An acquisition or two

I have been busy looking at existing sites & traffic so taken a break from domain research.

Life Insurance Quotes continues to age and is now taking leads, this site is moving forward to the point it’s probably earning just into 4 figures a month, also picked up a couple of other insurance quotes names like travelinsurancequotes.co.uk as that type of traffic seems to convert better and be more valuable than any other. A lovely little set.

Picked up a few expired domains, one in particular last week came good free-animations.co.uk which cost £40 – I tracked down the old owner and offered him a token amount for the old website – he was happy for me to have it so put it back together and it’s doing 2000 visitors and £10 in Adsense per day with no other work done to it.

The big move recently was buying a site I spotted a couple of years ago – NinePlanets.org which is a guide to the solar system with dedicated pages to the moon, Neptune and even a kids astronomy area.

I approached the owner who built it over the last decade but he didn’t want to give any stats and wanted $100,000, so I left it, but it nagged away at me because I knew it was a monster with potential, the owner had a little adsense at the top and right hand side but I knew it’s CTR would be horrendous, I left it a year and approached him again in March 2010 but again the owner wanted $100,000 and wanted me to buy it for the love of it and not income. This time I managed to get some analytics stats, it did 5.5 million visitors in the previous 12 months, this is a site that bombs in the summer but makes up for it outwith that. Now I knew it averaged around 15,000 visitors per day.

The good thing about having a diverse selection of sites is that I already have some science & study related sites so I could do my own numbers, averaging a 1% CTR on page impressions I worked out the site could earn £17k a year, at 2% CTR on page impressions I guestimated around £32000 a year. That was enough to go ahead in my book, even though it’s the most money I have ever spent on buying a site and I was buying it kind of blind it still seemed too good value when everything was weighed up. A final purchase price of just under the $100,000 was agreed and Escrow completed last week.

It’s been fun watching the numbers rolling in, early indications show the site can do £150 a day in Adsense during the week and even with the summer blip I reckon without improvements it could do £40-£50,000 a year so pay itself back in 12-16 months without getting into affiliate product sales, subs and direct advertiser deals, not bad at all. I have also found out the site used to have twice as much traffic a few years ago so really does have potential to improve.

So two acquisitions that could not be further apart in price but I love the thrill of the chase and working on a great deal, it gives me a buzz at £40 or into tens of thousands, I’m certainly in acquisition mode just now – working on tools to find undervalued or forgotten about sites and buying them, the same as I did with domains for a period of time, both areas still offer huge opportunity for profit every single day.

About Scott Jones

Scott hails from the north east of Scotland and started earning online at the end of 2000 building websites for local businesses during which time he won an award from Lord Alan Sugar for Excellence in Enterprise. After having quite a bit of success with domaining Scott mainly runs educational evergreen websites which generate over 3 million visitors per month but is always on the lookout for a fresh thinking out of the box way to turn a buck. Follow on Twitter.

Comments

  1. You’ve got some balls Scott. A lot of people would have just laughed that $100K price off.

    I love the way you analyze these purchases out. So methodical. Do you ever run into other folks going about domaining/website ownership the way you do?

    NinePlanets is a really nice site. I have another idea for a revenue stream, but I’ll email.

    • Feel free to email me Nigel always looking for inspiration and ideas. I think most people like hard numbers but when you go seeking sites not listed for sale the water gets muddy, you don’t always get proper stats and you need to work it out and use your gut more, which can go wrong. I’m sure others do it but I don’t hear about it much, most prefer multiples.

  2. Cheers for sharing these details Scott.

    I’ve been following this blog for quite a while and the info you and Al share, the advice, the tips and the stories make for incredibly interesting and inspiration reading.

    Cheers for sharing.

  3. I am constantly amazed by the deal you do Scott. Not because of the amounts (even though impressive) but rather because you find sites in so many different niches. I wonder how you find them… I mean… something like NinePlanets is not something that you normally “stumble upon”.

    I’ve probably asked this before but how do you go about it? Is it a coincidence or do you grab a dictionary and throw a dart at it?

    /Mikael

    • It used to be quite random Michael but last year I decided to find a way to work smarter and with more direction so thankfully good sites are easier to find now – negotiating and finding owners to sell them is still tough though.

  4. And by “working smarter” you’re referring to..? :)

  5. Hey, how do you discovered trafficed sites that have dropped their domains? Is there an automated service for this anymore?

    • Don’t think there is anything automated (could be wrong), I have a script specially made to my spec for a few hundred that helps target them in advance, its all about trying to get an edge if possible.

  6. Nice purchase on nineplanets (is Pluto still a planet; maybe you should get eight planets ;-)

    Once you get inline adsense ads I bet you can double your earnings!!!

  7. Do you move all your sites to the same registrar/hosting? If so .. which one have you chosen please

    • I used a couple of registrars and hosts account just so I have options if one turns into a pain, spread the risk so sometimes I have copies of the sites at 2 hosts so a simple name server change can be made if needed.

  8. Hey Scott, first I wanted to say thanks for doing the interview the other day. But I was wondering if you worry people might try to copy your websites when you share them? Perhaps I’m just paranoid but don’t you think some people may try to do a solar system style website now?

    • It’s quite hard to copy established content website, you’d need a hell of a lot of content and backlinks that have taken a decade to get on this one. I incidentally did a soft launch of a solar system site a year or so ago but it hardly gets any traffic for instance. My content sites that do best were the ones I made back when I first got started in 2003.

  9. Yah I understand that, but sometimes it’s possible to buy websites that are ranking and making money only because people don’t know how profitable they are right?

    In that situation shouldn’t it cause some concern? I have some websites hosted on another server than my blog just to keep them hidden from other people for that exact reason (I put in very little effort to rank and they are solid earners).

    Scott your thoughts?

    • For sure its a concern, not so with nineplanets as it’s too old & established but you’d be amazed how many tattoo font sites sprung up after I explained that mini site idea a while ago so I have to share less and hold back more nowadays.

  10. John Parry says:

    Hi, just looking at the Insurance quotes site, I would have looked at that site with it’s unranked pagerank and Alexa of 2.5m and never have imagined it would be pulling in 1k pounds a month. I would assume the traffic is quite low but then I could be wrong? There must be a very high conversion rate if that’s the case?

  11. Wow Scott !, $100k just wow … I am speechless..
    anyway good luck with the tools :)

    • I should add this isn’t my usual budget when buying sites, I’m a lot more comfortable around $10-$20k, its a lot more than I am used to paying but with big risks can come big rewards.

      • Over the years learnt a lot from you Scott :)
        From simple things like $15 for a tatoo script on DP to mini sites to $100k !
        Keep up the good work and wish you a great ROI…

  12. Wow that really is one extreme to another!!

    I’m sure you can increase the income and maybe even break even after less than a year!!

    I’m just in the early process of selling one of my long term sites, is nice being on both sides!

  13. Scott –

    Out of curiosity, I did a Google search for “nine planets” to see how your new acquisition ranks — and it covers the ENTIRE first page of results!

    That’s awesome, for you, but HOW is this happening? Somehow Google is treating each individual HTML page as a separate listing. I’ve never seen this before, ever. If you don’t mind discussing — What’s going on?

  14. Truly amazing deal. You know about the internet brands acquisition right? I feel that you will get there if you just keep honing the process.

  15. Some other excellent buy again Scot. Each time I read this blog I get a new burst of energy which soon get worn out because I don’t get any response from the people I contact. I find it easier to start my own site but the traffic and return are low on the ground. After reading this I will try again.

    Scot, the visits you get from your current portfolio I have you tried contacting media companies to run ads across your network?

    I am working with one at the moment but low visit on some sites means low return.

  16. Good work Scott! Been away recently when I should be spending more time doing what you have been doing! I like how you think business minded – the yield is superb… nice purchases even though I am still getting my head round to how this all works!

  17. I tried this business few years ago. It gives instant cash but there was one problem which I faced. Most of the time, I purchased those expired domains which do not have any monetary value. That’s why no one wanted to purchase it from me.

    If you can judge the future of the domain, you will surely sell it at higher price.

  18. Ücretsiz Firma Kayıt says:

    Hey Scott, first I wanted to say thanks for doing the interview the other day. But I was wondering if you worry people might try to copy your websites when you share them? Perhaps I’m just paranoid but don’t you think some people may try to do a solar system style website now?

    • Yes people do copy ideas, but starting an astronomy site and getting the backlinks, age and authority can’t easily be replicated, hence I buy sites more than build them nowadays.

  19. Your success continues to be incredible. I am amazed how you are able to keep track of so many sites. Would love to know your outright income on all your site endeavors, but that may be to personable of a request.
    Keep it up, I love reading about it!

    • I can keep track because they are maintenance free sites Nick, don’t mind spending time finding, negotiating, buying and making initial changes but then carry on for the most part to the next one.

  20. Scott

    Did you get the site and domain for free animations for £40, or did you just get the domain and have to develop the site?

    • I got permission to use the old site from the old owner by tracking him down, I offered him £150 for the site but he was happy for me to use it rather than have it disappear.

  21. James T Smith says:

    hi Scott my adsense has been in a free fall lately even with my sites thats been established for 8 years. Are your mini site’s income still okay?

    • Adsense dipped in the summer as usual for me but pulled back up again late Sept so nothing unusual, perhaps its the advertisers not spending in your niche? Online advertising continues to rise, generally.

    • @James, Scott’s comment is correct, I would also personally take a look at the Page CPM, and see what the rates are compared to the past. The other thing I would also look at is the traffic. If the traffic has dipped some, than that would clearly explain the drop in income.

      Till then,

      Jean

  22. James T Smith says:

    Thanks for the quick reply Scott. I always consider your post very valuable. Im forcing myself to stop hording domains and start seling the ones I haven’t develop. Sounds strange but I think I’m getting attached to some name I found and never had the time to develop them.

  23. Scott great acquisitions for yourself, I definitely think you could get higher CTR’s if you play it a little bit more aggressively with the ad-placements, still though I think the nine planets acquisition will play off in the long run for sure. Wish I could have that kind of cash in order to invest in some domain names that I would love to have :D

    Till then,

    Jean

  24. Giles Dawe says:

    Great post. For the nineplanets, I’d probably make all the outgoing links _blank, it’s difficult to know which are internal and which are outbound.

    The animation site doesn’t load for me…I’ve got cels.info which can sell for cheap price as I don’t use it…

  25. Ash@holiday apartment seychelles says:

    15k visitors per day is really good.

  26. Damn, $100k on a domain, whats that £70k?

    Got to give it to you mate, you’ve got some balls! Hope all goes well with the domain, looks like you’ve got yourself a winner.

    Also where do you look for expired domains?

  27. Wow, great statistics there, how do you manage to do these things, I personally have not thought much about purchasing old sites. Now creating new sites is pretty common now for adsense and all, but this thing is totally new to me.. But tell you what its a great idea!

  28. I’m pretty amazed at how you do business. I check out nineplanets.org. I can see huge potential here with a little redesign. Pretty unusable at the moment.

  29. wow. It really takes some balls to drop 100k on ones site you dont really now any traffic statistics for sure. But I guess with your no. of acuisitions and knwolege you landad a good deal agai. I wish I would aquire just one site like that. I have been trying in the past to make some aquisitions. But I expreienced that people are unwilling to sell…I guess I have to keep tryinig.

  30. Serious amount of brass for that one good punt thought and seems to have paid off! Well done.

  31. Just Looking at the site I just cant see it I would never had valued it anywhere near that much but I guess the wide portfolio of sites and experience is how you knew.

    Had you not had any sites in that sector how would you “guess” on the traffic for a site like that? Do you use any online tools?

  32. Been a long time since you last posted here..hope everything okay..

  33. Miss your articles guys . last one is getting on now :) Comeon pls, more enlightening needed down these shores !

  34. Hi Scott,
    First time to the blog. It was really nice finding someone not afraid to put it all out there in regards to their actual domain acquisitions and income predictions. Thanks for sharing.

  35. Wow Scott,

    Finding my way over here and really amazed to see someone who actually discloses their sites instead of the usual run around. This is some crazy, awesome stuff.

    The leveraging power behind your domain buys are insane – love how you go into it thinking long term; really makes me look at it in a new light.

  36. Wow! Making a purchase of $100k without even looking at analytics is a bigger risk. You must be a real big risk taker. Luckily, you are making good with daily income from adsense soaring. I’m sure you will do better by utilizing the placement and location of current ads and affiliate sales.

  37. Hey Scott, just found your blog and love your transparency. In reading your comment responses, also respect your privacy…you can’t give away the whole farm as they say. I’ve had some local business in Atlanta and Marietta GA of US, but still new to internet property and businesses. As such, really like your pragmatic approach and hope to learn a bunch from hanging out here…

  38. Wow, that nine planets purchase is really cool. I would have never thought that a site like that would be so lucrative. It’s sort of like the craigslist of info sites.

  39. What a small world. Today I was having lunch with a coworker who told me about your blog post, this acquisition, and when got back to the office and read it I recalled “I know nineplanets!”. Back in 2002 when all you needed was a few, high PR links to kill it I put up a mirror of nine planets which landed me a link on the mirrors page. Low and behold its still up. :)

    http://www.notsleepy.com/nineplanets/

  40. hey – just wanted to say wel done…. im on my first venture and guys like you are an inspiration.

    Im just hanging around trying to suss it all out at the mo

    Well done mate…..im struggling with this!

  41. Those are nice domain deals, taking it one step further you can use those websites to improve positions of your other websites and therefore get more traffic and income. Like NinePlanets dot org has a PR7 on the homepage – that’s a lot of SEO value.

  42. What a great deal you pulled off there, recovering your capex in around 2 years os great with a website, overheads are minimal so its all profit from then on. It took some guts to spend that sort of money on a site, but if you want the big returns you have to take some risks!. Pleased to hear it went well, I always love to read a good success story – helps keep me motivated!

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