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How-to Podcast

How To Acquire Websites & Build A Successful Paid Newsletter Subscription Model (with Richard Patey from Website Investing)

Learn about website investing from Richard Patey, who is pioneering new digital media monetization models and helping people find, vet and acquire profitable content websites.

We’re trying out transcribing our podcasts using a software program. Please forgive any typos as the bot isn’t correct 100% of the time.

Audio Transcription:

Intro

Welcome to the Indie Media Club Podcast. I’m Ben Aston, founder of the Indie Media Club. We’re on a mission to help independent, bootstrapped media entrepreneurs succeed, to help people who create, promote a monetize through content do it better. Check out indiemedia.club to find out more. 

Ben Aston

Today, I’m joined by Richard Patey and Richard builds and sells profitable content websites. And he has had a six-figure exit with an affiliate site that promoted sales funnel software. And now he’s focused on covering the world of Website investing, helping people to find a vet, and acquire profitable content websites as well as build out on eight domains. 

He is a one-man Internet media publishing company providing coverage and analysis of the world of Website investing on sub stack at pateysub.stract.com. And through that, he’s also pioneering some new digital media monetization models, which we’ll talk about. So keep listening to today’s podcast to learn more about the business of media publishing and how to build a successful page newsletter subscription model. Hello, Richard. Thanks so much for joining us. 

Richard Patey

How have you been? Thank you for the invite. Great to speak with you. 

Ben Aston

So I want to start a bit by digging into your story, and I know you now, you’re doing lots of different things. You’re very much focused on the investing side of things. Can you take us back to the beginning? How does someone get into the business of media publishing? 

Richard Patey

Well, I mean, you could intentionally start a publishing business, whether that’s a blog or Website a newsletter. I kind of ended up here at the end of quite a number of years of building out and selling content websites. And I just found a much better fit for my skill set, which is writing audio. And I found a better monetization model in terms of pages, descriptions, advertising, in terms of sponsorships, and just a much better play. So, you know, I’ve been doing online entrepreneurship for over a decade now and tried a lot of different business models, made a lot of different mistakes, and found myself in a place that’s a very good natural fit for me. And, you know, actually, over the last week, I’ve started hiring people out of necessity. 

So no longer a one man. I need to update my day. I need to update my LinkedIn profile or I say that. But it’s always been a solo founder, solo operator. Partnerships have never been the best, best fit for me. But yeah, I’ve got people helping with the publication. We can talk about that. And it’s now scaling very, very nicely. It’s awesome. It’s the most successful thing that I’ve an independent entity that I’ve created so far. And it’s scaling quickly and it’s a nice feeling. 

Ben Aston

That’s cool. I mean, and you talked about you’ve built content websites over the past decade or so. 

Can we talk about different monetization models I’ve seen now you’re doing a paid subscription model with a membership? But over the past decade, as you’ve been building out these content websites, tell us about the different monetization models you’ve tried. Hands what your favorite is now and why. 

Richard Patey

Yes. So, I mean, I’ve tried a lot of different business models. I started off selling services just because I didn’t really have a great skillset. And it’s always good to try and get paid at something, you know, whether you’re selling graphic design or WordPress sites or SVO. And that’s how I moved into content websites. I was always pretty good at selling something at very good pricing being paid to learn that there was always a good hack that I was able to leverage. And then when I got better, when I understood how you can rank content in Google, I then started with a drop shipping site, I read the four-hour workweek and tried to create a music business and had a little bit of success with that. I was selling prints of people’s panorama photos that they take on the iPhones and ship them all around the world out of the UK initially, and then it got a dropship or out of the states, very small search traffic at the time, Rob. Still, now, I haven’t looked for a few years and got that to one to two thousand dollars a month and sold that for just a small four-figure exit in 2016. 

That was the first time that I realized that I could actually create an asset that someone wanted to acquire, realized I didn’t enjoy dealing with customer support and dealing with suppliers who had moved into content sites because there are the fewest moving parts. You need to do is rank content and send someone to an offer that they purchase where there’s a physical product on Amazon or additional product or software products. And that was a very good fit for me. It takes up the least amount of time. It’s the most passive model. Obviously, you have to keep working on these sites. Otherwise, they’re going to lose rankings and traffic and navigate the Google updates. So I started off with dropship being tried that, you know, on Shopify. Learn a lot about that. That wasn’t for me. And then moved into I mean, pretty much everything I’ve done up to now has been affiliate marketing, getting commissions, and predominately that’s by selling software products. So the commissions are recurring because they’ve been billed customers monthly. So that’s a really nice thing. You don’t have to get new customers every month. You can, you know, any additional customers that, you know, your site brings in from search or any other channel. It adds to what you’ve already achieved and it compounds over time. You can get to some decent revenue that way pretty quickly. You don’t need a large number of pages. So, yeah. Up to now, you know, 95 percent. Well, up to what I’d be doing with his publication has been, you know, 95 percent affiliate marketing. So they play with some ads on a content site that started to get some decent traffic. And so playing around with ad units, but. Yeah. Now with the publication moved into paid subscriptions. And it’s a really great space whereby doing nothing, definitely, you know, this is I’ve got publications about Website in investing. There’s a newsletter. There’s a podcast. This is the third podcast that I’ve had. So I’ve been writing content and creating audio for quite some time in terms of interviewing people and I’ve built a decent network. And it’s nice to know that you actually can monetize the content that you’re already creating by putting part of it behind a paywall. You don’t have to create a whole new product or, you know, a detailed, lengthy course that takes a long time to put together. You can just find something that’s valuable. So find something that saves people time or, you know, is additional content that they can’t find elsewhere and put some part of that behind a paywall, charge a subscription model. And, you know, if you are resonating with the audience that you’re building, a percentage of those people will pay. And so it’s going well. So I have a Monday free newsletter and sent that out yesterday. We’re recording on Tuesday and things are speeding up within 24 hours. I’ve had five news subscriptions from sending a free newsletter that I monetize from sponsorship because in that newsletter I mentioned that the premium parts of the offering. 

I broke that down more clearly than I have previously. And so, yeah, I mean, in one day that’s what I’m charging. Forty-nine bucks a month. So that’s an additional 250 dollars a month in MRA and everything appears to be driving everything else with the podcast. 

I have a free part. It’s the first 30 minutes of the episode is free. And the rest is for paying subscribers. So by putting out a part one and part two where part two is locked just by publishing a free podcast, you will get additional subscribers because they want to hear the REST the episode. So, yeah, it’s BI being able to incorporate Pates descriptions with sponsorship and with affiliate because I can make commissions on products that I recommend or marketplaces that list deals. Right. It’s a very powerful place to be in. Everything kind of helps everything else. So. Right now I am the main Metrodome focused on is the pain subscribers and seeing that go up. But in order for that to go up, I just need to keep increasing my list size and just keep publishing the content that I’m creating. And now I have helped to enable me to do that and hopefully no longer going to be burning myself out. Because, yeah, this blew up pretty quickly. So it’s been at play for six months. I started off with, you know, an email list of 2000 people. So that obviously helps. 

I had that because I’d built a bit of a name for myself previously. And then, yeah, within six months it’s now over 100 people have access to the premium contents. And I’m sold out of all of the sponsorships for the next six months. I don’t need to increase my prices so things can happen quickly if you find content that people are willing to pay for because it’s either going to save and time will make them more money. And if you find a niche where people have money over that, wanting to deploy money into Web sites, then it’s a pretty easy sale at forty-nine dollars a month. So, yeah, that’s what I focused on now. 

Ben Aston

That’s cool. So you’ve talked about it. Yeah. Affiliates, obviously now you’re going into this subscription model being supported by advertising. Essentially what this is premium gated content, I guess, combined with a subscription. So and then combined with advertising as well. And affiliate. So we’re beginning to like layer on different types of monetization, which is great. But you mentioned something that piqued my interest. And that was you said over the past decade or so, you’ve had lots of failures. I want to share any of the things that have gone bad or wrong or that you wouldn’t dare again. I mean, clearly, your you’re changing you’re moving away from pure-play affiliate into this and have been able to succeed, successfully transition over six months or so. But what are some of the failures that you can share that we can all learn from? 

Richard Patey

I mean, nothing unusual. I mean, I’ve tried to launch a lot of different businesses. I mean, probably more. Before I was able to build and rank Web sites, I was trying a lot of random stuff in the services play and now just trying to sell. Just want to make a buck buy back in the early days. I mean, no great stories. I mean, the one that stands out is I mean, I bought a lot of different domains and launched a lot of stupid sounding businesses so that the funnel sales final one, whereas pruning sales funnel software that transitioned from the service business where I was building sales funnel funnels for people prior to that, I was trying to go niche specific. And so I’ve done a lot of outbound email and potentially spamming. Some people make all it’s. I had a Web site called Accountant Engine. And so I just try to like a lot of different niches. I can’t even remember what I was trying to sell them as some opt-in funnel or. I have no idea. I covered it on my first podcast. It went terribly. So, I mean, I just I scraped all like the zero directories in the quick books directory. I had someone stroke that for me, collect e-mail addresses and I just like spammed a couple of thousand bookkeepers trying to salvage something and just got a lot of hate in return and not one sale. I mean, just lots of examples of this kind of thing. I mean, I have involved in some acquisitions that have gone bad and censor content sites as well, where there’s been unethical seller lied and then disappeared. So, I mean, you know, there’s nothing too unusual but just, you know, launching a lot of stuff that just goes nowhere has been the, you know, the most familiar the kind of common thread. 

Ben Aston

And where that’s happened, where you have launch things that have gone nowhere, particularly in a content site space. Is it because of your formula? Didn’t work on creating content and getting it to rank. And it didn’t rank or what? What went wrong? 

Richard Patey

Not so much in the content. So space. I think, you know, with. If you have a budget and you can commission writers and you know how to get links or acquire links or buy links or buy aged domains already have that authority—you can always rank a site. It’s just whether you can do it sustainably.

So I like to you know like I mean, I’m an SEO. I kind of hack at things. And, you know, previously before I would consider what I was doing as publishing, you know, I was just trying to rank websites and, you know, rank and bank. And so, you know, you would I would get some you know, I’ve dabbled in all kinds of different, backlinking Strategies and grey hat staff and bought PBN links and 301 redirected Website domain like powerful domains into existing sites. And, you know, trying to hack things and get things going quickly. And, you know, a lot of that doesn’t work or a lot of that you get some momentum and then Google crushes you. And so, I mean, you just get to experience, you know, when things go well. And I’ve been through a lot of Google updates where I’ve been negatively Hetson. But, yeah, you know, going forward, this is not what you know, I’ve I’m moving away from those tactics. I’m a lot less. I’m a lot more. I’m a lot more. I’m just not gonna waste my time anymore. You know, if I’m focused on something, I’m investing money into something. I’m not going to risk it not working going forward, seeing those kinds of strategies, something that I’m moving behind. And so any new sites that I’m building, it’s going to be very strong content and, you know, defensible link profiles or I’m not going to do it. And going forward. I think the last few sites that I’m building out are probably going to be the final ones that I do in an anonymous affiliate kind of way because I want to focus on true publishing and creating actual proper value in the world and building businesses that, you know, I’m happy to have my name on them and, you know, leading with my name and building up a brand.

And so, yeah, go forward. You noted that the publishing play and the paid subscription play is what I’m going to be focused on. And but I’m still dabbling in investing in aged means picking up Website previous Web sites that have good link authority and, you know, publishing 50 cave 100000 words on these sites and seeing if they in and then monetizing in them and then selling. But it’s less of a focus now. The main focus is, is this Website investing publication, scaling that, and seeing where that goes. And there’s a lot of ways I can say that I can move outside of Website investing. I can go wider than that. I can move into other digital assets or I can replicate into different niches that I’m interested in or that have opportunities in and build like a publishing business that way. So, yeah, it’s fun. 

Ben Aston

So and I just want to dive into one specific thing you talk about there, and you’ve mentioned age domains a few times. And the idea of this, as I understand it, is that you buy a domain that has some well and expired, may be expired, or it might just be an old domain that has lots of backlinks going into it. So it has some domain authority. And the way of I I’ve done this, I don’t if this is the way or not, though, I have gone to I look up that website on Wayback Machine and see what kind of content was on there, say if it’s in any way related to what I want to be writing about. And then what I’ve done is copied over that old content from Wayback Machine and puts three to one, redirects onto that old domain so that it all redirects to my new domain and try to get some, I guess, link deuced domain authority passthrough through town. tell me how you do it. 

Richard Patey

Yeah, it’s like, it’s like there’s a way, it’s just I’m going far less aggressive with that now, whereas previously I would do two, two or three or even more redirects into a website to try and get it to rank. Going forward, I’m either doing just one three on redirect or none, and I’m just picking up an existing aged domain and adding content to that. And then looking to sell that because it’s just a lot less risky. The Google updates of Beker become a lot harsher over the last 12 months. And I don’t want any variable that can take down the the the rankings of a site because it takes a decent amount of time to get a new or an existing domain ranking again. And I don’t want to hurt that by combining a lot of domains together. So be aware of what you’re saying is exactly correct. But if I have a Web site that’s really taking the offer, I’m not going to risk three one redirecting something else into it anymore. 

Ben Aston

And so, I mean, that’s talking about link building strategies then. So in your new white hat world where you’re doing everything, you know, it’s not risky anymore. Say no, I’ll buy all domains and redirecting them. You mentioned PBI ends and not doing that anymore. So what, what link building strategies would you do? Or are you just going to try and rather rely 100 percent on the content performing? 

Richard Patey

Yeah. So for any new site that I am investing constantly and I’m only doing this on the aged domain, so I will pick up a domain that’s very relevant with a very strong link profile so that hopefully I won’t need to be or build any new links or just a very small number of new links in order to to get the content ranking. So I’m not starting with a new domain. I will pick one age domain, but I just won’t redirect more into that one. So with this strategy, there should be just very few links that you need to gets because I’m only doing software review sites and also in a specific niche as well. I already have like a large number of contacts that I can get linked swaps from. I know a lot of people with Web sites that I can get very high authority powerful links from by giving links back to those on different Web sites cross-linking. So I don’t need a BI links anymore. I know where I can get enough links from and I’m just focused on commissioning good enough content and optimizing it best that I can use tools such as Surfer SEO to make sure that the keyword density is is correct. And that’s it. I’m just by age domain’s investing in content, adding a small number of links, and then looking to exit those. I don’t have time for any other variables. 

Ben Aston

Where do you buy your age domains from? 

Richard Patey

Yes. So you can find them in auctions like Godaddy auctions. But again, I don’t have time to do that. So there’s a website that I get them from which is called odys. And is odys.global stands for our domains, your SEO. And so they do that, they pick up domains at auction, they vet them, they make sure that they’ve not been spammed in the past. They do all the checks and then they resell them and complete with a logo. It’s a cool service. So, yeah, from providers like that, I pick up some domains and then I use content agencies or freelance writers, but I’m trying to do this less and less. But if I see a good opportunity or even an abandoned site. Or a site that someone selling in a Facebook group, I will need to pick it up. If I see value in the link domain in profile or or, you know, it’s like a good 100 thousand decent words, then it’s quite hard to to to lose money by doing that. I’m not buying revenue-generating sites so that there’s no revenue to be lost. I’m just buying the assets and buying the domain or buying the content. And if it doesn’t work out on the domain that I’m acquiring, then I’ll just migrate that across to a different domain and try it there. And then you can always just sell the domains plus content, starter sites, and price on the one the value of the SEO Domain and the value of the content. And it’s very hard to lose money this way, whereas if you’re buying a revenue-generating site that’s making, you know, two thousand dollars a month, you buy for, say, sixty thousand dollars. You know, you can lose sixty thousand fifty-two thousand dollars if it gets hit by a big Google update and loses 80, 90 percent of his traffic. So, yeah, that’s the only thing I’m doing. 

Ben Aston

Is out there. Is that the kind of price that websites are going for? Two thousand dollars a month site selling for 60 grand. 

Richard Patey

Yeah, typically it’s probably like a 30, 36 monthly net revenue, multiple that’s the average, although it’s been going a lot higher. You know, the start of this year, you know, almost all sellers who understood where the market was out were asking for 34, 36 X, which is three years of income, which I find insane, especially now with the Google updates being a lot more volatile, harsh and in a lot of cases making no sense at all in terms of the sites that benefit the sites they get hit. I don’t want to play that game if you don’t have the skill set or the time to build-outs and build these websites yourself, then, you know, buying an existing revenue-generating site is the play. But I personally would like to see multiples drop down again because I think assuming that a Website is going to be around for under unscathed for the next, you know, two years is quite a stretch with Google updates. And that would be, you know, say a 24 x multiple. So multiples did get insane. I started selling websites back in 2016 when under 24 X was still typical. But yeah it got well over three, you know, 36 X three years income at the start of this year. But with the pandemic and the kind of Amazon changes and Google updates, I feel that things are got a little bit less crazy now. But yeah, that’s where it was. Hopefully, with subscription revenue, it is gonna be that high and even higher. I don’t want the multiples to drop for that kind of business that I’m focused on now. 

Ben Aston

And so, I mean, let’s talk about a Website investing in that because we’ve kind of transitioned into talking about how much a Website is worth. And so for those who are new to the world of Website investing what we talked about, there was a site. There’s only two grand a month. You could probably pick it up for 60 grand. So for someone who’s thinking, oh, well, maybe I just buy Website for 60 grand. Talk us through this process. How are you? How are you actually invest in a Website either yourself or through another means? 

Richard Patey

Yes. So people invest in websites predominantly for the cash flow, for the yield. That’s where a lot of new money is coming in because it’s very attractive. Even 38 multiple. That means that you’re getting a 40 percent yield, which is, you know, unheard of. But obviously, there’s a lot of risks, a lot of volatility. Your content sites depend on Google, and you need to keep getting through the big Google core updates with algorithms. So it’s a high payout, high risk. And so you will find websites or marketplaces like Flipper, like Investors Club. But then you got the brokerages like and BI flippers and you’ll see content sites going from that are making 500 dollars a month right up to, you know, they’ve got assets, a loss of seven figures. So what would that be, 40000? 50000 just run. Yeah, like 40000. Up to seventy-eight thousand dollars a month on the top end. So, yeah, you’re typically looking to acquire that cashflow, that monthly cash flow, and you will need to have a skill set in order to run it yourself. Or you can hire a management company to run it on your behalf. That will take a monthly fee and then take a percentage of the upside. And then the other way of investing in Web sites is to acquire domains that already have good backlinks as we’ve mentioned, and invest heavily in content. So, you know, you’re buying domains that don’t have any pages of content and then investing in 50, 100, 200 plus pages of content, getting them to rank. And that’s growth is a why approach. And that’s where you’re gonna generate the graters ROI from investing in Web sites. You know, if you’re buying an existing revenue-generating site that’s making, say, 5000 dollars a month, you’re picking up four hundred fifty thousand dollars. It’s going to be a lot harder doubling that, getting that to three thousand one hundred three hundred thousand dollar asset value. Getting that to ten thousand dollars a month. That is you know, that’s a two X is going to be a lot harder, doubling vs. investing in content where you can typically achieve like a 10x return if your Website ranks and ranks well and you’re able to to generate revenue. So if you’re investing in, you know, you’re investing 5000 dollars or 10000 dollars. And content, if the website goes well, you can potentially get a six-figure exit. And you know that SEO your 10x that you can achieve. So two different ways of doing it. One is for growth. And as a flipping mindset and one is for yield. And you’re trying to maintain the revenue that the site has and obviously build it. But it’s harder to build on on a Web site that’s already making decent revenue because it’s already tapped into a lot of the keywords within the nation. Probably a lot of the upside is already been achieved. 

Ben Aston

Yeah, and I mean, the biggest opportunity that the IT is layering on new monetization models onto it. So it might be that, you know, as you’ve been talking about, you added in sponsorship onto your kind of premium gated content offering to add that layered on a monetization level. A one way that we’ve done this is we’re continuing to try. We had a kind of a plan that every month we’d grow our media kit. So we’d try and create some new inventory, something new to sell every month. And that was kind of our product challenge. And if you can do that, if you can find additional kind of inventory to then sell to people or layer on additional monetization models, that could be another way that you could increase the yield from that investment. But one of the things you mentioned was management companies. And these are people you buy the Website for 60 grand handed over to them to run for you. How much do you typically or kids had? Tell us any good ones. And you said they take a percentage. How much percentage they typically take? 

Richard Patey

Yes. This is a new offering. It’s managing websites and is the operating partner. it’s a new service offering. I’m sure there are a lot of people that have been partnering up with investors behind the scenes, but this didn’t really exist until probably around 2018, 2019. 

Richard Patey

And with it with the previous business that I had and the previous podcast was called Flipping Websites, I was offering myself as the operator and investors would apply to work with me. And what I was the actual structure, the most people kind of agreed with and kind of went with was a well, we tried a lot of different models and this was the one that made the most sense was a fixed monthly management fee, typically depending on the size of the site, but on average, around a thousand dollars a month flat fee and then 50 percent of the upside that the operator is able to generate. So if you’re working on a site that’s making 5000 dollars a month and you get to ten thousand dollars a month and you’ve got your 1000 management fee and then 50 percent of that 5000 dollars a month upside. So, well, if your fee were to come off the upside, then you’d be making the two and a half thousand dollars a month or, you know, three and a half thousand dollars a month, depending on how you structure it. And the investor world would be making an additional two and a half thousand dollars a month. 

So that’s the typical model. There’s not a lot of operators out there. Alfer Investors offers this. There’s also on Foleo DCO a guy called Don Wells, and that’s pretty much much higher than there were a few other people offering this kind of service. They’re moving into setting up their own funds and raising money that way. So investors Ops invest in, you know, a pool of websites that are managed for them rather than ones, one model where an investor would buy their own Website and then have that managed. I think that’s the end game. I think that’s what makes the most sense. And so, yeah, that is that’s what is most typical. You’re going to be paying more fees to the operator from the upside that they have that they generate. 

Ben Aston

You know, that’s interesting, but it’s also interesting. There are not many people in that space and I’m guessing there are not many people in that space. Because if you have the skill to do that, to be an operator, you probably just want to run your own sites and gas. 

Richard Patey

Yes. Yes. And it wasn’t a business for me. I found it stressful. I didn’t like to be responsible for no traffic and revenue where you can wake up and Google. Google can take a lot of that away from you. And with less experienced investors, there would be a hard time explaining why their asset value has now been halved. So, no, I the something that I wanted to do and I then moved into focusing on a media play within this business instead. And then having a paid offering that finds they’re the best deals across the market and then sets out what upside is available and what the risks are. And then it’s up to the investors to manage those sites themselves. And then I offer S.O.P is that the investors can use to manage the websites or get fees involved or staff involved to manage just following the S.O.P. So with the news out of the life that I created, it’s for active Website investors that that want to maintain control and management of the assets, whether they do that themselves or the higher their own staff. And then these management companies are for passive investors that just want to diversify their general portfolio by adding Web sites to them and then having their websites managed for them. But it wasn’t a model for me and you, I think probably the most skilled operators. I mean, I have known this to be true. You know, I’ve got a good friend who interviewed one of the podcasts and he wanted to try this. And I got him into a deal with an investor who bought a six-figure site, and they did well together. He soon realized that he never wanted to do this again. He got a very profitable portfolio that he’s able to build and scale. You definitely get if you’re decent, you get to the point where you don’t need and you don’t want outside money. You can just reinvest and you can start small and reinvest What were you doing yourself? But there are people that are building these businesses and building teams to run websites on behalf of investors. So there is that that support there. 

Ben Aston

And so, I mean, you talk about developing escapee’s for, you know, running websites. Obviously, Google is evolving very quickly. There was just the Birte update the other day, which, you know, and it changes things. You get hit. And I’m curious how much of science versus art you find like Website operation. Like I personally, I’m on this constant, you know, pursuit of creating really good content and trusting in the content to do its thing and try and not to worry too much about Google or being too reactive. But I mean that there’s more of a science to that because it’s okay. You just focused on the content. Whereas the more artistic side of things I would say is you think, okay, well, do we need 50000 words or 100000 words? I don’t know. Do we need to like how do we structure the content and how you talk? How do you balance that art versus the science of the S.O.P development of running a Website? 

Richard Patey

I don’t think there really is art with these content sites. I think it is just a formula that you need to follow. It’s really not that creative unless you’re trying to hack, unless you are really focused hundred percent on SEO, following everything, keeping up with Google updates, always testing to see what is working, what isn’t working, coming up with your own insights. Unless you’re doing that, then I think you’re best just following a standard formula and what you are doing by focusing on creating the best content. That is exactly what you should be doing because Google will know from people, from the metrics that they are able to get clickthrough rates from SERP, the time that people are spending on your websites, bounce rates, number of page views. Google can tell whether the content you are creating is good. And if you’re able to focus on that and create the best content in a niche, you just will do well. It will pick up links naturally. You don’t have to hack things together. But for content websites or affiliate websites that are built to rank and bank and then flip, people don’t have either the desire or the budget to create the best content on the market. So everyone’s trying to just do good enough. And that is susceptible to Google updates.

So. Oh, I see. With your main site, The Digital Project Manager. I had a look at Ahrefs before the call and you know, your search graph is really consistent. It’s rising very nicely. There’s no, you know, drops or anything. It’s looking like a site that Google is favoring really well. And I had a look at some of your top pages, and they are incredibly well structured. You have, you know, real people fronting the website, real authors, people, you’re recording videos on YouTube. It is a real business that you’re creating with these content sites. Typically, anything less than 500K potentially up to anything less than seven figures and in price. This is not what you’re gonna be seeing. You’re gonna be seeing websites built out on random, badly worded domains with, you know, somewhat aggressively optimized link profiles in terms of anchor text, bought links, content quality. That really doesn’t read well, though that clearly isn’t by native writers but is good enough and it’s optimized well enough using tools like SurferSEO. So I mean, in order to do well in Google, you just need to fit in with what the top half of page one is doing. So there it’s always that tell you what content lengthy. You just need to average what people are doing. You need to be an average of five. You know, what’s the content name? How do they structure it? What does their search intent? They’re going after what backlinks do they have? And you just need to fit in that. That is how that is what most people do. That is that is good enough. But if you. Yes. But people already have the budget or the desire to go further than that. And like we were saying off the call, you know, no one I know is putting their own name on a website as the author, as the creator. I would have to spend some time trying to research people in communities that we know that are doing so off the top of my head that the best Website investors, the best Flipper’s, they’re not doing this is anonymous. And therefore, when you, you know, getting through Google updates is you’re always crossing your fingers because there’s so much that there’s so much variance now that it doesn’t make sense why your site gets hits if you are doing nothing different than anyone else. But if you were to just focus on creating the best content that people actually seek out, enjoy actually helps people. And it doesn’t just push someone to Amazon or to the software product. But by doing that, you know, content side builders, people investing in content, you know, even content websites that they don’t want to be spending more than, you know, five cents per words, seven cents per week, ten cents per word is the absolute top that the vast majority of websites that you’ll see available on the platforms on the brokerages. That’s what people pay. That that is is that that is the top rate. But to build out, you know, real, defensible businesses with the best content, you’re going to have to invest a lot more into that. And. So, yeah, but that that’s not the situation with Constance’s with affiliate sites. So, yeah, you just need to follow S.O.P as blend in with what the model what the top competitors are doing in your niche and maintain that, maintain the link velocity that they’re getting every month, continually optimize the content to fit in with what they’re doing. But, you know, you could definitely argue that that’s not a real business. And, you know, I’m now I’m definitely moving away from that. It doesn’t it’s not satisfying to me to do that. You know, actually having my name on something, my. And having a podcast. And I don’t need to be the host of that going forward in the longer term. But, you know, actually building a business and leveraging your own name or building or attaching your names to business, I think is it just gives you a much, much bigger edge. And yet, like, I’ve got a lot of copycats now, like I’ve done a lot of podcast interviews over the last few months where I’ve been very open about, you know, what I’m building and how building and why I chose the platform sub stack. And there have been so many people copy me. It’s it’s unreal. But I feel like I’ve got such a headstart now. And, you know, whatever I said a month ago, like, I’m already a month further ahead and I’m not concerned about it. Whereas with these affiliate sites, this is the thing with, you know, with content websites for the vast majority of those that you’ll see, there’s nothing unique about them. And that’s why they are at risk. And that’s why if you’re looking to buy these websites, you need to understand that. And you probably need to get well into seven figures to have something that is unique and does have a team that that’s talented, that is not just a bunch of freelance writers and VAs.

Ben Aston

Yeah. So, I mean, when you’re investing and you are evaluating whether or not a site is good or not, what are the most important metric to you when assessing the health of an of our publishing site, a content site. 

Richard Patey

So. I mean, for me, it’s just it’s the consistency of the search traffic. How consistent are the rankings? What is the trajectory of that search traffic? That is the most important thing because that tells you how well the site is doing. That’s tells you where revenue is going to go. Yeah. So you don’t want to be acquiring a site where the search traffic is trending down, especially if it’s been hit by a recent Google update, because you don’t know where that’s going to end up. You may suffer a 10, 20 percent drop. You may suffer an 80 percent drop, and this happens a lot. So that is the main metric. And if search traffic over time, it looks good is trending up, then that tells you that the bank link, Brett Backlinks profile is probably decent. You need to check that out. You need to see how they’ve acquired the links, what type of links they have, whether it looks manipulative or not, or whether it’s a natural backlinks profile, though that’s not going to get you into trouble. Content quality is probably not as important because you can upgrade that. You can get your own writers involved or go through your own S.O.P to improve that. But you. You’re the most important thing is that is the number of pages that rank well over time. And that’s what you are buying.

Ben Aston

And so in terms of thinking about whether or not a fight is worth adding to your portfolio, I mean, can you tell us how many Websites you have in your portfolio? 

Richard Patey

Yes, I mean, I only have three or four that I’m currently building out, all on aged amines or early stage. So I don’t acquire a revenue-generating site because I don’t like the chance of losing money. I like making safe bets and, you know, buying and buying assets at prices that you can almost, you know, they can’t drop. You’re kind of buying wholesale. They can be liquidated. So that’s my approach. And also because I’m able to build and sell, you know, build sites and get them ranking, get them generating revenue and sell them. I much prefer to build and sell. If you don’t have that skill set, then you’re going to have to acquire existing revenue-generating sites. You’re going to have to do good due diligence and with due diligence, S.O.P. And that’s a big part of the publication, helping investors actually filter and vet science. But so, yeah, that’s not something that I do. I’m not looking to add revenue-generating sites to my portfolio. I look to look to rank and then exit and then repeat and reinvest that cash flow. I like to hold the least amount of time and to exit when I’ve kind of almost capped out what I’m able to do with search, with a failure. And there’s all this stuff that the future buyers could do in terms of adding additional monetization channels, creating products, creating communities or all of this extra stuff that you can do. But I, I just focus on ranking in search and sending people to affiliate products and. And then selling those sites. But going forward, I don’t think I’m going to be adding more to this. I don’t have that kind of mental bandwidth. I really enjoy building a publication and curating news and raising premium content and running newsletter business. That is way more fun. I can see scaling way bigger than these small niche affiliate sites. And you can get content sites to, you know, a decent five figures a month. But I can do that with it, with his publication. And I’m getting there pretty quickly now. So, yeah, I much prefer where I’m currently at. 

Ben Aston

And so when you do come to do an accent when it when is the point that you decide, hey, this is making enough money to be worth exiting from vs. Well, I could hold this for another six months and grow it and then increase the price on which that multiple is based on. How do you kind of work out what you where you’re gonna tap out? 

Richard Patey

Yeah. So the sites are they have focused on one specific part of a niche. And so there’s only so many keywords that you can go for. I create a content plan and commission content that covers all of these keywords and gets that published and see whether it starts to take off on that domain. And if it does, then because I’m building our own age domains, I already have backlinks strong, strong backlinks profile isn’t too long. You’ll know within a number of months whether the content is going to perform well within six to nine months. It’s probably gonna be at a close to peak performance and then hold out for six months, get the six last six-month average for the multiple, and then look to look to sell that. So, yeah, nothing more complex than that, that there’s a lot more optimized optimization that I could do. But publishing content, seeing whether it performs. If not trying on a different domain. Trying in a slightly different way. But you know, looking to exit within, you know, close to close to 12 months is would be ideal. 

Ben Aston

All right. Cool. So tell us a bit more about their party’s substate.com where you’ve decided to spend up and this new project, which is all about investing. And what made you decide, hey, this was going to be your new niece that you were gonna dove into? 

Richard Patey

Yeah. So it’s an area that I’ve focused on for the last several years and have made a bit of a name for myself in this area. It’s the space that I find the most interesting. It’s I already had an existing list of people that were interested in website the world of website investing. And so it was the obvious play for me to build a publication targeting this audience. It was one that I was the most familiar with and felt I had a good chance of getting paid subscriptions right out the gates. And yeah. 

Ben Aston

And so how long did it take you from zero to getting those paid descriptions? I think you said you started off with two thousand people. I think you’ve got now more than 3000 people. You’ve got up to 100 paying subscribers. What was that, the monetization model that you’re planning right from the beginning? And how is that kind of evolved? 

Richard Patey

Yeah, it is interesting. So I end in December. I knew that I was going to be launching I want to launch this at the start of January. So I presold the peats descriptions. And at the time it was just a paid newsletter. 

It was one a weekly newsletter where I would search for the best deals across the marketplace and give my thoughts on them as well as building out these S.O.P. As I went along at the time, I didn’t have them. People knew that I was going to be building these out. And then it was access to me as well. I presold people BI by offering a free consulting call as well so that that proved popular. So I emailed my list and I think I in that December, I sold, you know. Somewhere between 10 and 20 subscriptions presold to launch in January. Which was okay, maybe a little more, maybe 25, not more than that. And then launched the Payden is, as are in January, in January, and started emailing out every week and getting feedback on that. And they kept doing this until I’d have to check. But I think I didn’t have a free newsletter, which is kind of crazy. 

I just had my own personal email that I was sent out with, you know, blog posts that I created, or my own thoughts or a filter offers. I didn’t have any regular email and it was kind of crazy. No one in this space had had a weekly email focused on the world or Website investing. It quite felt like a missed opportunity. I should have been doing this earlier and I think other people could have done this, too. So I don’t think I think I started in. We’re recording this in July. I don’t think I’d start this until April. It may have even been May, but so for the first four or five months, which is Peyton is that. I got it to over 70 paying subscribers and then discovered SubStack, which is a platform where it’s a newsletter based platform. And you can have a Pates part behind a paywall, but you can also offer free content. And I was seeing what people were doing with that. People were having a free newsletter as their main offering and then trying to convert a percentage of those people to their paid subscriptions. I decided the other way round. And so I started emailing out. There’s this free newsletter, I’m calling it Website Investing Weekly, putting a lot of effort into it, doing a lot of research, modeling, you know, finding the best newsletters that I could find, no matter in what niche structuring it in terms of how they were doing it and put a lot of thought into that and got it out. And yeah. So the first within the first week was it. The first newsletter. I also started a weekly podcast at that time. Substate can host your podcast as well. And by publishing this free content, I had some people convert to pay subscribers because of the free content though is pushing out. And that’s when I saw that this model works. And then in the free newsletter every week and also in the podcast. I now have sponsorship slots, something that I didn’t have. And this is now increasing. Is it becoming material? I’m now sold out of subscriptions for the next six months where I’ll be pressing it higher. 

So, yeah, the paid subscription that is driving between four or five thousand dollars a month. And then the sponsorships are now somewhere around 15 hundred to 2000 dollars a month. And then there are affiliate commissions I can add on top of that. So it’s scaling very, very nicely. Every every week I publish a free concert and every week I get more page describers now. So I didn’t have that engine before. I have kind of capped out on the number of paid subscribers I could get who knew me. But now having this newsletter which is published, every version is published the web and is now sharing on social and it gets picked up by other people. That now drives free subscribers and that drives paid describers. So Substate now is my funnel. I’ve stopped doing anything on my personal website. I no longer have an autoresponder. Everything I’m doing is driving people to Substate and it converts really well. 

Ben Aston

That’s awesome. And so in terms of the organic growth, obviously you are writing content, but it is word of mouth. Your main, I guess, growth strategy or how are you being discovered and how do you think your free newsletter has grown the way it has at the top of the funnel? 

Richard Patey

Yeah, so people sharing people genuinely interested in the content, in the insights, in what I’m able to find out. So, I mean, I’m in a pretty unique position. I’m being paid to know the most about the marketplace. So I’m reading everything. I’m listening to all the podcasts. I have connections with all the main brokers and marketplaces. I get insights. I see what they’re building. I built a good network. So I’m in a pretty. My perspective is, is I can give a very unique perspective. I can kind of see where things are going as out as an outsider, whereas individual brokers or platforms or blogs don’t really have the same insight that I’m able to generate. So from the content, I’m treating, it’s getting picked up. People are discussing it. People are commenting on it on Twitter and it’s getting mentions elsewhere. Obviously, having a podcast helps because they’re the people that you interview. They. Promote it to their audiences. And I’m also starting to run some Facebook ads. Not much. I have freed up enough time yet to really delve into this. I think it may be profitable to actually really turn on the tap with Facebook and start investing heavily in that. My gut feeling is that it would be profitable in terms of the cost per click driving free subscribers that then to paid with with with the sponsorship that I’m now getting. So. Well, all I’m doing at the moment is just putting boosting the post on Facebook for the free news that I’m just putting 20 bucks behind every week. I will start ramping up social advertising. But yeah, that’s you know, I think word of mouth social is driving it so far and just getting better known and getting shared in other Facebook groups. nothing too unique. BI really wants to, you know, double, triple they’re the size of the main list by the end of the year. That’s the next thing that to figure out. But everything is, is going, going well. It’s a nice feeling. 

Ben Aston

And so I mean you I introduced you as the one-man-band. Yeah. It’s now become. It’s now growing. So as briefly talk about your team as you scaling this. What was your priority for getting help? 

Richard Patey

Yeah, I mean, I was really burning out. It was well over a fulltime job. Plus, you know, child care because of the pandemic. And I mean, I only had a very limited number of hours. I mean, like, I’m not able to work 40 hours a week. If I had, like, a normal full workload, I could probably still just about manage it, but it became very unmanageable. So that’s a good thing, I think because it’s forced me to hire. 

So the thing that was taking my most time was the production of the podcast. And I know there are companies that you can pay for. You can outsource this to companies that will edit and do the show notes. But I, I feel that if that’s not done by someone who has knowledge of the industry, that you’re not going to get the best product that you can get, which is why I was doing it for so long. So getting a podcast every week was like a, you know, six to eight hours of my life. So that was the thing. I was taking that the longest. And I’ve actually now got a paying subscriber who’s now doing that with me, which is really great. So that’s freed up a lot of my time. They may not. The main offering is still the Wednesday deals email, and that was taking the second most amount of time by having to research all the marketplaces and give my thoughts and write that up as I’ve now got a deals analyst, someone that I knew previously who is helping me put that together. That’s a really great help. And then with a Monday newsletter, I’ve should have someone that is able to help to start before this Monday. So, yeah, writers podcast editor, produce and with the nature of the news of the publication that they have an analyst for deals, that they’re the main roles. And then I just I think I just, you know, looked to double those roles each time I get to two writers, two deals analysts, you know, get a ticket, you get a podcast co-host and just looked to keep scaling, scaling that. I’m not sure that I need any other roles other than those three different aspects. 

Ben Aston

That’s awesome. It’s cool that you’ve managed to, I think, find a new niche that is obviously growing at an incredible rate. And there’s I feel like it’s kind of a bit like how when I started on the digital project manager, how many years ago? Ten years ago or so. And that was a great time to be starting. And I think we’re finding something that you’re good at and finding something that there isn’t much competition. Ah, now you talked about people now copycatting you being the first I think is a being one of them in that first few. I think it makes a massive difference in terms of being respected and also growing the audience. And clearly, with the way that your audience is growing so rapidly and you’ve been able to convert so many people, it shows there’s a real market for that. So, so nice work. 

Richard Patey

Yeah. And I had no idea whether I was going to get one subscriber, you know. I had no idea whether this was going to work, whether there was a market here. Chances are, you know, at least 50 percent chance that this was going to go nowhere. It was gonna be one of these attempts that didn’t happen. So, I mean, there’s always luck involved. And whether that’s timing, not so much on the skill set now. You know, I’ve been putting in enough start putting enough stamps over the years to, you know, to be able to justify success. But there you know, there’s still so much variance involved. And but, yeah, if you try enough things, you’ll find a market that is a good fit where there is a demand that likes what you’re putting out and will value. And we’ll pay for it. Yeah. 

Ben Aston

So before we go, is there one piece of advice you can say for people who are at the beginning of their digital media journey, maybe from your recent foray into this new project? But what was one thing was one piece of advice that you’d give that has served you well recently. 

Richard Patey

So that the thing that springs to mind is consistency. You know, I debated for quite some time because I knew how brutal it would be. I’ve never done a weekly podcast before because I know how much work it is. And I really debated it. But I could see that there were a lot of people in this space now looking to be the best, looking to claim it. And I just thought, I’ve done this enough. I have enough connections. I feel like an interview. Well, and I can create you know, I can put out a very good product. If there are people that are trying to be the best, I may as well just clean that for myself and and and just stick to a weekly schedule, as brutal as it is. And fortunately, I’ve been able to create enough revenue now to hire people to do that. Help me with that. So, yeah, just consistency like every Monday, free newsletter, every Wednesday paid newsletter, every Friday podcast. I mean, that is well over a fulltime job. And so I think a lot of these copycats will realize that—will see how much work is involved. It’s not easy. So consistency. And my advice would be to give this a go. I’m a big fan of the Substate platform because you’re able to. It’s a kind of genius. 

You don’t need a Website. You don’t need hosting. They don’t charge you anything until you start offering a paid component to it. So I would recommend starting to publish something. Pick an issue that you’re most interested in personally and just writes. I mean, like I do think you do need to publish at least weekly, but just get some kind of weekly news as it going in an area that you’re most interested in. You would be researching outside of making money. Just we could be a hobby, could be anything, and just stop regularly publishing and see, see what happens, see what feedback you’re getting, and see whether you enjoy it. And you did this. This model can work in any niche. It can work in local news. The Substate podcast has some great examples. You just have to sort of like a subsidized dot com forward slash discover. This is what inspired me. I saw who were the top 25 publications. You know, what random subjects are they doing in how many times paying subscribers do they have their Ormet content? Over ten thousand dollars a month. I just thought I’ve I can do this. Like, I felt that this was a very natural model for me. You know, my goal is to get it to that top 25 by the end of the year. I mean, that made that goal public as well on Twitter-like public goals. I think they do help. They may sound corny, but I think you’re putting something out there. There’s a much bigger chance that you’ll achieve it if you have some kind of goal if you want to get into a leader board. I’m very competitive. I like leaderboards, whether it’s the affiliate leaderboards. Like, I always want to want to try and get into the top 10 or top 25. So, yeah, just give it a give you if you’re interested in this model, find that thing that you most interested in. And just even if it’s just like a 300-word email once a week, you can start seeing traction and you build a big enough audience. You really only need like a thousand subscribers to start making money. You know, you can charge even with a thousand subscribers, you could charge, you know, ten bucks an ad every week. And there are so many examples I want. When I was doing my research, I filled a massive Trella list of examples of all these news newsletters that don’t even have the paid part. They just have an email list and they run Pates descriptions. My favorite example is one called iOS Dev Weekly, and every week it sends out content around ios development and the app ecosystem. And this guy, he charges 15 hundred dollars every week for a paid link. And that’s it. Six grand a month. One email a week. And you can do that, . You can do that and you go you can just charge ten dollars, you know, per email and just increase your rates as your news at the increase of a number. It’s yeah. It’s the most scalable business model that I know. And then if you add in the paid component, then no one can take that away from you and you’re able to sleep well at night, which you’re not really able to sleep well if you’re relying on income from content websites from the like the affiliate content site model. So yeah, yeah. 

Ben Aston

Yeah. And I think that this obviously some big players in the space are trends and the hustle. Yeah. And they’re monetizing at exactly the same way. There’s a there’s a newsletter. They make money from inserting links into the newsletter and they’re very, they’re very open about as you are with your newsletter. Yeah. This is the sponsor. They’ve got something that you should look at. And then there’s a paid content. So it’s all about if you love research. This is a great model. If you love digging into a particular topic that is changing rapidly and finding an area that you can write about, I think it’s a really solid, really solid play. So thanks for all that insight on the media business, investing in Web sites and newsletter subscription models and using subsect. 

I think that’s been really helpful. Thank you so much for joining us and being with us today. 

Richard Patey

All right. Great stuff. Thanks so much. 

Ben Aston

And if you like what you heard today, please subscribe and stay in touch on indiemedia.club. But until next time. Thanks for listening. 

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