Changing Times and New Business Models

5161094177_163c841ecf_oWell it’s been a while and a lot has changed since I made my last post. For those new here please feel free to browse the archives, there’s a fair bit of decent stuff though bear in mind the age of it. But in short form…

Previously I made the majority of my online income from owning web sites, paying people to do stuff with them and monetising them via affiliates, advertising and any other means I could come up with. Life was good and the money was pretty easy to come by, making a decent 6 figure income from the foundations that I’d laid. However complacency and boredom set in, so no matter how good the foundations if you don’t build on them you get left behind. I did!

So 2015 became a year of looking for new opportunities and adventures. I had planned for this possible inevitability so did have money in the bank to live off for a few years and invest in other businesses. Dabbed my toes in a few different ideas and at the moment this is where I’m at.

Existing Sites – They still bring in an income but no where near as much as they did (on a good day one revenue stream used to bring in £1,500+, now a good day for that revenue stream is ~£100 and they’re few and far between, ouch!).

Property – This I saw as an educated gamble, I currently have 3 properties that are rented out (admittedly one of them is a garage for £30 a month which doesn’t really count). The first is a 2 bed maisonette (condo for my American friends) which was bought with a buy to let mortgage, needed no work and found a tenant straight away. The second is actually in the building next to the first, this was a cash purchase as it was un-mortgageable and needed renovating. I’ll go more into my property adventures in future posts.

Healthcare Business – I invested in a friends business in 2014. It’s primary focus is sourcing and supplying products to the healthcare industry at a reasonable price (there are some right cowboys and rip off merchants out there). It’s had a pretty slow start but will hopefully reach a tipping point this year.

Selling Physical Products online – I started selling on Amazon in the Summer of 2015. I studied a few courses, read a lot and dived in. (Funnily enough my first sale was a second hand business book I sent in). Since then I’ve sold about £75,000 worth of products, mainly toys but all sorts of good shit that I can make a profit on. This is one that I can see me growing to a 7 or 8 figure business in the next couple of years (again I’ll post more about this later). I’m actually writing this on the train to my first Amazon Sellers meetup.

Dating Site and App – I’m currently in talks to get involved with a new dating site and service that’s been in development for 2 years (ouch), having third meeting this week so will see how that goes.

Software Development – I really want to get back to this and get my hands dirty a bit, I have all sorts of software ideas that could support other businesses or I might just do it for fun and write games but I miss the mental challenges of coding so need to fix that.

Toy Charity – I have a lot of inventory that I cannot sell for various reasons (and am in touch with others in a similar situation), so I want to form a charity to distribute those toys to kids who need/deserve them. As noble as the idea sounds I am also doing it for selfish reasons, previously when money was no object, I’d often spend frivolously, fun at the time but gave little satisfaction after the event. One of the things that gave me the most long term satisfaction was donating money for a child to fly to Austria for an operation that he needed. So I want to do more shit like that so I can feel better about myself.

So in brief that’s what I’ve been up to in 2015 and some of what I’m planning for 2016. If you’re interested in selling on Amazon, investing in property or just curious of what we’re up to then please subscribe to the newsletter.

Fancy sharing what you have planned for 2016?

The short domain release and PC

This post has been a while in the making, around March last year I bought my initials SJ.co.uk for £x,xxx – at around the same time Nominet announced they were going to release previously held back short domain names like A.co.uk or AA.co.uk.

Reading the announcement it was clear before going to the general public there would be some sort of sunrise period where trademark holders could apply first, it was pretty much then I followed the scent and wanted one so started to read about registering a trademark.

Not long after registering my first trademark WS™ it was decided that only trademark holder who owned an active trademark pre a certain date likely to be 1996-2008 would get the chance to apply, this was a bit of a spanner in the works!

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Update

Little update on the last post I made about a few new buys as I had a couple of emails asking how they are panning out.

The catch for £40 free-animations.co.uk did £486 in Oct. 75,000 visitors

It’s fairly important to point out this wasn’t just catching an expired domain and parking it, I bought the old site and put it back together. It’s not the first time I have done this, quite a few years ago I bought the domain globalspine.net from a domainer after it had expired, I then used archive & google to track down the old owners who were in New Zealand and I think from memory paid them $2000 for a full copy of the old site and put it back together. Free Animations I could see used to have thousands of pages/files so was an obvious candidate and if I had not caught it for £40 I’d have been happy to spend a few hundred trying to buy it.

Nine Planets has been rocking and has hit £240 in a single day, should be an interesting 12 months with this titan. Leaving it to get some numbers & data on it before deciding for sure the way forward.

I bought Protect.co.uk last month – which could really work well for a variety of angles, children’s safety, alarms, insurance so I think has a lot of value but not an obvious product generic, still cost a few thousand though! A cheap addition was Ski Insurance for a few hundred.

.org.uk domains are really beginning to rise in value and selling for mid £x,xxx, simple economics with supply & demand and with some of the best .co.uk unlikely to get developed or ever sold people are turning to the next best thing which is .org.uk and offers the exact same ability to rank, now would be a good time to buy a category killer and I secured furniture.org.uk which I will come back to in another post, also managed to get something done with SJ.co.uk in the meantime.

On the website front I bought CeramicsToday.com which I found was dead & de-listed from Google, contacted the owner and bought the domain and then negotiated a copy of most of the content, lots of dead pages still and a bit messy but now back in google and traffic at around 700/day, I can see that ending up around 1-2k a day traffic wise. Across all my sites for the last month the traffic stands at 2,787,605 which kind of blew my mind when I added it up.

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.

Fancy Joining Us in San Diego? – Think Tank 2010

THINKTAN

Last year I travelled loads and did more conferences than I care to remember (I was out of the country for over 3 months in total). This year, I’ve been a lot more choosy about which which events I’ve attended based on the benefit (and enjoyment) I’d get from them.

So far I’ve done both Think Visibilities, Dom sure knows how to organise awesome events (Jason wrote a cool review about it here, I should do the same but I’ll outsource his instead). And in the summer my daughter and I went to the Existem AM Summer BBQ.

Out of these 3 events I didn’t attend a single complete session! The reason for this is I use events and conferences to network, form relationships and learn and share knowledge with like minded people (your learn a lot more from folk in the after hours than you ever will in a conference session).

So the reason for this post is that next event I’m off to (and likely my last one of the year), is Think Tank in Del Mar, San Diego. This is, and will be my third Think Tank, which I hope shows how important I feel it is. Cost of entry is high at $3,000 for 3 days but every attendee I’ve known has made that back and often many fold over.

I’ve chatted with Doctor David Klein (aka DK) who organises it and we both feel it would benefit from more than one Brit in attendance (I get lonely and home sick), so even tho it’s sold out (think it sold out in the first week it was announced) a few more folk from this side of the pond are welcome. DK has offered an amazing discount to compensate for the cost of having to travel across the pond (he’s asked me not to say how much it is publicly but it’s awesome).

This is an invitation only event so you will need to know me either on or offline as I’ll have to vouch for you. I’m gaining nothing out of promoting this other than hopefully having a fellow countryman to share an awesome experience with. Leave a comment below or drop me a message if interested and I’ll do the introductions.

I could explain what Think Tank is all about but if you’re serious about it I’m sure Google will do a better job :)

Starting to really have fun this year

Starting to really have fun this year, doing tests, trials and punts and really enjoying dabbling in all sorts.

Pretty much all the proceeds from the sale of tvs.co.uk have been re-invested in my businesses. Looking up travel names using the Google keyword tool for inspiration ‘turkey holidays’ stood out as a good name, this seems to be compounded by recent news that UK folks are seeking different destinations like Turkey & Egypt instead of the normal Spanish breaks. turkeyholidays.co.uk was owned by a couple but the email on their one page website bounced, I love it when that happens! seriously I do, it’s like a challenge and while I have no skills when it comes to design or coding the one thing I am good at is research and I am persistent.

Snail mail failed, email failed, the same address was used by a glass company who’s email failed, I did manage to find a planning application by the couple in Nov ’09 which used a different home address so used it and was successful in getting an email back from them, managed to buy the domain for £3k. It also came with the old hosting account and email account which had 5 attempts to buy it from the different people before the old email address filled up and started bouncing. The perseverance paid off in the end.

Picked up Yacht.co.uk for £1750 which would strike me as being worth 10x that, nice name.

Bought a few websites, some on a multiple like Optillusions.com which is an older site showing optical illusions – bought for £12k, it earned £740 in July, this one freaked out my son (and me) a bit :)

Also bought a small site which ranks no.1 in Google for tropical fish, the tropical fish centre was an older lead, it can often pay to leave money on the table. I offered the previous owner £1500 a couple of years ago and moved up to £3500 but the actual amount didn’t seem to be the stumbling point, more the fact it was a decade’s work and sentimental value so I left the offer on the table and a year or so later he finally came back to me and was ready to sell for £4000. Seemed like an ok sort of number, not overly a bargain but I was sure I could get my money back within 2 to 3 years so bought it blind as there was no income. It’s earning around £7 per day so looks like under 2 years it’ll be paid back and is making amazon sales which could help further.

LifeInsuranceQuotes.co.uk is in development along with quite a few other insurance names in a joint venture, it was sitting on page 2 and not in use as the company primarily worked offline, a real bargain waiting to be picked up.

There are a lot of other things I am doing which I can’t go into unfortunately but just from the above over the last month or so it’s clear there are still a lot of bargains & good deals for domain names and established websites, although it should be noted none of the above were listed for sale anywhere so you really have to do the research and send emails & letters which can be boring but the pay off is fun!

How you can become a Million Dollar Blogger

This is a write up by Martijn Beijk of the presentation I did at a4uExpo last year. It was originally posted on SearchEngineCowboys but has for various reasons has been lost so Martijn gave me permission to share it here.

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At the A4U Expo in the Amsterdam RAI there was a session by Al Carlton, a Selfmade millionaire by just blogging and smart thinking. Al Carlton (Coolest Media Ltd. ,Coolest-Gadgets.com) has started blogging not too long ago – he told us with his lips still a bit dry from the party the night before.

He is convinced you can basically sell anything to people and shows some examples of stormtrooper outfits ( ! ), electronic bikes which were sold for a couple of thousand pounds and ‘the ultimate guide to anal sex for women’ which was doing particularly good.

He describes the approaches he used to generate traffic. Lots of traffic.

Traffic generation (social):

Use social bookmarking websites and convert social traffic from digg, reddit, etc to regular readers and vice versa. Use other blogs and comments. Engange in forums, directories and place articles on news websites. make sure you get those links out there.

Blogs want free content. So write articles for other blogs to increase your own traffic! But be careful. Don’t push yourself to another blog. Be useful to the specific niche/blog/site.

Traffic generation (search):

Al cannot stress enough that you need quality content. Write good articles that people find (trust)worthy and optimize. To Al, SEO is providing information the visitor wants. Simple as that.

Traffic generation (buy/trade):

network with other bloggers, write articles, attend conferences (like A4UExpo! ), use free coupons (for facebook, adwords, MSN, etc!)

and use PPC to convert for short or long term profit

Traffic generation (direct):

Regular readers, bookmarks, RSS subscribers, Email subscribers. Quote:”RSS is for techies. Email is for all other people!”

Now that we have discussed traffic sources, what about our revenue streams?

Use CPM, CPC, affiliate sales, direct sales, paid reviews, or even sell out your blog (partially). But there were some more good tips from Al here; hide adsense from your social readers! They know what adsense looks like and it doesn’t work for them. Another good tip: when younotice an advertiser targeting your website via adsense (content network) – Contact them directly! Cut out Google and get some good deals with the advertiser directly.

Contextual adverts:

· Adsense
· Chitika
· Kontera

The Pro’s:
· east to implement
· targeting

The Con’s:
· you are paid to lose visitors.
· can deter visitors.
· you are not in control of what is being shown.

Affiliate revenue:

You are in total control of how you link, make sure you find a profitable offer and PUSH.

Al warns us about link sales or paid reviews -be very careful. Google is watching and doesn’t like it, so don’t get caught…)

Optimisation:

A day has only hot 24 hours and you need to spend at least a few of them in the pub – the message here is that you need to outsource as much as you can. Al himself does some research and comes up with a business plan for a hopefully succesful idea and outsources everything, from design to coding and even content creation (but don’t cut corners and make sure it is unique and of high quality!). Webmaster Tools, Social sites, long tail traffic and related posts are ways to optimise your traffic stream. To get the best revenue available he says you really need to make deals with the merchants and make direct deals. Use different ads on different content and push those appropriate affiliate offers. Target your visitors geographically. Review your old posts and find new ways to monetize them. Another free tip: after a month, remove the date from your articles, it will make your content look fresh.

The million dollar blogging session at the underestimated A4U expo was well worth visiting and had some really good tips and Al sure knew how to make people laugh.

Sort of a guest post by Martijn Beijk.

Outsourcing and Automation Presentation

Hi all, it’s been a while since I posted, basically been crazily busy with both business and life in general. I enjoyed and spoke at another Think Visibility conference at the weekend, awesome group of people with some great speakers.

I spoke on outsourcing and automation, a subject I’m pretty passionate about and I think it went okay, so I’ve shared the slides above, any questions at all post in the comments and I’ll go into more detail. I’ve also done a round up of what other people have posted and some of the most important links:

Any others please let me know and I’ll add links to them here

Insane Advertisers still don’t get it

This relates to quite an old post, basically I owned a domain which I caught for reg fee/£5.  As soon as a large company started a TV advertising campaign their url was not clearly labelled and I started getting type in confused type in traffic (around 100 per day), it was noticed early and after speaking to them they agreed to pay £2 per sign up if I redirected their traffic back to them. The TV advert lasted about 4 weeks and made £814.

Got an email from them late last year to say they were running the TV advert again in January and would offer the same £2/signup deal, this time the domain earned just over £1k.  Yet through all this they were not interested in buying the domain for £3000-£4000, I still don’t understand their logic really, had an offer through Sedo@ $5000 so decided to sell it as there may/may not be TV adverts in the future and with the £1k just earned it seemed a good time to cash out of that domain name. I’m happy enough but absolutely baffled that they didn’t have the budget to get involved in the domain auction when informed {sigh}

Happy New Year!

Hello! Been a while eh.. 2010 seems to have just started but were already more than half way through January!
So what’s been happening on the domaining development front?

Domain Leasing: After the flurry of bids and very nice sale of bedroomfurniture.co.uk (which isn’t mine) I suddenly had a good bit of interest in my livingroom & diningroom furniture domains. Weird how that goes, no interest for 12 months and then suddenly 3 different five figure offers, happy to say I leased both mine out for £100 per month each so a nice little gain in the leasing income. The 2 domains were not ranking or developed, both have buy options written in.

Geo’s: I had initially planned to work through the winter adding advertisers to sites like Ullapool.co.uk but it became pretty obvious once the businesses shut down it’s going against the grain trying to get them to spend on next season so I held off, I did initially get some B&B’s on board and some have naturally emailed and signed up as the site ranks top for the town, so that one established site is earning £1350 per year in listing fee’s and would make around £2k per year in adsense based on present numbers, my other geo sites although small in traffic levels are getting really nice clicks on Adsense from 50p to £2 per click so even just now in the winter they add up quite nicely. My geo sites will likely earn around £10,000-£15,000 passively for me in 2010 but if I can get motivated that could easily be doubled year on year.Continue Reading