I purchased this site on August 3, 2021, for $7,500 via Flippa. The site is in the software programming niche and covers 50+ in-depth tutorials for beginners. The site was created by a software engineer, and he was able to grow it to 100,000 page views per month.
I bought the site because it was unmonetized and in a “defensible” niche. Follow along in this case study where I share the highlights and setbacks of what strategies worked, and how I sold for $40,000 only after 2-months.
In this niche site case study, I will be covering:
- Website summary, purchase multiple, traffic
- Due diligence process at a glance
- Why I purchased the site
- Easy win plans for improvement
- Website flipping details
Let’s get into it!
📊 Website Summary
Here is a high-level summary of the acquired website:
- Purchase price: $7,500 from Flippa
- Niche: Education, Tutorials, Engineering
- AHREFS DR: 27
- Referring Domains: 456
- Backlinks: 11,300
- Monetization: None at time of purchase
- Age: 2019
- Email list: ~3,500 (dead list)
- Assets: Github, Mailchimp, Social accounts
Acquired at a INFINITE Monthly Multiple…
The site had no revenues at the time of purchase. However, it had traffic. Traffic means revenues.
I paid $7,500 for this site as that is what the seller wanted to close immediately. At $0 revenues, that’s an infinite multiple. However, I know the site has the potential to earn on average $1,000 a month based on a mediocre $10 RPM.
Traffic Overview: Last 12 Months
The traffic of the website is primarily from Google. The traffic metrics over the last 12-months are shown below:
The site was impacted by the Google December 2020 update bringing the traffic down from 200,000 pageviews to approximately 100,000 page views on average. The site has stabilized at the 100,00 pageviews per month average since December 2020 to date.
👉 The Due Diligence Process
When I do due diligence, I am looking at the raw data of the website, P&Ls, earnings screenshots, domain history, trademarks, and much more.
While it’s impossible to cover everything about due diligence in this case study, I will cover the high-level steps.
High-Level Due Diligence Questions
Here are some of the questions I think about when I look at a deal.
- Website URL: The site’s URL was branded with no trademark issues ✅
- Traffic Trend: Traffic is currently stable over last 9 months ✅
- Toxic Links: No PBN links or toxic spammy links ✅
- Monthly Earnings: The site earns no revenues currently ❌
- Monetization Sources: No monetization ❌
- Visitor engagement: Time on page is high at 6 mins with a bounce rate of 90 ✅
- Top traffic pages: Top traffic page gets 12% (target < 15%) ✅
- Niche seasonality: Niche is not seasonal ✅
Running down this high-level list the major issues are with monetization. However, I knew the site has traffic but is unmonetized. This is not a reason to leave a deal as a red flag. If you can value the traffic based on your expertise, then you can make an offer accordingly.
Steps Followed With Seller on Flippa
Here is a summary of the 24-hour process from when I found the deal to when I bought it.
- Found the site on Flippa
- Reached out to seller immediately to ask for Google Analytics guest access
- Asked the seller: “what’s your buy it now price?”
- Did my due diligence based on this framework, and asked follow up questions
- Perform “easy wins” analysis to see what improvements can be done quickly
- Submitted counteroffer to the seller’s desired buy it now price, negotiated back and forth, and then closed via Flippa Escrow
The site started Escrow on July 28th and we finalized on August 3rd.
Due Diligence Results
Here are the due diligence metrics that passed:
- ✅ Diversified traffic to top pages (largest was 12.3%)
- ✅ Typical bounce rate and time on page
- ✅ Traffic (some) comes from tier 1 countries
The only major red flag was the primary traffic came from India. Since this was a programming education site, a large majority of visitors were expected to be from India. I knew this beforehand so it was not a red flag for me.
🙋 Why Was This Site Purchased?
Here are my high-level reasons:
- Defensible topic and content
- Niche relevant backlinks
- Diversified traffic
- Existing code included
- Long-term stability
Let’s discuss each one in detail.
1. Unmonetized with 100,000 Pageviews
This is the primary reason. When I spot a site with high traffic and minimal earnings, I actively look to acquire it.
Here is a high-level formula I follow:
If the Average RPM is less than $10, there is an opportunity to increase the site’s revenues immediately; the site is under-monetized.
2. Defensible Content; Not Easy To Copy
Most niches that website creators enter are “simple” to create. This includes niches like kitchen, home, parenting, pets, among others.
However, this site is in a tough niche where a random person cannot just write content and outrank me. You need deep expertise on the topic to be able to write tutorials.
Here is an example of the content quality:
3. Diversified Traffic To Pages: 12% Traffic to Top Page
You do not want to have a site where most of the traffic is going to 1-3 pages. You want a site that is diversified across many pages. This specific site has no page more than 12% of traffic. This is a win.
Check out the Google Analytics screenshot:
4. Quality Niche-Relevant Backlinks
I prefer a site with niche-relevant backlinks; those are the most powerful. This specific site has backlinks from:
5. Tutorial Code As Assets
The site comes with an expansive database of example code and applications on Github and is also embedded within the content. The code was written by the original owner and is thus an asset to the website.
This is another reason the site is “defensible”. Check out the Github profile:
6. Long-Term Stability
StackOverflow, the go-to forum for programmers, keeps track of trends. One of them is how many people are asking questions related to specific frameworks, like React JS. Check out the figure below:
Year-over-year the number of questions being asked for React JS has been increasing. This means more opportunities for this website I acquired to answer questions and write tutorials.
💸 “Easy Wins” Implemented in August
The website has gone through a rigorous revamp in August. This is what was done:
1st Week Post-Acquisition: Tech Setup
The goal here is to improve the technology of this website. This included the following:
- Setup on Cloudways server
- Setup Cloudflare
- Removed unncessary plugins
- Updated plugins
- Implemented WP Rocket, Short Pixel, Link Whisper, WordFence, ManageWP
The WP theme on the site is custom and was created by the original owner. I decided to keep the theme as-is for now since it looks good, and loads fast. This may change in the future.
I like to get the foundation as strong as possible within 2-3 days after acquiring a site. This is because the worst thing you can do is add more features, content, etc. to a poorly performing foundation.
2-3 Weeks Post Acquisition: Monetization and On-Page Changes
The site was unmonetized. The easiest way to monetize this site to start generating revenue is to utilize display advertisements. I applied to the following:
The website has the traffic numbers to qualify for all of these providers. Both Adthrive and Mediavine reject the site due to the following two reasons:
- Primary traffic was from Asia (not Tier 1 countries)
- Topic was not a good match for their advertisers
That left me with Ezoic which went live on the site on August 3rd.
B. On-Page Changes
The on-page changes I implemented include:
- adding an author bio box to each article
- Adding author image under title
- Adding releated articles to end of posts
Here is what this looks like:
Week 4 Post Acquisition: Hiring Writers
My goal was to hire practicing software developers that want to generate side income or to promote their consulting services. This is what I tried to find writers:
- Posted on Indie Hackers to ask if anyone was interested in writing (for free, hopefully)
- Posted on Twitter
- Posted on Upwork
Twitter and Indie Hackers did not turn up any leads. This was probably because most of the people there are already working on their own projects.
However using Upwork, was able to find one writer with the following criteria being met:
- Writer needed to provide their bio picture for the site
- They needed an active LinkedIn, Twitter, etc
- They need to share a bio description
The writer is a practicing software engineer and has experience in the programming language (React JS) covered on the website. He was willing to write for $50 per article while meeting my criteria fully.
The criteria listed above are what I like to do to ensure Google EAT standards are being met on the site to the best of my abilities.
👉 August 2021 Traffic and Earnings Update
In August, the site received 104,960 pageviews. Here is the snapshot from Google Analytics:
The site was monetized with Ezoic from August 3rd. Here is a snapshot of the Ezoic dashboard:
Here is the high-level overview:
- Pageviews: 104,960
- Ezoic EPMV: $7.98
- Ezoic Revenues: $779
👉 Website Flipped for $38,000 in 30 Days
After monetizing the site for about 30 days, I received an unsolicited offer to buy the website.
They were willing to pay a 40X multiple on just last 30 days earnings which equated to $941. This put the valuation at $38,000 whereas I bought the site for $7,500.
My profit was $30,500. For 30 day turnaround, this was a very easy win! I sold the site via Escrow.
That’s it for this case study!
I walked you through what I did to find the site, vet the data, perform easy wins, and then sell it for $38,000.
Website flipping is a great way to generate a significant lump sum of money upfront instead of waiting for the revenue to come in from the site.