Welcome to episode 179 of the Food Blogger Pro podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork interviews Jeff Hunt about the process of buying and selling websites.
Last week on the podcast, Bjork chatted with Sonja and Alex Overhiser from A Couple Cooks about balancing life, podcasting, blogging, and more. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.
The Art of Buying Websites
If you want to secure a place on the internet with a website, you don’t always need to start it from scratch. Instead, you can buy a pre-existing website.
Why would you want to buy rather than start? Well, that’s a good question, and the exact reason why Jeff is here today. He’ll talk about his decision to purchase his first website, how you can make smart buying decisions, how to avoid spammy links, and so much more.
If you’re looking for ways to diversify your income, or perhaps start a new site, I think you’re really going to learn a lot from this interview.
Let’s jump in.
In this episode, Jeff shares:
- Why he moved overseas
- How he started buying websites
- Why you’d buy a website
- How you can be smart when buying a website
- What a spammy link is
- What it means to buy a process
- What it looks like to buy a website
If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].
Thanks to our Reviewer of the Week, Dale & Valarie from Unstoppable Foodie! If you’d like to be featured, leave a review for us on iTunes and include your name and blog name in the review.
If you’d like to jump to the comments section, click here.
Alexa Peduzzi: In this episode I talk about optimizing for repins, and then Bjork interviews Jeff Hunt about buying and selling websites.
Alexa Peduzzi: Hey, hey, wonderful listener. You are listening to the Food Blogger Pro Podcast. I’m Alexa, and we are just totally thrilled that you decided to tune in today. This episode of the podcast is sponsored by our sister site, our friends, WP Tasty. WP Tasty is a food blogger’s go to resource for plugin needs. A recipe plugin called Tasty Recipes, a Pinterest plugin called Tasty Pins. More on that in a bit. And an affiliate auto linking plugin called Tasty Links. You can head on over to wptasty.com. for more info. And for today’s Tasty Tip, that is the helpful little knowledge nugget we nestle into a podcast episode for you, is all about Pinterest repins. Pinterest is a huge traffic driver for food bloggers, and in fact it’s actually the number two source of traffic on Pinch of Yum, and that’s right behind Google. So when someone is on Pinterest and finds one of your recipes, they can save it by repinning it to one of their boards. Pinterest takes pin popularity, these repins, into account when determining what pins to show in search results.
Alexa Peduzzi: So if repins are so important on Pinterest, is there a way to actually optimize for repins? You betcha there is. And actually there are a few different ways. And the one we’re going to talk about today is by setting the
Alexa Peduzzi: So when you open up a pin on Pinterest, I’d actually recommend doing this on your computer rather than on a mobile device, you can check out the URL. Do you see those numbers at the end? That is the
data-pin-id. So let’s say that you have a spaghetti recipe on your blog, and there’s a pin on Pinterest, one pin, one image that’s performing really, really well. I’m talking a lot of repins. It’s a bowl of spaghetti with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and a big old loaf of crusty garlic bread. We’ll call this delicious image pin A. You can take pin A’s
data-pin-id, those numbers at the end of the URL, and add it as an attribute to the other images in that recipe.
Alexa Peduzzi: Maybe you have a few process shots, making the sauce, adding pasta to a pot of boiling water. If you add the popular pin’s
data-pin-id to the process shot images, it’ll force pin pin A whenever someone tries to pin those process shots. You can add the
data-pin-id to your images with Tasty pins or manually. This whole process is a great way to make sure that your best images are circling on Pinterest and that you’re adding a bit more pin juice to the pins that are already performing well.
Alexa Peduzzi: You can learn a lot more about
data-pin-ids as well as the other ways you can optimize for repins at wptasty.com/repin.
Alexa Peduzzi: And now the episode. This episode is really interesting because it’s something I never really considered when starting my blog. Buying another blog. Think about it. Kind of like the whole repinning thing we just talked about. An existing website might already have a following, social channels, back links and more that helped established its place on the Internet. Jeff Hunt is here today to talk about why he decides to buy websites rather than actually start them from scratch. So if you’re looking for ways to diversify your income, or perhaps just a way to start a new site, I think you’re really gonna learn a lot from this interview. Bjork, take it away.
Bjork Ostrom: Jeff, welcome to the podcast.
Jeff Hunt: Oh, I’m really delighted to be with you.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, it’s fun. Actually, we were talking a little bit about podcasting before. You have a podcast, which we can make sure that people talk about that you just launched, and actually I have a close friend here, Mark Daoust, who has a podcast for his company Quiet Light Brokerage. You were recently on that podcast. So you’ve Kinda been on a podcast circuit lately. You’ve been making a lot of appearances on podcasts. Is that something that you’ve intentionally done or has it bubbled up as more podcasts have launched for you?
Jeff Hunt: You know, it kind of comes in spurts, but it’s great fun to talk about this, because I enjoy what I do, and I think it’s, particularly what we do in terms of buying websites, isn’t something that gets talked about a whole lot. So it’s kind of fun to be a little bit unique.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and it’s actually an angle that, one of the things that we try and do for this podcast is think really strategically about what is the norm, what is the window that most people see things through in terms of how they view success, and then what does it look like to present another window, to give people the opportunity to say “Oh, I always have looked out the north facing window, but I didn’t know there was a south facing window and there’s a beautiful lake back there,” or whatever it is. And I feel like this podcast will be that south facing window where it gives people the opportunity to look at a new … At what success might look like at a new angle. And we’re going to be talking about specifically buying websites. But before we do that, I always like to hear a little bit of an origin story for the people that we interview on a podcast.
Bjork Ostrom: Jeff, I want to know for you, what does your story look like? You’ve come to be an expert on investing in websites and buying websites, but how did you get into that? Where did it start?
Jeff Hunt: Yeah, well, it’s probably different for everyone. In my case, I had a corporate job. I loved my job. I’m not one of those people who just was hating what they did and wanting to get out. I loved my job. But then there was this opportunity to move overseas in kind of a ministry vocation. So me and my family, four kids, we moved to a crazy country overseas, and we were there seven years.
Bjork Ostrom: Wow.
Jeff Hunt: And while we were there, we actually started a little real estate business. So I kind of got my feet wet in the web because this business really needed a website, and I knew nothing about websites whatsoever. So that kind of forced me to get into it. But then the business changed over time, and we were supported by donations, and I actually started buying websites while I was still overseas. And the donations, as they do, kind of dwindle down over time if you’re not actively promoting. The business helped me to backfill what we lost and donations so that we didn’t have to go out and continue to get sponsors.
Bjork Ostrom: What country was it that you lived? Where did you live?
Jeff Hunt: It was Azerbaijan. So believe it or not, me and all my kids and my wife speak Azerbaijani.
Bjork Ostrom: That is so awesome. So I was involved with Model United Nations when I was in school and uh, that was always one of the countries, like who is the country, who is representing Azerbaijan? Everybody was always a little bit jealous of whoever got that country.
Jeff Hunt: It was like, Azerbai-what?
Bjork Ostrom: Yes, exactly.
Jeff Hunt: Most people never heard of it.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. So you’re overseas, you’re essentially having this side hustle where you know, hey we have some people who are supporting us in this ministry that we’re doing. But also over time there’s this shift that happens where maybe there’s not as many people that are able to continue with recurring donations, or maybe some people that initially supported that year five, six, seven, they don’t. And so you start to back fill it with some of this website stuff. And it sounds like it started by, hey, we need a website for this specific real estate thing. As a side question, I know this isn’t the main point, but I’m just curious, were you investing in real estate in Azerbaijan?
Jeff Hunt: Well, I own a house there, which was somewhat significant, to put that kind of money at risk. In fact, I also, we made a loan to a school, and we also had to put money in the bank just to remain in the country. It was a condition for being there. But no, I didn’t buy as an investment in real estate.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. Okay. I was going to say, we lived in the Philippines for a year, and the idea of just getting a, finding a place that was a good fit and then leasing it was enough of a challenge. And then the idea of actually purchasing real estate, I can’t imagine how complicated that would be. So that kicks things off. You start to become interested in websites just due to the fact that you had to build one for this business. At what point did it shift into hey, I need essentially a portfolio website or a website to communicate information, into this website thing can actually be a business itself. When did you have that realization, and what did that transition look like?
Jeff Hunt: Yeah. I was listening to a Webinar and it was teaching about Google News, and how you could build a website, get it approved into Google News, publish news articles, and make money from it. And they were selling a course. And I had this idea of, well, it feels a little bit risky to go through this process, spend money on the course, build the site, what if it doesn’t get approved, and I don’t really know how to run it. So I thought, well maybe I could actually buy one that’s already approved. So I found one on Flippa, actually, and I bought it, and for just several thousand dollars. It was not a big site. But the great thing was the guy who sold it to me, the seller was super helpful. And he had a process. He trained me in the process, told me where to find writers, what articles to write, how to make money from those. And really within about three months it had completely paid for itself. And then it grew from there.
Jeff Hunt: That was really my first clue that I could actually make money from those things. And actually, the next big step in the story was about seven years ago, we returned home from Azerbaijan. And the kids are going to college, we needed to have an income. I didn’t wanna go back to the corporate world. So I thought well, I got to take what I had been doing online and really ramp it up for, as you know, having lived in the Philippines, the cost of living is quite different in the good old US of A, especially when you got lots of kids going to college and all that. So I really had, that was the big transition was going from, it was money and it was helpful money, but it certainly wasn’t enough for our lifestyle back here.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure. And for those that aren’t familiar, you had mentioned a website called Flippa. Can you talk about what that is and how that works as a website or a marketplace?
Jeff Hunt: Yeah. Flippa is the marketplace sort of like Ebay where there’s an auction file system thing, online businesses. And Flippa is probably the largest one of those that exists right now. If you’re looking at for websites, it’s sort of the lower end of things, there’s Flippa. At the higher end of things there are dedicated brokers who specialize in selling online businesses. Just like a business broker, but for specifically a wide variety of online business models.
Bjork Ostrom: Got It. Yeah. And kind of like you would use Zillow, not that they are the broker, but they list real estate, and you can look through and see okay, this house is located here and it costs this much. There are online business brokers specifically where they are selling websites. So you can go and see okay, these different websites are listed for this much and have this much income and you can buy them for this amount.
Bjork Ostrom: One of the things that, as we talk about shifting perspective, looking through a different window, one of the norms that a lot of people would assume or one of the mindsets that people would have is like, if I’m going to build a business, I need to start that business and then, from the ground up, from zero, create something and then make it into this profitable, sustainable thing. But the great thing about where you come from is it sounds like from the very beginning you always had the mindset of hey, if I’m going to build a business, I’m going to do it after the train is moving a little bit. I’m not going to try and get the train from zero to 10 miles an hour. I might take it at 10, 20, 30 miles an hour and then try and go 60 miles an hour. So have you ever started a site from scratch or have you always taken on the approach of buying a business and then building it?
Jeff Hunt: So Bjork, that’s actually an excellent question, because I’ve done it both ways really. I’ve started things from scratch, but in the news business case, for example, I bought first, I learned the ropes, understood the process, how to hire others to produce, all of those kinds of things. And then I was able to actually create a number of news websites from scratch after that. Although I did continue to buy them as well because there’s good reasons for buying. And I’ve done that across several different business models where I’ve learned it by buying, and either built from what I bought or actually replicated it by starting other ones from scratch.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. One of the things that I would be so curious to hear you talk about is … So you acquired the site. Let’s say you learn it, you’re able to build it a little bit. What’s the decision making process for you when you say, “Hey, I could continue to build this thing and maybe,” to use the train analogy, take it from 60 miles an hour to 70 miles an hour, or now that I understand this, go and start something brand new. So how do you make the decision between investing and continuing to build the thing that you currently have versus creating a new thing from the ground up, knowing the formula that you need, but then shifting your focus a little bit from the thing that’s working and creating a new thing? What does that decision making process look like?
Jeff Hunt: Yeah. Well this is one of those parenting things like do as I say, not as I do. Because I actually, I was way too splintered and I would start things when I really should have stuck to a single thing, or at least more narrow focused. But let me tell you a story as an example, and this one will make sense about why I started more. I bought this website. It was a mugshot website where they had photos of people who have been arrested for this and that. And it was really funny. I told my wife I bought this thing. She says, “Well, what if they don’t want their photos?” Well, this was from Utah. It was called bustedutah.com. I thought. Well … And in the back of my mind I wasn’t as confident anymore after she said that. I thought about it, but I thought, well, Utah is a long way away.
Bjork Ostrom: You don’t want to be the person that is outing convicts. In a sentence.
Jeff Hunt: Exactly, exactly. And extorting them. Like pay us to take your picture down kinda thing. But we did too we would send letters, people would pay us to send letters to their inmate friends, and we’d put perfume on them and smiley stickers and stuff like that. So it wasn’t all …
Jeff Hunt: But anyway, so we did it, and it started going really well. At the time, we had these automated processes, and every arrest was the new webpage, and it was automatically generated. So it was just doing fantastic. And it was summer, so my kids were at home, they had some free time. So I said, “Okay kids.” So we all sat in the family room with laptops and everything and I taught them, “Okay, this is how you research what a good state would be.” So each of the kids picked two or three states, like Busted Mississippi, Busted Florida. So they all created their websites, and we just followed that same pattern that was working for Utah. And sure enough, started picking up traffic. And there was a little competition going on between my wife and my three oldest kids, and whose websites are going to do the best. Arizona was a big winner. It was kind of fun.
Jeff Hunt: But then we started getting the flame mail, and people really didn’t like that business, and I started to understand it that that was not, ethically it didn’t … It was legal. Everything was legal, but it just didn’t feel right. So we ended up selling it. Well actually we sold the whole portfolio. We had grown it to like 13 different sites over a period of five months. We did really well with it. But yeah, that was one reason to go broad instead of go deep.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, it was, this was not your ministry phase of life. This was the business building.
Jeff Hunt: It’s funny, because you rationalize all these things, like maybe this will rationalize all these things like maybe this will give people incentive not to do what they did and all this, but right, at the end of the day, I decided it’s not.
Bjork Ostrom: I think it’s interesting to point out and worth having a conversation around. I think when you think of website investing, there is the potential to get into something kind of with a numbers mindset and to think, okay, what does it look like to take something and to build it, whereas the content of the thing is maybe not front and center, but it’s the business building of the thing, the numbers is kind of what becomes the game. You think of famous investors, and it’s maybe a little bit more towards the middle, but a Warren Buffet is going to invest in, let’s say, Coca-Cola and, granted, I think he likes Coke a lot, but point being that’s not necessarily his passion in life, Coca-Cola, but it is businesses, and he’s thinking about business building.
Bjork Ostrom: For a lot of people that listen to this podcast, they’re maybe kind of … it’s kind of both or, in some ways, maybe what it is is they really have this passion and interest in a certain thing. For most of them, it’s food, it’s recipes. There’s other people that listen that aren’t in this niche, but for a lot of people that listen to this, they’re passionate about a thing and want to find an outlet to make that thing happen, to be able to make recipes every day and have that be something that is their job or to be in front of the camera and to be kind of a mini version of a Food Network Star.
Bjork Ostrom: For website investing, I think there still is that avenue. There is that potential to build and acquire something, but it’s maybe a little bit harder if you’re looking for something that has the right numbers as well as the right passion or niche that you’re interested in. Would you be able to speak to those people that are interested or, as we have these conversations, they’re kind of fascinated by, hey, what would it look like to potentially buy a business that already has some success but with a qualifier that it is within a specific topic? Maybe it’s not food and recipes, but it’s fashion or … What does it look like to search out something in a niche and then pursue it? Is that something that’s possible to do?
Jeff Hunt: Yeah, and it’s a good point because a lot of people … When you’re talking about investing or buying a business, it certainly narrows the possible pool if you’re focused on a particular niche or industry. Now, the good news is, for food people, food is enormous, and mom sites, there are lots of mom sites, so health and fitness, lots of those, so actually, the pool isn’t as small as if you’re really narrowly focused, but yeah, what it means is it may take a little bit longer to find exactly what you want, the right size, the right subcategory about that, those kinds of things. I’ve found that what people think they like to do maybe is different. I’m sure that lots of food bloggers have found that it isn’t all about food.
Bjork Ostrom: Yes, yes.
Jeff Hunt: Putting a blog together is about so many more things than, unfortunately for many, I’m sure, but than just about the actual topic. For example, I now have sites in fitness, in health, in parenting, in footwear, in some luxury items, so I’m kind of spread out across the board. If I did limit it to what I wanted to do, it would be chess, I don’t know, swimming, acts that make no money.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, specifically doing both of those things at the same time, which is a very small niche. Let’s say that somebody’s interested in it. They’ve heard us kind of talk about it. Well, before we get to that, what would your reasoning be for somebody who’s like, “Well, no, I just want to build my thing”? What are the considerations people need to have as they weigh buy versus build and maybe some of the advantages that come along with buying a preexisting website and then building it from there?
Jeff Hunt: Yeah. Okay, so first of all, building is fantastic. You learn a lot, you develop yourself, and you make a business exactly the way you want it to be, so there’s never anything wrong with that, but there’s some really distinct advantages in buying. One of the first ones is that it’s super fast. If you want to have an income, if you want to have an audience, and traffic, and a process, and a product, whatever it might be, when you buy, you own that thing the very next day, right? It’s a lot faster. Now, granted, it takes some time to find what you want and to go through that, but once you’ve got it, it’s a lot faster than building something from scratch.
Jeff Hunt: Along those lines, it’s kind of sad, but the truth is that literally millions of blogs get started every year that never make a single dime that may not ever have 10 visitors, right?
Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jeff Hunt: There are ways to not do that, but it’s buying something, a site that already has 1,000 visitors, or 10,000, or 100,000, or whatever is, in may ways, a lot more certain than starting something from scratch. Of course, there’s ways to limit your risk in both approaches, but so speed, certainty, and the other thing is, actually, it’s easier … As you know, when you start from scratch, you wear a ton of hats. You have to be a designer, and sometimes a product creator, and sometimes a audio-visual specialist, and a marketer, and all of the … In today’s world, you can’t … I mean you can get by with some things, but people have pretty high expectations for quality, and so there’s more pressure to do all those things pretty well.
Jeff Hunt: When you buy something that already exists, a lot of that groundwork is done. A lot of the technical work has been done, the setup, the initial marketing, sometimes product creation if you’re doing an ebook or whatever that might be. Then the difference is you get to focus on either what’s broken, or what needs improving, or areas that you can grow, and so you can narrow your focus to a much smaller slice of the universe then when you’re starting from scratch and you really have to take care of all of that, so those are some of the really big benefits of buying.
Jeff Hunt: Of course, one of the questions that come to people’s mind when I talk about this, I think, really quickly, is just that, yeah, but you have to spend money if you buy, right?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Jeff Hunt: You’re putting your savings at risk, and that’s absolutely true, but I think what people don’t think about is starting from scratch is also a sacrifice and a risk because so many people spend lots and lots of time and even spend money on tools and advertising and all kinds of things, so I think there’s a bigger cost than people realize to start as well.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I think it’s important to think about, even if you’re in the beginning stages, that idea of opportunity cost, and time that you spend building something that isn’t getting a return is time that you’re literally spending. There’s some correlation to a dollar amount for that, and that might not be how you view it. Maybe you view it as like, “Okay, I’m not able to spend time with my kids as much if I’m building this thing from the ground up,” but there inevitably is a cost on either side, you’re buying a preexisting business or you’re building one from the ground up. Like you said, one of the advantages with buying something is that there is a little bit of a track record there that you can look at and say, “Okay, I know there’s some success here.”
Bjork Ostrom: In regards to seeing that, how do people actually know? Let’s say you look at a site and you’re like, “Hey, this would be one that I would like buy.” What does it look like to actually know if a website is successful and to kind of crunch the numbers to see if it’s a smart decision? How do you be smart about buying a website?
Jeff Hunt: Yeah. It’s really about kind of limiting the risk because if, every website we bought, we could just be assured that the income it had yesterday continues tomorrow, then it wouldn’t be a big deal, so you kind of have to look at it from a risk perspective, and there’s some real fundamentals. I mean just like human bodies have these indicators like blood pressure and temperature and all of that, there are vital signs for websites as well.
Jeff Hunt: Some of the fundamentals are things like the age and the consistency over time, so the older websites have … they’ve seen devices come and go, and they’ve seen Google algorithm changes come and go, and they’re still there, and so there’s momentum that goes along with that age and, apparently, if they’ve survived some of those things, they’re probably doing some things correctly. There’s some basic SEO. You’ve probably touched on SEO, I’m sure, in your courses and in your podcasts.
Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jeff Hunt: The health of the backlink profile can be important where people have or have not built spammy links, for example, things that Google might not like, and then-
Bjork Ostrom: Really quickly, can you touch on that, what that looks like and what a spammy link would be?
Jeff Hunt: Yeah. I mean, at the simplest level, if you use a tool like Ahrefs or another tool that just shows you the links are coming into the website and you run your eyes down the list, a lot of times, you see these websites that just make no sense to be linking to the one that you’re looking at. They may have really spammy names that you can’t even pronounce, or they may be from very questionable sites…
Bjork Ostrom: Bustedutah.com.
Jeff Hunt: Exact, or like the owner of bustedutah.com, the really wild characters like that. That’s not the only guide, but that’s just kind of … that gives you an idea, or totally unrelated, a site from a truck website linking to a baby website or whatever. That’s one way to think about is just things that done make sense that are artificial.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. Yeah, those tools that you … Ahrefs or hrefs, however you say that, SEMrush, these SEO tools will be able to say, “Hey, we can show you, for any website, all of the links,” or most of the links, I don’t know how accurate they are, “that are pointing to a certain website.” If you are looking at a website and saying, “Hey, I kind of am interested in buying this,” that’s one of the important things to do. Use one of those tools and do kind of a review of what do the links look like? Even for your own website, if you’re not doing kind of an audit or due diligence on purchasing one, it’s probably absolutely good thing to do to have an idea of what your backlink profile looks like, as you talked about.
Bjork Ostrom: That makes sense, kind of looking at the age of the website, kind of those stats that you mentioned for a website. The age of it, has it been around a long time or is it brand-new? Is it on the up and up in terms of how the links are created, which is so important for SEO? Is there a good content behind it?
Bjork Ostrom: One of the things that you talked about that I thought was interesting in this idea of buying a process. I think this is something even for people who aren’t interested in buying a business can think about because it’s a really valuable thing for businesses, but what does that look like to buy a process and what should we, as business owners, bloggers, content, creators, be thinking about when it comes to introducing processes into our own businesses?
Jeff Hunt: Yeah, really good point. These businesses have a motor, and that’s the key thing that drives the business. Where do you get your customers? That’s the engine in the businesses. It’s like what is the secret sauce that enables this website to get new visitors? If you can wrap your mind around that and assess what that is, then that’s super important.
Jeff Hunt: For example, it could be something like, well, this business has learned that if they post on Facebook four times a week in a particular way it’s going to generate X amount of traffic which, historically, has returned this amount of revenue, or the engine might be something like, “Well, we publish this many articles in a month of this length, and we choose the topics in this way,” and so on, and that might be the engine. In eCommerce, same thing, “We research new products in this way, and then we launch them in this way,” and that’s kind of their process.
Jeff Hunt: That is the core thing that we look for when we’re buying a website is what is the process that the seller has taken this far to get the site to where it is? You see some websites that are for sale, and you think the seller has no clue why he has traffic. The problem with that is that, if the traffic dies off, then neither he nor you will be able to figure out how to resurrect it because there wasn’t really a reliable process to begin with, so it’s really key.
Jeff Hunt: On the other hand, if you read a little bit about the business, you understand what that traffic and motor is, the lead generation model is, and you think, then you begin to imagine things like, “Oh, yeah. I think I could do that same thing only I could do it twice as frequently, or I could do it a little bit better, or I could apply it to more websites,” or whatever. Then that’s how you begin to visualize how you can grow the business and how you can operate it and also is it the business for you, because once you understand what that motor is, then you can test that against your own interests and say, “Oh, well, yeah, that is something I can see myself doing, and I would enjoy doing that aspect of it, or I could outsource that aspect of it,” or whatever. Yeah, that’s really, really critical.
Jeff Hunt: I didn’t get to your second point or second part of the question, but I mean do you want me to continue or …
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, please, yeah.
Jeff Hunt: Yeah, so your second point was like, okay, well how is that important for those of us who already have a business and what that process is. That is super critical. To the extent that we can identify the key activities that are going to drive the growth of our business and we can write them down, know how to do them, how often to do them, way to do them, and procedurize all of that, to the extent we can do that, that’s the extent to which we’re going to keep our business running.
Jeff Hunt: Then, once we’re satisfied that those repeatable, consistent tasks can be done that we know have gotten us this far are going to keep us going, then, as owners, we can think about the other things like the new horizons and the different pane of glass to look out at and through and see what we can do to kind of take our business to another level, which basically just means creating another set of processes to follow consistently…
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. It reminds me of the book that I feel like is … we’ve maybe mentioned a couple times on the podcast, but it would be worth mentioning again, and it’s called The E-Myth. The story in The E-Myth is somebody who has a food business, it’s a brick-and-mortar retail pie shop, and talks about how completely draining this pie shop is for the owner because they just show up, and it’s like the daily grind, but as they start to intentionally work on the business and not just in the business, then they kind of fall in love with the pie shop again as it becomes less of a burden and more of this kind of passion for them. I kind of hear some of the same things that you’re talking about. How do you create? How do you work on your business and not just in it on a day-to-day basis?
Bjork Ostrom: I think it’s one of the really big questions that people need to ask as they’re building something online is are you interested in building a business or are you interested in building a following or a celebrity-ness. Not that that’s the hard line. There’s some overlap that happens with that. Even if you are wanting to be an individual influencer kind of online entity, somebody that is known, there are things that you can do to create systems and processes around it, but there might be some ownership that you, as a podcast listener, want to have over your thing, and you just don’t want to remove that, and you just don’t want to release that. That’s a pretty big consideration to make between buying an entity, a business and growing it, versus being a celebrity and having you be kind of the core piece of content.
Bjork Ostrom: For those people, Jeff, that … let’s say they kind of want to be involved with it, they want to have their face as a part of the brand, is it still-
Bjork Ostrom: Their face as a part of the brand. Is it still possible for those people to acquire a business and build it? Or would you say, for those people, they should think about building something and then, as they build it, introduce those processes that you talked about?
Jeff Hunt: So these are people who want to kind of be the face of their business because they want to engage with their followers in a more personal level.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and maybe they want to be the voice or they want to be the person crafting the content on social media. Is it still possible for those people to introduce some of these kind of business best practices around processes and scalability, even if they are kind of still the hub of the business, the content creator?
Jeff Hunt: Oh, yeah, absolutely, because in any business you’ll find that there’s just so many administrative things that have to be done, and so all of those can be proceduralized, processized, and in fact it actually makes it more freeing for them to do the things that are unique to their personality, because they can put a procedure around and often you delegate or outsource things that aren’t in that category. And in fact, obviously the opposite is the things where their face needs to be involved can’t really be delegated or outsource to anyone.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’s great. Let’s talk about specifics of what it looks like to actually buy a website. Is there a minimum dollar amount where you’d say, “Hey, if you’re interested in starting, you should probably buy a website that’s over this amount, otherwise it won’t be worth it”? And what is the range that people could expect to pay? Obviously there’s probably a pretty high ceiling on it, but for somebody that’s just getting started, where would be a good place to start?
Jeff Hunt: Well, you know, it really depends on people’s goals, because you can buy a website for like $100 that’s sort of a template that has no traffic and doesn’t make any money, but there’s a few pages up there and some pictures on it. I would not recommend that you buy at the very lowest end like that, because the whole point is you’re buying a process and you’re hopefully buying some traffic and a revenue stream, an income stream. So if you’re doing that, then you’re definitely above the $100 and you’re into probably less than $5,000, somewhere in that range, because at that level there are some websites that have decent traffic and making a little bit money. Typically, at that level, they’re pretty risky, because they probably haven’t been around that long or they’re using techniques that are a little bit higher risk to get their traffic. Or maybe they’re not diversified in terms of the way they do things. All the traffic may come from Instagram, for example.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Jeff Hunt: Or all of it. Facebook or something like that. So they’re more risky, but I’m answering the question in this way … And then you move up to the stream, but I’m answering in this way because there may be people who want a website that’s never intended to grow to be a big business or for the family to be able to live on. They want maybe a side income or something. A very small website might actually … Let’s say they care about travel. You know, there are a lot of little travel websites that are for sale that people have created, that they’ve gotten bored with or whatever, that have some traffic. Food websites are the same way. I see recipe websites somewhat frequently. Mom blogs same thing. So I think you could start small.
Jeff Hunt: On the other hand, if you’re really serious about a business and you don’t want to buy something that has risk, or a lot of risk, then you probably need to move up the chain and you need to get up into the 20 to $50,000 range. Then, if you’re really serious, if you’re trying to replace your income and do it pretty quickly, then you’re going to be looking at a couple of hundred thousand dollars or something like that, depending on what your budget is and what your goals are, and even more. So it really depends on kind of what you want to do with it. A lot of people, I find, actually have funds to buy a very large business, but they want to start small just to kind of educate themselves.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Jeff Hunt: They want to exercise that muscle of doing a transaction and seeing all that work.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. It’s kind of running a 5K before you sign up for the marathon, like, “Okay, I can do a 5K. Let’s level that up a little bit.” My hope was that you were just going to keep going all the way up the price scale until you said, and I imagined you putting a pinky to the side of your mouth, $1 billion, but that would be a little bit outside of the range. But even that, I feel like some people here, 100,000, and it might as well be a billion dollars. It’s just such a substantial amount, especially if you’re … The idea that somebody would be $100,000 to buy a website, it’s like, “Well, man, let me fix the leak on my car,” which, side story, there was a time a couple of years ago where I was taking our Hyundai Sonata through the car wash and felt my pants getting wet. I was like, “What the heck.” I look and there’s literally a direct drip from my door onto my pant, which I probably shouldn’t have been paying for a car wash. I probably should have gone that car fixed.
Bjork Ostrom: For most people it’s like, “Hey, I want to make sure I have these basics taken care of,” but is it, does somebody need to save up $100,000? Is this something that, do people ever acquire a website like they would a house where they have a loan? Is that something you’d recommend or is it too risky to do that? Are banks open to having that conversation? What does it look like as you move up that scale and start to be intentional about paying a little bit more, but maybe not having the cash for that? What would your recommendation be in situations like that?
Jeff Hunt: You know, if we’re looking at the paragraph that you just spoke, there’s like seven question marks in it.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’s one of the things that I’ve noticed about any interview that I do, is I’ll ask like five to 10 questions at a time, so you can pick any of those and run with them.
Jeff Hunt: Well, they’re really good questions, because borrowing money and getting funds from other places is an important consideration, and you obviously would only want to do that if you really needed something of scale. So if you’re trying to replace your income or you want to grow something significantly to the extent that either you don’t want to put your own savings at risk or you just simply don’t have that much savings. The answer to part of the is yes, it is available. Increasingly there are small business administration SBA loans that are available for many businesses. Getting banks to loan money is possible, although it’s more challenging just to have a personal relationship with a bank or find a bank that will loan you money, because many of them don’t understand online businesses. They don’t have the security of physical assets most of time. They’re just kind of digital or intellectual property based assets, so it’s a little bit harder to get loans directly from banks, although it’s still possible. Lots of people raise money from family and friends or even other investors to make purchases once they have a little bit expertise in the operations.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Jeff Hunt: So all those things actually are quite possible, and part of it is just your mentality about borrowing money. Like, I’ve always done everything with my own money and I felt really good about that. All the time I have people offering to fund purchases and so far I haven’t taken them up on those offers…
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, there’s definitely like risk upon risk that is introduced when you are thinking about buying anything and then when it’s an online business maybe there is even more potential for risk versus, let’s say, a commercial real estate purchase or something like that, which would be traditionally a little bit less risky. But then also any time you layer in debt on something, there’s risk with that, so can definitely understand it, and like you said, kind of a philosophy decision for a lot of people.
Jeff Hunt: And then you introduce new parties to be beholden too, as well, so part of the fun of being an entrepreneur is to kind of beholden to fewer people.
Bjork Ostrom: Yes. Right, right. To no one, potentially.
Jeff Hunt: Yeah, although we’ve all learned that that doesn’t actually work out that way …
Bjork Ostrom: Right, right.
Jeff Hunt: … because we care about our customers, we care about our employees.
Bjork Ostrom: Yes, 100%, and in some ways I think being an entrepreneur or a business builder is like the ultimate in … Beholden maybe isn’t the word, but it is as much as possible thinking about how you can serve other people, whether that be people that are part of your team or customers or things like that, as it is about people serving you.
Jeff Hunt: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: It seems like that’s something that you’ve done as well, Jeff, which something I really appreciate about you. We’re coming to the end here. We were able to just kind of dip our toe in and there’s a lot of stuff that goes into this, and I know that this is kind of what you focus on. I mean, obviously you run the business, but then you talk … the businesses, but then you also talk about what it’s like to run the businesses and to do this, and to be really smart and strategic about investing in websites. Jeff, for people that have heard this interview, their interest has been peaked, they want to learn more, where can they go to connect more with you? I know that you’ve recorded a couple of podcast episodes, a few podcast episodes that you’ve published. You also have your website. There’s a course that you have and some additional material. Can you talk about all of those things and where people can find those and learn more?
Jeff Hunt: Yeah, and Bjork, one thing that I really appreciate about you is you’ve kind of done the same thing. Like, you’ve gone down this path. At the same time, in parallel, you teach people how you’ve done it, and for me it’s great fun to do that. People ask me, “Well, if you’re so good at buying websites, why do you sell a course?” Well, and there’s multiple answers, but one of them is it’s just kind of, it’s fun to help people. The second one is it’s like this asset that I’ve built. I know how to do something and that my knowledge is value, and people who are business people, they have to leverage their assets, and so I just leverage it. I learned how to do a thing and then I teach about it in parallel. Anyway, where I sell my course is flipminds.com. Flipminds.com, and if you go to flipminds.com/food, then it’ll take you to a page where there’s a couple of giveaways there. There are some case studies about websites that I’ve purchased in the past, and there’s also evaluation tool that kind of helps you estimate value of a site that you might purchase.
Bjork Ostrom: Awesome.
Jeff Hunt: So that’s a good place to get started there, and my web … my podcast, rather, is called The Website Investor. It’s pretty new. It’s a short format, just like six minutes per episode and I try to be succinct as I possibly can and give you good content in a short period of time. So I do have this education business, but the vast majority of my income and my time and effort is spent on my own little portfolio of sites, which-
Bjork Ostrom: How many sites do you have, by the way?
Jeff Hunt: Well, about a year ago I sold a dozen or so, and so I have about six right now that are the core sites.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay. Yeah.
Jeff Hunt: And I still have that many more that are kind of probably …
Bjork Ostrom: Yep, not the core sites.
Jeff Hunt: Not the core sites. Yeah. But yeah, it’s really, I don’t recommend building portfolios, honestly. I think you should narrow on and focus on key things.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Love that. Great conversation, Jeff. Really fun to talk through some of this stuff, and I know that it’ll introduce that additional angle that people can think about when they’re trying to understand like, “What does this look like for me? What does success look like?” And maybe it’s not building something from the ground up, but instead it’s looking at what’s available on the marketplace and saying, “Maybe there’s something I could purchase and from there I could build it.” I think that’s a really important consideration for people to make as they think about building into what success looks like for them. Thanks so much for coming on the podcast, Jeff. We’ll make sure to link up all of those things that you talked about in the show notes, and don’t be a stranger. We’ll be in touch. Thanks for being on the podcast.
Jeff Hunt: Great. My pleasure. Really enjoyed it.
Alexa Peduzzi: That is that, my friend, and the end of the episode means that it’s time for our reviewer of the week. This review comes from iTunes, and this week’s review comes from Dale and Valarie from the new food blog unstoppablefoodie.com. And it says, “Really enjoy this podcast. My wife Valarie and I just started our food blog, Unstoppable Foodie, approximately three months ago on 9/3/2018. All the information and insights shared were super valuable. We love to hear how the duties are divided between spouses.” He’s referring to our recent episode with A Couple Cooks. “This is critical for finding the right balance between skills and passions. Thanks for sharing. We appreciate all that you do for the podcast audience as well as our subscription to Food Blogger Pro. You are always adding value.” Thanks for that review, Dale and Valarie. We are so thrilled you’re enjoying the podcast and your Food Blogger Pro membership. We are so thankful for you.
Alexa Peduzzi: And for you, dear listener. Thank you so much for tuning in this week. We hope you have an amazing start to your December, to the start of your holiday season, and from all of us here at FBP HQ, make it a great week.