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GOLD! Intro, AMA, and a Recent Sale for $6M of InvestorJunkie.com

mikey3times

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MJ DeMarco

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lludwig

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When people register for your site, at the bottom there is a checkbox that says, "Would you like to receive a free report from XYZ company on the best mutual funds?"

When someone clicks the check box (they're already registering for YOUR service) you get paid because they opted in for the free report. That's a lead for the "free report company."

You're affiliating for the "free report company" and they pay you $1 for each registration lead.

There's terminology for this type of arrangement (beyond "affiliate program") which I can't remember.

Also Mixergy had a podcast with a dude in the financial space who was doing it, and was making a killing on it.

I've been unable to recall either.
Ah ok, completely different than what I was thinking.

Yea Investing Channel is the company that popularized this email signup. I forget the terminology though.

I disliked this technique as I felt it was too spammy. Plus HATED Investing Channel as a service but that's a whole other story.

No, I did not do this but considered it. That was popular a few years ago, but I haven't seen anyone do this recently in mass. There was much more money to be made than that way.

Emails, in general, I had an issue to monetize.

Unlike other niches, investing readers had a very limited lifetime. It was not uncommon for me to completely refresh the list within one year. Meaning an email subscriber lasted no longer than a year, if that. Meaning they would get the information they needed and be gone. Sure they may have and did come back for other topics but it was to satisfy other specific needs than long-term general education. People just don't have the patience to invest for the long-term and the habits I saw from readers confirmed it as well.

A side note it was very common for individuals to test out two robo-advisors and would pick the winner (in total returns) after six months!!
 
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Thomas Baptiste

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Hi All,

First-time poster but has lurked on this forum for a while and have read both MJ DeMarco's books. I've been a business owner in some form since 1997. My first business was web hosting and web development.

I didn't know it at the time, but perhaps one of the worst businesses to be in. Low margins, low barrier to entry, and always need to respond to tech support 24/7. I was stressed out, burnt out and looking to do something else.

In December 2009 I got sick of developing and hosting websites for other customers (two of them at the time was Comedy Central and Thought Catalog). My thought was why can't I develop a site like this and generate revenue from the visitors?!??

Something at that time just snapped for me. I couldn't deal with a high workload and the stress of customer support.

I also was doing somewhat ok financially and had all my ducks in a row. I was looking for a website that could help speak to me about investing and more the advanced topics. Money magazine and Suze Orman weren't cutting it for me and way more advanced than that.

So I figured I would create one myself and named it Investor Junkie. So while somewhat self-serving also had plenty of experience to talk about investing.

Plus I figured I could use it to showcase the technology created to develop and maintain it. It could be used as a selling point for my web development and design. I would monetize via affiliate marketing was my plan.

This little skunkworks operation turned into a business onto itself after 2 years into it. It started generating more revenue and was much more profitable than my original business.

Fast forward to July 2018 I sold Investor Junkie for $6M.

XLMedia Buys Personal Finance Site InvestorJunkie For USD6 Million

About 3 years ago read MJ's first book and even with my years of business experience got a lot out it. He confirmed many of my existing beliefs of owning a business and organized it in way much better than I ever could.

MJ's books gave me more direction and helped keep me more focused on the ball. So thanks for this.

To celebrate the sale I bought one thing. Ever since I was around 8 years old I saw my first Porsche Turbo in the Hamptons and fell in love with the car. I always wanted one. So I bought a 2015 991.1 Turbo S as a little present for me. It was purely symbolic. I could have afforded it long ago, but I figured I needed some reward after all the long days and stressors of owning a business.

View attachment 20956

So what's next? I really don't know. While exciting also nervous as I typically have a clear direction of what I would do next. I have some ideas but joined this forum to look at other business ideas.

Thanks for the welcome and thanks to MJ DeMarco for your books.

Woah! Thanks for the insight on the hosting and development industry that you got out of. Funny that I was actually heading down this same path, but you sharing your experience will surely help my journey. Congratulations on your success, and welcome to the forum.
 
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lludwig

lludwig

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Woah! Thanks for the insight on the hosting and development industry that you got out of. Funny that I was actually heading down this same path, but you sharing your experience will surely help my journey. Congratulations on your success, and welcome to the forum.
Stay away! Stay far away from hosting. There is more money (profit) to be made using a hosting provider's affiliate program than doing hosting yourself.
 
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lludwig

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Ok getting to the intermediary page since that wasn't MJ's question, but it is something I think it's important to understand what the purpose of it is for.

It's a temporary page that is seen before going to the vendor's website after clicking on a cloaked affiliate link (ie investorjunkie.com/go/fidelity ).

It serves multiple purposes.
  1. Makes the visitor aware you are low leaving your site and going to the vendor's site. There is a clear distinction of when the reader is leaving your site. Even then people still asked me about services as if they were ours.
  2. Ad tracking services like Facebook's pixel can be placed on this page so you at least have the "add to cart" signal to help with conversions. Could be used on the "onclick" but the Javascript may not fire properly so this is more reliable.
  3. To SEO it can be seen as an additional step before going officially offsite.
  4. Can be used to pass and convert cookied info as HTTP GET parameters to the vendor for tracking purposes. Most affiliate systems use at least the HTTP protocol for conversion tracking as it's the most reliable.
Screen Shot 2018-12-01 at 9.27.32 PM.png
 
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Carlitosway

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An interesting thing I gathered from an investment only website which others on the forum may appreciate.

I had an active interest in investing when I created Investor Junkie. I didn't care about getting out of debt websites, which most personal finance blogs are about. When I started, I never really thought about why that was the case though.

I think Investor Junkie, while is great and still can grow, is somewhat limited in size because it focused ONLY on investing. Whereas debt based sites typically do much more revenue if executed right. They generate much much more traffic and have a mass appeal audience. Its great Investor Junkie is being pooled in with other websites, so they can sell ad and affiliate revenue to a much bigger pool of readers.

Nerdwallet comes to mind and their $60M in annual revenues from last count. While they compete in the investment review space with me, most of their revenue comes from debt refinancing. I can estimate their investment revenue is around $2-3M/year if that.

Recently another site was sold, Student Loan Hero for $60M. A site to help students refinance their student debt.

My theory of why this is the case is because our economy is debt based. Our society is massively in debt and most don't have much money to invest. Therefore you are limited by how much traffic you can generate compared to a debt-based website.

As a business, debt based businesses (ie credit card company) are much more profitable than investment based businesses (ie brokerage firm). Which makes me actively wonder if I should focus on something in that space for my next business venture.

Bottom line, debt-based businesses generate more revenue than investment based.
Wow really strong insight
 

whiz

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I like to think businesses are the adult version of LEGO
This is why I can't wait to sell my first biz, or at least get a biz to the point where it's making an enormous amount of money

More than any material things, I just want the ability to create whatever is in my imagination...

I just want enough $$$ to be limitless (within reason)

If I woke up one day and wanted to make the best amusement park ever, I want to have enough $$$ to just get on the phone and start calling roller coaster guys lol
 

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ZeroTo100

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Hey Larry,

I always read this thread and find myself fascinated by it.

I’m interested in how you planned your site out. Was there any particular reason or method to it that worked for you? I checked it out on wayback and it looks like it was started as a personal blog then sort of evolved into what it is today? Was there a method to your siloing or did you just kind of wing it? Did you do any kind of keyword research/content research prior to launch? Did you focus on any particulars that definitely played a factor in your growth?

Thanks
 
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lludwig

lludwig

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Hey Larry,

I always read this thread and find myself fascinated by it.

I’m interested in how you planned your site out. Was there any particular reason or method to it that worked for you? I checked it out on wayback and it looks like it was started as a personal blog then sort of evolved into what it is today? Was there a method to your siloing or did you just kind of wing it? Did you do any kind of keyword research/content research prior to launch? Did you focus on any particulars that definitely played a factor in your growth?

Thanks
Prior to launch?

No

About 2 years in yes and that is when you start seeing dramatic changes to the site. But always knew SEO/affiliates was the way to monetize. It took some trial and errors.

SEO is about doing something and seeing the result. It's black box testing.

Did you focus on any particulars that definitely played a factor in your growth?
Particulars like what?

With SEO took to the approach of divide and conquer. Cover one topic in detail and be considered the expert in it, then off to the next section.
 
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SamUSA

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lludwig

That is amazing, I have so many business ideas but don't have the financial backing or (frankly) time that is required to turn them into a success. I can believe you invested investorjunkie, that website is huge! I am wondering what you are interested in now, are you interested in product based businesses or service? Do you want to build websites based on market evaluation and than sell them in 2 years for a profit?

-SamUSA
 
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lludwig

lludwig

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lludwig

That is amazing, I have so many business ideas but don't have the financial backing or (frankly) time that is required to turn them into a success. I can believe you invested investorjunkie, that website is huge! I am wondering what you are interested in now, are you interested in product based businesses or service? Do you want to build websites based on market evaluation and than sell them in 2 years for a profit?

-SamUSA
One official direction I can speak about is creating an affiliate marketing course.
 
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lludwig

lludwig

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Congratulations.
Did you sold it through a broker or they (the buyer) contacted you?
In this case, they contacted me. Though I knew of a broker (and spoke with quite a bit to previously) that has done many of the deals in this space. I also knew the buyers of my site have used that broker for other purchases.
 

timos

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In this case, they contacted me. Though I knew of a broker (and spoke with quite a bit to previously) that has done many of the deals in this space. I also knew the buyers of my site have used that broker for other purchases.
That was a quick response :D

Thanks.

I see. Awesome. You saved 10 to 15% which is a lot of money in this case.
I've sold few websites myself in the past but always through a broker...

Good luck in your next ventures.
 
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lludwig

lludwig

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That was a quick response :D

Thanks.

I see. Awesome. You saved 10 to 15% which is a lot of money in this case.
I've sold few websites myself in the past but always through a broker...

Good luck in your next ventures.
I could have probably gotten a higher offer with a broker, but meh it more than likely was a wash.

I knew relatively what the price was and could negotiate the deal myself, I didn't see what value they could add in this case. If say the deal fell through, they did have a pool of other possible buyers which then it would have made sense to contact them.
 
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lludwig

lludwig

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For those who care, you can read more about the back story of my web hosting business.

I just shut down that business this month.

It’s Time To Say Goodbye to Web Hosting
 

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timos

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Yea I've seen a few other friends sell in this space and I agree. I'm saying I should have created them in parallel and separate from each other.
Can you elaborate a bit more on how you would approach this ?
I am working an p2p investing site with future plans to sell it but I don't want it to be attached to my name...
Thank you for your time
 
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lludwig

lludwig

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Can you elaborate a bit more on how you would approach this ?
I am working an p2p investing site with future plans to sell it but I don't want it to be attached to my name...
Thank you for your time
Well, for example, I set up larryludwig.com and also own the domain bizexpert.com. (I haven't really built anything out yet so this is just giving my plans to explain how I'll implement).

The focus for bizexpert.com will be that brand, and not about me. It will be me and other authors/writers discussing topics about business, whereas my personal brand the expert is me and only me. Yes, I lend some street cred to bizexpert.com site but the site will remain really about the brand BizExpert.com and not about me personally. If the site were to be sold it could live on without me, just like Investor Junkie has.

LarryLudwig.com, on the other hand, is about me and only about me. I am the expert.

I may even have others help me with Larryludwig.com at some point but the alpha/leader is me. So everything is tied to me and my ability to explain topics and for individual to trust me.

For certain services (like business consulting) people are looking for their "guru" to guide them along the way. Same could apply to investment advice, but on Investor Junkie we avoided specific advice (because again I wanted it to be about the brand, there are too many others who did this already and didn't want to get involved with any SEC rules since we weren't registered advisors).

Unfortunately, it gets even harder when you do any sort of personalized communication like email, courses, videos and alike. So I don't have an easy answer for this. For some businesses today, IMHO you have no choice but to intermingle your personal branding with what you are offering. Especially in the digital age. You don't want to be some anonymous blob speaking into the camera. People want to feel like they know you personally at least some level.

For example, Tony Robbins is all about Tony Robbins. He could NEVER sell his business and it will pretty much die (with a long tail residual though) when he dies.

My overall point is building both your personal brand (known as an expert some said niche(s)) but also your site brand is known for this as well. Again that way if/when you sell you aren't starting from scratch (like I am).

Let's use MJ Demarco as an example. Obviously, he has his personal brand and wrote two books, but limos.com was really separate from him. limos.com was able to be sold without any involvement of him remaining tied to that business. This site there is more intertwined because it's discussing his business philosophy but it has some value to some possible buyer. There are degrees of separating the owner from the brand. Some biz models are easier than others.

For my personal brand, I am building it up with the intent I know I can never sell because I already sold one brand and can live off of those dividends. I'll also build out other brands that are separate from me as well. Again it depends upon the type of business you are going into.

Hope this helps.
 

timos

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Well, for example, I set up larryludwig.com and also own the domain bizexpert.com. (I haven't really built anything out yet so this is just giving my plans to explain how I'll implement).

The focus for bizexpert.com will be that brand, and not about me. It will be me and other authors/writers discussing topics about business, whereas my personal brand the expert is me and only me. Yes, I lend some street cred to bizexpert.com site but the site will remain really about the brand BizExpert.com and not about me personally. If the site were to be sold it could live on without me, just like Investor Junkie has.

LarryLudwig.com, on the other hand, is about me and only about me. I am the expert.

I may even have others help me with Larryludwig.com at some point but the alpha/leader is me. So everything is tied to me and my ability to explain topics and for individual to trust me.

For certain services (like business consulting) people are looking for their "guru" to guide them along the way. Same could apply to investment advice, but on Investor Junkie we avoided specific advice (because again I wanted it to be about the brand, there are too many others who did this already and didn't want to get involved with any SEC rules since we weren't registered advisors).

Unfortunately, it gets even harder when you do any sort of personalized communication like email, courses, videos and alike. So I don't have an easy answer for this. For some businesses today, IMHO you have no choice but to intermingle your personal branding with what you are offering. Especially in the digital age. You don't want to be some anonymous blob speaking into the camera. People want to feel like they know you personally at least some level.

For example, Tony Robbins is all about Tony Robbins. He could NEVER sell his business and it will pretty much die (with a long tail residual though) when he dies.

My overall point is building both your personal brand (known as an expert some said niche(s)) but also your site brand is known for this as well. Again that way if/when you sell you aren't starting from scratch (like I am).

Let's use MJ Demarco as an example. Obviously, he has his personal brand and wrote two books, but limos.com was really separate from him. limos.com was able to be sold without any involvement of him remaining tied to that business. This site there is more intertwined because it's discussing his business philosophy but it has some value to some possible buyer. There are degrees of separating the owner from the brand. Some biz models are easier than others.

For my personal brand, I am building it up with the intent I know I can never sell because I already sold one brand and can live off of those dividends. I'll also build out other brands that are separate from me as well. Again it depends upon the type of business you are going into.

Hope this helps.
This is exactly how I had things in my mind. A personal brand (my name.com) and other brands connected to my name but not fully depended on it.

Just like you,I have an exit plan to sell other websites except my main brand.

Thanks for the clarification and the detailed response.
 

buildpath

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Thank you for doing this AMA so far.

Could you expand on any of the strategies you used to acquire backlinks from 2,000 referring domains?

Was it as simple as just creating the obviously great content and performing large scale outreach (like homeadvisor for example) to build links?
 
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lludwig

lludwig

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Thank you for doing this AMA so far.

Could you expand on any of the strategies you used to acquire backlinks from 2,000 referring domains?

Was it as simple as just creating the obviously great content and performing large scale outreach (like homeadvisor for example) to build links?
The links came from the great content we created. The first 7 years I did little backlinking work. They mostly came organically.
 

BGPro

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Hello and congratulations for the excellent result

I have 2 questions:
1. How many articles have you published in total?
2. What was the biggest source of traffic to the site?
 
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lludwig

lludwig

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Hello and congratulations for the excellent result

I have 2 questions:
1. How many articles have you published in total?
2. What was the biggest source of traffic to the site?
1. I had around 1200 articles at the time
2. SEO.
 

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