We recently had the chance to catch up with Josh Shogren, an online blogger and web entrepreneur. Josh has extensive experience with growing websites and online business, such as Amazon FBA. In this interview, we dive into his background, his success, and how he was able to grow a website bought on Flippa for $1,250 to a site now making over $5,000 per month!
Let’s start with your background as an entrepreneur. How did you get started and what technical skills do you have?
I started building websites when I was 15 years old and since then I have created, bought and sold many websites each with varying success. Throughout the last 7 years of working with websites, my skill set has always revolved around SEO, content and optimizing monetization strategies. I have used those skills to help me grow and sell a handful of successful websites. It’s also worth noting that I don’t have any “technical skills”, such as being able to code in HTML or any other programming language. Thinking that you need to know how to program in order to create successful websites is one of the most common misconceptions that people have. Your time is better spent learning a skill that can directly help you improve and grow websites such as SEO, link building, keyword research or paid ads.
You created the blog passionintopaychecks.com. When did you start it and what topics do you cover?
I started the website in June of 2014 and I have covered buying, selling, growing websites as well as Amazon FBA. The main focus on my blog is to document my various case studies and share my progress with my readers.
In May of 2016, you ended up purchasing hvactraining101.com on Flippa for $1,250. Can you tell us about the website and what made you decide to buy it?
The website is in the HVAC (heating, air, and ventilation) niche and is primarily geared towards aspiring HVAC professionals. As for why I purchased the site, there were a couple of reasons.
Here’s the listing on Flippa: https://flippa.com/6439965
The first, and most important, is that I saw a quick way to grow the site’s earnings by optimizing the ad layout for the site. At the time of purchase, it was only showing one ad per page. I knew that I could easily add 2-3 more ads to the page and be able to double the revenue of the site practically overnight. This was the main reason for me buying the site. I knew there was a way to quickly grow the site.
The second reason why I purchased the site was because of the super undervalued buy it now price of $1,250. It was averaging around $150 in profit per month, so I was able to get the site at a multiple of only 8.3x. The site should have been at least valued at around $3,000 in my opinion. Since I got such a good price I knew that if I wasn’t able to grow the site that I would still be able to flip it for a profit because I would have listed it for a multiple of 25x+. This was the worst case scenario but still would have been profitable.
The last reason why I purchased this site was because I really liked the niche and saw that there was a lot of untapped keywords and topics to go after with new content.
All three of these reasons combined to make this website purchase a no-brainer for me. It’s rare that you come across this good of a deal, but it is possible if you are always on the lookout
My initial expectations I had for this site was that I was going to improve the ad placements, create content around untapped keywords and then sell it within 6-9 months for maybe $10,000. I didn’t have the intentions to hold onto this site long term when I first purchased the site, however that changed after a few months of owning it.
After owning the site for almost two years now, how is it performing now?
The site is currently earning over $5,000 per month in revenue and I personally spend less than few hours per week on the site. However, there are project managers and writers that put a lot of time and effort into the site in order to keep it growing.
Although the site is seeing a lot of success now, the two years spent growing the site were a lot of work and it wasn’t an overnight success by any means.
What steps did you take to grow the website?
There were a couple of major things that happened that contributed to the site growing as much as it did. The first few happened as soon as I purchased the site, which was moving the site from HTML over to WordPress and optimizing the ad layout. Both of these things had immediate benefits and took the site to around $300/m in revenue, which was about double what it was earning when I purchased it.
A major source of growth was the content strategy we implemented on the site. We consistently published content on the site for the past 2 years and this has had a snowball effect. At the time I purchased the site it was getting around 3,000 visitors per month and now the number is over 30,000 per month. This comes down to good keyword research and consistent content creation.
The last major source of growth was optimizing the monetization methods we were using on the site. As mentioned earlier, the site was being monetized only by Adsense and when I took over I optimized the Adsense ad layouts which helped grow the revenue. It wasn’t until I moved over to lead gen networks such as Campus Explorer and Quinstreet when the site started seeing major revenue improvements.
I have created a case study for this website that starts from the point of purchase all the way up to $5,000 per month. The first part of the case study can be read here if interested.
You now have 8 transactions totaling over $33,000 on Flippa. What brought you to Flippa originally and why do you keep using it?
Flippa has the best deals, plain and simple. if you put in the time and work to find the deals you can find some real gems. There isn’t a better place to find these deals.
How many websites do you have in your portfolio? Is it just you or do you have any help?
I have a handful of sites, both with partners and on my own. I don’t like to ever have a lot of websites at once. I prefer to keep the roughly the same amount of total sites, but the size of these sites (in revenue/traffic) get bigger. This requires constant portfolio rebalancing by selling sites and adding new ones when the time is right.
What advice would you have for anyone looking to buy their first website on Flippa?
My biggest piece of advice would be to build a website from scratch and build a skill set before buying a website. Going straight to buying a website before learning the ropes of growing a website is 100% backwards.
Once you have some experience and feel comfortable buying a website then my advice would be the following:
- Always have a plan to grow the website BEFORE you purchase the website. If there isn’t a clear way to grow the website once it’s under your control you are going into things unprepared. For example, when I bought this website I knew exactly what I was going to do to grow the site and I had a backup plan if for some reason that didn’t work.
- Only buy websites that are in your wheelhouse. What I mean is only buy websites that lend themselves to your skillset. For example, one of my best skills is doing keyword research and content strategy. I knew I could use these skills to grow this website. I would never (at least with my current skill set) buy a website that is primarily driven by Facebook ads. I would be completely out of my element and would have a hard time growing the site.
- My last tip is to understand the ceiling potential of websites before buying. Some websites that are making $500/month might be maxed out and won’t be able to grow anymore. This would be crucial to understanding before buying because you would essentially be buying this website a for the monthly cash flow. On the other hand, a website making $500/month might be in the very early stages of its potential and it could reach $10,000 per month at its peak. It’s really important to understand where the website is in terms of the total potential. Thill will ensure that you are purchasing the website with realistic expectations.