Over 200 days ago Zachary Campbell and Bill Terwillegar bought their first online business for $159,000. As business entrepreneurs themselves, they were looking for profitable businesses in the same niche that they were currently working in. As luck would have it, Flippa user patHenry was selling his 5-year-old content site which generated $6,800 in monthly revenue from affiliate income and Google AdSense. Here, I catch up with Zachary and Bill, to discuss what the buying process was like and what they’ve done with the site since purchasing it on Flippa.
Tell us about the site. What is the content about and how is the site monetized?
The site is about being “prepared” for all sorts of disasters, whether man-made or natural occurrences, like weather and earthquakes. We especially like to post articles about things that don’t naturally come to mind when one talks about everything from electricity when the grid fails to how much ammo to store. While we believe everyone should have plans should the SHTF ([email protected]# hit the fan) or TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it), we also focus on how to get through the week after an earthquake, on putting some reality into your everyday lives that you may need to survive until help does arrive. We stress being independent, safe and ready. That knowledge is king and you are always your first-responder and the first line of defense.
What made you interested in buying ThePrepperJournal.com on Flippa?
When we saw the numbers. We were looking for alternatives to our branding and this was just a natural extension. A new source of access to a market segment that shared our core values of self-reliance and taking charge of the things we can.
How did you find Flippa and when did you start using the site?
We found Flippa from a web search for purchasing existing/established websites. We would recommend Flippa for entities looking to increase their media penetration through acquisitions.
How did you come across ThePrepperJournal on Flippa?
Through a focused search. It was a challenge. Note that when we searched for “body armor” all we received were sites with the first-word match so “bodybuilding” was all we saw – sure your first search is a lite keyword search. Made us work. We were surprised that we found one so close to our core values among the ones available.
In the end, there were 41 bids from 10 different sellers. It was between you and another buyer who had a transaction history of over $378,000 on the platform. Tell us what was going through your mind when you were in that bidding war.
We were surprised at the level of interest, but given the numbers assumed they were spiders just crawling for opportunities based on followings and not specific content of the site. Though there were a lot of re-sellers in the hunt. What went through our heads during the bidding war was staying as close to budget as possible and continually reevaluating the value for increased market penetration.
What was the max you were willing to buy it for?
Unknown, really. There were a lot “balls in the air” when we were doing this. The only real answer is nebulous as it would have been at the point where we saw no opportunity to recoup our investment within a reasonable period.
After you won the auction, what steps did you have to take to receive full control of the business?
We started by changing all monetary accounts; moved the site to a different ISP, though we left the original owners email active and it is still active. We are phasing it out. Solicited a technical support agreement with the original owner for 3 months for questions. Tried to find any unpublished content that had been submitted by guest contributors. We did find some buried in his email achieve. He also had some undisclosed “agreements” with regular contributors that we were not made aware of. We were able to get them straighten out as two, in particular, are excellent providers of content. We solicited contacts from the existing regular advertisers. Did get one surprise – he had sold a years’ worth of advertising to one company that had paid in advance. Their year extended 7 months into our ownership. We ended up reimbursing them $1,200 for ads not posted through January 9, 2018. This was the advertisers request as they had closed down the business unit that the ads sponsored. We made a decision to not go back to the seller for any settlement. We also restarted the newsletter on a weekly basis to our subscriber’s list and changed our ads policies and ad vendor.
Now that you’ve had the site for roughly 6 months, how has it been performing?
Our first move was to get rid of the tabloid-class “come-on” ads. We got immediate positive feedback from our followers. We consider ourselves family-based” and we walk the walk. The site has been performing well, there was a dip in followers as there was a lull in postings and the writing style changed, but that has more than been compensated for with new subscribers and better advertisers on board. We changed the premise to increase following by insisting that all posts teach (as opposed to preach) and went after a broader audience as opposed to the radical fringe. Every thinking adult should prepare for disasters, small and large and that became our focus. The number of SHTF and TEOTWAWKI articles are at a minimum, though we still do them as we do pander to our entire base and we are all about those being real possibilities.
Check out their site redesign:
What are your plans for the site moving forward?
More quality. We reject many articles as we do not simply want to do the same thing we did last week, or month, or year. We look for technology changes that may have changed thinking on things like water storage, backup power systems, new gardening and food preservation techniques, better weapons/ammo solutions, etc. We look to address some subjects that have not been “politically correct” like birth control in a world gone mad or how the clergy and churches will have to change to minister to their flocks when the SHTF has really happened, due to a natural disaster, a left-winged hater in Texas or other life-altering events.
What tips would you give to anyone looking to buy a high-end asset?
Be ready to hit the ground running. We had a period where we didn’t post because we were getting our ducks in a row and it cost us some followers. We had no content “in the queue” when we got the reins. Our bad and it forced us into playing catchup. We also planned a “refresh” of the site’s presentation layer which took longer than it should have. Once rolled out we received a lot of positive feedback. And suggestions. We listened a lot to the suggestions.
Do you have any plans to buy another site on Flippa?
Want to talk with the owners themselves? Shoot them a message on their Contact Us page on The Prepper Journal!