the ability to connect with others in the industry.

Aside from networking for the purpose of finding people to feature, I’ve also used my network to source quotes from industry experts for some articles. 

How do you see your business evolving in the next 5 years?

Over the next few years, I’d like to start producing other types of content at Flip My Site aside from just written articles. I’m planning to start a YouTube channel with entrepreneur interviews, and that content will also be used as a podcast.

I also hope to increase the significance of email marketing for Flip My Site. Not just in terms of growing the list to reach more people, but also providing other types of content (more of an industry newsletter instead of just promoting the content published on my site).

What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken as a founder/entrepreneur?

I’m very risk-averse, so I tend to play things cautiously. But I guess my biggest risk was simply leaving my full-time job in the first place. 

In 2008, the economy and job market were in bad shape. The company I worked for had laid off about 25% of its employees about six months earlier. Thankfully, I didn’t lose my job, but some of my friends who were laid off were still looking for a job six months later when I quit.

I knew if things didn’t go as I’d planned, it might be hard to find another job. But my wife and I minimized the risk by saving up ahead of time, so we had enough money to cover about six months of living expenses in case of emergency. Also, the income from my business had gotten close to the amount I made from my full-time job, and it actually exceeded that amount in my very first month of self-employment.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome?

The biggest challenge I’ve had to overcome is starting over several times. I love the business model of growing and selling websites, but after you sell, you’ve got to figure out what’s next. 

Starting something from scratch is difficult. Within the past few years, I bought three existing websites, which allowed me to work on growing an existing business instead of starting something new from scratch. 

I really like that approach, but I have trouble finding existing sites that I want to buy. I usually have really specific ideas about the sites I want to run, so it’s typically more practical to start from scratch.

Persistence has been the biggest key for me in overcoming this challenge. Success usually doesn’t happen right away, but I don’t give up easily.

How do you handle work-life balance?

My work-life balance is much different now than it used to be. I started my business in 2007, and for several years, I worked whenever I could. My work-life balance was pretty bad in those days, but I admit that the long hours did help with growing the business.

I became a father in 2012 (and added a second child in 2015). Today, time with my family takes priority in the evenings and on weekends. It’s not difficult for me to keep my working hours in check because there’s always something going on with my family. 

For the past four years, I’ve been more proactive about regular exercise, which has also really helped both physically and mentally. I exercise at lunch each day, and it’s been great for helping to limit stress and also improve my focus and energy throughout the day.

What tools do you use and recommend?

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